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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

No political motive behind officer’s promotion: Pranab
New Delhi, August 12
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has denied that there were any political reasons behind the promotion of an officer to the rank of Lt-General recently which has created a controversy in the Army circles.

CBI looking into bank officials’ assets
Mumbai, August 12
The CBI is investigating the assets accumulated by top officials of Bank of Maharashtra where huge dud loans have been uncovered. The apex investigating agency, which raided bank premises on yesterday, has seized documents from the Pune residence of Ashok Dugade, Executive Director of the bank.

Dhananjoy’s parents faint
Kolkata, August 12
The stage is set for hanging Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the rapist and killer of Hetal Parekh, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, on August 14, state Jail Minister Biswanth Chowdhury said after receiving information about the Supreme Court’s rejection of a fresh petition for condoning the death penalty filed by Dhananjoy’s brother, Mr Bikash Chatterjee.



EARLIER STORIES

 

Women activists divided on capital punishment
New Delhi, August 12
Women activists today said that the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Dhananjoy Chatterjee case has put the spotlight on the much debated issue of capital punishment.

Review, not scrap, forces Act: BJP
New Delhi, August 12
Demanding that the Centre should “review and not scrap” the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (Assam and Manipur), the BJP said today that UPA ministers instead of sending “conflicting signals” should immediately initiate political dialogue with Manipuri people to diffuse the explosive situation in the hill state.

Railway staff manhandle Star News team
New Delhi, August 12
Railway employees today manhandled the camera crew of a private news channel trying to capture the employees’ reactions and repercussions to the recent surprise visit by Railway Minister Laloo Prasad to Railway Bhavan.

To Athens in search of European dream
New Delhi, August 12
The Athens Olympics have captured the imagination of the Indian ‘tourist’ like never before. As the Indian athletes slog it out to earn a place of pride in the world’s largest sporting event, the games are being seen by many as a one-way ticket to land in exotic European locales.

People from Punjab queue up at the Greece Embassy in New Delhi on Thursday to get visas to watch the Olympic games in Athens. — Tribune photo by Rajeev Tyagi
People from Punjab queue up at the Greece Embassy in New Delhi on Thursday to get visas to watch the Olympic games in Athens.

Naidu for debate on gender justice
New Delhi, August 12
Calling for a nationwide debate on gender justice in all spheres of life, BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu today asserted that rights of women, in respect of marriage, divorce and other issues, should be in conformity with the Constitution.

Maharashtra poll likely in Oct
New Delhi, August 12
The elections for the 288- member Maharashtra Assembly were likely to take place in the second week of October. Highly placed sources in the Election Commission told The Tribune that the poll panel was contemplating to hold the elections on October 11 or 13.

BJP for sack of Taslimuddin
Patna, August 12
The BJP today claimed that a court in Bihar had issued warrant for attachment of property of Union Minister of State for Civil Supplies Taslimuddin under the Explosive Substance Act and the Arms Act after the police failed to execute a non-bailable arrest warrant against him and demanded his immediate dismissal. BJP vice-president Sushil Kumar Modi, releasing certified copies of the order of the Araria court at a press conference here, said a case was registered against the RJD leader with the Araria police station. — PTI

Efforts to end hostage crisis
New Delhi, August 12
Indian Ambassador to Oman Talmiz Ahmed, who has been sent to Iraq by the government to resolve the Indian hostage crisis, has been making every possible effort to secure the safe release of the hostages. “Mr Ahmed is trying to contact everybody who can help in resolving the 22-day-old crisis,” sources said here tonight. Meanwhile, the Crisis Management Group, set up by the government to deal with the crisis, met for two hours in the morning and then for another three hours in the afternoon to take stock of the situation. — UNI

Objection to mention of ‘able-bodied person’ in Act
New Delhi, August 12
The National Human Rights Commission Chairperson, Justice A.S. Anand has written to the Finance Minister and the Labour Minister to delete the reference to ‘able bodied person’ in the proposed National Employment Guarantee Act and make appropriate provisions for the employment of disabled persons.

Lawyers stir hits court working
Chennai, August 12
The month-old lawyers’ agitation in the Madras High Court against its decision to start a Bench in Madurai has severely affected judicial work in Tamil Nadu. Cases have piled up.

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No political motive behind officer’s promotion: Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has denied that there were any political reasons behind the promotion of an officer to the rank of Lt-General recently which has created a controversy in the Army circles.

While accepting the fact that the officer had been rejected for the promotion on two earlier occasions by the Army Promotion Board, the minister pointed out that the political authorities had the right to override the “Board”.

Talking to Karan Thapar on BBC’s “Hard Talk India”, the Defence Minister, reacting angrily to the question whether there were political compulsions behind the promotion of the officer whose brother was a senior Congress leader, said “that’s absolutely wrong, and this is the insinuation sometimes people bring without any basis.” “I was not influenced by anybody. I did not concede the lobbying of any quarter”.

He also said: “we go by the recommendations of the selection board, but the ultimate choice lies with the civilian authority. In 99 per cent of the cases we may go with the recommendations, but there can be departure in one or two cases”.

Voicing concern at the continuing shortage of officers in the army and the battle fatigues not attracting the youth, Mr Mukherjhee said the government was considering “added incentives” to woo “brighter persons”.

With the Army having a staggering shortage of 13,000 officers, he said: “Yes, I am concerned, and I am more concerned that many persons are not joining. I am getting a little worried when I find that bright officers are requesting to resign and go away”.

On the bottleneck in the Army with 80 per cent of the officers retiring between the ages of 35 and 40 at the ranks of Major or Lt Col, the Defence Minister said there were various proposals before the government to get over this issue.

On whether the problem could be sorted out by seconding overlooked officers to the paramilitary forces, he said there was a “vested interest” that the promotion line should be from the ranks and that they did not want inductions at a relatively high level.

On defence allocation, particularly capital outlay remaining unspent, he said this year’s allocation would definitely be used.

“Perhaps you will have to wait till February 28 when next year’s Budget is presented, because what I am saying is not adequate unless it is established on the ground and that will be shown to be done”.

He also refuted contentions that he had reversed some of the previous government’s decision, particularly the non-lapsable rolling fund, and said: “it was just an intention but no money had been allocated and therefore no fund was created”. “It was just an expression of intention in the Budget speech of the then Finance Minister but neither a head was created nor a penny was deposited there. So there is no question of my reversing this”, he said.

Mr Mukherjee refused to be drawn into the controversy over allegations of rape and killing of a Manipur woman, Thangjam Manorama, saying that there were two separate court of inquiries under way and it would be improper for him to say anything at this stage.

He said personnel of the Assam Rifles, allegedly involved in the incident, had been suspended and confined to barracks.
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CBI looking into bank officials’ assets
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 12
The CBI is investigating the assets accumulated by top officials of Bank of Maharashtra where huge dud loans have been uncovered.

The apex investigating agency, which raided bank premises on yesterday, has seized documents from the Pune residence of Ashok Dugade, Executive Director of the bank. According to sources Dugade has shares worth Rs 20 lakh and bank deposits worth Rs 15 lakh. Should Dugade not be able to explain the sources of funds for these investments, he will be charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Investigators have accused the bank of lending more than Rs 120 crore in about 21 suspicious deals. The CBI has so far begun investigations in six cases, according to sources.

The cases under probe include loans made to Mumbai-based Jiwani group of companies, Kansom Exports and Ambica Timber Mart. The loans made to these companies worth Rs 15 crore have all gone bad, thereby sparking investigations by a special committee.

Bank officials are accused of refinancing some of these companies so that the accounts could be shown as profitable - a process known as greening of accounts in the trade.

The CBI has accused Dugade of conniving with the Jiwanis and others who obtained loans from the bank for their export businesses but diverted these funds.

The loans were given to companies owned by Jiwanis and their associates and in their individual capacities as well. Cases have been registered against Dugade, Karandikar, GM (Delhi) B.K. Piparalya, former bank manager R.Y. Khade and seven members of the Jiwani family.
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Dhananjoy’s parents faint
Subhrangshu Gupta

Kolkata, August 12
The stage is set for hanging Dhananjoy Chatterjee, the rapist and killer of Hetal Parekh, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, on August 14, state Jail Minister Biswanth Chowdhury said after receiving information about the Supreme Court’s rejection of a fresh petition for condoning the death penalty filed by Dhananjoy’s brother, Mr Bikash Chatterjee.

The minister said Dhananjoy would be hanged at 4.30 am on Saturday at Alipore Central Jail under strict security. Nata Mallick will act as the hangman to execute the death penalty.

According to the Jail Minister, Dhananjoy broke down as he got the news about the rejection of the petition. But he remained silent and calm.

Early in the morning, Dhananjoy woke up in his cell and sat down with a copy of the Gita in his hands. He could be heard chanting “slokas” from the Gita which drew the jail warders and other security staff towards the condemned cell No. 3.

Several other prisoners in the adjoining cells were also keen to come out to be present near cell No 3 but were not allowed to do so by the warders.

Meanwhile, in the remote village of Kuludihi in Bankura, about 200 km from here, Dhananjoy’s father, Bangshidhar, wife Purnima and other relatives, who still had some ray of hope in the morning, fainted as they received information about the rejection of the petition.

According to legal experts, the new petition by Mr Sridhar Badri, a lawyer, which comes up for hearing tomorrow Kolkata High Court, will now be automatically rejected in the wake of the Supreme Court’s judgement today.

Meanwhile, Bankura SP Anil Kumar said that light security had been provided at Dhananjoy’s house in view of an earlier threat by his family members to commit mass suicide if he was sent to the gallows.
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Women activists divided on capital punishment
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
Women activists today said that the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Dhananjoy Chatterjee case has put the spotlight on the much debated issue of capital punishment.

National Commission for Women Chairperson, Poornima Advani said the case had thrown up the question whether anybody had the right to take away a person’s life. “The moral argument is that you have no right to take away somebody’s life if you cannot give life to a person. The other argument is if there is capital punishment in the law books, then law should take its course. There are three theories of punishment in criminal jurisprudence. The retributive theory based on revenge, the deterrent theory aimed at certainty of punishment and instilling a fear of law and the rehabilitative theory which should be called the reformative theory. The apex court verdict in this case can be interpreted as going back to the retributive theory of punishment. The theory which advocates eye for eye, tooth for tooth and life for life is no longer propagated in criminal jurisprudence,” she said.

Dr Advani said cases of crime against women ought to be decided in a time-bound manner. “Justice should be done and seen to be done in a time-bound manner. In this case, the convict has spent 13 years of his life pleading exemption from death. This or any other judgement whether for life imprisonment or for the guillotine should have come earlier,” she said.

Political activist Jaya Jaitley said she was against capital punishment as a principle and philosophy. “Rape is as bad as murder. If we believe that somebody cannot take a person’s life, then the state should also not give itself the right to take anybody’s life. This is what we call official vengeance.”
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Review, not scrap, forces Act: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
Demanding that the Centre should “review and not scrap” the Armed Forces Special Powers (AFSP) Act (Assam and Manipur), the BJP said today that UPA ministers instead of sending “conflicting signals” should immediately initiate political dialogue with Manipuri people to diffuse the explosive situation in the hill state.

“There is no need to repeal the AFSP Act as it would be against country’s security interests, but there is definitely scope for reviewing the Act, which was enacted way back in 1958, especially its Sections 3, 4 and 6,” BJP leader and Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Home Sushma Swaraj said here.

She opposed the reported move of the Centre to withdraw Assam Rifles from Manipur as a measure to quell the dissent of the people.

“What purpose it will serve to replace Assam Rifles, which comprises of jawans from the north-east itself,.. another force with same powers will not help,” Ms Swaraj said, adding “instead Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should initiate a political dialogue with the Manipuri people and make moves to review the Act.”

“As there are 17 insurgent groups operating in Manipur, it would be unwise to go for the repeal of the AFSP Act, but since the Act was implemented in 1958, there could be review of its various provisions and identification of the sections which need either deletion, amendment or modification,” she said.

Asked about the conflicting statements emanating from Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Shivraj Patil, the BJP leader said “it reflected the incohesiveness in the UPA.”

On the Centre’s decision to scrap POTA, Ms Swaraj hoped that the matter would be referred to the Standing Committee of Parliament for threadbare debate before a final decision was taken.

The BJP leader said POTA was the only Act which clearly defined terrorist and terrorism and also provided for effectively banning terrorist organisation and checking funding of these anti-national groups.

“The Centre has to be very clear whether it wants to treat even a terrorist like any other criminal or it would incorporate the special provisions made in POTA in some other existing law... If the crucial provisions contained in POTA are to be incorporated in other laws, then what is the real purpose of scrapping POTA,” she asked.
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Railway staff manhandle Star News team

New Delhi, August 12
Railway employees today manhandled the camera crew of a private news channel trying to capture the employees’ reactions and repercussions to the recent surprise visit by Railway Minister Laloo Prasad to Railway Bhavan.

A Star News team was investigating whether the surprise check by the Railway Minister had any impact on the railway employees. When some of the employees were caught on camera still coming late, they got enraged and attacked the media team.

“They manhandled the cameraman and even tried to destroy the camera. The employees also threatened the team and asked it to stop filming and leave the scene,” a Star News press note here said.

Timely intervention of the police helped control the enraged railway employees.

Meanwhile, the Railway Minister has ordered an inquiry into the incident and stated that appropriate action would be taken against the employees concerned. Ministry officials have also rendered a formal apology to Star News. — UNI
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To Athens in search of European dream
Gaurav Choudhury and Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
The Athens Olympics have captured the imagination of the Indian ‘tourist’ like never before. As the Indian athletes slog it out to earn a place of pride in the world’s largest sporting event, the games are being seen by many as a one-way ticket to land in exotic European locales.

Thousands of people, largely from Punjab and Haryana and masquerading as sports lovers, are burning the midnight oil in front of the Greece Embassy here in the Capital. Most of them, in their mid-30s and coming from diverse occupational backgrounds, including small trading, agriculture and taxi drivers, are nurturing a desire of eventually settling down in Europe.

A visit to the embassy, however, throws up a different story, with several of these visa-seekers not hesitating to admit that landing in Greece in the name of the games could open up opportunities of eventually settling down in some European country.

Till recently, the Greek Embassy was issuing visas, which would enable them to travel to any of the 25 member countries (Schengen visas) of the European Union (EU). The unusually large rush and long serpentine queues at the embassy perhaps may have prompted the authorities to restrict the travel permit only to Greece.

The Greek authorities declined to comment. The Greece Government has reportedly asked its missions abroad to expedite the visa process of sports enthusiasts in view of the poor ticket sales.

Even this has not deterred the zealous ‘sports lovers’ from seeking visa as many of them think that a travel abroad once reduces the procedural rigmarole in the subsequent visits. “My uncle from Germany has sent me tickets for the games. This time, I will come back after watching some matches and meeting my uncle. I have been told that if I come back, I will have better chances to get a visa next time,” said Sandeep Singh from Rara Sahib in Punjab.

“The visa is like a lottery of Rs 1 to 2 lakh. If I get it, I will try to settle down anywhere in Greece or some European country with the help of my relatives or agents and may earn up to Rs 10 lakh per year. That sum I can never dream of,” said a youth from Karnal, who was standing in the queue since last night.

Mr Baljit Singh, who has trudged all the way from Hoshiarpur, echoed similar views. “My sister has sent me tickets for five matches from Switzerland, besides hotel tickets. I am hopeful that I will get three months’ visa for the Olympics, which is otherwise almost impossible to get,” he said.
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Naidu for debate on gender justice
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
Calling for a nationwide debate on gender justice in all spheres of life, BJP President M Venkaiah Naidu today asserted that rights of women, in respect of marriage, divorce and other issues, should be in conformity with the Constitution. The BJP President also stated that his party was prepared to support any alternative proposal for women’s reservation in Parliament and state legislature, on which a broad consensus could be forged.

He was addressing the national executive meeting of the BJP women’s wing here.

Without making any reference to the party’s core issue of the Uniform Civil Code, Mr Naidu said “religious practices and ritual can be guided by respective religions. But the rights of women, in respect of birth, marriage, divorce, inheritance, dignity, etc, have to be in conformity with the Constitution and the laws of the land”.

“In this context, it is heartening that there has recently been a renewed debate in the Muslim community over the undesirability of the custom of triple talaq. The BJP is of the opinion that such issues of reform and gender justice should be discussed without their unnecessary and motivated politicisation”, he said.

The BJP chief asked the party’s women’s wing to initiate a nationwide debate beginning from the village level.
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Maharashtra poll likely in Oct
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
The elections for the 288- member Maharashtra Assembly were likely to take place in the second week of October.

Highly placed sources in the Election Commission told The Tribune that the poll panel was contemplating to hold the elections on October 11 or 13.

The poll panel was determined to hold one-day poll in the state as enough para-military personnel could be deployed in the state and Maharashtra was likely to be the only state which would go to polls in October.

The term of the Assembly comes to an end on October 20 and a new Assembly has to be reconstituted before that date.

Sources said the Election Commission, after considering the concerns of the different political parties in the state, was of the view that polls in the state should be held after Ganesh Chaturthi.

The political parties were of the view that during the festival season people in different parts of the state visited native villages and towns hence little political activity could take place.

Considering the festivals in the state and other factors, the sources said the commission was considering holding the polls in second week.

As the electoral laws required the poll panel to give a fortnight time of the political parties to campaign, they said the likely dates were October 11 and 13.

Election Commission sources said the final publication of the electoral rolls in the state would take place on August 18 and only then the poll panel would take a final view on the issue.
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Objection to mention of ‘able-bodied person’ in Act
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairperson, Justice A.S. Anand has written to the Finance Minister and the Labour Minister to delete the reference to ‘able bodied person’ in the proposed National Employment Guarantee Act and make appropriate provisions for the employment of disabled persons.

Sources in the NHRC told the TNS here on Wednesday that the Commission has pointed out the inclusion of the reference ‘able bodied person’ in the Union Budget speech last month has led to an unrest among the non-government organisations working in the disability sector.

The commission does not see any merit in restricting 100 days of employment in one year to one able bodied person in every poor household. It is of the view that the reference to able bodied persons in para 16 of part A of the Budget speech discriminates against persons with disability.

The commission has from time to time recommended measures to protect the rights of persons with disability and has ensured their equal participation in society.

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Lawyers stir hits court working
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 12
The month-old lawyers’ agitation in the Madras High Court against its decision to start a Bench in Madurai has severely affected judicial work in Tamil Nadu. Cases have piled up.

While the High Court is limping back to normalcy with a section of the lawyers deciding to end the boycott and return to work, another section protesting against the new code of conduct and the jurisdiction of the Madurai Bench continued with its boycott today, hitting judicial work.

According to High Court sources, the Chief Justice had instructed the police to deploy more personnel in the premises to prevent advocates from taking out processions, shouting slogans and preventing willing advocates from attending courts.
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Dismiss Taslimuddin, demands BJP

Patna, August 12
The BJP today claimed that a court in Bihar had issued warrant for attachment of property of Union Minister of State for Civil Supplies Taslimuddin under the Explosive Substance Act and the Arms Act after the police failed to execute a non-bailable arrest warrant against him and demanded his immediate dismissal.

BJP vice-president Sushil Kumar Modi, releasing certified copies of the order of the Araria court here, said a case was registered against the RJD leader with the Araria police station under certain Sections of the IPC, the Arms Act and the Explosive Substance Act. — PTI
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Montek is co-chief of Indo-US talks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has been designated as Co-Chairman on the Indian side of the India-US economic dialogue, the Ministry of External Affairs announced yesterday.

Mr Ahluwalia would be working with his US counterpart Stephen Friedman, the Economic Policy Assistant to President George Bush. Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran would be assisting Mr Ahluwalia.
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India, Japan back each other for UN council seat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 12
India and Japan today endorsed each other's candidature for permanent membership of the UN Security Council and decided to set up a joint working group on counter-terrorism.

The decisions were announced by External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and his Japanese counterpart Yoriko Kawaguchi after talks on bilateral and international issues.
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Earthquake rocks Bhuj

New Delhi, August 12
An earthquake of slight intensity shook the Bhuj region of Gujarat early today, the Meteorological Department said.

The quake, which struck at 1.28 am, had a preliminary magnitude of 3.6 on the Richter scale.

No reports of any damage or injuries were reported so far. — PTI
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BRIEFLY

Soren in judicial custody
GIRIDIH (Jharkhand):
Incarcerated Jharkhand Mukti Morcha supremo Sibu Soren, on Thursday appeared before the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Giridih, in connection with the triple murder case in 1974 and was again remanded to judicial custody. Soren was currently lodged in a makeshift jail in Jamtara after a fast track court had ordered him to be sent to judicial custody on August 2. — UNI

Tantrik or Pak spy?
MORENA:
Fazal Chaudhry — the man recently arrested at Agra on the charge of spying for Pakistan — was also cheating this town’s populace for the past four years, while disguised as a tantrik. The police said Fazal’s residence here was sealed on Wednesday after several documents, including some diaries, were seized. Fazal, who had taken the small room on rent at Subhash Nagar, was in the habit of leaving for undisclosed destinations and remained absent for 10-15 days at a stretch. — UNI

Workers’ memo to donkey
PONDICHERRY: Communist Party of India (CPI) workers, who have been demanding the provision of free house sites for several years, on Thursday resorted to a novel agitation to press their demand by submitting memoranda to a donkey at Kottuppalayam near here. The workers brought the donkey to the Land and Survey Department and submitted memoranda to the animal individually. — UNI

‘Bandit queen’ acquitted
KANPUR:
Bandit queen Seema Parihar, who spent 17 years in Chambal ravines as a member of Lalaram and Nirbhay Gurjar gangs, was acquitted of charges under the Gangster Act by a Kanpur court on Wednesday. Additional District and Sessions Judge C L Verma said the prosecution failed to establish the charges against Seema and hence, she had been acquitted. — UNI
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