SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Stone laid for rail coach factory
Lalganj (Rae Bareli), February 13
It was a Lalu show in Sonia land. While UPA president Sonia Gandhi spoke of “Bharat Nirmaan”, it was left to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to ask the cheering crowd to change the ruling government in the state during the Assembly election if they wanted more development and jobs for their area. Rahul Gandhi, MP, talks to his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the foundation stone-laying function of a rail coach factory in the Lalganj area of Rae Bareli on Tuesday.
Rahul Gandhi, MP, talks to his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the foundation stone-laying function of a rail coach factory in the Lalganj area of Rae Bareli on Tuesday. — PTI photo

Shivani murder case: SC rejects Sharma’s plea
New Delhi, February 13
The plea of former Haryana IG (Prison) R.K. Sharma, the primary accused in journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case, for access to police diary statements of her husband was today rejected by the Supreme Court due to lack of substance.

Nithari case: Bones are of 4 women, 15 kids
New Delhi, February 13
The forensic examination of bones found near the home of Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the two accused in the Nithari serial killings, has revealed that the skeletal remains were those of four women, four male children and 11 female children.

 

EARLIER STORIES





An activist from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) holds a bow, an arrow and a heart during a silent protest in Mumbai on Tuesday.
An activist from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) holds a bow, an arrow and a heart during a silent protest in Mumbai on Tuesday. With Valentine's Day falling on February 14, PETA activists are spreading the message that humans are not the only animals capable of love — animals are also in need of love. — AFP

Kazakhistan denies temple demolition
New Delhi, February 13
Kazakhistan today denied reports in a section of the Indian press, which said several temples had been demolished in that country.

Mulayam’s assets: SC reserves ruling
New Delhi, February 13
The judgement on a Congressman’s plea for a CBI probe into the assets of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and members of his family was today reserved by the Supreme Court even as lawyers fielded by the Samajwadi Party leader made a strong plea for the rejection of the petition.

Revised Street Vendors Act in offing
New Delhi, February 13
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation will shortly come out with a revised Street Vendors Act to enable middle-class and slum vendors to have low-cost and affordable housing facilities.

Streamline operations against Naxals, says Centre
New Delhi, February 13
The Centre today asked Naxal-hit states to further streamline inter-state joint operations, pinpoint intelligence collection and share fine-tuned action plans wherever necessary to check the problem.

Navy to have eyes in the sky
Mumbai, February 13
The Navy’s metamorphosis as a network-centric force will see the induction of eyes in the sky or aircraft fitted with early warning systems directly linked to its warships and submarines via satellite.

Rising prices give Cong blues
Chidambaram, Pawar under fire
New Delhi, February 13
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar are under increasing attack from their own colleagues in the UPA for their failure to control rising prices of essential commodities.

BJP stir against price rise from March 23
New Delhi, February 13
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to launch a nationwide campaign from March 23 to expose “the wrong policies adopted by the Congress-led government at the Centre which resulted in price spiral, inflation, bad internal security, besides appeasement of the minorities” before the people.

Sugarcane Deal
Maharashtra CM’s sons under SC eye
New Delhi, February 13
Two sons of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today came in under scrutiny of the Supreme Court for the state government awarding a sugarcane crushing contract to their company at a much lower price than quoted by a rival firm whose bid was rejected.

Vasundhara meets PM
New Delhi, February 13
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje today met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought to redress the problem of inadequate coal for power projects in the state.

Rain mars PM’s election rallies
Dehra Dun, February 13
Torrential rain today made heavy weather of the poll campaign in Uttarakhand as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's rallies were cancelled at the 11th hour and senior BJP leader L. K. Advani's election programme put on hold.

Tribal child ties nuptial knot with pet dog
Kendrapada (Orissa), February 13
It was a real marriage between a 14-month-old child and a dog to ward off an “evil spirit and save the boy from possible attack from a tiger.”

Power shortage in Maharashtra
Mumbai, February 13
Acknowledging that the state was facing a severe power shortage of 5700 MW during peak hours, the Maharashtra Cabinet, fearing that the situation could worsen in the coming summer, has decided to purchase power from other states even at higher prices.

Transfer Sabharwal murder case to non-BJP state: Cong 
Ujjain, February 13
All cases related to college professor H.S. Sabharwal’s murder should be transferred to a non-BJP ruled state to prevent any adverse impact on the prosecution of the accused, Madhya Pradesh Leader of Opposition Jamuna Devi said in a court here today.

SC seeks details of prisoners awaiting trial for years
New Delhi, February 13
After providing solace to two undertrial prisoners, who languished in jails of Assam and Uttar Pradesh for decades without ever been sent for the trial, the Supreme Court today directed all High Courts in the country to submit up-to-date report on prisoners whose cases were never heard by courts.

Lalu’s in-laws caught travelling without tickets
Patna, February 13
The in-laws of Lalu Prasad Yadav perhaps never thought in their wildest dreams that travelling without tickets will prove to be so costly for them. After all, their son-in-law is the Railway Minister.

50 jail inmates take exam on Gandhi’s life
Thane, February 13
Fifty inmates of the Thane Central Jail today appeared for an examination held to test their knowledge of the life of Mahatma Gandhi.

Lalu promises more surprises
Rae Bareli, February 13
Flush with all-round praise for the turnaround, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav said today he had more surprises in the rail Budget.

Hand over land to Lata Mangeshkar: HC
Mumbai, February 13
The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra Government to hand over 2,000 sq metres of land at Kolhapur, vested with the state under the Urban Land Ceiling Act, to singer Lata Mangeshkar.

CAT claws into UPSC dreams in Bihar
Patna, February 13
“What do you want to do when you grow up?” A standard question to children has drawn a variety of answers - ranging from naughty to bizarre - from generations down the time but not so in Bihar where this standard question has always drawn a couple of standard replies.

HC dismisses plea against Karunanidhi
Chennai, February 13
Putting an end to the controversy over the battle between the legislature and the judiciary following a clarification by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and his senior colleague Arcot N. Veeraswamy, the Madras High Court today dismissed a quo warranto petition against them.

Sena, CPM threaten to spoil V-Day
Jaipur, February 13
Organisations affiliated to the Shiv Sena and the CPM today warned against celebrating Valentine's Day tomorrow and said they would "blacken the faces" of those making public displays of affection.

Nash to deliver lecture today
New Delhi, February 13
Mathematician and Nobel laureate John Forbes Nash Jr will deliver a lecture on ‘Global games and globalisation’ here tomorrow.

Priya Disa’s father commits suicide
Mumbai, February 13
Upcoming actress and model Priya Disa's father Julio Wilson Disa committed suicide by jumping from the terrace of a building in Andheri, north-west Mumbai, yesterday.

2nd phase of Manipur poll today
Imphal, February 13
The second phase of Assembly elections in Manipur for the 29 constituencies in the Imphal east, west and Bishenpur districts will begin tomorrow. Six women candidates of the total 155 contestants are in the fray in the second phase.

2 kidnapped school kids murdered
New Delhi, February 13
Two students of a reputed school here were murdered after being kidnapped for ransom by a four-member gang, raising fresh questions over children’s safety in the national Capital after the Nithari killings nearby.

EC to file FIR against news channel
New Delhi, Feb 13
The Election Commission today decided to file an FIR against news channel, NDTV, for allegedly violating the electoral law by telecasting outcome projections on elections in Punjab when the poll process was in progress.

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Stone laid for rail coach factory
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lalganj (Rae Bareli), February 13
It was a Lalu show in Sonia land. While UPA president Sonia Gandhi spoke of “Bharat Nirmaan”, it was left to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav to ask the cheering crowd to change the ruling government in the state during the Assembly election if they wanted more development and jobs for their area.

The occasion was foundation laying ceremony of the third Rail Coach Factory in the country by Ms Gandhi in the Lalganj area of her constituency.

Set up at the cost of Rs 1685.29 cr, the new unit is being built over 476 hectares of land and is expected to be commissioned in around four years. It will produce 1,400 coaches annually.

Addressing a public rally, Ms Gandhi restricted herself to praising the Railway Minister for being a “man true to his word” who “even Harvard graduates were learning from”.

She also told the crowd that the Indian Railways under him had turned a new leaf and the state had benefitted the most from his largess.

She elucidated various central laws like the NREGP, Rajiv Gandhi Rural Electrification Scheme, Right to Information that would collectively help in “Bharat Nirman”.

However, Mr Yadav was in a belligerent mood. He lashed out at the state government for refusing land to hold today’s meeting. “Some people do not fail to do politics over such issues. We should be on guard against them,” he pointed out, adding that he had instructed his officials to hold the function at the railway station if the government created problems.

The foundation for the first factory was laid by Jawaharlal Nehru at Chennai, the second by Rajiv Gandhi at Kapurthala and the third by Sonia Gandhi at Rae Bareli, he recounted.

He also announced the replacement of obsolete railway tracks in the region, renovation of nearby the Raghuraj Singh railway station and restoration of an express train between Unchhar and New Delhi to be christened Padmawati Express within two days.

He said the widening of the railway network would help a large number of people dependent on agriculture, once the dedicated freight corridor becomes operational.

Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi stressed on the need for change in the mindset.

He said the factory would create 1,000 direct jobs and at least 10,000 indirect jobs through various ancillary units.

The new coach factory will consist of a workshop spread over 138 hectares and include a colony spread over 339 hectares.

The coach manufacturing plant will be designed and equipped with technology to manufacture lightweight stainless steel coaches with superior carrying capacity; speed potential enhanced safety features and improved comfort level.

Later, Ms Gandhi inaugurated another branch of the National Institute of Fashion Design (NIFD) at the ITI campus in Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi laid the foundation of the Footwear Design and Development Center at Fursatganj.

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Shivani murder case: SC rejects Sharma’s plea
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 13
The plea of former Haryana IG (Prison) R.K. Sharma, the primary accused in journalist Shivani Bhatnagar murder case, for access to police diary statements of her husband was today rejected by the Supreme Court due to lack of substance.

Rejecting the plea, a Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta set aside the Delhi High Court order, directing the prosecution to provide police diary statements of Shivani’s husband Rakesh Bhatnagar to him.

The High Court had upheld the trial court direction, accepting the plea of Sharma that he was entitled to Bhatnagar’s statements as recorded by the police in its case diary during the investigation.

The police had challenged the High Court order in the apex court on the ground that those statements were only recorded in several phases of investigation process and could not be given to the accused as the case diary was an internal document of probe agency.

It had further stated that the statement of Rakesh Bhatnagar, recorded by the police under Section 161 of the CrPC after completing his examination, had already been made available to the accused.

Accepting the stand taken by the police, the court allowed its appeal against the High Court order and rejected the plea of Sharma.

The prosecution had projected that the attempt of Sharma to seek Bhatnagar’s statements was only a delaying tactic.

But Sharma’s counsel had claimed that the statements were crucial for his client to prepare his defence in the case. The trial court had completed cross-examination of all 203 witnesses in the case but 40 of them, had turned hostile.

Investigating Officer Sukhwinder Singh had during the cross-examination told the trial judge that the police had not relied upon the statements of Bhatnagar recorded by him during several sittings of his detailed examination, as it was only a part of carrying forward the investigation and not a final statement of a witness.

In the face of it, the apex court had questioned the stand of Sharma’s counsel to get those statements that the prosecution was not even relying upon.

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Nithari case: Bones are of 4 women, 15 kids

New Delhi, February 13
The forensic examination of bones found near the home of Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the two accused in the Nithari serial killings, has revealed that the skeletal remains were those of four women, four male children and 11 female children.

Sources in the CBI’s Special Crime team said the polygraph or lie detector test of Maya, a domestic help who earlier worked for Pandher, was “inconclusive” and that she would have to undergo the test again.

Forensic examination of skeletal remains, including 16 complete and three incomplete skulls, suggested that four of them were of adult females, an equal number of male children and the remaining were of girl children.

Apart from determining that four skeletal remains were of adult females, the approximate age of the other dead could not be ascertained.

The skeletal remains have been shifted to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) at Hyderabad for DNA profiling.

The lie detector test of Maya, who allegedly lured children who were killed by Surendra Koli, the servant of Pandher, was declared “inconclusive”.

She will undergo the polygraph test again along with Koli and Pandher. — PTI

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Kazakhstan denies temple demolition
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
Kazakhistan today denied reports in a section of the Indian press, which said several temples had been demolished in that country.

“There is no Hindu temple in Kazakhistan that was demolished. The whole dispute over a land issue has purely economic nature and not religious, as Iskcon tries to portray it ... The judicial authorities concerned have dealt with the issue and after due legal process it has reached its logical conclusion”. Kazakhistan Ambassador to India Kairat E. Umarov said.

The Ambassador said individuals had been issued 29 notices during the past three years. They had forged documents to show their ownership of the land and had vested economic interest. The Kazakh Government had set up an inter-agency commission to look into the matter, which concluded that there was no temple in Kazakhistan that was demolished. 

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Mulayam’s assets: SC reserves ruling
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 13
The judgement on a Congressman’s plea for a CBI probe into the assets of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and members of his family was today reserved by the Supreme Court even as lawyers fielded by the Samajwadi Party leader made a strong plea for the rejection of the petition.

After a marathon hearing on the public interest litigation filed by Congress activist Vishwanath Chaturvedi in 2005, a Bench of Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan and Mr Justice Altamas Kabir reserved the judgement, which would also take into account the reports of the Income Tax Department filed in the sealed cover.

While Mr Yadav’s counsel Harish Salve and Ashok Desai said there was no substance in the petition, which they termed as politically motivated, Mr Chaturvedi’s counsel K.T.S. Tulsi said the CBI could at least be directed to register a preliminary inquiry, as was the normal procedure with the agency to initiate the investigation in such cases, and if a prima facie case was made out, then only an FIR could be registered.

Mr Tulsi also questioned the stand taken by Mr Yadav’s lawyers on the authenticity of certain revenue documents placed on record by Mr Chaturvedi, asking whether they did not believe in the documents of various authorities of the state government.

On the other hand, Mr Salve and Mr Desai said if the court started taking cognisance of such politically motivated litigation, there would be no end to it as then any leader would rush to court to settle political scores.

They also cited the apex court ruling dismissing a PIL against Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, filed by his political rivals, in the fodder scam and assets cases, whereby it was laid down that litigation in such cases was foreign.

The court had last year directed the Income Tax Department to submit tax assessments of Mr Yadav, his MP son Akhilesh, daughter-in-law Dimpal and other son Prateek.

Mr Chaturvedi had given details of various movable and immovable properties allegedly acquired by the Chief Minister in his own name and names of the three members of his family over the past two decades.

Mr Chaturvedi’s counsel put the worth of these properties at over Rs 100 crore, alleging that when Mr Yadav became the Chief Minister for the first time in 1989, his total assets, including land in his village Safai, were not worth more than Rs 1.3 crore.

Mr Yadav’s counsel contested the allegation, saying from the records, it was clear that whatever assets Mr Yadav had were not acquired during the period when he was the Chief Minister thrice, but had been acquired when he was out of office, and therefore, no case of corruption could be made against him.

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Revised Street Vendors Act in offing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation will shortly come out with a revised Street Vendors Act to enable middle-class and slum vendors to have low-cost and affordable housing facilities.

The Act is under the consideration of the government and a decision to this effect will be announced soon, Minister of State (independent charge) for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Selja said here today.

Inaugurating the ASSOCHAM-organised international conclave on 60 Indian cities, the minister announced that the revised Act would help the government to come out with its new Urban Housing and Habitat Policy 2007, in which sufficient fiscal incentives with low-cost interest rate for real estate developers would be included so that housing facilities were provided to slum vendors, economically weaker sections and the LIG segment at affordable prices. She said the new Act would define the role of the government as a facilitator, enabler and catalyst.

“The government is also working on an interest subsidy scheme in housing for EWS/LIG categories, which are presently not able to access housing credit form the formal sector at existing interest rates,” said the minister.

She further stated that there would be a shortage of 24.71 million housing in urban areas in the country, with nearly 99 per cent in the EWS/LIG segment, which was a major challenge, which had to be taken up on a priority basis.

“Though the government will be able to provide assistance for constructing nearly two million houses under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission during the mission period, social housing is the responsibility of the society as a whole”, the minister said.

The minister also said the EWS, urban poor and informal sector were the backbone of society and provided services to make quality of life in cities better.

Ministry of Urban Development Secretary M. Ramachandran said ASSOCHAM should encourage member firms to partner cities to provide high-quality urban infrastructure services across sectors such as water supply, urban transportation and solid waste management.

He urged the private sector to have a fresh look at the infrastructure sector, including the urban sector, and partner investment plans more aggressively.

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Streamline operations against Naxals, says Centre
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
The Centre today asked Naxal-hit states to further streamline inter-state joint operations, pinpoint intelligence collection and share fine-tuned action plans wherever necessary to check the problem.

At the 15th meeting of the Task Force on Naxalism, chaired by the Additional Secretary (Anti-Naxal Cell) of Union Home Ministry, the Centre also asked the states to fill vacancies in police departments in Naxal-infested areas in a time-bound manner and ensure full utilisation of funds under the Police Modernisation Scheme.

Under the scheme, Rs 385 crores had been sanctioned for Naxal-affected states during this year. Another Rs 100 crores were being released for them.

Besides, the states were asked to lay special emphasis on investigation and prosecution of cases of Naxal leaders/cadres, etc.

Nodal officers of all Naxal-affected states participated in the meeting.

Trends of overall Naxal situation during 2006 were discussed with the officers.

Naxal violence in all states, except in Chhattisgarh, was under control.

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Navy to have eyes in the sky
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 13
The Navy’s metamorphosis as a network-centric force will see the induction of eyes in the sky or aircraft fitted with early warning systems directly linked to its warships and submarines via satellite.

According to sources here, the Navy may purchase up to six systems to add to its fleet of three Israel-made Phalcon equipment, which are to delivered later this year.

At the recent Aero India air show in Bangalore, major aircraft manufacturers like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Embraer and Northrop Grumman have unveiled a wide range of aircraft for the consideration of the Navy’s top brass.

While Boeing is offering its P8I based on the Boeing-737 platform, Lockheed Martin is offering its P3C Orion aircraft.

Embraer has pitched its ERJ 145 AEW&C plane and against Northrop is offering the Hawkeye 2000 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin’s Orion aircraft is currently in use by the Pakistani navy.

All manufacturers have offered to modify their aircraft to accommodate radars and surveillance equipment being manufactured by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The Navy employs Russia-made Ka-31 Helix-B helicopters and Ilyushin aircraft for surveillance purposes.

All manufacturers have pitched their state-of-the-art systems, that are still in the development stage.

Boeing and Northrop have offered aircraft which are currently under development for the US navy.

Some of these companies have offered to transfer technology to an Indian partner should they bag the order.

The equipment decided upon by the defence establishment will be integrated with the Military Satellite Reconnaissance System, to be launched in the next couple of months.

A key feature of this satellite will be high-quality resolution of less than one metre, which will make it a very effective eye in the sky.

The satellite launch is part of dedicated networks for the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force.

These networks will enable linking up of command headquarters to field units.

Naval installations, including warships deep into international waters, will be networked as well.

The defence satellite is part of a project to turn the services into network-centric forces.

For instance, warships of the Navy will have high-speed data networks connected to a secure server built on a 10G backbone.

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Rising prices give Cong blues
Chidambaram, Pawar under fire
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar are under increasing attack from their own colleagues in the UPA for their failure to control rising prices of essential commodities.

Worried that the current inflationary trend has been compromising their party’s ‘aam aadmi’ plank, Congress members are agitated that the ministers are not taking effective measures to deal with this problem.

The UPA is upset with Mr Chidambaram for justifying the high inflation rate and with Mr Pawar for not taking timely measures in dealing with the shortage of wheat and pulses.

Several ministers are planning to raise this matter at the next Cabinet meeting to convey their concern on what they consider to be the government’s biggest failure.

Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who belongs to the Rashtriya Janata Dal, today went public with his concern.

Talking to reporters, he did not mince words when he admitted that measures to control rising prices of essential commodities had failed to yield desired results.

Describing this as the one minus point of the UPA government, he also questioned the Centre’s decision to import wheat as it had failed to bring down prices.

He admitted that he had drawn the attention of his colleagues to this burning issue at the last Cabinet meeting.

The Finance Minister had attributed the high inflation rate to the rising growth rate while Prime Minister Manmohan Singh listened in silence.

The Congress was equally nervous as it believed that it would pay a heavy electoral price for its inability to curb the current inflationary trend.

“The Finance Minister keeps talking of the 8 per cent growth rate but the growth rate is no going to fetch us votes”, remarked a senior Congress leader, stating that as long as prices of items like wheat, pulses and edible oils did not come down, the government would end up meeting the same fate as the NDA.

They also maintained that even where the government had acted, these measures were ineffective.

The Centre had empowered state governments to crack down on hoarders and black marketeers, but the move failed to show results as only a few states took action under the new rules.

The Forward Trading Bill, meant to regulate the commodities market, had yet to be passed by the Parliament.

The issue of price rise had been a cause of concern for the Congress for over an year.

Besides making periodic references to this matter, party president Sonia Gandhi had convened a meeting of the Congress Working Committee and a Chief Ministers conclave to draw attention to the gravity of the situation, but to little avail.

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BJP stir against price rise from March 23
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is going to launch a nationwide campaign from March 23 to expose “the wrong policies adopted by the Congress-led government at the Centre which resulted in price spiral, inflation, bad internal security, besides appeasement of the minorities” before the people.

Flagging off the party vehicles at the party headquarters to carry out the campaign against the price situation in the national capital, BJP president Rajnath Singh urged the UPA government to bring back the prices of essential commodities used by ‘aam aadmi’ (common man) to the levels when they had taken over from the NDA.

Mr Singh, urging the government to come out with a White Paper on the price rise and inflation, said the BJP would hold public rallies and dharnas all over the country in April if the government failed to check the prices.

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Sugarcane Deal
Maharashtra CM’s sons under SC eye
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 13
Two sons of Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh today came in under scrutiny of the Supreme Court for the state government awarding a sugarcane crushing contract to their company at a much lower price than quoted by a rival firm whose bid was rejected.

Though the Bombay High Court had given a ruling in favour Indo Distillation Company, promoted by Deshmukh’s sons Amit and Dhiraj, the state government, fearing an adverse order from the apex court, gave an undertaking to it that the contract would be cancelled.

Solicitor-General G E Vahanvati, appearing for the Maharashtra Government in an appeal filed by Shiv Tulja Sugacr Ltd, whose higher bid was rejected, told a Bench of Mr Tarun Chatterjee and Mr Justice R V Raveendran that the state government had now decided to call for fresh tenders.

Consequently, Vahanvati furnished the undertaking stating that the August 8, 2006 decision to award the contract to Indo Disttilation “is hereby withdrawn and the tender will be issued afresh”.

While Deshmukhs’ company had quoted the crushing price at Rs 44 per ton and it was raised to Rs 45 by the government while approving their tender, the rival company Shiv Tulja had offered the price of Rs 65 per ton. Besides, four other factories had participated in the bid, the court was informed.

The allegations against the CM’s sons were that they had not even fulfilled the conditions of tenders and their company’s worth was not found to be within the laid-down parameters as they had only shown themselves as promoters of Indo Distillation company, which got the contract.

Since it was a technical bid, no such variation in the price could be allowed, Shiv Tulja’s counsel Uday Dubey argued.

Sensing that the court might pass certain strictures against the government or even the CM, the Maharashtra Government preferred to cancel the deal.

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Vasundhara meets PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 13
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje today met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought to redress the problem of inadequate coal for power projects in the state.

Stressing for revision of norms for providing relief assistance, Ms Raje also urged the Prime Minister to get the special Rs 3284-crore package released from the National Contingency Calamity Fund (NCCF).

The Chief Minister also sought the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in all districts of the state and demanded special incentives for those states whose performance in the field of economic reforms had been outstanding and those that had implemented the Rajeev Gandhi Vidyutikaran Yojna successfully.

She apprised the Prime Minister of rapid development of power generation projects in the state and undertaking of a large number of gas, lignite and coal-based projects.

However, she rued that the Centre had approved only two out of 13 projects that the state had been seeking for the past two decades, a state government press note said.

In order to augment power projects in the state, adequate coal supply was essential, Mr Raje told Mr Singh adding that in spite of the state government’s numerous requests for the allocation of coal blocks, the state was yet to get a single coal block of superior quality.

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Rain mars PM’s election rallies

Dehra Dun, February 13
Torrential rain today made heavy weather of the poll campaign in Uttarakhand as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's rallies were cancelled at the 11th hour and senior BJP leader L. K. Advani's election programme put on hold.

The Prime Minister was scheduled to address a Congress rally at 11 am in Rudrapur in Uddham Singh Nagar district, another in Pithoragarh at 1 pm and the third in Hardwar at 3 pm. All three rallies were called off at the last minute due to the inclement weather conditions, party sources said.

The rain also affected the tour of Advani at Chakrata, Sahaspur and Vikasnagar in Dehradun district and BJP leaders said his programme was "uncertain". The late winter rain has affected the campaigning for the February 21 assembly elections for the third time in a week. — PTI 

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Tribal child ties nuptial knot with pet dog

Kendrapada (Orissa), February 13
It was a real marriage between a 14-month-old child and a dog to ward off an “evil spirit and save the boy from possible attack from a tiger.”

The child tied the knot with a female dog at a ceremony held at Patapur village on Sunday in the presence of hundreds of invitees.

The marriage was solemnised under a neem tree.

The child, Ashirbad Gagarai, son of Sunaram Gagarai and Suryasikha, tied the knot with “Samina”, the pet dog of Siddhi Tau and Saraswati Tau of the village, dominated by the Santhal tribe.

The family members of Ashirbad promised to take care of the bride. The child had to be married to the dog as he had a tooth on his upper gum which, according to the Santhals, is considered a bad omen.

And as per the Santhal custom to ward off the bad omen and save the child’s life from the tiger’s attack, the boy must marry a dog.

The villagers said Ashirbad’s parents were more concerned when they noticed a tooth in the upper gum and decided to go for a quick marriage with the dog.

The tribals in the village maintained that the marriage would not hamper the child’s future as he could marry again in the later part of his life.

All the rituals and rites were performed like a real marriage and the owners of the dog provided two old bags, five broken earthen pots and some earthen stones as dowry.

A community feast was also arranged on the occasion attended by the neighbours and close relatives of both the bridegroom and the owners of the dog. — UNI

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Power shortage in Maharashtra
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 13
Acknowledging that the state was facing a severe power shortage of 5700 MW during peak hours, the Maharashtra Cabinet, fearing that the situation could worsen in the coming summer, has decided to purchase power from other states even at higher prices.

As an emergency measure, the state electricity department has asked industrial units across the state to remain shut for two days a week to save power. Currently, all industrial units in the state have to shut for one day a week on a rotational basis.

The Vilasrao Deshmukh government order has not gone down well with associations of industrial units.

The Indian Merchants’ Chamber pointed out that big companies with captive power plants are likely to be affected since ancillary units, which supply material to them, will have to shut twice weekly.

The IMC has called a meeting of representatives from the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Authority and MahaVitaran, the power generation company spun off from the Maharashtra State Electricity Board.

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Transfer Sabharwal murder case to non-BJP state: Cong 

Ujjain, February 13
All cases related to college professor H.S. Sabharwal’s murder should be transferred to a non-BJP ruled state to prevent any adverse impact on the prosecution of the accused, Madhya Pradesh Leader of Opposition Jamuna Devi said in a court here today.

Appearing as a witness during the hearing of a petition by Sabharwal’s son Himanshu seeking legal action against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan for allegedly sheltering the accused in the case, Ms Jamuna Devi claimed the probe into the teacher’s death and the prosecution of the accused “was being influenced by the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh”.

Those accused of killing the professor during student union poll at Madhav College here on August 26 last year were workers of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyathri Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the BJP, and all cases related to the murder should be transferred to a state where the party was not in power, she said.

Himanshu had moved the court to demand the registration of a case against Mr Chouhan for hiding evidence and sheltering the accused. — PTI

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SC seeks details of prisoners awaiting trial for years
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 13
After providing solace to two undertrial prisoners, who languished in jails of Assam and Uttar Pradesh for decades without ever been sent for the trial, the Supreme Court today directed all High Courts in the country to submit up-to-date report on prisoners whose cases were never heard by courts.

High Court Registrar Generals have been given six-week time by a Bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, to submit their reports to ensure that no undertrial prisoner continued to remain in jail without being put to trial.

The cases of Machal Lalung from Assam and Ram Jeevan Yadav from Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh had hit the headlines last year when it was found that the police had forgotten them to put to trial once they were remanded in judicial custody.

While Lalung was arrested in a murder case in 1951, Yadav stayed in a mental asylum for over 30 years, after being sent there by jail authorities.

Though they were released on apex court’s direction earlier, it took strong exception to such lapses on the part of state authorities, observing that it reflected very poorly on the country’s prosecution system.The court had ordered Rs 3 lakh compensation to Lalung and his family, while the compensation amount to Yadav was yet to be settled though he had been provided free medical treatment after the case came to light.

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Lalu’s in-laws caught travelling without tickets
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 13
The in-laws of Lalu Prasad Yadav perhaps never thought in their wildest dreams that travelling without tickets will prove to be so costly for them. After all, their son-in-law is the Railway Minister.

In an incident that apparently embarrassed the Railway Minister, his in-laws were today caught red-handed while travelling without tickets in the first class AC coach of the Sampark Kranti Express.

Official sources in the East Central Railway (ECR) said Shiv Prasad Choudhary and his wife, who are in their late seventies, were travelling from Hajipur to Siwan when the Train Ticket Examiner caught them, during a ticket-checking drive launched by the ECR.

They were fined Rs 1,870, after which they were allowed to continue their journey. The train was going to New Delhi from Muzaffarpur.

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50 jail inmates take exam on Gandhi’s life

Thane, February 13
Fifty inmates of the Thane Central Jail today appeared for an examination held to test their knowledge of the life of Mahatma Gandhi.

Among the inmates who appeared for the examination were multi-crore fake stamp paper case kingpin Abdul Karim Telgi's aide Antim Totla, Shantanu Parab, a former hotel projects’ consultant booked for a cheque bounce case, and Ahmedabad-based entrepreneur Harshad Mehta arrested in connection with an offence registered by the EOW.

The jail superintendent S.N. Chavan informed that such programmes are held with a view to reform the inmates. Over 1,500 jail inmates across the state have so far taken the examination, he added.

Mr Chavan further said of the 2900 inmates in the Thane Central Jail, 30 per cent are educated. 10 per cent are graduates and almost one per cent are postgraduates. Shantanu Parab, incidentally, holds a Phd. — UNI

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Lalu promises more surprises

Rae Bareli, February 13
Flush with all-round praise for the turnaround, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav said today he had more surprises in the rail Budget.

“I will not tell you about it now, as I risk a breach of privilege,” he said after the foundation-laying ceremony for the country’s third rail coach factory here.

He said the government had many more schemes in store for the Railways to ensure its smooth functioning, “But I will not reveal them now as the rail Budget is scheduled to be presented on February 26”.

Earlier, Congress president Sonia Gandhi heaped praises on him and told the gathering the minister had introduced a “new style” to improve the functioning of the Railways.

“For this everybody is praising him,” she said.

Mr Yadav said two new corridors - Ludhiana-Howrah and Delhi-Mumbai-Chennai-Howrah - were being made to ease traffic congestion due to increase in the number of trains, he said.

On the Indian Railways turnaround, he said the network “was incurring losses when we assumed power but now it has been turned into a profit-generating enterprise” and earned a profit of Rs 13,500 crore. — PTI

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Hand over land to Lata Mangeshkar: HC

Mumbai, February 13
The Bombay High Court today directed the Maharashtra Government to hand over 2,000 sq metres of land at Kolhapur, vested with the state under the Urban Land Ceiling Act, to singer Lata Mangeshkar.

Lata owned 38,623.20 sq metres of land at Kolhapur’s B Ward when the law was implemented in 1976. In line with the government policy, she made a declaration designating 6,771 sq metres as non-vacant land.

Of the remaining vacant land, the surplus was calculated under the Act to measure 23,889.17 sq metres. A division Bench of Justices F.I. Rebeillo and S.J. Vazifdar directed Kolhapur district’s Additional Collector to re-calculate the surplus land after deducting the 2,000 sq metres that could be retained by Lata.

Lata’s counsel Amit Borkar contended that under a 1991 Supreme Court judgement his client was eligible to retain 2,000 sq metres of the surplus vacant land but the same was not allotted to her.

State government pleader Molina Thakur said according to the apex court’s judgement the Union and state governments had issued circulars making the same applicable in prospective cases from the date of the order. Lata’s declaration had been filed much before that order and she was not eligible for the benefit, Thakur said.

However, the court held that the apex court’s judgement did not specify it should be implemented with prospective effect and Lata was thus entitled to the 2,000 sq metres of land. — PTI

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CAT claws into UPSC dreams in Bihar
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 13
“What do you want to do when you grow up?” A standard question to children has drawn a variety of answers - ranging from naughty to bizarre - from generations down the time but not so in Bihar where this standard question has always drawn a couple of standard replies. An IAS officer or a ‘sarkari babu’ (read government job) has been a dream job for almost all Bihari students since Independence. But as Bob Dylan sang… “For the times they are a-changing…” so the times are a-changing for Bihar’s Gen X. These jobs are no longer in demand for this generation.

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams have taken a back seat with the Common Admission Test (CAT) for an MBA catching the fancy of the students of the state.

For graduate Aditya Prasad it is the CAT exams, which are a priority now, and not the UPSC.

He is among the fast-growing breed of youngsters from Bihar seeking a non-government job in private sector. Aditya said, “The drawback of a government job is that to climb up the ladder you need to have a godfather or you need to keep your boss happy.”

Another student of Patna Women’s college, Nandidi remarked, “Students now have woken up to more than just the UPSC and the BPSC exams. That is not the trend anymore.”

Manager of a local tutorial institute Shailendra Kumar pointed out that now a days almost 20 to 25 per cent of students in the IITs are from Bihar. “If you add those getting into the IIMs, I think the number will be substantially much higher. Out of 1,300 seats, a conservative guess would be almost 120 to 130 Bihar students,” he added. The winds of change are blowing with a large number of students of the state eager to join the race for corporate world.

Santosh Kumar, an economics graduate from Patna University, was quite forthright in admitting that it was the fat salary packages and better job openings that had made CAT one of the major priorities of Bihari students now as compared to the UPSC.

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HC dismisses plea against Karunanidhi
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 13
Putting an end to the controversy over the battle between the legislature and the judiciary following a clarification by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and his senior colleague Arcot N. Veeraswamy, the Madras High Court today dismissed a quo warranto petition against them.

Mr Veeraswamy said he never intended to denigrate the court by his remarks, made in the presence of Mr Karunanidhi, questioning the powers of the court, and the court accepted their arguments.

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Sena, CPM threaten to spoil V-Day

Jaipur, February 13
Organisations affiliated to the Shiv Sena and the CPM today warned against celebrating Valentine's Day tomorrow and said they would "blacken the faces" of those making public displays of affection.

The Bharatiya Kamgar (Shiv Sena), the Students' Federation of India (CPM) and the Sanskriti Bachao Samiti said they would not allow couples to romance in public. — UNI

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Nash to deliver lecture today

New Delhi, February 13
Mathematician and Nobel laureate John Forbes Nash Jr will deliver a lecture on ‘Global games and globalisation’ here tomorrow.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee will share the stage with him.

Economists and scientists are emphatic about the message of Professor Nash that children need to be exposed to masters in mathematics and science to begin dreaming early on about becoming great. — TNS

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Priya Disa’s father commits suicide

Mumbai, February 13
Upcoming actress and model Priya Disa's father Julio Wilson Disa committed suicide by jumping from the terrace of a building in Andheri, north-west Mumbai, yesterday.

58-year-old Disa jumped from the terrace of the Trishul building at 10.30 am and died instantly. The victim was staying on the seventh floor of the building, police sources said. The police has registered a case of suicide.

Priya had featured in the film 'Golmaal' recently and is currently acting in television serials. — UNI

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2nd phase of Manipur poll today

Imphal, February 13
The second phase of Assembly elections in Manipur for the 29 constituencies in the Imphal east, west and Bishenpur districts will begin tomorrow. Six women candidates of the total 155 contestants are in the fray in the second phase.

Around 7,38,679 persons are eligible to exercise their franchise in 827 polling stations. A total of 181 polling stations have been declared as hyper-sensitive and 646 as sensitive, officials said.

Massive security arrangements have been made for the elections. — UNI

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2 kidnapped school kids murdered

New Delhi, February 13
Two students of a reputed school here were murdered after being kidnapped for ransom by a four-member gang, raising fresh questions over children’s safety in the national Capital after the Nithari killings nearby.

The bodies of Sarvodaya Senior Secondary Model School students Chetan Swaroop (14) and Sahil Goyal (13), who were abducted yesterday, were found with their throats slit last night in a wooded area in North-East Delhi, the police said today.

The bodies were found after the police arrested the kidnappers, one of them known to the children, by tracking a telephone call made by them to the families demanding Rs 4 lakh as ransom for their safe release. — PTI

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EC to file FIR against news channel

New Delhi, Feb 13
The Election Commission today decided to file an FIR against news channel, NDTV, for allegedly violating the electoral law by telecasting outcome projections on elections in Punjab when the poll process was in progress.

The FIR will be filed against the channel for violation of the Section 126 of the Representation of People Act (RPA) which says no person shall display to the public any election manner by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus. — PTI

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