SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Commission begins probe in Manorama case
Imphal, August 30
The C. Upendra Commission probing the death of Manorama Devi in Manipur today began examining four Assam Rifles personnel, accused of raping and killing the 30-year-old woman, today.

70 proposals for Pak on Natwar’s agenda
New Delhi, August 30
Some 70-odd Indian proposals, including starting of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, will come up for consideration during the talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan when they meet here on September 5 and 6 to review the progress made by the two sides so far for improving the bilateral relations.

Speculation about Amarinder’s future
New Delhi, August 30
After the abrupt changes in Kerala, speculation is rife about Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s future.

Sonia to be Congress mascot in Maharashtra New Delhi, August 30
If the recent AICC session was a Sonia Gandhi affair all the way, the coming Maharashtra Assembly elections promise to be no different with the party planning to project the Congress President as the biggest icon, “even bigger than Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar.”

Hectic schedule awaits PM
New Delhi, August 30
A hectic schedule awaits Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who leaves on a eight-day trip on September 19 to participate in the United Nations General Assembly session in New York. He will stop over at London en route.

African rust threat to Indian wheat
New Delhi, August 30
Indian farm scientists have been put on high alert over the danger posed by a Ugandan rust to wheat grown here and research bodies have been asked to evolve substitutes for susceptible varieties at the earliest.


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gives his blessings to a child at his residence on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan on Monday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gives his blessings to a child at his residence on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan on Monday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal
In video:
Raksha Bandhan celebrated across the country.
(28k, 56k)

EARLIER STORIES

 

Shiv Sena to the rescue of bhajan mandals
Mumbai, August 30
With elections to the Maharashtra Assembly due in October, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has decided to back noisy bhajan-singing groups in Mumbai’s local trains against the authorities.

Govt ‘not to scrap’ rivers inter-linking project
New Delhi, August 30
The UPA Government today cleared the air about its policy on the inter-linking of rivers and told the Supreme Court that it was not against the project, taken up by the previous NDA Government and in which President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had shown keen interest.

‘Rakhi Day is Righteous Day’
New Delhi, August 30
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today came out with a poem on Raksha Bandhan, stating that the rakhi sisters tie on their brothers’ wrists binds them to do only what is right and clean.

 


A girl from SOS children village tying a rakhi to President A P J Abdul Kalam on the occasion of 'Raksha Bandhan' at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo

Bail plea of CPM MP’s husband rejected
Kolkata, August 30
CPM MP Jyotirmoy Sikdar’s husband, Avtar Singh, who was arrested along with nine others, including four girls, from a hotel on August 15, was produced in the court of the Barrackpore Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate for the second time today.

SC notice on Shahabuddin’s plea
New Delhi, August 30
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Bihar Government and the state police on the bail application of a “tainted” MP of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mr Mohammed Shahabuddin, key accused in the alleged kidnapping of CPML leader Muna Chaudhary, who is believed to have been murdered.

‘Kulhars’ introduced to remove Railways ‘elitist’ touch
New Delhi, August 30
The Railway Ministry today sought to justify its decision of introducing ‘Kulhar’ (earthen pot), Khadi and other milk products aboard trains and on railway stations, saying such measures were necessary to remove the impression of the railways becoming increasingly elitist.

Defence widows get rail concession
New Delhi, August 30
The Railway Ministry has issued orders granting 75 per cent concession in second and sleeper classes to widows of defence personnel killed in action against militants. The concession will be given on tickets issued from September 6.

Legal action against RPSC member mooted
Jaipur, August 30
The Rajasthan State Anti- Corruption Bureau has recommended legal action against Mr C. R. Chaudhary, a Member of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC), under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Dalits release book on Gurbani
New Delhi, August 30
There was no glitter nor were there any high-profile politicians but the release of an American Sikh’s analysis of Gurbani — which breaks caste, religious and social distinctions — became unusual as housemaids, cleaners and guards launched the book at a Delhi auditorium.

DMK rebukes Aiyar
Chennai, August 30
The DMK President, Mr M. Karunanidhi, today criticised Union Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for equating freedom fighter and Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar and Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and that both were responsible for dividing India.

Birds deserting Bharatpur
Jaipur, August 30
Even as Rajasthan celebrates bountiful rains, hundreds of birds have started deserting the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur for the want of water, a senior wildlife expert said today.

Panel for legislation for farm workers
New Delhi, August 30
In a move to provide minimum social security to about 11 crore agricultural labourers in the country, a parliamentary panel has asked the government to enact a legislation in this regard.

Medical bail for Sridhar Wagal in Telgi case
Mumbai, August 30
The Bombay High Court today granted medical bail to former Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police Sridhar Wagal, arrested for his links with forger Abdul Karim Telgi.

Stone war leaves six injured
Dehra Dun, August 30
The week-long Varahi Devi mela at Devidhura concluded today with a half-an- hour long “stone war” between two Khemas (groups) leaving six persons seriously injured.

Womanist list of candidates
Mumbai, August 30
The Womanist Party of India (WPI), the first all-woman political party in the country, today announced the names of six of its candidates for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Natarajan to head DRDO
New Delhi, August 30
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India’s premier defence research organisation, will have a new chief with the Cabinet Committee on Appointments (CCA) clearing the name of Mr M. Natarajan in its meeting on last Friday to take over from Dr V.K. Aatre.

LeT militants remanded in judicial custody
Hyderabad, August 30
Eight suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, who were arrested by the city police yesterday, were today remanded in judicial custody till September 10.

ITBP to host seminar on policing
New Delhi, August 30
Pakistan, China and Russia will be among 18 countries from across the globe to participate in an eight-day international seminar on “Civilian Policing”, to be hosted by Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in the capital beginning September 1.


Videos
Death toll rises in Coimbatore temple building collapse.
(28k, 56k)
Sonia Gandhi says certain ideologies harming country's secularism.
(28k, 56k)
India sends specialised peacekeeping troops to Kosovo.
(28k, 56k)

Top









 

Commission begins probe in Manorama case

Imphal, August 30
The C. Upendra Commission probing the death of Manorama Devi in Manipur today began examining four Assam Rifles personnel, accused of raping and killing the 30-year-old woman, today.

The one-man commission of retired judge C. Upendra began in-camera proceedings from 11 a.m. at the Imphal Central Jail in the presence of counsels for the 17th Assam Rifles personnel and family members of Manorama Devi.

The commission had recorded the appearance of the four Assam Rifles personnel on Saturday. The Defence Ministry had asked the state authorities to conduct DNA test of the accused.

The commission today held its proceedings at a new venue, the Central Jail following a ruling of the Gauhati High Court.

Justice P.G. Agarwala had on August 27 ordered that the Assam Rifles personnel could be examined at Central Jail after hearing two separate petitions filed by the commandant of 17th Assam Rifles and the four constables challenging the state’s notification on the constitution of the commission.

Manorama Devi had been picked up from her house by Assam Rifles personnel on July 10 last and her body was found in the Ngariyan area near her house the next day.

Commanding Officer of 17 Assam Rifles Col Jagmohan today appeared before the commission.

Meanwhile, over 70 students were arrested today while protesting the continued imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 in Manipur.

Around noon, 35-odd students of Liberal College, Luwangshangbam arrived in two vehicles at the Raj Bhavan shouting slogans against the continuation of the Act.

The police had to fire teargas shells to disperse the students.

After some time, another group of 35 students carrying festoons, marched towards the Raj Bhavan, shouting slogans. A scuffle ensued as the police tried to snatch the festoons from the students.

A large number of police and CRPF personnel, including women personnel, were on alert in the high security zone where the residences of the Governor, the Chief Minister and other senior ministers are located.

Meanwhile, a 12-hour bandh called by the Manipur Forward Youth Front today affected life in Imphal.

All roads leading to Ukhrul district were blocked by protestors, who demanded complete withdrawal of the AFSPA from Manipur.

All educational institutions and business establishments in the Imphal East areas were closed down. — PTI, UNITop

 

70 proposals for Pak on Natwar’s agenda
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
Some 70-odd Indian proposals, including starting of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service, will come up for consideration during the talks between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan when they meet here on September 5 and 6 to review the progress made by the two sides so far for improving the bilateral relations.

The two countries recently concluded the first round of a “composite dialogue” process covering eight earmarked areas, including Jammu and Kashmir, nuclear confidence-building measures and Siachen.

Islamabad had given a list of 52 criminals, who it said had found sanctuary in India after committing crimes in Pakistan.

India has so far not responded to this list and this issue is also expected to come up for discussion between External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, sources said tonight.

The two-day Foreign Minister-level talks are to be preceded by a daylong meeting of foreign secretaries, India’s Shyam Saran and Pakistan’s Riaz Khokhar, on September 4, in which the agenda points for the ministerial talks will be finalised.

Among the slew of Indian proposals is an extradition treaty with Pakistan. New Delhi had made the proposal at the home secretaries-level talks in Islamabad earlier this month.

The sources said Pakistan was yet to respond to this proposal too. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had turned down a similar proposal from then Home Minister L. K. Advani during his India visit in July 2001. Musharraf had said the time had not yet come for signing such a treaty.

A similar response from Pakistan is expected next week.

Significantly, as against India’s 70 proposals aimed at improving all-round bilateral relations between the two countries, not a single proposal has so far been forwarded by Islamabad.

Pakistan is yet to respond to the Indian proposals, though a response is expected next week.Top

 

Speculation about Amarinder’s future
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
After the abrupt changes in Kerala, speculation is rife about Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s future.

This is particularly so since the outgoing Kerala Chief Minister A.K. Antony resigned owing moral responsibility for the Congress party’s disastrous performance in the recent Lok Sabha poll. With the Congress having fared equally poorly in Punjab, party circles are abuzz with murmurs that Capt Amarinder Singh could well be next on the list.

“The Kerala episode is indicative of the Congress President’s frame of mind...it shows that she will not hesitate to take tough decisions,” remarked a senior AICC leader. Kerala, it was pointed out, has certainly set in motion a process of reassessment in various states, of which Punjab is one.

Punjab Rajya Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar was non-committal, describing the Kerala changes as “evidence of a constant reassessment which the party makes of its future course in various states.”

On the other hand, there is a view in the party that as Punjab is in the process of preparing for two assembly byelections in October, it might not be advisable to go in for a leadership change at this stage.

Senior AICC leaders maintain that since the Supreme Court is yet to begin hearing on the Presidential reference on the SYL canal issue, it would be inappropriate to remove Mr Amarinder Singh till the case is heard out.

The Punjab Chief Minister’s unilateral abrogation of inter-state water-sharing accords did send his personal rating soaring in the state but it was not taken to kindly by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Given these circumstances, the coming byelections could well prove to be a test of strength for the Punjab Chief Minister. Party sources said Capt Amarinder Singh would definitely be strengthened if the results favoured the Congress.

Alternatively, the Chief Minister’s detractors in the Punjab Congress can be expected to step up their campaign for a leadership change in case of a poor performance. In fact, dissidents could start building up pressure for his removal even now by citing the Kerala precedent.

Capt Amarinder Singh’s supporters, however, maintain that unlike Mr Antony, the Punjab Chief Minister still enjoys substantial support among the state legislators. It is also argued that the Congress leadership had not been able to affect a change because of lack of a credible and effective successor.

For the record, however, AICC general secretary Ambika Soni maintained that no two cases could be treated the same as circumstances differed from state to state. In the case of Kerala, Mr Antony offered to step down soon after the election results, she said. He was, however, asked to continue as the Congress president was preoccupied with other organisational matters.

Capt Amarinder Singh had, however, refused to step down, saying he did not believe in running away from his responsibilities. He also promised a thorough analysis of the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha election and had entrusted this task to Rajya Sabha MP Sukhbans Bhinder. Ms Bhinder has since resigned from this committee on the plea that she could not do justice to this task as she was busy with her parliamentary work.Top

 

Sonia to be Congress mascot in Maharashtra
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
If the recent AICC session was a Sonia Gandhi affair all the way, the coming Maharashtra Assembly elections promise to be no different with the party planning to project the Congress President as the biggest icon, “even bigger than Bal Thackeray and Sharad Pawar.”

Although it is still early for the leaders to hit the campaign trial for the crucial October 13 poll, the planning for the election has begun. Faced with huge anti-incumbency, Congress strategists believe the party can deflect attention from these local issues by lifting the campaign to a “higher plane”.

They plan doing so by highlighting Ms Sonia Gandhi’s supreme sacrifice in declining the Prime Minister’s post and projecting her as the “biggest icon” on the political scene. Congress insiders pointed out she faces no competition this time in contrast to the last election where Ms Gandhi had to compete with the larger-than-life image of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

According to the Congress assessment, Ms Gandhi’s stock has zoomed after her renunciation of the top job. Shiv Sena leder Bal Thackeray and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, they believe, are just not in the same league as her and the party needs to capitalise on her iconic status.

Ms Gandhi will be seen as a leader who renounced the Prime Minister’s job to be able to continue her battle in the streets. On the other hand, her decision to hand over the reins to Dr Manmohan Singh, a “capable” leader has further enhanced her status, they maintain.

Senior AICC leaders, who have begun crafting the party’s strategy for the Assembly poll, have argued that this election be projected as an extension of the recent Lok Sabha elections. With the public having already voted for an alternate secular alliance, the people of Maharashtra will be urged to endorse the Lok Sabha verdict. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s “clean image” should also help shore up public support for the Congress-NCP combine, according to party strategists.

However, the Congress is at a loss as how it should deal with the snowballing controversy on the Veer Savarkar issue. Sparked off by petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyer’s critical remarks about Savarkar, the BJP-Shiv Sena combine started whipping up public sentiment on this emotive issue with an eye on the assembly polls.

The result is that Maharashtra Congress leaders are on the defensive while the AICC has tied itself in knots explaining its position. The Congress and the government distanced itself from Mr Aiyer’s statements, which, it was said, were made in his personal capacity. Today, maters took a turn for the worse when Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said Savarkar’s divisive ideology had weakened the country’s freedom struggle when asked about Mr Aiyer’s comparison of Savarkar with Jinnah.

While a section in the Congress maintains that the party should play down this issue, others admit that the party cannot afford to be ambivalent on this issue and needs to spell out is stand either way. If not, they could see a repeat of what happened on the mandir-masjid issue when the Congress sought to adopt a middle ground and ended up paying a heavy price for it.

Meanwhile, Mr Aiyer today denied claiming that like Jinnah, Savarkar had also advocated division of the country. “I wish to clarify that I had said nothing of the kind. I had only quoted from Savarkar’s statement at a press conference in Nagpur on August 15, 1943, where he had said: ‘I have no quarrel with Jinnah’s two-nation theory. We, Hindus, are a nation by ourselves and it’s historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations’,” Mr Aiyar said in a statement here.Top

 

Hectic schedule awaits PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
A hectic schedule awaits Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who leaves on a eight-day trip on September 19 to participate in the United Nations General Assembly session in New York. He will stop over at London en route.

Besides addressing the UN General Assembly, Dr Singh will have bilateral meetings with US President W. George Bush on September 21 and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf the next day. He is slated to meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair during his stopover in London.

The Prime Minister is expected to make out a strong case for reforms of the UN Security Council and India’s bid for a permanent seat in the world body. Three of the five P-5 countries — Russia, France and Britain — permanent members of the Security Council, have extended support for India’s candidature. While the USA has remained non-committal on the issue, China, the other member, has said it favoured a larger role for India in the UN. It has, however, refrained from expressing support on the issue of permanent seat.

Dr Singh’s first meeting with Mr Musharraf will take place close on the heels of the crucial meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan here on September 5 and 6 and this meeting is expected to set the tone for the first meeting between Dr Singh and the Pakistan President.Top

 

African rust threat to Indian wheat

New Delhi, August 30
Indian farm scientists have been put on high alert over the danger posed by a Ugandan rust to wheat grown here and research bodies have been asked to evolve substitutes for susceptible varieties at the earliest.

“India’s PBW-343 and Pakistan’s Inquilab varieties have been found to be 60-70 per cent susceptible to ‘Ugandan Isolate 92UG99’, a rust evolved in east Africa. I have written to scientists to prepare substitutes which are resistant to such diseases”, Director-General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Mangala Rai said here.

He said PBW-343 was cultivated in around six million hectares or nearly one-fourths of the total wheat cultivated in the country and mostly grown in India’s grain bowl of Punjab, Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh.

The Ugandan Isolate rust knocks out the SR-31 gene which imparts resistance from diseases to the wheat crop, he said.

The Director-General said in the normal course as the rust spores travel from Africa through Nile Valley, it will take 7-8 years for it to reach India but any change in route or human error can bring the danger “to our doorstep right away”.

For the past two years, PBW-343 and Inquilab varieties have been monitored in the Kenyan Agricultural University, Nigoro and found to be up to 70 per cent susceptible, he added.

Mr Rai said there were pests and pathogens which were known to travel upto 2000 km and there was no room for complacency.

Crops were also increasingly facing the danger of termites whose numbers were rising due to large incidences of drought, absence of summer ploughing and changed farming cultural practices, he pointed out. — PTITop

 

Shiv Sena to the rescue of bhajan mandals
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 30
With elections to the Maharashtra Assembly due in October, the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra has decided to back noisy bhajan-singing groups in Mumbai’s local trains against the authorities.

After the Railways ordered a crackdown on noisy bhajan singers who grab seats and harass passengers in the city’s crowded commuter trains, Shiv Sena activists have begun accompanying these groups to take on railway police officials deputed to enforce the law.

“Prayers and bhajans cannot be construed as creating nuisance to fellow commuters,” Shiv Sena leader Subash Desai said today.

Shiv Sena activists assembled at railway stations said bhajans were being sung in India and not in Pakistan.

Party activists came out in railway stations near their strongholds of Goregaon, Virar, Borivli and other places and demanded that the railway authorities cease fining the ‘bhajan mandals’.

With the Shiv Sena launching an agitation, the Railways has decided to go slow on action against the bhajan-singing groups.Top

 

Govt ‘not to scrap’ rivers inter-linking project
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 30
The UPA Government today cleared the air about its policy on the inter-linking of rivers and told the Supreme Court that it was not against the project, taken up by the previous NDA Government and in which President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had shown keen interest.

“The Government is not in principle going back on the inter-linking of rivers. Reports of various committees are being considered. Once the consideration of the reports is complete, the matter will be placed before the Cabinet,” Solicitor-General G.E.Vahanvati told a three-judge Bench monitoring the progress of preparing the feasibility report of the Rs 5.60 lakh crore project by a task force.

However, senior advocate Ranjit Kumar, who was appointed amicus curiea in the case by the Court, which had initiated suo motu action for registering a public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue after President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had emphasised the need for it, told the Bench that work of the task force had sleckened after its Chairman Suresh Prabhu had resigned.

The Bench comprising Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Mr Justice D.M. Dharamdhikari and Mr Justice P.P. Naoleker sought a detailed report from the Government about its stand and the progress made in preparing the feasibility report of the project within six weeks.

The amicus curiea said that the task force was set up on the orders of the Court but after the change of the Government at the Centre there was “no progress” in its work. “There is no Chairman at present and it appears that no new appointment will be made,” he said.

Ranjit Kumar further stated that the standing committee on the Ministry of Water Resources had submitted a report to the Government recommending that in view of annual problems of drought in water scarce zones and floods in rain-fed areas in the country, the project for inter-linking of rivers should be considered.

Meanwhile, Joint Commissioner (Basin Management) in the Ministry of Water Resources, in an affidavit filed in the Court today said that the Government was envisaging a “comprehensive assessment” of the feasibility of the project and any legislation by the Centre on the issue would depend on the outcome of such an assessment.

It said that the total cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 5.60 lakh crore. If the project is approved, the annual expenditure on it would be Rs 46,500 crore for completing the work in the next 12 years.

The task force had so far identified 31 links of major rivers to transfer water from the suplus zones to deficient regions to overcome the annual problem of drought and floods in the country. Of the 31 identified links 14 pertain to the Himalyan rivers and 16 to the peninsular component.Top

 

‘Rakhi Day is Righteous Day’

New Delhi, August 30
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today came out with a poem on Raksha Bandhan, stating that the rakhi sisters tie on their brothers’ wrists binds them to do only what is right and clean.

Dr Kalam read out the poem to a group of about 90 children who greeted him at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The following is the poem, titled “Rakhi Day is Righteous Day:”

This full moon day our hearts are in brim

Feeling of faith and serenity in mind.

We light the lamps and our hearts glow

Radiance of happiness and peace are in flow.

Harmonious homes are like streams of joy

Flowing and flourishing the landscape en route.

Nobility in heart and character in deed

Righteous homes alone make a beautiful state.

Sisters will tie the thread on the brothers

Abiding them to do only what is right and clean.

Put the kumkum and blessed rice on the head

Where will dwell right thoughts and noble action. — UNITop

 

Bail plea of CPM MP’s husband rejected
Our Correspondent

Kolkata, August 30
CPM MP Jyotirmoy Sikdar’s husband, Avtar Singh, who was arrested along with nine others, including four girls, from a hotel on August 15, was produced in the court of the Barrackpore Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate for the second time today. But Avtar’s bail prayer was rejected and he was again remanded in jail custody till September 13.

TMC workers and supporters led by MLA Jyotipriya Mallick demonstrated inside the court when Avtar was produced there under elaborate security arrangements. They stormed the court premises, shouting slogans against the CPM and Avtar Singh.

The police had to make a lathi charge to control the angry demonstrators, who were finally chased out of the court.Top

 

SC notice on Shahabuddin’s plea
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 30
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Bihar Government and the state police on the bail application of a “tainted” MP of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Mr Mohammed Shahabuddin, key accused in the alleged kidnapping of CPML leader Muna Chaudhary, who is believed to have been murdered.

A Bench of Mr Justice Shivaraj V. Patil and Mr Justice B. N. Srikrishna told Mr Shahabuddin’s counsel that it was issuing notice only on his client’s bail plea, but would not interfere in the Patna High Court’s order initiating contempt proceedings against him for allegedly interfering in the judicial process.

The High Court, which has listed the matter for further hearing on September 16, was competent to deal with it, the apex court said, directing the Bihar Government to submit its reply within four weeks.Top

 

‘Kulhars’ introduced to remove Railways ‘elitist’ touch
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
The Railway Ministry today sought to justify its decision of introducing ‘Kulhar’ (earthen pot), Khadi and other milk products aboard trains and on railway stations, saying such measures were necessary to remove the impression of the railways becoming increasingly elitist.

In a statement issued here today, the ministry said, “Under the new government, the railways are being reoriented to work for the advantage of the poor and the common man.” So far, the impression was that the Indian Railways was drifting away from the common man and the poor and turning elitist. The decision to introduce `Kulhar’, (earthen pot) in the railways, milk products in the form of lassi, matha, buttermilk and others, transportation of the farm products by refrigerated vans and use of handloom and khadi spoke volumes about the reorientation of the Railways and its growing concern for the masses, it added.

The Ministry has further acknowledged the United Progressive Alliance government’s priority to the development and expansion of the railway infrastructure in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP).Top

 

Defence widows get rail concession
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
The Railway Ministry has issued orders granting 75 per cent concession in second and sleeper classes to widows of defence personnel killed in action against militants. The concession will be given on tickets issued from September 6.

A press note issued by the Railway Ministry here today said the concession would be admissible without any distance limit in basic mail and express fares only and not in other charges like reservation fee, superfast surcharge or safety surcharge.

The concessions would be granted directly by station managers/station masters on the submission of a photocopy of identity cards issued by the district sainik boards.

The decision to grant the concession follows the announcement in this connection by Railway Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav in his Budget speech in the Lok Sabha on July 6.Top

 

Legal action against RPSC member mooted
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, August 30
The Rajasthan State Anti- Corruption Bureau has recommended legal action against Mr C. R. Chaudhary, a Member of the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC), under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The case against Mr Chaudhary relates to the period when as a Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) officer he was posted in the state Roadways Corporation. The bureau has found Mr Chaudhary guilty of causing a loss of over Rs 16 lakh to the corporation by unduly favouring a canteen contractor.

The charge against Mr Chaudhary is that while allotting the contract for a canteen at the state roadways bus stand at Ajmer, he went out of his way to favour Mr R. K. Agarwal. Sources said the highest bidder for the contract had offered Rs 1.10 lakh but he did not turn up to execute the agreement. As per rules, Mr Chaudhary was supposed to have invited fresh tenders but he decided to grant an extension to the contractor who was already running the canteen at a paltry sum of Rs 6150 per month. The then Transport Minister had initially approved this extension only for 15 days which continued for 28 months with the alleged connivance of Mr Chaudhary.

The recommendation of the bureau is under consideration of the Department of Personnel of the state government since the allegation against Mr Chaudhary pertained to his posting as an RAS officer on deputation to the roadways corporation.Top

 

Dalits release book on Gurbani

New Delhi, August 30
There was no glitter nor were there any high-profile politicians but the release of an American Sikh’s analysis of Gurbani — which breaks caste, religious and social distinctions — became unusual as housemaids, cleaners and guards launched the book at a Delhi auditorium.

With their heads covered, several non-Sikh men and women belonging to Scheduled Castes released Jeevan Jaach Da Khazana by US-based scholar Bhupinder Singh at the Kamani Auditorium.

The recent book launch coincided with grand preparations underway to mark the quadricentennial of the Guru Granth Sahib, a single compilation of the sacred writings on Sikh Gurus as well as Muslim and high and low-caste Hindu mystics.

In Jeevan Jaach Da Khazana (Part One), author Bhupinder Singh of The Living Treasure has presented analysis of 16 verses from the 1430-page Guru Granth Sahib.

The 244-page book contains forewords by Dr Vanita Kaur, a professor at Delhi University and Dr Wazir Singh, former professor of philosophy and religion at Patiala’s Punjabi University among several other prominent scholars.

The hardback is priced at Rs 250. — UNITop

 

DMK rebukes Aiyar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 30
The DMK President, Mr M. Karunanidhi, today criticised Union Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar for equating freedom fighter and Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar and Pakistan’s founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, and that both were responsible for dividing India.

Talking to reporters at his party headquarters here, Mr Karunanidhi said: “Such an observation is totally unacceptable and it will hurt the feelings of those who cherish the memory of both leaders.”

The DMK President observed: “Those who know the history of the freedom movement and the circumstances that led to partition will find the remark against Jinnah unacceptable.”Top

 

Birds deserting Bharatpur

Jaipur, August 30
Even as Rajasthan celebrates bountiful rains, hundreds of birds have started deserting the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur for the want of water, a senior wildlife expert said today.

According to Tourism and Wildlife Society of India Honorary Secretary Harsh Vardhan, nearly 1,000 openbilled storks, egrets, snakebirds, darters, cormorants and other water birds had deserted their nests over the past two days alone.

The Panchana Dam (Karauli) — from which water was released to the Ajan Bund and finally to the park-was filled to the capacity following heavy rains and yet the park was not getting its share of water, he rued.

Mr Vardhan appealed to the Chief Minister to intervene in the matter and ensure that water was released for the park, renowned worldwide for its rich aquatic ecology.

Park authorities could not be reached immediately for comment, but wildlife enthusiasts in Bharatpur confirmed the birds leaving due to the shortage of water.

The 29 sq km park is home to over 300 kinds of birds, besides other animals and reptiles. Marsh harriers, pintails and other migratory birds have started arriving in the park from Central Asia, northern Europe and other parts of the globe. — UNITop

 

Panel for legislation for farm workers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
In a move to provide minimum social security to about 11 crore agricultural labourers in the country, a parliamentary panel has asked the government to enact a legislation in this regard.

“Government should take urgent steps to bring in comprehensive legislation for agricultural workers to provide for minimum social security for them,” said a Parliamentarty Standing Committee on Labour and Employment.

The committee said the proposed legislation should cover issues like “security of employment, hours of work, payment of wages and machinery for settlement of disputes.”

The Union Labour Secretary informed the committee that Rs 300 lakh was allocated for the welfare of agricultural labourers during 2002-03 but the actual expenditure was to the tune of Rs 4.71 lakh.

The panel was informed that to meet the social security need of agricultural workers, the Krishi Shramik Samajik Suraksha Yojana - 2001 was launched in 50 identified districts in the country on a pilot basis.

“Unfortunately, the scheme has not been finally approved by the Planning Commission and Union Finance Ministry,” the report said.

As there was no concrete scheme for the welfare of the “gigantic” agricultural workforce in the country, the committee said it strongly recommend the government to bring in a legislation to protect the interest of agricultural labourers.Top

 

Medical bail for Sridhar Wagal in Telgi case
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 30
The Bombay High Court today granted medical bail to former Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police Sridhar Wagal, arrested for his links with forger Abdul Karim Telgi.

Bail was set at Rs 10,000 with sureties of like amount. Wagal will, however, have to return to jail after four weeks.

Wagal is ailing and suffers from heart trouble and other ailments. Last month the special court constituted under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) ruled that Wagal be shifted to jail from Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital after his lawyer could not provide adequate details about the officer’s ill-health.

Wagal was arrested in November, 2003, for his links with Telgi. He was the first top IPS officer to be arrested in the case. He is accused of taking bribes from Telgi when the latter was in police custody from November, 2002, to January 3.Top

 

Stone war leaves six injured

Dehra Dun, August 30
The week-long Varahi Devi mela at Devidhura concluded today with a half-an- hour long “stone war” between two Khemas (groups) leaving six persons seriously injured.

The khemas, who had undergone special purification rites, fought the mock battle in front of the temple flinging stones at each other and trying to protect themselves with large umbrella shaped shields.

According to folk lore, the mock war is staged to commemorate the slaying of a demon by Varahi Devi who then decreed that such a battle be fought every year to satiate the blood lust of the vanquished demon. The local authorities had in the past tried to stop this rite due to the blood-letting but had failed in their efforts. — UNITop

 

Womanist list of candidates

Mumbai, August 30
The Womanist Party of India (WPI), the first all-woman political party in the country, today announced the names of six of its candidates for the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Addressing mediapersons here today, WPI President Varsha Kale said the party has decided to contest all 288 seats in the state. The first list was announced today and the others would follow, she said adding talks were on with other political parties on seat-sharing. — UNITop

 

Natarajan to head DRDO
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India’s premier defence research organisation, will have a new chief with the Cabinet Committee on Appointments (CCA) clearing the name of Mr M. Natarajan in its meeting on last Friday to take over from Dr V.K. Aatre.

A noted defence technologist, Mr Natarajan is presently the DRDO’s Chief Controller of Research and Development for Armaments, Combat Vehicles and Engineering Equipments. He has been serving on this post for the past four years and enjoys good relations with his predecessor.Top

 

LeT militants remanded in judicial custody

Hyderabad, August 30
Eight suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) militants, who were arrested by the city police yesterday, were today remanded in judicial custody till September 10.

The accused — Rashid, Quadeer, Fareed, Sharief, Naseeruddin, Farooq, Javed and Siddiqui — were remanded in judicial custody by the 23rd Metropolitan Magistrate. They were sent to Cherlapally Central Jail.

The eight were arrested for allegedly conspiring to cause explosions at a temple near the Secunderabad Railway station during the Ganesh Chaturthi festivities next month. — UNITop

 

ITBP to host seminar on policing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 30
Pakistan, China and Russia will be among 18 countries from across the globe to participate in an eight-day international seminar on “Civilian Policing”, to be hosted by Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in the capital beginning September 1.

Being held for the first time in India, the UN CIVPOL Senior Management Seminar, will provide an “interactive” and “experience-sharing” platform for 32 senior police officers from the 18 participating countries, ITBP Director-General Kanwaljit Singh told newspersons here.Top

 
BRIEFLY

Weaver kills family, self
KARIMNAGAR (ANDHRA PRADESH):
A debt-ridden weaver allegedly poisoned his wife and two daughters and ended his life near a temple in Sundaragiri village in this district on Sunday. The police said Anjaiah (45), who had huge debts, had taken his family to Venkateshwara temple. After giving a poison to his wife, Seshamma (40), daughters Jyothi (13) and Bhagya (9), he also consumed the same. — UNI

Youth on peace mission
PONDICHERRY:
A youth, who is currently undertaking a journey around India on his bicycle to pay homage to the victims of the Kumbakonam fire mishap and to promote world peace, arrived here on Monday. M. Sayyed Ahamed Sahib Thambi, who hails from Kalyalpatinam in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, began his journey on August 26 from Chennai and is scheduled to cover 25,000 km. — UNI

Non-stop teaching record
ALLAHABAD:
A teacher in Uttar Pradesh has got his name included in the record books by his feat of 151 hours of non-stop teaching. Mr Yamuna Prasad Verma, a resident of Patti in Pratapgarh district of Uttar Pradesh, has got an entry in the Limca Book of Records, having obliterated the earlier record of 24 hours. — UNI

Sanjay Dutt exempted
MUMBAI:
A special court today exempted film star Sanjay Dutt and 84 other accused, currently on bail in the 1993 bomb blast case, from personal appearance till October 3. Thirtysix other accused lodged in the Central Prison were also produced before the court. In a related development, designated judge P.D. Kode said he would announce the date of the verdict on October 4. — PTI

3 more farmers commit suicide
GUNTUR (AP):
Three debt-ridden cotton farmers have ended their lives by consuming pesticides in the district, the police said on Monday. E. Brahmananda Reddy (40) of Eirikepalli village, Bolla Babu (35) of Kothaguden village, and N. Srinivasa Rao (25) of Ingurajala village have taken the extreme step. With the death of these farmers, the total number of such suicides in the district has gone up to 63 since May. — PTI
Top

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |