SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Russia sees a big role in India’s defence needs
New Delhi, February 16
Russia is clearly eyeing the $ 6 billion deal for 126 front line fighter jets for the Indian Air Force and believes that the toss up is between the MiG-35 and the US F-18 as the others in the fray do not meet Indian requirements.

Talks on for Indo-Russia rail collaboration
New Delhi, February 16
The Russian Railways is ready to collaborate with the Indian Railways to offer state-of-the-art technology in railway automation, safety system, collision repair and monitoring of rail network through Global Positioning System (GPS), according to Mr Krylov Anatoly, vice-president, JSC ELTEZA Company, Russian Railways.

Basu admits mistakes in Singur acquisition
Kolkata, February 16
Mr Jyoti Basu today admitted that there were mistakes in the land acquiring process at Singur that was why further land acquisition at Nandigram and elsewhere had been stopped.

CPM Politburo meeting today
New Delhi, February 16
The CPM politburo, which begins its two-day meeting here tomorrow, will finalise its strategy for the forthcoming Budget Session of Parliament and take on the Manmohan Singh government on its economic policies, including its failure to control the price rise in essential commodities.










EARLIER STORIES




Women wait in a queue to cast their votes in the second phase of the Manipur Assembly elections as a security person stands guard at a polling booth in Imphal on Friday
Women wait in a queue to cast their votes in the second phase of the Manipur Assembly elections as a security person stands guard at a polling booth in Imphal on Friday. PTI

ULFA insists on sovereignty, ready for plebiscite
Guwahati, February 16
ULFA today denied that there was any Track-II negotiation with the Centre and insisted that only sovereignty would be discussed in future negotiation. “ULFA has not entered into any kind of negotiation with the Government of India.

Fernandes on mission to target Nitish government in Bihar
Patna, February 16
Former JD(U) chief and NDA convener George Fernandes is on a mission to explore a new political combination targeting the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar. After the recent revival of the Samta Party in Delhi, the opposition RJD tops the agenda of Mr Fernandes to build a new anti-NDA equation in the state.

Govt steps can’t curb inflation, says BJP
New Delhi, February 16
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today belittled the UPA government’s recent measures to contain inflation saying that the Centre’s actions were “too little and too late”.

Bill to ban criminals from contesting poll
New Delhi, February 16
Perturbed over reports that underworld don Abu Salem and Dawood Ibrahim’s henchman Bablu Srivastava has expressed desire to contest forthcoming UP Assembly elections, the Centre is planning to bring a Bill in the Budget session to tighten the law to prevent hardened criminals from entering in the electoral fray. Acting fast on the Election Commission’s report expressing serious concern over the reports of criminals like Salem and Srivastava wanting to enter the election arena, the Law Ministry has sent the draft of the proposed legislation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, headed by Dr E M Sundrashna Natchiappan.

Pay scale arrears to be paid to affected: MoD
Bhuj, February 16
The Ministry of Defence has recommended to the Finance Ministry that arrears arising out of anomalies in fixation of the pay scales of armed forces personnel, consequent to the implementation of the Fourth Pay Commission (FPC), be paid to the affected persons.

VP Singh for President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh
New Delhi, February 16
Former Prime Minister V P Singh today asked UP Governor T V Rajeshwar to dismiss the Mulayamgovernment in the wake of the Supreme Court declaring the spilt of the BSP in the state null and void.

JD(U) seeks Mulayam govt’s dismissal
New Delhi, February 16
The Janata Dal (U) President Sharad Yadav has welcomed the SC decision on UP MLAs and demanded the dismissal of the Mulayam government saying ''it is neither legal nor constitutional.''

5,700 MW shortfall leaves Maharashtra power hungry
Mumbai, February 16
A severe power shortfall to the tune of 5700 MW has left the Maharashtra government virtually scraping the bottom of the barrel for additional electricity. Among the solutions being thought up by the Vilasrao Deshmukh government include the purchase of power from Andhra Pradesh for as much as Rs 8.30 per unit at a total cost of Rs 1300 crore. The state government will also buy power generated by captive power units in the private sector to tide over the shortage.

LTTE ship with explosives seized 
Chennai, February 16
The Indian Coast Guard seized a boat carrying three Sri Lankan nationals, an AK-56, live ammunitions, plastic explosives and a suicide jacket, thereby foiling an attempt by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to assassinate Indian leaders.

Tharoor to be minister?
New Delhi, February 16
Former United Nations undersecretary-general Shashi Tharoor, who ran unsuccessfully for the top post of the world body, may be inducted into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Council of Ministers, highly placed sources said.

Students protest for right to cheat
Patna, February 16
Cheating in examinations was always a punishable offence in Bihar. But what has changed now is that the state government is determined to put an end to this trend. The administration has put measures to this effect in practise during the ongoing government-run intermediate examinations.

Now, a perfume in Shilpa’s name
Mumbai, February 16
Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty will soon launch a perfume in her name in the UK, after which she will begin writing a cookery book. The actor, who flew down to Mumbai last Saturday after the 'Big Brother' win, is back in Britian to honour commitments, her spokesperson Mr Bhagwagar said in a statement here. “She will return after a week,” he informed.

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Russia sees a big role in India’s defence needs 
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 16
Russia is clearly eyeing the $ 6 billion deal for 126 front line fighter jets for the Indian Air Force and believes that the toss up is between the MiG-35 and the US F-18 as the others in the fray do not meet Indian requirements.

Though the MiG-35 has the airframe of the MiG-29, Russia will be holding discussions with the Indian authorities for updating the new fighter to suit the mandate of the IAF. "We are prepared to fulfil the Indian requirements for the new generation fighter jet in the IAF's inventory," Russian ambassador to India Vyacheslav Trubnikov said here today.

In keeping with the new offset policy in new defence deals whereby 30 per cent has to be invested in the country to give a boost to indigenous defence manufacturers, Mr Trubnikov drew attention to problems in this regard.

At the same time, he pointed out that a Working Group had been constituted to overcome the impediments connected with the offset policy.

The Ambassador was clearly pitching for the MiG-35 fighter aircraft for the IAF on the specious plea that Indians were familiar with the MiG series of fighters. If the MiG 35 was fitted with a new engine and modern avionics, it would enhance its capabilities with some astounding new features in the sky.

Russia views itself as a stiff competitor for other Western defence majors seeking a pie not only of the IAF shopping list for 126 fighter jets coupled with 80 Mi-17 helicopters, the Su-30 MKi aircraft and the MiG-29K for the aircraft carrier Gorkshov.

Mr Trubnikov acknowledged that it was going to be a huge task for the Russian industry to supply a large number of modern T-90 tanks for the Army. As far as the Su-30 MKi was concerned, India will be able to build and assemble these aircraft at HAL's establishment in Nashik.

Meeting the demand for updated Mi-17 helicopters will be smooth. The Navy prefers the MiG-29K for the aircraft carrier keeping in mind the Air Defence Ships being built indigenously which would be smaller compared to Gorkshov.

Responding to a question about the navigation system, the Ambassador said this will be made available by Russia and will be applicable for both civilian and military purposes. The frequency of the system will be shared with India.

Asked about Indo-Russian cooperation in evolving the Fifth Generation fighter aircraft, the Ambassador said there were no hitches.

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Talks on for Indo-Russia rail collaboration
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 16
The Russian Railways is ready to collaborate with the Indian Railways to offer state-of-the-art technology in railway automation, safety system, collision repair and monitoring of rail network through Global Positioning System (GPS), according to Mr Krylov Anatoly, vice-president, JSC ELTEZA Company, Russian Railways.

A strong contingent of railway equipment companies from Russia took part in the 17th International Engineering and Technology Fair (IETF) organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) which concluded here today.

The Russian Railway officials are in talks with the Ministry of Railways, Government of India, to explore possible collaboration between the two countries.

Mr Kuleshov Pyotre, Deputy Director General, Russian Institute of Space Device Engineering, said, “In Russia, we are trying to put space and aircraft technologies into the existing railways systems” to improve their performance.

The institute has been working for a long time and has developed various navigation systems, tunnel surveying stations etc. Now it is up to the Indian Railways to pick and choose from the Russian platter.

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Basu admits mistakes in Singur acquisition
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 16
Mr Jyoti Basu today admitted that there were mistakes in the land acquiring process at Singur that was why further land acquisition at Nandigram and elsewhere had been stopped.

He said they now needed at least two to three months to review the entire process and take appropriate measures for future land acquisition for industries in West Bengal. But he made it clear that the farm lands would be acquired further, if necessary, for the state’s rapid industrialisation.

The veteran CPM leader was talking to media persons at the party office at Alimuddin Street after attending the party’s secretariat meeting.

Mr Basu said the front parties still had differences among them on the SEZ and the state’s land-use policies. But he hoped that these differences would be resolved soon through discussions and meetings. The CPM Politburo would also meet in Delhi on Sunday to review the matter and take necessary steps.

Reacting to Calcutta High Court’s aspersion on the imposition of the orders under Section 144 of the Cr PC at Singur, Mr Basu expressed surprise that the court could make such observations.

He defended the state government for imposing the restriction orders for maintaining peace, adding that such restrictions would be imposed again when the administration would find it necessary.

Mr Basu ridiculed Ms Mamata Banerjee for launching an agitation over the land acquisition at Singur for Tata Motors. He alleged that creating of disturbances and chaos had been the main agenda of her politics, which the state people had already discarded. He felt the poor farmers at Singur and elsewhere would soon realise that for their larger interests, it was necessary that their lands be utilised for industries.

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CPM Politburo meeting today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 16
The CPM politburo, which begins its two-day meeting here tomorrow, will finalise its strategy for the forthcoming Budget Session of Parliament and take on the Manmohan Singh government on its economic policies, including its failure to control the price rise in essential commodities.

Besides these, the Politburo will take a view of the political situation in the country, the price situation and developments in West Bengal in the aftermath of the Opposition agitation on the Singur Tata Motors Project and the Nandigram special economic zone (SEZ).

The pary is gearing up to take on the UPA government especially on its move to open up the retail sector to FDI, privatisation of pension fund and a proposal to hike FDI cap in the insurance sector.

On the SEZ issue, the party is writing a note to the parliamentary standing committee on commerce seeking amendments to the act and the rules, party sources said.

The party has already made its stand clear on the SEZ issue in a note to the government.

Its suggestions included amendments to the SEZ Act and rules on the use of land to ensure that at least 50 per cent was used for manufacturing and processing, 25 per cent for relating infrastructure, a full rehabilitation package for the affected, including those sharecroppers, slashing of tax and other concessions and guaranteeing the implementation of labour laws in the SEZs.

The rising inflation graph has also added to the discontent within the Left with the UPA government.

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ULFA insists on sovereignty, ready for plebiscite

Guwahati, February 16
ULFA today denied that there was any Track-II negotiation with the Centre and insisted that only sovereignty would be discussed in future negotiation. “ULFA has not entered into any kind of negotiation with the Government of India. Our only specific pre-condition is that the issue of the restoration of Assom's sovereignty should be on the agenda for talks,” ULFA chief Paresh Baruah said, in a statement here.

Regarding referendum or plebiscite, the ULFA leader said “in principle, the ULFA is ready for a plebiscite and not referendum, under international supervision.”

“ULFA called off the ban on celebration of National Games by showing respect to the appeal of legendary sports personalities and sport-loving people of Asom, not because of any love for Indian colonial rulers,” he reiterated.

“However, a section of people have tried to give an impression to the masses that this gesture is ULFA's weakness. Since the day ULFA banned the National Games the flatterers of India condemned ULFA.

They left no stone unturned to derive public opinion for holding the games by stating it as a great event to uphold Assom's dignity''he said, alleging that to make the National Games a great success they “created an awesome situation in Asom attacking Hindi-speaking people and increasing immensely the number of security forces to build up strong anti-ULFA campaign in Asom. The plan to choose Asom as a host for the games is to strengthen the logic that the state is an indispensable part of India.” — UNI

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Fernandes on mission to target Nitish government in Bihar
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 16
Former JD(U) chief and NDA convener George Fernandes is on a mission to explore a new political combination targeting the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar.
After the recent revival of the Samta Party in Delhi, the opposition RJD tops the agenda of Mr Fernandes to build a new anti-NDA equation in the state.

Ironically, 15 months back, the same Fernandes had launched a battle to dislodge the previous RJD government.

The tacit move bby Mr Fernandes to unite anti-NDA forces in Bihar was confirmed by national general secretary of the RJD Shyam Rajak.

Talking to the Tribune, Mr Rajak said Mr Fernandes had initialised the process to bring the RJD and Samata Party closer.

Mr Rajak expected the move to gain momentum after the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. "This is the reason we supported the dissident JD(U) leader and George loyalist Arun Kumar in last year’s Nalanda lok sabha bypoll ", he remarked.

Sources close to Mr Fernandes disclosed that he would not mind if he was removed as NDA convener for his crusade against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and JD(U) President Sharad Yadav.

Mr Fernandes is having bad relations with the Nitish-Sharad duo ever since he was unceremoniously removed from the post of JD(U) chief last year after he was defeated by Mr Sharad Yadav in the organisational poll.

Mr Fernandes came here on a tour to his parliamentary constituency of Muzaffarpur.

Interestingly, this time Mr Fernandes stayed at the Railway retiring room in Patna instead of the state guest house or any private hotel only too add fuel to the speculation of a possible RJD-Samata relation.

Mr Fernandes, however, was all praise for RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, describing him as "decent" and "courteous". He also lauded the efforts of Mr Lalu to transform Indian Railways into a profit-making PSU.

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Govt steps can’t curb inflation, says BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 16
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today belittled the UPA government’s recent measures to contain inflation saying that the Centre’s actions were “too little and too late”.

Addressing newspersons, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the recent measures were “knee-jerk reaction” and they “will not be able to contain the inflation”.

Giving reasons for the government’s failure to curb inflation, Mr Javadekar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was obsessed with Pakistan and Foreign Affairs forgetting that his core-competency was economics. While Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had virtually become a “cricket minister” and was busy in IIC elections instead of tackling the supply side constraints which is the root cause of the trigger in prices of primary articles.

Similarly, Finance Minister P Chidambaram was in constant denial mode being happy with fiscal measures rather than concentrating on his real task of managing the economy at macro and micro level, the spokesman said and added that Commerce Minister Kamal Nath was also busy taking away farmers’ land to give to industrialists in special economic zones instead of looking after the balance between demand and supply.

Therefore, the BJP held that the UPA government was squarely responsible for the present mess on the price front, Mr Javadekar said and added that the real way of curbing the inflation was “constant vigil, timely action, some tough decisions and supply side management.” But the UPA government had failed on all these counts, he added.

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Bill to ban criminals from contesting poll
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 16
Perturbed over reports that underworld don Abu Salem and Dawood Ibrahim’s henchman Bablu Srivastava has expressed desire to contest forthcoming UP Assembly elections, the Centre is planning to bring a Bill in the Budget session to tighten the law to prevent hardened criminals from entering in the electoral fray.

Acting fast on the Election Commission’s report expressing serious concern over the reports of criminals like Salem and Srivastava wanting to enter the election arena, the Law Ministry has sent the draft of the proposed legislation to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice, headed by Dr E M Sundrashna Natchiappan.

The draft Bill was sent to the Parliamentary panel to ensure that the requisite committee-level deliberations were completed well in time to introduce it in Parliament during the Budget session and have the law in place before the U P Assembly elections.

The Bill provides for debarring the criminals involved in the acts of terrorism, anti-national activities and organised crimes covered under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, election-related offences, murders, rape, drug and human trafficking and other heinous crimes from the moment the charges are framed by the court.

It would cover all those accused, who were liable to be sentenced to five years or more for their involvement in the listed offences. The law as it stands today, there is no bar on a person involved in, howsoever, serious crime on contesting the elections unless convicted by the court and awarded sentence for more than two years.

Dr Natchiappan, while confirming the urgency expressed by the government and sending the report directly the Parliamentary Committee, told the Tribune, “ The government wants to expedite the matter to ensure that the Bill is passed during the Budget session.”

He said the committee had made considerable progress in collecting the material and was trying to arrive at “consensus” among the political parties and was hopeful of placing its report before Parliament in first week of March.

The government had chosen to seek the opinion of the Committee well in advance to save the time it would have taken after the introduction of the Bill, which would have obviously gone to the Parliamentary panel for an in-depth study, Law Ministry sources said.

The proposed legislation provides that after submitting the chargesheet to the court there should be a preliminary hearing on the charges with the recording of the evidence of both prosecution and defence witnesses and if the trial judge was of the view that a “prima facie” case is made for framing of the charges and proceeding with the prosecution, the ban on the accused to contest election would come into force immediately.

Dr Natchiappan said the draft Bill, as received by his panel, had taken into account the recommendations of N N Vohra Committee, the Law Commission and some other panel of electoral reforms.

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Pay scale arrears to be paid to affected: MoD
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bhuj, February 16
The Ministry of Defence has recommended to the Finance Ministry that arrears arising out of anomalies in fixation of the pay scales of armed forces personnel, consequent to the implementation of the Fourth Pay Commission (FPC), be paid to the affected persons.

Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt said yesterday the MoD had written to the Finance Ministry in this regard.

He added that if this does not work out, the government could consider taking up the matter with the Sixth Pay Commission for incorporating a few provisions in its recommendations to cover up the loss of those affected.

Armed Forces personnel are claiming that the revised pay was fixed lower that what should have been fixed according to the recommendations of the FPC accepted by the government. Affected officers have been in service since January 1, 1986. It also has had an adverse impact on various perks and allowances as well as post-retirement benefits.

The “illegality” committed while revising the pay did not come to light until a writ was filed by Maj A.K. Dhanpalan in the Kerala High Court. The writ was allowed in 2005 and directions were issued to the Central Government to re-fix the pay of the petitioner.

The government, however, decided not to extend benefits arising out of the Kerala HC ruling to other similarly-placed officers. On receiving representations from officers affected by the pay fixation, the Army HQ issued a letter that instead of extending benefits, it would contest all such claims and petitions in court. Already a large number of personnel have moved various high courts.

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VP Singh for President’s rule in Uttar Pradesh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 16
Former Prime Minister V P Singh today asked UP Governor T V Rajeshwar to dismiss the Mulayamgovernment in the wake of the Supreme Court declaring the spilt of the BSP in the state null and void.

Addressing newspersons at his residence, Mr V.P. Singh said the court's verdict declaring the then UP Assembly Speaker Kesrinath Tripathi's recognition of the BSP spilt illegal had only confirmed the long-standing ties between the BJP and the Samajawadi Party of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.

The court's verdict has made it evident that the Speaker owing his loyalty to the BJP had helped Mr Yadav in an extra-judicial manner, he added.

About the Court's verdict, he said the Mulayam Singh government in UP was illegal and should be dismissed by the Governor in accordance with the law of the land.

Accusing the Mulayam Singh government of fomenting communal tensions in Gorakhpur and the neighbouring areas to protect his Muslim vote bank, he appealed to the UP electorate to defeat the evil designs of the Samajwadi Party.

Incidents of Nithari and Kareli near Gorakhpur were a firm evidence of break down of law and order in the state, he said and added that free and fair elections were not possible in Mr Yadav's regime.

“That is why, the Assembly elections should be held in the Governor's rule,” the former Prime Minister said.

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JD(U) seeks Mulayam govt’s dismissal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 16
The Janata Dal (U) President Sharad Yadav has welcomed the SC decision on UP MLAs and demanded the dismissal of the Mulayam government saying ''it is neither legal nor constitutional.''

Mr Yadav alleged the UP Government was formed by manipulation and by blatantly violating the legal provisions.

Reacting to the Supreme Court ruling, he said it came ''late'' and was ''incomplete'' as all the MLAs had not been dealt with. However, the JD (U) still welcomed it.

Asked about his reaction to NDA convener and former JD (U) president George Fernandes' description of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar as ''dictator'', Mr Yadav said it was not proper from him (Mr Fernandes) to make such a comment.

Regarding the Administrative Reforms Commission's recommendation that small parties should form pre-poll alliance in the era of coalition politics, Mr Yadav dismissed it saying morality comes from within and not from any commission. 

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5,700 MW shortfall leaves Maharashtra power hungry
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 16
A severe power shortfall to the tune of 5700 MW has left the Maharashtra government virtually scraping the bottom of the barrel for additional electricity.
Among the solutions being thought up by the Vilasrao Deshmukh government include the purchase of power from Andhra Pradesh for as much as Rs 8.30 per unit at a total cost of Rs 1300 crore. The state government will also buy power generated by captive power units in the private sector to tide over the shortage.

Another option being explored by the Maharashtra government includes the purchase of power from other states by paying the highest possible rates to outbid other buyers.

Maharashtra’s power shortage comes at a time when the 2100 MW Dabhol power plant, formerly owned by Enron, lies idle. The plant runs on expensive naphtha and its retooling to take cheaper natural gas will be complete only by the year-end.

With pressure from the state and central governments mounting, the public sector Petronet LNG Ltd which is responsible for sourcing natural gas in the country, is on a worldwide hunt to buy fuel to run the Dabhol plant. In all, the plant will require 2.1 million metric tonnes of LNG to run at full capacity. About 40 consignments of LNG will have to be landed along the Western Coast on a regulated basis.

The company’s managing director Prosad Dasgupta is now on a tour of major supplying countries to source the fuel in time for the plant’s restarting.

With the private sector players like Tata Power Company and Reliance Energy Ltd not in a position to ramp up power supply, parts of Maharashtra are now faced with long power cuts. For the first time the IT parks set up by the state government had to face power cuts. “We had to switch off power to the IT parks because of severe of power,” S Karpe, Superintendent, MahaVitaran, the power distribution utility admitted.

The power cut to the IT units was decided upon despite guarantees that power would be provided to them without a break. The township of Navi Mumbai now faces eight hours of power breakdowns every day. The rural areas across the state has to do without power for as much as 12 to 14 hours a day.

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LTTE ship with explosives seized 
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 16
The Indian Coast Guard seized a boat carrying three Sri Lankan nationals, an AK-56, live ammunitions, plastic explosives and a suicide jacket, thereby foiling an attempt by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to assassinate Indian leaders.

Five men, including three LTTE cadres, were arrested.

Coast Guard Inspector-General Rajendra Singh, Commander of the Coast Guard's Eastern Region, met journalists on board the CG vessel “Rama Devi” at the Chennai harbour and revealed the details of the operation that resulted in the seizure.

Mr Singh said, “We spotted the 22 feet long boat named "Sri Rama Jayam" 25 nautical miles off Point Calimere. It was camouflaged to resemble a fishing vessel but we found that its engine was altered to make it skim the waves like a MTB. After firing warning shots we apprehended it mid-sea. Apart from the rifle and the suicide jacket, there were 124 rounds of ammunition, five hand grenades, five detonators, 7 kg of powder suspected to be ammonia, which in itself can be used as an explosive, and eight 55-litre drums of liquid chemicals among other things.”

“We have handed over the suspects to the Tamil Nadu police for further interrogation,” he added.

This seizure assumes great importance as the Indian Navy, on Monday, had seized huge quantities of components used in making improvised explosive devices (IED) allegedly meant for the LTTE.

The chemicals were meant to be used in making deadly bombs and a bomb manufacturing manual too had been seized in the boat.

The security agencies are investigating the LTTE’s targets and where exactly the consignment was headed to in Tamil Nadu.

Many Tamil Nadu politicians, including former Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa, are on the LTTE’s hit list for their strong opposition to the terrorist organisation.

The police sources said that these pointers were enough to "create a fear psychosis in Tamil Nadu." Details of the operation will be unveiled only after sustained grilling of the arrested men, including two Indian nationals who are said to be LTTE sympathisers and arms brokers.

The arrested Lankans are Sahayam (24), Arumugam (53),A. Purushothaman (28) and their Indian collaborators are Ramachandran (42) and Siva Padmanabhan (31).

Normally, the LTTE cadres swallow cyanide pills hanging around their neck when they are about to be captured but in recent times, the Sri Lankan army has managed to catch a sizeable number of terrorists alive.

Following the capture, red alert has been sounded all over the state and security details for all political leaders have been doubled.

The Coast Guard said that the boat was on its way to Cuddalore, 180 km from here, but security agencies have launched a detailed investigation to determine where exactly the consignment was headed to.

On Tuesday a boat carrying about 100 kg of explosives, that could be used in making land and sea mines, was seized by the Indian Navy off Rameswaram Coast.

The seizure included IED (used to make land mines), fuse wire, steel clips, remote control equipment, steel washers and aluminium plates, worth several lakhs of rupees, police said.

Two persons on board have been arrested in this connection. It was on way to Talaimannar from Tuticorin when a naval patrol vessel intercepted it at around midnight.

The arrested persons, on being questioned, stated that Tuticorin-based LTTE militants' brokers had requested them to ferry the boat till their area.

Over the last few weeks boats carrying explosives and materials, like steel ball bearings meant for making bombs, were seized by the Tamil Nadu police near the state’s coastal areas. The arrest of seven persons revealed that it was meant for the LTTE.

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Tharoor to be minister?

New Delhi, February 16
Former United Nations undersecretary-general Shashi Tharoor, who ran unsuccessfully for the top post of the world body, may be inducted into Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Council of Ministers, highly placed sources said.

The sources said Tharoor, who is believed to be close to Manmohan Singh, may be appointed Minister of State for External Affairs.

"The Prime Minister is keen to make use of his diplomatic skills, vast experience and numerous contacts. He may induct him as a minister of state in external affairs," one source, familiar with high-level government changes, told IANS.

Tharoor, who quit his UN post earlier this month, is believed to have met the Prime Minister ahead of his resignation.

The sources added that the 51-year-old Tharoor is likely to replace Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, who may be shifted to another ministry.

Tharoor, an award-winning author and eloquent speaker, had a 28-year-long stint in various capacities in the UN where he joined as the staff of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva in 1978.

It was believed that it was his proximity with Manmohan Singh that led to his being nominated as India's official candidate for the UN Secretary-General post.

But sources also aver that any such ministerial appointment would have to be cleared at the 'highest level' of the Congress party, meaning it should have the approval of Sonia Gandhi. Gandhi's views on Tharoor are not known.

Tharoor, if he is made a minister, will have to get elected to the Rajya Sabha or Lok Sabha within six months. — IANS

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Students protest for right to cheat
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 16
Cheating in examinations was always a punishable offence in Bihar. But what has changed now is that the state government is determined to put an end to this trend. The administration has put measures to this effect in practise during the ongoing government-run intermediate examinations.

This is in contrast to the administration in the past, which had allegedly turned a blind eye to mass copying and to proactive parents and guardians who facilitated the same by entering the examinations halls.

The result of these measures has been that hundreds of students and parents have started protesting across the state demanding the students’ right to use unfair means in examinations.

Yesterday, they fought street battles with the police in several towns after authorities cracked down on students using illegal means during an examination.

In Saharsa district, a mob of students and parents went on the rampage after authorities expelled 15 students after they were caught copying.

At BN College, Hajipur, students ransacked the examination hall and resorted to violence. The examination had to be cancelled in the college.

A day earlier, two students and four police personnel were injured in the same premises after a pitched battle between the two sides.

Police officers said they had to fire 90 rounds in the air to quell the student mob that had set on fire two government vehicles in a separate incident at Madhepura yesterday.

For the past two days, students have been raising slogans demanding that the administration go easy on copying. Student leaders have threatened to boycott the exams if the administration does not heed to their demands and stop "harassment".

The widespread copying and violence came despite a statewide appeal issued by the authorities to students on February 11, a day before the exams. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had warned that no unfair means would be tolerated.

The Bihar Intermediate Education Council Chairman Girish Shankar told mediapersons that the government was unperturbed over the violence in the past three days.

In 2006, widespread violence was witnessed on the same issue and at least one student in Gaya was killed in police firing.

The students and their parents, however, argued that they should be allowed to cheat as their teachers had not finished the curriculum in the classroom.

Mr Girish Shankar said that as the government was determined to overhaul the entire education system, the teachers too would now complete the curriculum in the classrooms. "But we will not allow unfair means which had defamed Bihar in the past," he said.

The state government has asked all District Magistrates to extend all possible cooperation to the intermediate council to hold examinations in a fair manner so as to defend the image of the promised "new Bihar".

The Leader of the Opposition, Ms Rabri Devi, has demanded a CBI probe into the police firing on the student mob and their parents at Madhepura and Saharsa.

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Now, a perfume in Shilpa’s name

Mumbai, February 16
Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty will soon launch a perfume in her name in the UK, after which she will begin writing a cookery book. The actor, who flew down to Mumbai last Saturday after the 'Big Brother' win, is back in Britian to honour commitments, her spokesperson Mr Bhagwagar said in a statement here. “She will return after a week,” he informed.

On returning to Mumbai, Shilpa will complete the shooting of Anurag Basu's “Metro” and Anil Sharma's “Apne”. “It is going to be a balancing act between Bollywood and the West,” Mr Bhagwagar added. — UNI

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