SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Medha cautions Punjab, Haryana on farmers
New Delhi, January 4

Narmada Bachchao Andolan leader Medha Patkar today warned the two leading agricultural states, Punjab and Haryana, to protect their farming community, “otherwise the states might find themselves in a state of bigger conflict than Singur in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh”.

Soni for expediting construction of budget hotels near railway stations
New Delhi, January 4
Tourism Minister Ambika Soni today called on Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and urged him to expedite the construction of budget hotels near railway stations and start more luxury trains across the country.

Sharon Lowen and Kavita Dwivedi execute an Odissi dance drama based on Fakir Mohan Senapati's work during the inauguration of the international conference in memory of Sisir Kumar Das in New Delhi on Thursday. Sharon Lowen and Kavita Dwivedi execute an Odissi dance drama based on Fakir Mohan Senapati's work during the inauguration of the international conference in memory of Sisir Kumar Das in New Delhi on Thursday. — PTI



EARLIER STORIES


Heavy diplomatic calendar this month
New Delhi, January 4
India has a busy diplomatic calendar this month and important highlights include special representative-level boundary talks with China and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi. On January 7, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan leaves for Russia for the next round of strategic dialogue.

Goa Assembly faces dissolution
Mumbai, January 4
The Pratapsinh Rane government in Goa is on the brink of collapse with Town and Country Planning Minister Atanasio Monserrate resigning late last night. With three MLAs threatening to quit the government, the Chief Minister is considering dissolution of the Assembly, according to sources.

Poll: Rajnath for door-to-door drive
New Delhi, January 4
BJP president Rajnath Singh today set the party in election mode by asking his colleagues to follow the old tradition of undertaking door-to-door campaign.

IN SALUTE

Lt-Gen K.S. Jamwal receives a guard of honour after assuming charge as the 20th GoC-in-C of the Eastern Command at Fort William in Kolkata on Thursday.
Lt-Gen K.S. Jamwal receives a guard of honour after assuming charge as the 20th GoC-in-C of the Eastern Command at Fort William in Kolkata on Thursday. — PTI

Sadhu Yadav gets bail in forgery case
Patna, January 4
In what appeared to be a big relief for RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, his high-profile brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav was today granted bail by the Patna High court in a car forgery case.

Police Reforms
States object to SC directives, seek review
New Delhi, January 4
Most of the states have raised objection to certain provisions laid down by the Supreme Court in its seven-point order on police reforms and urged it to reconsider them. The Centre did not say anything on the directives but sought extension of the deadline for implementing the order by three months.

UN favours ‘social vaccine’ to check AIDS
Patna, January 4
The UN has emphasised to strengthen the ‘social vaccine’ of mass awareness so as to prevent spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS virus in absence of any medical vaccine against this killer disease.

Custodial Death
NHRC seeks report
New Delhi, January 4
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Inspector General of Prisons, Maharashtra, to submit within two weeks a report on the custodial death of one person and injuries to three others in Mumbai's Arthur Road Prison.

K.R. Narayanan memorial okayed
New Delhi, January 4
The Cabinet today gave approval for a memorial to former President K.R. Narayanan at Ekta Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna here.

Videos
Demolitions resume in Ulhasnagar, near Mumbai.
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Rahul Bose in first mobile movie, ‘CTRL+ALT+DEL’.
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Diamond replicas on display in Jaipur.
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Medha cautions Punjab, Haryana on farmers
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
Narmada Bachchao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar today warned the two leading agricultural states, Punjab and Haryana, to protect their farming community, “otherwise the states might find themselves in a state of bigger conflict than Singur in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh”.

“Farmers of Punjab and Haryana are more enterprising, have more courage and know how to make the best use of their land. If the two governments continue to act like middlemen for MNCs and real estate agents without taking farmers’ interests into account, they might have a bigger situation in hand,” the NBA leader told The Tribune.

She also advised the farmers in the two states to organise themselves, adding that the “Action 2007” plan would include the formation of a common forum for all peoples’ movements in the country, which would also include a national anti-SEZ committee, in March. “We are with them,” she added.

Talking to The Tribune about growing unrest among farmers of the two leading agricultural states, the NBA leader said Punjab and Haryana must take a more active role in protecting their farmers.

“The two states are taking their farmers for granted. It is shameful if farmers in a prosperous state like Punjab start committing suicides. This is happening because either the government in the disguise of MNCs is grabbing agricultural land or farmers are being compelled to sell their land because they are not getting due price for their produce,” she said.

Meanwhile, NBA activists, who had been camping in the Capital along with Adivasis and farmers of the affected areas in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra today decided to call off their three-day agitation.

They chose to return to the Narmada valley after an assurance from the Narmada Control Authority chairperson Gauri Chatterjee that the height of the dam would not be increased further and grievances regarding rehabilitation of affected families would be redressed.

The NBA claims that there are 40,000 affected families in the three states whose resettlement and rehabilitation was far from complete. Moreover, increasing the height of the dam till 122 metres is also being termed as illegal, on which displaced persons also filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court today.

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Soni for expediting construction of budget hotels near railway stations
Tripti Nath

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
Tourism Minister Ambika Soni today called on Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and urged him to expedite the construction of budget hotels near railway stations and start more luxury trains across the country.

Sources in the Railway Ministry said the Tourism Minister also enquired about running tourism trains on the Buddhist circuit.

The Railway Minister is reported to have assured her that instructions had been issued to expedite the construction of budget hotels.

The 30-minute meeting between the Tourism Minister and the Railway Minister came a day after an inter-ministerial consultation to review the progress made in these areas and remove bottlenecks, if any. The Ministries of Tourism, Railways, Finance, Planning Commission and the National and the National Highways Authority of India, took part in the consultations.

Chairman Railway Board (CRB), J.P Batra told TNS here that the zonal railways had handed over to the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) a list of 20 sites for the construction of budget hotels.

He said the objective of setting up the budget hotels within a radius of half a kilometre of the railway station was to enable passengers to just walk into the hotels.

While the Northern Railway has suggested sites near the Chandigarh station, the

North Western Railway has suggested sites near the Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Lalgarh and Udaipur stations. The Southern Railway has suggested Kanyakumari, Madurai, Ooty and Rameswaram. Other locations that figure on the list are Agra, Darjeeling, New Jalpaiguri, Nagpur, Pune, Mumbai (Carnac Bunder), Habibganj, Vijaywada and Secunderabad.

Mr Batra said the IRCTC had received several proposals from state governments for running luxury trains.

IRCTC Managing Director P.K Goyal said the Corporation had already finalised seven tenders for the construction of budget hotels and hoped to finalise the remaining 13 tenders within a fortnight. He said IRCTC had received a lot of bids for a budget hotel near the Chandigarh railway station.

He said the construction of the hotels may take one and a half to two years.

The hotels will operate on Built Operate Transfer basis.

The CRB, however, said in any public-private initiative, the private player wants to speed up the project in order to maximise return on the money that he has raised from the market.

Mr Goyal told TNS that the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Railways and the Punjab Government had sanctioned Rs 30 crore for running a luxury train like the Palace on Wheels in Punjab. The amount was sanctioned only 10 days back.

Mr Batra said order would be placed for manufacture of an 18-coach train to Integral Coach factory, Perambur, Chennai.

He said while IRCTC would provide tracks, engines, shell and interior decoration of the coaches, the state government would take care of marketing.

He said the IRCTC had received a proposal from the Rajasthan Government for running another Palace on Wheels. ``The Palace on Wheels has booking for two years at any point of time.''

The IRCTC shares with the state government a pre-determined revenue of about 50 per cent.

The IRCTC Managing Director said the Andhra Pradesh Government had proposed running a luxury train `Southern Splendour.'

Mr Goyal said the IRCTC is optimistic about starting a train on the Buddhist circuit on March 28. The train will run with a Rajdhani rake from Delhi and pass through Shravasti, Gorakhpur, Lumbini, Sarnath, Bodhgaya Rajgir/Nalanda, Agra and Bodhgaya.

The train will not go to Lumbini but the ticket will include a bus ride to Lumbini.

A ride on the 14-coach train includes free sight seeing, meals and stay in hotels.

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Heavy diplomatic calendar this month
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
India has a busy diplomatic calendar this month and important highlights include special representative-level boundary talks with China and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi. On January 7, National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan leaves for Russia for the next round of strategic dialogue. He will also use his Moscow visit for holding consultations preparatory for Mr Putin’s state visit to India on January 25. Mr Putin will be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day parade.

On January 10, Portugal President Anibal Antonio Cavaco Silva comes here on a state visit. His visit is important because Portugal is a nuclear suppliers’ group (NSG) member.

On January 13, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will leave for Cebu (Philippines) for attending the India-ASEAN summit and the East Asia Summit. The same day, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee travels to Pakistan for giving a formal invite for the next SAARC summit to be hosted by New Delhi in April. On January 25. Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo will also be here.

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Goa Assembly faces dissolution
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 4
The Pratapsinh Rane government in Goa is on the brink of collapse with Town and Country Planning Minister Atanasio Monserrate resigning late last night. With three MLAs threatening to quit the government, the Chief Minister is considering dissolution of the Assembly, according to sources.

Mr Monserrate, who was under fire for enacting a regional plan that envisaged turning large tracts of agricultural and forestland into urban zones, dramatically sent in resignation just before midnight.

He quit hours after Mr Rane said at a public meeting that he was prepared to re-examine the plan.

Mr Rane, however, had not accepted the resignation till this afternoon. “I will meet Governor S.C. Jamir before deciding anything,” he said.

In the 40-member Goa Assembly whose effective strength is 37 following disqualification of three MLAs (two of the BJP and one of the UGDP), the Congress has 18 members, and is backed by two NCP and one each of the MGP and independent while main opposition the BJP has 15.

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Poll: Rajnath for door-to-door drive
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
BJP president Rajnath Singh today set the party in election mode by asking his colleagues to follow the old tradition of undertaking door-to-door campaign.

He appointed party vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a known loyalist of his predecessor L.K. Advani, in charge of the party’s central election management and co-ordination committee.

Stating that he would announce his team this month, the BJP chief stressed on the RSS-cultivated value of approaching the electorate in person.

Talking to newspersons after launching the party’s election control room here ahead of the Assembly elections in three states, he said the workers should hold door-to-door campaign in keeping with the tradition.

He also utilised the occasion to train his guns on UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav over his failure to visit Nithari village where a case of serial killing of children has come to light. He also expressed surprise over the state government not recommending a CBI inquiry into the incident.

He said the party was required to translate public support into a mandate in the upcoming elections in several states.

He refuted news reports attributed to some junior party leaders from Delhi that seat-sharing talks had been concluded successfully with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Talks were still on, he said.

He said the party had clearly said that it favoured promotion of industrial exports using barren areas and wastelands. “We cannot afford to have industry at the cost of food security,” he added. He said food production in the country was not surplus unlike the previous decade and the country was presently importing foodgrain to meet its needs.

About the anger of farmers against the acquisition of agricultural land for SEZs, he said the government should understand the “emotional attachment of the farmers with their land”.

Earlier in the day, he held a meeting with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Saba L.K. Advani, who had held discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over ties with Pakistan and other neighbouring countries.

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Sadhu Yadav gets bail in forgery case
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 4
In what appeared to be a big relief for RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, his high-profile brother-in-law Sadhu Yadav was today granted bail by the Patna High court in a car forgery case.

The MP from Gopalganj had surrendered on December 4, following the directive of the Supreme Court in the forgery case, which was an off shot of the multi-crore flood relief scam. Sadhu since then spent one month in judicial custody in Beur jail. The development that brought cheers at 10 Circular Road, housing Mr Lalu Prasad and Ms Rabri Devi, followed the recent acquittal of the former chief minister couple in the disproportionate asset (DA) case on December 18.

Justice Mridula Mishra granted bail to Sadhu Yadav after hearing his counsel Ganesh Prasad Singh and standing counsel for the Vigilance Bureau Y.V. Giri.

Before Sadhu had surrendered last month, the Vigilance Bureau was allowed by the court to attach his property following his failure to comply with an earlier order of the court which had issued a non-bailable warrant against him.

The bureau had on September 5 registered a case of forgery and cheating against Sadhu charging that the parliamentarian had falsified documents to prove that Rs 6 lakh deposited in his bank account had come from the sale of a vehicle, which in fact was not owed by him.

Sadhu had claimed that the money had come from the sale of an Opel Astra car to one Bhagwan Lal Jha, father of the alleged kingpin of the flood relief scam Santosh Jha.

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Police Reforms
States object to SC directives, seek review
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 4
Most of the states have raised objection to certain provisions laid down by the Supreme Court in its seven-point order on police reforms and urged it to reconsider them. The Centre did not say anything on the directives but sought extension of the deadline for implementing the order by three months.

The court, in its order passed on September 22, had fixed the deadline of December 31 last to implement its order and had directed the Centre and the states to submit their affidavits regarding this by January 3.

The main objection by many states was on the setting up of State Security Commission in each state to select top ranking officers and minimum fixed tenure for DGPs and other top-ranking officers. They had requested the court to review its order on these points.

Many states had gone a step further in taking the stand that any matter pertaining to controlling the police force or reforming it fell in the domain of legislature and it could not be diluted, and therefore, the court should reconsider its judgement.

At the same time they had also sought extension of the time-limit by another three months to implement the order regarding the other directives in the judgement.

But the court in its verdict had said that the states should enact suitable laws to reform the police force as per the guidelines laid down in the judgement and till then the same should act as a rule.

The Union Government, which controls all paramilitary forces under the Home Ministry, in its affidavit said it had set up the National Security Committee instead of National Security Commission as directed by the court at the Central level. It would be headed by the Home Minister with National Security Adviser, Cabinet Secretary, Home Secretary and Intelligence Bureau Director as members.

The committee would prepare a panel for making selection of all chiefs of Central Police Organisations and review any issue relating to improving the service conditions of paramilitary forces.

The Centre said the process of modernisation of the Central police forces was already in progress, which in the case of Assam Rifles, Border Security Force, Central Industrial Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force, Indo-Tibetan Border and National security Guards would take three years and in the case of Sashastra Seema Bal, currently looking after security along the Nepal border would take five years. Meanwhile, counsel for former DGP Prakash Singh on whose public interest petition the judgement had come, today made a special mention of the matter before a Bench, headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal in view of the Centre and states not meeting the deadline to implement the directives.

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UN favours ‘social vaccine’ to check AIDS

Patna, January 4
The UN has emphasised to strengthen the ‘social vaccine’ of mass awareness so as to prevent spread of the deadly HIV/AIDS virus in absence of any medical vaccine against this killer disease.

Sources in the state Health Department said going by the recent guidelines of UN programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), social vaccine was the main weapon to fight against this disease.

It was learnt that UN representative Peter Piot, along with Suma Chakrabarti, permanent Secretary, Department for International Development (DFID) of Britain, were recently in Patna to discuss the new strategy to combat AIDS.

Bihar is a focus state for both DFID and UNAIDS. — TNS

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Custodial Death
NHRC seeks report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Inspector General of Prisons, Maharashtra, to submit within two weeks a report on the custodial death of one person and injuries to three others in Mumbai's Arthur Road Prison.

Taking suo motu cognisance of a news report in a national daily on December 24 , the commission has said the District Magistrate should explain as to why the custodial death was not reported within 24 hours.

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K.R. Narayanan memorial okayed

New Delhi, January 4
The Cabinet today gave approval for a memorial to former President K.R. Narayanan at Ekta Sthal on the banks of the Yamuna here.

The memorial would be constructed at the site of Narayanan’s cremation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi told reporters after the Cabinet meeting. Memorials to former Presidents Zail Singh and Shanker Dayal Sharma also exist at that site.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs approved the 4/6 laning of highway sub-project on the Bangalore-Mulbagal national highway. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

8 feared drowned
LUCKNOW: At least eight persons were feared killed after their boat capsized in the Yamuna in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday morning. There were 13 persons in the boat. — UNI

3 arrested on kidnap charge
CHENNAI:
Three persons were arrested for allegedly kidnapping a postman, Balakrishnan, over a property dispute at Tambaram here on Thursday. The postman has been got released. The kidnapping took place while Balakrishnan was returning from his office. — UNI

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