SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Kalam for comprehensive national security
New Delhi, August 14

Identifying the threat of low-intensity proxy war and terrorism as a disturbing feature of national life, President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam today offered several suggestions to the government for facing this threat, which include the launch of a national campaign for the eradication of terrorism and the formulation of a special law to provide security to citizens.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam addresses the nation on the eve of Independence Day from Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday.

PM, MPs miss President’s address



President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam addresses the nation on the eve of Independence Day from Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo


EARLIER STORIES




Govt to probe allegations of mafia links against minister
New Delhi, August 14
The UPA government was today asked to probe the allegations of mafia links against Minister of State for Home Affairs Manikrao Gavit after MPs cutting across party lines came to his defence.

Left not to allow amendments to RTI Act
New Delhi, August 14
The UPA government could find itself in a tight spot over the exemption of file notings from the purview of the Act, with the Left parties supporting the campaign against the proposed move to amend the Right to Information (RTI) law.

Tyagi was misquoted: IAF
New Delhi, August 14
The Indian Air Force today clarified that Air Chief S.P. Tyagi had never stated that the Army had “certain corrupt officials” as stated in a media report issued after he had spoken at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) in the Gujarat state capital late last night.

Natwar defends himself in RS
New Delhi, August 14
Former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh today vociferously defended himself on the allegations brought out against him in the Pathak Authority report and told the Rajya Sabha that no decision was taken on oil contracts during his visit to Iraq.

Sq Ldr Bhullar gets VSM
New Delhi, August 14
Squadron Leader Gurjot Singh Bhullar, who flies an IAF Mi-8 helicopter, has been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) this year on the occasion of Independence Day, 2006 for his performance during flood relief operations in Karnataka.

President’s Medal for 757 police personnel
New Delhi, August 14
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has awarded police medals to 757 police personnel on the occasion of Independence Day.

President’s Medal for CBI officials
New Delhi, August 14
Joint Director Ashok Kumar at Chennai and three other top officials of the CBI have been awarded the prestigious President’s Medal for distinguished service on the occasion of Independence Day.

Indo-Pak talks to be resumed
New Delhi, August 14
India today said it had not called off the peace process with Pakistan and the deferred Foreign Secretary-level talks would take place at “the appropriate time”.

Indo-Bangla ties bitter once again
New Delhi, August 14
Bitterness has crept into Indo-Bangla relations once again after Bangladesh Rifles’ unprovoked firing on Indian positions on the night of August 9 which killed two Indian women and injured several people, including a child.

SC notice to Centre on farmers’ suicides
New Delhi, August 14
The Supreme Court today took cognisance of a petition raising the issue of a large number of farmers committing suicides in the country due to failure of crops and issued notice to the Centre for submitting a reply on its agriculture policy.

SC seeks status of probe into Kargil purchases
New Delhi, August 14
The Supreme Court today took serious view of the Ministry of Defence and the CBI moving in a “snails pace” in probing the allegations of irregularities in the purchase of equipment during Kargil conflict and sought status reports from them even as the probe agency said out of 25 cases referred to it no criminality was found in 13 of them.

Parliament Museum inaugurated
New Delhi, August 14
It is a journey which allows visitors to feel the past. The Parliament Museum, which was inaugurated today by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, provides the visitors a peep into the historic Dandi March by putting them on screen among the marching hundreds.

UK lab’s clean chit to soft drinks
CSE calls it biased
New Delhi, August 14
Fighting back, Coca Cola India today presented an imported “no-detectable pesticide” report to get out of the corner that the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report has pushed it into.

SC notice to govt on PIO scheme
New Delhi, August 14
A 72-year-old Pakistani national today moved the Supreme Court, challenging the exclusion of pre-Partition India born persons from the granting of dual citizenship under the “Persons of India Origin” (PIO) scheme announced by the Indian Government in 1999.

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Kalam for comprehensive national security
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
Identifying the threat of low-intensity proxy war and terrorism as a disturbing feature of national life, President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam today offered several suggestions to the government for facing this threat, which include the launch of a national campaign for the eradication of terrorism and the formulation of a special law to provide security to citizens.

Addressing the nation on the eve of the 60th Independence Day, the President called for a comprehensive integrated system of security which, according to him, should have several components like economic and energy security.

Dwelling at length on the issue of terrorism in his speech which had “National Awakening” as its theme, the President asked the nation to “transcend individual differences of opinion and address it with a sense of unity. This is the need of the hour”.

There were apprehensions that the President might refer to the controversial Office of Profit Bill, which is yet to get his assent even 12 days after its passage by Parliament, but much to the relief of the government, there was no reference to it in today’s speech.

Unfolding his views on how the government, Parliament and citizens should deal with this threat, President Kalam suggested that the formulation of a Citizens Security Bill and an Energy Independence Bill along with the adoption of a resolution that India will be transformed into a safe, prosperous, happy and socio-economically developed nation before 2020.

Stressing the need for evolving a National Campaign to Eradicate Terrorism (NCET), President Kalam maintained that such a campaign would facilitate working together of the “intelligence and security and machinery both at the state and the Central level to achieve the desired objectives besides acting as an alert and dynamic movement which would prevent hotels and homes from being used as a shelter by terrorists and extremists. Such a campaign, he stressed, ought to have a mission-oriented management structure along with people’s participation to be effective.

The President further suggested that the states could consider the introduction of national identity cards and the implementation of the national e-governance grid for all government to government, government to citizen, business to business and business to citizen transactions within two year’s time.

He also maintained that accelerated development had to be integrated with peace missions, adding that economic security of border regions would itself become complementary to territorial security required in these zones. More specifically, he said areas close to international borders and the Line of Control be used for economic activities. At the same time, he emphasised the need for social development in difficult areas which could be in the form of sports and educational complexes and healthcare institutions in the identified zones.

Referring to the threat of extremist groups in the North-East, President Kalam said this requires immediate, coordinated counter measures, including effective negotiations for the restoration of normalcy and economic development within the next three to five years.

Calling for the involvement of the public in the fight against terrorism, the President said that “every citizen, every group, every religion and every political and executive system should allow the law to function without interference”.

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PM, MPs miss President’s address

New Delhi, August 14
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his Cabinet colleagues and most members of Parliament today missed the all-important address to the Nation by the President on the eve of Independence Day.

As President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s address was being telecast on the Doordarshan’s national channel, parliamentarians were occupied with the inaugural ceremony of the new Parliament Museum, opened by Dr Kalam himself. — UNI 

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Govt to probe allegations of mafia links against minister
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
The UPA government was today asked to probe the allegations of mafia links against Minister of State for Home Affairs Manikrao Gavit after MPs cutting across party lines came to his defence.

At a meeting convened by the Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, the leaders agreed to let the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to decide the modalities of the probe.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi said that the inquiry report would be tabled before the end of the Monsoon Session of Parliament.

Apart from Mr Dasmunsi, BJP MP Vijay Kumar Malhotra, and CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta attended the meeting.

A private news channel had yesterday aired some tapes of conversation purportedly between Gavit and jailed Uttar Pradesh gangster Sundersingh Bhati for transferring a jail official.

Gavit, in statements made in both houses of Parliament today, said he was ready to face any probe and would quit public life if the allegations against him were proved true.

"I have not done any illegal thing in my life so far," a visibly moved Gavit, the eight-time tribal MP from Nandurbar, Maharashtra, said in a statement in Parliament.

''The words that were used (in the conversation shown on the channel) were not polite'' and were at variance with the kind of language he was known for in the House, he said.

He called for a time-bound probe by a House Committee in the matter which, the Minister said, should complete its task by the end of the session.

Amidst the thumping of the desks, Gavit declared that he would not participate in any work of the government and Parliament till the probe was completed.

Cutting across party lines, several MPs came to the defence of Gavit in Parliament and demanded stringent action against the TV channel that had aired the tapes. They included Mohan Singh (SP) and Iliyas Azmi (BSP) in the Lok Sabha and Sushma Swaraj (BJP), Sharad Yadav (JD-U) and Amar Singh (SP) in the Rajya Sabha.

Coming to the defence of Gavit, Leader of Opposition L K Advani said "it is said that this was not a sting operation. This is an official surveillance on the basis of which they are making it. All these things would have to be inquired into and should be taken into account……government is to examine the possibility of legislating an Act in respect of sting operations".

Later, talking to reporters, CPM Politburu member and Rajya Sabha member Sitaram Yechury expressed the need for framing of a law to protect the privacy of individuals.

Meanwhile, Manik Rao Gavit today met Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and is understood to have denied any links with the Uttar Pradesh underworld.

The meeting between Mr Patil and Mr Gavit lasted 30 minutes. Both refused to divulge what transpired between them during their meeting.

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Left not to allow amendments to RTI Act
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
The UPA government could find itself in a tight spot over the exemption of file notings from the purview of the Act, with the Left parties supporting the campaign against the proposed move to amend the Right to Information (RTI) law.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan and other prominent Left leaders today extended their support to the ‘Save RTI’ movement and flayed the Centre for bringing “drastic” amendments to the Act, thereby rendering it useless.

“In their two-year tenure, the only two good things that the UPA has done are enacting the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Right to Information Bills. But I do not know why they want to undo their good work now,” Karat said addressing several groups supporting the movement.

Casting his ballot in the favour of retaining the original form of the Act, Karat said, “if the government has problems in disclosing something in a particular area, then they should specify how parting with the information will affect them.”

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Tyagi was misquoted: IAF

New Delhi, August 14
The Indian Air Force today clarified that Air Chief S.P. Tyagi had never stated that the Army had “certain corrupt officials” as stated in a media report issued after he had spoken at the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Ahmedabad Management Association (AMA) in the Gujarat state capital late last night.

IAF’s spokesperson here Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani said Air Chief Marshal Tyagi had, in fact, been misquoted and that while interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines of the function he had only admitted to “some amount of corruption” and that “only certain ‘Armed Forces’ officials were corrupt and that their number was very few.”

Wg Cdr Upasani affirmed that the Air Chief had not commented on the Indian Army or any other sister service of the Indian Armed Forces in general. — UNI

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Natwar defends himself in RS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
Former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh today vociferously defended himself on the allegations brought out against him in the Pathak Authority report and told the Rajya Sabha that no decision was taken on oil contracts during his visit to Iraq.

Making a statement in the House, which was more of a personal explanation, he, while pointing out that in neither case has Justice Pathak produced any evidence of his linkage except through surmises and assumptions, said he was in the twilight of his life and would like to depart clean.

“I am in the evening of my life and shall meet the Cosmic Master with my head high. Clean I came into the world and clean I shall depart,” he said winding up his seven-page statement, which was heard by members with rapt attention.

At one point, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Suresh Pachouri raised a point of order that anything debatable in the personal explanation should not be allowed.

Asserting that he had voluntarily left the Foreign Service to join the Congress in 1984 to serve the country in a modest way, Natwar said his public record had been without a blemish.

“God has been kind to me and given me enough. I have no reason, therefore, to indulge in acts of impropriety of this nature for petty financial gains,” he said adding that he had placed before the House his views from moral and ethical points. “I have not argued from a lawyer’s brief.

“I will like to state with all my emphasis at my command that nowhere have I signed any contract, received any voucher, signed any receipt or made any transaction with any party,” the suspended Congress leader said.

Although the report of the Authority (Justice Pathak) was a “flawed document”, it was categorical about what mattered most to him, he said.

“The Authority has in clear terms said I and my son derived no financial gains from any source. We stand fully vindicated,” he said.

Natwar, who has been indicted by the Authority for misuse of position, said Justice Pathak did not examine the circumstances under which the Volcker Authority included his name as a non-contractual beneficiary.

Nor did the Authority verify the documents on which such a conclusion was based and gave no explanation on how the name of many companies, mostly from the US, were removed by Volcker, he said.

Giving details of his visit to Iraq, he said he headed a political delegation to Baghdad in January, 2001. Congress president Sonia Gandhi “gave me a letter of introduction to President Saddam Hussain, which I delivered to Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz on arrival”.

During his entire stay, Natwar said he had no discussions or talks with any Iraqi authority regarding the oil-for-food programme, oil contract, vouchers and bank accounts.

Natwar said the delegation contained three more members apart from him — Shiv Shanker, A.R. Antulay and Aneil Mathrani.

His son Jagat had accompanied him and the fare was paid by “me”, he said adding “there is no document approved by me to add any names to the delegation. I had no authority to do so. I have made this clear on several occasions that no names were added”.

Natwar said he had briefed the Congress president about his discussions in Baghdad.

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Sq Ldr Bhullar gets VSM

New Delhi, August 14
Squadron Leader Gurjot Singh Bhullar, who flies an IAF Mi-8 helicopter, has been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) this year on the occasion of Independence Day, 2006 for his performance during flood relief operations in Karnataka.

Sqn Ldr Bhullar was deployed at Belgaum for undertaking flood relief operations in Karnataka. On August 4 last year, as the Captain of a Mi-8 helicopter, he was tasked to rescue survivors from a village near Ankli town.

The survivors were stranded on a slanting tiled rooftop, surrounded on all sides by tall trees and deep floodwater. TV antennae and other obstructions of built up area restricted the available airspace to mere two square meters for winching operations that demanded error-free precision flying.

Analysing the gravity of the situation, he decided to winch the survivors one by one. While winching up the first survivor, a portion of the roof collapsed and the survivor, on the winch cable, slipped and hung precariously in the gap therein.

Instead of abandoning the effort, Sqn Ldr Bhullar continued with the rescue from a height of about 35 meters.

Similarly, the remaining two survivors were also winched up to safety one by one.

The pilot’s courage was again put to test when the rescue volunteer slipped and the winch cable got entangled in the antennae.

This was a potentially dangerous situation but Sqn Ldr Bhullar, under extreme adversities of weather and fading light close to sunset, remained composed in controlling the helicopter while a crew member disentangled the cable to eventually accomplish a successful winching operation.

Sqn Ldr Bhullar displayed exceptional courage in effecting a successful rescue despite hazards and challenging conditions.

Thereafter, displaying indefatigable spirit, grit and determination, he continued with the flood relief operations and rescued 170 survivors in the next 10 days that included 23 live winching operations. — UNI

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President’s Medal for 757 police personnel

New Delhi, August 14
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has awarded police medals to 757 police personnel on the occasion of Independence Day.

Of them, 17 police personnel have been awarded the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry (PPMG), 129 personnel Police Medal for Gallantry (PMG), 63 personnel President’s Police Medal for distinguished service and 548 personnel Police Medal for meritorious service.

Joint Director Ashok Kumar at Chennai and three other top officials of the CBI have been awarded the prestigious President’s Medal for distinguished service on the occasion of Independence Day.

Deputy Inspectors General(DIGs) Rajwinder Singh Bhatti (New Delhi), Shatrujeet Singh Kapoor (CBI Academy at Ghaziabad), Amrendra Kumar Singh (Ranchi), Tanuja Srivastava (SU, New Delhi) and seven other officials have bagged the Police Medal for Meritorious Service.

The President’s Police Medal winners also include Mr T. Subhas Chandra Bose, SP (SCB) Chennai, Mr Mukesh Chander Sahni, Additional SP, (EOU-V), New Delhi, Baldev Singh Dogra, Deputy SP (SCB) Chandigarh.

Mr Javed Siraj (Addl SP, SCR-II, New Delhi), Mr Partha Sarthi Bose (Dy SP, SCB, Kolkata), Mr Tapan Jyoti Ghosh (Dy SP, ACB, Kolkata), Mr Ashok Kumar Velappan Nair (Dy SP, ACB, Chennai), Mr Madan Singh (Inspector, Dehradun), Mr Saibal Kumar Tripathy (Inspector, ACB Kolkata) and Mr Sant Lal Sharma (Sub-Inspector, ACU-II, New Delhi) were awarded the Police Medal, a CBI release said. — UNI

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President’s Medal for CBI officials

New Delhi, August 14
Joint Director Ashok Kumar at Chennai and three other top officials of the CBI have been awarded the prestigious President’s Medal for distinguished service on the occasion of Independence Day.

Deputy Inspectors General(DIGs) Rajwinder Singh Bhatti (New Delhi), Shatrujeet Singh Kapoor (CBI Academy at Ghaziabad), Amrendra Kumar Singh (Ranchi), Tanuja Srivastava (SU, New Delhi) and seven other officials have bagged the Police Medal for Meritorious Service.

The President’s Police Medal winners also include Mr T. Subhas Chandra Bose, SP (SCB) Chennai, Mr Mukesh Chander Sahni, Additional SP, (EOU-V), New Delhi, Baldev Singh Dogra, Deputy SP (SCB) Chandigarh.

Mr Javed Siraj (Addl SP, SCR-II, New Delhi), Mr Partha Sarthi Bose (Dy SP, SCB, Kolkata), Mr Tapan Jyoti Ghosh (Dy SP, ACB, Kolkata), Mr Ashok Kumar Velappan Nair (Dy SP, ACB, Chennai), Mr Madan Singh (Inspector, Dehradun), Mr Saibal Kumar Tripathy (Inspector, ACB Kolkata) and Mr Sant Lal Sharma (Sub-Inspector, ACU-II, New Delhi) were awarded the Police Medal, a CBI release said. — UNI

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Indo-Pak talks to be resumed

New Delhi, August 14
India today said it had not called off the peace process with Pakistan and the deferred Foreign Secretary-level talks would take place at “the appropriate time”.

India is interested in sustaining and carrying forward the peace process with Pakistan if it stopped terrorist activities from its land, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmad told the Rajya Sabha.

Responding to the concerns of the senior BJP leader and former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha on the issue during zero hour, he said the government had told the Pakistan Government in clear terms that the peace process would continue provided it dismantled the terrorist training camps operating on its land and stopped aid to terrorists in India.

He said the date for the resumption of the Foreign Secretary level talks would be announced later.

Mr Sinha had asked the government to clarify its stand on the bilateral process in the wake of “some reports that it had conveyed to Pakistan that it was ready to solve the Kashmir issue on the basis of the pre-1953 status”.

The former minister brought the issue in the context of the originally-listed subject of the expulsion and humiliation of Indian diplomat Deepak Kaul on the ground that his activities were incompatible with his diplomatic status.

Mr Ahmad said India had conveyed its strong protest to the Pakistan Government over the accusations levelled against Mr Kaul, his handcuffing, blindfolding and interrogation by a Pakistani agency. It told Pakistan that the treatment meted out to Mr Kaul was against all norms of the Vienna Convention. — UNI

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Indo-Bangla ties bitter once again
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
Bitterness has crept into Indo-Bangla relations once again after Bangladesh Rifles’ unprovoked firing on Indian positions on the night of August 9 which killed two Indian women and injured several people, including a child.

Mr Mohan Kumar, Joint Secretary (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Maldives division of the MEA, summoned Bangladesh’s High Commissioner here to his South Block office this morning to express concern on the issue of unprovoked firing by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in the Surma River area.

Mr Kumar informed the High Commissioner that a note verbale on the subject had already been delivered to the Bangladesh Foreign Office through the Indian High Commission in Dhaka. A similar note verbale was handed over to the High Commissioner also.

The Bangladeshi envoy’s response was that he would convey India’s concern on the matter to his Foreign Office and also suggested that the matter could be discussed in greater detail in the forthcoming Home Secretary-level talks. The firing took place in the Zakiganj sector on August 10. The background to the firing was the continuing attempt at infiltration and encroachment by Bangladesh into approximately 220 acres of land on the western bank of Surma River. “There are well-demarcated boundary pillars in this area clearly indicating that this is Indian territory. The land records with the Settlement Officer, Cachar and Hailakandi District in Silchar, Assam confirmed that the said land is not under adverse possession as is mistakenly being claimed by Bangladesh Rifles,” the MEA spokesperson said today.

India’s case is that the BDR has been tacitly encouraging Bangladeshi civilians to continue their illegal cultivation of Indian land. Once again this matter was discussed in Silchar with the DIG, BSF and the BDR Sector Commander. On August 9, the BDR’s 38 Rifles Battalion opened unprovoked and heavy fire on the BSF with automatic weapons. Thereafter, the BDR also resorted to large-scale indiscriminate mortar firing on Indian territory, firing about 140-150 mortar shells from 60 mm mortars and 82 mm long range mortars.

The Bangladeshi attitude is reflected by the fact that senior BSF and BDR officials had met in the morning of August 9 and agreed to hold a flag meeting on August 13 to resolve the issue. However, the BDR started its unprovoked firing on the night of August 9 itself.

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SC notice to Centre on farmers’ suicides
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 14
The Supreme Court today took cognisance of a petition raising the issue of a large number of farmers committing suicides in the country due to failure of crops and issued notice to the Centre for submitting a reply on its agriculture policy.

A Bench of Chief Justice Y. K. Sabharwal, Mr Justice C. K. Thakker and Mr Justice Markandey Katju termed the suicides by thousands of farmers during the past five years as a serious matter.

A public interest litigation (PIL) on the issue said according to the latest data available, 8,975 farmers have committed suicides in the country during the past five years and majority of them in cotton-growing areas of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra due to the “faulty” agriculture policy of the government.

In Maharashtra’s Vidharba region alone, 102 deaths had taken place this year and the suicides during this season were taking place daily, advocate Sanjiv Bhatnagar said.

The petitioner said though Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had admitted the gravity of the situation, but virtually no effective steps had been taken to mitigate the sufferings of the farmers.

The petitioner has sought a direction to the government to modify its agriculture policy with more focus on interest of farmers and evolve a realistic mechanism for fixing the prices of farm products.

Seeking to immediately stop the tragic incidents, the PIL further said that the government should be asked to set up a committee of experts to go into the root causes that led to such a situation and lapses on the part of government agencies in the execution of the existing agriculture policy and welfare schemes for the farmers.

“The price fixing policy of the government is discriminatory towards the farmers who do not get right price for their produce while the cultivation cost is not correctly assessed with regard to labour involved until the crop matures,” Mr Bhatnagar said adding that disparity between poor and rich farmers was widening due to faulty price fixing scheme, which was more tilted towards the traders and businessmen.

It said that the agriculture policy of the government had virtually collapsed as it had failed to protect the lives of the farmers in distress. It was duty of the government to protect the lives of its citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution, it said.

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SC seeks status of probe into Kargil purchases
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 14
The Supreme Court today took serious view of the Ministry of Defence and the CBI moving in a “snails pace” in probing the allegations of irregularities in the purchase of equipment during Kargil conflict and sought status reports from them even as the probe agency said out of 25 cases referred to it no criminality was found in 13 of them.

In view of the statement of Attorney General Milon Banerjee that the CBI has registered preliminary enquiry (PE) in remaining 12 cases and a regular FIR in the caskets purchase, the court directed the MoD to file an affidavit within four weeks whether departmental inquiry had been initiated and if so, what action was taken against the officers found guilty.

The court, which had earlier refrained from making the CBI a party to the case, today issued notice to it and directed it to submit a status report into the investigation of those cases in which PE was registered by it after the MoD had referred them to it March.

The MoD sent 25 cases to the CBI after the CAG in its 2001 report had pointed out certain irregularities in at least 35 of the 123 purchases ordered during Operation Vijay.

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Parliament Museum inaugurated
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
It is a journey which allows visitors to feel the past. The Parliament Museum, which was inaugurated today by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, provides the visitors a peep into the historic Dandi March by putting them on screen among the marching hundreds.

The recreated Central Hall of Parliament gives the opportunity to sit along side leaders of the stature of Dr S Radhakrishnan and Sardar Patel and listen to the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru making his famous “Tryst with destiny” speech.

The story-telling museum depicts the continuum of democratic heritage in India. The museum, which is expected to be thrown open to public soon, has a resource centre with a fully computerised textual and visual information bank.

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UK lab’s clean chit to soft drinks
CSE calls it biased
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 14
Fighting back, Coca Cola India today presented an imported “no-detectable pesticide” report to get out of the corner that the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) report has pushed it into.

The company flew in two scientists of UK-based Centre for Science Laboratory (CFL), an executive agency of the UK Government for environment food and rural affairs, to give a clean chit to the company’s drinks in India by announcing the latest results of tests conducted on 26 samples of soft drinks collected from different parts of the country.

With the primary question on “who funded the CSL study?” dominating the press meet organised to clear the company’s products, CSL scientists said tests on “all of the soft drink brands in the product range reported less than 0.1 parts per billion of each of these four pesticides allegedly found in the products by the CSE.

“We detected no residues of the four pesticides allegedly found in the products by the CSE,” Prof John Gilbert, CFL Science Director, told a news conference, calling the CSE report “incorrect and lacking in information with some highly unusual results”.

The CSE, one the other hand, termed the UK lab data on soft drinks biased and the kind of arm-twisting that the Indian Government should not succumb to.

“The samples were provided by the company. Would the UK Government accept data paid by for the company for regulation?” CSE Director Sunita Narain questioned while stressing that Indian labs and the CSE were capable of testing pesticide residues.

Raising a question on the methodology of collection of samples, she said the CFL samples had been provided by Coca Cola and could not be compared to the CSE study, which used samples collected from the open market.

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SC notice to govt on PIO scheme
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 14
A 72-year-old Pakistani national today moved the Supreme Court, challenging the exclusion of pre-Partition India born persons from the granting of dual citizenship under the “Persons of India Origin” (PIO) scheme announced by the Indian Government in 1999.

The court took cognisance of the petition of K.N.A. Farooqi, settled in Karachi after getting Pakistan citizenship, and issued notice to the Union Government with a direction that the Ministry of Home Affairs would file reply to the questions raised by him.

Farooqi, who was born in Lucknow in 1934 and migrated to Chittagong in 1952 due to his job, challenged the constitutional validity of the PIO scheme by excluding the pre-Partition born persons on the grounds that the Indian Government’s notification of 1999 regarding it had clearly stated that all those defined as citizens under the 1935 Act, would be entitled to be covered under the scheme.

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