SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Kathmandu siege over
Maoists lift week-long economic blockade
Policemen inspect a blast-wrecked government office at Shukedhara in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on Tuesday Kathmandu, August 24
Maoist rebels in Nepal today announced the withdrawal of their week-long economic blockade that had virtually paralysed Kathmandu, hours from tomorrow for a month.

Special article: Nepal under Maoist siege


Policemen inspect a blast-wrecked government office at Shukedhara in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on Tuesday. Maoist rebels are believed to have carried out the attack.
— Reuters photo

Bangladesh in turmoil as violence leaves 70 injured
Dhaka, August 24
At least 70 persons were injured today in violence across Bangladesh where opposition activists went on a rampage, torching government offices and shops during a general strike called by the Awami League to protest against the weekend grenade attack that killed 20 persons.

Iraqi minister survives suicide bomb attack
Baghdad, August 24
The Environment Minister in Iraq’s US-backed interim government escaped a suicide car bomb attack today, in which at least four persons were killed in southern Baghdad, her bodyguard said.

Scores of Shiite militiamen took to the streets of the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday Scores of Shiite militiamen took to the streets of the southern Iraqi city of Basra on Tuesday, brandishing assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades and demanding
US-led forces pull out of Najaf.
— Reuters


Displaced Sudanese women fetch water at Abu Shouk camp in northern Darfur region of Sudan on Tuesday
Displaced Sudanese women fetch water at Abu Shouk camp in northern Darfur region of Sudan on Tuesday. Britain's visiting Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Sudan's government is seeking to comply with UN demands to end the conflict in Darfur that has killed up to 50,000 people, but more needs to be done. — Reuters

EARLIER STORIES

 


In video:
Pakistan, Afghanistan to work together to enhance cooperation.
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Pentagon leaders blamed for abuse of prisoners
Washington, August 24
A high-level panel investigating US military detention operations has concluded that top Pentagon officials and the military command in Iraq contributed to an environment in which detainees were abused at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a defense official said today. The independent Pentagon panel headed by former Defence Secretary James Schlesinger found that Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed to exercise proper oversight over confusing detention policies at US prisons in Iraq.

Arun Gandhi
Arun Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson takes up Palestinian cause
Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson will lead a Palestinian peace march in the West Bank town of Ramallah on August 26. Arun Gandhi hopes to spread his illustrious grandfather’s mantra of non-violence and sow the seeds of peace in a region ravaged by daily acts of aggression.

Pak terms India’s charges on infiltration as propaganda
Islamabad, August 24
Pakistan today reacted angrily to India’s assertions that infiltration of militants from across the Line of Control had increased, saying the charges were a propaganda aimed at maligning Islamabad.

Indian Overseas Congress honours outstanding NRIs
London, August 24
A senior Indian diplomat and two NRIs have been presented with ‘gold medals’ by the Indian Overseas Congress here for their outstanding contribution to society. Mr Navdeep Suri, diplomat and writer, Mr Chris Naidu, Business Development Director of Natwest Bank, and Ms Atiya Khan, an Urdu short-story writer, were given the medals.

Canadian NRIs laud dual citizenship order
Toronto, August 24
The Indian diaspora welcomed the issuance of a notification by the Government of India, under which people of Indian origin would be able to secure Indian overseas citizenship on a payment of Rs 12,500.

Pak man held for videotaping US buildings
Washington, August 24
A Pakistani man, arrested after he was videotaping skyscrapers in North Carolina, has been charged with making false statements and possessing fake identification documents.
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Kathmandu siege over
Maoists lift week-long economic blockade

Kathmandu, August 24
Maoist rebels in Nepal today announced the withdrawal of their week-long economic blockade that had virtually paralysed Kathmandu, hours from tomorrow for a month.

In a statement the Maoists said they had decided to lift the blockade enforced since last Wednesday in view of requests from human rights bodies, civil society members and public.

The joint statement by six organisations affiliated to the CPN (Maoist) said the ban on vehicular movement in five districts surrounding Kathmandu valley - Makawanpur, Dhading, Nuwakot, Rasuwa and Sindhupalchowk - would be lifted for one month.

People have already begun to defy the Maoist blockade in the major highways connecting Kathmandu with the rest of Nepal since Monday.

Hundreds of passenger buses and loaded trucks, including some from India, plied on the Tribhuvan highway connecting Kathmandu with Raxaul, officials here said.

The Maoists had called for the economic blockade of Kathmandu to pressurise the government to disclose the status of their detained colleagues.

Meanwhile, at least five soldiers were killed and seven others injured when Maoist rebels, who have been blockading the Nepalese capital, ambushed a security vehicle today on the highway linking Kathmandu with Tibet.

The rebels attacked the army patrol team that was clearing the Araniko Highway which was blocked by Maoists in Sukuti area, 50 km east from Kathmandu, defence officials said.

At least 15 Maoists were also believed to be injured in the retaliatory action by the security forces, they said, adding the encounter continued for some time but the rebels escaped.

“There might have been some casualities on the Maoist side also but we couldn’t ascertain their number as they were carried away by their comrades,” an army official said.

The army conducted aerial search to flush out the Maoists involved in the ambush.

Arankio Highway, one of the three routes connecting Kathmandu with other districts, was least affected by the Maoists’ economic blockade targeting Kathmandu.

However, today the transport movement in other two highways, including Tribhuvan Highway connecting Raxaul and Kathmandu, has also improved considerably. Many loaded trucks and passenger buses are on the move today on the highway, Home Ministry sources said. — PTI

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Bangladesh in turmoil as violence leaves 70 injured

Dhaka, August 24
At least 70 persons were injured today in violence across Bangladesh where opposition activists went on a rampage, torching government offices and shops during a general strike called by the Awami League to protest against the weekend grenade attack that killed 20 persons.

Opposition activists went on a rampage during the first hours of the two-day strike torching several government offices, a local reporter in south-western Khulna city said by telephone.

“The activists also threw stones at the patrolling police,” he said, adding that five persons were injured in the melee.

The police fired several round of tear gas in Dhaka in a brief clash with protesters near the home of Awami League chief and former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, leaving five injured.

Three persons were injured in Dhaka’s Malibagh area when it was bombed, one photographer said.

Train communication was disrupted at several points due to blockade or uprooting of tracks by the protesters, ATN Bangla television reported.

Government offices, shops and a ruling party office were attacked in several other Bangladeshi districts during the strike, where the police and agitators clashed.

The nationwide violence left at least 70 persons injured, witnesses and television reports said.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia deeply condoled the death of Ivy Rahman, Awami League’s Women’s Affairs secretary, in the early hours today at the Dhaka’s military hospital where she was being treated for injuries she received at the weekend grenade attack on a Awami League rally here.

Ms Zia prayed for the peace of the departed soul and recalled her contribution to Bangladesh. — PTI

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Iraqi minister survives suicide bomb attack

Baghdad, August 24
The Environment Minister in Iraq’s US-backed interim government escaped a suicide car bomb attack today, in which at least four persons were killed in southern Baghdad, her bodyguard said.

Ms Mishkat al-Moumin’s convoy was leaving a highly fortified zone, where many Iraqi ministers live, in Qadisiya when a driver tried to smash a car packed with explosives into her vehicle, Mr Shamil Kamel said.

Two other vehicles in the convoy blocked Ms Moumin’s car off before the bomber detonated the car at around 0930 IST without harming her, he added.

“Four persons were killed along with the suicide bomber,” said US Captain David Minascher at the scene, refusing to give any further details.

Mr Kamel said the four dead were all bodyguards and another guard was injured.

Three passers-by were also wounded, said a doctor at the Yarmuk hospital.

Four cars were completely burnt out, with shattered glass and chunks of shrapnel strewn on the road in the residential area, said an AFP photographer. — AFP

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Pentagon leaders blamed for abuse of prisoners
Charles Aldinger

Washington, August 24
A high-level panel investigating US military detention operations has concluded that top Pentagon officials and the military command in Iraq contributed to an environment in which detainees were abused at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, a defense official said today.

The independent Pentagon panel headed by former Defence Secretary James Schlesinger found that Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed to exercise proper oversight over confusing detention policies at US prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba, the official said.

But the official, who asked not to be identified, stressed that the four-member group, scheduled to release its report today, did not conclude that Mr Rumsfeld or military leaders directly ordered abuse such as stripping prisoners naked and sexually humiliating them in a scandal that has drawn international condemnation.

The official confirmed a report in the New York Times on the Schlesinger panel’s findings that also said it concluded that the military’s Joint Staff at the Pentagon — which is responsible for allocating forces — did not recognise that Abu Ghraib guards were overwhelmed by an influx of detainees during violence in Iraq.

The Times said the report also criticises the top general in Iraq at the time, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, for not paying close enough attention to the problems at Abu Ghraib.

NBC News also reported last night that the Schlesinger report criticised the shortage of guards to handle the growing prison population at Abu Ghraib last year, and held top commanders responsible for disorganisation in the command structure at the prison that led to wrongdoing. — Reuters

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Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson takes up Palestinian cause
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi will lead peace march in the West Bank town of Ramallah
Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi will lead peace march in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday.

Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson will lead a Palestinian peace march in the West Bank town of Ramallah on August 26. Arun Gandhi hopes to spread his illustrious grandfather’s mantra of non-violence and sow the seeds of peace in a region ravaged by daily acts of aggression.

The campaign is being organised by the US-based Palestinians for Peace and Democracy. The group of social and political activists was formed after a ruling of the International Court of Justice in The Hague earlier this year against Israel’s security barrier.

Opposed to the concept behind the wall, Mr Gandhi said, “Building a wall to separate people is the ultimate expression of violence. It doesn’t bring about any solution, it only adds to the problem.”

“The whole point of building a wall is not only keeping people out, but you are locking yourself in,” he said in a phone interview prior to his departure for the West Bank.

As a young boy growing up in a racially segregated South Africa, Mr Gandhi felt an affinity to the Jewish cause.

“I read all of Leon Uris’ books and other writings on the Holocaust and I thought to myself that people who have experienced such pain, hate and violence will certainly not direct the same at others,” he said.

His boyhood sympathies, however, gave way to disillusionment in adulthood.

“The violent way in which the state [Israel] was created - it just turned me off - all the sympathy I had got lost,” said Mr Gandhi who founded and heads the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee. “I also despise suicide bombers and all kinds of related violence,” he added.

Mr Gandhi said people in Israel - both Palestinians and Jews - are tired of the “never-ending cycle of violence.” While he is hopeful of meetings with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, the Israeli Cabinet has refused to meet with him.

“My message is for the people, not the politicians,” Mr. Gandhi said. “The people need to realise their power, politicians have been exploiting people everywhere. We have submitted to their exploitations and suffered the consequences.”

Pointing to a “culture of violence” that he says has become a part of human nature, Mr Gandhi wants to promote a “culture of non-violence, that will create relationships between people that is based on respect and understanding.”

Last Sunday, over 1,500 Palestinian prisoners went on a hunger strike to protest the conditions in Israeli prisons. Prisoner’s rights groups also participated in sit-down protests. According to Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Minister Hisham Abdelrazaq, “This hunger strike is not a political strike,” instead he added, “It’s a strike about basic fundamental rights.”

“Non-violent methods [in Israel] have not shown a lot of results,” Mr Gandhi said. But that’s because “we haven’t understood the concept of non-violence. It’s not simply about being anti-war. It is something we have to live and change in our own attitude.”

In 1946, at the age of 12, Mr Gandhi went to live with his grandfather in India. He fondly recalls the Mahatma’s “legacy of love.”

“The most profound lesson grandfather taught me was about understanding anger and being able to channel that energy into positive action. Grandfather said anger is like electricity - it can be useful and destructive,” he said.

Mr Gandhi sees his role in his Middle-East mission as that of a catalyst.

For now, his concern is that Palestinians and Israelis live together peacefully. “It is wrong for the Palestinians to think they can wipe out the Jews and drive them into the ocean,” he said. “Similarly, it is wrong of the Jews to think they can wish away the Palestinians. They are there in the same land, fate has brought them together ... it was unpleasant, but we cannot rewrite history. They need to learn to forget about the past and try and focus on the future.”

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Pak terms India’s charges on infiltration as propaganda
K.J.M. Varma

Islamabad, August 24 
Pakistan today reacted angrily to India’s assertions that infiltration of militants from across the Line of Control had increased, saying the charges were a propaganda aimed at maligning Islamabad.

Commenting on the Indian Home Ministry’s report as well as the AICC resolution which spoke about increased incidents of infiltration across the LoC, Pakistan foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said a spurious scenario had been woven and that the Indian leaders should change their mindset.

“The Indian Home Ministry’s annual report has woven a spurious scenario. It is evident that the purpose of the report is to distort facts and put out gross propaganda to divert attention from the real issue, human rights violations, in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said, reading out from a statement.

Khan said it was regrettable that the AICC had adopted a resolution that “harps on the so-called cross-border terrorism and blacks out ongoing atrocities and human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Khan said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi had demonstrated good faith and pledged to continue the dialogue process. “This process is moving forward. The AICC should not have had second thoughts,” he said.

On the proposal to run a bus service between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Khan said Pakistan had responded positively to the Indian proposal and was ready to discuss with Indian officials the modalities to run it.

He said the dates for technical-level talks on the subject could be announced after next month’s Foreign Ministers’ talks. — PTI

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Indian Overseas Congress honours outstanding NRIs
H S Rao

London, August 24
A senior Indian diplomat and two NRIs have been presented with ‘gold medals’ by the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) here for their outstanding contribution to society.

Mr Navdeep Suri, diplomat and writer, Mr Chris Naidu, Business Development Director of Natwest Bank, and Ms Atiya Khan, an Urdu short-story writer, were given the medals.

Minister, Culture in the Indian High Commission and Director of the Nehru Centre Pawan K Varma gave away the awards as part of India’s Independence Day celebrations at Montague Hall in Hounslow.

Mr Suri, a member of the Indian Foreign Service, who had served in Cairo, Damascus, Washington and Dar-e-Salaam before coming here, has just completed his tenure as spokesperson and head of the Press and Information department at the Indian High Commission.

Author of a study, ‘Development Strategy as a Determinant of Foreign Policy: a case study of India and Pakistan’, Mr Suri has also translated Nanak Singh’s award winning novel ‘Pavitra Paapi’ into English.

Mr Chris Naidu, whose parents hailed from Chennai, joined Natwest Bank at the age of 16 and emerged as the youngest Business Development Director of the bank.

Moradabad-born Atiya Khan received her MA degree in Urdu and MEd degree from Lucknow University and came to London after her marriage in 1969. In the UK she joined the civil service and worked as Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture till 1994.

After retiring from service Atiya Khan wrote in Urdu a book ‘Tajerbat-o-Hawadis’ in 1999, a collection of short-stories and ‘Gulhai Ranga Rang’, a collection of non-fiction writings in 2003. — PTI

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Canadian NRIs laud dual citizenship order

Toronto, August 24
The Indian diaspora welcomed the issuance of a notification by the Government of India, under which people of Indian origin (PIO) would be able to secure Indian overseas citizenship on a payment of Rs 12,500.

“It is extremely reasonable, the fees is quite modest, because of which it will be possible for most the people to avail this opportunity”, said Mukesh Kumar, who had been waiting eagerly for the notification ever since the government first announced its resolve to issue dual citizenship to PIOs.

Like many other Indians, Mukesh Kumar is reluctant to let go of his Indian citizenship, even as he awaits his Canadian passport at the end of his three-year stay in Toronto.

The notification has effectively ended the dilemma and opened the doors for many to have the best of both the worlds.

Similar is the case with Yoginder Seoul, who would rather have both passports than give up his Indian citizenship for the Canadian one. — UNI

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Pak man held for videotaping US buildings

Washington, August 24
A Pakistani man, arrested after he was videotaping skyscrapers in North Carolina, has been charged with making false statements and possessing fake identification documents.

Kamran Akhtar, detained last month, was indicted yesterday by the federal grand jury, which charged him on four counts with making false statements and one count each with refusing to leave the country within a stipulated period and possessing documents with intention to defraud the USA, a Justice Department statement said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY


Moroccan Mounir el Motassadeq and his lawyer Udo Jacob arrive at a court in the northern German town of Hamburg
Moroccan Mounir el Motassadeq and his lawyer Udo Jacob (left) arrive at a court in the northern German town of Hamburg on Tuesday. Motassadeq, accused of helping to plot the September 11 attacks on the USA was the first person convicted in connection with the 2001 attacks and was sentenced to 15 years' jail in 2003 but was free on appeal in March. — Reuters

Beer over books for UK students
London:
British students spend almost £1 billion on drink every year, nearly three times as much as they cough up for books, a survey has showed. The survey by the Royal Bank of Scotland, released on Monday, was conducted to compile a “Student Living Index”, which ranks cities by offsetting living costs with earning potential from part-time work. — Reuters

Sen takes charge at UN
New York:
Career diplomat Nirupam Sen took over as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations succeeding Vijay K Nambiar. A 1969-batch Indian Foreign Service officer, Sen had headed the Indian mission in Colombo before being appointed India’s Permanent Representative at the UN. Sen has held several major assignments in Britain, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Sofia among others. — PTI

Mother sues Blair govt
London:
The mother of a 19-year-old Briton killed in a roadside blast in Iraq moved to sue Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government for failing to care for its warzone soldiers, a report said. The lawsuit being prepared by the family of Gordon Gentle would be the first time the British government has been sued over the death of a soldier in combat, The Guardian said. — AFP

Bodies of WWI soldiers found
Rome
:
The bodies of three Austrian soldiers killed in World War I have been found frozen and almost perfectly preserved in an Italian Alpine glacier. Mountain rescue worker Maurizio Vicenzi discovered the mummified bodies on Friday, encased upside down in ice at 3,640 metres (11,940 ft) altitude on San Matteo mountain near the Swiss and Austrian borders. — Reuters

‘HOT Bombay’ on Israeli cable
Jerusalem
:
Israeli cable network “HOT” is to launch a new channel “HOT Bombay” dedicated exclusively to Bollywood blockbusters. The cable network has so far been showing a Hindi film on every Friday and Saturday on its “HOT Prime” channel. The new channel will be launched in November. — PTI
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