SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

UP Assembly joint session on Jan 18
Lucknow, January 12
Blowing hot and cold Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav today visited Raj Bhavan to personally invite Governor T.V. Rajeswar to address the joint session of the Vidhan Sabha on January 18, a date decided upon by the Cabinet in a meeting held earlier in the day.

Centre holds meeting to evolve strategy against ULFA
New Delhi, January 12
The UPA government held a high level meeting here today among the Army, Para Military forces and Assam officials to evolve a strategy following reports that ULFA was recruiting new cadres during the ceasefire.

Bal Thackeray launches attack on Raj
Mumbai, January 12
With just three weeks to go for the elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the war of words between Bal Thackeray and his estranged nephew Raj are getting shriller.

‘CJI Sabharwal, we’ll miss you’
New Delhi, January 12
Outgoing Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal’s role as head of the Judiciary today came in for special praise from the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Government Law Officers, representing the Centre.





 

EARLIER STORIES




‘Canonising’
A foreign tourist shows pictures to a sadhu during the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on Friday
A foreign tourist shows pictures to a sadhu during the Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad on Friday. — PTI

Sonia to hold talks with Dalit leaders
Lucknow, January 12
Congress party President Sonia Gandhi will hold a dialogue with the opinion makers amongst Dalits, OBCs and the minority community in the state next month keeping in view with the Assembly elections slated for mid-May.

President to open Bihar global meet
Patna, January 12
The President A.P.J Abdul Kalam has agreed to inaugurate the first-ever Bihar global meet to be held in Patna from January 19 to 21. The consent by the President to inaugurate this mega event on the theme "resurgent Bihar" indeed came as a gift for the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government which promised to rebuild the state under the new regime.

NRI comedian makes career of spoofing Mahatma
Mumbai, January 12
Gautham Prasad, an NRI comedian based in New York has made a career of spoofing Mahatma Gandhi. Prasad, a stand-up comedian who clowns his way at small private dos for a living does a series on India’s Father of the Nation as part of a new act.

Visa regime relaxation: India proposes, Pak disposes
New Delhi, January 12
On the eve of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Pakistan, things are not looking hunky dory. On the contrary, negative signals have emanated from Islamabad on the issue of visa regime relaxation.

Cop punished for trying to fine Dhoni
New Delhi, January 12
A traffic policeman has been transferred for trying to fine one of the country’s biggest cricket stars, not realising that celebrities are sometimes above the law, newspapers reported on Friday.

CARTOSAT’s camera switched on
Bangalore, January 12
The panchromatic camera (PAN) on board ISRO’s latest remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT-2 was switched on at 10.05 am today through a series of commands issued from the Spacecraft Control Centre of the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) here.

J&K stable, claims Army chief
New Delhi, January 12
Chief of Army Staff J.J. Singh today termed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir as “much more stable”, and said the Army could reduce and redeploy force levels after reviewing the ground situation after the winter. However, the decision would depend on the security situation, he reiterated.

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UP Assembly joint session on Jan 18
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 12
Blowing hot and cold Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav today visited Raj Bhavan to personally invite Governor T.V. Rajeswar to address the joint session of the Vidhan Sabha on January 18, a date decided upon by the Cabinet in a meeting held earlier in the day.

Talking to mediapersons after an hour-long meeting, Yadav described it as “cordial” and said the Governor had “gladly accepted” the invitation.

An early morning Cabinet meeting had formally recommended convening a fresh Assembly session on January 18. The manner of convening the Vidhan Sabha session on January 15 for a possible show of strength after Ajit Singh-led RLD pulled out from the government had become a bone of contention between the CM and the Governor.

Last evening, the Cabinet decided to shed its earlier posture and accept the Governor’s decision of proroguing the monsoon session of the House. According to sources, constitutional experts and a senior SP leader and confidant of Yadav reportedly advised him against convening the session in defiance of the Governor as it would be enough grounds for dismissing the government on the ground of “breakdown of constitutional machinery in the state”.

Attempting to build bridges with the Governor once again, Yadav informed the waiting media after the Cabinet meeting that he would personally visit Raj Bhavan to invite the Governor.

The Advocate-General was seen entering Raj Bhavan some time after the CM. It led to speculations of something “serious” being brewing inside. While it could not be ascertained as to why the Advocate-General had been summoned, a beaming CM emerged sometime later informing the media of a “cordial meeting” and the Governor “gladly accepting” to address the joint session of the Vidhan Sabha.

The state government’s urgency of proving its majority in the Vidhan Sabha on January 15 is said to be more out of its apprehension of a possible adverse judgement by the apex court in the case of 37 BSP MLAs crossing over. In that case, the state government would actually be reduced to a minority. The hearing has been completed and the judgement is expected to be pronounced on January 15.

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Centre holds meeting to evolve strategy against ULFA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12
The UPA government held a high level meeting here today among the Army, Para Military forces and Assam officials to evolve a strategy following reports that ULFA was recruiting new cadres during the ceasefire.

The issue assumes importance as migrant labourers are continuing to work on the Silchar-Lumding railway line, a critical link between most parts of the Northeastern state.

The strategy is aimed at intensifying the offensive against the insurgent outfit so that the ULFA does not target these labourers. The meeting also discussed about providing a security cover to these workers.

Simultaneously, beefing up the security for the upcoming National Games in Assam next month also came up for a review in the wake of the surcharged atmosphere.

There was a brainstorming session on ways to plug the entry points on the border with Myanmar through which the ULFA militants are believed to be slipping in as ULFA is based in Myanmar.

Authoritative sources said that the ensuing crackdown would force the ULFA to come to the negotiating table even as the insurgent outfit had utilised the intervening period of peace to regroup and rearm.

The union Home ministry has already rushed 3000 additional Para-Military personnels to Assam after ULFA attacks against non-Assamese people that left nearly 70 dead.

The Centre has asked the Assam government to strengthen patrolling, set up more pickets and beef up intelligence. 

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Bal Thackeray launches attack on Raj
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 12
With just three weeks to go for the elections to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the war of words between Bal Thackeray and his estranged nephew Raj are getting shriller.

The elder Bal Thackeray who has so far only called his nephew a misguided prodigal today openly hit out at Raj Thackeray and called him names like traitor and parasite.

“Those who have fed off the tree of the Shiv Sena have turned to chop it down,” Bal Thackeray wrote in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamna.

Lest any doubt was left on who was being criticised, Saamna carried long articles on what it called “corrupt” office-bearers of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, founded by Raj. The newspaper also had a front-page article by an angry Shiv Sainik, who openly abused Raj Thackeray for his betrayal of his uncle.

In an interview to the newspaper, Uddhav Thackeray remarked that the Shiv Sena was now free of traitors. “Now that disloyal people have left the Sena we have no traitors left,” Uddhav said.

In his article Bal Thackeray insisted that his nephew’s concern for the ageing leader’s health was a big sham. “This young hypocrite should not worry about my health....the parasite which lived off the tree of the Shiv Sena is now gnawing the trunk,” Bal Thackeray wrote.

The acerbic attack by Bal Thackeray followed a sarcastic remark by Raj that his cousin Uddhav should allow father Bal Thackeray to rest because of his advanced age. Raj has asked Uddhav to hit the campaign trail without banking on the old man’s charisma.

The full-frontal attack by Saamna left Raj Thackeray’s followers completely stunned. “We are not reacting to this since our leader has asked us to maintain peace,” a spokesman for the MNS told this reporter.

MNS headquarters Rajgad is located a stone’s throw away from Sena Bhavan.

Followers of both parties have clashed in recent times due to which police presence has been beefed up. Police officials admit that the next few weeks could witness clashes between the followers of both parties. Raj Thackeray is wooing disgruntled Shiv Sainiks in a big way.

Shiv Sena sources fear that several sitting corporators who are denied ticket for re-election may switch to the MNS. Raj Thackeray himself has offered an invitation to Shiv Sena rebels to join his party in the coming days.

Though the MNS is yet to be given an election symbol, the party is attracting Shiv Sena workers in large numbers.

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‘CJI Sabharwal, we’ll miss you’
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 12
Outgoing Chief Justice of India Y K Sabharwal’s role as head of the Judiciary today came in for special praise from the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Government Law Officers, representing the Centre.

Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, on the commencement of today’s hearing before the CJI’s Bench in a traditional thanks-giving statement on behalf of the government, lauded the role of Justice Sabharwal for performing his duty with “distinction” and enhancing the image of the Judiciary.

Subramaniam said on behalf of the Attorney General of India, Milon Banerjee, other Law Officers of the government and members of the Bar “I take this opportunity in expressing my feelings on this day when Justice Sabharwal is demitting office as CJI.” Today was his last working day in office.

“You have been kind patient, courteous and helpful to all members of the Bar and has done your duty with distinction. We all will miss you. I am speaking for all members of the Bar and wish you well,” the ASG said.

It was an emotional moment for Justice Sabharwal, who said he had tried his best to do his duty with dedication.

“I am thankful to all members of the Bar in helping me in discharging my duty,” he said, telling the jam-packed courtroom that he had never made a difference between senior advocates and junior lawyers when they appeared before his Bench.

He always tried to encourage young lawyers and never addressed them as juniors but considered them as new entrants. “Thank you for cooperation and I shall also miss you,” he said in an emotionally charged atmosphere.

Later in the evening a farewell function was organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) in the court lawns in the honour of Justice Sabharwal.

SCBA president M N Krishnamani led the bar in honouring him and commended his role as the constitutional head of the Judiciary.

Justice Sabharwal’s role was not only appreciated by the speakers for deciding various contentious issues that had been pending before the apex court for years but in striking a fine balance between the three organs of the government.

Justice Sabharwal, heading various constitution benches in a little over one year tenure, has delivered landmark judgements on various issues, including the two delivered during last two days on the right of Parliament to expel its members for any misconduct, the apex court’s power of judicial review of Ninth Schedule Laws.

The other landmark judgements delivered by his Benches, include quashing of the Centre’s decision to impose President’s rule in Bihar, ordering a slew of directions on police reforms, on the domicile issue for the Rajya Sabha membership and on reservation policy in promotion in public employment.

He tried his best to clean the Capital of encroachment of public land and the menace of illegal commercial venture coming up almost on the doorstep of residents making their peaceful living difficult, by ordering their sealing which was though resisted by local politicians.

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Sonia to hold talks with Dalit leaders
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 12
Congress party President Sonia Gandhi will hold a dialogue with the opinion makers amongst Dalits, OBCs and the minority community in the state next month keeping in view with the Assembly elections slated for mid-May.

Giving an outline of this fresh initiative, state Congress president Salman Khurshid said the first such direct dialogue had been scheduled between Dalits and Ms Gandhi and would be held in the first week of February.

The party is inviting eminent Dalit thinkers and social activists working for the empowerment of the Dalits to interact on a one to one basis with Ms Gandhi and other leaders, including Rahul Gandhi.

According to Mr Khurshid, before the Assembly elections the party would hold similar meetings with leaders of the backward classes and minorities.

The former principal secretary to then Chief Minister Mayawati, Mr P.L. Punia, who has since joined the Congress, said Dalit leaders’ dialogue with Ms Gandhi would certainly have a positive bearing on the community as it would establish the seriousness of the party in addressing problems of the community.

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President to open Bihar global meet
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 12
The President A.P.J Abdul Kalam has agreed to inaugurate the first-ever Bihar global meet to be held in Patna from January 19 to 21.
The consent by the President to inaugurate this mega event on the theme "resurgent Bihar" indeed came as a gift for the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government which promised to rebuild the state under the new regime.

The global conclave in memorable past was being jointly organised by the Bihartimes and the Institute for Human Development.

Talking to the Tribune the CEO of Bihartimes, Ajay Kumar, said that the Chief Secretary Ashok Chowdhary yesterday convened a meeting to finalise the modalities with regard to President`s visit.

Mr.Ajay Kumar said that Mr.Kalam was supposed to visit for one hour to Patna to inaugurate the business conclave on January 19 evening.

Also attending this conclave will be Mauritius Prime Minister Navin Ramgopal, whose forefathers migrated from Bihar.

According to Mr.Ajay Kumar,the President,who has a soft corner for Bihar, considered the state as a hub of knowledge, intellect and hard working people.

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NRI comedian makes career of spoofing Mahatma
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 12
Gautham Prasad, an NRI comedian based in New York has made a career of spoofing Mahatma Gandhi. Prasad, a stand-up comedian who clowns his way at small private dos for a living does a series on India’s Father of the Nation as part of a new act.

Videos of Prasad’s act posted on YouTube shows Prasad togged in a bald cap and stick-on nipples pole dancing before an audience. Prasad also imitates the sex act with the pole designed to look like Gandhiji’s staff.

The striptease which is part of the act has Prasad taking off his shawl and dhoti before gyrating in his underwear.

Like several websites of stand-up comedians, Prasad’s skinnyindian.com has links to the comedian spoofing a number of personalities like George Bush.

However his Gandhi act which was telecast on television channels has caused an uproar.

After users at YouTube flagged Prasad’s video, the page is now accessible only to adults who sign up on the website.

After the videos were aired, Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of the Mahatma felt that the Indian government should take some action now on such antics.

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Visa regime relaxation: India proposes, Pak disposes
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12
On the eve of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Pakistan, things are not looking hunky dory. On the contrary, negative signals have emanated from Islamabad on the issue of visa regime relaxation.

There will be substantive bilateral talks between Mr Mukherjee and the Pakistani leadership touching on all aspects, but no agreements will be signed. An out-of-the-box solution to the Siachen dispute is not ruled out. However, it seems unlikely that the Siachen ice will melt during Mr Mukherjee’s Islamabad visit.

On the issue of Indo-Pakistan Joint Mechanism to combat terrorism, set up over two months ago, India has finalised the composition of the three-member body from its side and conveyed it to Islamabad. India has also requested for an early meeting of the Joint Mechanism, but there is no response yet from Islamabad. Pakistan is yet to finalise the composition of its Joint Mechanism team.

The visa regime is one area where the two neighbours’ differences are most pronounced - a situation where India proposes and Pakistan disposes. Consider the following. In September 2005, New Delhi had proposed wide-ranging changes to the Indo-Pak visa regime. Islamabad sent its response a few days ago. 

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Cop punished for trying to fine Dhoni

New Delhi, January 12
A traffic policeman has been transferred for trying to fine one of the country’s biggest cricket stars, not realising that celebrities are sometimes above the law, newspapers reported on Friday.

Inspector Saifuddin Ahmed thought he was just doing his job when he stopped an expensive sports car in Ranchi for having dark tinted windows — an offence in India.

But sitting behind those windows was cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of India’s hottest celebrities and a hero in his home state of Jharkhand, of which Ranchi is the capital. Early reports said an unfazed Ahmed insisted Dhoni hand over the 900-rupee fine.

Local police have since backpedalled, saying Dhoni was allowed to drive on after waving a letter from local authorities giving him special dispensation to break the law.

Ahmed has now been transferred in what is an apparent demotion from the downtown commercial district to a downmarket residential bazaar, the Hindustan Times reported on Friday.

The state’s chief minister was reported as saying that celebrities should expect special treatment when it comes to the law. — Reuters

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CARTOSAT’s camera switched on
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 12
The panchromatic camera (PAN) on board ISRO’s latest remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT-2 was switched on at 10.05 am today through a series of commands issued from the Spacecraft Control Centre of the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) here.

An ISRO spokesman here disclosed analysis of the first imagery received at the National Remote Sensing Agency’s Data Reception Station at Shadnagar, near Hyderabad, confirmed excellent performance of the camera. The first imagery covered a length of about 240 km from Paonta Sahib in Shivalik region to Delhi. Another set of imagery of about 50 km length covered Radha Nagari to Sagoan in Goa before the satellite passed over the Arabian Sea.

It may be recalled that the 680 kg CARTOSAT-2, the 12th in the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite series was launched into the intended 639 km high polar orbit by PSLV-C7 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on January 10.

Meanwhile, the ISRO also disclosed that the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE) launched by PSLV-C7 along with CARTOSAT-2 is functioning normally.

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J&K stable, claims Army chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12
Chief of Army Staff J.J. Singh today termed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir as “much more stable”, and said the Army could reduce and redeploy force levels after reviewing the ground situation after the winter. However, the decision would depend on the security situation, he reiterated.

General J.J. Singh said, “We are constantly reviewing force levels and redeploying them. If we feel there is a possibility of reduction of force levels, we will do it.”

Addressing mediapersons on the eve of Army Day, he said the Army accounted for more than 1,000 terrorists last year and lost only 78 soldiers in operations. Touching upon the issue of infiltration from across the LoC, General Singh said the level had gone down due to intensive patrolling and operations. However, infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir was now on through Nepal and Bangladesh and the Army would have to meet this challenge, he said.

On terrorist training camps and support from Pakistan, the Army chief said the militants were trying to sneak into the country through the LoC but the Army was able to neutralise them. On Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s proposal to demilitarise Kashmir and reduce troops there, he said Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee would visit Islamabad on Saturday and “let us wait for the outcome of talks”. Similar was his refrain in response to a query about Siachen. He added that the government had been apprised about the Army’s views on the issue of demilitarising of the world’s highest battlefield.

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