SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

THE N-FACTOR
No Indo-US deal shadow on pact with Russia: Pranab

New Delhi, March 7
The nuclear cooperation with Russia, which will help in building more atomic plants in Tamil Nadu and other places, was independent of the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

Kalpakkam reactor on fast track
Mumbai, March 7
The Indian defence establishment has quietly put the 500 MW fast-breeder nuclear reactor at Kalpakkam on the fast track with a hefty increase in budgetary allocations made in the current Budget.

Nijjar takes over
Kolkata, March 7
Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar took oath as the new Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court here today.

Surender Singh Nijjar (front), Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, comes out after the swearing-in ceremony in Kolkata on Wednesday. — PTI photo
Surender Singh Nijjar (front), Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, comes out after the swearing-in ceremony in Kolkata on Wednesday.


EARLIER STORIES




Study at 3, says HC
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today declined to consider the city government’s request to change the cut off age for nursery admissions from three years to three-and-a-half years. A Division Bench, however, referred the matter to Ashok Ganguly committee, set up to look into the aspect of admission procedures for nursery classes. — PTI 

Plea to transfer Nithari case rejected
New Delhi, March 7
The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea for the transfer of trial of the Nithari serial killings case to Delhi.

Sajjan: SAD for PM’s intervention
New Delhi, March 7
The Shiromani Akali Dal today sought the intervenion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for engaging an additional solicitor-general to argue on behalf of the CBI in the Sajjan Kumar case.

SC admits Manu’s appeal; notice to Delhi Police
New Delhi, March 7
The Supreme Court today admitted the appeals of Jessica Lall murder convict Manu Sharma and co-accused Amardeep Singh Gill, who was convicted for destruction of evidence. The court issued a notice to the Delhi Police on their bail applications.

Disproportionate Assets
Mulayam politicising issue, says BJP
Lucknow, March 7
The Samajwadi Party found little support for their campaign against the Congress on the CBI investigation into the reported disproportionate assets of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh and his kin from the BJP as former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu today accused the Chief Minister of “politicising” the issue.

SP to move court against CBI probe
New Delhi, March 7
The Samajwadi Party (SP) today indicated that it would move a review petition in the Supreme Court against the CBI probe in the disproportionate assets case relating to UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, saying it would present the CD containing conversation of the petitioner to question his credibility and establish its charge that the complaint was politically motivated.

Cauvery rocks LS
New Delhi, March 7
The Cauvery water dispute today rocked the Lok Sabha as slogan shouting-members from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka trooped into the well forcing adjournment.

Nitish gets tough on postings of govt staff
Patna, March 7
Legislators cutting across party lines are now reportedly enraged by the decision taken by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to take disciplinary action against those officers and government employees indulging in lobbying around legislators to get plum postings.

Ex-minister in soup over hospitalisation
Mumbai, March 7
Former Maharashtra forest minister Surupsinh Naik, who was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment for contempt of court by the Supreme Court, is again in trouble with his medical records put up for public scrutiny.

Advani asks Sonia to own up poll defeats
New Delhi, March 7
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani today asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi to “own up” the defeats of her party in Punjab and Uttarakhand Assembly elections.

Sidhu takes oath
New Delhi, March 7
The BJP member from Amritsar parliamentary constituency, Navjot Singh Sidhu, today took oath in the Lok Sabha, three months after he resigned in the wake of his conviction by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a road-rage case.

UP corporator shot dead
Lucknow, March 7
Rubbishing the Samajwadi Party media campaign of “Jurm yahan kam hai,” an SP corporator, reportedly orchestrated the daylight killing of another party corporator in the busy Hazratganj area of the state capital this morning.

Zaheera to get her freedom, fine waived
New Delhi, March 7
The Supreme Court today waived off the Rs 50,000 fine on Gujarat riots’ Best Bakery case key witness Zaheera Sheikh on the eve of her release from jail after serving one-year imprisonment, which was awarded to her for deposing falsely in a trial court.

2 IAF officers in CBI net
Hyderabad, March 7
Two staff members of Air Force Academy at Hakimpet, near here, were nabbed by the CBI for seeking sexual favours and money from a  suspended employee.

NRI doc pays Rs 40 lakh as alimony to wife
Kolkata, March 7
An NRI doctor has agreed to pay Rs 40 lakh as alimony to his wife, from whom he had separated just a week after their marriage six years ago.

NHRC: Make rural posting must for docs
New Delhi, March 7
In view of a severe shortage of doctors in rural and remote areas of the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday recommended the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Nursing Council of India (NCI) to make rural attachment compulsory for doctors and nurses.

LTTE campaign to win sympathy in Tamil Nadu
Chennai, March 7
As part of a damage control exercise and to win over the sympathy of the people of Tamil Nadu, particularly after its men were caught smuggling arms and ammunition to Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through its mass fronts is trying to launch a media campaign and disassociate itself from criminal activities in the state.

Missing persons: Patil for strengthening law
New Delhi, March 7
Home minister Shivraj Patil said today that law would be strengthened to ensure that complaints registered in cases concerning missing persons were properly investigated.

Trafficking: Gloria advocates Swedish model
New Delhi, March 7
Gloria Steinem, the leading light of the international feminist movement, has recommended Swedish model for tackling trafficking in women and girls.

Hardwar most unsafe for women
Dehra Dun, March 7
Incidense of crime against women are increasing every year in Uttarakhand, with Hardwar proving to be the most unsafe place for them.

One woman dies every 7 minutes: Report
New Delhi, March 7
Even in this day and age, a woman dies every seven minutes in the country due to pregnancy-related complications. Not only this, women constitute around three-fourths of the country’s illiterate population.

NETV owners to be provided security
New Delhi, March 7
Home minister Shivraj Patil today told the Rajya Sabha that the Centre would ask the Assam Government about the security provided to the owners of North East Television (NETV) in the wake of reported threats to the channel.

CS (prelims) exams gets tougher
New Delhi, March 7
Negative marking will be introduced in the Civil Services (preliminary) Examination from this year.


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THE N-FACTOR
No Indo-US deal shadow on pact with Russia: Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
The nuclear cooperation with Russia, which will help in building more atomic plants in Tamil Nadu and other places, was independent of the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has said.

Stating this in the Lok Sabha, Mukherjee, however, said continued supply of fuel to such reactors would depend on the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) guidelines and efforts were being made to get these amended for the purpose.

“There is no co-relation between the 123 agreement (which will operationalise Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation) and our programme with Russia with respect to civil nuclear cooperation,” he said.

The minister, while apprising the House about the outcome of the recent visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin here, noted that Moscow had already built two nuclear power plants in the country.

There was a proposal to set up four more nuclear power plants at Kudankulam with Russian support and others at places which have not been identified yet, he said.

Mukherjee pointed out that India’s collaboration with Russia in civil nuclear field had started before the Indo-US deal and it was a “continuing and long-term” one.

Underlining that Russia attached no conditions to the setting up of the nuclear power plants, Mukherjee said these would, however, require continued supply of fuel, which will depend on the NSG guidelines. Russia is part of the 45-nation grouping and efforts were being made to amend the NSG guidelines to ensure that “we can have supply of fuel ”, the minister said.

India and Russia also propose to collaborate on the joint launch of satellites. The two countries have also decided to participate in Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), under which India can use radio frequency data.

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Kalpakkam reactor on fast track
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 7
The Indian defence establishment has quietly put the 500 MW fast-breeder nuclear reactor at Kalpakkam on the fast track with a hefty increase in budgetary allocations made in the current Budget.

The reactor, which has been classified as one for military purposes under the Indo-US nuclear agreement, will see a big infusion of funds.

From Rs 268 crores, budgetary provisions for this reactor has been raised to Rs 926 crores. The civilian component of the project will see power from the reactor flow into the grid by 2010.

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Nijjar takes over
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, March 7
Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar took oath as the new Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court here today.

West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi administered the oath to justice Nijjar who was earlier a judge at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The function took place at the chief justice’s courtroom in the presence of Calcutta High Court judges and several judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court who had flown into the city from Chandigarh to witness the oath-taking.

Justice Nijjar, who studied in London from childhood and practised in a British court for two years from 1977, practised at the Punjab and Haryana High Court from 1979 till his elevation as additional judge at the same court in 1996.

After taking the oath, Chief Justice Nijjar said, “This high court is the premier presidency court in the country and I am happy to be here”.

“Bengal is the land of education, literature and great religious personalities like Swami Vivekananda. It feels great to be able to work here,” he said. — PTI

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Plea to transfer Nithari case rejected

New Delhi, March 7
The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea for the transfer of trial of the Nithari serial killings case to Delhi.

A Bench headed by justice B.N. Aggarwal also asked Karandeep Singh Pandher, son of prime accused Moninder Singh Pandher, to approach the trial court for permission to meet his father.

The Bench passed the directions on a petition filed by Karandeep seeking permission to meet his father and also to transfer the case to Delhi on the ground that a free and fair trial could not be held in the surcharged atmosphere in Uttar Pradesh. — PTI

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Sajjan: SAD for PM’s intervention
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
The Shiromani Akali Dal today sought the intervenion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for engaging an additional solicitor-general to argue on behalf of the CBI in the Sajjan Kumar case.

The Delhi High Court has admitted a petition filed by the CBI against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar, MP from outer Delhi parliamentary constituency, by a trial court in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot case.

“The Delhi Government has not filed any appeal in a case which was registered by the Delhi Police. Only the CBI has filed the appeal in the other case against Sajjan Kumar and now in this appeal, the CBI has engaged a junior-level lawyer, obviously with a view to favouring Sajjan Kumar,” SAD general secretary Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa wrote in a letter to Prime Minister.

He urged Manmohan Singh to direct the CBI to engage additional solicitor-general to argue the matter on its behalf. Dhindsa also urged the Prime Minister to prevail upon the Delhi Government to file an appeal in the other case, which they had registered.

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SC admits Manu’s appeal; notice to Delhi Police
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 7
The Supreme Court today admitted the appeals of Jessica Lall murder convict Manu Sharma and co-accused Amardeep Singh Gill, who was convicted for destruction of evidence. The court issued a notice to the Delhi Police on their bail applications.

It also admitted the appeal of another co-accused Vikas Yadav, who is in jail in connection with another murder case. He has moved an application for stay of his conviction.

A Bench of Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan and justice R. V. Raveendran sought replies from the Delhi Government and Delhi Police on the petitions of the accused.

Additional solicitor-general Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Delhi Government, said he would like to file reply with plea for opposing the bail applications of Manu and Gill and Vikas’ plea for stay of the conviction.

Vikas, the son of a former Rajya Sabha MP D. P. Yadav, has sought stay of the conviction and suspension of his four years’ sentence to enable him to contest the coming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

While Manu and Gill’s applications for bail were posted for hearing in the first week of April, Vikas’ application on stay of conviction would be taken up on March 19 as his counsel said that the filing of nominations would start on March 23. Manu’s counsel Ram Jethmalani challenged the High Court verdict sentencing his client to life imprisonment alleging that the “Bench of justice R. S. Sodhi and justice P. K. Bhasin was intimidated by hostile media to pass the order of conviction.”

“I submit that the judgement of High Court is based on surmises and invincible determination of conviction because of the hostile media…notices were even served on me as a counsel by witnesses, which is unheard of in a criminal case. Most vicious campaign was launched in the Press that there was something wrong between my client and justice Sodhi and me and the judge,” he said.

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Disproportionate Assets
Mulayam politicising issue, says BJP
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 7
The Samajwadi Party found little support for their campaign against the Congress on the CBI investigation into the reported disproportionate assets of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh and his kin from the BJP as former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu today accused the Chief Minister of “politicising” the issue.

Commenting on Yadav and SP national general secretary visiting the President, speaker, and party offices in New Delhi with a CD holding the Congress responsible for the CBI investigation, Naidu said the SP had virtually “launched a political campaign to settle a legal issue”.

“If he had to say something he should have presented it before the court. What is left to say after the Supreme Court has given directions?” wondered Naidu.

Addressing mediapersons after a day-long election review meeting, he hoped that the final list of candidates for the Uttar Pradesh elections would be released in Delhi after a two-day meeting of the national central election committee scheduled for March 11 and 12.

Describing the mood in the state as “upbeat” Naidu claimed that the positive response to the party and its allies in Punjab and Uttarakhand was the latest indication of people wanting change.

The victory of the BJP mayoral candidates during the local body elections in UP was termed by him as the beginning of the “return of the party” followed by the party’s success in the Mumbai local body poll.

Calling the SP and the BSP as their twin enemies, Naidu termed them as representatives of the UPA in Uttar Pradesh. He expected the BJP to return on its own in the state.

Responding to Amitabh Bachchan presence in the Samjawadi Party’s advertisement in the media, Naidu offered a few pearls of wisdom “learnt the hard way”. He said when people have made up their minds “no hero or double hero” could save a party.

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SP to move court against CBI probe
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
The Samajwadi Party (SP) today indicated that it would move a review petition in the Supreme Court against the CBI probe in the disproportionate assets case relating to UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, saying it would present the CD containing conversation of the petitioner to question his credibility and establish its charge that the complaint was politically motivated.

Senior party leader Amar Singh accused the CBI of following double standards in cases relating to UPA leaders and to those belonging to some other parties. He said the CBI had already started working in the case against Yadav, while it had shown no hurry in cases relating to several other leaders aligned to the UPA. He said the party was prepared for any other inquiry into the case relating to the assets of its leader, but had no faith in the CBI “which was being misused as a tool by the ruling party”.

He said Vishwanath Chaturvedi, petitioner in the case against Yadav, had committed contempt of court in his conversation recorded in a sting operation.

He said the party leaders had apprised the President, the Vice-President and the Lok Sabha speaker about “political victimisation” of Yadav by the Congress.

Questioning the working of the CBI, he said the same law officer who had dealt with the case of Ottavio

Quattrocchi's bank account in London, was sent to Argentina to secure his extradition.

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Cauvery rocks LS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
The Cauvery water dispute today rocked the Lok Sabha as slogan shouting-members from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka trooped into the well forcing adjournment.

The 25-minute adjournment came during a debate on the motion of thanks of the President’s address.

In the resumed discussion on the motion, Ananth Kumar from the BJP sought the Centre’s intervention on the issue as the Tribunal had through its recommendations handed out total “injustice” to Karnataka, particularly its farmers.

He said the Centre should refrain from notifying the recommendations in the gazette and wondered as to why the Tamil Nadu MPs were shying away from a structured debate in Parliament on the issue.

The BJP leader also wanted a national water law to ensure equitable distribution of river waters among the riparian states.

Even as Ananth Kumar was making his points, DMK and other members belonging to the Democratic Progressive Alliance (DPA) from Tamil Nadu rushed in to the well.

This prompted the BJP members from Karnataka to step into the other side of the well and raise counter slogans.

Sensing the mood of the members, deputy speaker Charnjit Singh Atwal ajourned the House for 25 minutes.

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Nitish gets tough on postings of govt staff
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 7
Legislators cutting across party lines are now reportedly enraged by the decision taken by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to take disciplinary action against those officers and government employees indulging in lobbying around legislators to get plum postings.

Sources in the government disclosed to the Tribune that Nitish has already approved a new policy banning recommendations from legislators seeking undue favour in transfer of government employees. The move was reportedly aimed at punishing those employees who sought transfer on the basis of lobbying.

Pointing out that the state has the history of interference in the transfer and posting of officials from top to bottom in the past, sources claimed that the new circular banning it was expected to come in handy in dealing with such employees who have covered major part of their services lobbying.

Besides, the transfers and postings through lobbying were alleged to have been “a thriving industry” when the previous RJD was in power in the state, though the erstwhile Congress regime in the state was reportedly primarily responsible for initiating the process.

The sources disclosed that MLAs, both in the opposition and the ruling government have protested before their respective leaders about the decision.

The ruling NDA MLAs have already been advised not to use their official letterheads while recommending the names of officials for posting.

The MLAs in the opposition were in a rebellious mood and called it an attack on their “democratic right”.

The RJD MLA Ram Chandra Purbey argued that it was not lobbying, but a tradition enjoyed by the legislators to recommend names, wanting the right kind of officers to work with in their respective constituencies.

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Ex-minister in soup over hospitalisation
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 7
Former Maharashtra forest minister Surupsinh Naik, who was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment for contempt of court by the Supreme Court, is again in trouble with his medical records put up for public scrutiny.

After spending one day in jail, Naik complained of chest pain for which he was hospitalised at J.J. Hospital. He spent most of his jail term in hospital and returned to jail only when three days of his sentence remained.

Now, a city-based activist, Shailesh Gandhi, has won the right to examine Naik’s medical records under the Right to Information Act. Earlier this week, a full Bench of the Maharashtra Information Commission headed by chief information commissioner Suresh Joshi ordered the politician’s health records to be released to Gandhi in public interest.

“I will get Naik’s medical records examined by specialists to see if there were any grounds for his hospitalisation or whether he was simply feigning illness to stay out of jail,” Gandhi said.

The activist filed for information on Naik’s medical records on May 27, days after the politician got himself admitted to the hospital. However, Gandhi’s request was put on hold by the hospital authorities, who felt that a patient’s medical records were private.

Naik and former state additional chief secretary Ashok Khot were sentenced to one month’s imprisonment.

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Advani asks Sonia to own up poll defeats
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani today asked Congress president Sonia Gandhi to “own up” the defeats of her party in Punjab and Uttarakhand Assembly elections.

Addressing a BJP parliamentary party meeting, Advani said though price rise was one of the many reasons for defeat but Sonia being the “centre-point” of the UPA government and with several state governments “under her thumb, she cannot possibly blame it on others”.

“Basically it was a vote against soft handling of terror, bad governance and appeasement of the Muslims,” he said and added that the Congress president had a “tendency” to shift the blame on others.

Sonia in her address to the Congress parliamentary party yesterday had held price rise as the prime factor responsible for her party’s defeat in the Assembly elections in the two northern states. 

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Sidhu takes oath

New Delhi, March 7
The BJP member from Amritsar parliamentary constituency, Navjot Singh Sidhu, today took oath in the Lok Sabha, three months after he resigned in the wake of his conviction by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in a road-rage case.

The cricketer-turned-politician was administered the oath by Speaker Somnath Chatterjee when the House met for the day. — TNS

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UP corporator shot dead
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 7
Rubbishing the Samajwadi Party media campaign of “Jurm yahan kam hai,” an SP corporator, reportedly orchestrated the daylight killing of another party corporator in the busy Hazratganj area of the state capital this morning.

Hostility over getting a cycle stand contract at the Gorakhpur railway station supposedly led to the killing of Afzal Faizi, an ambitious first-time corporator from Gorakhpur, in front of the North East Railways offices moments after he emerged after putting in two tenders for the contract.

According to a key eyewitness Tanu, a friend of the slain SP leader, who was accompanying him and was also hurt during the shootout, the henchman of veteran SP corporator Vishwajit Singh, alias Paplu, had shot at Faizi. Paplu, who had been getting this contract for years is said to be close to don-turned-minister in the present government Harishankar Tiwari.

The police is interrogating Tanu who suffered a bullet wound in his leg and is recovering in the Trauma Centre of the King George medical university hospital. 

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Zaheera to get her freedom, fine waived
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 7
The Supreme Court today waived off the Rs 50,000 fine on Gujarat riots’ Best Bakery case key witness Zaheera Sheikh on the eve of her release from jail after serving one-year imprisonment, which was awarded to her for deposing falsely in a trial court.

The Bench of Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mr Justice H.K. Sema, which had awarded the sentence to her last year, waived of the fine after her counsel D.K. Garg pleaded for the same, saying that a lenient view be taken in her case as she had already suffered enough.

In its conviction order passed last year, the court had said if she failed to pay the fine, she would have to undergo further imprisonment for one year.

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2 IAF officers in CBI net
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 7
Two staff members of Air Force Academy at Hakimpet, near here, were nabbed by the CBI for seeking sexual favours and money from a 
suspended employee.

Warrant Officer L. P. Singh and Personal Assistant to Air Commandant Babu Rao were caught when they sought favours from Shiva Kumar, a suspended accountant.

Shiva Kumar, who had been suspended on the allegation of misappropriation in the canteen stores department, was promised reinstatement by these officers on the condition that he met their demands.

While L. P. Singh wanted Rs 70,000, Rao conveyed his desire for a call girl.

Shiva Kumar paid Rs 10,000 to the former and arranged a sex worker for the latter. The whole process was secretly recorded by a local TV channel.

When L. P. Singh demanded for the rest of the payment, Shiva Kumar approached the CBI, which caught the officer while he was accepting Rs 20,000 from the latter. Both officers were remanded in police custody.

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NRI doc pays Rs 40 lakh as alimony to wife

Kolkata, March 7
An NRI doctor has agreed to pay Rs 40 lakh as alimony to his wife, from whom he had separated just a week after their marriage six years ago.

Dipak Sharma of New Hampshire in the US has paid Rs 30 lakh to his wife Vinita for withdrawing criminal charges against him and his sister and will pay another Rs 10 lakh as a divorce settlement.

Sharma, a paediatrician, was married to Vinita of upmarket New Alipore area in this metropolis in 2001, but relations between them soured within a week.

He left for the US just eight days after the wedding and allegedly took with him Rs 10 lakh in valuables.

Vinita filed a police complaint in 2004 against Sharma and his sister Sunita, who had arranged the marriage. Learning about this, Sharma gave power of attorney to Sunita, who filed a divorce suit in a court in Delhi.

The West Bengal Women’s Commission, which was approached by Vinita, moved the Delhi court and had the case transferred to Kolkata.

Sunita was arrested by the West Bengal Police from her residence on January 25 on the basis of a police complaint. Following her arrest, Sharma rushed back to India and negotiated a settlement with Vinita.

After getting a bankers’ cheque for Rs 30 lakh yesterday, Vinita approached the Calcutta High Court to quash the case against Sharma in a court in Alipore. — PTI

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NHRC: Make rural posting must for docs
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
In view of a severe shortage of doctors in rural and remote areas of the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) yesterday recommended the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Nursing Council of India (NCI) to make rural attachment compulsory for doctors and nurses.

Expressing concern over private health enterprises exploiting people in the name of public-private partnership in healthcare, the commission also urged for the need to modify the National Clinical Registration Act in order to develop standards for private institutions engaged in healthcare facilities.

Speaking on the commission’s recommendations to ensure the right to health for people in the country, its chairperson justice Shivraj V. Patil said unless doctors and nurses completed one-year tenure in rural areas, the MCI and the NCI should not register them.

“There is a need for the MCI and the NCI to have an in-built compulsory rural attachment and it may reduce the number of years for postgraduate training,” he told representatives of state governments and NGOs who were in the Capital for “national review meeting on health”.

In rural and remote areas, nearly 56 per cent of the population is still at the mercy of quacks.

The commission has also recommended a recognised course for nurse practitioners to ensure availability of independent treatment and also specialists like nurse gynaecologists in rural parts of the country.

The northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand chose to ignore the meeting.

Meanwhile, the commission has also expressed concern on partnerships in the area of healthcare. “There is a need to have regulatory mechanism to ensure quality standards by private partners. It has also been recommended that there is a need to modify the National Clinical Registration Act to develop various standards to be observed even by private institutions in healthcare facilities,” justice Patil said.

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LTTE campaign to win sympathy in Tamil Nadu
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 7
As part of a damage control exercise and to win over the sympathy of the people of Tamil Nadu, particularly after its men were caught smuggling arms and ammunition to Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) through its mass fronts is trying to launch a media campaign and disassociate itself from criminal activities in the state.

On a visit here, two Sri Lankan Tamil MPs belonging to the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) strongly denied that the LTTE was in any way connected with arms smugglers in Tamil Nadu.

TELO, a former militant group, is now a political outfit and a constituent of the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in Sri Lanka, which has 23 MPs in the island nation’s Parliament.

The two TNA MPs, N. Srikantha and M.K. Sivajilingam, denied that the terrorist organisation, engaged in the arms struggle for decades in Sri Lanka for an independent state, was involved in the smuggling of arms, ammunitions and chemicals and ancillary commodities needed to manufacture powerful explosives.

Following directions from the LTTE, the two MPs said the organisation had asked them to “convey this truth to the people of India in general and all those in Tamil Nadu in particular”.

They said, “In fact, the LTTE leadership has said stern action will be taken against the smugglers”. To placate the growing concern of the people of the state following huge seizure of arms and ammunitions near Tamil Nadu’s coastline close to Sri Lanka during the past few months and divert the attention, the two MPS tried to put the blame on the Sri Lankan authorities.

Srikantha said arms and ammunition were being smuggled from Tamil Nadu to the government controlled areas in south Sri Lanka and added, “It is up to the Indian intelligence agencies to find out who is behind these activities and who benefited from them”. He was indicating that the beneficiaries of the smuggling was the Sri Lankan government as south Sri Lanka was dominated by Sinhalas and referring to a consignment of explosives meant for Sri Lanka Navy being smuggled from Nagpur via Tuticorin port but was seized by the Tamil Nadu police in Madurai on December 7 last year.

This year many consignments of ball bearings reportedly to be used in making powerful bombs were seized by the state police off the coast of Tamil Nadu.

It is a known fact that ball bearings and iron nails usually serve as deadly splinters when mixed with explosives to make bombs. A hue and cry was raised in the state and the LTTE’s reputation was sufficiently damaged for engaging people here for its terrorist activities.

Regarding the explosives laced boat loaded with a huge cache of arms and ammunition belonging to the Sea Tigers, the naval wing of the LTTE, seized by the Indian Coast Guard last month, the other TNA MP Sivajilingam pointed out that the Tamil Nadu police itself had clarified after investigation that it was not heading towards India but sailing to LTTE-controlled Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka.

He pointed out the boat had powerful explosives to blast a big ship if it collided but the Sea Tigers refrained from doing so with the Coast Guard ship and instead gave themselves up.

“They did not want to harm the Indian naval personnel,” he added. The visit of these two MPs and their media campaign here seems to be part of an effort by the LTTE to convince the people of Tamil Nadu that it was no longer involved in violence on Indian soil as it had done in the past and 16 years ago assassinated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the state and thereby lost the mass support it enjoyed among the people.

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Missing persons: Patil for strengthening law
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
Home minister Shivraj Patil said today that law would be strengthened to ensure that complaints registered in cases concerning missing persons were properly investigated.

Replying to queries in the Rajya Sabha from members on the Nithari killings, Patil said the CBI had taken up the investigation of 19 cases relating to the incidents of kidnapping of children, abduction of women, rape, murder and disposal of their dead bodies. He said in the Nithari incident, cases of 11 missing children and seven women\girls had come to light, according to the CBI report of March 3.

The members sought to corner the government over the Nithari episode and other cases of missing children in different parts of the country. Patil said law and order was a state subject, but the CBI was probing the Nithari killings in view of the gravity of the matter. The minister, whose reply was frequently interrupted, said the committee appointed in the wake of the Nithari episode had pressed for making the “missing” cases a congnisable offence.

He said the CrPC could be amended to see that if FIR was not registered by the police, a copy of complaint sent to magistrate led to action by the police.

Samajwadi Party members trooped into the well of the House after a Congress MP asked Patil if the CBI would seek a statement from UP Chief Minister over the Nithari killings.

Though Patil said the law would take its own course and there were no directions from the government, SP members demanded an apology from the Congress member. Parliamentary affairs minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said if any part of the query was unparliamentary, it could be looked into.

Brinda Karat said the Centre should set up a mechanism in consultation with states to check incidents of missing children of migrant workers.

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Trafficking: Gloria advocates Swedish model
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
Gloria Steinem, the leading light of the international feminist movement, has recommended Swedish model for tackling trafficking in women and girls.

Speaking on gender issues and human rights of women at the Indian Women's Press Corps , the 72-year-old journalist, who is rated as “America’s most influential, eloquent and revered feminist”, said she was in favour of decrimimalising prostitution rather than legalising it.

According to her, the USA has made little progress towards addressing the “demand and supply” issue in trafficking. “The sticking point has been that we have tried to penalise the purchase of sex almost as much as the pickpocketing of the dollar. The Swedish model is very helpful. This is the only model that has succeeded. They have addressed the issue of demand and supply. Sweden has put small penalties on the customer for purchase of sex. This is unlike the Dutch model that has legalised prostitution.”

Asked if she recognised a woman's decision to sell her body as a right, she responded in the affirmative and remarked “you just have to pay income tax”. She said she would not put a woman in jail because she was selling her body as it was a matter of choice. “It is not up to us to condemn people who do that,” she added.

On sex-selective abortions in India and child sexual abuse (CSA), she said, “The root cause of both is devaluing of the female human being.”

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Hardwar most unsafe for women

Dehra Dun, March 7
Incidense of crime against women are increasing every year in Uttarakhand, with Hardwar proving to be the most unsafe place for them.

This year, there has been a 26.83 per cent rise in crimes against women, including case of rape, dowry death abducton and murder.

According to police statistics, 88 cases of rape were recorded in 2005. The number went up to 91 in 2006. Similarly, 42 women were murdered in 2005 and the figure went up to 48 next year. There were 52 dowry deaths in 2006 as compared to 38 in 2005.

Hardwar was proving the most the unsafe place for women in the state. There had been the highest number of rape cases (27) in the district, which also had the highest number of women abductions (45) and 92 cases of cruelty by husband and family members. — UNI

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One woman dies every 7 minutes: Report
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
Even in this day and age, a woman dies every seven minutes in the country due to pregnancy-related complications. Not only this, women constitute around three-fourths of the country’s illiterate population.

On the eve of the International Women’s Day, the Lok Sabha was today informed by the minister of state for health that there were approximately 77,000 maternal deaths in the country every year.

The findings, based on the official estimates of the registrar general of India (RGI), pegs the maternal mortality rate at 301 per 1,00,000 live births, quoting haemorrhage, sepsis, abortion, obstructed labour and hypertensive disorders as reasons.

In 2005, the government launched the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), which within a period of seven years aims at reducing the maternal-mortality ratio (MMR) to 100 per 1,00,00 live births by 2012. Health activists hope the NRHM effort works. “According to the RGI estimates for 2000, the MMR was 407 per 1,00,000 live births. Whatever the government might claim, the MMR figure is higher and around 1,00,000 women die every year in the country,” they say.

The founder-member of Nirantar, Malini Ghosh, says the basic health care facilities in our country still have a long way to go. “ The existing healthcare system does not meet the needs of pregnant women, particularly complications and emergencies,” she says.

In the education sector, the situation is not brighter. A Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) report says girls account for only 40 per cent of the total students at the graduate level.

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NETV owners to be provided security
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
Home minister Shivraj Patil today told the Rajya Sabha that the Centre would ask the Assam Government about the security provided to the owners of North East Television (NETV) in the wake of reported threats to the channel.

He said the Centre would instruct the state government to make security arrangements and other necessary steps required to deal with the situation.

Raising the issue during zero hour, JD(U) member Digvijay Singh said the channel was penalised by not being allowed to telecast the national games. Mr Singh, who was joined by BJP member S.S. Ahluwalia, said the channel carried a story on the alleged deal between the state government and ULFA on the smooth conduct of the games.

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CS (prelims) exams gets tougher

New Delhi, March 7
Negative marking will be introduced in the Civil Services (preliminary) Examination from this year.

The UPSC has decided to introduce negative marking as a strong deterrent against guesswork and to accurately assess the level of competence and proficiency of candidates, minister of state for personnel Suresh Pachouri informed the Lok Sabha today.

“Besides, this practice is in keeping with the practice adopted by other competitive examining bodies in the country,” he said during the question hour.

Although the recommendations were received in August 1989, the UPSC did not agree to the proposal of introduction of negative marking at that time. — UNI

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