SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Mayors seek more private sector role in infrastructure
Dehra Dun, November 28
The three-day Asian Mayors’ conference concluded today with the appointment of Ms Manorama Dobriyal Sharma, Mayor, Dehradun, as chairperson of the Asian Mayors Council. She is also the chairperson of the All-India Council of Mayors. She has also been authorised to nominate the executive of the council.

Forget boom, it will take some more time
New Delhi, November 28
The euphoria generated by the successful test-firing and interception of the new generation EXO Atmospheric Intercept System, a surface-to-surface missile, yesterday could be shortlived with experts warning that this was just the start and not the pinnacle achieved by the Defence Research Development Organisation.

Amendments on in 2 social protection Acts
New Delhi, November 28
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is in the process of making amendments to the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, in order to plug in loopholes and make the two laws more effective in dealing with atrocities against Scheduled Castes.



EARLIER STORIES


Be united, Sonia tells Punjab Cong
New Delhi, November 28
As the various state units remain embroiled in bitter factional battles, a despairing Congress president Sonia Gandhi today asked election-going states like Punjab to get their act together.

Pranab calls on Rajapakse
New Delhi, November 28
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today called on visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and held detailed discussions on India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations as well as the peace process in the island nation.
In videos (56k)

Crucial meeting on Mullaperiyar dam today
New Delhi, November 28
In what the Centre hopes will be a step forward in finding a solution to the contentious Mullaperiyar dam problem, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and his Tamil Nadu counterpart M. Karunanidhi will meet in the Capital tomorrow for crucial talks on the issue.

Keep us out of water disputes, apex court tells states
New Delhi, November 28
The Supreme Court once again has emphasised that it will prefer resolution of water disputes between states pending before it at the political level as water was emerging as a major source of confrontation.

High courts may get 100 more judges
New Delhi, November 28
In a move to reduce the backlog of around 3 crore cases in the country, the government today proposed to appoint 100 judges at high courts and start evening shifts, besides reducing the number of holidays in courts, Union Law Minister H.R. Bharadwaj informed the Lok Sabha.

“Saath chhod dia mamu”
Mumbai, November 28
“Saath chhod dia Mamu,’’ asked a convict when Sanjay Dutt eventually left the TADA court here late this afternoon after getting a reprieve till December 19 to surrender before the court, following his conviction under the Arms Act but acquittal under the TADA(P) Act.

Bharti visits MEA office
New Delhi, November 28
Putting at rest doubts over her arrival in India, Bharti Yadav, a key witness in the Nitish Katara murder case, today visited the passport office here in connection with her revoked travel documents.



A TV grab shows Bharti Yadav, key witness in the Nitish Katara murder case, arriving at the passport office in New Delhi on Tuesday.
— A Tribune photograph

A TV grab shows Bharti Yadav, key witness in the Nitish Katara murder case, arriving at the passport office in New Delhi

Foreign varsities soon to be part of Indian milieu
New Delhi, November 28
The government will soon draft new legislation to allow foreign educational institutions to play a role in the higher education sector in the country. This was stated by Mr Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry, at the closing plenary session entitled, “The Key Challenges Ahead” of the India Economic Summit, 2006, organised jointly by the World Economic Forum and the CII.

GD Birla award for Prof Ramaswamy
Chandigarh, November 28
Prof Sriram Ramaswamy, Centre for Condensed Matter Theory, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has been given the 16th G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research for the year 2006.

Prof Sriram Ramaswamy

Prof Sriram Ramaswamy

Infiltration down in Kashmir, focus on East: BSF chief
New Delhi, November 28
Infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir has come down this year, but renewed infiltration bid in the western sector of Punjab and Rajasthan indicate the situation likely to arise in the future, BSF Director-General A.K. Mitra said here today.

Mumbaites No. 2 in forgetting mobiles
New Delhi, November 28
Mumbai ranks second only to London when it comes to forgetful travellers. In the past six months Mumbaites have forgotten a staggering 32,970 mobile phones, 349 laptops and 349 USB sticks/thumb drives in taxis.

Sher Shah’s tomb in a shambles
Patna, November 28
Pollution and encroachments have threatened Sher Shah Suri’s tomb in Bihar. The tomb is a national monument which is under the Unesco consideration for a world heritage site.

IAF working tender for 126 jets
New Delhi, November 28
The Indian Air Force is reworking a tender it intends to float for purchasing 126 combat jets but this delay would not be a cause for worry, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi said here today.

Don’t play politics over dead, Advani tells govt
New Delhi, November 28
Taking exception to the government’s decision to disburse Rs 7 lakh to victims of post-Godhra riots, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani today asked the government not to discriminate among victims while distributing compensation.

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Mayors seek more private sector role in infrastructure
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, November 28
The three-day Asian Mayors’ conference concluded today with the appointment of Ms Manorama Dobriyal Sharma, Mayor, Dehradun, as chairperson of the Asian Mayors Council.

She is also the chairperson of the All-India Council of Mayors. She has also been authorised to nominate the executive of the council.

The mayors also adopted a 12-point “Doon Declaration”.

The declaration sought a greater role for the private sector in building city infrastructure, in application of e-governance and in the delivery of civic services.

The declaration also resolved to support all efforts for the empowerment of women and marginalised sections of society, and their due representation in the decision-making process of cities.

The declaration stated that the solutions to many problems of the poor were to be found locally. The declaration, therefore, resolved to work towards establishing an “Asian Mayors’ Forum on Alleviation of Urban Poverty.”

According to officials, 64 mayors, including 34 Indians, participated in the three-day conference. Twenty of the 30 mayors from abroad participating in the conference are from Sri Lanka. The officials, however, stated that they had invited over 200 mayors from all Asian countries.

Though the conference discussed some key issues like eradication of urban poverty, uniform tenure of mayors and recommending measures to strengthen infrastructure facilities in cities through public-private partnership etc, many were left disappointed by the fact that the issues were more “localised” and beneficial to the Indian mayors.

A mayor from abroad stated that he was looking forward to presentations of a more international level. “The presentations are insightful only of the Indian Municipal Corporations. We would have liked if we were involved in the process too. Also it’s an Asian Mayor conference, we, however, feel that it’s an Indian Mayor conference.”

The mayors were also disappointed because they were not taken to the local Municipal Corporation. “We were looking forward to a visit, to see the functioning of the local MCC,” stated another mayor from abroad.

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Forget boom, it will take some more time
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The euphoria generated by the successful test-firing and interception of the new generation EXO Atmospheric Intercept System, a surface-to-surface missile, yesterday could be shortlived with experts warning that this was just the start and not the pinnacle achieved by the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).

After the recent failure of the Agni-III missile there could well be a reason to cheer for the DRDO scientists. But, given the organisations's track-record of long delays and cost overruns in most projects, including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) launched in 1983, it might take years before India could actually get this new capability.

Notwithstanding the success achieved by the DRDO, indications from the Ministry of Defence were that the Indian forces will still be going in for the import of similar missile defence systems. While the Navy already has the Israel-made Barak missiles, the purchase of which was objected to by the DRDO on the pretext that it was developing Prithvi, the USA has offered to sell Patriot missile system to India.

The failure of the DRDO to develop a credible missile defence system on time has forced the Indian armed forces to look at other countries. It has even received briefings and presentations by the USA, Israel and Russia on their respective BMD systems like PAC-3, Arrow2 and S-300V.

Officials of the DRDO have claimed that this new technology was far ahead from the technology being used in Patroits. They point out that while the Patriot could intercept target at just about 15 to 20 km, the EXO system could do the same at 50 km, as was exhibited in yesterday's trial.

Armed forces officers point out that this was just the start and it could still take a long time for the DRDO to actually begin the manufacture of these missiles. “So the armed forces have no other option but to look for missile defence system from other countries,” pointed out a senior officer.

Defence experts on the other hand point out that for the system to be actually successful it would require an overlapping network of early-warning and tracking sensors, reliable command and control posts and land and sea-based batteries of advanced interceptor missiles.

Incidentally, the DRDO has so far been incapable of even operationalising the 9-km-range Trishul and 25-km-range Akash air-defence missiles, part of original IGMDP, leaving gaping holes in the country’s air defence cover.

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Amendments on in 2 social protection Acts
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is in the process of making amendments to the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, in order to plug in loopholes and make the two laws more effective in dealing with atrocities against Scheduled Castes.

Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Meira Kumar today said the two laws “have not failed in serving the purpose of combating against untouchability. However, in spite of these laws, atrocities against this section of society were still being reported frequently”.

Besides amending the two laws the ministry is also proposing other measures to sensitise those dealing with such issues, like holding special courses for civil, judicial and other services.

While the total number of cases registered in the country under the PCRA Act has gone down significantly from 856 in 2000 to 126 in 2004, the same cannot be said about the POA Act.

In 2003, 22,603 cases were registered under the POA Act, which increased to 23,629 in 2004. While the increase in number signifies higher level of awareness among masses for reporting such cases, a fact also is that at times a significant number of such incidences also go unreported. Moreover, as per the minister the atrocities against Scheduled Castes were not just confined to rural areas.

“ In urban areas these incidents may not be so blatant but there are several cases of people not being willing to rent out their houses to those belonging to Scheduled Castes,” she said.

Under the PCRA Act, the cases have been largely registered in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Pondicherry. As far as the POA Act is concerned, a significant number of cases are reported from Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnmataka, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh happen to be among those states with relatively lesser number, 66, 61 and 22 cases respectively, were registered in 2004 under the POA Act.

“But for these two Acts, the number of such heinous crimes would perhaps be higher. The two Acts have not failed, but they need certain amendments,” she said, adding that the ministry was in the process of working on the amendments.

Another problem seems to be that despite the provision of special courts, a large number of cases, close to 85.38 per were still pending by the end of 2004. This will be another issue that the ministry will look into while proposing amendments, the minister said without specifying when these changes would be made. Incidentally, the ministry is also looking into the possibility of making the POA Act applicable to Jammu and Kashmir.

Meanwhile, in its effort to recognise NGOs and human rights activists working in the field, the ministry today announced the institution of national award for outstanding fieldwork in eradicating untouchability and combating offences of atrocities against Schedules Castes.

Speaking to mediapersons in the Capital today, the minister said that the awards was open to all Indian NGOs and activists on the basis on the basis of nominations from central and state government ministries and union territories.

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Be united, Sonia tells Punjab Cong
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
As the various state units remain embroiled in bitter factional battles, a despairing Congress president Sonia Gandhi today asked election-going states like Punjab to get their act together.

Addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP), Ms Gandhi specially referred to the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab, Uttaranchal, Manipur and Uttar Pradesh and reminded party cadres about the need to present a united front.

Pointing to a special challenge facing the party in three of these states where it is the incumbent government, she underlined, “I am sure that our partymen and women recognise this and appreciate the need for party unity and discipline.”

Ms Gandhi’s pointed reminder about “unity and discipline” assumes siginficance in the light of the bitter infighting being witnessed in all state units which are preparing for elections next year.

Only yesterday, former Punjab Lok Sabha member Jagmeet Brar was pulled up by Mr Janardan Dwivedi, AICC general secretary and in charge of Punjab, and told not to continue with his public pronouncements against his bete noire, state Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The latter was also asked to work together with all state leaders in the run-up to the Assembly poll.

The Congress president made it amply clear that having an alliance at the Centre should not stop it from strengthening its own base in states ruled by its allies.

Ms Gandhi’s remarks come at a time when a number of senior Congress leaders believe the coalition experiment has stunted the party’s growth as it had ceded its political space to its allies. They are advocating that the party return to the “ekla chalo” line as adopted at the 1998 Pachmarhi session.

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Pranab calls on Rajapakse
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today called on visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse and held detailed discussions on India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations as well as the peace process in the island nation.

Mr Rajapakse will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow.

Mr Mukherjee conveyed the hope that there would be early progress in the peace process so that all ethnic communities in Sri Lanka can live harmoniously and are able to achieve their aspirations, MEA spokesman said.

Thereafter, Mr Mukherjee held delegation-level talks with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on all aspects of bilateral relations. During these talks, several on-going economic projects between the two countries were also reviewed.

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Crucial meeting on Mullaperiyar dam today
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
In what the Centre hopes will be a step forward in finding a solution to the contentious Mullaperiyar dam problem, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and his Tamil Nadu counterpart M. Karunanidhi will meet in the Capital tomorrow for crucial talks on the issue.

Though skeptics are not much optimistic on the talks yielding any results to resolve the dam dispute, Water Resources Ministry officials say in the light of the Supreme Court’s directive yesterday, the meeting on Wednesday was “significant and likely to yield at least some way forward”.

The talks have been arranged by Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz amidst the two neighbouring states toughening their positions on the issue of the water level in the 111-year-old dam in Kerala’s Idukki district, bordering Tamil Nadu’s Theni-Dindigul-Madurai farm belt.

While Kerala says that raising the storage level above 136 ft will endanger the safety of 3.5 million people living downstream in five districts of the state, Tamil Nadu wants the water level to be increased to 142 ft immediately.

The ruling UPA partners in Tamil Nadu yesterday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention in restraining Kerala from putting any hurdles in raising the water level of the Mullaperiyar dam.

A delegation of the UPA parties comprising the DMK, PMK Congress and its allies the CPM and CPI met the Prime Minister, urging him to restrain Kerala from obstructing Tamil Nadu from implementing the orders of the Supreme Court for raising the water level from 136 ft to 142 ft.

Kerala, opposing this, says that any increase in the height will submerge large areas in the state and the safety of the lime and mortar dam will also be in jeopardy.

The recent increase in the water level caused by a heavy downpour in the catchment areas has brought the rift to sharp focus, sparking a statement war between the two state governments.

The meeting was earlier scheduled for November 23 and was shifted to November 29 on Mr Karunanidhi’s insistance.

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Keep us out of water disputes, apex court tells states
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 28
The Supreme Court once again has emphasised that it will prefer resolution of water disputes between states pending before it at the political level as water was emerging as a major source of confrontation.

Referring to cases like the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal between Punjab and Haryana, Cauvery dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Mullaperiyar dam dispute between Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Krishna dispute between Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and a case between Karnataka and Goa, the apex court said the better course for the governments of these states would be to resolve them without seeking its intervention.

“Most of the states are before us in water dispute that shows the importance of water and how the water disputes are coming up… do not allow the expression of emotions of people,” a Bench of Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Mr Justices C.K. Thakker and R.V. Raveendran said this during the hearing of Tamil Nadu Government’s suit against Kerala on the Mullaperiyar dam dispute yesterday.

Since the Union Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz had called a meeting of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and his Kerala counterpart M. Atchutanandan here tomorrow, the CJI said both leaders were veterans and it was hoped that they would show statesmanship and consideration with regard to the problem.

Tamil Nadu has filed a suit against Kerala, seeking stay of a law passed by the latter that came in the way of raising the height of the dam from 136 ft to 142 ft. The court posted the hearing to the first week of January.

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High courts may get 100 more judges
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
In a move to reduce the backlog of around 3 crore cases in the country, the government today proposed to appoint 100 judges at high courts and start evening shifts, besides reducing the number of holidays in courts, Union Law Minister H.R. Bharadwaj informed the Lok Sabha.

The appointment of high court judges would be done in consultation with the chief minister of the respective state, he said.

He said he would convene a meeting of chief ministers, the Chief Justice of India and the Chief Justices of high courts to find out ways to deal with the backlog problem. Three proposals had been received for Supreme Court judges, he said.

While there are 38,000 cases pending in the Supreme Court, which has four existing vacancies, 42 lakh cases are pending in various high courts and 2.5 crore cases in subordinate courts.

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“Saath chhod dia mamu”

Mumbai, November 28
“Saath chhod dia Mamu,’’ asked a convict when Sanjay Dutt eventually left the TADA court here late this afternoon after getting a reprieve till December 19 to surrender before the court, following his conviction under the Arms Act but acquittal under the TADA(P) Act.

Sheikh Mohammed Ehtesham, one of the 91 convicts in the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts case, made this parting shot at Dutt, apparently mimicking a dialogue from ‘’Munnabhai MBBS’’ when he left the court in Arthur Road jail shortly after 4 pm.

Earlier, during the court proceedings, split in two sessions of verdicts and hearing on Dutt’s application seeking time to surrender, the actor with a “tilak’’ on his forehead remained tense throughout.

His hands trembled when pronounced guilty under the Arms Act. He continued biting his lips while listening to the charges with folded hands tucked to his chest. Later, during hearing his plea for seeking time to surrender, he glared at special public prosecutor Ujwal Nikam when the latter opposed it.

Dutt had to be repeatedly told by TADA court Judge Pramod Kode to sit down in the witness box. — UNI

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Bharti visits MEA office

New Delhi, November 28
Putting at rest doubts over her arrival in India, Bharti Yadav, a key witness in the Nitish Katara murder case, today visited the passport office here in connection with her revoked travel documents.

Her face was fully covered behind a hijab, Bharti, who arrived here on Friday, is understood to have submitted her revoked passport to officials of the Ministry of External Affairs at their office near the Patiala house courts complex.

Bharti, who was accompanied by her lawyer, arrived at the MEA office around 11.30 a.m. and spent around 20 minutes there to sign papers for passport and visa in compliance with the high court orders.

Speculation was rife about Bharti’s arrival in India after a protracted legal wrangle and little was known about her whereabouts. She had not appeared in public so far, keeping the media guessing about her location.

Bharti, daughter of UP politician Dharam Pal Yadav, is scheduled to depose before a local court in connection with the Nitish Katara murder case.

Bharti’s testimony in the case is crucial as she had, in her statement to the police, earlier stated that she saw her brothers, Vishal and Vikas, with Nitish before his disappearance. He was later found murdered.

According to prosecution, Nitish was killed on February 17, 2002, allegedly by Vikas and Vishal, who were said to have been against Bharti being intimate with him.

The court had allowed her plea for in-camera proceedings of her testimony, but rejected the demand that complainant Neelam Katara should not be allowed to be present during her deposition. — PTI

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Foreign varsities soon to be part of Indian milieu
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The government will soon draft new legislation to allow foreign educational institutions to play a role in the higher education sector in the country.

This was stated by Mr Kamal Nath, Minister for Commerce and Industry, at the closing plenary session entitled, “The Key Challenges Ahead” of the India Economic Summit, 2006, organised jointly by the World Economic Forum and the CII.

The Minister expressed the hope that this new initiative by the government would intensify the process of reverse brain drain.

He said 130,000 Indians go abroad for higher studies. While there are concerns that foreign players might lure away professors from Indian universities, there is also the likelihood that NRI professors may be attracted back to India.

Commenting that the key to national competitiveness was correction of inverted duty structures, he said regional and bilateral trading agreements had been insufficiently addressed.

Meanwhile, US trade representative Karan Bhatia today asked India to undertake further reforms in agricultural sector, commercial satellite services and financial services, which can improve bilateral trade between the two countries.

“Bilateral trade between India and the US is expected to increase to $30 billion this year. We should allow the agricultural sector in India to get connected with the domestic market,” he said.

Growth rate of total bilateral trade has shown a quantum growth of 29.09 per cent in 2005-06 from 25.67 per cent in 2004-05. India maintains a healthy positive trade balance with the US amounting to $7.9 billion, which is increasing over time.

Areas for economic cooperation between India and the US include infrastructure, IT, telecom, energy, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology.

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GD Birla award for Prof Ramaswamy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
Prof Sriram Ramaswamy, Centre for Condensed Matter Theory, Department of Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has been given the 16th G.D. Birla Award for Scientific Research for the year 2006.

Instituted in 1991 by K.K. Birla Foundation with the objective of according recognition to high calib scientific research undertaken by Indian scientists, the award carries a cash prize of Rs 1.50 lakh. The selection for this award is made by a board headed by the President of the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi.

Prof Ramaswamy’s research specialisation is in the field of statistical mechanics and dynamics of soft and biological matter. Among his major contributions is a theory of spatiotemporal reho-chaos in sheared orientable fulids.

He resolved a long-standing dispute between experiment theory, demonstrating the utility of the methods of time-dependent statistical mechanics in modeling non-Brownian suspensions.

He showed that a crystal steadily moving through a dissipative medium was a fundamentally new non-equilibrium state, whose dynamics and phase diagram were qualitatively different from that of a crystal of equilibrium.

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Infiltration down in Kashmir, focus on East: BSF chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir has come down this year, but renewed infiltration bid in the western sector of Punjab and Rajasthan indicate the situation likely to arise in the future, BSF Director-General A.K. Mitra said here today.

“Attempts to smuggle drugs and some times weapons do come to light in the western sector, but infiltration bid by four suspected fidayeens in the Ratankund area in Amritsar sector in September this year indicate renewed bid by militants to sneak into Punjab and Rajasthan sectors,” Mr Mitra said.

“We have foiled the attempts, but the incidents are indicative of the situation likely to arise in the future…We have changed our strategy. Earlier, the deployment was linear along the fenced border, but now it has been changed,” he said.

“Pakistan had disowned the militants, but this kind of infiltration bids cannot take place without their knowledge,” Mr Mitra said while addressing the annual press conference ahead of BSF’s 41st raising day on December 1.

Stating that Eastern frontier could be the “problem area for India tomorrow”, he said the BSF was planning to deploy more personnel along the Indo-Bangla border as investigation into terrorist attacks in the country had found that militants are “freely using” the porous frontier to enter India.

“Earlier, the focus used to be Kashmir, now it has shifted to the East, which I personally feel is going to be the problem area for tomorrow,” the BSF chief said.

While 8,196 Bangladeshis were nabbed while trying to enter the country this year, a whopping 1.5 lakh Bangladeshis have entered India after obtaining proper visa/permits, but have not returned home and are not to be found, he said. With elections round the corner in Bangladesh, Mr Mitra said BSF troops had been alerted.

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Mumbaites No. 2 in forgetting mobiles
Tribune News Service

PTI photo New Delhi, November 28
Mumbai ranks second only to London when it comes to forgetful travellers. In the past six months Mumbaites have forgotten a staggering 32,970 mobile phones, 349 laptops and 349 USB sticks/thumb drives in taxis. These are just the ones that have been reported as lost.

A survey of taxi drivers from 11 major cities across the world conducted by Pointsec Mobile Technologies reveals that thousands of mobile phones, hand-held devices, laptops and USB sticks are forgotten in taxis every day.

The city is not alone when it comes to forgetful travellers. The story of lost and forgotten mobiles echoes around the world with the same fate afflicting London, Sydney, Stockholm, San Francisco, Washington, Helsinki, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin and Oslo. Of all cities, London emerges at the top with the most forgetful population, losing 54,872 mobile phones.

In case of handheld devices such as pocket PCs being lost, London (4,718) ranked highest once again, followed by Washington (2,260), Munich (1902) and Berlin (1125). The number of lost laptops was also the highest in London (3,179) with Munich in the second place (355) followed by Mumbai in the third spot (349).

The objective of the survey was to encourage business and individual users to back-up, encrypt and password protect their devices in the event of it falling into wrong hands and the data being stolen, compromised or abused.

Peter Larsson, CEO, Pointsec Mobile Technologies, said “The survey conducted by us highlights the need to educate the users about the value of data stored and how it can be misused in case adequate security tools such as encryption are not used to protect the same.”

According to the survey, around 75 per cent of passengers recovered their mobile phones and 78 per cent got their pocket PCs and laptops back, with the taxi drivers in almost all cases tracking down their owners.

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Sher Shah’s tomb in a shambles
Tribune News Service

Patna, November 28
Pollution and encroachments have threatened Sher Shah Suri’s tomb in Bihar. The tomb is a national monument which is under the Unesco consideration for a world heritage site.

The five-storey mausoleum stands in a tank on a stone terrace in Sasaram town. The tank’s acidic water and pollution reportedly posed threats to its survival. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) already warned the state government against the ecological threats to the tomb.

ASI officials alleged that If steps were not taken immediately to preserve this stone mausoleum, it would be impossible to save the tomb for the future generations.

The use of tank`s water by the locals was making it highly polluted. The district administration was allegedly turning a blind eye to it.

The tank is spread over a large area in which untreated sewage and effluents have been flowing in for decades. The acidic water was destroying the building material by weakening its structure.

The depth of the tank has also decreased alarmingly in the past two decades.

The ASI earlier had requested the state government to ban immersion of idols into the tank and restrict illegal construction within the radius of 200 metres of the mausoleum.

The district administration has allowed the immersion of idols in the tank since 1980 after a pond in the neighbourhood had dried up.

The historical tomb was declared a national heritage under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (1958). Sher Shah Suri (1472-1545) was also known as Sher Khan or the Lion King.

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IAF working tender for 126 jets
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reworking a tender it intends to float for purchasing 126 combat jets but this delay would not be a cause for worry, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi said here today.

“No, there is no cause for worry,” Air Chief Marshal Tyagi told reporters on the sidelines of a conference of IAF station commanders here.

The Air Chief said the tender was being reworked to ensure that apart from air refuelling ability and long-range capability, the IAF would also have to factor in lifecycle costs as laid down in the new defence procurement policy.

The IAF has been waiting for long to issue the tender for the aircrafts. Four jets are said to be in the running which include US F-16 and F-18, Russian MiG-29 and Swedish Grippen. However, in the light of the impending India-US civilian nuclear deal, there is a growing feeling that the IAF order will be equally divided between the two US jets.

The IAF is also hoping to purchase some 80 Mi-17Iv helicopters for which it is awaiting formal approval from the Defence Ministry.

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Don’t play politics over dead, Advani tells govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Taking exception to the government’s decision to disburse Rs 7 lakh to victims of post-Godhra riots, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani today asked the government not to discriminate among victims while distributing compensation.

Addressing the BJP parliamentary party, Mr Advani criticised the government for disbursing Rs 7 lakh

among victims of the post-Godhra riots, but leaving out the victims of train burning. “This kind of discriminatory politics is not good,” he said.

The meeting was presided over by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Briefing mediapersons later, BJP parliamentary party spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra said the BJP had sent notices to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, seeking discussions on price hike, special economic zones (SEZ), etc.

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BJP to table adjournment motion today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The BJP's adjournment motion on the issue of internal security is likely to come up for discussion in the Lok Sabha tomorrow.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.R.Dasmunsi told newspersons today that Speaker Somnath Chatterjee would decide on the wording of the motion.

BJP spokesman V.K.Malhotra said the party would like the House to discuss the issue on an adjournment motion.

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Short-story contest for women
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Noted lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize 2003 winner Shirin Ebadi launched a short-story contest for Indian women here last evening.

The contest, organised by the Indian Women Press Corps and Roli Books, on the theme “Mother” and was inaugurated by Ms Ebadi at the IWPC on Monday.

The contest is open to all Indian women in India and abroad and the best entries will be awarded prize worth Rs 50,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000.

Roli Books will later publish 12 best short stories in the form of a manuscript. Noted writer and journalist Khushwant Singh will be the chairman of the jury.

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