SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

USA willing to consider cut on farm subsidy
Asks India to help resume Doha Round
New Delhi, February 14
The USA today virtually put the onus on India for the resumption and success of the suspended WTO Doha Round, even as it maintained that it was ready to take hard decisions on cutting subsidies.

Amartya, Yunus against forcible land acquisition
Kolkata, February 14
Nobel laureates Dr Amartya Sen and Prof Mohammed Yunus have disapproved of the forcible acquisition of land for industries, stressing that land owners be negotiated with and persuaded to surrender their land to the state for industrial development willingly.

HC quashes prohibitory orders in Singur
Kolkata, February 14
In a jolt for the West Bengal Government, the Calcutta High Court today quashed prohibitory orders imposed in Singur, which witnessed protests over the acquisition of land for a Tata Motors’ car plant, and observed that they amounted to abuse of power.


EARLIER STORIES


Women dry red chillies in Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon. — PTI
Women dry red chillies in Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon. — PTI

Railway modernisation plan ready: Minister
New Delhi, February 14
The Indian Railways has chalked out a massive modernisation scheme to be implemented during the 11th Five Year Plan, which will be carried out in partnership with the private sector, said Minister of State for Railways Naranbhai J. Rathwa.

Nash suggests new treaty for limiting atomic weapons
New Delhi, February 14
Nobel Laureate John Forbes Nash today suggested a non-discriminatory way of limiting and controlling the widespread use of atomic weapons and of the resources to make them quickly.

Valentine’s Day celebrated amid security
Girls busy in selecting flowers at a stall specially opened for Valentine's Day in Agartala on Wednesday. Mumbai, February 14
Security has been tightened at restaurants and greeting card shops across the city after some establishments were vandalised by groups of Shiv Sena activists protesting against the celebration of Valentine’s Day today.


Girls busy in selecting flowers at a stall specially opened for Valentine's Day in Agartala on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Rakhi gift to sweetheart, courtesy Sainiks
Varanasi, February 14
Sporadic incidents in form of protests by various saffron outfits were witnessed on Valentine’s Day in the city today, despite tight security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident.

Defiant Mulayam says he has majority
Lucknow, February 14
Despite the Supreme Court judgement disqualifying 13 breakaway BSP MLAs, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed that his government was safe and he could prove his majority if the Opposition so demanded.

Numbers game: Mulayam safe
New Delhi, February 14
The Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh appears to be safe despite the Supreme Court’s order on 13 breakaway BSP legislators today. Although the entire opposition, including the BSP, the BJP and the state unit of the Congress, publicly demanded the immediate dismissal of the state government, the move was primarily aimed at undermining the credibility of the Samajwadi Party dispensation rather than pulling it down.

Laxity won’t be tolerated, Antony warns Defence PSUs
New Delhi, February 14
The poor performance of some of the Defence public sector undertakings came in for criticism from Defence Minister A.K. Antony today. He expressed dissatisfaction over the PSUs performance and warned them that accountability and transparency would be enforced on them if they failed to deliver.

Curfew relaxed in Indore
Indore, February 14
The curfew, clamped in three police station areas of the city on Monday, was relaxed from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. today to enable people to purchase essential commodities. No untoward incident was reported during the curfew relaxation, Acting Collector Renu Pant said. Schools and colleges remained closed in the Pandrinath, Malharganj and Chhatripura police station areas. The grant of a further relaxation in the curfew would be considered later. — UNI

Parks out, movies in
Jaipur, February 14
With threats being issued by hardline groups against celebrating Valentine’s Day, couples in Rajasthan today made a beeline for multiplexes hoping to have some quiet and safe moments away from public gaze.

15 minutes ‘cool off’ for CBSE students
New Delhi, February 14 
As more than 12 lakh students prepare for their annual board examinations, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today announced a slew of measures, including 15-minute “cool off” time, to save pupils from suffering exam-related anxiety and stress.

PM calls on Kalam
New Delhi, February 14
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called on President A P J Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan to discuss the Budget Session of Parliament beginning on February 23.

Nav Ratna status for 2 top defence units soon
New Delhi, February 14
Two of the country’s top defence public sector undertakings - Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and radar giant Bharat Electronics (BEL) - will soon get the coveted Nav Ratna status.

Cong veteran S.C. Shukla passes away
Raipur, February 14
Congress veteran and former Chief Minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh Shyama Charan Shukla died here today following a prolonged illness. He was 82 and is survived by his wife, son and three daughters.

Police cracks murder case
Hyderabad, February 14
The police cracked a murder case while another woman torched herself in protest against her family’s opposition to her boyfriend on the Valentine’s Day today.

Aroma therapy, gift for dogs
Mumbai, February 14
If you thought mushy gifts, sweet nothings and exclusive bashes were meant only for you and your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, a pet saloon here has decided to challenge the concept by playing cupid to your pet.

Cauvery: Parties to meet on Feb 19
Chennai, February 14
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has convened an all-party meeting here on February 19 to discuss the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

Manipur poll: 85 pc brave rain to vote
New Delhi, February 14
More than 85 per cent voters in Manipur today exercised their franchise in the second phase of poll to the state Assembly, which were conducted peacefully, the Election Commission said here.

70 held fearing trouble
Bhopal, February 14
Seventy Valentine’s Day-related arrests were executed in different places of Madhya Pradesh where lovers expressed their affection mainly through exchange of roses.

Lovers jump before train
Sriganganagar, February 14
A youth and his girlfriend jumped before a running train in Hanumangarh district on Valentine’s Day today.



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USA willing to consider cut on farm subsidy
Asks India to help resume Doha Round
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
The USA today virtually put the onus on India for the resumption and success of the suspended WTO Doha Round, even as it maintained that it was ready to take hard decisions on cutting subsidies.

“India is perceived and followed as a leader by the developing nations. India can rally the group (of developing nations) by proposing specific action,” visiting US Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez told newspersons here.

“India is a leader in that group and whatever India does is significant for the success of the Doha rounds of trade negotiations,” Mr Gutierrez said responding to a question on what the USA thought about the success of the WTO Doha Round.

On the demand from the developing nations for a substantial cut in the subsidies by the USA, Mr Gutierrez said, “The US will be willing to take the lead on subsidy reduction and take the hard decision. However, we would like to see the counter proposal coming from other countries”.

Asked whether the USA was confident about the success of the Doha Round, the US Commerce Secretary said, “I remain hopeful because there is so much to be gained through the success (of Doha Round). The success of the Doha Round would mean 500 million people around the world could be lifted out of poverty”.

“We have that kind of opportunity and we remain optimistic,” he said.

The Doha Round of negotiations were suspended last year as there was a deadlock between the developed and the developing nations over reductions in import tariffs on farm goods.

The major agricultural exporters the USA, Australia and initially Brazil called for reductions in import tariffs on farm goods, saying that this would benefit the poor by reducing the price of food items and would expand markets for farmers everywhere.

However, the developing countries such as India, the Philippines and Indonesia, which have millions of poor farmers, countered that cheap imports would drive vulnerable farmers out of livelihood.

They also sought cuts on agricultural subsidies paid by the USA to its farmers, saying such subsidies distorted prices and undercut their domestic producers unfairly.

On the political controversy surrounding opening up of the retail sector in India, especially after the USA retail giant Walmart announcing its decision to enter the Indian retail market through an Indian partner, Mr Gutierrez said, “There is a very intense debate happening. India is a vibrant and energetic democracy. The debate is taking place like in our country”.

“What I understand is foreign investment in retails (in multi-products) will be allowed through partnerships. It can represent very efficient outlet for farm products and it could be a very big benefit for farmers and agriculture sector as they would have an efficient chain of outlets in which they can sell their products and would also mean efficient supply,” he added.

He also urged New Delhi to further liberalise its financial services and telecom sectors and called for greater market access for Indian companies in the USA and the American companies in India. USA willing to consider cut on farm subsidy

Asks India to help resume Doha Round.

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Amartya, Yunus against forcible land acquisition
Subhrangshu Gupta

Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 14
Nobel laureates Dr Amartya Sen and Prof Mohammed Yunus have disapproved of the forcible acquisition of land for industries, stressing that land owners be negotiated with and persuaded to surrender their land to the state for industrial development willingly.

Dr Sen and Prof Yunus, who were in the city on February 12, made these observations in connection with the forcible acquisition of farm land at Singur and Nandigram for Tata Motors and Indonesia’s Salim group of industries.

They applauded Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee for his sincere efforts to restore West Bengal’s lost glory in the industrial and cultural fields.

Mr Bhattacharjee, who had stopped land acquisition at Nandigram following the large-scale resistance from opposition parties and at the CPI(M) politburo’s insistence, still stuck to the decision of setting up the Tata Motors plant on the farm land at Singur.

The plant would be built at Singur against all resistance, he declared, but added that unwilling farmers would be pleased with the larger amount of compensation.

Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee today gave a call to all political parties, supporting farmers at Singur and elsewhere, for a bigger agitation against the eviction of farmers.

She said she would fight to the last and would go to Singur soon, if necessary, violating orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

She hoped that the government would not reimpose any order under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code at Singur after today’s judgement of the Calcutta High Court.

The high court today declared that by repeatedly imposing orders under Section 144 at Singur, the government had misused the power and ruled that orders under it were illegal and unjustified.

The judgement was made following a writ petition filed by the Singur Krishi Bachao Committee.

An agreement could be reached over the government’s new land use policy for industry till today.

A draft of the Bill, to be presented in the Assembly, could be not finalised. The budget session would start on March 8.

Former Chief Minister Jyoti Basu advised the Chief Minister and Left Front chairman Biman Bose to hold further talks with partners and resolve their differences.

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HC quashes prohibitory orders in Singur

Kolkata, February 14
In a jolt for the West Bengal Government, the Calcutta High Court today quashed prohibitory orders imposed in Singur, which witnessed protests over the acquisition of land for a Tata Motors’ car plant, and observed that they amounted to abuse of power.

Acting on a writ challenging the orders, Justice Dipankar Datta quashed the orders under Section 144 of the CrPC that were imposed in Singur on February 4 and set to expire tonight.

The court said the orders were predetermined and passed by abuse of power.

There was no ingredient for invoking Section 144 of the CrPC and the rights of the petitioners had been infringed on under Article 19 of the Constitution.

The petition was filed by Ganesh Chakraborty and others of the Singur unit of the Trinamool Congress-led Save Farmland Committee.

The prohibitory orders banned the holding of rallies and meetings in Singur, which has witnessed violent protests in recent weeks against the acquisition of land for the Tata Motors’ project.

An unfazed state government said it would seek legal opinion about the necessity of reimposing prohibitory orders in Singur in light of the court’s order.

Home Secretary P.R. Roy justified the orders and said there had been no abuse of power.

Pointing out that the government was yet to receive a copy of the court’s order, Roy said the court struck down the prohibitory orders because of a “technical fault”.

“We are verifying the fault,” he said.

The prohibitory orders were first clamped on Singur on November 30, the day when Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee was not allowed to go there to protest against the acquisition of land.

This subsequently led to the ransacking of the West Bengal Assembly.

The administration, fearing trouble in Singur, imposed the prohibitory orders.

The orders were withdrawn on January 28 and later reimposed on February 4. — PTI

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Railway modernisation plan ready: Minister
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
The Indian Railways has chalked out a massive modernisation scheme to be implemented during the 11th Five Year Plan, which will be carried out in partnership with the private sector, said Minister of State for Railways Naranbhai J. Rathwa.

“This will carry forward railways’ remarkable turnaround in the recent years. It is important that, at a time when the country’s economy is growing rapidly, the railways becomes the main source of transport for both goods and passengers,” the minister said, while speaking at the International Railway Conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here today.

He said effort was to keep the railways country’s main transporter by reducing the unit cost of transport.

Mr Rathwa said the conference was an opportunity for both private companies and the railways to work out new ways of collaborating.

The modernisation plan involves new technology for coaches, signalling, IT-related services, safety, computerisation, engines and tracks.

Compared to road transport, the railways costs four times less in terms of environmental impact, uses a third of space, and offers better mobility, said Vice-President and Global Head (Engineering), Bombardier Transportation, Rolf Hardi.

“It is estimated that the global cost of traffic congestion is over $500 b annually. The developing world bears a large percentage of this.”

However, hurdles remain to attract effective private sector participation in railways’ expansion plans. The procurement policy of the railways, while being transparent and tender-based, still favours public sector companies. The government should offer the private sector a level playing field, said President and Managing Director (India) of Bombardier Rajeev Jyoti.

The process of testing and approving a new product was extremely long. This made it extremely hard to introduce new technology quickly.

Mr Jyoti said this should be streamlined to enable the private sector bring in new products.

“It can sometimes take up to a year for a new product, or a new version of an existing one, to be approved for use by the railways.”

However, Mr Hardi said the railways should continue to maintain a multi-sourcing procurement policy and not depend on any single supplier.

“We expect significant contracts from the Indian Railways in the near future. We are planning new manufacturing initiatives in India in addition to its existing sites - a production facility in Vadodara and engineering service centre in Hyderabad.”

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Nash suggests new treaty for limiting atomic weapons
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
Nobel Laureate John Forbes Nash today suggested a non-discriminatory way of limiting and controlling the widespread use of atomic weapons and of the resources to make them quickly.

He advocated a new and re-negotiated treaty for control of dangerous nuclear proliferation. He also suggested that the mankind will presumably need to proliferate into "interstellar space" and then it could happen that a whole planet would get killed off in the wars but that mankind would continue to move onwards and outwards.

Professor Nash, while delivering the inaugural Nobel laureate lecture series of the Public Diplomacy Division of the Ministry of External Affairs, virtually justified the nuclear tests by India.

He said it was quite natural for "relatively larger states" without enough of convenient atomic power allies "to feel that they should not let themselves be bullied by the states already having recognised 'atomic power' status and to seek for themselves more advanced levels of nuclear technology and partially consequential to this also the recognisable capability of actually using (if only by testing them) some examples of atomic bombs themselves."

Professor Nash said the illustrations of the difficulties of achieving really effective international cooperation either to deal with global warming or nuclear weapons proliferation illustrated the sources of problems that could also arise when it it is desired to achieve "the theoretically possible economic benefits of global cooperation through international trade”.

Prof Nash's paper was liberally sprinkled with references to Indian achievers like Prof Abhinay Muthoo, A.K. Dixit and nobel laureate Amartya Sen.

Earlier in the day, Prof Nash met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and told him that he looked forward to exploring the “new, emerging India” for himself. The meeting lasted 30 minutes.

He had met with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam yesterday.

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Valentine’s Day celebrated amid security
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 14
Security has been tightened at restaurants and greeting card shops across the city after some establishments were vandalised by groups of Shiv Sena activists protesting against the celebration of Valentine’s Day today.

Though the Shiv Sena officially said it would not obstruct people from celebrating the event, it has allowed its ward-level leaders to decide on the 'levels of obscenity to be permitted in areas under their jurisdiction'.

So while restaurants and shops run by activists of the party continue to make hay from the Valentine's Day hype, competitors are expected to be at the receiving end of the activists' wrath.

At the Gopaldas Advani Law College, Khar, the police were called in after some anonymous caller threatened to disrupt the celebrations.

Following the incident, the police decided to provide security to most colleges in the city.

Later in the day, Shiv Sena activists claimed that they attacked a Valentine's Day card outlet outside Hinduja College in downtown Mumbai. More than 15 activists were detained and later let off.

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Rakhi gift to sweetheart, courtesy Sainiks

Varanasi, February 14
Sporadic incidents in form of protests by various saffron outfits were witnessed on Valentine’s Day in the city today, despite tight security arrangements to prevent any untoward incident.

While the Shiv Sena activists carried out anti-V’Day procession in the city, its breakaway faction Kranti Shiv Sena took out a mock funeral procession on Valentine’s Day.

The Shiv Sena activists in their bid to check Valentine’s Day celebration were seen loitering around cinema halls, restaurants, gift and flower shops, besides parks and shopping malls.

They also trouped down to the Ganga ghat -- one of the favourite haunts of the love doves -- and forced a young girl to tie ‘rakhi’ on the forearm of her boyfriend, besides compelling another duo to undergo mock marriage at the Ahilyabai Ghat. Responding to the anti-V’day brigade, activists of the Samajwadi Chattra Sabha (SCS) -- student wing of ruling Samajwadi Party -- carried out a motor cycle procession here to spread the message of love.

Meanwhile, sensing the threat of saffron brigade, the Valentines stayed away from celebrations with Valentine hot spots like the Ravidas Park remaining empty. Security at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) campus was beefed to prevent any untoward incident. — UNI

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Defiant Mulayam says he has majority
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 14
Despite the Supreme Court judgement disqualifying 13 breakaway BSP MLAs, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav claimed that his government was safe and he could prove his majority if the Opposition so demanded.

The much-awaited final judgement on defections within political parties coming three years after the case first went to the Allahabad High Court, and virtually weeks before the Assembly poll, did not quite create political repercussions it was intended to.

While the court did not recognise the split in the BSP and disqualified the 13 BSP MLAs who first went to meet the Governor on August 27, 2003, it left the fate of the remaining 27 MLAs in the hands of the UP Vidhan Sabha Speaker.

Addressing the media soon after the judgement was delivered, the Chief Minister asserted that three of the 13 disqualified MLAs were in any case not with him.

Mr Jaiveer Singh and Surendra Vikram Singh along with three others had returned to the BSP after the February 2006 High Court judgement and had since been disqualified by the Speaker.

They are sitting in the Vidhan Sabha as a separate group without voting rights till the apex court decides their petition challenging the Speaker’s decision. The third MLA Uday Bhan had since been convicted by the court on the charges of murder and had to resign his seat.

Claiming that even without the remaining 10 BSP MLAs he had the support of 212 to 214 MLAs in the House that was well beyond the required support of 190 MLAs in a House of 402. At present 10 MLAs do not have voting rights.

It was as recently as January 25 that Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav had stage-managed to win a vote of confidence by 223 votes in a House of 402 with the help of at least 14 MLAs from the BJP, the BSP and the RLD.

The exercise had helped him amply prove that his government did not need the support of either the Rashtriya Lok Dal or the Congress which had since withdrawn support to his government.

However, the real significance of the vote was that the Chief Minister had also established that his government would not suffer even in the face of a reverse Supreme Court judgement in the case of 33 former BSP MLAs.

Refusing to submit to BSP supremo Mayawati’s demand of resigning on moral grounds, Mr Yadav today declared that now he would like to go to the court of the common people to find out who had the moral right to rule.

Commenting on the demand of the combined Opposition to impose President’s rule in the state, he said they had no real issue and ran to the Raj Bhavan at the drop of a hat, as the Governor was a “simple man who heard them out”.

Meanwhile, UPCC president Salman Khurshid and Leader of the Opposition Lalji Tandon both met Governor T.V. Rajeswar demanding the imposition of President’s rule in the state following the Supreme Court judgement.

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Numbers game: Mulayam safe
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
The Mulayam Singh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh appears to be safe despite the Supreme Court’s order on 13 breakaway BSP legislators today.

Although the entire opposition, including the BSP, the BJP and the state unit of the Congress, publicly demanded the immediate dismissal of the state government, the move was primarily aimed at undermining the credibility of the Samajwadi Party dispensation rather than pulling it down.

Opposition parties admitted that they did not have the numbers to dislodge the state government.

The Congress demanded that Mr Yadav resign as he had lost the right to continue in office.

Voicing this demand for the first time, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said the verdict proved that the Samajwadi Party leader had indulged in horsetrading and the defection of the MLAs was illegal.

Mr Yadav, appearing unfazed, went on record to say he was willing to face another floor test when the House would reconvene on February 26.

The Congress would ideally want the imposition of President’s rule, but it wanted the government to fall on its own as it believed that any move to oust the government would generate sympathy.

Admitting that President’s rule was not an option, senior Congress leaders said such a move would not pass muster with allies like Left parties and the DMK.

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Laxity won’t be tolerated, Antony warns Defence PSUs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
The poor performance of some of the Defence public sector undertakings came in for criticism from Defence Minister A.K. Antony today.

He expressed dissatisfaction over the PSUs performance and warned them that accountability and transparency would be enforced on them if they failed to deliver.

“I am not satisfied with the working of some of the public sector undertakings and ordnance factories,” Mr Antony told a gathering of Chairman and Managing Directors of the Defence PSU's.

He also had tough words for the Defence Research and Development Organisation, facing time and cost over-runs in its major armament projects, advising them to offload their low technological projects and concentrate only on developing high technology of strategic importance.

Government proposed to undertake an independent review and audit of the functioning of the DRDO, the minister said pointing out that a high-level committee under P.Rama Rao would carry out the audit and submit its interim report within reasonable time.

As part of the DRDO revamp, representations from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and ISRO would be appointed on the DRDO's board to monitor progress and report on all indigenous research proposals.

While asking DRDO to concentrate on strategic weapon systems and technologies, the minister said in medium and low technology areas DRDO should share its workload with private and public sector.

He urged the public sector undertakings and ordnance factories to spend more on R&D and pointed to the example of the pharmaceutical sector, both government and private, to turn themselves into world-class multinationals in armament production.

He also had words for the private industry telling them while government was addressing their call for level playing field in Defence sector, they should also come forward to pump resources in defence research.

In moves to make private sector eligible for receiving benefits of the offset policy, Mr Antony said a selection committee set up last year was in the process of identifying their industry to make them Raksha Udyog Ratnas (RUR).

According to official notification, these RUR's would be eligible for benefitting from offset spin-offs, including being allowed to set up joint partnership and co-production units by way of technology transfer from foreign companies.

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Parks out, movies in

Jaipur, February 14
With threats being issued by hardline groups against celebrating Valentine’s Day, couples in Rajasthan today made a beeline for multiplexes hoping to have some quiet and safe moments away from public gaze.

If the cinema exhibitors of the state are to be believed, unlike other Wednesdays, the collection in movie theatres went up substantially during noon and afternoon shows.

The sudden rise in the collection was attributed to Valentine’s Day as couples apparently desired to spend time in hassle and trouble-free places rather than roaming around in public areas like parks.

Raj Bansal, a leading film distributor and cinema exhibitor of the state, said the trend had been witnessed in the past two years.

Because of various warnings and threats given by different organisations against celebrating the day, couples might have thought movie watching was the best way to be together.

The noon and afternoon shows were flooded with couples and most of the movies varying from “Salam-e-Ishq” to “Traffic Signal” ran in packed theatres. — PTI

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15 minutes ‘cool off’ for CBSE students

New Delhi, February 14 
As more than 12 lakh students prepare for their annual board examinations, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) today announced a slew of measures, including 15-minute “cool off” time, to save pupils from suffering exam-related anxiety and stress.

The Board said it had re-designed the question papers of seven subjects -- three for Class X and seven for Class XII -- to allow the students to complete the three-hour question paper in only two-and-a-half hours. The CBSE, this year, would provide the “cool off” period given to read the question paper before the start of the writing time to help the pupils de-stress. — UNI

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PM calls on Kalam

New Delhi, February 14
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called on President A P J Abdul Kalam at Rashtrapati Bhavan to discuss the Budget Session of Parliament beginning on February 23.

Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said the meeting, which lasted for 30 minutes, was the regular interaction between the two leaders.

The President will address the joint session of both Houses on the first day of the Budget session. — TNS

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Nav Ratna status for 2 top defence units soon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
Two of the country’s top defence public sector undertakings - Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and radar giant Bharat Electronics (BEL) - will soon get the coveted Nav Ratna status.

This was announced by Secretary (Defence Production) K.P. Singh here today.

He said the proposal had been cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA). “We are in the process of implementing it,” he said at a function to confer Defence Minister’s Awards for Excellence to defence PSUs.

Once the status is conferred on these companies, they will enjoy more operational and financial autonomy, which will help them take speedy decisions without reverting to government.

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Cong veteran S.C. Shukla passes away

Raipur, February 14
Congress veteran and former Chief Minister of undivided Madhya Pradesh Shyama Charan Shukla died here today following a prolonged illness. He was 82 and is survived by his wife, son and three daughters.

Thrice Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shukla was hospitalised in New Delhi few months ago with prostrate and cardiac problems and later developed respiratory complications.

He was on ventilator support for the last few weeks.

A fortnight ago, he was shifted to his hometown Raipur in an air-ambulance and was undergoing treatment at a local hospital. He died at around 4 am. His last rites will be performed at the Mahadev Ghat crematorium at 4 pm, family members said.

A spokesman of the state Congress said his body would be taken to Rajim, an Assembly constituency which he had represented for many years. Later, his body will be kept at the state Congress headquarters to enable party workers to pay tributes to the departed leader. — UNI

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Police cracks murder case
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 14
The police cracked a murder case while another woman torched herself in protest against her family’s opposition to her boyfriend on the Valentine’s Day today.

The murder case involved the killing of a woman, working as a TV newscaster, by her possessive lover in Vijayawada on Friday.

Lakshmi Sujatha, the newscaster, was killed by make-up man Chandrasekhar, alias Chandu, who suspected she was ditching him after a year-long friendship.

In the second incident, Anita, who lives in Rajendranagar, is battling for life with 90 per cent burns in Osmania Hospital after she burnt herself with kerosene, as her parents rejected her wish to get married to Kishore, her lover.

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Aroma therapy, gift for dogs

Mumbai, February 14
If you thought mushy gifts, sweet nothings and exclusive bashes were meant only for you and your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, a pet saloon here has decided to challenge the concept by playing cupid to your pet.

As youths across the world prepared to spend lots of money to impress their loved ones, Taliwaggers, a popular pet salon in the western suburb of Bandra, took the opportunity to make dogs feel good about themselves -- free of cost.

Though it had just one “couple” -- a labrador named Jazz from Dadar, who came in with Bandar, a mixed-breed dog from Bandra -- visiting the salon till noon, Tailwaggers was expecting many more by the end of the day.

An aroma therapy session at the salon is priced at Rs 150 per pet.

Apart from the therapy, Tailwaggers also gave away small gifts to dogs, besides the customary bows and ribbons they give every customer.

For Valentine’s Day, the ribbons and bows were in pink and red. — PTI

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Cauvery: Parties to meet on Feb 19
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 14
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has convened an all-party meeting here on February 19 to discuss the final award of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal.

The Tamil Nadu Government has announced that it will file a review petition before the tribunal against some points in the final award that went against the state’s interests.

The Pattali Makkal Katchi, an ally of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, had been demanding an all-party meeting to discuss the award.

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Manipur poll: 85 pc brave rain to vote

New Delhi, February 14
More than 85 per cent voters in Manipur today exercised their franchise in the second phase of poll to the state Assembly, which were conducted peacefully, the Election Commission said here.

"Over 85 per cent of the electorate cast their ballot in the second phase of the Assembly polls in Manipur at 827 polling stations in 29 Assembly constituencies," Deputy Election Commissioner J.P. Prakash told mediapersons here.

Braving incessant rainfall, voters turned up in large numbers at polling booths in the Imphal East, Imphal West and Bishenpur districts where polling was held today.

"No untoward incident has been reported so far," Prakash said.

He said people were casting their votes even at 6 pm as those who had arrived at the polling stations before the scheduled end of the polling time would be allowed to exercise their franchise.

"The voting percentage would be in the band of 85 per cent to 90 per cent," Prakash said adding that Manipur has traditionally witnessed a large turnout.

90 per cent voters had cast their ballot in the last Assembly elections. — PTI

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70 held fearing trouble

Bhopal, February 14
Seventy Valentine’s Day-related arrests were executed in different places of Madhya Pradesh where lovers expressed their affection mainly through exchange of roses.

Official sources claimed that no violence was reported and couples were not subjected to misbehaviour. Parks, picnic spots, hotels and restaurants were under priority surveillance in view of an apprehension that Valentine’s Day supporters and those opposing it might clash.

Those arrested were workers of the Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, Dharma Sena, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and National Students’ Union of India. Thirty arrests each were carried out in Madhya Pradesh’s commercial capital Indore and cantonment town Jabalpur while the rest took place here. — UNI

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Lovers jump before train

Sriganganagar, February 14
A youth and his girlfriend jumped before a running train in Hanumangarh district on Valentine’s Day today.

According to the police, Pawan died on the spot while Pushpa sustained severe injuries and has been admitted to a government hospital. She has been referred to a hospital in Bikaner.

The police said the incident occurred around 5.30 pm in the morning at the Pilibanga railway station. These were loitering at the railway station and suddenly jumped before a running train. Pawan belonged to Pilibanga village, while Pushpa was a student of Indira Gandhi Memorial College. — UNI

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