SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Nandigram firing echoes in Parliament
New Delhi, March 14
The death of several persons in today's police firing in Nandigram Special Economic Zone in West Bengal rocked Parliament today as the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day by the Chair.

A policewoman arrests a SUCI supporter during demonstration outside the West Bengal Assembly in Kolkata on Wednesday. SUCI was protesting against the killing of farmers by the police at Nandigram on Wednesday.
A policewoman arrests a SUCI supporter during demonstration outside the West Bengal Assembly in Kolkata on Wednesday. SUCI was protesting against the killing of farmers by the police at Nandigram on Wednesday. — PTI

Cong’s tightrope act on firing
New Delhi, March 14
The Congress-led UPA government was forced to do a tightrope walk over the renewed violence at Nandigram in West Bengal today where several persons were killed in police firing.

Khanduri wins trust vote
Dehra Dun, March 14
Even as the Congress legislators staged a walkout, Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri today passed the floor test by winning the vote of confidence.


EARLIER STORIES



A dejected farmer sits by his fields, his crop destroyed by relentless rain over the past two days in Patna on Wednesday.
Punjab? No, Bihar:
A dejected farmer sits by his fields, his crop destroyed by relentless rain over the past two days in Patna on Wednesday. — PTI

Nitish emerges stronger after JD(U) win
Patna, March 14
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar apparently emerged stronger today following the victory of JD(U) nominee in the by-poll to the Islampur assembly seat in Nalanda district.

Assets case: Mulayam’s son seeks stay on order
New Delhi, March 14
A day after the Supreme Court rejected the application of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for the modification of its order for a CBI inquiry into his family’s assets, his son Akhilesh Yadav today moved a review petition with a plea for a stay on the operation of the apex court verdict.

Of metaphors and Maya
Lucknow, March 14
BSP President Mayawati, retained the lead gained by her party by releasing a complete list of 403 candidates much ahead of others by following it up today with the release of the party's manifesto or what she describes as "appeal to the voters".

Lalu claims credit for Railway’s turnaround
New Delhi, March 14
Ruling out privatisation of core activities, railway minister Lalu Prasad today said the Railways would be put on faster growth track with improved passenger amenities. The top priority would be given their safety.

BSP welcomes decision to remove officials
Lucknow, March 14
BSP chief Mayawati today welcomed the decision of the CEC to remove nine senior UP government officials including the DGP Bua Singh, and principal secretary Home Satish Aggarwal, from their present assignments.

Actress and underworld don Abu Salem's girlfriend Monica Bedi comes out of district court after a hearing in connection with a fake passport case in Bhopal on Wednesday.
Actress and underworld don Abu Salem's girlfriend Monica Bedi comes out of district court after a hearing in connection with a fake passport case in Bhopal on Wednesday. — PTI

Officers in dock after terrorists’ confession
Mumbai, March 14
Corruption in the ranks of civil defence services is under focus following the confession of three terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Toiba that they had paid off patrolling officers from the Coast Guard off the western coast to gain entry into the country.

No timeframe for clemency decisions, says Patil
New Delhi, March 14
Home Minister Shivraj Patil today said that the government did not propose to put a timeframe for deciding on the clemency petition in case of people sentenced for terrorist acts.

President to inaugurate ILI’s golden jubilee
New Delhi, March 14
President A P J Abdul Kalam, will inaugurate the golden jubilee function of the Indian Law Institute (ILI), the premier institution of judicial research in the country, which has planned a series of discussions on the occasion on various legal issues facing the nation.

 
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Nandigram firing echoes in Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
The death of several persons in today's police firing in Nandigram Special Economic Zone in West Bengal rocked Parliament today as the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day by the Chair.

The issue had been raised during zero hour in the House and the home minister had been directed by the Chair to make a statement.

However, as soon as former finance minister Yashwant Sinha of the BJP finished his speech on the general budget, Sushma Swaraj (BJP) raised the issue.

When the deputy chairperson K Rehman Khan told her that the home minister had already been asked by the Chair to make a statement, she said the situation had deteriorated since morning and the House needed immediate information and discussion.

Soon other members of her party and allies joined her and started shouting slogans against the government, trooping into the well of the House.

At this, the members from the Treasury Benches reacted and verbal clash ensued between the two sides.

While all this was going on, Home Minister Shivraj Patil entered the House to make a statement. However, the din continued even then but finally the deputy chairperson persuaded the opposition members to resume their seats.

Giving statement amidst din, the home minister informed the House that six persons had been killed and 20 injured, including eight police personnel in the renewed violence.

The reply failed to pacify the agitated BJP and Trinamool Congress members who continued to shout slogans.

Earlier, BJP and TC MPs had stormed the well shouting slogans like stop killing of humanity and government of bullets and sticks will not be allowed to run.

Congress MPs Shantaram Naik and B K Hari Prasad suggested that home minister should visit the site and assess the situation himself.

The home minister also informed the House that all the injured have been sent to hospital and were getting treatment.

Narrating the incident, Patil said more than 20,000 people had gheraoed the area and the police was trying to see that workers reach their and start their work.

He said when the pelting of stones started, the police resorted to firing tear gas shells and rubber bullets.

Patil also informed the House that few crude bombs were also hurled and firing took place (from the side of the protesters).

However, the home minister said he received only this much information on the telephone and his office was in touch with the state administration.

As soon Patil finished his statement, the BJP and its allies rose up expressing their dissatisfaction with the reply. They resumed slogan shouting and again reached the well of the House. The deputy chairman's repeated appeal for calm fell on deaf ears and the uproarious scenes continued. At this Khan adjourned the House till tomorrow.

CPM blames Trinamool

CPM today blamed Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress and Maoist elements for the renewed violence in Nandigram in West Bengal accusing them of master-minding the attacks and claiming that the incidents had nothing to do with the proposed SEZ in the area.

It is a straightforward political battle and is not at all connected with land acquisition or SEZ. The challenge will be met with politically, CPM Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told mediapersons here, condemning the violence.

The Left Front government has made it clear that there would be no land acquisition for the proposed chemical hub and SEZ in Nandigram without the consent of the local people.

“Therefore, the violence is all the more condemnable,” he said.

Neither Trinamool, nor the Congress can oppose industrialisation, nor can the Maoists have any justification, as land was not being acquired. Therefore, the violence is purely to achieve political ends and it will be dealt with politically.

Observing that the proposed Nandigram project was a central decision, the CPM leader said the Centre had now been informed that its location decision will have to be in consonance with that of the state government’s policy that consent of locals was essential for land acquisition.

Asked whether this could imply a change in location of the project, Yechury said “there would be some alterations ... we will not impose land acquisition”.

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Cong’s tightrope act on firing
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
The Congress-led UPA government was forced to do a tightrope walk over the renewed violence at Nandigram in West Bengal today where several persons were killed in police firing.

With the Left parties providing critical support to the ruling coalition at the Centre, the Congress response to the killings in West Bengal was predictably muted. On the other hand, the party’s state unit and senior leaders, who are battling the Left Front government, were far more vociferous in their criticism of the Buddhadev Bhattacharya dispensation.

The West Bengal Congress unit has joined forces with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamul Congress in opposing the proposed special economic zone at Nandigram and has been active in the protests against this project.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi set the tone when she expressed deep concern over the situation in Nandigram but did not go as far as to condemn the police action.

In a statement, parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said Gandhi had asked the state unit to render all-possible support to the injured and send details to the AICC about the casualties and the situation there.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee spoke to Bhattacharya and advised him to rein in the police and settle the matter amicably.

Dasmunsi, who is locked in a running battle with the Marxists in his home state, however, took a stronger position. He dashed off a letter to the chief minister condemning the violence and asked Bhattacharya to personally take charge of this matter. “The incident which took place today is highly condemnable,” Dasmunsi’s letter said, adding that this will create a bigger law and order problem in the state.

Dasmunsi also said he had received several messages over the past few days over the building tension at Nandigram. He said he had tried to get in touch with the chief minister in this connection but since he was unable to contact him, he had brought it to the notice of CPM Lok Sabha MPs Basudev Acharia and Roopchand Pal. The minister, however, denied CPM leader Sitaram Yechury’s charge that the Congress was instigating the violence in Nandigram.

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Khanduri wins trust vote

Dehra Dun, March 14
Even as the Congress legislators staged a walkout, Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri today passed the floor test by winning the vote of confidence.

Khanduri proposed the confidence motion which was supported by 39 members while the Opposition led by 21 member Congress boycotted it. The eight-member BSP group voted against it. The BJP could prove its majority on the floor of the House with the support of three Independent and as many legislators of Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD).

The BJP had fallen short of clear majority in the 70 member Assembly. Election to one constituency was countermanded due to death of a candidate in the Bazpur constituency. Governor Sudarshan Agarwal had asked Khanduri to prove his majority on the floor of the house before March 20.

The CLP leader Harak Singh Rawat who initiated the discussion on the motion, accused the BJP-led government of starting its tenure by showing its communal agenda by inviting Hindu religious leaders at his swearing-in ceremony. Moreover, the CM’s stand on austerity measures also stood exposed as crores were spent on the ceremony held in public. After raising the issue of ban on recruitments announced by Khanduri, Rawat and his party colleagues walked out in protest against the confidence motion.

While opposing the motion, the leader of BSP group Shehzad Ahmed critticised the BJP government over recent attack on Muslim shopkeepers and vendors in Srinagar Garhwal by a mob over alleged involvement of a young boy and girl belonging to different religions in an obscene video clip. He deplored this happened soon after the BJP government came to power.

Refuting the allegations made by the leader of the Opposition, the CM replied that Rs11.91 lakh were spent on oath taking ceremony. — TNS

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Nitish emerges stronger after JD(U) win
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 14
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar apparently emerged stronger today following the victory of JD(U) nominee in the by-poll to the Islampur assembly seat in Nalanda district.

Nalanda is the hometurf of Nitish. JD(U) nominee Pratima Sinha, won the by-poll by defeating UPA-backed CPI`s Rakesh Roshan, by over 9,000 votes.

The by-poll in Islampur, being held on March 11, was necessitated after the election of sitting JD(U) MLA Ram Swaroop Prasad, to the Lok Sabha from the Nalanda parliamentary constituency. Nalanda lok sabha seat was vacated by Nitish, after his election to Bihar legislative council last year.

The most significant message after JD(U)`s victory in Islampur by-poll today was perhaps that even after completing 15 months in office, the anti-incumbency factor against the ruling NDA was still not visible as this was the fourth consecutive victory by it in the by-polls under the new regime.

Last year, Nitish-led NDA had defeated the opposition in Bhagalpur and Nalanda lok sabha and Manihari assembly by-polls.

Once known as the stronghold of the left, besides CPI`s Rakesh Roshan, three other candidates including CPI-ML's Umesh Kumar, were in the fray in Islampur against JD(U)'s Pratima Sinha.

Nitish had chosen Pratima Sinha as party candidate because of his promise to empower women by making them equal stakeholders in the governance. Last year, NDA in Bihar was the first government to reserve 50 per cent seats for woman in the statewide three-tier panchayat polls.

Another interesting pointer to the consecutive victories of NDA in by-polls in the state was the gradual shift of the mythical Muslim votes of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad to Nitish.

This was particularly evident in the victory of NDA in the minority dominated Bhagalpur lok sabha seat and Manihari assembly seat last year. In the minority dominated Manihari assembly seat, the Congress was shocked to loose it to JD(U) last year. The Congress never had lost this seat since independence.

The shift of minority votes, besides consolidation of votes from the majority, in favour of Nitish seemed to be primarily because of a number of development initiatives undertaken by him for the mainstreaming of the Muslims.

Besides, Nitish never treated Muslims as a vote bank. Nor he ignored them despite his association with the BJP. He already reopened some old cases in the infamous Bhagalpur riot of 1989 under then Congress government claiming over 1,000 lives to do justice to the minority.

Even though RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, often referred him as the "messiah " for the Muslims, it was Nitish who first had raised the issue for the reservation of dalit Muslims on the lines of SC and ST of Hindus. The Congress too now supports this demand.

A jubilant Nitish, after the victory chose to dedicate it to the people of Bihar for reposing confidence on him for the promised turnaround of the state as a developed one by 2015.

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Assets case: Mulayam’s son seeks stay on order
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 14
A day after the Supreme Court rejected the application of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for the modification of its order for a CBI inquiry into his family’s assets, his son Akhilesh Yadav today moved a review petition with a plea for a stay on the operation of the apex court verdict.

The move was seen as a desperate attempt by the Chief Minister and his son, a Lok Sabha MP, to get a stay on the order, seen as an embarrassment to the Samajwadi Party amid the run-up to the assembly poll.

Akhilesh Yadav, who faced questioning by the CBI along with his wife Dimple and brother Prateek, apart from the Chief Minister, urged the court that the operation of the order be deferred at least till polling was over.

Former additional advocate-general Mukul Rohtagi was mentioned the review petition before a bench of Mr Justice A.R. Lakshmanan and Mr Justice Altamas Kabir and the interlocutory application filed with it.

Though in the main review petition, Akhilesh claimed several grounds for a review of the order, alleging that various errors of law had cropped up in the judgement, the interlocutory application almost repeated the prayers sought in the modification application rejected yesterday.

After Rohtagi sought hearing of the interlocutory application in the open court, the bench, which had passed the probe order and rejected the modification application, agreed and said it would be listed for Friday.

In the interlocutory application, Akhilesh sought a modification of the order to the extent to let the income tax department to assess the worth of their assets and then take appropriate action on it and in the alternative, the inquiry be held by a Supreme Court or a high court Judge.

Among the alleged legal errors referred in the review petition were the locus standi of Vishwanath Chaturvedi, on whose PIL the CBI probe was ordered as Akhilesh insisted that he was associated with the Congress.

He claimed that Chaturvedi’s statement submitted in the court that he had no association with the Congress was false.

He also said when the probe was being conducted by the income tax department, the CBI could not launch a parallel inquiry till the tax authorities completed its assessment.

The interlocutory application said the fate of Mulayam Singh Yadav and members of his family had been entirely put in the hands of the UPA government at the Centre by issuing a direction to the CBI that after completing the preliminary inquiry into the assets, it would submit its report to the Centre for further action, and all those errors of law made a strong case for a review of the order.

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Of metaphors and Maya
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 14
BSP President Mayawati, retained the lead gained by her party by releasing a complete list of 403 candidates much ahead of others by following it up today with the release of the party's manifesto or what she describes as "appeal to the voters".

Using metaphors from the epic, Mayawati asked her voters to join the Mahabharat like political battle to defeat Mulayam Singh Yadav, whom she calls modern-day Kans at the hands of "Maya-roopi Krishna".

The six page signed leaflet released by her today sets checking the worsening law and order situation as the first priority of her government.

Briefing the press she said that if returned to power she would ensure a terror free society in which development would be possible.

Answering a question she said that there is 101 per cent possibility of her government reviewing some decisions of the Mulayam Singh Yadav government if she was returned to power.

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Lalu claims credit for Railway’s turnaround
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
Ruling out privatisation of core activities, railway minister Lalu Prasad today said the Railways would be put on faster growth track with improved passenger amenities. The top priority would be given their safety. Winding up the discussion on the railway Budget 2007-08 in the Rajya Sabha, he said that Railways was taking steps to fill backlog of vacancies for weaker sections. The House approved by a voice vote the vote on account for railways, providing for expenditure of Rs 7,579 crore for the first few months of 2007-08.

He said the Railways would take steps to provide hygienic and safe food, palatable to the taste of regional passengers. He rejected the Opposition claim that turnaround was based on the initiatives of the previous government. The minister said the world, including top business schools of the US, was lauding the railways’ turnaround.

The House was adjourned twice during the minister’s reply following pandemonium as the Opposition strongly protested his comment on corruption during the previous NDA regime. The House was first adjourned for 15 minutes and then again for half-an-hour as the Opposition members demanded that the rail minister withdraw his charge.

The BJP took strong exception to the minister’s remark that though loading on same scale was done; it was shown to be underweight in return for money. The BJP members demanded that since the minister was making a grave charge he should substantiate his allegation or withdraw it. BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said being a minister, Lalu Prasad should not indulge in making a general comment but specify and prove his ‘grave charge’. The minister asserted he had not made any charge against any party or leader of the NDA and had said that loading was shown as underweight for which he had punished officials.

Earlier, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj sought to counter Prasad’s claims that the Railways was showing surplus of Rs 20,000 crore despite any substantial increase in passenger and freight fares. She said 30 per cent of rail tickets of all trains in the country were now being sold under the ‘tatkal’ scheme against 10 per cent earlier and counters were closed after 70 per cent of tickets were sold. She said premium on such tickets had increased by three times in various classes and charges for cancellation of ticket and the service tax had been hiked.

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BSP welcomes decision to remove officials
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 14
BSP chief Mayawati today welcomed the decision of the CEC to remove nine senior UP government officials including the DGP Bua Singh, and principal secretary Home Satish Aggarwal, from their present assignments.

Commenting on the development Mayawati said that when her party's delegation had met the CEC team a few weeks ago they had complained against these officials and had maintained that free and fair polls was not possible in the state till these officials continued in these positions.

"We had told the CEC not to take us at face value but do their own homework before taking any action" informed Mayawati while expressing happiness at the CEC finding their charges worth following up.

The eight officials whom the CEC is to shift are DGP Bua Singh, principal secretary Home Satish Aggarwal, IG police (Kanpur Range) Rizwan Ahmad, commissioner Meerut Devdutt, SSP Meerut Navneet Sikera, DM Saharanpur Anil Kumar and DM Etah Ram Kumar.

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Officers in dock after terrorists’ confession
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 14
Corruption in the ranks of civil defence services is under focus following the confession of three terrorists from the Lashkar-e-Toiba that they had paid off patrolling officers from the Coast Guard off the western coast to gain entry into the country.

Coast Guard sources here confirmed that three LeT operatives held in Jammu and Kashmir had confessed to arriving in India on a boat to Mumbai from Karachi before moving inland.

The three terrorists' names have been given as Mohammad Jamil, Abdul Majeed and Mohammad Zuber were part of group of eight LeT operatives who entered the country last month via the western coast. After their arrests in Kashmir, the three men reportedly told investigators that the group was intercepted by coast guards on patrol.

The men were let off after paying the CG officials, reports said.

Coast Guard sources here say, details provided by the arrested men are being verified. The identities of the Coast Guard officials who allegedly intercepted the LeT operatives and took bribes from them are still being established, well placed officials told The Tribune. The arrested men told investigators that they were brought ashore Mumbai by their contacts who also arranged for their onward transportation to Kashmir.

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No timeframe for clemency decisions, says Patil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
Home Minister Shivraj Patil today said that the government did not propose to put a timeframe for deciding on the clemency petition in case of people sentenced for terrorist acts.

Replying to supplementary questions during the question hour, he said a pardon petition made to the President passes through various channels, including the state concerned and the Home Ministry before the government gives its recommendation to the President. He said due to a multi-layer consultation process involved, it would be not be practical to put a timeframe. On the clemency petition of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the Minister said it was referred to the Delhi Government for opinion after which it had to come to the central government. He did not say whether the Delhi Government had given its opinion on the issue.

Answering another query, he said the government was open to the idea of court proceedings in important cases being telecast live but a decision would need wider consultations.

In reply to another question, he said measures were being taken to prevent witnesses from turning hostile in serious crime cases like rape, murder and dacoity.

Answering a query on Naxalite violence, he said there was a 47 per cent increase in Naxal activities and 56 per cent rise in killings in Chhattisgarh. He said Naxalites found it easier to take shelter in the hilly and forested terrain of the state.

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President to inaugurate ILI’s golden jubilee
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 14
President A P J Abdul Kalam, will inaugurate the golden jubilee function of the Indian Law Institute (ILI), the premier institution of judicial research in the country, which has planned a series of discussions on the occasion on various legal issues facing the nation.

The main function will be held at Vigyan Bhavan here on March 17 to be inaugurated by Dr Kalam and it will be attended among others by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Law Minister H R Bhardwaj,

The focus of the national seminar organised on the occasion would be on ‘delay in administration of criminal justice’, ILI Registrar Dalip Kumar said.

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Zaheera released from jail
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 14
Zaheera Shaikh, the prime accused in the Best Bakery case who was sent to jail for a year by the Supreme Court for contempt of court, was today released from jail. She served her sentence in the Nashik Central Jail.

Though Shaikh could not pay the fine of Rs 50,000 imposed by the apex court, the additional sentence of three months which she had to undergo in lieu of the fine was waived off due to her poor financial condition.

   

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