SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Plea against rehab package for surrendered militants
New Delhi, January 25
The Supreme Court today admitted a petition seeking to strike down the Jammu and Kashmir Government’s policy of giving Rs 1.5 lakh grant and monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 to militants who surrendered to the security forces. The court said it was an issue of national importance and required detailed hearing.

LeT militant held with RDX on R-Day eve
New Delhi, January 25
An unprecedented security cover has been thrown around the capital on the eve of the Republic Day even as police foiled a major terrorist bid to subvert the national event by arresting a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative with explosives.

A day of ceremonies & parades
New Delhi, January 25
India will celebrate its 58th Republic Day with a grand parade on Friday that showcases the country’ military might and the richness of its diversity, with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam taking the salute and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as the guest of honour.

Some spice from Prez
New Delhi, January 25
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today chose a new medium to reach out to his countrymen. He made an appearance on private radio channel Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM for an hour and chatted about his childhood, his philosophy and also broadcast a message to the people on the eve of Republic Day.





 

 

EARLIER STORIES




Young colours of the Republic

8 LTTE men held in Chennai
Chennai, January 25
The arrest of eight men, including five Sri Lankan Tamils here last evening along with material for making bombs has once again proved that the LTTE was using the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu for smuggling explosives. The men were arrested with a huge quantity of torn ball bearings which are used with explosives to make bombs.

A paramilitary personnel stands guard at the Red Fort in New Delhi, on the eve of Republic Day on Thursday. Security is on high alert in New Delhi ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in which Russian President Vladimir Putin is the chief guest Students of the Anjuman-e-Islam High School, Ahmedabad, stand beside the word India, formed by colourful umbrellas, on the eve of Republic Day
A paramilitary personnel stands guard at the Red Fort in New Delhi, on the eve of Republic Day on Thursday. Security is on high alert in New Delhi ahead of the Republic Day celebrations in which Russian President Vladimir Putin is the chief guest. Students of the Anjuman-e-Islam High School, Ahmedabad, stand beside the word India, formed by colourful umbrellas, on the eve of Republic Day. — AFP photo

Planning panel to emulate Bihar
Patna, January 25
The Planning Commission has reportedly decided to emulate the ‘coupon scheme’ meant for below the poverty line (BPL) families in Bihar. The project, first time by any state government, is going to be launched in the state by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tomorrow during the Republic Day celebrations.

Judiciary can never replace Parliament: Sharad Yadav
Patna, January 25
The national president of JD (U), Mr Sharad Yadav, today categorically stated that it was not the duty of the court to run the country. Mr Yadav was referring to the recent Supreme Court judgement on the Ninth Schedule by bringing the provisions of the same under its ambit for review.

Army men create scene on train
Patna, January 25
The passengers of the Guwahati-bound North-East Express had to face the wrath of drunken Army personnel, belonging to the Assam Rifles, who abused them without any provocation.

Pandher in hospital, Koli discharged
New Delhi /Ghaziabad, January 25
Beaten up by an angry mob at a Ghaziabad court, Nithari serial killings accused Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli were today brought to RML Hospital here for check-up amidst heavy security.

CBI blames UP Govt

Tribune columnist Mahipal gets Padma Shree
New Delhi, January 25
Dr Mahipal. S. Sachdev, Chairman and Medical Director of Centre For Sight, who has been conferred the Padma Shree, specialises in diseases of the cornea, refractive surgery and diseases of the lens.

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Plea against rehab package for surrendered militants
S.S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 25
The Supreme Court today admitted a petition seeking to strike down the Jammu and Kashmir Government’s policy of giving Rs 1.5 lakh grant and monthly stipend of Rs 2,000 to militants who surrendered to the security forces. The court said it was an issue of national importance and required detailed hearing.

The rehabilitation policy, has been challenged in a petition on the ground that such financial aid to the militants was nothing but a “largesse” and a “bonus” for their involvement in terrorist activities.

The policy laid down by J&K Government on January 31, 2004 also provides for payment of Rs 1 lakh for surrendering arms and ammunition by a militant and liberal loan to him without guarantee, said the petition filed by the Society for Human Rights and Civil Liberties (SHRCL) in 2004.

The court admitted it today after receiving the replies of the Centre and the J&K Government. Court had earlier issued notices to the Union and J&K governments in this regard.

“This is an issue of national importance and needs to be heard at length,” said a Bench of Mr Justice G.P Mathur and Mr Justice R.V Raveendran, admitting the petition when SHRCL’s counsel Ramesh Haritash said such monetary grants to militants involved in anti-national activities, would in fact give flip to terrorism.

According to Union Home Ministry’s records there were at least 33 militant organisations operating in J&K and most of these were backed by the ISI of Pakistan, should such “largesse’ be granted to those who had been working against the nation and caused the death of innocent people, the petition asked.

The rehabilitation policy laid down by the Congress-PDP alliance provided that a committee of officers from the security agencies (State Police, IB, Army, BSF, CRPF, ITBP) engaged in combating militancy, should be constituted under the SP in-charge of each district to examine the cases of surrendered militants who should be awarded the compensation every month and also to prevent “fake surrender”.

But the SHRCL said “the policy would encourage other youth to take up weapons to kill innocent people and work against national security forces.”

In their replies, Centre and J&K governments had defended the policy, stating that it was brought as a substitute to the 1997 scheme that provided for giving government jobs to surrendered militants to prevent them from re joining militant outfits. The scheme, however, had not been successful due to fewer job opportunities.

But the petitioner organisation said if such a policy was approved by the Centre then it was bound to boost militancy in North-East and Naxalites’ activities in Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal also.

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LeT militant held with RDX on R-Day eve

New Delhi, January 25
An unprecedented security cover has been thrown around the capital on the eve of the Republic Day even as police foiled a major terrorist bid to subvert the national event by arresting a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative with explosives.

The Pakistani-trained militant, identified as Iftikhar Alam, was arrested from a bus stand near the metro station in Seelampur locality of North-East Delhi this evening. Around 2.5 kg of RDX, two detonators and a timer have been recovered from his possession.

“He was here to deliver the explosives to someone for carrying out strikes on the occasion of Republic Day,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Special Cell) Karnal Singh said. A resident of Nalanda, Alam arrived in Delhi from Patna this morning by the Sampoorna Kranti Express.

However, his contact in Delhi is yet to be identified, leaving the security personnel on tenterhooks on the eve of the R-Day to be attended by President A P J Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin and the country’s political and military top brass.

In another alarming incident, the police arrested a man from the Old Delhi Railway station with a smoke grenade. Mohammad Hussain Sheikh, hailing from West Bengal, was nabbed during a routine checking and booked under the stringent Explosives Substances Act.

What is worrying the entire security establishment is the information revealed by Alam that the unidentified person, who was to collect the explosives from him had conducted a recce of several locations, including vital installations in the capital for carrying out attacks. — PTI

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A day of ceremonies & parades

New Delhi, January 25
India will celebrate its 58th Republic Day with a grand parade on Friday that showcases the country’ military might and the richness of its diversity, with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam taking the salute and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin as the guest of honour.

Flag-hoisting ceremonies and parades, albeit in scaled-down versions, will be held across the country with state governors and chief ministers performing the honours.

The focus, undoubtedly, will be on the Capital, as for close to two hours, marching contingents of the three Services and the paramilitary forces, floats depicting the vibrancy and diversity of India, as also schoolchildren performing myriad dances will roll down Rajpath, the 1.8-mile grand boulevard that stretches from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the war memorial at the imposing India Gate. The parade will conclude with an imposing flypast by 36 aircraft of the Indian Air Force.

While the three Services will display their newly acquired radars and state-of-the-art weaponry, they will also contribute the bulk of the 24-odd marching contingents. Interspersed between them will be a host of military bands, their music adding to the grandeur of the occasion.

Following them will be 1,850 cadets of the NCC from the four corners of the country, some marching in contingents of 12x12 and others dressed in traditional costumes.

This will set the stage for the arrival of the 26 floats displaying the diverse aspects of India — from the composite culture of Jammu and Kashmir to toy and mask crafts of Orissa, from drug rehabilitation initiatives to security arrangements at nuclear installations.

The Jammu and Kashmir tableau will highlight the prominent shrines of the main faiths of the state to focus on the harmonious co-existence of its people.

India's first freedom movement of 1857 is the theme of the Uttar Pradesh tableau, while the one from Jharkhand will present the Sarhul tribal festival. The Maharashtra tableau will showcase its traditional architecture, performing arts and artworks. The state's float will display a hill temple complex coupled with colourful, rhythmic and robust dances and music. Several ministries will also display their achievements. — IANS

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Some spice from Prez

New Delhi, January 25
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today chose a new medium to reach out to his countrymen. He made an appearance on private radio channel Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM for an hour and chatted about his childhood, his philosophy and also broadcast a message to the people on the eve of Republic Day.

With a penchant for setting trend, Kalam recorded a brief message for private FM radio station “Radio Mirchi” last night to spread his message to the countrymen.

The appearance on the private channel was apart from the customary message he gave via the state-owned All India Radio.

In his message, which was recorded in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President has asked for maximum participation of youth in making the country a developed nation, official sources said here today.

Recorded at the request of the radio channel, the speech will be broadcast tomorrow morning, the sources said.

In his message, the President not only wished his countrymen, but also talked about how all of us together can make India happy. Kalam urged the younger generation to help build a technologically advanced India.

He chatted with Radio Mirchi jockeys Ananta and Saurabh for almost an hour, sharing his thoughts and views on life, work and the country.

Talking about his childhood, Kalam said: “I used to live in a joint family which had a unique way of sharing happiness and grief.

“I used to get up at 4.a.m. in the morning everyday. What time do you get up?” he asked the RJs.

Asked whether he gave any importance to money, Kalam replied: “Money is an important aspect in everyone’s life but I feel happy by giving and sharing with people around me. If we are fortunate enough to give happiness to somebody it also gives us happiness. I believe in this.”

Kalam revealed that he is an avid radio listener but hasn’t seen a movie in 50 years.

Asked about his favourite film songs, he said he couldn’t remember of them any off hand.

Kanwarbir Singh, station director Radio Mirchi, said: “We are thankful to President Kalam for being so approachable and sparing the time for the interview.

Besides the national capital, Radio Mirchi is aired in metropolitan centres like Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore and in cities like Pune, Indore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Jaipur.

The sources said since its popularity had grown manifolds over the years especially among the youth, the President, whose last customary Republic Day message of his present tenure would be broadcast on Doordarshan and All India Radio tonight, accepted the proposal. — Agencies

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81 police personnel decorated

New Delhi, January 25
As many as 81 police personnel have been selected for the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service.
The other awards announced on the eve of the 58th Republic Day included President’s Police Medals for Gallantry to 13 and Police Medals for Gallantry to 97 personnel and Police Medals for Meritorious Serivce to 459 personnel.

Following is the list of awardees from the region:

President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service

NCT of Delhi: Krishna Kumar Maheshwari, Joint CP, R P Bhawan, New Delhi, Qamar Ahmed, Joint CP/Traffic, PHQ, New Delhi, Hanuman Singh, ACP, New Delhi, Data Ram, Inspector, South Distt. New Delhi.

Himachal Pradesh: Sohan Singh, ADG-cum-Comdt Gen. Home Guard, Civil Defence and Fire Services, Kashmir Singh Rana, IGP/State, HRC, Shimla. — PTI

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President’s Police Medal for CRPF hero

New Delhi, January 25
For the family of 30-year-old Constable of Central Reserve Police Force R. Aji Kumar, it was a proud moment as he was awarded with President Police Medal for Gallantry on the eve of 58th Republic Day posthumously for climbing towards death and saving dozens of colleagues.

The brave son of the soil, Aji fought militants on July 27, 2004 who tried to storm a hotel where the 65th batallion was stationed in the strife-torn Kashmir valley.

Located on the banks of famous Dal Lake, two heavily armed militants sneaked into the hotel at 2000 hours and started firing indiscriminately.

Two sentries at the gate became the first causalities of the attack and two more were killed soon afterwards as the terrorists took vantage positions. It was time for the bravehearts of CRPF to take positions and retaliate.

Constable Kumar and three of his collegues -- Rajender Kumar, Manjit Singh and Puran Singh -- pinned down the terrorist by surrounding and engaging them with retaliatory fire.

Under the cover of fire and keeping his wits about him, Kumar climbed to the second floor where one of the terrorist had taken shelter in a room. Aji opened the door and fired inside but was immediately hit on the leg by fire from militants. Aji continued firing for sometime. Soon firing from inside the room stopped. After a while, to ensure that the militant was killed, Aji entered the room. He was immediately hit by the bullets of the injured militant.

Unfazed by the sudden enemy firing, wounded Aji opened fire and finally killed the militant but not before he was badly injured. He succumbed to his injuries.

Rajendra Kumar, meanwhile, had neutralised the other militant, who was attempting to enter the armoury.

Aji and Rajender have received President’s Police Medal for Gallantry while Manjit and Puran have received Police Medal for Gallantry. — PTI

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8 LTTE men held in Chennai
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 25
The arrest of eight men, including five Sri Lankan Tamils here last evening along with material for making bombs has once again proved that the LTTE was using the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu for smuggling explosives.
The men were arrested with a huge quantity of torn ball bearings which are used with explosives to make bombs.

The police seized two tonnes of ball bearings packed in gunny bags when they were being loaded on to a mini truck here. The police suspect that the ball bearings were meant for use in explosives by the LTTE.

The ball bearings had been brought from Mumbai by train and were to be smuggled to Sri Lanka via Thoothukudi in southern Tamil Nadu, which was close to Sri Lanka.

The arrested men were booked under Section 120 (b) read with Section 10 and 13 (1) (2) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Section 5 of the Explosives Substances Act and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act and remanded in judicial custody after being produced in the XIII Metropolitan Magistrate Court.

Following interrogation of one of the arrested men, Sivakaran, a Sri Lankan Tamil, the police raided the residence of V. Prabhakaran, an alleged accomplice in Thoothukdi, and seized three more tonnes of ball bearings packed in gunny bags.

The police said Sivakaran had come to India as a refugee in 2000 and stayed at the Mandapam refugee camp but escaped from the camp four years ago. 

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Planning panel to emulate Bihar
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 25
The Planning Commission has reportedly decided to emulate the ‘coupon scheme’ meant for below the poverty line (BPL) families in Bihar.
The project, first time by any state government, is going to be launched in the state by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar tomorrow during the Republic Day celebrations.

Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen had wanted to recommend this scheme for all other states in the country once it was launched in Bihar.

Mr Nitish Kumar said under this innovative scheme, the BPL families would be given coupons to avail foodgrain and kerosene at subsidised rates every month from the PDS shops.

Mr Kumar has decided to distribute these coupons through elected gram sabhas.

The Nitish government had already updated the BPL list through a survey involving students and school teachers, besides government officials, across the state last year. Each BPL beneficiary would be given a bunch of coupons for one year.

So far the dealers were concerned, they would be allowed next quantum of allotment only after submitting coupons of the previous month.

Besides this innovative coupne scheme, which has already caught the fancy of the policy makers of the country, the 15-month-old Nitish government was also ahead of other states in introducing 50 per cent reservation of seats for woman in panchayats for the polls held last year.

This unprecedented move had also enabled the Bihar Government to ensure gender equality in local governance with over 1 lakh elected women representatives in three-tier panchayat system now.

Earlier Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee had praised another innovative move by Mr Nitish Kumat to raise a Special Auxilliary Force (SAP) involving retired Army men to combat the Maoists in the state.

It was learnt that the Union Home Ministry already asked the other Naxal-infested states to emulate this model too.

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Judiciary can never replace Parliament: Sharad Yadav
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 25
The national president of JD (U), Mr Sharad Yadav, today categorically stated that it was not the duty of the court to run the country.
Mr Yadav was referring to the recent Supreme Court judgement on the Ninth Schedule by bringing the provisions of the same under its ambit for review.

Hitherto, the laws and provisions under the Ninth Schedule could not be reviewed by the court.

Addressing mediapersons here Mr Yadav said his views should not be misconstrued as anti-judiciary.

The JD (U) chief clarified, "I do not belittle the judiciary's right to review any decision of the government. But this has to be done within the framework of the Constitution. Judges cannot and must not take the place of MPs as judiciary can never replace Parliament".

Terming the Apex Court's verdict as a step "to expose the nation to the danger of split", Mr Yadav urged the Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, to take appropriate action in this regard. "The Prime Minister can either call an all-party meeting or the issue can be taken up in Parliament", he added.

Accusing the UPA Government of not taking due note of the judgement, he said the Supreme Court empowering itself to review Acts under the Schedule, particularly those pertaining to reservation, had threatened the country's unity.

Mr Yadav demanded that two vital laws on land ceiling and Tamil Nadu reservation issue included in Ninth Schedule should be protected.

Claiming that the provisions of the Ninth Schedule were meant to protect the interests of the poor and weaker sections of society, Mr Yadav pointed out that out of 280 laws under Ninth Schedule, 250 were related to land reforms.

The JD (U) chief further stated how states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Western UP and West Bengal had benefited from land reforms following the provisions under Ninth Schedule."The NDA Government in Bihar too now has formed a land reforms commission", he said.

In reply to a question Mr Yadav said while he did not have any objection to removing any aberrations in the Ninth Schedule, but he was in favour of retaining the vital laws of reservation and land ceiling which have a direct bearing on society.

Mr Yadav expressed apprehension that the Reservation Act of Tamil Nadu, providing 69 per cent reservation to SCs/STs/OBCs, could be soon set aside by the apex court. "The fire should be extinguished before it flares up," he cautioned.

Besides defending the Ninth Schedule, Mr Yadav also demanded scrapping of the proposed Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country.

Describing SEZs as threat to food security and interests of farmers, Mr Yadav ruled out any possibility of considering SEZ in Bihar. He, however, was not opposed to acquiring agricultural land for industry as last option on selective basis for the economic growth against proper compensation to farmers, including ensuring their right to have a share in the profit of the proposed industrial unit.

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Army men create scene on train

Patna, January 25
The passengers of the Guwahati-bound North-East Express had to face the wrath of drunken Army personnel, belonging to the Assam Rifles, who abused them without any provocation.

The incident reportedly took place at Buxar, when some drunken Army men entered a sleeper coach and beat up the passengers late last night.

The issue came to light when some of the victims lodged a complaint with the Railway Police at Patna.

The Army personnel allegedly also beat a woman. According to the RPF, six Army men were detained for questioning and an FIR was lodged. The government has also taken up the matter with the Army authorities.— TNS

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Pandher in hospital, Koli discharged

New Delhi /Ghaziabad, January 25
Beaten up by an angry mob at a Ghaziabad court, Nithari serial killings accused Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli were today brought to RML Hospital here for check-up amidst heavy security.

While Koli was discharged after first-aid and was taken away by the CBI officials, Pandher, who bore the brunt of the mob fury, was being kept under observation, hospital sources said.

Pandher has received injuries on his back and face, but there were no serious wounds and his condition was stable, they said.

In the wake of the mob attack on the duo heavy security arrangements were in place at the RML Hospital. — TNS

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CBI blames UP Govt

New Delhi, January 25
The Union Home Ministry and the CBI today said it was the responsibility of the state government to provide protection to the accused. Reacting to the mob attack on Nithari serial killings accused Moninder Singh Pandher and Surendra Koli in a Ghaziabad Court, the Home Ministry said it was up to the state government to ensure protection and safety of the accused and the Centre had no role to play at this stage.
Meanwhile, reacting to the incident CBI Director Vijay Shanker blamed the local police for not ensuring protection to them. — TNS

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Tribune columnist Mahipal gets Padma Shree
Tribune News Service

Mahipal. S. Sachdev
Mahipal. S. Sachdev

New Delhi, January 25
Dr Mahipal. S. Sachdev, Chairman and Medical Director of Centre For Sight, who has been conferred the Padma Shree, specialises in diseases of the cornea, refractive surgery and diseases of the lens.

He graduated and post graduated from the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and pursued a fellowship in cornea and external eye Diseases from Georgetown University, Washington, U.S.A. He served as a faculty member at AIIMS for nine years before setting up Centre for Sight, a premier eye care institute in northern India.

Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev is a man with numerous talents and considerable self-discipline. He is credited with popularising Phaco at AIIMS and is regarded as the person who gave the crucial initial aggressive push to this technique as he had the vision to appreciate the potential of Phaco several years back itself. Today Phaco has become a benchmark for cataract surgery in India.

Dr Mahipal S. Sachdev has formerly been the Chairman, Scientific Committee of the All India Ophthalmological Society and is currently Secretary of Intraocular Implant and Refractive Society and President of the Delhi Ophthalmological Society. He is the country’s representative of Asian Refractive Council (ARC).

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BRIEFLY

7 of family commit suicide
HASSAN:
Seven members of a family here committed suicide on Thursday by consuming food laced with poison. The police said prominent businessman Vishwanath and his family members entered into suicide pact as they were unable to repay huge debts. Besides Mr Gupta, his wife, son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren were found dead in their house in the Gandhi Bazar area.— UNI

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