SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Centre to ensure quota implementation
New Delhi, April 6
The Centre tonight said it would take all appropriate steps to ensure the implementation of 27 per cent quota from this academic session in institutions of higher learning. The government would soon move the Supreme Court to get the stay vacated.

Muslims anti-BJP, but divided
Meerut, April 6
The outcome of the present electoral exercise in the second phase on April 13 is going to be determined by the preference of Muslim voters for a particular party in at least 40 constituencies of the region known as western Uttar Pradesh.

Holding placards and raising slogans, Muslims burn an effigy of BJP president Rajnath Singh in protest against his statement on Muslims in Allahabad on Friday. — PTI photo
Holding placards and raising slogans, Muslims burn an effigy of BJP president Rajnath Singh in protest against his statement on Muslims in Allahabad on Friday.

Cong, Left slam HC verdict on Muslims
New Delhi, April 6
The Allahabad High Court order on the minority status for Muslims, in the midst of the election process in UP made the political parties jittery with the Congress and the Left criticising the order and urged the Centre and state government to take necessary steps to nullify the judgement.

Muslims’ interests to be protected, says Bhardwaj
New Delhi, April 6
Even as the Allahabad High Court today stayed its yesterday’s controversial judgement declaring that the Muslims are no more a minority community in Uttar Pradesh, Centre today made it clear that it will do everything to protect their minority status.

80 at 4
Four-year-old Saahil, who weighs 80 kilos, with his 3 years old brother in Moradabad on Friday. Obesity is causing concern in the country, according to WHO.
Four-year-old Saahil, who weighs 80 kilos, with his 3 years old brother in Moradabad on Friday. Obesity is causing concern in the country, according to WHO. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES




A priest recites Good Friday prayers at the Catholic Church in Shimla.
A priest recites Good Friday prayers at the Catholic Church in Shimla. — Tribune photo by S. Chandan

UP poll today
Lucknow, April 6
As many as 839 candidates, including 40 women, would try their luck for the 62 Assembly seats that go to the polls tomorrow with the start of the first phase of a massive seven-phase polling process.

Notice to Mulayam for violating poll code
New Delhi, April 6
On the eve of the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, the Election Commission today issued a show-cause notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for violating the code of conduct by seeking votes on caste basis.

Make Kashmir free economic zone: Mufti
New Delhi, April 6
PDP patron and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today suggested turning the state into a free economic zone to enable it play a role as a "bridge" between India and Pakistan.

Change SEZ Act: CPM
New Delhi, April 6
In a strong reaction to the eGoM decision on the special economic zones, the CPM said the changes in the Special Economic Zones policy as suggested by the empowered group of ministers is totally inadequate and falls far short of what is required.

Lalu’s dream project in trouble
Patna, April 6
After Nandigram in West Bengal, it is Saran in Bihar.

Congress may ask Apang to step down
Guwahati, April 6
The ongoing crisis of leadership in the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Arunachal Pradesh is likely to see Chief Minister Gegong Apang out of office in favour of 11 rebel ministerial colleagues who have pitched their camp in New Delhi asking the AICC to replace the “dictatorial” Apang with Dorjee Khandu, the sitting state power minister.

Nod to SEZs ‘betrayal of farmers’
New Delhi, April 6
Action-2007, a recently formed coglomerate of close to 200 people’s movements and NGOs, today called the government’s decison to lift the freeze on Special Economic Zone by clearing 83 SEZs and imposing a cap of 5,000 hectares on maximum permissible land size of a zone “still land grab with minimum backtracks and false promises”.

BSP president Mayawati talks to mediapersons after meeting the Chief Election Commissioner in New Delhi on Friday on the issue of the controversial CD used for campaigning by the BJP in Uttar Pradesh.
BSP president Mayawati talks to mediapersons after meeting the Chief Election Commissioner in New Delhi on Friday on the issue of the controversial CD used for campaigning by the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

India for building ties with Arab League
New Delhi, April 6
India is all set to increase its participation in a politically volatile but economically crucial region, the Arab world. The 22-nation Arab League, which roped in India as an observer for its summit meetings three years ago, has provided a timely opportunity to New Delhi to do just that.

SC upholds Amrit’s absorption in Punjab police
Terms it as reward for husband’s bravery
New Delhi, April 6
The Supreme Court has categorically held that no recruitment can be made in the Punjab police in contravention of the 1959 service rules governing the force but upheld the absorption of a senior woman officer, Amrit Brar, from the CRPF as a one-time exception in recognition to her brother Avinder Singh Brar’s exemplary bravery in laying down his life fighting terrorism.

Pigeon feathers to judge pollution levels
Jaipur, April 6
Can the pollution level of a city be judged by pigeon feathers? Yes, if research done at a university here is to be believed.

Controversial CD
It is an unauthorised act of an individual: BJP

New Delhi, April 6
Asserting that it had not “produced, prepared, displayed or distributed the impunged CD”, the BJP today urged the Election Commission to withdraw the notice against it saying “the party cannot be held responsible for an unauthorised act of an individual.”

BJP leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and Prakash Javadekar come out of the office of the Chief Election Commissioner following their meeting with him over the issue of the ‘controversial’ CD used for campaigning ahead of UP polls. — PTI photo

BJP leaders Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, and Prakash Javadekar come out of the office of the Chief Election Commissioner following their meeting with him over the issue of the ‘controversial’ CD used for campaigning ahead of UP polls.

Parents of medical aspirant duped of Rs 32 lakh
New Delhi, April 6
A couple from Punjab was conned into coughing out over Rs 32 lakh in exchange for a seat for their son in a medical college. The accused has been arrested.

Rahul’s statement reflects one family mindset: Advani
New Delhi, April 6
Leader of the Opposition L.K Advani today dubbed the statement of Rahul Gandhi on Babri issue as reflection of the ‘one family’ mindset.

Invite to Sonia a ‘personal matter’ of Bachchans
Ghaziabad, April 6
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh has said extending an invitation to Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding slated to be solemnised later this month was a “personal matter” of the Bachchan family.

Girl trapped in tubewell
Bikaner, April 6
A one-and-half-year-old girl accidentally fell into a 155-feet deep borewell in a village here and has been trapped inside for hours, the police said today.

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Centre to ensure quota implementation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
The Centre tonight said it would take all appropriate steps to ensure the implementation of 27 per cent quota from this academic session in institutions of higher learning. The government would soon move the Supreme Court to get the stay vacated.

The UPA Government’s firm resolve emerged in the UPA-Left Coordination Committee meeting which was attended by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Left leaders.

A brief statement issued from the Prime Minister’s Office after the two-hour long meeting said “it was resolved that the government will take all appropriate steps to ensure that the reservation for OBCs to the extent of 27 per cent becomes operational from this academic session.”

It also stated that the government will also consult other political parties.

With the Left parties giving full backing to the government on moving the Supreme Court to vacate the stay on the OBC quota, the government said tonight that it would soon convene an all-party meeting to discuss the issue.

The leaders of the UPA Coordination Committee along with the Left Parties met and reviewed the situation arising out of the judgement of the Supreme Court in respect of the Central Educational Institutions (Reservation in Admission) Act, 2006.

The Apex Court stay on the quota had led to demand from cross section of political parties that the government should act fast and get the stay vacated. Union Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh had stated that all constitutional and legal measures would be taken to ensure vacation of the stay.

CPM Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury told reporters that the meeting authorised the government to move the Supreme Court to get the stay vacated.

He said the government would file a writ petition simultaneously seeking the matter be referred to a larger Bench. Ruling out the need for a fresh caste census, Yechury said Mandal Commission composite index of castes was enough to ascertain the number of OBCs in the country.

However, RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad said there was no consensus at the meeting on the caste-based census.

Stating that quota should be implemented from this academic session, Prasad said all arrangements had been made in many academic institutions, including expansion of facilities, and they will be asked to hold on till the stay is vacated.

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Muslims anti-BJP, but divided
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Meerut, April 6
The outcome of the present electoral exercise in the second phase on April 13 is going to be determined by the preference of Muslim voters for a particular party in at least 40 constituencies of the region known as western Uttar Pradesh.

In Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Baghpat, Bulandshahr, Muslims appear to be determined to go for tactical voting to defeat the BJP, which has never been shy of using the Hindu card.

A local ironsmith, Mohammad Fahim, is not shy of admitting his distrust for the saffron party and told this correspondent that though the final decision about the community's vote preference would be taken around April 11, but it was certain that vote would be caste in favour of the candidate who would be in a position to defeat the BJP.

In all 10 districts going to the polls next Friday, though there are 123 Muslim candidates of different parties, yet winning for a Muslim candidate has never been an easy game.

From 1985, when there were 45 Muslim MLAs in the state assembly, the Muslim representation has never improved and has hung around this number. In the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition, the number had come down to 25 only. In 2002, 47 Muslim candidates had won.

The battle is not easy as UP minister of state for Haj affairs Haji Yaqoob Quershi appears to be realising in the Kharkhauda assembly seat of this district.

Quereshi, who shot to fame through the Prophet Mohammad cartoon incident when he had declared a prise of Rs 1 crore for killing the Danish cartoonist, had won this seat in 2002 by defeating his Gujjar rival Lakhiram Nagar by a margin of 48,169 votes. Quershi had wrested this seat from the BJP which had won this seat in 1996 and 1993.

Despite the margin and having a reputed political lineage, when he contested on the BSP ticket, Quereshi did not have the guts to contest on the Samajwadi Party ticket and has chosen to fight the present electoral battle on the symbol of the United Democratic Forum.

Declining to contest on the SP ticket, which was offered to him by none other than Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, a nervous Quershi decided to contest from Meerut city also.

In Kharkhauda, Quereshi is locked in a triangular contest with BSP's Lakhiram Nagar and SP's Udayvir Singh. 

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Cong, Left slam HC verdict on Muslims
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
The Allahabad High Court order on the minority status for Muslims, in the midst of the election process in UP made the political parties jittery with the Congress and the Left criticising the order and urged the Centre and state government to take necessary steps to nullify the judgement.

“Such a judgement rendered in the midst of an election process has implications, which are not merely constitutional, but also political in nature,” Congress leader Kapil Sibal said in a statement.

He said “consequently, the state government should immediately, without wasting a day ensure that the judgement is stayed, otherwise such a verdict tends to polarise communities, which in the context of the election process is not desirable.”

The CPM Politburo said, “this is a wrong and baseless verdict. It is surprising that such judgements are emanating from the higher judiciary, which goes contrary to the basis facts and established law.

The CPM asked the UP and the Central government to take all necessary steps to see that the judgement is nullified.

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Muslims’ interests to be protected, says Bhardwaj
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 6
Even as the Allahabad High Court today stayed its yesterday’s controversial judgement declaring that the Muslims are no more a minority community in Uttar Pradesh, Centre today made it clear that it will do everything to protect their minority status.

“We will do everything to restore the status quo that Muslims are a minority community,” law minister H.R Bhardwaj told mediapersons on the sidelines of a conference on “Access to Justice” organised at Vigyan Bhavan.

Terming the High Court’s single judge Bench order as a “bad law”, Bhardwaj said though he has yet to read the judgement but “we do not accept it.” “It does not appear prima facie a good law… Muslims are a minority… who can dispute this fact,” he said.

He said the Centre was not happy with the verdict but it was not a party to the case before the High Court. Bhardwaj put the onus on the SP Government in the state for taking the required corrective measures, saying that only it was respondent in the case. But he did not rule out the possibility of Centre impleading itself in the case before the High Court by moving an intervention petition.

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UP poll today

Lucknow, April 6
As many as 839 candidates, including 40 women, would try their luck for the 62 Assembly seats that go to the polls tomorrow with the start of the first phase of a massive seven-phase polling process.

The most prominent leader whose fate would be decided tomorrow is Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav contesting from Bharthana in Etawah district. His brother and PWD minister Shivpal Singh Yadav is a candidate from the neighbouring constituency of Jaswant Nagar.

Incidentally, Bharthana drew the maximum number of VVIPs during the past one week. Mulayam Singh Yadav accompanied by party MPs and film stars Jaya Prada and Jaya Bachchan visited the town twice.

During this phase Agra Cantt has the maximum number of 28 contestants and Govindnagar in Kanpur has the highest number of 6,29,993 voters.

A total of 1,61,74,728 voters would cast their votes using 18300 electronic voting machines. — TNS

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Notice to Mulayam for violating poll code
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
On the eve of the first phase of polling in Uttar Pradesh, the Election Commission today issued a show-cause notice to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for violating the code of conduct by seeking votes on caste basis.

Serving the notice on the Samajwadi Party supremo, the EC said in its order that it had come to its notice that Yadav, at a public meeting at Lalitpur on March 30, allegedly sought votes of a particular caste.

"Kitne Yadav hain hath uthao jo Bundela (SP candidate) ko vote denge" (The Yadavas raise hands who will vote for Bundela), the EC quoted the Chief Minister as allegedly saying at the meeting.

Yadav has also been charged with violating Section 123 of the Representation of People Act, while campaigning in Lalitpur on March 30. The EC has sought his explanation by 10 am on April 8, according to EC sources.

Yadav is contesting from the Bharthana constituency in Etawah district, which is going to the polls tomorrow.

The EC's action against Yadav came a day after it lodged FIRs against senior BJP leaders on the controversial CD issue amid demands from parties like the Congress and the Jan Morcha that the saffron party should be derecognised.

Meanwhile, to ensure free and fair poll on the first of the seven-phased polling in UP, the commission decided to depute a deputy election commissioner J. P. Prakash to monitor the first phase of polling tomorrow.

Sixtytwo assembly constituencies of Uttar Pradesh are going to the polls in the first phase which will decide the fate of 839 contestants, including Mulayam Singh Yadav.

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Make Kashmir free economic zone: Mufti
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
PDP patron and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today suggested turning the state into a free economic zone to enable it play a role as a "bridge" between India and Pakistan.

Sayeed, who met Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid M. Kasuri on the sidelines of the SARRC summit, said improvement in situation in the state and progress in the dialogue process had provided a "golden opportunity" to resolve the Kashmir issue.

Interacting with a group of mediapersons here, he said South Asia Free Trade Agreement should be implemented in Kashmir to see its impact. He sought a SAARC crafts centre in Kashmir.

Sayeed, who was accompanied by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, said his party had suggested free trade, travel and commerce between the Indian and Pakistan Kashmir which can evolve into common market and free economic zone where common projects in water sharing, tourism, energy and education can be taken up.

Pointing out that dialogue process on Kashmir was "inclusive" and people of the state were now "stakeholders" in the talks, he said any solution to Kashmir problem should be acceptable to the people of Jammu and Ladakh.

"There should be a consensus within the country and within the state."

He said he had urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to fix a date for third roundtable on Jammu and Kashmir which could decide ways to implement suggestions of the working groups.

He said one of the recommendations was to increase trans-border movement of people including pilgrims, tourists, artists, students and journalists.

On PDP's demand for self-rule, Sayeed said it was a wider term and includes autonomy. "We are preparing a document on self-rule. It entails that people's mandate should be respected.

Expressing satisfaction over the mechanism announced by the Centre

on the party's demands of troop reduction, withdrawal of Special Powers Act and vacation of agricultural land held by security forces, he said solution to the Kashmir problem had to be found through a political process. On the earlier differences with state Congress on his party's demands, he said such situations arise in a coalition. "Such war of nerves happen in a coalition."

Asked if the ruling coalition in the state will last its full term, he said it was working and had lasted for over four years.

He hoped that Hurriyat Conference would take part in electoral process. On insistence by Pakistan on Kashmir problem, he said India was not defensive on the issue and was always to willing to discuss it.

He said Prime Minister had conveyed to Pakistan that borders could be made irrelevant without conceding territory. The PDP leader said two countries had already reached an agreement on Kargil-Skardu route and starting truck service across the two sides of LoC. He said infiltration and incidents of terrorism in the state had reduced and people had greater faith in democratic process.

Welcoming the joint mechanism on terror between India and Pakistan, he said there has been an improvement in relations between the two countries. "Pakistan is also facing the problem that we are facing," he said. Sayeed said the two countries were also engaged through track II dialogue.

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Change SEZ Act: CPM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
In a strong reaction to the eGoM decision on the special economic zones, the CPM said the changes in the Special Economic Zones policy as suggested by the empowered group of ministers is totally inadequate and falls far short of what is required.

The party warned “if the government proceeds with the SEZs in the present form, the matter will have to be taken up in Parliament so that the demand for amendments to the SEZ Act and Rules can be dealt with there.”

The polit bureau in a statement said the eGoM has left the exorbitant and unjustified tax concessions intact. By this, the Government of India stands to lose tens of thousands of crores of rupees in revenue. The iniquitous tax bonanza was one of the basic problems with the SEZ Act and Rules. Without revising these tax concessions the SEZ concept will not find acceptance.

The eGoM has not looked at the proliferation of SEZs. There is an urgent need to review the type of industries to be set up in SEZs and apply sector wise caps on SEZs.

Moreover, the allowance of maximum of 5000 hectares (12500 acres) for multi-product SEZs is uncalled for. The minimum size of 1000 hectares (2500 acres) for the multi-product SEZs has also not been lowered, it said.

The CPM said a multi-product SEZ should have a minimum size specified of only 400 hectares (1000 acres) and there should be a ceiling of 2000 hectares (5000 acres).

“CPM does not agree with state governments not being involved in acquisition of land, particularly for those of a larger size. Allowing corporates to buy large tracts of land for SEZs will put small farmers, tenants and agricultural workers at the mercy of land sharks. Moreover, private entities would be able to own, rather than lease, thousands of acres of land subverting Land Ceiling as well as Town Planning Laws,” it said.

There has to be state intervention to ensure that if any land is being bought, the farmers and others working on land get a fair price. In the absence of any changes in the Land Acquisition Act and a rehabilitation policy which can be legally enforceable, the license being given to the corporates to buy land on a large scale will be harmful, it said.

The eGoM has ignored the comprehensive suggestions made by the Left parties. The UPA government should realise that political parties across the board have come out against the present SEZ Act and Rules. The Standing Committee on Commerce is also studying the entire issue. The Government of India should await the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Commerce and re-examine the whole matter rather than taking piecemeal decisions on SEZs.

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Lalu’s dream project in trouble
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 6
After Nandigram in West Bengal, it is Saran in Bihar.

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad’s dream to develop Bihar, courtesy Indian Railways, has apparently run into trouble with the Patna High Court issued an order against forcible acquisition of land for his favourite project of building a wagon-repairing workshop in Saran district.

Lalu Prasad, who represents Saran in the Lok Sabha, had announced the setting up of the wagon-repairing workshop soon after becoming the railway minister. Over 100 acres of mostly fertile agricultural land was identified for it in 2005.

The division bench comprising justice Aftab Alam and justice Rekha Kumari has directed the authorities responsible for land acquisition not to use force to displace owners till further orders.

The court order was in response to a PIL filed by the Bhumi Bachao Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, a farmers organisation, to prevent the acquisition of agricultural land in Sonepur in Saran by force.

The PIL described the railways’ decision to acquire land by displacing villagers as unreasonable, arbitrary and unconstitutional.

"The railways had selected the land for acquisition belonging to marginal farmers, who will be forced to turn landless labourers in the absence of any means of livelihood", the petition said.

In its judgement, the court wondered why instead of Saran, the railways did not choose the already available unused land in Begusarai. The court thus asked the railways to clarify within four weeks on the process by which the land in question was selected.

The PIL mentioned that the Nitish government had already recommended the railway ministry to set up any new project at Garhara in Begusarai district where over 2,000 acres of land lay vacant and unused.

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Congress may ask Apang to step down
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 6
The ongoing crisis of leadership in the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) in Arunachal Pradesh is likely to see Chief Minister Gegong Apang out of office in favour of 11 rebel ministerial colleagues who have pitched their camp in New Delhi asking the AICC to replace the “dictatorial” Apang with Dorjee Khandu, the sitting state power minister.

Arunachal Pradesh water resources minister Tako Dabi told The Tribune over the phone from New Delhi that Congress president Sonia Gandhi was sympathetic to the issues raised by the rebel Congress ministers in their meeting in New Delhi last night and it was just a matter of a couple of days or so when Apang would be asked to step down to help the Congress remain in power in the hill state.

“We expect that it will be done (Apang will be removed) as soon as possible. It is only a matter of change of leadership in the CLP. The Congress will remain in power in the state,” Dabi said.

He said the proposed two-day visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the hill state on April 9 and 10 had been deferred because of the crisis of leadership in the ruling party.

Earlier in the day, Apang, along with the president of the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee, Omen Moyong Deori, were summoned to New Delhi by the Congress high command because of the development.

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Nod to SEZs ‘betrayal of farmers’
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
Action-2007, a recently formed coglomerate of close to 200 people’s movements and NGOs, today called the government’s decison to lift the freeze on Special Economic Zone by clearing 83 SEZs and imposing a cap of 5,000 hectares on maximum permissible land size of a zone “still land grab with minimum backtracks and false promises”.

“It is clear that the massacre of Nandigram and struggles in Punjab or Andhra Pradesh led to bowing the corporates and the states. But instead of ensuring security and justice to farmers and labourers, the government continues to ensure profiteering of corporates,” they said.

The group alleged the approval had been “timed” with the elections in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh under the pressure of corporates and financial institutions. Incidentally, the CPI has also slammed the Centre for being “obsessed with SEZs”.

“Demands raised from Nandigram in West Bengal to Raigarh in Maharashtra of repealing the SEZ Act and furthering employment generation without displacement and at the cost of agriculture still persists,” Action-2007 members said.

They said without holding a dialogue with the farmer organisations and civil society groups, this decision of the government was undemocratic, warning that “the UPA’s betrayal of farmers, labourers and fish workers will prove costly”.

Against the backdrop of a violent backlash at Nandigram and political opposition in other states, the Centre on Thursday decided to limit an SEZ to 5,000 hectares and asked states not to go for compulsory land acquisition.

Clearing new 83 proposals, the empowered group of ministers lifted the freeze on such zones and said that promoters would have to themselves go to the farmers and acquire land at commercial rates.

But the Action-2007 has termed the approval “a hurried one that ignored the nationwide SEZ-related conflict and struggle of farmers, labourers and fish workers. While approving the 83 SEZ projects beyond the already notified 63 projects, the eGoM declared few changes and conditions, they said.

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India for building ties with Arab League
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
India is all set to increase its participation in a politically volatile but economically crucial region, the Arab world. The 22-nation Arab League, which roped in India as an observer for its summit meetings three years ago, has provided a timely opportunity to New Delhi to do just that.

India participated as an observer in the just-ended 19th Arab League Summit at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 28-29 and emerged convinced for the need to step up its economic, political and diplomatic involvement with the oil and gas rich Arab world.

Minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed represented India at the Riyadh summit. In contrast, observer countries like Pakistan and Malaysia were represented at the highest level.

India, which for a decade and half has officially been pursuing look East policy, is gradually looking Westwards, too. The Arab League is the first target in New Delhi's look West foreign policy. The Arab world is the only area for which the Indian Government has appointed a special envoy -- ambassador C. R. Gharekhan. There are several imperatives for taking Indian ties with the Arab League to a new level.

First, the Arab world has more than 5 million Indians working there. Their annual remittances to India are to the tune of $ 9 billion. And both figures -- the number of Indians and their remittances -- are on an upswing.

Second, the Arab world promises exciting future possibilities geographically as well as conceptually. It is a huge area spanning from Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea, where such large energy suppliers as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are located.

Third, it is a region with which India has traditional ties going back to centuries. In fact, India's first links in the western direction were established with the Arab world only.

The fourth reason is largely strategic. As the Indian economic juggernaut rolls on, Indian foreign policy makers have to pull up their socks and not miss the bus.

Therefore, the increased Indian participation in the Arab world is the new buzz word in South Block.

India’s first-ever participation at the Arab League Summit in Algiers in 2005, was appreciated by the host country and other Arab League member-countries.

However, Indian relationship with the Arab world will be seen to have come of age only when the Prime Minister attends the Arab League summit as an observer. After all, India has been invited to attend G-8 outreach summits as an observer for years.

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SC upholds Amrit’s absorption in Punjab police
Terms it as reward for husband’s bravery
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 6
The Supreme Court has categorically held that no recruitment can be made in the Punjab police in contravention of the 1959 service rules governing the force but upheld the absorption of a senior woman officer, Amrit Brar, from the CRPF as a one-time exception in recognition to her brother Avinder Singh Brar’s exemplary bravery in laying down his life fighting terrorism.

“We may state that the country owes its gratitude to the brave officer, Avinder Singh Brar, who was killed at the hands of terrorists… Amrit Brar was appointed rightly on compassionate grounds as assistant commandant in the CRPF in 1989… and the state government was right in taking her on deputation in the Punjab police,” a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapdia ruled.

The Bench rejected the appeal of 10 senior IPS officers of Punjab, led by Arun Kumar, seeking to quash her permanent absorption in the state police on the grounds that it was not allowed in any manner under the Punjab Police Service Rules, 1959.

The judges said “it was an exceptional appointment. There cannot be a second opinion on this count. We do not find any infirmity in the action of the state government under the circumstances Brar was appointed a deputationist in the Punjab police service.”

But the court gave partial relief to the senior IPS officers, who had also challenged granting her seniority for the five-year deputation period between August 16, 1993, and September 11, 1998, holding that she was not entitled to weightage of service for the said period for fixing of her seniority.

However, it said that she certainly was entitled to the weightage for the service rendered by her during the deputation period for other purposes.

The court clarified that if Brar’s case was kept aside as an exception, Rule 14 of the Punjab Police Service Rules, 1959, “do not provide for recruitment through deputation.” Rule 14 only recognised two sources of recruitment of officers in the state police - direct and through promotion - and there is no third source of appointment.

“If there is no such rule providing for a third source of recruitment, the government cannot relax a non-existent rule; therefore, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had erred in treating the deputation as a third source of recruitment while deciding her case.

“There is a difference between direct appointment as a source of recruitment and deputation/ transfer as a source of recruitment,” the apex court held. Ten senior IPS officers had challenged the high court’s order on two counts — it upheld the permanent absorption of Brar in the state police in contravention of rules affecting their promotional avenues and recognised deputation as a third source of recruitment — which was not permitted under the law.

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Pigeon feathers to judge pollution levels

Jaipur, April 6
Can the pollution level of a city be judged by pigeon feathers? Yes, if research done at a university here is to be believed.

According to researchers in the zoology department of the University of Rajasthan, the shed feathers of pigeons can indicate the pollution level of the area they inhabit.

Research scholar Bhumesh Bhadoriya reached the conclusion after three years of study under the guidance of Professor P.P. Bakre.

``It is the first time in the country that bird feathers have been used to assess the pollution level," said Bakre.

The pigeon feathers are first collected and then tested in the laboratory for length and the heavy metals in it. The feathers are chemically tested in nitric and perchloric acid.

Pigeons normally have a fixed habitat in a particular area. The heavy metals in the environment enter the feather, and remain even after they are shed.

The feathers are tested in the lab. — IANS

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Controversial CD
It is an unauthorised act of an individual: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
Asserting that it had not “produced, prepared, displayed or distributed the impunged CD”, the BJP today urged the Election Commission to withdraw the notice against it saying “the party cannot be held responsible for an unauthorised act of an individual.”

“The Act complained of must be of the political party and not that of an individual who may have acted without either knowledge or authority from the Party,” the BJP said in its reply to the Election Commission’s notice to the party regarding the CD containing “objectionable” remarks against Muslims and visuals of Godhra arson and the Babri Masjid demolition.

“The CD has not been seen or approved by the leadership of the BJP… It will be worthwhile to mention here the fact that every publicity material of the party bears name of the party symbol and name of the publisher, which has not happened in this particular case. The expunged CD bears nothing of this,” the BJP said in its reply letter, signed by the BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

“To invoke the provision of Para 16A of the Representation of Peoples Act, it is necessary that the party should have failed or refused or continues to persistently refuse or show defiance to the election law, Model Code of Conduct or directions,” it said adding “in this case, as soon as the party became aware of the lapse, the party suo motto took remedial action itself. Even the Central Party on April 4th itself (next day) through official press conference had disowned the CD and clarified that it is not approved, and also that corrective action is taken,” the leaders added.

Detailing its version on the sequence of events, the BJP said at a press conference in Lucknow on April 3, Lalji Tandon, an MLA and leader of the party in Uttar Pradesh, displayed certain campaign material to the media which was an integral part of the Party’s campaign.

The impugned CD, which was not prepared by the party but by some individuals, was put in the kit by someone in the office. The party inquired into the matter and has since removed Manoj Mishra from the responsibility of a spokesperson, it said.

“As soon as the mistake was brought to the notice of the Party and Tandon, the party on April 4 itself issued a statement clearly stating that the CD was not a part of the Party’s campaign material and had been ‘erroneously’ put in the kit containing the other publicity material.”

Facing the possibility of derecognition, the BJP in its reply categorically assured the Election commission that it has great respect for observance of Election Codes and the model code of conduct. “It will not be a privy to any breach of the same code. It has not violated the Code and shall persistently endeavour to comply with it,” the BJP said.

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Parents of medical aspirant duped of Rs 32 lakh
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, April 6
A couple from Punjab was conned into coughing out over Rs 32 lakh in exchange for a seat for their son in a medical college. The accused has been arrested.

Sleuths of the EOW of Delhi Police today claimed to have arrested N Mohanan (56) from the city’s shopping hub of Connaught Place for allegedly duping the couple, Dr Rajiv Mehta and Dr Sudesh Mehta, of Rs 32 lakh.

The couple, both doctors, run a small hospital with the name of Mehta Nursing Home in Pathankot. They wanted to get their son Zubin Mehta admitted to the Santosh Medical College in Ghaziabad.

The Mehtas contacted one N. K. Singh after reading advertisement in a daily promising help in securing admission. Singh introduced the couple to Mohanan, who used to run a consultancy firm in the capital. Mohanan promised the couple that he would get their son a seat in the medical college and took the money from them.

Mohnan further introduced them to one Dr M K Srivastva as a principal of the medical college. They also showed them the building and hostels of the college. The fees structure of the college was also handed over to them.

Mohanan fled with the money after failing to get the boy admitted into the medical college.

The interrogation revealed that the accused Mohanan was a permanent resident of Secunderbad and was living in Delhi for the past 20 years and active in petty liasoning works. He boasted to have access to various influential persons. He had assured that he was having three seats under the management quota in Santosh Medical College.

“The Mehtas came to us in February with their complaint and a probe was launched. Massive haunt has been launched to nab another absconding accomplice,” said a police officer.

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Rahul’s statement reflects one family mindset: Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 6
Leader of the Opposition L.K Advani today dubbed the statement of Rahul Gandhi on Babri issue as reflection of the ‘one family’ mindset.

“It (Rahul’s statement) is not reflection of his political immaturity, but is a demonstration of the mindset that it is only one family which is capable of ruling the country and no one else,” Advani said here without naming the Gandhi family while addressing party leaders and workers at a function to mark the 28th Foundation Day of the BJP.

“After Rahul’s statement, I told a Congress leader that it is not the family to be blamed, but the Congress for giving legitimacy to such a mindset,” he said.

Stating that the BJP has seen lot of ups and downs in its political journey, since its formation in 1980, the former BJP president said the outcome of Lok Sabha elections in 2004 was a slight setback.

“But what is regrettable is that the Congress, which is leading the UPA coalition is enjoying power without accountability… We could not form the government, because our major allies in South, TDP and AIADMK were wiped out,” he said.

In an obvious attempt to boost the morale of the party, he said we are on the right political path and in the days to come we will take more victories. “We have won in Punjab, Uttarakhand and are expecting a positive outcome in the MCD polls and in UP.”

“Among the BIMARU states, BJP is ruling in Bihar (with allies), Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and it is now the turn of Uttar Pradesh,” Advani said in anticipation.

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Invite to Sonia a ‘personal matter’ of Bachchans

Ghaziabad, April 6
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh has said extending an invitation to Congress President Sonia Gandhi for the Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding slated to be solemnised later this month was a “personal matter” of the Bachchan family.

“Sending an invitation is the prerogative of the Bachchan family and I have nothing to interfere in this,” Singh, who along with SP MP Jaya Prada had come to campaign for party’s candidates of this district, told reporters here last evening. — PTI

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Girl trapped in tubewell

Bikaner, April 6
A one-and-half-year-old girl accidentally fell into a 155-feet deep borewell in a village here and has been trapped inside for hours, the police said today.

Sarika has been trapped in a 12-inch pipe of the borewell in Adsar, about 90 km from here, since last evening and efforts are on to save her, they said.

Personnel from the Army, the police and the fire brigade are engaged in the rescue operations.

As soon as the incident came to their notice, district officials along with a medical team and Fire Brigade personnel rushed to the scene to save the child, police said. — PTI

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