SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

No insurgent camps, Dhaka assures Delhi
New Delhi, March 3
Bangladesh today assured India that it would not provide refuge to ultras fleeing from the North-East and to take effective steps to check infiltration from its side even as it maintained that no camps of Indian insurgents existed on its soil.

UP poll: Nitish wants to tie up with BJP
Seeks consolidation of NDA
Patna, March 3
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar now favours a respectable alliance with the BJP, the JD(U) and the Apna Dal to fight the UP elections which is being considered as the "mother of all Assembly elections".

BJP secures UKD support in Uttarakhand
Dehra Dun, March 3
The BJP, which is all set to form the government in Uttarakhand, today succeeded in securing support from the three-member Uttarakhand Kranti Dal.

Bhopal gas survivors protest, 9 held
Bhopal, March 3
Nine persons were arrested this afternoon after hundreds of women, led by various organisations supporting a four-point charter of demands by Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims, staged a demonstration in front of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s residence.
Survivors of the Union Carbide disaster participate in a symbolic demonstration near the Chief Minister’s residence in Bhopal on Saturday Survivors of the Union Carbide disaster participate in a symbolic demonstration near the Chief Minister’s residence in Bhopal on Saturday. — PTI photo











EARLIER STORIES




Kalam, PM greet people 
New Delhi, March 3
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today extended Holi greetings to people and expressed the hope that the festival of colours would usher in a new resolve to forge ahead as a nation.

Riot of colours, tearing of clothes to mark Lalu’s Holi 
Patna,March 3
As the rail is back on tracks under his stewardship so is his brand of "kapdaphad" Holi. Holi in Bihar indeed was not in its true colour last year in absence of "kapdaphad" (tearing off clothes) celebration by Lalu.

Bihar’s kho-kho glory labours for survival
Patna, March 3
In his 40s, Rajendra Kewat knows that corporate sponsorship for kho-kho, the game of the “aam aadmi” in rural India, is still a distant dream. However, he has his own story of glory. He captained the Bihar kho-kho team to bring fame to the state and was declared the best player at the national kho-kho games in 1987, fighting against abject poverty.

RS byelections in Punjab, Haryana on March 29
New Delhi, March 3
The election commission today announced the byelection to fill two vacancies, one each from Punjab and Haryana, in the Rajya Sabha. The election will be held on March 29.

Great Indian bustard’s population on the decline
New Delhi, March 3
The population of the great Indian bustard is declining in its natural habitat in Rajasthan. The ministry of environment and forests says the reasons are biotic pressure and degradation and reduction in natural grassland habitat.

Pronouncing talaq once can’t lead to divorce
Muzaffarnagar, March 3
A Shariat court here has ruled that pronouncing talaq only once can not lead to divorce and the woman can be reunited with her husband without tying knot with another man.

UP Cong seeks ban on ‘Nishabd’
Lucknow, March 3
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh today demanded a ban on the Ram Gopal Varma film “Nishabd”, where Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan romances a young girl Jiah Khan, who is more than 40 years younger to him.

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No insurgent camps, Dhaka assures Delhi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
Bangladesh today assured India that it would not provide refuge to ultras fleeing from the North-East and to take effective steps to check infiltration from its side even as it maintained that no camps of Indian insurgents existed on its soil.

Dhaka also agreed to cooperate in tackling cross-border smuggling of drugs and cattle, besides agreeing to allow developmental activities within 150 yards of the border and tea plantations till the zero line, barring certain stretches.

An agreement regarding these was arrived at after four days of discussions between the directors-general of the Border Security Force (BSF) A.K. Mitra and Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) Major Shakil Ahmed here as part of the Indo-Bangladesh Border Coordination Conference.

“We are determined to ensure that miscreants from India do not get a breathing space in Bangladesh…Any insurgent from India taking sanctuary in Bangladesh will be arrested and put through the law,” Major Ahmed said at a joint media interaction with his BSF counterpart Mitra after the conclusion of the four-day talks.

Asserting that there were no insurgent camps in Bangladesh, Major Ahmed said Dhaka had investigated on the lists, though outdated and old, given by India from time to time about the presence of insurgent camps in the country.

He, however, said any insurgent from India taking sanctuary in Bangladesh would be arrested and put through the law. In this context, he pointed out that the BDR had detained eight persons who had entered the country from the North-East during the past two months.

India has been seeking Bangladesh’s help to smash insurgent camps in that country and had handed over a list of 176 camps of various insurgent groups like ULFA, the National Liberation Front of Tripura, the All-Tripura Tiger Force, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation in Bangladesh.

The BSF director-general said the list was drawn up on the basis of intelligence inputs and “we will not be able to say emphatically that it is accurate”. Besides, there were mobile camps also which kept shifting, he said.

The bi-annual meeting of the border security officials also decided to take a host of confidence-building measures, including increasing the area and frequency of simultaneous joint patrolling and discussing the feasibility for starting a joint retreat ceremony at Patrapole in West Bengal on the lines of the Wagah border.

Asked specifically about ULFA leader Anup Chetiya, the BDR chief sought to sidestep the question, saying that a writ petition in this regard was pending in a high court in Bangladesh and “we cannot do much about it”.

Both sides also recognised the need to keep a check on touts who play a key role in trafficking of women and children from Bangladesh into India and decided to increase institutional interaction in the field of sports.

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UP poll: Nitish wants to tie up with BJP
Seeks consolidation of NDA
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 3
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar now favours a respectable alliance with the BJP, the JD(U) and the Apna Dal to fight the UP elections which is being considered as the "mother of all Assembly elections".

This is a reversal to the earlier JD(U) stand when it explored the possibility to dump the BJP and fight the UP elections with the Apna Dal.

The JD(U) move to tie-up with th Apna Dal, a regional outfit of eastern UP, without the BJP in early December last year had irked NDA convener and former JD(U) Chief George Fernandes.

Fernandes had openly disagreed to the said move by Nitish and the party chief Sharad Yadav at the cost of the BJP.

But the improved performance of the BJP in Punjab and Uttarakhand has now prompted Nitish-Sharad duo to rethink on their strategy to ignore the saffron brigade in the UP elections.

Nitish claimed that an alliance among the BJP, the JD(U) and the Apna Dal would benefit the NDA there.

Sources in the JD(U) disclosed that Nitish would personally talk to the BJP president and former UP Chief Minister Rajnath Singh on this issue. Nitish has already spoken to Apna Dal chief Sonelal Patel asking him to soften his stand towards the BJP.

The Apna Dal, having sizeable presence among Kurmis in eastern UP, was being considered as a key partner by the JD(U) in its expansion plan in UP in view of the common caste considerations of the two parties. Besides, politics in eastern UP has some common linkage with adjacent Bihar.

Once close to the BJP, the Apna Dal had later dissociated itself from it in 2002 elections owing to differences on seat sharing and other related issues. Subsequently, the Apna Dal had made serious inroads into the BJP vote bank and caused the latter’s defeat in a number of seats in 2002.

With regards to the consolidation of th NDA, the JD(U) felt that the success of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP partnership in Punjab has only highlighted the critical role of alliances in the saffron party's comeback plans almost three years after the NDA was voted out of power at the Centre.”

After UP the ultimate target is 2009 the Lok Sabha elections", sources in the JD(U) said.

The JD(U) argued that in 2004, the BJP's belief that it could reduce its dependence on poll partners based on the "India shining" notion, saw it make a set of tactical mistakes.

Subsequently, alliances with Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal and the DMK were snapped and a tie-up with the Asom Gana Parishad rejected. While the BJP broke with old allies, it failed to bring on board the new ones.

The BJP’s relation with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal was also not based on a solid proposition.

According to the JD(U), the BJP finally realised the importance of alliance politics after it had faced a tough challenge in Bihar.

Initially, in February, 2005, elections in Bihar, the state BJP had objected to the idea of projecting Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister.

But it was before October-November elections when former BJP president L.K. Advani had openly acknowledged the mistake of not projecting Nitish as the chief ministerial candidate for the NDA in February elections.

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BJP secures UKD support in Uttarakhand

Dehra Dun, March 3
The BJP, which is all set to form the government in Uttarakhand, today succeeded in securing support from the three-member Uttarakhand Kranti Dal.
The UKD handed over the letter of support to governor Sudarshan Agarwal this evening, party sources said.

The party, which extended issue-based support to the BJP and handed over a nine-point charter of demands to it earlier, today claimed that most of its demands were accepted by the party in principle.

UKD leader Shivanand Chamoli said the BJP had accepted most of UKD’s demands in principle and assured it to form a committee to look into a key demand of shifting of state’s capital to Gairsain.

The BJP won 34 out of the 69 constituencies in February 21 polls, but was short of one seat for majority.

The party later got support of two independent MLAs, Yashpal Benam and Rajendra Singh Bhandari.— PTI

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Bhopal gas survivors protest, 9 held

Bhopal, March 3
Nine persons were arrested this afternoon after hundreds of women, led by various organisations supporting a four-point charter of demands by Bhopal Gas Tragedy victims, staged a demonstration in front of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s residence.

The protesters, who reached the place in two vehicles, were adamant about meeting Chouhan, squatted on the road and shouted slogans.

“The arrests were executed as the women were in a prohibited area. Those apprehended included the Bhopal Group for Information and Action’s Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan’s Rasheeda Bi, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh’s Farida Bi and Shahzadi Bi. They were attempting to force their way in,” said SP Anant Kumar Singh.

Meanwhile, Dhingra said the demonstrators draped shrouds around themselves after their demands were not met. “For a long time, the women were seeking a meeting with the chief minister as they wished to discuss the problems of gas tragedy-affected areas”. The charter of demands included making arrangements for the medical treatment of victims, providing jobs, ensuring rehabilitation, supplying pure water and disposing of chemical waste accumulated in the now-closed Union Carbide factory premises. — UNI

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Kalam, PM greet people 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today extended Holi greetings to people and expressed the hope that the festival of colours would usher in a new resolve to forge ahead as a nation.

“May this year's festival strengthen fraternal bonds aamong our people and bring peace and prosperity to our nation,” Kalam said in his greetings to the people.

He said the festival of colours highlighted the multi- religious harmony and the spirit of tolerance that had been the essence of culture and civilisation in the country.

Observing that the festival not only spread cheer in the lives but also strengthened bonds among the people, the Prime Minister expressed the hope that the change of season would usher in a new hope for a brighter future and a new resolve to forge ahead as a nation.

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Riot of colours, tearing of clothes to mark Lalu’s Holi 
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna,March 3
As the rail is back on tracks under his stewardship so is his brand of "kapdaphad" Holi. Holi in Bihar indeed was not in its true colour last year in absence of "kapdaphad" (tearing off clothes) celebration by Lalu.

It was a low-key affair last year for Lalu as the RJD boss was depressed following his defeat in October-November poll in 2005. But Lalu Prasad has promised to unleash riots of colour this time to celebrate Holi at the official residence of his better half and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi tomorrow.

Euphoric over his record surplus Budget, Lalu is in upbeat mood now. Besides,the designated court of the CBI in December last acquitted him and his wife of the disproportionate assets (DA) case. Lalu, thus, plans to dance to drum beats and sing Bhojpuri songs to offer a memorable Holi.

There will be herbal colour,sweets,bhang and thandai. Lalu said:"After presenting my dream Railway Budget with a profit of Rs 20,000 crore, I am now in a mood to celebrate Holi in my very own style. It is going to be ‘kapdaphad’ Holi for me once more". Lalu was known for tearing off clothes of his party leaders, including ministers,officials and people who visit him on Holi.

During their 15 years rule in Bihar, Lalu-Rabri would host a big Holi party every year, except for the year when Lalu was in jail on charges of his involvement in the multi-million rupees fodder scam in the late 90s.

With Lalu back into action, the "pichkari" (sprayers) named after him is also a super duper hit this time. In contrast, the present Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will celebrate Holi in a simple and low-key fashion

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Bihar’s kho-kho glory labours for survival
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 3
In his 40s, Rajendra Kewat knows that corporate sponsorship for kho-kho, the game of the “aam aadmi” in rural India, is still a distant dream.
However, he has his own story of glory. He captained the Bihar kho-kho team to bring fame to the state and was declared the best player at the national kho-kho games in 1987, fighting against abject poverty.

However, this graduate from Nalanda district, the hometown of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, is still deprived of a government job and has been forced to work as a daily-wage labourer.

Incidentally, he is the only trained coach in kho-kho in the state after having received training in 1994 from the Patiala-based National Institute of Sports.

Rajendra belongs to a backward caste and was selected to Bihar's junior kho-kho team in 1981 and represented the state for eight years. He captained the Bihar team during 1985-87.

The sportsman regrets that from time to time top people, including former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, have promised him a job but nothing happened.

Now, the only hope for Rajendra is the weekly janata durbar of Nitish. He plans to meet Nitish to request him to provide a trainer’s job to him.

Rajendr’s elder brother works in Delhi like millions of migrant Bihari labourers.

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RS byelections in Punjab, Haryana on March 29
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
The election commission today announced the byelection to fill two vacancies, one each from Punjab and Haryana, in the Rajya Sabha. The election will be held on March 29.

The vacancies arose following the death of Sukhbuns Kaur Bhinder, sitting MP from Punjab. The term of Sumitra Mahajan, representing Haryana, will end on April 9.

The commission said the notification for the byelection would be issued on March 12 and nominations could be made for the post on March 19. The last date of withdrawal of candidature is March 22.

While the polling would be held on March 29, the counting would take place on the same day.

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Great Indian bustard’s population on the decline
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
The population of the great Indian bustard is declining in its natural habitat in Rajasthan.
The ministry of environment and forests says the reasons are biotic pressure and degradation and reduction in natural grassland habitat.

One of the rarest birds of Indian subcontinent, the great Indian bustard lives in the open country, having thorny bushes and tall grass.

However, with more and more grasslands being used for cultivation, birds are being left with lesser space. Moreover, due to overgrazing by cattle, there is also not enough food due to which the bird’s home ceases to exist in the grasslands.

The ministry says a number of steps were being taken to protect the species, which has been placed in schedule one of the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.

The act has been amended and made more stringent.

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Pronouncing talaq once can’t lead to divorce

Muzaffarnagar, March 3
A Shariat court here has ruled that pronouncing talaq only once can not lead to divorce and the woman can be reunited with her husband without tying knot with another man.

The court gave its ruling in the case of Maruf Ali, an advocate, who had threatened his wife to give talaq, according to court sources. Wakila Begum in her plea before the darululoom deoband had said that she was given talaq when Ali warned her against visiting her sister's place. She later went to her sister's house and did not return, the sources said. — PTI 

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UP Cong seeks ban on ‘Nishabd’

Lucknow, March 3
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh today demanded a ban on the Ram Gopal Varma film “Nishabd”, where Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan romances a young girl Jiah Khan, who is more than 40 years younger to him.

Congress spokesman Pervez Ahmed Khan said the film was against Indian culture and its screening should be banned immediately.

In a letter to information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, Khan said Bachchan was regarded as a role model in India and the film’s screening would have an adverse impact on the people and the society. — PTI

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PM undergoes eye check-up

New Delhi, March 3
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh underwent an eye check-up at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here today. — PTI

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Prisoners on fast in Nasik jail

Nasik, March 3
Eightyeight prisoners at the Nasik Road Central Jail have been on a fast from March 1, demanding immediate hearing of their cases and abolition of the MPDA Act, with the condition of seven of them worsening today, officials said here. — PTI

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