SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

US envoy meets Jamait leader, sparks protests
Kolkata, February 25
A controversy had arisen again on the US administration's "involvement in the country's internal matters" as the US consul-general Henry V Jardine had visited the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind's office in the city and had met its general secretary, Mohammed Siddiqullah Chowdhury.

No second term for me: Kalam
New Delhi, February 25
With about four months left in his tenure, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has indicated that he is not interested in another term in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Q-shadow looms over rail budget
New Delhi, February 25
The BJP-led opposition today gave a hint of raising the Quattrocchi issue in Parliament tomorrow with full force even as Railway Minister Lalu Prasad will be presenting the rail budget in the Lok Sabha.

Mulayam set to repeat feat
Lucknow, February 25
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is about to set a record in the legislative history of the country by seeking a trust vote on two consecutive sittings of the house.

Raja Bhaiyya acquitted
Pratapgarh, February 25
A local court here acquitted Uttar Pradesh Food and Civil Supplies Minister and controversial independent MLA, Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias 'Raja Bhaiyya', his father Udai Pratap Singh along with 17 of their supporters.

Monday Special
Child labourer rolls success story
Chennai, February 25
There are times when children not only outshine their parents, but also achieve heights if given the opportunity. This is the story of a child labourer in Tamil Nadu who did just that.

On a different note
Chief Minister of Jharkhand Madhu Kora plays a drum while attending 'Baha Parv' at Kadma in Jamshedpur
Chief Minister of Jharkhand Madhu Kora plays a drum while attending 'Baha Parv' at Kadma in Jamshedpur on Sunday. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES




Members of the family of RPF jawan Swaran Singh, who was killed in the Samjhauta Express train blast, wail during his cremation in Amritsar
Grieving kin: Members of the family of RPF jawan Swaran Singh, who was killed in the Samjhauta Express train blast, wail during his cremation in Amritsar on Sunday. — PTI

More objective questions in class X paper
New Delhi, February 25
Students appearing for the CBSE Class X examinations this year will face more objective type questions in their mathematics and science and technology papers, a move aimed at helping them finish the tests in time.

Maoists support secessionists
Patna, February 25
Even as the Centre promises to adopt strategies to isolate the Maoists, the Left-Wing ultras successfully concluded their ninth party congress somewhere in the “liberated zones” of Bihar-Jharkhand with a call to extend support to secessionist struggles along the “red corridor” from Kashmir to Andhra Pradesh.

Karunanidhi warns LTTE sympathisers
Chennai, February 25
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has warned that stern action would be taken against leaders of political parties if they were found to have nexus with the outlawed outfit. His remarks came following the seizure of large quantities of arms and ammunitions being smuggled by LTTE sympathisers to Sri Lanka.

6 jobless youths take poison to attract Kalam
Gulbarga, February 25
Six jobless youths today consumed poison to draw the attention of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to their woes at a function attended by him at a village near here, police said.

Kajol, Hrithik walk away with Filmfare awards
Mumbai, February 25
Talented Kajol, who made a comeback with "Fanaa", won the award for best actress while Hrithik Roshan walked away with the best actor award for "Dhoom 2" at the 52nd Filmfare awards function here.



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US envoy meets Jamait leader, sparks protests
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 25
A controversy had arisen again on the US administration's "involvement in the country's internal matters" as the US consul-general Henry V Jardine had visited the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind's office in the city and had met its general secretary, Mohammed Siddiqullah Chowdhury.

Jardine, accompanied by an India official, had met the Jamait Ulema leader yesterday and had closed door talks with him discussing the Singur and Nandigram agitations vis-à-vis the conditions of the Muslims and other minority communities in the areas, who had been against the forcible acquiring of their land.

Incidentally, the Jamait Ulema had been actively involved in farmers' agitation, along with Mamata Banerjee, against their eviction and transferring of their farm lands to Tata Motors and Indonesia's Salim industries at Singur and Nandigram, respectively.

The visit had been strongly criticised by the CPM leadership and other left parties as a "direct interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign nation" and accordingly, a strong protest note was sent to the consul-general.

The US consul-general, however, found nothing wrong and unusual in his meeting with the Jamait-Ulema leader held to know about the living conditions of the Muslims and other minority communities on whom the US administration had been spending several crore of rupees on various developmental works.

But Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, had been much aggrieved and accordingly, he had lodged a complaint to union minister for external affairs Pranab Mukherjee, now in Kolkata, demanding that he should take up the matter at the diplomatic level for taking appropriate penal action against the US official.

Though the CPM leadership had taken strong exception to the US consul-general's meeting with the Jamait-Ulema leader, particularly during the prevailing Singur and Nandigram controversies, Chowdhury, however, found nothing wrong in their meeting. He said these had been a normal practice with the foreign embassy officials to meet different political leaders and visit their party offices and the CPM was no exception to come under this practise.

Chowdhury claimed he had obtained permission from his all India counterpart, Mahppb Madani in allowing the Consul-general to visit their office.

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No second term for me: Kalam

New Delhi, February 25
With about four months left in his tenure, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has indicated that he is not interested in another term in Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In remarks that are bound to influence the permutations and combinations of various parties for the presidential poll due in July, Kalam said at a function at the Madras Institute of Technology, "I will return here in three months' time to give a series of four to five lectures on nanotechnology and its many dimensions.

"I will particularly like to teach undergraduate students," he said at the institute in Chennai which is his alma mater.

An NDA delegation met Kalam a few months ago and told him the opposition combine would be with him if he wanted to run for a second term.

"The dignity of the office of President has been enhanced by Kalam. We have told him that if he wants to run for another term, we are with him," BJP president Rajnath Singh had said after he met Kalam three months ago along with L.K. Advani and George Fernandes.

The picture is still hazy despite the fact that Kalam's term will end in the next few months and parties across the political spectrum are wary of revealing their cards.

Several names - Congress veterans Karan Singh and Sushil Kumar Shinde, BJP stalwart and Vice- President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee are “making the round” for the top job.

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Q-shadow looms over rail budget
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 25
The BJP-led opposition today gave a hint of raising the Quattrocchi issue in Parliament tomorrow with full force even as Railway Minister Lalu Prasad will be presenting the rail budget in the Lok Sabha.

Deputy leader of opposition in Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra indicated that the issue of “suppression” of information about the arrest of Quattrocchi for over a fortnight by the government and the CBI would be raised as soon as Parliament would assemble.

He said the BJP had already given a notice of suspension of question hour to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

Prior to the assembly of Parliament, a meeting of NDA leaders has been convened to chalk out the strategy in view of the presentation of the railway budget, Malhotra said.

He charged the Congress-led UPA government of holding back the information about the detention of Quattrocchi by the Argentine authorities for over two weeks, as he was arrested on February 6.

On the other hand, the government side and the CBI said the delay was caused due to the identification of Quattrocchi and translation of voluminous document received from the Argentine Government.

“We will take steps for the extradition of Quattrocchi by holding talks with the Argentine Government since we have no extradition treaty with Buenos Aires,” Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

Meanwhile, CPM leader Jyoti Basu has demanded that the UPA government should come clean on the Quattrocchi issue and make all efforts for his extradition.

On the other hand, Lalu Prasad dismissed the BJP-led opposition’s threat to boycott the rail budget on the Quattrocchi issue, and said they were “obsessed” with the Bofors issue. 

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Mulayam set to repeat feat
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 25
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is about to set a record in the legislative history of the country by seeking a trust vote on two consecutive sittings of the house.

When the Vidhan Sabha last met on January 25, the government had sought a vote of trust following the withdrawal of support from the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Congress.

It was on this day that Yadav had managed to win a vote of confidence in the Vidhan Sabha by 223 votes in a house of 402, amply proving that his government had no need of support of either the Rashtriya Lok Dal or the Congress. This magical figure was reached with the help of at least 14 MLAs from the BJP, the BSP and the RLD.

On Monday, Yadav is set to repeat the feat even as the BSP MLAs have resigned enmasse, Congress is all set to gherao the Vidhan Sabha and the RLD boycott the session.

Only the BJP is all set to participate in the proceedings and raise issues of “public interest”. Speaking to reporters of their legislature party meeting, Leader of the Opposition Lalji Tandon said his party would not follow the BSP and resign.

RLD general secretary Munna Singh Chauhan announced that MLAs from his party could boycott the session. Questioning the need for such a charade, Chauhan said when dates for the Assembly elections had been announced why and to whom was Yadav proving his majority.

It may be recalled that Yadav had announced to prove his majority on the floor of the house following demands for dismissal of his government in the wake of the apex court verdict disqualifying 13 former BSP MLAs and not recognising the BSP split which in effect had disqualified the remaining 24 MLAs as well. It is believed that the government is also slated to bring a Finance Bill in the house to hike the pension of ex-legislators.

Although the BSP's action has somewhat spoiled the fun for the Samajwadi Party by resigning from the Vidhan Sabha, along with 11 defectors, it is also rumoured that the Congress and the RLD might follow suit just before the sitting.

The SP and the BJP had convened their legislature party meetings today to discuss the issue, while Congress MLAs will sit tomorrow morning.

The Congress and the Jan Morcha, led by former prime minister V. P. Singh, have announced to gherao the Vidhan Sabha to protest the ''illegal continuation'' of the SP government.

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Raja Bhaiyya acquitted

Pratapgarh, February 25
A local court here acquitted Uttar Pradesh Food and Civil Supplies Minister and controversial independent MLA, Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias 'Raja Bhaiyya', his father Udai Pratap Singh along with 17 of their supporters.

On May 31, 1997, a Madarsa principal Asratullah Naqvi had lodged an FIR against Raja Bhaiyya, his father and others, alleging he had been assaulted by them.

Hearing the case last evening, local court judge Naresh Kumar acquitted the accused for lack of evidence. — UNI

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Monday Special
Child labourer rolls success story
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 25
There are times when children not only outshine their parents, but also achieve heights if given the opportunity. This is the story of a child labourer in Tamil Nadu who did just that.

Rahamet Nisha, one of eight siblings and born to poor and illiterate parents in Tiruchy in Tamil Nadu, 300 km from here, was a child beedi roller.

She was spotted by an NGO, CHEERS, which enrolled her at a regular school. Rahamet not only came out with an impressive score of 83.4 per cent in the SSLC examinations, but also stood first in her school.

Plagued by poverty, Rahamet, at the age of eight was left with no other option but to roll out beedis to help her parents make both ends meet.

Her father, Abdul Salim, was a primary school dropout, while her mother, Samchar Begum, could only make it to standard eight.

The couple has eight children, three of them girls. The eldest, Asique Hussein, discontinued his studies after standard eight and went to work with a wholesale flower vendor for a paltry wage. The second son, Jagir Hussein, also discontinued his studies after standard eight, because of lack of money. The other children soon gave up their studies to assist their parents in rolling out beedis.

Field officials of CHEERS, led by school teacher Jayalakshmi, spotted Rahamet rolling out beedis in front of her house five years ago and persuaded her parents to enroll her in a school.

“We had a difficult time convincing Rahamet’s parents to send their daughter to school,” said Jayalakshmi.

Rahamet did not disappoint anybody as she studied hard and after clearing standard eight, she joined the Syed Mutharsha Higher Secondary School.

Her parents who initially did not care to educate their daughter, later showed enormous interest in her education. Her father recalled the time when the entire family decided to shift from their hut which had no electricity to a rented house with lighting facility just for Rahamet's convenience.

"We were ready to spend money on rent just for her sake, because she deserved it," said Salim with pride.

Though Salim was a school dropout, his father had studied up to SSLC and his uncle was a degree holder. Salim was determined to educate Rahamet but his main concern was the expenses involved. However, he was confident that he could make it with the help of philanthropists.

“The management of Syed Mutharsha Higher Secondary School has extended all possible help,” Salim said with gratitude.

Rahamet earned around Rs 1,000 working as a salesgirl at a readymade unit during her vacation. The money was spent on her brother who had fallen sick. Now, she is determined to continue her studies with the support of her family members, for whom she still occasionally rolls out beedis.

Rahamet's academic excellence has motivated her brothers and sisters to resume their studies, particularly the youngest one, Ghouse Nisha, who works in a boarding mess, and wants to earn a degree in catering in the future.

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More objective questions in class X paper

New Delhi, February 25
Students appearing for the CBSE Class X examinations this year will face more objective type questions in their mathematics and science and technology papers, a move aimed at helping them finish the tests in time.

“The questions will be set in a manner so that the students will be able to answer all of them within the stipulated time,” CBSE examination controller M C Sharma told PTI.

The mathematics paper, in which most students traditionally struggle, will have 80 marks devoted to theory and 20 to internal assessment.

In the theory paper, there will be seven questions carrying two marks each, 12 questions carrying three marks each and six questions carrying five marks each.

Similarly in science and technology, the theory paper will carry 60 marks comprising 24 questions. There will be three questions carrying five marks each, nine questions carrying three marks each, six questions carrying two marks each and six questions carrying one mark each.

Last year, the paper was of 75 marks with eight one-mark questions, seven two-mark questions, 11 three-mark questions and four, five marks questions.

The time given for the science and technology paper will be two and half hours, as against three hours last year.

There will be no change in the question patterns of the other papers. Over 7 lakh students will appear in the CBSE Class X examinations which start from March 2. — PTI

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Maoists support secessionists
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 25
Even as the Centre promises to adopt strategies to isolate the Maoists, the Left-Wing ultras successfully concluded their ninth party congress somewhere in the “liberated zones” of Bihar-Jharkhand with a call to extend support to secessionist struggles along the “red corridor” from Kashmir to Andhra Pradesh.

Sources disclosed that re-elected general secretary of the CPI(Maoist) Muppala Lakshman Rao alias Ganapathi told the delegates to support “just struggles” of nationalities and sub-nationalities that demand a separate state for their development.

This renewed strategy of the Maoists indicated its idea to establish effective links with the ULFA, the NSCN(IM), and other separatist groups in the North-East and Kashmir.

Sources disclosed that neither the Centre nor the governments of Bihar and Jharkhand had any inkling of this biggest-ever congregation of the Maoists.

It was learnt that the month-long congress, held from the first week of January to the first week of February, took place after a period of 36 years since the eighth congress in 1970.

Going by the inputs available from intelligence sources, around 100 delegates from 16 states, including activists of Maoist parties from Nepal, the Philippines and Bangladesh, attended the meeting. In what seemed to be an open challenge to the Centre and various states, the Maoists vowed to fight the SEZs coming up in different parts of the country.

Besides, the CPI (Maoist) also demanded the pardon of Afzal Guru, convicted in the Parliament attack case, as well as called for the formation of separate states of Telangana and Vidarbha. The congress also asked its cadre to use every possible means to free its detained activists, even it meant organising jailbreaks.

Based on the committee report of the meeting, six top Maoist activists in Andhra Pradesh and 26 in Tamil Nadu are detained under POTA, while 16 in Karnataka and about 25 in north Chhattisgarh are languishing in jails.

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Karunanidhi warns LTTE sympathisers
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 25
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has warned that stern action would be taken against leaders of political parties if they were found to have nexus with the outlawed outfit. His remarks came following the seizure of large quantities of arms and ammunitions being smuggled by LTTE sympathisers to Sri Lanka.

Writing in the DMK's official organ 'Murasoli', he said strict instructions had been issued not to show any leniency to these leaders if their nexus with the LTTE was established.

A strict vigil was being maintained against those who had been attempting to supply arms to the LTTE and some had been arrested. Boats carrying arms and ammunition had been seized and the cargo destroyed, he said.

Karunanidhi said:"The state government is aware of the difference between the political parties' appeal to the Centre on saving the lives of innocent Tamils in the island republic, who were been killed by the Sri Lankan army, and making the state a distribution point for arms and ammunition to the LTTE."

The police in the coastal areas of the state has been asked to maintain a strict vigil over the movements of boats besides monitoring the movement of those known to be LTTE sympathisers.

The 'Q' Branch,the CID of Tamil Nadu police, is investigating the latest seizure of an LTTE boat heavily loaded with arms and explosives. The boat belonged to the naval wing of the LTTE known as Sea Tigers and four Sri Lankan Tamils and an Indian were arrested by the Coast Guard.

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6 jobless youths take poison to attract Kalam

Gulbarga, February 25
Six jobless youths today consumed poison to draw the attention of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to their woes at a function attended by him at a village near here, police said.

The youths, who had completed Industrial Training Course, created a commotion as they shouted slogans seeking jobs when Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy was delivering his speech at the function to launch state government’s ‘Suvarna Gramodaya’ scheme at Srinivasa Saradagi village.

Kalam was seated on the dais along with Union Minister Rajashekaran and opposition leader in the Assembly N Dharam Singh and other dignitaries when the incident occurred. They all were stated to be out of danger. — PTI

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Kajol, Hrithik walk away with Filmfare awards

Mumbai, February 25
Talented Kajol, who made a comeback with "Fanaa", won the award for best actress while Hrithik Roshan walked away with the best actor award for "Dhoom 2" at the 52nd Filmfare awards function here.

This year, Filmfare honoured three renowned film personalities with the lifetime achievement award - Jaya Bachchan, Yash Chopra and Javed Akhtar.

Jaya received the award from none other than husband Amitabh Bachchan.

Also, a special memento was presented in the name of late actress Smita Patil. Her sister, Manya and son, Prateik received the memento.

Rajkumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopra won the critics' award for best film for "Lage Raho Munnabhai". Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra won the best director’s trophy for "Rang De Basanti", which also bagged the best film of the year award.

Abhishek Bachchan won the best supporting actor award for "Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna" and Konkona Sen Sharma, the best supporting actress for "Omkara".

Best comic actor award went to Arshad Warsi for "Lage Raho Munnabhai". Director Raju Hirani accepted the award on the actor's behalf because the actor is in London.

Saif Ali Khan, who is recuperating from chest pain, got the best actor in a negative role award for "Omkara".

Abhijit Joshi and Rajkumar Hirani bagged the best dialogue award for "Lage Raho Munnabhai". Also, Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Hirani won the best story award for the same film while Jaideep Sahni bagged the best screenplay award for "Khosla Ka Ghosla".

A.R. Rahman was given best music director award for "Rang De Basanti".

The award for best lyrics went to Prasoon Joshi for "Chand Sifarish" in "Fanaa". Shaan and Kailash Kher got the best singer male award for the same song and Sunidhi Chauhan bagged the best female singer award for "Beedi" song in "Omkara". The song also won the best choreography award for Ganesh Acharya.

Newcomer Kangana Ranaut's was appreciated for her performance in "Gangster - A Love Story" with the best debut award. "Rang De Basanti" also won the best cinematography award. The very first Fair One Filmfare Technical Awards was given to "Krrish" for best special FX.

Quite a few stars performed at the function, including Rani Mukerji and A.R.Rahman but it was Sridevi who stole the thunder. It was a treat for the audience because she was seen in action after a long hiatus. — IANS

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