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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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N A T I O N

Mixed response to truckers’ strike
Govt wants crisis to continue: Saksena

New Delhi, August 21
The indefinite nationwide transport strike began this morning with breakdown of talks between the All-India Motor Transport Congress and the Finance Minister over the contentious issue of imposition of service tax on goods booking companies.

Striking truck drivers while away their time in New Delhi on Saturday. The strike has been called by the All-India Transporters and Truckers United Front to protest against the 10 per cent service tax. Striking truck drivers while away their time in New Delhi on Saturday. The strike has been called by the All-India Transporters and Truckers United Front to protest against the 10 per cent service tax. 
— PTI photo

Resolve water disputes amicably, say PM, Sonia
New Delhi, August 21
In an apparent disapproval of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s step of going ahead with a legislation to abrogate water sharing agreements with neighbouring states, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi said today that states should resolve water disputes amicably keeping in mind the larger national interest.

CCS meets to take stock of Nepal situation
New Delhi, August 21
The Cabinet Committee on Security met at a short notice here this afternoon to discuss the situation in Nepal as the Maoist insurgents’ unprecedented economic blockade of Kathmandu entered the fourth day today.



Singer-turned-music director Shankar Mahadevan performs at Amar Jyoti
Singer-turned-music director Shankar Mahadevan performs at Amar Jyoti - a musical tribute to the unknown soldiers, in New Delhi on Friday night. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 
Veteran Bollywood actor Om Puri and debutant actor Piyush Jha share a light moment during the shooting of their forthcoming film for their forthcoming film King of Bollywood
Veteran Bollywood actor Om Puri (right) and debutant actor Piyush Jha share a light moment during the shooting of their forthcoming film for their forthcoming film King of Bollywood, in New Delhi on Saturday. — PTI

Law Commission for changes in Constitution
New Delhi, August 21
With a view to make dispensation of justice speedy and easily available to common man, specially the poor, the Law Commission has recommended inclusion of an Article in the Constitution, based on the model of the South African Constitution.

SC notice to Bar Council in warrant scam
New Delhi, August 21
The Supreme Court yesterday made the Bar Council of India party to the “warrant for cash” scam in which three Ahmedabad lawyers and a magistrate were allegedly involved, saying the stand of the lawyer’s apex body had to be known on taking action against the errant advocates.

2 criminals shot on Hardwar-Roorkee highway
Dehra Dun, August 21
The police along with an SOG team killed a dreaded criminal Sanjay Gujjar and his associate in an encounter on the Hardwar-Roorkee highway, yesterday. At least eight cases of loot and extortion were pending against Gujjar in Saharanpur and Hardwar, the police said.

Strike called off, tension prevails in Imphal valley
Imphal, August 21
The week-long general strike that crippled normal life in the Imphal valley, was called off this morning amid tension over the “public last rites’’ for self-immolator Peban Chittaranjan.

Hostages safe
New Delhi, August 21
The Iraq hostage crisis slid into the second month today even as the Ministry of External Affairs continued to keep silent on the issue. There was no statement or briefing on the issue from the MEA today, as has been the case since the Kuwaiti company KGL’s talks with the captors’ mediator Sheikh Hisham al-Dulaimi broke down earlier this month. However, a senior official told The Tribune this evening that the three Indian hostages were safe. — TNS

Five die in gas tanker blast
Jamshedpur, August 21 
Five persons were charred to death and seven sustained severe burn injuries in an explosion that occurred after a gas tanker rammed into a road-side tree near Pitajhuri village in East Singhbhum district late last night. The driver of the tanker and his assistant died on the spot while three villagers succumbed to their injuries in a hospital here this morning, the Deputy Commissioner of the district said. — PTI

Notice to TN Home Secretary on lawyers’ strike
New Delhi, August 21
The Supreme Court yesterday took serious view of the continued strike by lawyers in Tamil Nadu and directed the police to take appropriate action. Issuing notices to the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary, Commissioner of Police, Chennai, presidents of the Chennai Advocates Association and Madras High Court Bar Association, a Bench headed by Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde directed that the police would ensure protection to the advocates who were attending courts.

Govt urged to shift sheep breeding farm
New Delhi, August 21
A parliamentary panel has asked the government to shift the Central Sheep Breeding Farm in Hissar within six months. “The government should review the situation and take steps to shift the farm to another suitable place within six months,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture said.

Doctors not to be coerced into rural postings: Ramadoss
New Delhi, August 21
The government yesterday stated that members of medical fraternity could not be coerced into posting, but they could be provided inducements for serving in rural areas.

Shahtoosh wool seized
Dehra Dun, August 21
The police has seized a large quantity of banned shahtoosh wool from a vehicle at Dharchula in the border district of Pithoragarh. The utility vehicle was carrying 82 kg of banned wool, including 17 kg of pure shahtoosh wool. 

M’rashtra waives interest on farm loans
Mumbai, August 21
The Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday decided to waive interest on loans taken by farmers across the state, Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters after the meeting. The decision would cost the state exchequer Rs 345 crore.

3rd Asian Film Festival begins in Mumbai
Mumbai, August 21

Screening of Afghan film “The Osama”, the first feature film in post-Taliban regime, kickstarted the third Asian Film Festival here this evening.

Video
The snippety page that the media loves to hate is back in news with Madhur Bhandarkar's Page 3.
(28k, 56k)

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Mixed response to truckers’ strike
Govt wants crisis to continue: Saksena
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
The indefinite nationwide transport strike began this morning with breakdown of talks between the All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC) and the Finance Minister over the contentious issue of imposition of service tax on goods booking companies.

Transporters in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, however, stayed away from the strike, reports reaching here said.

The Centre had said yesterday that the strike was “unwarranted and against the interest of the public”.

The government had offered to set up a committee comprising members from the government and the AIMTC to look into the procedural problems.

“It seems the Centre wants the crisis to continue. The Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has made it a prestige issue in not meeting us,” Secretary-General of AIMTC J.M. Saksena told newspersons here.

Significantly, Mr Saksena said the government might be trying to keep the oil import bill low and therefore wants the strike to continue.

“Whatever be the government’s claim, we have received reports from all over the country that more than 90 per cent trucks are not plying and the strike would continue till the Centre withdraws service tax in the interest of the public,” he added.

The meetings between AIMTC representatives and the Revenue Secretary failed to break the deadlock and Mr Saksena demanded that subsequent meetings should take place either with the Finance Secretary or Finance Minister P. Chidambaram himself.

He said the strike was resulting in a daily loss of Rs 500 crore to the truckers. The estimated revenue loss to the industry was in the range of Rs 15,000 crore annually.

Mr Saksena said truckers who were not participating in the strike had been expelled from the AIMTC.

The Delhi Government has invoked the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) following the strike. Even though essential commodities have been spared, the strike have raised concern about rising prices, especially at a time when the inflation rate is 8 per cent.

A high-level review meeting was held here after which the Centre asked all states to stockpile essential commodities and closely monitor the situation.

Oil companies have been instructed to maintain continuous supply of petrol and diesel at petrol stations and LPG and kerosene.

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Resolve water disputes amicably, say PM, Sonia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
In an apparent disapproval of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s step of going ahead with a legislation to abrogate water sharing agreements with neighbouring states, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi said today that states should resolve water disputes amicably keeping in mind the larger national interest.

“Every state has a right to consider its interest but the country’s interest is paramount.” Ms Gandhi said while addressing the AICC session here. She said the invaluable water resources should be shared optimally among all people.

She said every state has its own perspective to a dispute in such matters and these needed to be debated. “It was also the duty of every state towards itself and the nation that such matters were resolved amicably.” Echoing similar feelings, the Prime Minister, who spoke after Ms Gandhi, said “we cannot allow the sacred waters of our ancient land to divide our people.”

Suggesting that the riparian states in river disputes adopt a national and holistic approach while resolving the issues, the Prime Minister said he had been repeatedly saying that management and utilisation of water resources was among the major challenges facing the country.

Capt Amarinder Singh was present at the AICC meeting when the Prime Minister and Ms Gandhi spoke.Top

 

CCS meets to take stock of Nepal situation
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) met at a short notice here this afternoon to discuss the situation in Nepal as the Maoist insurgents’ unprecedented economic blockade of Kathmandu entered the fourth day today.

Sources said the Army Chief, Gen N.C. Vij, briefed the CCS about the situation in Nepal. Various options were discussed at the meeting for helping out the Government of Nepal. Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is expected to come here on an official visit in the second week of next month.

The CCS meet was presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and attended, among others, by External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Home Minister Shivraj Patil.

National Security Adviser J.N. Dixit had convened a meeting of top Army officials, including General Vij, yesterday and a brainstorming session was conducted over the political impact of the Maoists’ latest move and options before India in dealing with the situation.

Mr Dixit was not present in today’s meeting of the CCS as he flew to Paris late last night on some personal work. He is expected back by August 24.

In the afternoon, the CCS members, who were attending the AICC meeting at Talkatora Stadium, were SMSed by their respective offices on their mobile phones and conveyed about the CCS meeting. They took permission from Congress President Sonia Gandhi to leave the meeting for attending CCS meet, sources said.

India’s Charge d’ Affaires Ashok Kumar met the Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Chief of Army Staff Gen Pyar Jung Thapa on August 18 and discussed the situation arising out of the newest twist to the Maoist insurgency.

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Law Commission for changes in Constitution
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 21
With a view to make dispensation of justice speedy and easily available to common man, specially the poor, the Law Commission has recommended inclusion of an Article in the Constitution, based on the model of the South African Constitution.

This was disclosed by the commission’s chairman, Mr Justice M. J. Rao here today, while addressing a workshop on “Access to Justice” organised by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a civil right organisation.

Expressing concern over the slow justice delivery system and the sorry state of affairs in jails, Justice Rao said 70 per cent of the inmates in the prison were under trial.

This was itself a “testimony” how “our justice delivery system is working,” he said adding that was the immediate need to “overhaul” the criminal justice system to save it from the “total collapse”.

Though nearly one crore cases were disposed of every year by the courts in the country, the load of pendency of cases had been increasing year after year, he said. “To overcome this problem the government could appoint ad hoc judges from the retired judges to clear the burden,” he said.

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SC notice to Bar Council in warrant scam
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 21
The Supreme Court yesterday made the Bar Council of India (BCI) party to the “warrant for cash” scam in which three Ahmedabad lawyers and a magistrate were allegedly involved, saying the stand of the lawyer’s apex body had to be known on taking action against the errant advocates.

Issuing notice to the BCI, seeking its reply, a Bench of Mr Justice N. Santosh Heged, Mr Justice S. B. Sinha and Mr Justice S. H. Kapadia said: “We want to know the stand of the BCI as to what action is taken against errant lawyers when the Bar councils of the state fail to take any action.”

The court was hearing a public-interest litigation by a TV channel journalist who had exposed the scam in a sting operation, in which a magistrate of Ahmedabad’s Meganinagar courts in alleged connivance with three lawyers had issued warrants against President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former Chief Justice of India V. N. Khare, sitting apex court Judge B. P. Singh and senior advocate R. K. Jain on the payment of a bribe of Rs 40,000 in January this year.

Solicitor-General G. E. Vahanvati, who appeared for the CBI, which was ordered to probe the scam, said two more cases of forging of court documents to obtain warrants against certain parties had come to light in Gujarat.

Mr Vahanvati said this was a serious matter and needed a thorough probe by the agency.

He said apart from the warrant against the President and the former CJI, warrants were also obtained on “forged” documents against a party of Colaba in Mumbai in 1994 in a Gujarat Finance Corporation case from the court of a Meghaninagar magistrate.

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2 criminals shot on Hardwar-Roorkee highway
Swati Vashishtha
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, August 21
The police along with an SOG team killed a dreaded criminal Sanjay Gujjar and his associate in an encounter on the Hardwar-Roorkee highway, yesterday. At least eight cases of loot and extortion were pending against Gujjar in Saharanpur and Hardwar, the police said.

His associate, involved in two murder cases apart from cases under the Gangster Act, Arms Act and the SC/ST Act, was today identified as Neetu, the police said. Two pistols, cartridges and a motorcycle without number plate was seized from the criminals.

The police acted on a complaint from Ramnagar in Roorkee. According to SSP (Hardwar) Abhinav Kumar, two persons had fired in a crowded area before escaping towards the Roorkee-Hardwar national highway. All check points were alerted and the SOG was asked to chase the criminals.

Near Gagalheri, Gujjar and his associate fired two to three rounds on the police from a sugarcane field leading to an exchange of fire during which they were killed, the police added.

Even as Gujjar was identified within an hour of the encounter, his associate was identified today. The police suspect that the Motor-cycle could have been stolen. The police also suspect that Gujjar had fired in the crowded area of Roorkee to create fear psychosis among traders he had threatened last week. The bodies have been handed over to the kin of both criminals after a post-mortem. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered, the police said.

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Strike called off, tension prevails in Imphal valley

Imphal, August 21
The week-long general strike that crippled normal life in the Imphal valley, was called off this morning amid tension over the “public last rites’’ for self-immolator Peban Chittaranjan.

The Apunba Lup, the organisation spearheading the Manipur agitation, called off the strike so that people could participate in the “public last rites”.

The markets opened. Hundreds of people assembled for the ‘’public last rites’’ of Chittranjan and security was beefed up against possible violence.

The agitation has slowed down considerably and apart from damages to the land settlement office, which was set on fire, there was no report of any violence although pitched battle between motley group of protesters and the police are continuing.

At Imphal, protesters destroyed several ‘’Indian-made’’ mineral water bottles and cold drinks at Imphal. Boycott of the ‘’Indian-made goods’’ is a part of the self-reliance campaign announced by the Apunba Lup.

Reports of protests have been pouring in from different parts of Manipur. At Khonghampat, Kwakeithel, Singjamei, Bishnupur, Moirang, Ningthoukhong and other areas in the valley, people came out on streets and held sit-in protests.

Protesters also blocked the highways by burning tyres, dumping boulders, bottles and timbers. — PTI, UNI

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Notice to TN Home Secretary on lawyers’ strike
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 21
The Supreme Court yesterday took serious view of the continued strike by lawyers in Tamil Nadu and directed the police to take appropriate action. Issuing notices to the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary, Commissioner of Police, Chennai, presidents of the Chennai Advocates Association and Madras High Court Bar Association, a Bench headed by Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde directed that the police would ensure protection to the advocates who were attending courts.

The Chennai Police Commissioner was specifically directed to provide safety to the judges and lawyers performing their duty. The lawyers had gone on strike protesting against the Madras High Court order laying down a code of conduct for them.

Though the implementation of the code was suspended by the High Court following the agitation by the lawyers, they did not take back their strike call, as they had demanded its complete withdrawal.

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Govt urged to shift sheep breeding farm

New Delhi, August 21
A parliamentary panel has asked the government to shift the Central Sheep Breeding Farm in Hissar within six months. “The government should review the situation and take steps to shift the farm to another suitable place within six months,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture said.

The breeding farm had informed the committee that it could not achieve the set target of producing 1000 exotic and cross-bred rams annually and supply to various states as the Haryana Government had taken back 4028 acre of land out of the total 6477 acre leased land.— TNS

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Doctors not to be coerced into rural postings: Ramadoss
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
The government yesterday stated that members of medical fraternity could not be coerced into posting, but they could be provided inducements for serving in rural areas.

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, however, stated that a stint by the doctors in villages would greatly improve the rural health set-up in the country.

Replying to queries in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said health was a state subject and state governments were primarily responsible for providing health care at large, including the SC/ST population in rural areas.

Dr Karan Singh (Cong) pointed out that when he was the Union Health Minister some 30 years ago, he had mooted a proposal that rural postings should be made mandatory as part of their service contracts.

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Shahtoosh wool seized

Dehra Dun, August 21
The police has seized a large quantity of banned shahtoosh wool from a vehicle at Dharchula in the border district of Pithoragarh. The utility vehicle was carrying 82 kg of banned wool, including 17 kg of pure shahtoosh wool. 

The vehicle belongs to a Korean private company working on the Dhauli Ganga national hydel power project in the area, the police said. The police nabbed the vehicle on the Indo-Tibet border and arrested driver of the vehicle. — TNS

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M’rashtra waives interest on farm loans
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 21
The Maharashtra Cabinet on Thursday decided to waive interest on loans taken by farmers across the state, Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde told reporters after the meeting. The decision would cost the state exchequer Rs 345 crore.

The decision follows suicides by a large number of farmers due to crop failure during the past four years. 

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3rd Asian Film Festival begins in Mumbai

Mumbai, August 21
Screening of Afghan film “The Osama”, the first feature film in post-Taliban regime, kickstarted the third Asian Film Festival here this evening.

“The Osama” director Siddiq Barmak was honoured for his contribution to the world of cinema while veteran Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo was presented with the Asian Film Cultural Award at the inaugural function held at the P.L. Deshpande Academy hall in central Mumbai.

Shindo’s grand-daughter Kazi Shindo received the award on his behalf as the 92-year-old director. — PTITop

 
BRIEFLY

Warrant issued against Telgi
INDORE:
A local court here has issued warrant against the alleged main accused Abdul Karim Telgi and two others in multi-crore fake stamp-paper racket, asking the jail authorities in Pune and Tihar Jail, to produce them in the court within a week. The production warrant was issued by the special CBI judge S.B. Verma on Friday. — PTI

Chandrika editor dead
KOZHIKODE:
Editor of the Malayalam Daily ‘Chandrika’ Rahim Machery (57) died in a road accident on Saturday. The accident took place when the jeep in which he and four others were travelling collided with a Bus. — UNI

Severed hand replanted
MANGALORE:
Doctors at the A J Hospital here have successfully replanted a Russian engineer’s left hand, which was severed in a mid-sea accident on a ship on Wednesday. Dr Dinesh Kadam, who performed microvascular surgery on the patient, said the organ was replanted successfully after an eight-hour operation. The patient was recovering. — UNI
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