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N A T I O N

Violence marks Bangla bandh
Kolkata, March 16
Life came to grinding a halt in the state as large-scale violence marked Bangla bandh today. The strike was called by opposition parties in protest against the police firing at Nandigram.
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Indo-US N-deal
Austria chills Indian hope
New Delhi, March 16
Austria, a member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), today poured cold water on Indian hopes for Vienna’s support on Indo-US nuclear deal.

Nath takes over as UP chief secy
Lucknow, March 16
The much-awaited marching orders for the chief secretary finally came today. Shambhu Nath, a 1970-batch IAS officer, took over as the state’s 42nd chief secretary this evening replacing Naveen Chandra Bajpai, who was in the eye of a storm for his reported proximity to the ruling party.

RSS leaders to monitor BJP campaign in UP
New Delhi, March 16
The BJP today unveiled its plan of using the RSS in a big way to win the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress pays back Bachchan in his own coin
New Delhi, March 16
“UP mein tha dum, lekin kahan pahunch gaye hum”, is the Congress reply to Amitabh Bachchan’s advertisements, giving a clean chit to the Samajwadi Party for its handling of the law and order situation in the state.

2 killed in police firing
Patna, March 16
Two persons were killed and few others sustained injuries when the police opened fire to disperse a mob protesting against the anomalies in BPL list at Mahithani block under Begusarai district today.

A view of a candlelight protest organised by a forum of journalists and other agencies in New Delhi on Friday against the killing of stray dogs in Bangalore.
A view of a candlelight protest organised by a forum of journalists and other agencies in New Delhi on Friday against the killing of stray dogs in Bangalore. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES


CBI reports to SC on Q extradition
New Delhi, March 16
The CBI today apprised the Supreme Court of progress in its efforts to get the extradition of Italian businessman Otavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors pay off case, and kept pending a contempt petition, filed against agency’s Director and DIG.

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Violence marks Bangla bandh
Tribune News Service

A deserted road in Kolkata on Friday during the 12-hour Bangla bandh called by the opposition parties in West Bengal in protest against police atrocities in Nandigram.
A deserted road in Kolkata on Friday during the 12-hour Bangla bandh called by the opposition parties in West Bengal in protest against police atrocities in Nandigram. — PTI

Kolkata, March 16
Life came to grinding a halt in the state as large-scale violence marked Bangla bandh today. The strike was called by opposition parties in protest against the police firing at Nandigram.

The bandh was called separately by the TMC-controlled Krishi Bachaoo Committee, the Congress, the SUCI and the BJP but the public spontaneously responded to the bandh call and made it a success.

The bandh began at 6 am and the city people gradually came out in the streets for expressing wrath against the brutal killings of poor farmers.

Activists of the political parties burnt the Chief Minister's effigies, torched buses, attacked policemen and ransacked government offices, including the BDO offices, hospitals and other official establishments. They put obstructions on the railway tracks at several places, which paralysed the train services.

Agitating people at Singur burnt the watch tower of Tata Motors and broke its boundary walls in an attempt to recover their farm lands forcibly acquired for the motor.

The enraged demonstrators burnt CPM and CITU offices in several districts. But the police stood a silent spectator. However, the police mercilessly beaten up people who were demonstrating in front of the Chief Minister's Palm Avenue residence in the evening at south Kolkata. The CPM cadres, who initially remained silent , later came out in the streets and held anti-bandh slogans everywhere and in many places they were involved in clashes with the demonstrators.

SUCI workers, who tried to march towards Writers Buildings, were lathicharged by the police and forced out from the area.

Mamata Banerjee said their agitation would continue.

CPM secretary Biman Bose, who is also the Left Front chairman, alleged that the bandh callers had been involved in vandalism in the name of peaceful agitations and burnt their party offices, government establishments, buses, ambulances, etc.

The violence disturbed "the rule of law" of the entire state. Finance minister Asim Dasgupta today presented the budget of 2007-2008 with a deficit of Rs 153 crore virtually in the empty house where only a few Left Front MLAs were present.

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Indo-US N-deal
Austria chills Indian hope
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
Austria, a member of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), today poured cold water on Indian hopes for Vienna’s support on Indo-US nuclear deal.

The visiting Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik today made clear to the Indian leadership her country’s continued opposition to enlargement of the existing international nuclear regime by giving any recognition to non-NPT countries like India. She held talks with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today. She also called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and met science and technology minister Kapil Sibal and social justice and empowerment minister Meira Kumar.

While maintaining its strident stand, Austria has also conveyed that it was neither its intention nor desire to pressurise non-NPT countries to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In between her meetings with Pranab Mukherjee and Manmohan Singh, Plassnik had a brief interaction with journalists where she was flooded with questions on Austrian stand on the Indo-US nuke deal. This is how she responded:

Plassnik, however, was all praise for India and cited various similarities between India and the 27-nation European Union - pluralism, secularism, unity in diversity. She said India was an increasingly important player in international affairs and lauded Indian peacekeeping efforts in UN missions. She said India had emerged as an attractive and interesting market for business.

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Nath takes over as UP chief secy
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 16
The much-awaited marching orders for the chief secretary finally came today. Shambhu Nath, a 1970-batch IAS officer, took over as the state’s 42nd chief secretary this evening replacing Naveen Chandra Bajpai, who was in the eye of a storm for his reported proximity to the ruling party.

With the installation of the new chief secretary at last a completely new team is in place on orders of the CEC to conduct the elections to the seven-phased 15th Vidhan Sabha.

The elevation of Shambhu Nath to the highest post in the state’s bureaucracy comes exactly a fortnight before he was to retire from his post of chairman of the UP State Road Transport Corporation. His extension to ensure the smooth conduct of elections is almost a certainty.

Speaking to the media minutes after taking over charge he said that managing a free and fair elections was his topmost priority at the juncture. He said he would try to guarantee a conducive environment where anti-social elements would be reined in and rule of law ensured.

While the transition of the chief secretary was relatively smooth, outgoing DGP Bua Singh has not taken kindly to the marching orders from the CEC and has put in his papers for voluntary retirement. G.L. Sharma, who took over from Bua Singh, is till now the DGP (vigilance). Incidentally, both new DGP and the outgoing DGP hail from Punjab.

The other officers who took charge today after their predecessors were removed on the directions of the CEC are principal secretary (home) K. Chandramauli , ADG (law and order) Atul, IG (Kanpur range) S. Javed Ahmed, commissioner of Meerut, J.S. Deepak, SSP of Meerut Rajeev Krishna, DM, Etah, Chandra Bhan and DM, Saharanpur, Madhukar Dwivedi.

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RSS leaders to monitor BJP campaign in UP
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
The BJP today unveiled its plan of using the RSS in a big way to win the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Giving details of the plan, which was thrashed out at a meeting here between central and state leaders, in charge of the BJP's UP elections M. Venkaiah Naidu said the party had decided to post RSS pracharaks at Lucknow, Kanpur, Agra, Gorakhpur, Varanasi and Meerut, along with a central leader for directing, monitoring and supervising the election campaign in the state.

A former secretary of the organisation of Madhya Pradesh Captan Singh Solanki has been posted at Kanpur. Another RSS functionary Manohar Lal, who is an office-bearer at the party headquarters, has been deputed to Lucknow.

The BJP's national spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was in charge of the party's campaign in the recently held Assembly election in Uttarakhand, has been posted at Meerut where he will be assisted by Om Prakash Dhankar who is a secretary (Organisation) in Haryana.

The party is going to launch its campaign from March 25 from three significant regions of the state when Vajpayee, along with party's chief ministerial candidate Kalyan Singh, will address a big rally at Kanpur and leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha L.K. Advani, along with former UP minister Lalji Tandon, will speak at a meeting in Agra. BJP president Rajnath Singh will address a meeting in Jhansi.

Ruling out either pre-poll and post-poll alliance with any party, Naidu said the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party were the BJP's main opponents in the Assembly elections and "we will win a clear majority" at the hustings.

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Congress pays back Bachchan in his own coin
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
“UP mein tha dum, lekin kahan pahunch gaye hum”, is the Congress reply to Amitabh Bachchan’s advertisements, giving a clean chit to the Samajwadi Party for its handling of the law and order situation in the state.

The advertisements, being used extensively by the Samajwadi Party in its campaign, show Bachchan telling viewers: “UP mein hai dum, kyon ki jurum yahan hai kum”.

The Congress slogan for the poll was finalised at the first meeting of the party’s publicity committee today.

Headed by AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, it was also attended by Rahul Gandhi, chief strategist for the elections.

The Samajwadi Party would be the main target, but the Congress would be equally critical of the BJP and the BSP.

Rahul put off his roadshow in western UP by a day because of the solar eclipse and would leave on March 19.

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2 killed in police firing
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 16
Two persons were killed and few others sustained injuries when the police opened fire to disperse a mob protesting against the anomalies in BPL list at Mahithani block under Begusarai district today.

Reports reaching from the district said the police was forced to open fire when the angry mob was about to set the local block development officer’s office on fire to decry the exclusion of the names of over a dozen families from the BPL list in the area. The mob reportedly turned furious after the police beat up one Nirmali Devi for raising her voice against the alleged injustice.

Policemen first fired into the air after the mob pelted them with stones. Later the police resorted to firing at the mob.

The victims have been identified as Bisho Jha and Baneswar Saho.

The opposition RJD already charged the Nitish government with denying the names of the genuine ones in the list.

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CBI reports to SC on Q extradition

New Delhi, March 16
The CBI today apprised the Supreme Court of progress in its efforts to get the extradition of Italian businessman Otavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors pay off case, and kept pending a contempt petition, filed against agency’s Director and DIG.

After additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam told a Bench of Justice C.K Thakker and Justice V.S Sirpurkar that Argentina has assured full cooperation to India and he could not leave that country pending the extradition proceedings. Advocate Ajay Agrawal, who had taken up the issue, was given two weeks’ time to respond to the CBI’s twin affidavits. — TNS

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