SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

India turns new leaf on Bhutan
New Delhi, March 5
India has turned a new leaf in its relations with Bhutan as the Indian-Bhutan friendship treaty, which came into force on March 2, has dropped an anachronistic clause of the earlier 1949 treaty which barred Bhutan from running an independent foreign policy.

Bandh hits life in Jharkhand
Ranchi/Jamshedpur, March 5
Life in Jharkhand was paralysed today by a statewide dawn-to-dusk bandh called by all political parties to protest yesterday’s gunning down of JMM general secretary and MP Sunil Mahto by the Naxalites.

Liz, hubby in Mumbai
A big, fat Indian wedding

Mumbai, March 5
British model Liz Hurley and her husband Arun Nayar, who married quietly on Friday at a fifteenth century castle in England arrived in Mumbai today, ahead of their planned Indian wedding. British actress Liz Hurley and her husband Arun Nayar leave the airport in Mumbai on Monday. Liz (41) married Arun (42) at a private ceremony in England recently.
British actress Liz Hurley and her husband Arun Nayar leave the airport in Mumbai on Monday. Liz (41) married Arun (42) at a private ceremony in England recently. — AFP photo
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EARLIER STORIES




Rlys at loss over Re 1 menace
Patna, March 5
It’s a bizarre situation for the Railways as more than terrorists, it is the one-rupee coin that threatens the safety and security of the passengers.

SC satisfied over oil outlet allotment to martyrs' kin
New Delhi, March 5
After constantly monitoring the allotments of oil outlets to the families of Kargil martyrs for two years, the Supreme Court has expressed satisfaction over the clearing of almost all cases, except nine which could not be settled due to non-availability of commercially viable plots according to the choice of the allottees.

Terror: Indian team in Pak
New Delhi, March 5
For the first time ever, the intelligence brass of India and Pakistan are going to hold their formal, structured meeting in Islamabad tomorrow at the maiden meeting of the Indo-Pak joint mechanism on terrorism.

’84 riots
Plea against Sajjan admitted

New Delhi, March 5
The Delhi High Court today admitted CBI’s appeal against the acquittal of Congress MP Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riot case and issued notice to him and several other accused.

WHO opposes culling of dogs
Bangalore, March 5
The Karnataka Government's decision to cull ferocious stray dogs in its showpiece IT capital here has invited the wrath of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the NGOs who are even claiming that the state may lose business in the process.

Total lunar eclipse wows star-gazers
New Delhi, March 5
The entire moon turned coppery-red as the earth's shadow eclipsed it completely in the early hours yesterday.

Protest outside Shah Rukh’s residence
Mumbai, March 5
Angered over Shah Rukh Khan’s reported comments on their party leader Amar Singh at a recent film awards function, Samajwadi Party workers and members of some organisations staged a protests outside the actor's residence here today.

2 Karnal boys held for murder
Panaji, March 5
Two Indians, studying in Australia, have been arrested for allegedly stabbing a waiter to death in north Goa's beach shack, the police said here today.

In Big B’s footsteps
Mumbai, March 5
Shewta Bachchan Nanda, the only member of the Bachchan family to have remained away from the camera so far, is all set to begin a new innings by anchoring a show on NDTV’s business channel.

14-day remand for Pune ravers
Mumbai, March 5
A local court in Pune remanded 271 youths, who were arrested early Sunday morning at a rave party on the outskirts of the city, in 14-day judicial custody today.

Balak Nath shrine priest gets SC notice
New Delhi, March 5
The chief priest of famous Baba Balak Nath shrine in Himachal Pradesh has been issued notice by the Supreme Court on the state government’s petition, accusing him of illegally occupying properties of the temple in violation of the law passed by it in 1984 to govern religious institutions.

Muslim board unhappy with Mulayam
Lucknow, March 5
The failure of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government to issue a fresh notification for transferring the trial of Babri mosque demolition cases against former BJP leader L K Advani and seven others from a Rae Bareli court to the special CBI court threatens to snowball into a major poll issue for the aggrieved Muslim community of the country.

Wait for SC order, Soz tells Badal
New Delhi, March 5
Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz has advised the the newly-elected government in Punjab against going ahead with its planned move to amend existing laws that allow sharing of water with neighbouring states, saying it "would worsen the situation and create unnecessary complications."

Lakshya test-fired
Balasore, March 5
Laskshya, the pilotless target aircraft (PTA), was flight- tested from the Interim Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from here today, defence sources said. The PTA, developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, Bangalore, is designed to perform discreet aerial reconnaissance of battlefield and target acquisition.

Maoists kill Cong leader
Mahaboobnagar (AP), March 5
CPI (Maoist) Naxals shot to death a district Congress Leader and Mandal Parishad Territorial Constitutency member near Marikal village of Peddakothpalli Mandal of the district today.

Videos
Villagers thronging a tree to offer worship.
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India turns new leaf on Bhutan
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
India has turned a new leaf in its relations with Bhutan as the Indian-Bhutan friendship treaty, which came into force on March 2, has dropped an anachronistic clause of the earlier 1949 treaty which barred Bhutan from running an independent foreign policy.

An important clause in the new treaty is that “neither government shall allow the use of its territory for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other.”

The treaty, which was signed in New Delhi on February 8, 2007, has come into force following the exchange of instruments of ratification between the two governments in Thimphu on March 2.

The treaty of perpetual peace and friendship of 1949, which has been replaced by the new treaty, said: “The Government of India undertakes to exercise no interference in the internal administration of Bhutan. On its part, the Government of Bhutan agrees to be guided by the advice of the Government of India in regard to its external relations.” The phrase “to be guided by the advice of the Government of India” was interpreted by a vast number of Bhutanese as conveying that Thimphu’s foreign policy had to be crafted in New Delhi. The new treaty has dropped this clause.

The treaty reaffirms India’s and Bhutan’s respect for each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. It has a total of 10 Articles, but the most important is Article 4 which stipulates as follows: “The Government of India agrees that the Government of Bhutan shall be free to import, from or through India into Bhutan, whatever arms, ammunition, machinery, warlike material or stores as may be required or desired for the strength and welfare of Bhutan, and that this arrangement shall hold good for all time as long as the Government of India is satisfied that the intentions of the Government of Bhutan are friendly and that there is no danger to India from such importations. The Government of Bhutan agrees that there shall be no export of such arms, ammunition and materials outside Bhutan either by the Government of Bhutan or by private individuals.”

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Bandh hits life in Jharkhand

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, March 5
Life in Jharkhand was paralysed today by a statewide dawn-to-dusk bandh called by all political parties to protest yesterday’s gunning down of JMM general secretary and MP Sunil Mahto by the Naxalites. The bandh was total, official sources from all districts said, adding that only the examinees appearing for the finals and other essential services were exempted from the purview of the bandh.

In Jamshedpur, with the break of dawn, bandh supporters squatted on railway tracks, bringing rail services to a complete stop.

Last night, as soon as the news of the killing spread, the JMM activists took to the streets, blocking roads at Saraikela-Kharswan district, the ancestral home town of the deceased leader.

Raising anti-Maoist slogans, the activists blocked roads and burnt tyres at Adityapur, Gamariah and Kandra areas, disrupting traffic, the police said in Jamshedpur.

The protesters also indulged in stone pelting and damaged several vehicles, after which a police team dispersed them.

Many party activists and leaders gathered at Mahto’s house at Gamariah to console the bereaved family.

Chief Minister Madhu Koda this morning called on Governor Syed Sibtey Razi at Raj Bhavan at Ranchi to brief him. — UNI

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BJP condemns Mahato’s murder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
The BJP today condemned the killing of JMM MP Sunil Mahato by Naxalites and accused the Jharkhand Government of inability to deal with extremism in the state.

“It is pathetic that the ruling JMM has not been able to save its own MP. It lacks the will and ability to act against extremists,” BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said here.

Prasad, whose party lost power in the state last year, also accused the Congress-led Central Government of having dislodged his party's government in the state.

“The Central Government must understand that dislodging a state government and replacing it with rag-tag coalitions will only invite disaster. The unfortunate murder of Mahato is an indication of what shape the things are going to take in the future,” the spokesman said.

“We would like to see that the CBI probe recommended into Mahato's murder is carried out expeditiously. It’s something serious to note that Naxals are not sparing even popular tribal leaders,” Prasad observed.

Killing was ‘retaliatory’

Sunil Mahato could have been killed due to his efforts to consolidate anti-Naxal forces.

Union Home Secretary V K Duggal said the attack on Mahato was “apparently retaliatory”, as he had been making efforts to bring together anti-Naxal forces in Jharkhand.

Mr Duggal’s statement came after the state government sent its initial reports to the Centre, which has taken the incident seriously as an elected member of the Lok Sabha has been targeted by the Naxals.

The Union Home Ministry has sought a detailed report on the incident and the Centre is expected to make a brief statement tomorrow in the Lok Sabha, which would adjourn after obit reference.

As many as 45 attackers were reportedly involved in the killing and the Naxals also seized rifles and other ammunition from Mahato's bodyguards before escaping.

The state police believed that the attackers may have fled to neighbouring West Bengal where raids have been ordered.

The MP was meeting villagers after a football match when he was attacked 35 km from Jamshedpur yesterday.

PM, Speaker condole death

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee have condoled the death of JMM MP Sunil Mahato.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry has asked the Jharkhand government for a report on the incident.

The Jharkhand Government has submmited a report to the Union Home Ministry on the gunning down of JMM general secretary Sunil Mahato, according to official sources.

The report was sought by the Centre yesterday in the context of the fact that an MP had been killed despite having been highly protected — UNI

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Mahato’s killing was retaliatory: Ministry
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha MP Sunil Mahato could have been killed due to his efforts to consolidate anti-Naxal forces.

Union Home Secretary V K Duggal said the attack on Mahato was “apparently retaliatory”, as he had been making efforts to bring together anti-Naxal forces in Jharkhand.

Mr Duggal’s statement came after the state government sent its initial reports to the Centre, which has taken the incident seriously as an elected member of the Lok Sabha has been targeted by the Naxals.

The Union Home Ministry has sought a detailed report on the incident and the Centre is expected to make a brief statement tomorrow in the Lok Sabha, which would adjourn after obit reference.

As many as 45 attackers were reportedly involved in the killing and the Naxals also seized rifles and other ammunition from Mahato's bodyguards before escaping.

The state police believed that the attackers may have fled to neighbouring West Bengal where raids have been ordered.

The MP was meeting villagers after a football match when he was attacked 35 km from Jamshedpur yesterday.

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Liz, hubby in Mumbai
A big, fat Indian wedding

Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 5
British model Liz Hurley and her husband Arun Nayar, who married quietly on Friday at a fifteenth century castle in England arrived in Mumbai today, ahead of their planned Indian wedding.

Though the couple refused to speak to the Press about their plans for an Indian wedding, the grapevine had it that the two would have an Indian wedding ceremony at Umaid Bhavan Palace in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, on March 9.

The festivities will be kicked off tonight with parties being hosted at a number of venues. One venue is said to be the downtown Hilton Towers, formerly Oberoi Towers at Nariman Point, where many of the rooms and the poolside have been booked. Hotel officials refused to comment on the schedule for tonight though security has been tightened around the place.

The notorious British paparazzi who stop at nothing for that exclusive photograph, which earn millions from the tabloid press, are camping in strength. Several photographers have been spotted at the two buildings owned by Nayar's family at Nariman Point, a stone's throw from the hotel.

Among the celebrities who are to host a party for the couple include former Miss India Queenie Dhody, who is also said to be designing some of the bride’s clothes for the wedding.

The celebrity pages have it that Hurley will be wearing a pink sari created by designer Tarun Tahiliani for the traditional ceremony. The sari is reportedly priced at around $ 8000.

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Rlys at loss over Re 1 menace
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 5
It’s a bizarre situation for the Railways as more than terrorists, it is the one-rupee coin that threatens the safety and security of the passengers.

Even as the railway ministry has decided to commission a comprehensive security audit to highlight the gaping holes in the security set-up at stations besides working out ways to reduce the risk factor, it is still groping in the dark to contain the one-rupee coin menace perpetrated by wrongdoers.

From Danapur division under the East Central Railway (ECR) to Malda division under the Eastern Railway, lawbreakers now hardly pull the chain or snap the hosepipe to stop trains.

Instead, they change the signal adopting a novel method that involves the use of a one-rupee coin.

According to sources in the ECR, miscreants place a one-rupee coin between two points (joints) connected by an isolator on the track.

Once the coin is inserted between these points, the electric circuit gets completed and the fibre isolation changes the railway signal to red.

Armed with this technical masterpiece, miscreants have now reportedly started looting passengers by stopping trains at places of their choice. Sometimes they also steal mineral items and coal from goods trains.

This unique method of robbery is giving sleepless nights to the top brass of the Railways.

At times, the technique also helps passengers to get down or board at stations where a particular train is not scheduled to stop.

Baffled by a rise in such incidents, chief operating manager (COM) of the ECR R.S. Pandey has written to the divisional security commissioners (DSC) of all five divisions falling in his jurisdiction, namely Danapur, Mughalsarai, Dhanbad, Samastipur and Sonepur, asking them to take preventive steps to check such incidents.

Pandey has pointed out in the letter that unnecessary delay was taking place due to detention of trains in this manner as the signal continued to remain red till the one-rupee coin was removed from the joint.

He has asked the DSCs to step up vigil at all stations. In turn, the DSCs have forwarded the letter to the RPF security authorities at Dhanbad and all RPF posts to take necessary steps for preventing the recurrence of such incidents.

Over 12 cases of robberies using this method have come to light during the in past few months.

A senior official, however, admitted that the Railways could do little to check this practice as there were numerous such points on the vast railway network across the country.

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SC satisfied over oil outlet allotment to martyrs' kin
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 5
After constantly monitoring the allotments of oil outlets to the families of Kargil martyrs for two years, the Supreme Court has expressed satisfaction over the clearing of almost all cases, except nine which could not be settled due to non-availability of commercially viable plots according to the choice of the allottees.

Soon after the Kargil conflict in 1999 the then NDA government had announced the allotment of petrol statoins, LPG and kerosene dealerships to the widows or any other kin of the 492 jawans and officers who had laid down lives while defending the country. But the families of 47 martyrs had shown no interest in getting the allotments.

In view of this the director-general of resettlement (DGR) of the Ministry of Defence had kept in abeyance the 47 cases and accorded sanction to 445, of which only nine were pending because the families were looking for commercially viable spots, a Bench of Justices A.R. Lakshmanan and Altamas Kabir said after perusing the relevant documents placed on record by the government.

The court disposed of a PIL on the issue with a direction to the Delhi High Court that it should dispose of the pending cases expeditiously to provide the benefit to the remaining nine families also by asking the authorities to find proper locations for setting up their outlets as some of these cases had to be adjudicated by it.

After the PIL was filed by Jyotsna Dwivedi in 2004, the court from time to time had sought status reports form the government and issued various directions to it as a result by June 2006, except the nine case, the other outlets were made operational. The options to the 47 families were still open to get outlets if they wished to take the benefit.

In view of the details furnished on the allotments in an additional affidavit by the government, there was no need to keep the PIL pending, the court said.

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Terror: Indian team in Pak
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
For the first time ever, the intelligence brass of India and Pakistan are going to hold their formal, structured meeting in Islamabad tomorrow at the maiden meeting of the Indo-Pak joint mechanism on terrorism.

However, the two sides have already made it clear that their foreign offices, not the intelligence agencies, are going to choreograph the talks. Additional secretary-level officers in the foreign office -- K C Singh from India and Tariq Haider from Pakistan -- are leading the three-member teams on either side. The composition of the teams has not been made public by the two sides who have decided to conduct these talks away from media arc lights. The Indian team has already reached Islamabad.

The famed intelligence rivalries came to the fore as the Intelligence Bureau (IB) from India and the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) from Pakistan wanted to be in the driver’s seat for the respective sides.

The composition of the teams was delayed on this count and this led to the delay in holding of the first meeting of the Joint Mechanism. Finally, the bigger agencies from the two sides prevailed on their smaller sister organisations. Research and Analyis Wing (RAW) from India and Intelligence Bureau (IB) from Pakistan will now be playing second fiddle to IB and ISI respectively at these talks.

Tomorrow’s talks, whose results (if any) are going to be kept under wraps, will be watched with bated breath by spy masters from India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan have so far held informal intelligence summits at neutral venues, but never before the intelligence brass of the two neighbours have had formal, structured discussions which are mandated by the top leadership in New Delhi and Islamabad.

At this meeting, India will be presenting “evidence” of Pakistan and ISI linkages to a host of terror acts in India. It is understood that Pakistan, on its part, would confront India on Baluchistan issue.

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84 riots
Plea against Sajjan admitted
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 5
The Delhi High Court today admitted CBI’s appeal against the acquittal of Congress MP Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riot case and issued notice to him and several other accused.

He was acquitted by the trial court in 2002 after five of the eight eyewitnesses had turned hostile while the trial judge had not accepted the evidence of Anwar Kaur, the widow of Navin Singh for whose murder CBI had chargesheeted the Congress MP.

The admission of the appeal after five years of his acquittal by a Bench of Mr Justice Manmohan Sarin and Justice S L Bhayana was due to several procedural questions that had been surfacing in the case one after the other during the past 23 years of the riots.

After admission of the appeal, the court granted bail to Sajjan Kumar, subject to his executing requisite bail bond.

However, the Bench said that it would hear the appeal on day-to-day basis to expedite the matter.

Besides, the Navin Singh’s murder case, registered on the orders of the Jain-Banerjee and Poti-Rosha committees that had probed the riots initially, the Justice G T Nanavati panel, set up by the NDA Government, had also ordered the registration of cases against Sajjan Kumar and another Congress MP Jagdish Tytler pertaining to some other incidence of violence, that engulfed the national capital after the assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31, 1984.

Besides the CBI, Anwar Kaur and the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee had also challenged the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar on the ground that at least two of the eyewitnesses had recognised him in the court during cross-examination, which was sufficient to convict him and other co-accused.

They also had said that Anwar Kaur’s evidencecould not be ignored as being an illiterate she could not articulate her replies during her cross-examination.

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WHO opposes culling of dogs
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, March 5
The Karnataka Government's decision to cull ferocious stray dogs in its showpiece IT capital here has invited the wrath of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as the NGOs who are even claiming that the state may lose business in the process.

The government, however, seems to be determined to carry on the drive against strays after the death of two children following attacks by packs of stray dogs as well as injuries caused to others. The drive against strays, which was started yesterday, has resulted in around 200 stray dogs being put to sleep.

State Health Minister R Ashok made it clear today that the drive would continue, saying the lives of children were more important that those of dogs. This also seems to the prevalent mood among citizens of the city with the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike members protesting against NGOs who have voiced their concern against the new culling policy which is set to replace the animal birth control (ABC) programme.

Commonwealth Veterinary Association Secretary Abdul Rehman while addressing a session on "Rabies in Asia" here today, said the Brihut Bangalore Mahanagar Palike had been lax in handling garbage disposal in the city and had also failed to curb illegal slaughter houses flourishing all over the city.

Meanwhile, the Animal Lovers Association has warned that such an "extreme act of cruelty" could lead to boycott of coffee produced in the state by importers in the European Union. This, it said, could affect the economy of the state.

The Bangalore Palike on its part has mentioned 30 localities where it has identified movement of ferocious packs of dogs. Palike Commissioner K Jairaj while flagging off the dog-catching vans said expert dog catchers from Malabar in Kerala and Ahmedabad in Gujarat would also be deployed to help in the exercise.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy has warned Palike officials that they would face stringent action if the dog menace was not curbed within a week. The total stray population of dogs is around 60,000.

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Total lunar eclipse wows star-gazers

New Delhi, March 5
The entire moon turned coppery-red as the earth's shadow eclipsed it completely in the early hours yesterday.

Amateur star-gazers and astronomers gathered in large numbers at several places in the country to watch the first total lunar eclipse in three years.

The earth's shadow began creeping on the lunar disc at 1.48 am, covering it entirely between 4.14 am and 5.28 am and skywatchers could observe the coppery glow of the moon.

"The uniqueness about this eclipse was that it was partly visible on every continent," amateur astronomer and science communicator Vikrant Narang said. — PTI

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Protest outside Shah Rukh’s residence

Mumbai, March 5
Angered over Shah Rukh Khan’s reported comments on their party leader Amar Singh at a recent film awards function, Samajwadi Party workers and members of some organisations staged a protests outside the actor's residence here today.

Several activists, carrying banners and raising slogans, gathered outside Khan's bungalow “Mannat” in suburban Bandra this afternoon. The Samajwadi Party, however, denied that it had anything to do with the protest.

“The protests are not being organised by the Samajwadi Party. These are being organised by some North Indian organisations and some of our workers are participating in these as members of those organisations. We do not have any hand in this,” party MP Abu Azmi said.

In the awards ceremony, Khan had also clarified that the comments were meant in “pure jest” and he did not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. — PTI

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2 Karnal boys held for murder

Panaji, March 5
Two Indians, studying in Australia, have been arrested for allegedly stabbing a waiter to death in north Goa's beach shack, the police said here today.

Amardeep Singh (29) and Jaswinder Singh (26), students of Melbourne University's Masters of Accountancy, were apprehended at Goa airport last evening, while they were boarding a Delhi-bound flight. The duo had stabbed a waiter at the Calangute beach shack over a petty brawl on Friday and had absconded since then, inspector Rajesh Kumar said.

The victim, Dashrath Rathod (28), succumbed to his injuries, while being treated at Goa Medical College. The accused, originally hailing from Karnal in Haryana, were on a Goa visit and had arrived the same day the incident occurred. — PTI

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In Big B’s footsteps

Mumbai, March 5
Shewta Bachchan Nanda, the only member of the Bachchan family to have remained away from the camera so far, is all set to begin a new innings by anchoring a show on NDTV’s business channel.

“I had never planned on facing the camera. All these years, I was happy being a mother to my kids and staying in the background. But now that my children are grown up, I have the time on my hands and the concept of the show really excited me, so I decided to go for it,” 30-year-old Shweta, mother of two children, told reporters here today.

She agreed to anchor the show only because the channel agreed to revolve schedules around her children's timings so that she could devote time to them, she said.

The family support was evident from the fact that brother Abhishek came personally to drop her to the conference venue, hanged on for a couple of minutes before making a quiet exit.

The show, Next Gen, will be a 12-part series in which Shweta will interview young leaders from all fields to find out what makes them click. — PTI

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14-day remand for Pune ravers
Shiv Kumar

Mumbai, March 5
A local court in Pune remanded 271 youths, who were arrested early Sunday morning at a rave party on the outskirts of the city, in 14-day judicial custody today.

The revellers included 29 girls and several foreigners, according to the Pune police. The foreigners have, however, been remanded in four-day judicial custody.

The arrests were made when the Pune rural police busted the rave party in the wee hours of Sunday. Superintendent of police (Pune rural) Vishwas Nagre-Patil said he and a team of constables bought tickets and entered the party venue. Around 2 am, when the party was in full swing, Nagre-Patil and his team swooped down on the revellers and arrested them.

Many of them were found consuming drugs, the SP said. Those arrested included students from several Pune institutions. A number of foreigners, including a DJ from Germany, and revellers, who came all the way from Chennai, were among those held. — TNS

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Balak Nath shrine priest gets SC notice
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 5
The chief priest of famous Baba Balak Nath shrine in Himachal Pradesh has been issued notice by the Supreme Court on the state government’s petition, accusing him of illegally occupying properties of the temple in violation of the law passed by it in 1984 to govern religious institutions.

The state government moved the apex court against the Himachal Pradesh High Court order on two counts, making present chief priest Mahant Rajinder Gir as legal heir of late Mahant Shiv Gir, who died on February 3, 2004, when his appeal in the case was pending before the high court and later decreeing the suit in his favour.

The late Mahant Rajinder Gir had lost the case both in the courts of sub-judge and the district judge, Hamirpur, in 1993 and 2000, respectively, as the lower courts had come to the conclusion that the priest did not have any right over the properties in question and had dismissed his suit.

During the pendency of Shiv Gir’s appeal before the high court, according to the government, he had executed a will in favour of Rajinder Gir, making him the legal heir of the properties after his death and the latter claimed the ownership title on the basis of the same.

The government has taken a stand that the financial commissioner, Language, Art and Culture, in its report presented before the trial court about the status of the priest in 1988 had said the mahant was a “celibate and was not expected to apply his share in the temple income to the creation of his own personal assets”.

On the basis of the report and the provisions laid down in the Himachal Pradesh Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowment Act, 1984, the trial judge had dismissed the suit of Shiv Gir and the judgement was endorsed by the district judge.

But the high court in its order of August 13, 2004, made Rajinder Gir legal heir of Shiv Gir after his death and consequently allowed the latter’s appeal and reversed the lower court’s orders.

Himachal Pradesh’s additional advocate-general J.S. Attri, while pleading the appeal of the state government in the Supreme Court, said the state had spent Rs 3.64 crore on the construction of various buildings and the mahant could not claim any right over these properties as his personal assets.

The main dispute is over two plots, measuring 19.8 kanals and 3.6 kanals at Tika Chakmoh, Mauza Dhatwal in Barsar tehsil. The government has urged the apex court to set aside the high court order and restore the possession of the plots to the temple trust, headed by the deputy commissioner, Hamirpur.

The government also alleged that the high court had decreed the suit in favour of Rajinder Gir without going into the veracity of the will and testing its legality on merit.

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Muslim board unhappy with Mulayam
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 5
The failure of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government to issue a fresh notification for transferring the trial of Babri mosque demolition cases against former BJP leader L K Advani and seven others from a Rae Bareli court to the special CBI court threatens to snowball into a major poll issue for the aggrieved Muslim community of the country.

More than three years have elapsed since Mulayam Singh Yadav came to power in September 2003. Still one of the core demands of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) in the country is yet to be met.

Senior members of the AIMPLB have said they had been urging the Chief Minister to issue a fresh notification to include conspiracy charges against L.K. Advani and others in demolishing of the Babri mosque but to no avail.

Disappointed by Yadav for following the footsteps of the earlier Rajnath Singh-led BJP government, the Muslims leaders are now exploring political options to identify an viable alternative that will take up this long-standing demand of the community.

It was no coincidence that the Jan Morcha raised the issue at its rally in front of the Vidhan Sabha on March 5, the day Yadav sought a vote of confidence on the floor of the House when only the BJP had decided to participate in the proceedings.

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Wait for SC order, Soz tells Badal
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5
Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz has advised the the newly-elected government in Punjab against going ahead with its planned move to amend existing laws that allow sharing of water with neighbouring states, saying it "would worsen the situation and create unnecessary complications." Mr Soz, who was interacting with a group of mediapersons here, said the Parkash Singh Badal government in Punjab should wait for the Supreme Court decision on the presidential reference made to it on the SYL issue.

"Mr Badal should wait for SC decision on the reference already made in the SYL case. It is in his and the state's interest," Mr Soz said.

The minister said once an observation was received from the Supreme Court, the Centre can sit with Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to come to a decision on the basis of equity and justice. "There are norms for the distribution of water," he said. Mr Badal on Friday had said that his government would scrap Section 5 of the Punjab Termination of Agreement Act, 2004, which protects existing usage of water by Haryana and Rajasthan. He said the legislation would be introduced in the next session of the state Assembly.

Mr Soz, who seemed concerned about growing clamour from neighbouring states following plans of the Badal government to further amend the 2004 Act that terminated water-sharing agreements, said the 20-year perspective plan on water says that the resource belongs to India. He said the states should not be in a hurry to take decisons without consulting the Centre.

The Centre's advice comes in the wake of difficulties it faced when the previous Congress government in Punjab enacted a legislation to abrogate water-sharing agreement with the neighbouring states from 1981.

The move by the previous Amarinder Singh government in Punjab had embarrassed the Congress leadership which came up with presidential refernce to satisfy all parties. Both Haryana and Rajasthan had opposed the abrogation of water-sharing agreement.

Rajasthan has opposed announcement by Mr Badal to to further change the 2004 Act, saying the state will claim its right. The move by the SAD-led government in Punjab is likely to cause problems for both the BJP and Congress, who have governments in Rajasthan and Haryana. 

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Lakshya test-fired

Balasore, March 5
Laskshya, the pilotless target aircraft (PTA), was flight- tested from the Interim Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from here today, defence sources said.
The PTA, developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, Bangalore, is designed to perform discreet aerial reconnaissance of battlefield and target acquisition.

The sub-sonic and re-usable aerial flight system was remote-controlled from the ground and designed to impart training to both air-borne and air-defence pilots, the sources said. — PTI

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Maoists kill Cong leader

Mahaboobnagar (AP), March 5
CPI (Maoist) Naxals shot to death a district Congress Leader and Mandal Parishad Territorial Constitutency member near Marikal village of Peddakothpalli Mandal of the district today.

The police said Prakash was gunned down when he was inspecting road construction in the village.

He died on the spot. — UNI

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