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N A T I O N

Controversial CD
EC files FIR against BJP men

Lucknow, April 5
The Election Commission today filed an FIR against unnamed BJP office-bearers under various sections of IPC and Peoples Representation Act for publicly distributing an inflammatory publicity CD as part of the election propaganda kit on Tuesday.

BSP consolidates in second phase
Bulandshahar, April 5
With the campaigning for the first phase coming to an end today evening, 58 seats in the second phase of the UP Assembly poll are witnessing multi-cornered contests with the BSP being in reckoning on almost every seat.

Left slams government on SEZs
New Delhi, April 5
Left parties today criticised the eGOM’s decision on the special economic zones and asked the government to get out of the SEZ obsession and come up with a comprehensive policy on land acquisition and SEZ rules.

BPL list spoils marriage
Patna, April 5
Only a week before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar admitted some flaws in the below poverty line list and promised to present a rectified one by July this year. This was the second upgradation of the BPL list in the past one year by the Nitish government.





EARLIER STORIES


Funds misused in UP: Sonia
Kanpur, April 5
Congress president Sonia Gandhi today asked the people of UP to seek details from the state government about the misuse of funds sanctioned by the Centre for development works. She said the state was facing severe crunch due to the misuse of Central funds. — PTI


UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and President APJ Abdul Kalam at the Babu Jagjivan Ram Centenary Lecture in New Delhi
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and President APJ Abdul Kalam at the Babu Jagjivan Ram Centenary Lecture in New Delhi on Thursday. — PTI

CMs to discuss fast track justice with CJs
New Delhi, April 5
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate a joint conference of chief ministers and HC chief justices here on April 8. The conference is being organised to discuss the administration of fast track justice.

Air India-Indian Merger
MP opposes Thulasidas’ appointment
New Delhi, April 5

Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the move to appoint Air India chairman and managing director V. Thulasidas as the joint chairman of the new entity airline following the merger of the national flag carrier and the public sector Indian (airlines).

Most women in rural Bihar illiterate: Survey
New Delhi, April 5
Fifty per cent of rural households in India have no literate women members in the age group of 15 and above. The highest number of illiterate women in rural areas is 38 per cent in Bihar.

Bachchan does ad for money: Shatrughan
Kanpur, April 5
Launching a broadside against Amitabh Bachchan for appearing in a controversial advertisement promoting Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party, BJP leader and actor Shatrughan Sinha, alleged that the megastar had featured in the commercial only because of his "love for money".

SC admits plea against Shariat courts
New Delhi, April 5
After receiving replies from the Centre, some states and the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board on the issue of functioning of parallel Shariat courts in the country, the Supreme Court today admitted a petition seeking to stop and declare them illegal.

A tourist takes a snap of a 1935 Bentley Derby Special car at the final destination of the second Himalaya Classic Car Rally 2007 in Kolkata
A tourist takes a snap of a 1935 Bentley Derby Special car at the final destination of the second Himalaya Classic Car Rally 2007 in Kolkata on Thursday. — PTI

Reliance Infocom to pay Rs 1 cr for breaking law
New Delhi, April 5
A fine of Rs 1 crore was imposed on Reliance Infocom owned by Anil Ambani by the Supreme Court today for violating environment laws in laying down the optical fibre cable in protected Madhav National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

Porous border will step up infiltration: AASU
Guwahati, April 5
The All Assam Students’ Union, the spearhead of continuing tirade against illegal migration from Bangladesh, today raised alarm that the Government of India was running high risk by keeping the India-Bangladesh border in Assam unfenced.

Soldier, militant killed, war-like stores recovered
Srinagar, April 5
A soldier and a militant were killed and a civilian was injured while security forces recovered a warlike stores in Jammu and Kashmir overnight. An official spokesman said the Special Operation Group of Jammu and Kashmir police and Rashtriya Rifles launched joint search operation at Pnzpora, in Anantnag today following a tip off that some militants were there.

Army to receive 14 Arjun tanks
Belgaum, April 5
Chief of Army Staff General J.J. Singh today said the Army would soon receive 14 main battle tanks Arjun for training exercises. Talking to newspersons after inaugurating the reunion of Maratha Light Infantry here, he said “the minor problems in these tanks have been communicated to the Defence Research Development Organisation” and hoped that they would be rectified soon.

Lecturer demands kiss, held
Coimbatore, April 5
The police arrested a lecturer of the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University on charges of alleged misconduct with a girl student here. University Open and Distance Learning Chairman H Philip was arrested by the police today. 

Epidemics theme for World Health Day
New Delhi, April 5
Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, World Health Organisation, regional director for South-East Asia, today said epidemic prone diseases, human emergencies, bio-terrorism, climate change and environmental degradation can turn into international public health emergencies.

Sea Harrier crashes off Goa coast
Panaji, April 5
Indian Navy’s two-seater trainer aircraft ‘Sea Harrier’ today crashed off Goa coast, Defence officials said. The incident occurred at 8:50 am, when the aircraft was on its routine sortie, they said.

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Controversial CD
EC files FIR against BJP men
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 5
The Election Commission today filed an FIR against unnamed BJP office-bearers under various sections of IPC and Peoples Representation Act for publicly distributing an inflammatory publicity CD as part of the election propaganda kit on Tuesday.

The case no 263/07 was filed at the Hazratganj police station on behalf of the EC. It invoked IPC Sections 295 A, 298, 05,153 (A) and 153 (B) as well as Section 155 of the Peoples Representative Act.

These clauses are offences relating to religion that includes “outrage of religious feelings” (295A), uttering words…to wound religious feelings (298), statements…creating or promoting enmity and hatred or ill-will between classes (505) acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony (153A) and prejudicial to national integration (153B) The maximum punishment stipulated under these sections is imprisonment for three years and fine.

Reacting to this move BJP state president Kesharinath Tripathi declared, “We will respond to the EC in an appropriate manner.” The party is clearly in damage-control mode to cushion the political impact of this demoralising indictment by the EC a day before polling for the first phase on April 7.

The contentious CD was first released by the BJP on the eve of their National Convention in Lucknow in December 2006 and re-released by Leader of the Opposition Lalji Tandon on Tuesday. The provocative CD includes, among other things, offensive remarks about Muslims and has made controversial references to the Godhra train fire and Babri Masjid issues.

Despite withdrawal of the CD the controversy is refusing to die down and has now snowballed into a major political crisis leaving many senior party leaders red in the face.

Defending the party Tripathi declared, “As far as we are concerned, the CD in question was never released in the first place after objections from certain quarters.”

Making it an election issue Samajwadi Party activists burnt the effigy of BJP president Rajnath Singh at Varanasi today for releasing a communal CD as part of the party’s election campaign..

Led by party leader Rajendra Trivedi, the SP activists and students of Harishchandra Degree College burnt Singh’s effigy at Maidagin crossing.

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BSP consolidates in second phase
Tribune News Service

Bulandshahar, April 5
With the campaigning for the first phase coming to an end today evening, 58 seats in the second phase of the UP Assembly poll are witnessing multi-cornered contests with the BSP being in reckoning on almost every seat.

BSP supremo Maywati's rallies here on Monday, in Ghazaiabad, Saharanpur and other places this week, has brought her party in a sharp focus as the topic of discussion in dhabas and street corner revolves around the prospects of the BSP candidate.

Her strategy to woo almost every section of the electorate was evident when she told a rally, poor people from every cast were entitled for reservations in jobs. Brahmins and Dalits appear to be tilting towards the BSP. Even Muslims are debating the pros and cons of voting for Mayawati's party.

Her promise to bring goons and criminals behind bars appears to have touched every heart as Ram Dayal Sharma, a teacher in a local school said that "people feel insecure as local goondas being patronised by the ruling party terrorise everyone".

"The BSP has an edge over other parties as she is not only appealing to every section but appears to be rising above narrow caste considerations", Chaudhary Manphool Singh said.

The BSP's presence has obviously rattled its opponents as quarter page advertisements in prominent Hindi dailies question BSP supremo Mayawati's commitment to Muslims and Dalits.

The advertisements, issued by Sarvangin Vikas Sansthan in public interest, shows an angry Mayawati telling a Muslim old man that he was a "fundamentalist". She can do anything to get power. She has called Minorities fundamentalists.

The same organisation has issued another quarter page advertisement, which shows chariot, carrying Mayawati being pulled by two poor Dalits. Its punchline remains the same that she can do anything to get power. She exploits those who catapulate her to power.

Another advertisement, issued by one Jiva Ram Bharti, shows the BSP supremo sitting on a throne. The text asks Mayawati not to forget Baba Sahib Bhim Rao Ambedkar and faults her on four counts including that she does not celebrate Baba Sahib's birthday on the same scale as she does her own.

In this area in 2002 Assembly election, the BSP had won 15 seats while it had stood second in 17 seats.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) of Ajit Singh had won 11 seats out of its total 14 seats from this region alone. It was at number two position in six seats. The BJP had secured 10 seats and had remained second in 15 seats. The Congress had won six seats and had managed to be at second position in three seats.

The Rashtriya Kranti Dal of former Chief Minister Kalayan Singh, who had formed a separate party after his expulsion from the BJP, had won three out of its total four seats from this area alone.

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Left slams government on SEZs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 5
Left parties today criticised the eGOM’s decision on the special economic zones and asked the government to get out of the SEZ obsession and come up with a comprehensive policy on land acquisition and SEZ rules.

The eGoMs decisions are “totally unacceptable to us. The CPI will intensify its struggle against such decisions on SEZs,” the CPI said in a statement.

D Raja, CPI national secretary said the government should have waited for the suggestions of the parliamentary panel set up to look into the matter.

The party said fixing the upper limit at 5000 hectares is “shocking in the extreme. This is an open declaration of acquiring huge tracts of agricultural land despite all earlier pretensions that they will exercise caution and give a fresh look on the issue.”

“The promise of job for one member each of the families that will be displaced makes a mockery of the rehabilitation process. It is like a pie in the sky,” the CPI said.

The government should learn lessons from protests taking place across the country against special economic zones and take a decision considering the ground reality. What we are demanding is a comprehensive policy, he said.

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BPL list spoils marriage
Ambrish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 5
Only a week before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar admitted some flaws in the below poverty line (BPL) list and promised to present a rectified one by July this year.

This was the second upgradation of the BPL list in the past one year by the Nitish government. In the past names of ministers, legislators, rich contractors and officials figured in the BPL list against many genuine claimants.

But what surprised officials engaged with the correction of the BPL list was a classic case where a Bihar villager cost his son a bride by falsely putting his family’s name on the poverty list.

This actually happened with Ramnath Singh who is a resident of Bihat village in Begusarai district.

Until a few days ago he was a happy man as he was expecting a fat dowry from his son’s marriage.

But when the girl’s father Satish Prasad Singh visited the boy’s house to hand over dowry in cash , a distant relative informed him that his would-be son-in-law’s family figured in the BPL list.

Sources say a shocked Satish Prasad immediately broke off the marriage negotiations.

Ramnath,who falsely put his family’s name on BPL list, reportedly tried his best to convince Satish Prasad that he was a rich man, far above the poverty list status.

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CMs to discuss fast track justice with CJs
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 5
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate a joint conference of chief ministers and HC chief justices here on April 8. The conference is being organised to discuss the administration of fast track justice.

The conference, to be addressed by Chief Justice of India K.G Balakrishnan and law minister H.R Bhardwaj, would take stock of the implementation of the decision taken in the last joint conference of chief ministers and HC chief justices held in March 2006.

The main focus of the deliberation would be strengthening and modernisation of justice delivery system, improvement of infrastructure such as setting up new courts, building facilities for them, computerisation and mobilisation of human resource in the lower judiciary, the law ministry said.

Under the Centre-sponsored scheme for improving the infrastructure with the judiciary, the cost has to be borne in equal ratio both by the Centre and states.

During the tenth plan Rs 700 crore were provided to the states, which was only 0.078 per cent of the total plan outlay. Such a small allocation was found to be grossly inadequate to meet the basic minimum requirement of the lower judiciary, which in many states, especially the bigger ones, needed immediate improvement of infrastructure.

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Air India-Indian Merger
MP opposes Thulasidas’ appointment
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 5
Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Sanjay Raut has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh opposing the move to appoint Air India chairman and managing director V. Thulasidas as the joint chairman of the new entity airline following the merger of the national flag carrier and the public sector Indian (airlines).

The empowered group of ministers had recently cleared the proposed merger of the two public sector airlines, which was later given the nod by the Union Cabinet as well. The entity will have a new name and will start functioning in the next few weeks.

The sore point with Indian’s staffers is that the Air India staff will definitely get an edge over the Indian staff for key top management appointments.

The MP in his letter said that there was a move to appoint Thulasidas, as the as the joint chairman of the proposed AI/IA merged entity for a period of three years.

He added that this should not happen, as there were various serious air safety and other violations, witnessed for the first time in the history of the national flag carrier, under Thulasidas. Besides there were other grave issues and charges of commission and omission, massive abuse of power, financial irregularities and possession of assets disproportionate to the known sources of income of Thulasidas.

While pointing out that former Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad had not been granted any extension and the same should apply to Thulasidas, who has completed his three-year tenure as the CMD of Air India in December 2006 and was on a temporary extension. The proposal to appoint Thulasidas as the joint chairman for a period of three more years was unethical, indicative of nepotism and violated the Indian Administrative Service rules, he claimed.

In the said circumstances it would be highly inappropriate to consider any further extension or appointment of Thulasidas as the joint chairman of the proposed AI/IA merged entity, he added.

Meanwhile, senior civil aviation ministry officials today said that the merged entity could still be called Air India and there was a possibility of Thulasidas continuing as its chairman of the remaining period of his service tenure of one year. Thulasidas is due for retirement from service in March 2008. The officials said that the name could possibly remain as Air India as that would help retain the international code and other things.

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Most women in rural Bihar illiterate: Survey
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 5
Fifty per cent of rural households in India have no literate women members in the age group of 15 and above. The highest number of illiterate women in rural areas is 38 per cent in Bihar.

In urban areas, the number of households having no literates among women members in this particular age group is 20 per cent, says a National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report released today by the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The report, third in the series of seven reports based on employment-unemployment data of the NSS 61st round, has statistics on literacy, attainment of general and technical education, current attendance in educational institutions.

One of the most important highlights of the survey, which covers the entire country except some areas in Jammu and Kashmir and the Andaman and Nicobar islands, is the high illiteracy levels among women in certain parts of the country. About 75 per cent of the households belong to the rural India and therefore account for 75 per cent of the population.

Among the major states, the proportion of households with no literate among members of age 15 years and above has been found to be lowest in Kerala (3 per cent) and the highest in Bihar (38 per cent) in rural areas. In the urban areas it is the lowest in Kerala (one per cent) but the highest is in Rajasthan (16 per cent) followed by Bihar (15 per cent) and West Bengal (14 per cent).

In all, during 2004-05, the literacy rate in India was 64 per cent, 55 per cent in rural areas and 75 per cent in the urban areas. About 64 per cent of the rural men and 45 per cent of rural women were literate. The literacy rate among their urban counterparts was comparatively higher at 81 per cent and 69 per cent, respectively.

In the rural areas, literacy was highest in Kerala (83 per cent) and lowest in Bihar (44 per cent). On the other hand, in urban areas the literacy rate was highest in Kerala (85 per cent) and lowest in Rajasthan (64 per cent), according to the survey.

The survey, also having comprehensive data on persons having technical degrees, diplomas or certificates and those with vocational training and non-vocational training, says that among major states the current attendance rate in the age group five to 29 was highest in Himachal Pradesh (60 per cent) and lowest in Orissa (42 per cent).

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Bachchan does ad for money: Shatrughan

Kanpur, April 5
Launching a broadside against Amitabh Bachchan for appearing in a controversial advertisement promoting Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party, BJP leader and actor Shatrughan Sinha, alleged that the megastar had featured in the commercial only because of his "love for money".

Referring to Bachchan's appearance in the advertisement, "UP mein hai dam, jurm hai kam" (UP has power because of less crime), Sinha said he could not claim that there were fewer crimes in Bihar during former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad's tenure than in Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's rule in Uttar Pradesh.

"If Bachchan had love for UP, he would have never appeared in such an ad. But since he has love for money, he is appearing in such ads for his birth place, just like (actor) Aamir Khan does advertisements for Coca-Cola," he told PTI.

Sinha was here for campaigning for BJP candidates contesting the UP assembly elections.

He said despite being a Bihari by heart, mind and birth, he could not claim, "Bihar main hai dam, jurm hai kam." "In fact there are fewer crimes in Bihar now than during Lalu Prasad's rule," he said. Sinha claimed Bachchan's ad for his native place was no different from his commercials for various products. — PTI

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SC admits plea against Shariat courts
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 5
After receiving replies from the Centre, some states and the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) on the issue of functioning of parallel Shariat courts in the country, the Supreme Court today admitted a petition seeking to stop and declare them illegal.

A public interest litigation (PIL) describing functioning of such courts as unconstitutional and an attempt to run a parallel judiciary was admitted by a Bench of Justices A.K. Mathur and Dalveer Bhandari to have a detailed hearing on the issue.

The union government in its affidavit had though admitted that fatwas were being issued by qazis under the Muslim personal laws in disputes which were essentially of civil nature, but denied that they had any judicial recognition.

The Centre said the fatwas did not have any legal force as per the law of the land and it was purely the choice of parties submitting themselves before the qazi whether to accept his dictates or not. The PIL had said the courts of “Nizam-e-Qaza” and “Dar-ul-Qaza” were nothing but establishment of Islamic judicial system, which the Constitution does not recognise.

Besides, the Centre and AIMPLB, the court had issued notices to eight states with considerable Muslim population where such courts were functioning and also to Darul-ul-Uloom, a Muslim seminary. The states are Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal and Assam.

The PIL was filed by advocate Vishwa Lochan Madan in the wake of the infamous Imrana episode when fatwa was issued by a qazi in Muzaffarnagar district, UP, declaring her father-in-law as her husband after he had raped her in June 2005.

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Reliance Infocom to pay Rs 1 cr for breaking law
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 5
A fine of Rs 1 crore was imposed on Reliance Infocom owned by Anil Ambani by the Supreme Court today for violating environment laws in laying down the optical fibre cable in protected Madhav National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

The company was directed by a Special Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia to deposit the fine within a month.

Describing it a serious matter, the court said if the company failed to pay the fine within the stipulated time, the Madhya Pradesh Government could initiate action under the relevant law.

Reliance Infocom had allegedly laid down optical fibre cable in a 62-km stretch of the protected Madav forest, declared a national park without any clearance by the Central Empowerment Committee (CEC) appointed by the court to deal with such problems. The court had set up the committee over a decade ago after it was found that states were recklessly felling trees in the name of developmental projects.

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Porous border will step up infiltration: AASU
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 5
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the spearhead of continuing tirade against illegal migration from Bangladesh, today raised alarm that the Government of India was running high risk by keeping the India-Bangladesh border in Assam unfenced.

The Adviser of the AASU, Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharrya today said, “ The porous India-Bangladesh border sector in Assam facilitates infiltration of Islamic fundamentalists elements including agents of Al Quaeda and Pakistani ISI, to foment terror in the country’s Northeast besides encouraging unabated illegal migration from the neighbouring country.”

Ventilating frustration over the issue, the AASU leader lamented that even the decisions taken in the Prime Minister level tripartite talks, which was held on implementation of Assam Accord in New Delhi, on May 5, 2005, to seal the India-Bangladesh border by December end 2006, failed to facilitate completion of the project.

“If the Government of India can fence and fortify the India-Pakistan border in western sector within two years, what has prevented it from sealing the border with Bangladesh during the last 22 years since signing of Assam Accord in 1985,” Dr Bhattacharrya said.

The students body today presented before the media, here video clippings showing completely unfenced border with Bangladesh in Assam sector and demanded immediate intervention of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take steps to plug the border in no time for the sake of integrity of the country.

The AASU today warned immediate steps to complete border fencing work in Assam by the Centre, failing which it would launch a vigorous mass agitation soon.

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Soldier, militant killed, war-like stores recovered

Srinagar, April 5
A soldier and a militant were killed and a civilian was injured while security forces recovered a warlike stores in Jammu and Kashmir overnight. An official spokesman said the Special Operation Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir police and Rashtriya Rifles (RR) launched joint search operation at Pnzpora, in Anantnag today following a tip off that some militants were there.

However, when security forces were about to search two particular houses, militants hiding in there opened fire and also hurled hand grenades on them. One soldier was killed in the encounter.

Later, reinforcements were rushed to the area from the nearby camps and efforts being made to force militants to surrender.

In another incident, a militant shot at and wounded his brother in south Kashmir district of Shopian for refusing to provide shelter, a police spokesman said. A group of militants entered the house of Nissar Ahmad Bhat at Check-Cholan, Shopian, late last night for shelter.

However, when the house owner refused to provide them shelter and asked them to leave, militants opened fire causing injuries to him. — UNI

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Army to receive 14 Arjun tanks

Belgaum, April 5
Chief of Army Staff General J.J. Singh today said the Army would soon receive 14 main battle tanks (MBT) Arjun for training exercises.

Talking to newspersons after inaugurating the reunion of Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) here, he said “the minor problems in these tanks have been communicated to the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO)” and hoped that they would be rectified soon.

On Siachen, he said the Army’s position had been communicated to the government. The issue was likely to figure during the composite dialogue between India and Pakistan, the outcome of which would be known in a few days, he added. — UNI

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Lecturer demands kiss, held

Coimbatore, April 5
The police arrested a lecturer of the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University on charges of alleged misconduct with a girl student here.

University Open and Distance Learning Chairman H Philip was arrested by the police today. Philip, a guide to first year M.Sc student Leena, allegedly demanded a kiss from her to extend favours to her in a practical examination.

But she refused to oblige and later attempted suicide by consuming cowdung mixed with chemicals at the university hostel. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where her condition was stated to be stable.

On the basis of her complaint, the police arrested Philip. He was later remanded to the judicial custody.

Meanwhile, TNAU registrar Santhana Krishnan told UNI that he had formed a five-menber committee to inquire into the allegation. — UNI

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Epidemics theme for World Health Day

New Delhi, April 5
Dr Samlee Plianbangchang, World Health Organisation (WHO), regional director for South-East Asia, today said epidemic prone diseases, human emergencies, bio-terrorism, climate change and environmental degradation can turn into international public health emergencies.

Addressing mediapersons here today on the ‘International Health Security', the theme for this year's World Health Day (April 7), Dr Plianbangchang said that when epidemics and pandemics race across distances, they present a threat to global health security.

He said World Health Day slogan ‘Invest in health, build a safe future’ is a call to all partners to join hands to prepare and respond to health dangers.

In his message Dr Plianbangchang said World Health Day is an occasion not only to consider lurking threats but also to build the first line of defence against health risks. — TNS

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Sea Harrier crashes off Goa coast

Panaji, April 5
Indian Navy’s two-seater trainer aircraft ‘Sea Harrier’ today crashed off Goa coast, Defence officials said.

The incident occurred at 8:50 am, when the aircraft was on its routine sortie, they said.

“While both the pilots ejected from the aircraft before it crashed in the Arabian sea, the defence forces could rescue only one pilot. Search is still on for the second pilot,” Ministry of Defence, public relation officer, Capt Abhay Lambhate told PTI.

Officials said that the aircraft crashed soon after taking off from Dabolim airbase in the sea.

“The Navy and Coast Guard had initiated a joint search operation 5-7 nautical miles from Goa coast. Helicopters and ships had been pressed in service to trace the missing pilot,” Lambhate said. As a Defence Ministry’s policy decision, the officials had not yet disclosed the names of pilots flying the aircraft. — PTI

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