SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Now Muslim headcount in Jharkhand police
Ranchi, February 18
Even as the BJP-led NDA attacked the Manmohan Singh government on the headcount of Muslims in the armed forces, its government in Jharkhand has initiated a similar exercise in the police force of the state. The state IGP, Mr B.C. Verma, confirmed that the SPs had been asked to provide details of Muslims in the force but said it was a regular exercise.

India to jointly produce arms with Russia: Pranab
Kolkata, February 18
India will soon set up new industries after a joint venture with Russia for the production of modern and sophisticated war equipment, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at Haldia, around 150 km from here, today.

HP opposes govt move to produce witness in power arrears case
New Delhi, February 18
Himachal Pradesh vehemently opposed the move of the Centre in the Supreme Court to produce a witness at the last moment in a suit for recovery of Rs 2,200 crore as its share of power in the Bhakra and Beas projects, contending that such an effort would unnecessarily delay the decision in the case pending for the past 10 years.



EARLIER STORIES
 
Border Security force soldiers stand guard as Indian officials take measurements for a border fence at the zero point that divides India and Bangladesh in Agartala
Border Security Force soldiers stand guard as Indian officials take measurements for a border fence at the zero point that divides India and Bangladesh in Agartala, on Saturday. — Reuters

Prof Mehta may get US visa
New Delhi, February 18
The US embassy yesterday denied a news report in an English daily which said that the US had refused entry visa to Professor Goverdhan Mehta, former chief of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

SC notices to Centre, Assam on “secret killings”
New Delhi, February 18
The Supreme Court yesterday issued notices to the Centre, Assam Government and Defence Ministry on alleged “secret killings” of 265 innocent persons by security forces between 1998 and 2001 in Assam in the name of operation against the ULFA.

Expelled MPs are entitled to pension
New Delhi, February 18
The expulsion of MPs, who were found involved in the “questions for cash” scam, from their respective Houses of Parliament, will no way affect their right to draw their pensions as per the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2003.

Thackeray laments Valentine’s Day attack
Mumbai, February 18
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray today disowned the attack on a Valentine’s Day party at Nalasopara in Thane district, adjoining Mumbai, where several women were beaten up by party workers.

Clinton may meet PM on AIDS
New Delhi, February 18
Former US President Bill Clinton is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss measures to prevent HIV/AIDS from assuming epidemic proportion in the country.

Chirac arrives today
New Delhi, February 18
India and France are expected to sign a “declaration” on development on defence cooperation on February 20 when French President Jacques Chirac holds talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Kakodkar regrets foreign dependence
New Delhi, February 18
Nuclear scientist Dr Anil Kakodkar today lamented the country’s vulnerability to foreign dependencies. “India has been making important contributions to the global knowledge pool for ages....I often wonder why we remain vulnerable to foreign dependencies despite having the capability for original thinking,” he said.

BJP expels 4 pro-Uma MLAs
Bhopal, February 18
The BJP today struck a blow to expelled leader Uma Bharati by expelling four MLAs who had refused to part company with her. Mr Arun Jaitley’s replacing Mr Ananth Kumar as in charge of Madhya Pradesh affairs was being considered as a conciliatory move towards Ms Bharati. The four MLAs expelled from the party are Mr Sunil Nayak, Mr Jalam Singh Patel, Mr Hakam Singh Chadar and Mr Rasal Singh.
— OC


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Now Muslim headcount in Jharkhand police

Ranchi, February 18
Even as the BJP-led NDA attacked the Manmohan Singh government on the headcount of Muslims in the armed forces, its government in Jharkhand has initiated a similar exercise in the police force of the state.

The state IGP, Mr B.C. Verma, confirmed that the SPs had been asked to provide details of Muslims in the force but said it was a regular exercise.

“It is a headcount which is a normal practice. We also do it in case of SC/ST/OBCs. Now it is for Muslims within the police department,” he said.

The letters asking for such details, the copy of which was published in the local media, was sent by Mr Verma himself to the SPs.

The IGP, however, refrained from any comment when asked whether the details were sought by the state Welfare Department, but only said “everything is in black and white”.

The media report had earlier claimed that the exercise had been undertaken at the instance of the state Welfare Department.

State Welfare Minister Ramesh Singh Munda, however, denied any knowledge about such details. “I checked with my department and found that we have not sought any such report from the police department,” he said.

State Home Minister Sudesh Mahato under whose ministry the police comes, was not available for comment. — PTI

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India to jointly produce arms with Russia: Pranab
Our Correspondent

Kolkata, February 18
India will soon set up new industries after a joint venture with Russia for the production of modern and sophisticated war equipment, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at Haldia, around 150 km from here, today.

Mr Mukherjee said the Centre had decided as a matter of policy to build some more defence production units with foreign participation for meeting defence requirements instead of directly purchasing arms from abroad.

“We have decided to jointly set up defence factories with Russia as per our requirements,” he said adding that similar joint venture attempts would be made with some other friendly countries in future.

It may be recalled that the Defence Ministry has already decided to get the private sector involved in the production of arms and other defence equipment, which so far only a few public sector defence factories had been making.

But now the requirements had changed, forcing the ministry to invite private sector and foreign expertise in production dealings, Mr Mukherjee said.

The Defence Minister today laid the foundation stone of a truck factory plant at Haldia that would produce Army vehicles.

He was also present at two other factions in the township, which state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar also attended.

Talking to mediapersons, Mr Mukherjee reiterated that the Indian Army would stand united despite provocation and malicious propaganda by the BJP and other communal forces.

Justifying the need for setting up Justice Rajinder Sacher Commission, he said the purpose was to study the socio-economic and educational status of the minorities in the Army and there was no politics involved.

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HP opposes govt move to produce witness in power arrears case
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 18
Himachal Pradesh vehemently opposed the move of the Centre in the Supreme Court to produce a witness at the last moment in a suit for recovery of Rs 2,200 crore as its share of power in the Bhakra and Beas projects, contending that such an effort would unnecessarily delay the decision in the case pending for the past 10 years.

The Union Government, which had not cited any witness initially, yesterday sought time from the court to make its stand clear whether it should produce any witness for the cross-examination.

The sudden move of the Centre came after Punjab and Haryana had presented their witnesses for recording their evidence and Rajasthan yesterday told the court that it had dropped the idea of producing any of the four witnesses cited by it.

Himachal Pradesh had claimed arrears of Rs 2199.77 crore from the Centre, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan for denying its due share of power from the Bhakra and Beas projects.

On March 29, 2004, a Bench, headed by the then Chief Justice V.N. Khare, had entrusted the responsibility of recording the evidence of witnesses on the Registrar Judicial, who was supposed to close recording of the same yesterday.

But at the last moment, Centre’s counsel T.S. Doabia said the Union Government should be given an opportunity to produce a witness and he would seek instruction from the authorities concerned in that regard.

Himachal Pradesh’s Additional Advocate-General (AAG) J.S. Attri opposed it. Attri said since the entire case was based on documentary evidence, there was no need at the first place to cross-examine the witnesses and if at all it was done at the instance of the defending parties, there was no occasion for the Centre to seek presentation of a witness at this state when recording was to be closed as it had not filed affidavit of any witness.

Himachal has sought its full share of 7.19 per cent power from Bhakra as per the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, and 12 per cent free power from Beas projects as provided in the 1990 decision of the Centre.

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Prof Mehta may get US visa
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
The US embassy yesterday denied a news report in an English daily which said that the US had refused entry visa to Professor Goverdhan Mehta, former chief of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The Tribune understands that Prof Mehta’s visa application is still alive and he would be given the US visa provided he continues with the application.

An American diplomat told The Tribune that Prof Mehta did not have to re-apply for visa and his application had not been refused. Asked what was meant by the phrase “if he continues his application”, the diplomat said it meant that Prof Mehta was required to furnish more information.

The diplomat also denied that Prof Mehta, a world renowned scientist in organic chemistry, that he was suspected to be involved in chemical warfare and bio-terrorism. The American diplomat asserted that Prof Mehta was not asked any questions about his institute.

“Prof Mehta was asked to furnish some more information which is a standard practice. He has not yet given the required information. If he does that, chances are that he would be given the visa promptly,” the diplomat said.

The US embassy here issued a statement in the afternoon and said: “Although it is generally US policy not to comment on individual visa cases, the US Embassy feels compelled to correct inaccuracies in yesterday’s Indian Express article regarding Prof Goverdhan Mehta’s application for a visa. No final decision has been taken on Prof Mehta’s application pending receipt of additional information necessary to provide his visa request. The embassy regrets Prof Mehta was upset by the visa interview. We are committed to treating each applicant with dignity and respect, but we are also obliged to obtain sufficient information necessary for properly evaluating each application.”

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SC notices to Centre, Assam on “secret killings”
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 18
The Supreme Court yesterday issued notices to the Centre, Assam Government and Defence Ministry on alleged “secret killings” of 265 innocent persons by security forces between 1998 and 2001 in Assam in the name of operation against the ULFA.

A Bench of Mr Justice A R Lakshmanan and Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari also issued notices to the Director-General of Police, Assam, Union Home Ministry and the then Chief Minister P.K. Mohanta, seeking their replies within four weeks.

The notices were issued on a petition by an NGO, Aalok, which alleged that the “secret killings” of hundreds of innocent persons had come to light after Mohanta had demitted office.

The killing of young men, children, family members and relatives of some innocent persons was done with the help of some “surrendered” ULFA activists by the local police and security forces. Some bureaucrats and MLAs were also involved in it, the petition alleged.

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Expelled MPs are entitled to pension
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
The expulsion of MPs, who were found involved in the “questions for cash” scam, from their respective Houses of Parliament, will no way affect their right to draw their pensions as per the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2003.

This means that the prompt expulsion of the guilty members from Parliament only amounts to a ‘stigma’ in their political life, but they continue to enjoy their rights over pension and other allowances as applicable for other retired members.

“The expulsion of an MP, as per the present provisions, will no way impact his rights to draw his or her pensions,” former Secretary General of Lok Sabha Subhash Kashyap told The Tribune here.

Mr Kashyap pointed out that the 2003 Amendment to the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act has ensured that even if an MP has served for just a day will be entitled for a minimum of Rs 3,000 per month.

“Thus, in effect, the expulsion of some MPs involved in questions for cash amounts to just a stigma in their political life,” he said.

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Thackeray laments Valentine’s Day attack
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 18
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray today disowned the attack on a Valentine’s Day party at Nalasopara in Thane district, adjoining Mumbai, where several women were beaten up by party workers.

In a statement published in party mouthpiece “Saamna”, Thackeray flayed party workers for the incident, which was captured by television cameras.

“I am ashamed to call the attackers Shiv Sainiks.... It is an example of cowardice,” Thackeray said.

He cited the instance of Shivaji Maharaj who asked his followers not to attack the womenfolk of his enemies.

However, Thackeray reiterated the Shiv Sena’s opposition to the Valentine’s Day programme. “Whatever goes on in the name of Valentine’s Day does not fit into our culture,” Thackeray said.

Meanwhile, undaunted by the attack by a gang of 200 Shiv Sena activists, the organisers of the party have scheduled another Valentine’s Day party on Saturday night.

Egged on by local politicians, the organisers hastily repaired the hotel premises damaged in the incident and decided to hold the party free of charge.

In a statement here, they claimed to have received the support of more than 2,000 people though the original party had just 250 paying people.

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Clinton may meet PM on AIDS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
Former US President Bill Clinton is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss measures to prevent HIV/AIDS from assuming epidemic proportion in the country.

Mr Clinton, who has come to India for a two-day visit, will have a meeting with the Prime Minister who also heads the National Council on AIDS. Both leaders are taking a keen interest in the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

Mr Clinton arrived in Goa today and visited the Cipla factory which manufactures generic drugs for HIV/AIDS, a spokesperson of the Clinton Foundation said.

Mr Clinton will also attend the wedding of millionaire US hotelier Vikram Chatwal with Delhi model Priya Sachdev.

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Chirac arrives today

New Delhi, February 18
India and France are expected to sign a “declaration” on development on defence cooperation on February 20 when French President Jacques Chirac holds talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

However, it will take months for the two countries to clinch a nuclear deal.

The two countries will also sign several agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs), including on tourism cooperation. Mr Chirac is arriving here tomorrow. — TNS

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Kakodkar regrets foreign dependence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
Nuclear scientist Dr Anil Kakodkar today lamented the country’s vulnerability to foreign dependencies.

“India has been making important contributions to the global knowledge pool for ages....I often wonder why we remain vulnerable to foreign dependencies despite having the capability for original thinking,” he said. He was delivering a convocation address at Indira Gandhi National Open University here.

The Atomic Energy Commission chief cautioned that with dependence on foreign technologies, the country could never become global technology leader and could not survive the global competition unless it achieved global leadership.

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