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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Scorpene deal awaits Cabinet nod
New Delhi, August 11
Denying that the $ 2-billion Scorpene submarine deal with France was being re-negotiated, the newly appointed Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash, today said that it was actually awaiting the approval of the union cabinet.

Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of Naval Staff, addresses his first press conference after taking over charge in New Delhi on Wednesday. Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of Naval Staff, addresses his first press conference after taking over charge in New Delhi on Wednesday.
—  Tribune photo by Mukesh
Aggarwal

Keep out confrontation in education: Arjun
New Delhi, August 11
Continuing his drive against the hate agenda of the RSS, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today denied he was acting under pressure or to any differences with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this issue.




EARLIER STORIES

 

Foreign-origin issue boomeranged on BJP, says JNU expert
New Delhi, August 11
Professor Zoya Hasan, Chairperson, Centre for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, today said that people’s verdict in the General Elections this year had pronounced a setback for sectarianism and ultra-nationalism and an important gain for the ideas of pluralism and tolerance.

HC tells Rishikesh ‘doc’ to give in
Rishikesh, August 11
The Uttaranchal High Court today directed the lawyer of Dr R.K. Gupta, who is on the run after a raid on his clinic, to withdraw his application for anticipitary bail. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Mr Justice Ershad Hussain asked Dr Gupta to surrender in the court within three days.

CBI raids Bank of Maharashtra offices
Mumbai, August 11
The CBI raided offices of the Bank of Maharashtra in Pune today amidst reports of irregularities by its op officials, according to sources here. This is a nationalised bank.

PM begins janata darbar
New Delhi, August 11
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has revived the old practice of the head of government meeting people (janata darbar) at his residence to know their problems.

BJP opposes scrapping of POTA
New Delhi, August 11
The Bharatiya Janata Party today came out strongly against scrapping of the Prevention Of Terrorism Act saying that it would resist its repealing in Parliament and would demand the issue to be referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament when the issue comes up for transaction in both Houses.

NCP seeks inclusion in panel
New Delhi, August 11
The Nationalist Congress Party today indirectly staked its claim for the newly constituted Left-Congress Coordination Committee asking for its expansion to make it “more representative”.

Centre to focus on crop diversification in Punjab
New Delhi, August 11
Diversification of crops in Punjab and Haryana would be the main focus area of the Centre in the agricultural sector, the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar here today.

Access refused to Dhananjoy, says counsel
Kolkata, August 11
The stage is finally set for hanging Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the rapist and killer of Hetal Parekh, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, on the eve of Independence Day on August 14, which, incidentally, is Dhananjoy’s birthday.

EC dares AIADMK on EVMs
New Delhi, August 11
The Election Commission today rejected the AIADMK charge that electronic voting machines (EVMs) could be “doctored and tampered with”, and challenged the ruling party in Tamil Nadu to prove its claim.

Mumbai civic staff stir hits life
Mumbai, August 11
Bus services, hospitals, crematoria, water supply and essential facilities in Mumbai were severely affected as more than 1,70,000 workers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation went on a three-day strike today.
In video (28k, 56k)

GRAPHIC: MONSOON WATCH

Videos
Tis Hazari lawyers go on strike.
(28k, 56k)
Ghoom Taana — a musical short-film on partition.
(28k, 56k)

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Scorpene deal awaits Cabinet nod
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Denying that the $ 2-billion Scorpene submarine deal with France was being re-negotiated, the newly appointed Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash, today said that it was actually awaiting the approval of the union cabinet.

Addressing his first press conference after taking over as the Chief of Naval Staff earlier this month, a highly articulate Admiral Arun Prakash acknowledged that there was less information available to the media in the defence field. He said that the work on the first indigenous air defence ship (ADS) was expected to start in the next few months and that work on the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov was going ahead at full speed.

Admiral Prakash, while pointing to the increasing shortfall in the naval staff force, especially on the civilian side, also urged the government to allocate more funds to help the Navy maintain its present force levels. He said that as a result of the government’s directive to ‘depress’ the civilian manpower within the Navy by 10 per cent there was a shortage of technical hands.

For the first time a senior armed forces official also admitted that there was an Advance Technology Vessel (ATV) project with the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), but was categorical in saying that the Navy had nothing to do with it.

When asked whether there was an ATV project underway, the Chief of Naval Staff said, “It was a DRDO project, the Navy has nothing to do with it and we have no knowledge about it”. When questioned further whether like others he was also denying that any such project was in existence, he said that he was not saying that it did not exist but the Navy had nothing to do with it.

On the Scorpene deal the Chief Naval Staff sought to rest all doubts and said that the Navy was hopeful of getting the government’s nod. The Scorpene submarine deal comprising six vessels was in the final stages with the Navy having provided to the government the answers to all queries sought by it.

He said the entire deal was scrutinised at various levels and was granted approval and now only the Cabinet approval was awaited.

The proposed Scorpene contract involved purchasing two submarines from France and building the other four in the Mazgaon dockyards, which specialises in building submarines.

Giving details about the air defence ship to help the aircraft carrier fleet of the Navy, Admiral Prakash said the steel for the 38,000 tonne ship was likely to be cut in the next few months “if not weeks,” in Cochin shipyard.

Capable of carrying aircraft and helicopters besides a whole range of weaponry and missiles, the project had got the nod by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) in 2002, the Naval chief said.

Replying to a question about the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal with Russia, he said after the contract was signed six months back, the work on the ship had been going on at a fast pace. The Naval chief said a team had just returned from Russia and they were satisfied with the progress and added the Navy would get a brand new refurbished ship by 2008.
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Keep out confrontation in education: Arjun
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Continuing his drive against the hate agenda of the RSS, Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh today denied he was acting under pressure or to any differences with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on this issue.

“I am not anybody’s puppet,” he told reporters after the concluding session of the controversy-ridden meeting of the reconstituted Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE). The CMP adopted by all the parties of the UPA government has committed itself to the de-communalisation of the school syllabus, he said in response to a specific query about differences with the PM on this issue.

Unfazed by the attack launched against him by the BJP, the HRD Minister maintained that all school textbooks would be reviewed to ensure that the nation’s secular tenets are reflected in them. His conculding remarks at the two-day CABE meeting was peppered with homilies to the BJP and the Sangh Parivar about the need to keep out confrontation in the field of education which, he reiterated should reflect India’s pluralistic society by shunning all sectarian views.

Three days after his controversial remark asking the PM to cleanse the state apparatus of RSS elements, the HRD minister sharpened his attack against the Sangh, described its ideology as “objectionable” and charged political parties and leaders for acting under RSS pressure. He specifically referred to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s open admission that he was proud to be a RSS member.

Mr Singh said the fact is that government employees are barred from taking membership of the RSS. Former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani did try to reverse this order but had to drop his plan when faced with strong protests. “When the law itself does not permit government employees to join the RSS, then what is wrong with what I have said,” he asked.

The RSS, according to him, is not a political outfit as it does not contest elections but it seeks to exercise indirect control over political parties and the government. Mr Singh it should be upfront and if it wants to be part of the electoral process, it should contest elections and come clear about its ideology. Top

 

Panel to review textbooks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
That Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh is serious about taking on the RSS head-on was evident today when he set up a committee to specifically review textbooks taught outside the government school system.

Although it was not stated, the mandate of this committee, to be headed by academicians Zoya Hassan and Gopal Guru, is to scrutinise textbooks taught in the RSS-run schools. In addition, this committee will examine the need for a regulatory mechanism for textbooks. It is felt such a mechanism will ensure that textbook writing does not run into the kind of controversies.

Mr Singh also constituted another panel on integration of culture education in the school curriculum under the chairmanship of Prof U.R. Ananthmoorthy. Although it sounds innocuous, the panel’s mandate was amplified by Mr Singh when he mentioned how “sanskriti” or culture is often used to commit atrocities on people. He specifically mentioned Hitler in this contest, saying how he used ideology to unleash a reign of terror against people. Although ministers of BJP-ruled states boycotted the meeting yesterday to protest “politicisation” of education, they participated in today’s deliberations.

In fact, Rajasthan Education Minister Ghanshyam Tiwari, who spearheaded the attack against Mr Arjun Singh, was named convener of the CABE committee on universalisation of secondary education.Top

 

Foreign-origin issue boomeranged on BJP, says JNU expert
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Professor Zoya Hasan, Chairperson, Centre for Political Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, today said that people’s verdict in the General Elections this year had pronounced a setback for sectarianism and ultra-nationalism and an important gain for the ideas of pluralism and tolerance. Delivering the Ninth Prem Bhatia Memorial Lecture on ‘Indian polity today and the road ahead’ at the India International Centre here today evening, Ms Hasan dissected the policies of the BJP-led NDA government and the factors that contributed to the victory of the Congress.

She said that the 2004 verdict was a mandate for tolerance, secularism delivered by a discerning electorate. She interpreted the election as a battle over two different ideas of India, one inclusive and compassionate, the other homogeneous and elite.

Professor Hasan said that the BJP focused on economic prosperity of the middle classes and the business elite and transforming India into a great power by 2020. “It believed that so long as the upper and middle classes were rich and happy, the bulk of the Indian population did not matter. It allowed a miniscule economic minority to prosper at the expense of the majority and regarded the level of the Sensex as a measure of India’s success.”

The Congress, on the other hand, showed empathy towards the lower socio-economic groups who had been marginalised in recent years by the economic reforms process. She opined that this seemed to have contributed in large measure to the return of the Congress to the centre of the political arena.

Ms Hasan said that the unanticipated defeat of the NDA represented the most remarkable turnaround in Indian politics and was likely to be regarded by future historians of Indian democracy as a watershed. She said that the NDA’s focus on Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin as a major campaign issue appeared to have seriously misfired with voters decisively rejecting it.

Mr N.N. Vohra, Interlocutor of the government in Jammu and Kashmir, who presided over the function, recounted his association with Mr Prem Bhatia. He said that Mr Bhatia was rare specie of journalist and subsequently editor and was “visibly unafraid of the establishment.” Mr Vohra described Hasan’s speech as an “outstanding essay” and said that those copies of Hasan’s speech should be circulated to leaders of all political parties.

The Prem Bhatia Memorial Trust also gave away the awards and scholarships to journalists for this year. Richard Mahapatra and Zafar Iqbal Choudhary received the scholarships. P. Sainath, Rural Editor of The Hindu and Ashok P. Sharma from the Financial Express were given the Prem Bhatia awards for excellent reporting.Top

 

HC tells Rishikesh ‘doc’ to give in
Swati Vashishtha
Tribune News Service

Rishikesh, August 11
The Uttaranchal High Court today directed the lawyer of Dr R.K. Gupta, who is on the run after a raid on his clinic, to withdraw his application for anticipitary bail. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Mr Justice Ershad Hussain asked Dr Gupta to surrender in the court within three days.

Known to dupe patients with ‘miraclous cure’ for epilipsy, Dr Gupta was booked under the NDPS Act and violation of the licence Act apart from Section 420, IPC, following a raid on his clinic by the State Drug Controller last week. The Rishikesh-based quack, who used narcotic substances in his medicines, was not even a registered medical practitioner.

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 DVS Prasad. The police had received over 12 complaints against R.K. Gupta from all over the country, the police said. Dr Gupta could be either in Jaipur or Delhi, sources in Rishikesh said.

Dr Gupta, who claimed to go to the Himalayas in the small hours of the morning to get the miraculous Ayurveda medicine actually bought the pills from a local plant for Rs 60 per kg, said Mr Jagdish Raturi, a former employee at Neeraj Clinic. The same drug was sold under a code name at different price to people, he said. Into the profession for 20 years now, the doctor has property scattered over 12 places in Rishikesh, including a state-of-the art dental college.

The doctor has been in the news all for wrong reasons a number of times in the past. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) declared him a quack in 2000. Subsequently, the state government ended his appointment as honorary Ayurveda adviser to the Government of Delhi.

The fugitive doctor could be given life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.
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CBI raids Bank of Maharashtra offices
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 11
The CBI raided offices of the Bank of Maharashtra in Pune today amidst reports of
irregularities by its op officials, according to sources here. This is a nationalised bank.

According to reports received here, officials of the CBI’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) descended on ‘’Mahabank House’’ and “Lokmangal” where the bank headquarters and operational offices are located.

A number of branches belonging to the bank have been sealed and top officials are being interrogated, sources say. These include Executive Director of the bank Ashok Dugade, whose residence has been sealed.

Nobody was allowed to leave Mr Dugade’s residence while the raid was in progress.

Mr Dugade was promoted as an Executive Director recently from the post of General Manager at the bank’s headquarters. Known for his networking skills, Mr Dugade was tipped to take over as the Bank of Maharashtra’s Chairman.

After the RBI nudged the bank to inquire into certain loans sanctioned by its top officials, investigating officers detected irregularities in loans to the tune of Rs 125 crore made to certain corporates, sources say.

A number of the these loans reportedly turned bad, thereby increasing the non-performing assets of the bank.

In all 21 cases were listed by investigators where there was evidence of irregularities.

Top officials are also being probed for not disclosing the existence of huge non-performing assets in the bank’s last financial statement. Bank officials are also accused of lending more funds to troubled companies.

The bank’s Chairman S.C. Basu is away on an official visit to the USA and had been informed about the raid, according to a UNI report
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PM begins janata darbar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has revived the old practice of the head of government meeting people (janata darbar) at his residence to know their problems.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) have been assigned to receive grievances from the public. The Prime Minister meets people for one hour from 9 am when requests are received, PMO sources said.
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BJP opposes scrapping of POTA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
The Bharatiya Janata Party today came out strongly against scrapping of the Prevention Of Terrorism Act (POTA) saying that it would resist its repealing in Parliament and would demand the issue to be referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament when the issue comes up for transaction in both Houses. The party was of the view that the government should be guided by the concerns of the security forces and intelligence agencies dealing with terror and not the vote-bank compulsions. The issue should be debated in detail and should not be dropped because ruling alliance wanted it, BJP sources said. The Union Cabinet had yesterday decided to repeal POTA before the law expired on October 23.

The POTA, BJP sources say, has seven provisions that made this law different from a normal law and it was these provisions that would act as a deterrent because in most cases the terrorists were either killed or executed their plans and escape. “POTA only deals with those who provide logistical support, and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the attack on Parliament are two text-book cases of terror,” BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Sources said that the conviction of Rajiv killers could never have taken place if the country had merely depended on an ordinary law. 
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NCP seeks inclusion in panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
The Nationalist Congress Party today indirectly staked its claim for the newly constituted Left-Congress Coordination Committee asking for its expansion to make it “more representative”.

Welcoming the formation of the committee as a “commendable and mature step,” General Secretary and chief spokesman Devi Prasad Tripathi told newspersons that “a mechanism should be evolved to make the committee more representative.”

At the same time he said the committee should be “small and effective” and not “unwieldy.”

While Mr Tripathi evaded a direct reply on whether the NCP should be included in the set-up saying that his party was already part of the 15-member coordination committee of the ruling UPA alliance, sources said that party president and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar was keen to be on the committee as it would add to his stature.
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Centre to focus on crop diversification in Punjab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
Diversification of crops in Punjab and Haryana would be the main focus area of the Centre in the agricultural sector, the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar here today.

He said the Centre would participate with the state governments in helping farmers to diversify from wheat/rice crop to other cash crops.

Mr Pawar said the government would ensure that the diversification in these two states do not result in a drop in the foodgrain stock in the country.

Efforts would be made to encourage the farmers in other states to cultivate rice/wheat by providing better MSP and other incentives, he said.

The Union Minister said the thrust area would be horticulture, as it provides immense scope for the farmers to diversify from the rice/wheat pattern.

He said Punjab Chief Minster Capt Amarinder Singh had discussed the issue with him and had even submitted the Johl committee report on diversification.

Another area of focus in the ministry would be improving the health of the cattle in the country and enable farmers to earn from other sources. 
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Access refused to Dhananjoy, says counsel
Our Correspondent and PTI

Kolkata, August 11
The stage is finally set for hanging Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the rapist and killer of Hetal Parekh, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, on the eve of Independence Day on August 14, which, incidentally, is Dhananjoy’s birthday.

But the Association for Protection for Democratic Rights (APDR) and some other human rights organisations have made a last-time move to the Supreme Court for stalling his death penalty. The case will come up for hearing in the apex court tomorrow.

Dhananjoy Chatterjee’s counsel, Mr Joymalya Bagchi, claimed that he was refused access to his client, now in a condemned cell of the high-security Alipore Central Jail. Mr Bagchi said he had sought an interview with Dhananjoy but was refused access to the convict by the Jail Superintendent.

Mr Jaidev Chakraborty, IG (Jail), said all arrangements for executing Dhananjoy’s death sentence had been finalised. The IG said the state’s lone hangman, Nata Mallick, had agreed to act as a hangman for Dhananjoy’s hanging, who had last performed as a hangman in 1993 in the same jail in hanging two persons found guilty of gruesome killing of an entire family in south Dinajpur in north Bengal.

Dhananjoy was given the death penalty in 1991 for raping and killing Hetal Parekh on March 5, 1990.
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EC dares AIADMK on EVMs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
The Election Commission today rejected the AIADMK charge that electronic voting machines (EVMs) could be “doctored and tampered with”, and challenged the ruling party in Tamil Nadu to prove its claim.

“The commission is prepared to give you an opportunity to prove your point before the commission on any randomly selected EVM of the commission from anywhere in Tamil Nadu or the country at a mutually convenient date and time”, the EC said in a letter to AIADMK Legal Adviser N. Jothi.
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Mumbai civic staff stir hits life
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 11
Bus services, hospitals, crematoria, water supply and essential facilities in Mumbai were severely affected as more than 1,70,000 workers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation went on a three-day strike today.

The agitation left lakhs of commuters stranded at railway stations as taxis and auto-rickshaws were unable to take the excess load off the streets. 
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BRIEFLY

Carnage accused detained
AHMEDABAD:
The Gujarat police has detained an accused in Godhra train carnage incident, a senior police official said here on Wednesday. The anti-dacoity squad of the Godhra police had arrested one Rauf Abdul Majid Dhensli, alias Kamli, from the sensitive town on Tuesday, taking the total number of arrests in the case to 94. Thirtysix others are still absconding. — PTI

97 judicial custody deaths
GUWAHATI:
As many as 97 prisoners died in judicial custody during the past four years in Assam, official sources said here on Wednesday. Of these, 87 died of several diseases, including tuberculosis, heart ailments, kidney failure, gastroenteritis, malaria, asthma, cerebral attacks and cancer. Three undertrials had committed suicide, while two died of sudden accidents. — PTI

Rare tortoises seized
DEHRA DUN:
The Forest Department officials have seized 43 endangered varieties of tortoise at Roorkee which were being sold illegally. According to the police, these tortoises had been caught from the Ganges at Hardwar by two smugglers. The persons were caught red-handed by forest officials as they were trying to sell them off at Roorkee. Later, the two were produced in court and sent to jail. — UNI
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