SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

SC bans publication, broadcast of unauthorised phone tapping
New Delhi, February 27
In the wake of the raging controversy over the tapping of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s phone and distribution to media the CDs of his recorded conversations with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, filmstars and businessmen, the Supreme Court, in a sweeping order today, banned the publication and broadcast of taped telephonic conversation of any person done illegally by any telephone company.

Survey blames Punjab, Haryana for MSP flaws
New Delhi, February 27
While projecting an agricultural growth rate of 2.3 per cent in the current fiscal, the Economic Survey 2005-06 blames Punjab and Haryana for the flaws in the minimum support price systems.

Ashwani urges Centre to give compensation
Crop diversification in Punjab
New Delhi, February 27
Laying stress on diversification for long-term sustainability of agriculture in Punjab, Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar today said he had urged the Centre to provide compensation of Rs 12,500 per hectare to farmers in the state to grow cash crops.





EARLIER STORIES
 

More labs for testing bird flu cases
New Delhi, February 27
The government today said it planned to upgrade three of the five regional disease diagnostic laboratories for animal disease surveillance at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore and set up three biosafety-level laboratories for testing of human samples.

Plea to restrain Bhayana taking oath rejected
New Delhi, February 27
The efforts of a noted criminal lawyer and former Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary to secure an order for restraining Jessica Lall murder case judge to take oath as a Judge of the Delhi High Court tomorrow, failed today as the apex court refused to entertain a plea in this regard.

TN Govt's order on CET void: HC
Chennai, February 27
The Tamil Nadu Government’s notification abolishing common entrance test for the state’s students applying for professional courses with a non-CBSE, non-ISCE higher secondary qualification was struck down by the Madras High Court today on the grounds that the law violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which explicitly places everyone as equal before the law.

Cong raps Left for ‘blind’ opposition to USA
New Delhi, February 27
While the UPA government has come under fire from the Left parties for voting against Iran “under US pressure”, the Congress today returned the compliment as it rapped the Marxists for allowing its blind opposition to the USA to compromise national interest.

Furore over PM’s remark on Jammu and Kashmir
New Delhi, February 27
Parliament today witnessed acrimonious scenes over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s references to “self-rule” and “autonomy” for Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the visit of US President George W. Bush as the government sought to remove any misunderstanding on the issue.

Bush to completely avoid road travel
Hyderabad, February 27
US President George Bush, who is visiting Hyderabad this Friday, will completely avoid travelling by road during his stay and instead fly to the venues by air. The highly zealous security detail of Mr Bush has also decided not to allow any photographers to the couple of engagements that the President has in the city on March 3.

Bush visit: BJP criticises govt
New Delhi, February 27
The BJP President, Mr Rajnath Singh, today protested to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, about the government's failure to keep the principal Opposition party and the NDA informed about the agenda of the forthcoming visit of US President George W Bush which has been "clouded in unnecessary controversy".

Protests, ‘go back’ placards await Bush
New Delhi, February 27
US President George Bush will be greeted with “go back” placards and protest rallies by the Left parties and the SP to express their anger against Washington’s role in opposing Indo-Iran gas pipeline, genocide in Iraq and New Delhi’s energy interest in Syrian oil fields.

Poll pact with AIADMK
Chennai, February 27
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam today received a shot in the arm as a Dailt-based political party, Dalit Panthers of India, forged an electoral alliance for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.

Mitra is new BSF chief
New Delhi, February 27
Director-General of National Human Rights Commission G.S. Rajgopal was today appointed Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Union Home Ministry in place of Ashish Kumar Mitra, who was made Director-General of BSF succeeding Mr R.S. Mooshahary who retired today.



Outgoing BSF Director-General R S Mooshahary at a farewell parade at the BSF campus at Chhawla in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo

Outgoing BSF Director-General R S Mooshahary at a farewell parade at the BSF campus at Chhawla in New Delhi

7 cops die in Maoist attack
Kolkata, February 27
Maoists guerrillas again struck a police convoy and killed five policemen on the spot and a civilian in the Belpharia forest area in West Midnapore near Jharkhand last night. Later, two more constables died in hospital.

Doctors’ strike hits hospitals
Mumbai, February 27
Work at several government and civic-owned hospitals in Mumbai came to a grinding halt this afternoon, after resident doctors went on an indefinite strike demanding more security.

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SC bans publication, broadcast of
unauthorised phone tapping

S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 27
In the wake of the raging controversy over the tapping of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s phone and distribution to media the CDs of his recorded conversations with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh, filmstars and businessmen, the Supreme Court, in a sweeping order today, banned the publication and broadcast of taped telephonic conversation of any person done illegally by any telephone company.

Terming the unauthorised tapping of telephone of any person a “very serious matter affecting the privacy of an individual”, a Bench of Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Mr Justice C.K.Thakker and Mr Justice R.V. Raveendran passed the prohibitory order against media after two top law officials of the government — Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvatti and Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam — supported issuing of such a direction.

The government law officers said that the privacy of an individual would always have “weigh” over any other issue and there was nothing wrong in passing such a restraint order till guidelines were laid down by the court. The apex court, which had laid down guidelines in 1996 for interception of telephones in certain circumstances, especially in the interest of country’s security, said it would lay down fresh norms in this regard.

The court also issued notices to eight telephone companies, both in government and private sector, to make them as parties to a petition by Amar Singh, raising the issue of tapping of his phone of Reliance Indicomm “illegally” on two forged letters of Delhi Government Home Secretary and a Joint Commissioner (Crime), Delhi Police.

In its brief order, the Bench said “we direct that electronic and print media would not publish or display the unauthorised and illegal telephonic taped version of any person till the matter is further heard and guidelines issued by this court.” This would mean that media would be free to use the telephonic conversation done on orders of the government.

The phone companies BSNL, VSNL, MTNL, Bharti running the Airtel service, Hutchison Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Indicomm and Reliance Indicomm were directed to submit their replies within two weeks whether any instruction had been issued to them by any government agency to keep surveillance on the telephone of any person in violation of the apex court guidelines.

The Court, however, refused to issue notice to Congress party through its President Sonia Gandhi, saying “we are not concerned about any political issue”.

Similar affidavits were sought from the Union and Delhi Governments whether the telephone companies had been asked to tap the telephone of any person “outside the order of designated authority”.

As per the Supreme Court guidelines, designated government agencies would intercept telephones of any suspect involved in anti-national activities on a prior order by a competent authority or such approval within 15 days.

The court took serious view of the Delhi Government’s failure to collect information from the telephone companies despite its October letter to them whether any phone had been tapped by them in the manner it was done in the case of Amar Singh on forged letters.

Though the Solicitor-General admitted that in cases where national security was involved Government agencies like Intelligence Bureau, CBI, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East were allowed to intercept telephones, he said “not a single phone has been tapped by its agencies without authorisation.”

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Flutter in Parliament over Amar Singh CD issue
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
The Amar Singh CD issue today created a flutter in both Houses of Parliament with government saying the Home Ministry was examining its authenticity and necessary action would be taken.

"The Home Ministry is examining the authenticity of the CD...whatever as per law if any action is required, it will be taken," Leader of the Lok Sabha Pranab Mukherjee said.

Mr Mukherjee responded after BSP members stormed the well twice and demanded immediate inquiry be initiated, as the CD allegedly contained telephonic talks between SP leader Amar Singh and UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and purportedly referred to "buying" of judges and also transfer of a judge if he was not willing to grant favour.

The issue also figured in the Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour with BSP member Satish Chandra Misra raising it and sparking heated exchanges with ruling party members.

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Survey blames Punjab, Haryana for MSP flaws
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
While projecting an agricultural growth rate of 2.3 per cent in the current fiscal, the Economic Survey 2005-06 blames Punjab and Haryana for the flaws in the minimum support price systems.

Agriculture is estimated to grow at 2.3 per cent as against a lower growth rate of 0.7 per cent during 2004-05 and the total foodgrain production is estimated to be 209.3 million tonnes in the year against 204.6 million tonnes in 2004-05.

The survey calling for the rationalisation of the MSP regime says state level sales taxes and marketing committee fees (mandi fees) on procurement operations in Punjab and Haryana inflate the economic costs of foodgrains.

It says the average consumer in all states and the states that are net buyers of foodgrains bear the incidence of such state sales taxes and duties.

“There is a need to explore the possibility of combining moral suasion with some incentives/disincentives to discourage states from imposing such levies,” the survey said.

It says as the FCI gets full reimbursement for its procurement, handling and storage costs, the scope for efficiency improvement through reduction in operating costs needs to be examined.

As MSPs help only large farmers with high marketable surpluses and marginalise the rest of them, the survey says the non-price factors such as those related to provision of infrastructure needs to be considered.

The Decentralised Procurement Scheme, it says, evoked good response with 11 states joining it and there was record procurement of 93.6 lakh tonnes of paddy in Kharif 2004-05 against the previous record of 77.6 lakh tonnes in Kharif 2003-04.

The survey notes the concerns about the scheme relating to financing of operations, due to strict RBI valuation norms for foodgrain stocks, reimbursement of expenses and the release of subsidy by the Central Government due to the fixation of economic cost of foodgrains procured by the state governments and delay in the release of the subsidy.

The survey calls for a shift from the current MSP and Public Procurement System. It advocates developing alternative product markets as essential for crop diversification and broad-based agricultural development.

It says agricultural growth is essential for achieving overall GDP of 8 to 10 per cent and there is a need for improved productivity for achieving accelerated agricultural growth as there are limitations to the expansion of acreage in Indian agriculture. The survey notes that there is some scope for wasteland reclamation.

It says horticulture, floriculture, organic farming, genetic engineering, food processing, branding, packaging, and futures trading as the areas emerging with a potential for high growth in the agriculture sector.

The survey calls for the development of rural infrastructure, rural extension services and agro-based and food processing industries to harness this potential.

Noting that the production of pulses and oilseeds is below domestic requirements, the survey points out that a bias in agricultural price support policies in favour of foodgrains may have distorted cropping pattern and input uses, which may require corrections.

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Ashwani urges Centre to give compensation
Crop diversification in Punjab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Laying stress on diversification for long-term sustainability of agriculture in Punjab, Minister of State for Industry Ashwani Kumar today said he had urged the Centre to provide compensation of Rs 12,500 per hectare to farmers in the state to grow cash crops.

Talking to mediapersons here, the Minister said it was self-evident that Punjab’s agriculture economy would have to progressively move from paddy and wheat cycle. “For this purpose, it has been considered necessary to ensure to farmers a compensation of Rs 12,500 per hectare for growing crops like oilseeds and pulses that consume less water and energy. A special assistance of Rs 1030 crore had been sought from the Centre for this purpose and the request is yet to be conceded,” he said.

Mr Kumar said he had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram urging them to meet the state’s demands. The Minister sought Rs 982.50 crore assistance from the Centre for improving road infrastructure in the border districts of Amritsar, Ferozepore and Gurdaspur.

Emphasing the need of cheap agricultural credit in the state, Mr Kumar said that increased interest cost servicing burden was being passed on to farmers by cooperative banks. He urged Mr Chidambaram to take steps to rationalise the cost of agricultural loans in the state which was the “granary of India.”

The Minister said incentives to states like Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal had affected the industry in Punjab as most units were now coming up in the neighbouring states. “This has impacted employment avenues n Punjab,” he said. The Minister sought immediate special concessions to industry in Punjab at least in the border districts of Amritsar, Ferozepore and Gurdaspur.

Mr Kumar sought incentives for farmers to increase forest cover in the state which was only 8.1 per cent in 1996. He said the Johal committee on diversification of agriculture had recommended that at least one lakh hectare of land under wheat\paddy rotation should be diverted to farm forestry.

Seeking higher compensation for cotton growers of the state, Mr Kumar said their produce was of a superior quality.

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More labs for testing bird flu cases
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
The government today said it planned to upgrade three of the five regional disease diagnostic laboratories for animal disease surveillance at a cost of Rs 2.5 crore and set up three biosafety-level laboratories for testing of human samples.

While declaring that no case of human avian influenza had been reported in the country so far, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health, Vineet Chawdhry said Rs 6 crore would be given to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for strengthening its influenza surveillance network.

At present, there is only one BSL laboratory in the public health system at the National Institute of Virology, Pune. The government plans to set up these laboratories in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata to take the load off the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Delhi, and National Institute of Virology, Pune.

Officials of the Department of Animal Husbandry said the expert committee set up to look at the source of bird flu infection would visit the infected areas for an epidemiological survey only after sanitisation and clean-up operations in Navapur in Maharashtra and Ucchal in Gujarat had been completed.

Joint Secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry Upma Chawdhry said the three disease diagnostic laboratories that had been identified for upgradation were in Jalandhar, Kolkata and Pune. She said so far, high category tests for poultry samples were being done only at Bhopal.

On the reports about outbreak of bird flu in Assam, she said local people in Tinsukhia district denied large-scale deaths of poultry birds. The post-mortem report of the poultry birds who died in Laika in Tinsukia district indicated that they had died of Ranikhet disease. “As a matter of abundant measure, we sent samples by courier to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory at Bhopal,’’ she said.

She said culling had been completed in the extended zone in Gujarat. She said so far 1,06,000 poultry birds had been killed in Gujarat.

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Plea to restrain Bhayana taking oath rejected
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 27
The efforts of a noted criminal lawyer and former Supreme Court Bar Association Secretary to secure an order for restraining Jessica Lall murder case judge to take oath as a Judge of the Delhi High Court tomorrow, failed today as the apex court refused to entertain a plea in this regard.

A Bench of Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Mr Justice C.K. Thakker and Mr Justice R.V. Raveendran declined any interference in the matter after a brief hearing of advocate Ashok Arora’s plea for restraining Additional Sessions Judge S.L. Bhayana from taking the oath in view of his verdict in the Jessica Lall murder case.

Mr Arora had sent letters to the President and the Chief Justice of India yesterday in this regard and wanted it to be converted into a public interest litigation (PIL) when he made a special mention of it before the Bench.

He sought the setting up of a committee of prominent jurists, including former CJIs Justice J.S. Verma and Justice V. N.Khare, senior lawyers — Fali S Nariman, P.P. Rao and K Parasaran — to examine the judgement delivered by Bhayana and submit their report on this by tomorrow and till such time he be restrained from taking the oath.

The court told Mr Arora that a lawyer of his standing should have not taken such a stand, knowing well the procedure for selection of judges. It pointed out that the process of selection in this case had been completed much before the judgement in the Jessica murder case was delivered.

But, Mr Arora claimed that in 2004, Bhayana’s candidature for promotion to the high court was rejected by its collegium on the ground of “incompetence”, but he has now been considered to be a “competent” judge.

“It is very important that two CJIs, Justice J.S. Verma and Justice V.N. Khare have commented against the judgement. I have myself read it and from my experience of 25 years as a lawyer, I can say the judgement is apparently wrong. The judge is speaking more for the accused. It is a quid pro quo,” he said.

“I am saying it with full sense of responsibility. I am ready to face action for the contempt of court, if the committee of jurists so formed comes to the conclusion that my views on the judgement were wrong,” Arora asserted.

At this, the CJI said, “Let us not destroy this institution (of judiciary) by setting wrong precedents. Should we ignore the recommendations of the high court, Supreme Court, Law Ministry, the Prime Minister and finally the decision of the President?”

As Arora persisted with his plea, the CJI said, “Let me open my heart. I believe these types of mentioning are done for media publicity and amounted to trial by media.”

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TN Govt's order on CET void: HC
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 27
The Tamil Nadu Government’s notification abolishing common entrance test (CET) for the state’s students applying for professional courses with a non-CBSE, non-ISCE higher secondary qualification was struck down by the Madras High Court today on the grounds that the law violated Article 14 of the Constitution, which explicitly places everyone as equal before the law.

A Division Bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice A. P. Shah and Justice Prabha Sridevan struck down the new law.

The state government headed by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa had attempted to do away with entrance tests for all professional courses last year by creating a government order on similar grounds.

The high court had also struck down the government order saying that it violated the Central Government’s regulations governing admissions to professional courses.

Laws governing CET to all professional courses are framed by the Central bodies, which include the Medical Council of India and the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), for students who have passed their higher secondary examinations through different streams like CBSE, ISCE board and state government boards.

To circumvent this admission process, the Tamil Nadu Government, a few months ago, enacted a separate law abolishing entrance examinations for state board students alone and stipulated that CBSE and ISCE students should pass an entrance test based on the state government’s own higher secondary school syllabus.

But, before the notification of the law, a few CBSE students challenged its constitutional validity in the Madras High Court through a batch of writ petitions.

The judges ruled that the state legislature was not competent to enact laws overruling the Medical Council of India and the AICTE.

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Cong raps Left for ‘blind’ opposition to USA
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
While the UPA government has come under fire from the Left parties for voting against Iran “under US pressure”, the Congress today returned the compliment as it rapped the Marxists for allowing its blind opposition to the USA to compromise national interest.

This gentle reference to the continuing opposition by the Left to the country’s foreign policy is contained in the editorial of the latest edition of the party’s mouthpiece, Congress Sandesh, released here today.

Using the party’s mouthpiece, the Congress reminded its partners that they should adhere to a coalition dharma, particularly so in the case of the country’s foreign policy as India needs to present a cohesive picture in its dealings with the world.

“An India that appears to be a divided house, lays itself to blackmail from other countries, thus fundamentally compromising its national interest” the editorial states.

This, it further adds, becomes even more difficult if national interest is being held to ransom because of “an ideological imperative or blind opposition to the US”.

The editorial titled “Enlightened Self-Interest” as opposed to the PM’s catch phrase “Enlightened National Interest” has not named the Left parties but it is obvious that the stern message is aimed at the Marxists, who have launched a no-holds barred campaign against the Congress-led ruling combine for abandoning its independent foreign policy and aligning too closely with the United States.

Ironically, the editorial board of Congress Sandesh is headed by former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh, who had sought support from the Left parties when he was embroiled in the Volcker controversy.

While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already clarified the government’s position on the Iran nuclear issue and the Indo-American nuclear pact in Parliament, the Congress has chosen to respond to the Left parties’ constant criticism in its own fashion.

The editorial also takes an indirect dig at the Left parties for being dogmatic while making a pointed reference to how the Congress has demonstrated its ability to move with the times and in the changed international and national interests of the country.

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Furore over PM’s remark on Jammu and Kashmir
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Parliament today witnessed acrimonious scenes over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s references to “self-rule” and “autonomy” for Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the visit of US President George W. Bush as the government sought to remove any misunderstanding on the issue.

Self-rule and autonomy were the not only issues that were discussed at the round-table on Kashmir, Home Minister Shivraj Patil told the Rajya Sabha, adding “there should not be any misunderstanding”.

Both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha plunged into turmoil with the BJP attacking the Prime Minister for his references to “self-rule” and “autonomy” during the round-table held here a couple of days back.

The BJP said the statement coming ahead of Bush’s visit sent a wrong message. Congress members, joined by PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti, hit back at the Opposition.

Raising the issue during Question Hour in Lok Sabha, BJP Deputy Leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra asserted that Jammu and Kashmir remained an integral part of the country and both Houses of Parliament had unanimously passed a resolution to this effect.

In the Rajya Sabha, senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi said the Prime Minister should have rejected the idea of self rule and autonomy and instead focused on the issue of ending cross-border terrorism.

Mr Karan Singh (Congress) appealed to the BJP not to politicise the issue.

The Lok Sabha even witnessed an adjournment as agitated BJP members raised slogans that Kashmir was an inseparable part of India and trooped into the well.

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Bush to completely avoid road travel
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 27
US President George Bush, who is visiting Hyderabad this Friday, will completely avoid travelling by road during his stay and instead fly to the venues by air. The highly zealous security detail of Mr Bush has also decided not to allow any photographers to the couple of engagements that the President has in the city on March 3.

The President, who is staying in the city for barely four hours, will participate in a meeting at N G Ranga Agricultural University and later interact with management experts and entrepreneurs at International School of Business at Gachibowli. Immediately after getting down from Air Force One at Begumpet Airport here at around 10 am, Mr Bush will be ushered into the helicopter, specially flown in from the US, to reach the agricultural university at Rajendra Nagar. He will again helihop to the ISB, and from there, back to the Airport. Alarmed by the anti-Bush protest meetings being held almost every day in the run-up to the President’s visit, the US Secret Service is learnt to have struck off the proposed visits of the First Lady Laura Bush to Koti Women’s College, a heritage structure, and Freedom Foundation at Bolaram, which works for AIDS- affected people.

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Bush visit: BJP criticises govt

New Delhi, February 27
The BJP President, Mr Rajnath Singh, today protested to the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, about the government's failure to keep the principal Opposition party and the NDA informed about the agenda of the forthcoming visit of US President George W Bush which has been "clouded in unnecessary controversy".

In a strongly worded letter, the BJP leader said, "Since national interests demand that foreign policy be bi-partisan, we consider this lack of transparency a major lapse on the part of the government".

He also urged the Prime Minister to raise with the US President issues on national and energy security and cautioning against any compromise on Jammu and Kashmir and the country's nuclear sovereignty. — TNS

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Protests, ‘go back’ placards await Bush

New Delhi, February 27
US President George Bush will be greeted with “go back” placards and protest rallies by the Left parties and the SP to express their anger against Washington’s role in opposing Indo-Iran gas pipeline, genocide in Iraq and New Delhi’s energy interest in Syrian oil fields.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan will lead the march from the Ramlila Maidan to the Parliament Street on March 2. — TNS

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Poll pact with AIADMK
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 27
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) today received a shot in the arm as a Dailt-based political party, Dalit Panthers of India (DPI), forged an electoral alliance for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.

The DPI is very close to Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a constituent of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA), and was expected to join the front. It was also an ally of the DMK in the 2001 Assembly elections. The DPI general secretary Thol Thirumavalavan today met AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at her residence here and both forged the poll alliance.

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Mitra is new BSF chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
Director-General of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) G.S. Rajgopal was today appointed Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Union Home Ministry in place of Ashish Kumar Mitra, who was made Director-General of BSF succeeding Mr R.S. Mooshahary who retired today. The appointments were cleared by the Appointments’ Committee of the Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister.

A 1971 batch IPS officer of Rajasthan, Mr Rajagopal, will hold the additional charge of National Security Guards. He has a tenure till November 2008.

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7 cops die in Maoist attack
Subhrangshu Gupta

Kolkata, February 27
Maoists guerrillas again struck a police convoy and killed five policemen on the spot and a civilian in the Belpharia forest area in West Midnapore near Jharkhand last night. Later, two more constables died in hospital.

The jeep in which the police personnel were travelling was also blown up with landmines. This was the seventh such attack by the combined forces of the MCC and the PWG on the police party and the CPM during the past five months in the guerrilla-infested districts.

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Doctors’ strike hits hospitals
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 27
Work at several government and civic-owned hospitals in Mumbai came to a grinding halt this afternoon, after resident doctors went on an indefinite strike demanding more security.

The strike was a result of two doctors being assaulted by relatives of patients on Sunday night and later this morning. The Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors spearheading the strike said all hospitals in the city would shut down if the state government did not beef up security for the doctors.

According to the president of the association, Dr Shrikant Pandit, the body may call for a state-wide strike if the issue is not resolved by the state government.

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