SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Rajiv brought Q into Bofors deal: Former envoy
New Delhi, March 2
A former Indian ambassador to Sweden says that if Ottavio Quattrocchi is extradited to India to face trial, his revelations may “create a storm” as he was brought into the multi billion dollar Bofors gun deal at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Khanduri takes oath after Mar 6
BJP finds a prop
Dehra Dun, March 2
On a day marked by dramatic political developments in Uttarakhand, the BJP finally succeeded in securing crucial support of an independent MLA to form its government.

Speaker cornered to grant Holiday
New Delhi, March 2
When Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee called an all-party meeting on the eve of the ongoing Budget session, all leaders who attended endorsed the suggestion that Parliament should have 100 sittings in a year.

New rules on phone tapping notified, govt to SC
New Delhi, March 2
The new rules for tapping of telephones for security reasons was notified by the Centre last night, authorising only the Union Home Secretary and Home Secretaries in the states to take a decision regarding this, the Supreme Court monitoring the issue was informed today.



EARLIER STORIES



I AM FINE

President A P J Abdul Kalam waves to photographers after offering namaz at Fatehpuri mosque in Old Delhi on Friday.
President A P J Abdul Kalam waves to photographers after offering namaz at Fatehpuri mosque in Old Delhi on Friday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Ibobi sworn in Manipur CM
Imphal, March 2
Senior Congress leader O Ibobi Singh, who has the distinction of being Manipur's first Chief Minister to complete full term in office, was today sworn in to the top post for the second consecutive term.

Amar Singh not justified in showing CD: Khurshid
Lucknow, March 2
If Samajwadi Party national general secretary Amar Singh can play a CD before the media reportedly featuring the petitioner who filed the PIL against Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, then why did he rush to the court to restrain the media from broadcasting a similar tape in which he had figured, questioned UPCC president Salman Khurshid today.

Ramoji to bare witch-hunt in book
Hyderabad, March 2
Ramoji Rao, chairman of the Eenadu Group, said he would soon come out with a book detailing the conspiracy behind the Rajasekhara Reddy government's “witch hunt” against him.

SC pulls up NGO on Afzal’s torture issue
New Delhi, March 2
The Supreme Court today rejected a petition filed by an NGO seeking registration of a case against Jammu and Kashmir SP Devinder Singh for alleged torture of Parliament attack case convict Mohd Afzal in 2000, questioning the “locus standi” of the petitioner.

Photo I-cards mandatory to vote in UP
Lucknow, March 2
None of the 11.33 crore voters of Uttar Pradesh will be allowed to exercise their franchise without the mandatory photo identity card, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami declared here yesterday.

VIPs can’t be poll agents in UP: EC
New Delhi, March 2
The Election Commission has barred persons having security cover from becoming polling or counting agents in a move to ensure peaceful poll in Uttar Pradesh.

Film actor and MP Govinda purchases flowers to present at the mausoleum of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer on Friday.
Film actor and MP Govinda purchases flowers to present at the mausoleum of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer on Friday. — PTI

7 lakh appear for CBSE Class X exams
New Delhi, March 2
Lakhs of students today appeared for social sciences papers on the first day of their Class X examination at various centres across the country and abroad.

Serial killer returns, pavement dwellers targeted
Mumbai, March 2
More than a month after the police claimed to have nabbed a serial killer for allegedly killing around 21 pavement dwellers in Mumbai by crushing their heads with stones, the attacks surfaced again with similar murders taking place in the last two days.

IT city to target stray dogs
Bangalore, March 2
The Karnataka Government today assured the panicked citizens that it would end the terror caused by stray dogs within a month by putting to sleep all ferocious and diseased dogs moving in packs in the city.

J&K given 3 weeks to respond to illegal shahtoosh trade
New Delhi, March 2
The Jammu and Kashmir Government was given three weeks by the Supreme Court today to respond to the allegations that its order for proper certification of the use of old “shahtoosh” products for bona fide use of their owners was not being implemented by the state in letter and spirit.

Lalu wooing Bihar, courtesy rail sops
Patna, March 2
Announcing a whooping Rs 37 crore "group award" for railway employees-covering from Group A to D category- on the eve of Holi, railway minister Lalu Prasad yesterday went all out to establish the fact that he was the man committed to the development of Bihar, courtesy the Indian Railways.

EC commits Euro 8m for joint plan
New Delhi, March 2
The European Commission today committed Euro 8 million for the EU-India Action Plan Support Facility Programme (APSF) which envisages greater cooperation in a vast range of key areas, including climate change and clean technologies.

Nadeem withdraws plea against Interpol notice
Mumbai, March 2
Music composer Nadeem today withdrew his application before the Bombay High Court seeking the quashing of an Interpol Red Corner notice and a non-bailable warrant issued against him for his alleged involvement in the murder of former T-series chief Gulshan Kumar.

Pandher sent to judicial custody
Ghaziabad, March 2
After two months in police custody, Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the two suspects in the Nithari killings, was today sent to 14 days judicial custody by a local court here.

GoAir passengers stranded for 18 hours
Bangalore, March 2
Delhi-bound passengers on a GoAir flight were stranded for nearly 18 hours at the airport here without food or water.

Technical flaw probable in MK 42 crash
Mumbai, March 2
The crash of the British-made Seaking MK 42 chopper on Wednesday was most probably due to a technical fault, according to naval officials here. The Seaking is the Navy's workhorse and has been deployed on board its aircraft carriers and frigates. The mishap occurred near INS Kunjali in Colaba.

SC grants Telgi’s wife 2 weeks
New Delhi, March 2
The Supreme Court today granted two weeks’ time to Shahida Abdul K. Telgi, wife of Abdul Karim Telgi, the kingpin in the Rs 2,250-crore fake stamp paper scandal, for filing additional documents proving her innocence.

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Rajiv brought Q into Bofors deal: Former envoy

New Delhi, March 2
A former Indian ambassador to Sweden says that if Ottavio Quattrocchi is extradited to India to face trial, his revelations may “create a storm” as he was brought into the multi billion dollar Bofors gun deal at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

“Quattrocchi was brought into the picture by Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi discussed the Bofors gun deal with the then Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on October 24, 1985,” B.M. Oza, India's ambassador to Sweden between 1984 and 1988 when the Bofors controversy erupted, told IANS in a telephone interview.

“When Rajiv Gandhi met Palme, he said India would give the gun deal to Bofors provided they agreed to four conditions,” Oza said.

“These were: first, it should match the French offer in terms of price. Second, it should offer export credit, and third it should sign a memorandum of understanding with India that it will continue to supply ammunition and spare parts even during the event of a war.

“The fourth condition was that Bofors should change its India agent, who was Win Chadha at that time.
“Subsequently, Palme invited me for a meeting to his office. He referred to his meeting with Rajiv Gandhi in New York and told me about the new
conditions,” said Oza, who has detailed what he calls “incontrovertible evidence” about the complicity of Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors scam in his book “Bofors: The Ambassador's Evidence”.

“Palme asked me to help Sweden’s vice-minister of foreign trade with his programme as he was going to India. Accompanied by the chief of Nobel Industries Anders Carlberg and Bofors chief Martin Ardbo, he came to meet me,” he said.

Later on, Bofors terminated its contract with Chadha and appointed in his place AE Services, a UK-based company with a nominal capital of 100 pounds, which was later found by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to be a front for Quattrocchi.

Bofors and AE Services signed a six-month contract with Bofors, part of the Nobel group of companies, for the period November 1985-March 1986 with the stipulation that it will get around 1.5 per cent of the $2.1 billion gun deal as commission.

“Quattrocchi had no experience or background in armament business. Yet he was paid money for pushing the gun deal. Why?” asked the former envoy, who had also served as ambassador to South Korea and Singapore.

“His calling card was his free access to top ministers and bureaucrats owing to his proximity to Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi,” Oza said.

“It’s a deliberate cover-up. They don’t want any investigation into this matter for obvious reasons,” Oza said while referring to the attempts by the Indian Government to extradite Quattrocchi from Argentina where he was detained as a fugitive following an Interpol red corner notice.

“Besides, what is he going to be tried for in India? He is required to depose in an Indian court and say whether he paid bribes out of huge commission money he was paid to important people to fix the gun deal,” he said.

“If he does reveal names, it’s going to create a storm in India,” he stressed. Although then defence secretary S.K Bhatnagar had told representatives of the bidders of the gun deal tender that no Indian agent will be allowed, the contract signed with Bofors had no such stipulation about the role of middleman in the deal.

Finally, the contract for the supply of 410 Bofors 155 mm guns was signed March 24, 1986 - a date that was very close to the expiry of AE Services’ contract with Bofors.

When the tender for buying the howitzer guns was opened and evaluated, nearly a week before Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, the French Sofma gun’s offer was found to be the best. It had the lowest price and also had some extra incentives which no one else was willing to offer. “What was scandalous and unethical was that Bofors was later allowed to change its bid without re-tendering the contract,” said Oza. — IANS

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Khanduri takes oath after Mar 6
BJP finds a prop
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, March 2
On a day marked by dramatic political developments in Uttarakhand, the BJP finally succeeded in securing crucial support of an independent MLA to form its government.

The BJP's CM-designate B.C. Khanduri told mediapersons this evening that the party had submitted the letter of support given by independent MLA Rajinder Singh Bhandari of the Nandprayag constituency to Uttarakhand Governor Sudarshan Agarwal.

Bhandari has given unconditional support to the BJP. With this, the BJP has now the support of 35 MLAs required to prove the majority in the House.

The Governor had also invited him to form the government, Khanduri said, adding that he might take oath of office any day after March 6.

The BJP faced an embarrassing situation earlier in the day when two of the total three independent MLAs seemed to have ditched it, allegedly at the behest of the Congress. The BJP had accused state Congress chief Harish Rawat of trying to influence the two independent MLAs, Yashpal Benaam and Rajinder Singh Bhandari, staying in a local hotel last night.

On behalf of other two independents, Benaam also refuted the BJP claim of having got the support of the two independent MLAs yesterday after the meeting of the BJP legislature party organised to elect its leader. Contrary to the claim of support made by central BJP observer Gopinath Munde, Khanduri clarified that they had submitted the name of only one MLA.

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Speaker cornered to grant Holiday
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
When Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee called an all-party meeting on the eve of the ongoing Budget session, all leaders who attended endorsed the suggestion that Parliament should have 100 sittings in a year.

But it was a different story once the session started. Not only did angry Opposition parties derail proceedings during the first week but did not hesitate to plead for an extra holiday on Monday in view of Holi. Although Chatterjee was averse to this suggestion, he was left with little choice when Rajya Sabha chairman and Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat also took up the case.

When this suggestion was put to him at the first business advisory committee, Chatterjee had flatly refused on the plea that since Holi is on Sunday, members would have plenty of time to get back from their constituencies to attend the session on Monday. Samajwadi Party leader Ramji Lal Suman and BJP’s deputy leader V.K Malhotra were most vociferous in demanding a day off for Holi festivities.

Realising that Chatterjee was in no mood to oblige them, the members changed track and instead asked their colleagues in the Rajya Sabha to take up this matter with the chairman. Shekhawat proved to be more receptive and declared a holiday on Monday.

He then rang up the Lok Sabha Speaker to do the same. Chatterjee eventually gave in as he could hardly refuse the Vice-President. He called the floor leaders this morning to discuss the matter but made it clear that he was not happy with this decision. The Left parties and the BJD agreed that Parliament sittings should not be curtailed.

On every session-eve, all Opposition parties invariably complain that Parliament should have more sittings and that the government of the day is shying away from facing the House. The same story was repeated this time as well. But as soon as the session got underway, the BJP-led Opposition was quick to stall proceedings to protest against the government’s handling of the Quattrocchi affair, so much so that they did not extend the courtesy of hearing railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav present his budget. At the same time, political parties having high stakes in next month’s UP assembly poll want the present session to be rescheduled. The government has decided not to disturb the first phase which will end on March 21 as it has to complete the crucial financial business in this period.

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New rules on phone tapping notified, govt to SC
S. S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 2
The new rules for tapping of telephones for security reasons was notified by the Centre last night, authorising only the Union Home Secretary and Home Secretaries in the states to take a decision regarding this, the Supreme Court monitoring the issue was informed today.

The re-framed rules on tapping of telephones under the Indian Telegraph Act, provide that unless sanction was accorded by the Union Home Secretary or Home Secretary of a state concerned, no phone of a person could be intercepted.

A Bench of Justice C.K Thakker and Justice V.S Sirpurkar was told by the government counsel that the notified rules would be placed on record within a week.

The issue had arisen from the last year’s alleged tapping of Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh’s telephone by the Delhi Police, which he had challenged in the court claiming that it was done illegally and in violation of the apex court guidelines laid in a judgement of 1996 in Peoples Union of Civil Liberties case.

The court had then laid down the guidelines in absence of clear rules on tapping of phones. The court had said that with the advent of new technology in interception it had become necessary in the interest of national security that the government reframed the rules. It had subsequently asked the government to reframe the rules.

The notified rules also provide setting up of a review committee to function as a monitoring body comprising cabinet secretary, secretary legal affairs and telecom secretary at the Centre and chief secretary, secretary, law, and any other secretary in the states. The review panels would meet at least once in two months.

In case of extreme emergency, the order of interception could be passed by a joint secretary level officer both in the Centre and the states, provided he has due authorisation from the union home secretary or the home secretary of the state concerned.

Such authorisation could be given by them to the officers of the investigating agencies also but to an officer of IG level. In the cases of delegated authorisation “the competent authority concerned shall be informed of such interception by approving authority within three working days and that such interceptions shall be got confirmed by the competent authority within seven working days,” the rules laid down.

The new rules clearly provided that if the confirmation from the competent authority did not come within the stipulated time, the interception “shall” cease and fresh approval has to be taken.

Before giving the approval, a clear reason has to be assigned by the authority concerned and a copy of the same has to be given to the review committee within seven working days of the approval.

The duly approved interception order would remain in force for 60 days unless revoked and could be renewed and in that case, the tapping period would not be more than 180 days.

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Ibobi sworn in Manipur CM

Imphal, March 2
Senior Congress leader O Ibobi Singh, who has the distinction of being Manipur's first Chief Minister to complete full term in office, was today sworn in to the top post for the second consecutive term.

Soon after taking the oath, Ibobi Singh told mediapersons that he would expand his ministry after the Holi.

He said he had the support of the CPI, which was a constituent of the earlier Secular Progressive Front ministry headed by him, besides the RJD.

Governor S. S. Sidhu administered the oath of office and secrecy to Singh.

Newly-elected MLAs, party presidents, Union minister of state Oscar Fernandes and high civil and police officials attended the ceremony. — PTI

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Amar Singh not justified in showing CD: Khurshid
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 2
If Samajwadi Party national general secretary Amar Singh can play a CD before the media reportedly featuring the petitioner who filed the PIL against Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, then why did he rush to the court to restrain the media from broadcasting a similar tape in which he had figured, questioned UPCC president Salman Khurshid today.

Accusing Amar Singh of not respecting others’ freedom of expression, Khurshid said the one-line court order which Amar Singh had got not allowing the media to play his CDs should have led to a wider public debate on the issue of privacy vs public interest.

Khurshid, himself a lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court, was of the opinion that “public interest” should be the touchstone in deciding on such issues. “If Amar Singh had played the CD of the petitioner V. Chaturvedi reportedly in conversation with a journalist, then even his CD in which he is in conversation with key actors, including the CM and a leading industrialist, should have been played, opined Khurshid.

Welcoming the apex court’s judgement into the disproportionate assets case against the Chief Minister and his family, the UPCC president said Yadav could not brush aside the verdict by claiming that it did not indict him. “It is obvious that the court decided for a preliminary CBI investigation on the basis of the evidence presented before it”.

Briefing the media about the parliamentary committee meeting held at the party headquarters today Khurshid said after many hours of deliberations many names had been shortlisted and it had been decided to leave the final fine-tuning to party president Sonia Gandhi.

He said the party was aiming to release the final list of 403 candidates between March 10 to 13 to enable the candidates get enough time to campaign.

Not ruling out an alliance with the Jan Morcha Khurshid said talks were in progress in New Delhi and if something did come through adjustments would be made in the candidates’ list accordingly.

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Ramoji to bare witch-hunt in book
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 2
Ramoji Rao, chairman of the Eenadu Group, said he would soon come out with a book detailing the conspiracy behind the Rajasekhara Reddy government's “witch hunt” against him.

“The government has been orchestrating a malicious campaign against me according to a sinister plan. People should know the truth behind this controversy. I will soon come out with a book, providing a chronological order of the events of this sordid saga. Through this book, I want the people to judge who is right and who is wrong - the government or me,” the media baron said in a statement here today.

He also made it clear that his newspaper Eenadu would not budge an inch in its mission of exposing corruption in high places. “It is foolish to presume that Eenadu will yield to such pressures and threats and give up its duty towards the people,” Ramoji wrote in a front-page piece.

The state government had alleged that Margadarsi Financiers, a group company of Ramoji, mobilised Rs 2,600 crore deposits against RBI regulations, and initiated criminal proceedings against the company, though no complaint was received from among nearly 2.5 lakh depositors.

Accusing the Congress Government of scheming to destroy his business interests in a bid to cripple his media organisation, Rao said his detractors knew perfectly well that lakhs of depositors in his company would be put to distress by the actions of the government.

“Since it is me you want to target, you can file any number of cases against me. But don’t resort to actions that will cause unnecessary suffering to the depositors, who trusted me for decades to protect their money,” the statement in Telugu said.

The government had last week obtained search warrants against Margadarsi Financiers and conducted raids on its offices, besides locking up trunks full of files containing details of depositors.

If the pretensions of the state government to protect the interests of depositors were true, it should immediately stop all actions aimed at causing confusion among them, the former Editors' Guild chairman pointed out, asking the government not to come in the way of regular payments to depositors by disrupting the functioning of the company.

Expressing a deep sense of gratitude to depositors who continued to trust him despite the “motivated campaign”, Ramoji Rao said he had taken all precautions to ensure that payments on maturity continued as usual. “The last paisa to the last depositor would be paid,” he promised.

Disclosing that he had mobilised funds through selling shares of Ushodaya Enterprises, another group company, as well as through raising bank loans, he assured the depositors that their confidence in him all along would be vindicated despite all odds.

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SC pulls up NGO on Afzal’s torture issue
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 2
The Supreme Court today rejected a petition filed by an NGO seeking registration of a case against Jammu and Kashmir SP Devinder Singh for alleged torture of Parliament attack case convict Mohd Afzal in 2000, questioning the “locus standi” of the petitioner.

Afzal, awarded death sentence for involving in the December 13, 2001 Parliament attack conspiracy, is lodged in the Tihar jail as his mercy petition is pending before the President.

The Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL) moved a petition before a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R. V. Raveendran, based on a recent interview of Devinder Singh to a private TV channel stating that he had questioned Afzal in 2000 about his involvement in terror activities and training in PoK.

The NGO’s counsel Prashant Bhushan claimed that Singh, who then was a DSP in the Special Task Force of J and K, had admitted of “torturing” Afzal for getting information from him about slain terrorist Gazi Baba and, therefore, a case should be registered against him for violating human rights.

Coming down heavily on the NGO after finding that it was being run from a lawyer’s chamber, the court questioned its locus standi to raise such an issue after seven years when the matter has been given finality by the apex court.

The court also questioned the NGO why the issue was not raised by the convict when he was under trial and the case was heard in appeal by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court.

The court took a serious view of any one rushing to the Supreme Court on such “frivolous issues”, reminding the petitioner’s counsel that there was a proper procedure laid down in the law to register a case if they had any grievance against any officer.

When the exasperated court asked the NGO’s counsel whether any case was registered by the convict for the alleged torture or any “confession” was recorded by Singh, the counsel for the NGO replied in negative. Singh is now SP in J and K.

The Bench made it clear that when the required procedure of law for registering a case had not been followed, no writ direction could be issued by the Court.

“If you have any grievance, go to the police and register the case”, the court said, making it further clear that in this case only the procedure of the Ranbir Penal Code, applicable in J and K, would apply as the alleged incident had taken place in the state, where IPC provisions were not applicable.

Sensing the tough stand taken by the court, the NGO chose to withdraw the petition and it was declared as “dismissed as withdrawn” by the Bench.

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Photo I-cards mandatory to vote in UP
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 2
None of the 11.33 crore voters of Uttar Pradesh will be allowed to exercise their franchise without the mandatory photo identity card, Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami declared here yesterday.

Addressing the media, along with his colleagues at the end of a hectic two-day review of preparation of the elections in the state, Gopalswami said the seven-phase poll to be held between April 7 and May 8 would be completely free and fair. He was accompanied by election commissioners Navin Chawla, SY Qureshi, deputy election commissioner Bala Krishnan and CEO A.K. Bishnoi.

He said that setting aside the earlier criteria of sensitive and hypersensitive booths, every one of the 1,09,726 polling booths in the state would be manned by the central paramilitary force. This is exactly what the EC had done during the Bihar and West Bengal poll, he informed.

Admitting that representatives of the national and state-level political parties, which met him and his colleagues on Wednesday, had shared their apprehensions regarding the transfer of officials in back date, misuse of licenced and illegal arms, violation of model code of conduct by ministers, intimidation of voters and anti-social elements influencing the poll process.

However, Gopalswami said he and his colleagues were looking into every complaint and would not hesitate to take action once enough evidence was found in a case.

Refusing to make any concessions in his decision of not letting any voter cast his vote without the photo-identity card, the CEC expressed satisfaction at the pace at which the work of issuance of photo-identity cards was continuing.

While in 10 worst districts (Mahoba, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Etah, Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar etc.) where only 62 to 63 per cent of voters had received cards, Gopalswami was confident that by elections, 95 per cent of voters would have their cards with them. The remaining 5 per cent, he maintained, would not be serious voters, as they would not have made the effort to get their cards.

He said to closely monitor the progress in this work, he would take phase-wise review meetings.

The two new features in the EVM machines, to be used during the Uttar Pradesh poll, is that they would have Braille numbers embossed upon them unlike stickers used till now.

More importantly, the machines would have a five-year memory and would be tamper proof. Any tampering with them would be recorded in the memory along with time and date, pointed out Gopalswami.

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VIPs can’t be poll agents in UP: EC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
The Election Commission has barred persons having security cover from becoming polling or counting agents in a move to ensure peaceful poll in Uttar Pradesh.

A tendency has been observed on part of some candidates to appoint a sitting minister, MP or MLA as their polling and counting agent and these persons generally have security cover provided by the state government or security agencies, the commission said.

In view of the embargo placed by the Representation of the People Act, no security guard could move around polling stations which in turn restricted the movement of VIPs, defeating the very purpose of their appointment, the EC said in a letter to the UP Chief Secretary.

It was observed that on several occasions in the past, requests had been received by returning officers from VIPs to allow them to relinquish their security cover for poll purposes.

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7 lakh appear for CBSE Class X exams

New Delhi, March 2
Lakhs of students today appeared for social sciences papers on the first day of their Class X examination at various centres across the country and abroad.

About five lakh students from 4,789 CBSE-affiliated schools had registered themselves with the central education body for the examination across various disciplines.

Overall, seven lakh students have registered themselves for the Class X examination that will be held at 2,490 centres.

In Delhi, there are 2,07,317 candidates for the Class X examination that will be held across 555 centres.

The Class XII examination, which began yesterday, is being conducted at 2,243 centres across the country and 33 centres in foreign countries.

In Delhi, 1,56,257 students have registered for the Class XII examination that are being held at 533 centres here.

The board has made bulkier answersheets this time so that students do not waste time asking for supplementary pages.

The CBSE is also introducing hi-tech optical character reading (OCR) sheets for computerised evaluation in science practicals for Class X. The Class X examination will continue up till March 28. — PTI

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Serial killer returns, pavement dwellers targeted
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 2
More than a month after the police claimed to have nabbed a serial killer for allegedly killing around 21 pavement dwellers in Mumbai by crushing their heads with stones, the attacks surfaced again with similar murders taking place in the last two days.

While one person was killed late on Wednesday night, a second person survived a gruesome attack close to the spots where several homeless men were found murdered over the past several months.

Raju Gupta (25), a jobless youth, was allegedly lured to an isolated place between Mumbai Central and the Grant Road railway stations and brutally stabbed. Gupta, who survived the attack, told the police that he was promised a job by his assailant, who took him around the city before attacking him. Gupta was rushed to a hospital early this morning by passersby. Later today, the police said Gupta has identified one person as his alleged attacker. The police are probing a homosexuality angle to the incident.

Last month, the police claimed to have closed a case pertaining to the arrest of a drug addict Ravindra Kantrole. It said Kantrole had converted to Islam and was targeting homosexuals since the faith proscribes sex between people of the same gender. After the recent killings, the police has blamed the attacks on a gang of killers who they said were linked to Kantrole.

Kantrole, who was subjected to lie-detector tests, claimed to have killed 45 persons, according to the police. He allegedly left behind an empty beer can at every attack site, earning him Kantrole the nickname ‘beer’ man.

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IT city to target stray dogs
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, March 2
The Karnataka Government today assured the panicked citizens that it would end the terror caused by stray dogs within a month by putting to sleep all ferocious and diseased dogs moving in packs in the city.

This follows yesterday's protests by the enraged citizens against the Brihut Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) after a pack of 15 dogs mauled a four-year-old boy to death in the BEML layout. Four-year-old Manjunath was mauled to death while he was playing outside his house and even efforts by onlookers to chase the dogs away with stones and clubs could not save his life.

Nearly two months back, a young girl succumbed to her injuries in a similar manner after being attacked by a pack of dogs. Several other children have also been injured in attacks by dogs recently.

Health Minister R. Ashok, while speaking to newsmen, said all diseased and ferocious dogs would be put to sleep "mercilessly". He said the state was also in the process of requesting the Centre to amend the existing Act which prohibited mercy killings of dogs and which was coming in the way of tackling the menace of stray dogs that had swelled to around 60,000 in the city. The minister said the government was also in the process of having a re-look at the entire Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme which was aimed at restricting the population of stray dogs.

He said NGOs had been entrusted with running the programme in Bangalore but had apparently failed to implement it effectively. BBMP commissioner K. Jairaj announced a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the victim's family yesterday.

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J&K given 3 weeks to respond to illegal shahtoosh trade
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 2
The Jammu and Kashmir Government was given three weeks by the Supreme Court today to respond to the allegations that its order for proper certification of the use of old “shahtoosh” products for bona fide use of their owners was not being implemented by the state in letter and spirit.

The manufacturing and trade of shahtoosh shawls, made of the wool of “Chiru”, the Himalayan antelope declared an endangered specie, had been banned in the country and only the old products in possession of persons living in the valley were allowed under the due certification from authorities concerned.

The court in an order, issued in November 2005, had directed the J and K Government to enforce the ban completely and cover all old products by issuing the required certificates to ensure that their trade was stopped forthwith.

Despite the ban, the manufacturing and trade of the shahtoosh shawls was going on in the state illegally, advocate Sanjay Parikh told a Bench of Chief Justice K.G Balakrishnan and Justice R.V Raveendran on a petition by noted conservationist Ashok Kumar.

However, the J and K Advocate General contested the claim of the petitioner and said no illegal trade and manufacturing of shahtoosh shawls was permitted in the state. But Parikh alleged that even after the apex court’s 2005 order, Chiru wool in large quantity had been seized by the authorities, which indicated that the manufacturing was going on.

“How can Chiru wool weighing about 66 or 71 kg, seized by the authorities be for the bona fide use of a person,” he asked.

In view of the allegations made by the petitioner, the court allowed three week’s time to the state government to respond to it.

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Lalu wooing Bihar, courtesy rail sops
Ambarish Dutta

Tribune News Service

Patna, March 2
Announcing a whooping Rs 37 crore "group award" for railway employees-covering from Group A to D category- on the eve of Holi, railway minister Lalu Prasad yesterday went all out to establish the fact that he was the man committed to the development of Bihar, courtesy the Indian Railways.

He is working step in step to match his bete noire Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is often referred to as the ‘vikash purush’.

Addressing mediapersons here in presence of his better half, former Chief Minister Rabri Devi, Lalu spoke of the proposed Rs 15,000 crore investments for Bihar through various railway projects in the past three years.

Setting up of a rail wheel factory in Chapra, a wagon workshop at Sonepur, diesel locomotive at Saran, unloadable wagon repair workshop at Samastipur, a locomotive factory at Madhepura and establishment of a high-axle load wagon factory at Dalmiyanagar are to name a few that formed Lalu`s dream package for Bihar.

Besides, out of the 40 new trains announced by Lalu, Bihar got six in 2007-08 Budget.

In the previous Budget, Bihar had bagged 15 out of 55 new trains announced by him. While gauge conversion work was already on in all parts of the state, 48 stations would be developed as a model in Bihar alone.

He claimed to create over 1 lakh direct and indirect jobs through the Railways in the state once all projects were in place by 2009.

Bihar is scheduled to face its next Assembly elections in 2010.

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EC commits Euro 8m for joint plan
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 2
The European Commission today committed Euro 8 million for the EU-India Action Plan Support Facility Programme (APSF) which envisages greater cooperation in a vast range of key areas, including climate change and clean technologies.

The APSF has been designed to implement the Joint Action Plan endorsed at the EU-India Summit of September 2005 in the framework of the EU-India Strategic Partnership adopted in November 2004. The

Strategic Partnership acknowledged India as one of the world's most important international actors along with the USA, China, Canada and Russia.

The Head of delegation of the European Commission to India, Bhutan and Nepal, Ambassador Francisco da Câmara Gomes and India's Joint Secretary of ministry of finance, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, signed the Financing Agreement for the APSF here today.

“The EU-India Action Plan Support Facility Programme is a decisive instrument for providing a prompt and immediate support to sector policy dialogues between the EU and the Government of India and taking action in the main priority areas identified by the Joint Action Plan," said Ambassador Francisco da Câmara Gomes.

The APSF will provide support to policy dialogues in the key sectors of environment, energy , education, employment, labour issues and social policy and industry.

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Nadeem withdraws plea against Interpol notice

Mumbai, March 2
Music composer Nadeem today withdrew his application before the Bombay High Court seeking the quashing of an Interpol Red Corner notice and a non-bailable warrant issued against him for his alleged involvement in the murder of former T-series chief Gulshan Kumar.

Nadeem's father Yusuf Saifee had filed an application in the high court, saying that the two notices against his son had hindered him from travelling outside Britain, where he has taken asylum.

The Red Corner notice and the warrant had been issued against Nadeem in September 1997 for his alleged involvement in the murder case.

Nadeem's extradition from Britain was stopped by an order of that country's Supreme Court after his lawyers pleaded that the Indian judicial system was not fair. — PTI

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Pandher sent to judicial custody

Ghaziabad, March 2
After two months in police custody, Moninder Singh Pandher, one of the two suspects in the Nithari killings, was today sent to 14 days judicial custody by a local court here.

Special Judge Sapna Mishra sent Pandher to judicial custody till March 15 as his CBI remand ended today.

Surender Koli, Pandher's servant and co-suspect, is in Delhi for recording his confession before a magistrate. The recording of the statement will continue today.

There was tight security at the court premises when Pandher was brought to the court as the suspects had to face a mob fury on January 25 when lawyers and the public thrashed them outside the court.

Both of them have been in custody since December 30 last year.

The police had on December 29 recovered skulls and human remains from a drain behind Pandher's D-5, Sector 31 residence in Noida, unearthing serial killings of children and women allegedly by him and his domestic help Koli. — PTI

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GoAir passengers stranded for 18 hours
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, March 2
Delhi-bound passengers on a GoAir flight were stranded for nearly 18 hours at the airport here without food or water.

According to sources, the flight, which was slated to leave Bangalore at 9:30 p.m. last night, finally left for Delhi at 3 p.m. today.

Officials here said the flight finally took off at 2 a.m. but was forced to come back to Bangalore due to poor weather.

The passengers, however, claimed that they had been completely ignored and even misled by GoAir officials. They said the crew of the plane forsook them within minutes of the re-landing in Bangalore and there was no one to guide them at all. Food available in the plane finished soon and the toilet became unusable. They added that their plight was highlighted only when they decided to march towards the runaway, which is constantly guarded.

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Technical flaw probable in MK 42 crash

Mumbai, March 2
The crash of the British-made Seaking MK 42 chopper on Wednesday was most probably due to a technical fault, according to naval officials here. The Seaking is the Navy's workhorse and has been deployed on board its aircraft carriers and frigates. The mishap occurred near INS Kunjali in Colaba.

It was the fourth such mishap involving the Seaking ever since it was inducted nearly 20 years ago. The loss leaves the Indian Navy with 16 Seaking MK 42 choppers in service.

As per normal practice, a board of inquiry has been set up to investigate the crash. Naval officials say the board will examine the reasons behind the crash and make recommendations, if any. — TNS

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SC grants Telgi’s wife 2 weeks

New Delhi, March 2
The Supreme Court today granted two weeks’ time to Shahida Abdul K. Telgi, wife of Abdul Karim Telgi, the kingpin in the Rs 2,250-crore fake stamp paper scandal, for filing additional documents proving her innocence.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and justice R.V. Ravindran observed, ''You are fully involved in the scam and you have been making payments and you are aware of all facts concerning the case. — UNI

 

 

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