SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

3 Jayas to add glamour to SP’s rally
New Delhi, April 7
Three Jayas are all set to add a touch of glamour to Samajwadi Party’s grand election rally in Bareilly tomorrow. Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa and Samajwadi Party MPs Jaya Bachchan and Jayaprada will be seen in the company of incumbent Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayum Singh Yadav.


Controversial CD
Rajnath to court arrest on April 9: BJP
New Delhi, April 7
In an apparent attempt to gain political mileage in the ongoing Assembly poll in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP today went on offensive in the controversial CD issue by saying that party president Rajnath Singh will not seek anticipatory bail and offer himself for arrest in Lucknow on April 9 in connection with an FIR lodged against him.


EC asks BJP to explain
Samajwadi Party leader and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh Yadav addresses an election campaign meeting in Mathura
Samajwadi Party leader and Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Mulayam Singh Yadav addresses an election campaign meeting in Mathura on Saturday. — PTI photo
In video
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EARLIER STORIES


SUMMER’S BOUNTY: A farm woman carries cucumbers to sell in Allahabad
summer’s bounty
: A farm woman carries cucumbers to sell in Allahabad on Saturday. — Reuters

Yadav’s remarks on turnout could be value judgement: EC
New Delhi, April 7
The Election Commission today brushed aside criticism by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav that “excessive” security deployment has led to lesser voter turnout and attributed the peaceful polling in the first phase to enhanced security arrangements.

Lalji Tandon gets clean chit in sari case
Lucknow, April 7
The court today gave a clean chit to Leader of the Opposition in Uttar Pradesh Assembly Lalji Tandon in the sari stampede case of Lucknow, which had claimed lives of 21 women.

Maoists kill six in Jharkhand
Patna, April 7
In a daring act, nearly 500 armed Maoist guerrillas attacked a Central Industrial Security Force camp and a police station in Bokaro district of Jharkhand on Friday night, killing six persons, including two security personnel, and injuring five others.

Girl trapped in borewell dies
Bikaner, April 7
A one-and-a-half-year-old girl, who got trapped inside a 155-feet deep borewell at a village in the district two days ago, was found dead as armymen took out her body with the help of locals today.

PM to visit Assam today
Defers visit to Arunachal Pradesh
Guwahati, April 7
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is scheduled to arrive here tomorrow on a two-day visit to the state amid tight security. Dr Singh will lay the foundation stone of the 5th bridge over the mighty river Brahmputra on his arrival here on April 8.

Tibet is part of China, says Dalai Lama
New Delhi, April 7
The temporal head of Tibetans the Dalai Lama's dream is that Tibet should be a demilitarised zone of peace. Affirming that he is not seeking independence, he said he had made it clear that "past is past. How it is viewed is not a political decision.

CJs discuss steps to improve functioning of judiciary
New Delhi, April 7
A two-day conference of Chief Justices of High Courts that concluded here today discussed in detail steps required to be taken to reduce the burden of over three crore pending cases with them and the subordinate judiciary while assessing the progress made on implementation of decisions taken during the last year’s joint meeting with Chief Ministers.

Prices of essential items rise further
Chandigarh, April 7
The prices of essential commodities, including wheat flour, have begun showing an upward trend, making the ruling Congress at the Centre pay a heavy political price. The defeat of the Congress in the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections has been linked to the failure of the Congress-led union government to check rising prices.

No VIP prisoner facilities for Shahabuddin
Patna, April 7
In what appeared to be a clear signal to the criminal-turned-politicians in the state that no one was above the law, the Nitish government has decided to stop giving special facilities to the jailed RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin.

SPG should be interface between politicians, people: PM
New Delhi, April 7
Appreciating the Special Protection Group personnel for their professionalism in providing security to top political leaders, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today urged the elite force to do their job creatively in order to act as an interface between political leaders and people.

My position is safe, says Apang
Itanagar, April 7
Breaking his silence over a demand by Congress dissidents that he be replaced by Power Minister Dorjee Khandu, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang today said his position was "safe".

IIMs, IITs asked to put admissions on hold
New Delhi, April 7
With the implementation of the OBC quota stuck in legal wrangles following the Supreme Court stay, the HRD Ministry has asked all the IIMs, IITs and Centrally funded institutions to put on hold the admission process.

Student’s labour lost
Chandigarh, April 7
A student of Chandigarh is keeping her fingers crossed about her impending examination. She does not know how to prepare for the examination in the absence of her books, particularly the notes she had prepared laboriously over the last one year.

CIC denies info on premature retirement of fighter pilots
New Delhi, April 7
The Central Information Commission has rejected an RTI appeal seeking information on premature retirement of fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force and said such disclosures were “sensitive” and could lead to unforeseen consequences.

SC officials told to appear before CIC
New Delhi, April 7
The Central Information Commission has directed the public information officer and Additional Registrar of the Supreme Court to appear before it on May 25.

Pune rave party:249 revellers test positive for drugs
Pune, April 7
As many as 249 out of 287 youths, most of them students, detained last month at a rave party here have tested positive for drugs.

Govindacharya hospitalised
New Delhi, April 7
Former BJP general secretary and Sangh Pracharak K N Govindacharya was today admitted to a private hospital with head injury.

Videos
Tea industry witnesses a boom in Assam.
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Mime Theatre from Assam.
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3 Jayas to add glamour to SP’s rally
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
Three Jayas are all set to add a touch of glamour to Samajwadi Party’s grand election rally in Bareilly tomorrow.

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa and Samajwadi Party MPs Jaya Bachchan and Jayaprada will be seen in the company of incumbent Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayum Singh Yadav, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu, Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala and Asom Gana Parishad leader Brindaban Goswami on a common platform as electioneering in UP gathers momentum.

Although they come from different parts of the country, the three Jayas do share an invisible bond. All three have been reigning queens of the silver screen and they also have a personal dislike for the Congress in general and its president Sonia Gandhi in particular. Jayalalithaa and the Congress chief drew apart following their joint unsuccessful attempt to form a government after they dislodged the Vajpayee government in 1999.

The cold war between the Bachchan and Nehru-Gandhi families is all too well known. Once inseparable, the two families had such a bitter falling out that Jaya Bachchan felt compelled to join the Samajwadi Party to settle her personal scores with the Congress president.

All these factors have come in handy for Samajwadi Party leaders Mulayum Singh Yadav and Amar Singh whose own animosity towards the Congress president goes beyond the traditional rivalry normally seen among political opponents. With Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi declaring war against the SP government in the ongoing seven-phased UP elections, the Samajwadi Party has hit back by putting together a grand star cast of Congress-baiters.

The impressive line-up of non-Congress and non-BJP leaders is also meant to make a strong political statement that this gathering could well lay the foundation of a third front in the days ahead. These parties are looking to play a key role in the presidential elections and then the 2009 general elections.

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Controversial CD
Rajnath to court arrest on April 9: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
In an apparent attempt to gain political mileage in the ongoing Assembly poll in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP today went on offensive in the controversial CD issue by saying that party president Rajnath Singh will not seek anticipatory bail and offer himself for arrest in Lucknow on April 9 in connection with an FIR lodged against him.

“We respect the Election Commission. But the registration of a second FIR (in the controversial CD issue) and naming of Rajnath Singh and Lalji Tandon in it, is not only wrong and malafide, but also politically motivated,” BJP spokesperson and former union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told mediapersons here.

Pointing that since the Sections (153a and 153b of the IPC), under which Rajnath and Tandon have been booked in the second FIR registered on April 6 at the Hazratganj Police Station in Lucknow, are non-bailable, Prasad said the party had decided that both these leaders would not seek anticipatory bail and would offer themselves for arrest on April 9.

He said the whole party would stand by the party president and all senior leaders, including Leader of the Opposition L.K Advani, former BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Balbir Punj and himself would be present in Lucknow at the time of Rajnath’s arrest.

“We suspect that the Uttar Pradesh Government has colluded in getting the names of Rajnath Singh and Tandon in the FIR for collateral electoral benefit,” Prasad alleged obviously hitting at Mulayam Singh-led Samajwadi Party government.

“The BJP views the filing of two FIRs--first on April 5, in which no one was named and the other on April 6 naming the BJP president and Tandon, as unfortunate, malafide and politically motivated,” he said.

Prasad also condemned the manner in which all parties like the Samajwadi, Congress, BSP and others were seeking action against BJP and its president.

“It clearly demonstrates the height of appeasement,” he added. Moreover, it was the first case of its kind that two FIRs were lodged at the same police stations, within a span of 24 hours, even as the party had withdrawn the CD before even the Election Commission had taken cognisance of it.

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EC asks BJP to explain
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
The Election Commission, which has issued orders for the registration of an FIR against BJP president Rajnath Singh and party’s senior leader Lalji Tandon on the CD issue has decided to give an opportunity to the saffron party to explain its position.

The commission though had taken suo motu initiative on alleged circulation of the CD containing certain derogatory references to the Muslims from which the party had distanced itself, also decided to give hearing to the Jan Morcha and the BSP, as both parties had lodged complaints with the panel on the issue, the EC courses said.

The BJP has been asked to appear before the commission on April 9 to explain its position, the sources said.

They said the Jan Morcha and the BSP were also asked to put forth its viewpoints on the same day.

The EC’s decision followed the BJP taking a tough stand on the issue and announcing that Rajnath would not seek anticipatory bail in the case after a second FIR was registered in Lucknow, specifically mentioning his name in the case.

The BJP also announced that instead of seeking bail, Rajnath would offer himself for arrest.

Top party leaders, including L.K. Advani, M. Vankaiah Naidu, Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Mukhtar Abas Naqvi have decided to reach Lucknow to extend support to the party chief, spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

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Yadav’s remarks on turnout could be value judgement: EC

New Delhi, April 7
The Election Commission today brushed aside criticism by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav that “excessive” security deployment has led to lesser voter turnout and attributed the peaceful polling in the first phase to enhanced security arrangements.

“This (Yadav’s remarks) could be a value judgement. Security arrangement was part of confidence-building measures. Because of security arrangement, no violent incident was reported in the state today,” Deputy Election Commissioner (DEC) R. Bhattacharya told reporters.

He was asked to comment on Yadav’s criticism that “excessive” security deployment discouraged voters from exercising their franchise.

Polling in UP has been staggered in seven phases to facilitate adequate deployment of forces.

Observing that nearly 45 per cent of the 1.61 crore voters in the 62 constituencies exercised their franchise in the first phase, another DEC R Balakrishnan said there was no incident of booth capturing or violence. It was a peaceful polling without any violence, he said.

Replying to a question on controversial anti-Muslim CD in UP, Balakrishnan said that the BJP had replied to the notice and it was under consideration of the commission. — PTI

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Lalji Tandon gets clean chit in sari case

Lucknow, April 7
The court today gave a clean chit to Leader of the Opposition in Uttar Pradesh Assembly Lalji Tandon in the sari stampede case of Lucknow, which had claimed lives of 21 women.

The stampede had occurred on April 12, 2004, in a function to mark Mr Tandon’s birthday at Chandrashekhar Azad Park in the Mahanagar area here.

Special Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Bal Mukund dismissed the protest application filed against the senior BJP leader and considered the final report (FR) filed by the police in the case as proper.

An FIR was filed in the stampede case on April 17, 2004, by the Chief Election Officer at Mahanagar police station against Mr Tandon and the organiser Brijendera Murari Yadav.

The police had filed an FIR on May 28, 2005, giving respite to Mr Tandon. — UNI

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Maoists kill six in Jharkhand
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 7
In a daring act, nearly 500 armed Maoist guerrillas attacked a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) camp and a police station in Bokaro district of Jharkhand on Friday night, killing six persons, including two security personnel, and injuring five others.

Since past three months, this was the second Maoist attack on the security forces in Bokaro district, housing the Bokaro Steel Plant and Thermal Power Station. Fourteen security personnel belonging to the Special Task Force (STF) were killed in a landmine blast triggered by the ultras in Bokaro district on December 2, 2006.

Jharkhand IG (Operations) D.K.Pandey said both police and paramilitary forces had already launched a combing operation to flush out the ultras in the district. The ultras looted four sophisticated rifles and one pistol from the CISF camp after the attack. Pandey said a gunbattle between the rebels and security forces continued for over four hours.

The CISF was deployed to provide security to the Central Coalfield Ltd (CCL) mining project in the area. The rebels also blasted a bridge and damaged an anti-landmine vehicle.

Maoist rebels at present are active in the 16 of 22 Jharkhand districts. Nearly 550 people, including 245 security personnel, have been killed in the past five years in Jharkhand.

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Girl trapped in borewell dies

Bikaner, April 7
A one-and-a-half-year-old girl, who got trapped inside a 155-feet deep borewell at a village in the district two days ago, was found dead as armymen took out her body with the help of locals today.

The army, police and the district officials, along with villagers, were working since yesterday morning to rescue the toddler, whose body was found at a depth of 160 feet.

The girl, Sarika Yadav, had received injuries on her head and neck, additional district collector P C Mahor said.

Yadav accidentally fell into the borewell while playing and got trapped in a narrow pipe on Thursday at Adsar, some 90 km from here.

Rajkot: Meanwhile, a two-year-old girl, who was rescued after falling into a 50-foot borewell, died on the way to a hospital here today.

Kinjal Mansingh Chauhan fell into the uncovered borewell at 4 am in Bhadli town of Jasdan taluka.

The villagers and local authorities started rescue efforts soon and rescued the girl after a five-hour operation, fire superintendent R K Maheswari said.

However, she became unconscious and was rushed to the nearby civil hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.

A medical examination revealed she had died due to suffocation. — PTI

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PM to visit Assam today
Defers visit to Arunachal Pradesh
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 7
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is scheduled to arrive here tomorrow on a two-day visit to the state amid tight security.

Dr Singh will lay the foundation stone of the 5th bridge over the mighty river Brahmputra on his arrival here on April 8. The bridge is part of the under-construction East-West Corridoor project.

After a night halt in the city, he will visit Dibrugarh in eastern Assam the next day to lay the foundation stone of the Rs 5460 crore mega gas cracker project at Lepetkata there.

Meanwhile, heavy security blanket has been thrown around the city in view of the PM’s visit while round-the-clock vigil has been kept by police and the central paramilitary force personnel at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium where the PM will grace the function for foundation laying of the bridge.

Army personnel have also been deployed at the venue as well as the neighbourhood at Lepetkata in Dibrugarh district where the PM is scheduled to lay the corner stone of the cracker project. Dibrugarh district is one of the strong bastions of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

The visit of the PM who is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, assumes significance as it is expected to set the ball rolling for the jinxed gas cracker project, sanctioned by the Centre government in 1985 as part of the Assam Accord. The project is to be commissioned within next five years by the main promoter Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL). The project had been hanging fire for the past two decades for various reasons, including non-availability of sufficient feedstock.

Meanwhile, though the PM was expected to cover Arunachal Pradesh during the same visit, it has been deferred because of disturbing development in Arunachal Pradesh Congress Legislature Party (APCLP), according to the C. M. Longphong, a senior official in directorate of information and public relations.

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Tibet is part of China, says Dalai Lama
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
The temporal head of Tibetans the Dalai Lama's dream is that Tibet should be a demilitarised zone of peace.

Affirming that he is not seeking independence, he said he had made it clear that "past is past. How it is viewed is not a political decision. It is up to historians and legal experts," the Dalai Lama told Karan Thapar's Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN to be telecast tomorrow.

Regardless of the past and the Chinese, different and contrasting views of Tibetan history, the Dalai Lama said he now fully accepted that Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China. When the People's Liberation Army came to Tibet legal experts were firm that Tibet was a de-facto independent nation. "But that doesn't mean we are seeking independence because the world and reality are changing. Tibet is a backward country economically and materially. Therefore for our own interest as far as material development is concerned we want to remain within the People's Republic of China."

Regretting that his statement of the 1980s has not been read carefully, His Holiness said "my meaning eventually was that with agreement with India and other neighbouring states Tibet, hopefully should be a zone of peace and demilitarised. That's my dream."

About the world's largest democracy, the Dalai Lama said India's attitude or policy regarding China in general and Tibet in particular has been overcautious. He felt it was important to review this policy from time to time as it has been coming along since the 1950s.

Asked what he meant when he demanded "high level autonomy" and "real autonomy" for Tibet, the Dalai Lama stressed "Tibet is actually ruled by terror. Tibetans should have the final authority except foreign affairs and defence. The rest of the business Tibetans can handle even better."

Regarding his insistence on incorporating all Tibetan speaking people outside the present borders of Tibet within an enlarged Tibet, the Dalai Lama spoke of the danger of diminishing culture and language. Therefore, six million Tibetans are very anxious to preserve their culture and spirituality. "Since we are not seeking independence or separation we want certain rights within the concept of autonomy or self rule. Our main concern is preservation of our culture, spirituality and environment."

Asked if his position has fallen between two stools, the Dalai Lama said they were fully committed to democracy. However, "our position is not seeking independence but trying to get genuine autonomy that the Chinese Constitution also provides. There is genuine appreciation for our approach from the Chinese people, intellectuals and educationists."

The Dalai Lama said it would be wrong for the Chinese to think that as he was already 71 and age was against him, the Tibet issue will end after him. He said he was an optimist about seeing Tibet again. "Judging by today's developments, I think things are hopeful. I am an optimist."

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CJs discuss steps to improve functioning of judiciary
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 7
A two-day conference of Chief Justices of High Courts that concluded here today discussed in detail steps required to be taken to reduce the burden of over three crore pending cases with them and the subordinate judiciary while assessing the progress made on implementation of decisions taken during the last year’s joint meeting with Chief Ministers.

The two-day closed-door meeting, presided over by Chief Justice of India K.G Balakrishnan, discussed a wide range of issues, including setting up of fast track courts at magistrate and civil judge level after the success of the scheme at the sessions court level.

The Chief Justices’ meeting, which concluded a day before their joint conference with the Chief Ministers to be addressed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, CJI and Law Minister H.R Bhardwaj at Vigyan Bhavan here tomorrow, had a 20-point agenda before it for deliberation.

Since the meeting was an internal exercise of the judiciary to discuss its problems and the measures required to be taken to overcome them, the details of the decisions taken and the resolutions adopted, would be made available to media only on Monday, Supreme Court Secretary General V.K Jain told The Tribune.

The agenda placed for discussion before the conference, included consideration of introduction of shift system in subordinate courts. The experiment of “shift courts” had been quite successful in Gujarat and had come in for special praise by legal experts.

With a view to improve the quality of judicial officers in subordinate courts, restoration of the compulsory three-year legal practice for the law graduates sitting in the judicial service exams was also put in the agenda for consideration. The practice had been done away with after a judgement of the Supreme Court about three years ago.

In the wake of judiciary demanding financial autonomy for years, the meeting also discussed it with regard to giving freedom to high courts to decide about annual expenditure to improve their functioning.

Another important issue that was taken up at the meeting was improving the working of vigilance cell in High Court and setting up such cells in each district court in the country. It also discussed national judicial education strategy to augment training for judicial officers, implementation of the resolutions passed by the conference of high courts’ registrar generals in December, 2006.

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Prices of essential items rise further
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 7
The prices of essential commodities, including wheat flour, have begun showing an upward trend, making the ruling Congress at the Centre pay a heavy political price.

The defeat of the Congress in the Delhi Municipal Corporation elections has been linked to the failure of the Congress-led union government to check rising prices. The half-hearted measures taken by union finance minister P.C. Chidambaram have failed to make any impact as far as curbing the prices of essential items is concerned. Angry over the rising prices, poor sections and the lower middle class have started striking against the ruling Congress in elections. The party’s defeat a month ago in Punjab and Uttaranchal was also attributed to the increase in the prices of essential items.

The price of branded wheat flour has gone up by Rs 5 per 10 kg bag. A 10 kg bag was available for Rs 140 a few days ago. However, its price was today reported to be Rs 145 per bag. And even the price of loose wheat flour is being quoted at Rs 13 per kg and is expected to go up further in the next few days.

The prices of cooking oils have also gone up by Rs 2 to Rs 5 per litre in the past few days. The price of mustard oil has risen by Rs 2 per litre. The price of desi ghee has gone up by Rs 10 per kg. While Verka desi ghee is selling at Rs 165 per litre, the price of other brands has touched Rs 150 per litre.

Even the prices of washed moong and arhar have gone up. However, the prices of white and black gram are showing a downward trend. The same is true in the case of rajmah.

The price of sugar now varies between Rs 16 and Rs 17 per kg and has come down from Rs 21 per kg. However, as it is being released for export, its price will definitely go up in the days to come, say trade circles.

On the wheat flour front this is happening when its price should have come down by at least Rs 1. 50 per kg. It is the wheat harvesting season. Fresh wheat has begun arriving in various grain markets in Punjab and Haryana and other parts of the country. However, the wheat flour price is showing an upward trend.

Trade circles say there is no reason for the price of loose wheat flour, which is sold at flour mills, to drop below Rs 13 per kg in any case.

“ The price of wheat flour is expected to go up in the days to come”, say trade circles. Giving reasons, traders say that fresh wheat is selling above Rs 900 per quintal and the buyer has to pay about Rs 150 per quintal on it as taxes, transportation charges, etc, to take it to a flour mill.

After including grinding charges, it costs a trader about Rs 1,200 per quintal. Wheat flour that costs Rs 12 per kg after including the grinding cost cannot be sold for less than Rs 13 per kg.

Ravinder Singh Cheema, president of the arhtiya association, Punjab, said the wheat price in various markets ranges between Rs 900 and Rs 925 per quintal and the commodity is being bought by private traders.

The prices of washing powder and various brands of soap have also gone up in the past few days.

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No VIP prisoner facilities for Shahabuddin
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 7
In what appeared to be a clear signal to the criminal-turned-politicians in the state that no one was above the law, the Nitish government has decided to stop giving special facilities to the jailed RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin.

Sources said the order was issued after Siwan District Magistrate S. K. Mall gave a report in which, he held Shahabuddin responsible for the violent clash among the inmates inside the prison last month. Nearly a dozen inmates were injured in the clash. After that the authorities shifted them to other jails.

The order would deprive Shahabuddin of an extra bed, cook, newspapers, magazine and food cooked from outside the prison.

As a result, once known as the uncrowned king of Siwan, Shahabuddin would now be entitled to amenities given to the common prisoners only.

Henceforth, Shahabuddin was entitled to facilities meant for divisional prisoners as an MP. The controversial RJD leader was now lodged in Siwan jail facing over 30 criminal cases. However, the government would continue to provide him medical facilities as before.

In this context, a special court in Siwan already dealt a blow to Shahabuddin by awarding him two years imprisonment for assaulting a CPI (ML) worker in 1998. It was for the first time that Shahabuddin was convicted in a criminal case.

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SPG should be interface between politicians, people: PM
S Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
Appreciating the Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel for their professionalism in providing security to top political leaders, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today urged the elite force to do their job creatively in order to act as an interface between political leaders and people.

“In a democratic society it is imperative that the top political leadership should not only be easily accessible, but also visible and freely heard by the public at large. At the same time, I do understand and appreciate the security concerns also need to be addressed. It is this contradiction that the SPG has to manage,” Singh said while giving away medals to the SPG officers on the Group’s 22nd Raising Day celebrations.

“This reflects the creativity of the officers of SPG. A lot is also being done to minimise the inconvenience levels faced by the ordinary citizen. However, I am sure that a lot more can be done. Innovative lateral thinking along with an understanding approach is perhaps the answer.”

Acknowledging that the task of the SPG is becoming more and more difficult, particularly in view of the rising threat perception, the PM expressed confidence that the SPG would continue to strive to ensure even better results in this sphere in the years to come.

Appreciating SPG for its constant effort to meet newly emerging challenges, Singh said, “The constant goal of infusing fresh ideas and new concepts highlights your forward-looking approach.”

He also praised the SPG for its new training infrastructure, which includes a human performance centre and a newly renovated firing range, which is the first of its kind in the country.

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My position is safe, says Apang

Itanagar, April 7
Breaking his silence over a demand by Congress dissidents that he be replaced by Power Minister Dorjee Khandu, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang today said his position was "safe".

Apang, who returned from Delhi after consultations with the central Congress leadership, said he discussed the political situation in the state with the Union Minister Oscar Fernandez, in-charge of the party affairs in the northeast, and Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, "My position is safe.

I told them that they should send the dissident MLAs back to the state (from Delhi where they are camping)," he told reporters after the swearing in of K Sankaranarayanan as the governor of Arunachal Pradesh at the Raj Bhawan here.

Denying that he went to Delhi on Friday after being summoned by the Congress leadership, he said, “I went to discuss Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the state with the Union home minister.”

Asked if he had met Gandhi, Apang replied he had not as she was away electioneering in Uttar Pradesh. Asked whether he would abide by the central leadership's decision on the dissidents' demand, Apang said, “We will see to it.”

Asked what had prompted a majority of Congress MLAs to revolt, he said, “I don't know. But if they have any grievances these can be discussed within the party. It is an internal matter of the party. They should not run away from the people and take refuge in hotels and resorts in Delhi and Haryana.”

He said the dissidents had not informed the state Congress president about their grievances. — PTI

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IIMs, IITs asked to put admissions on hold

New Delhi, April 7
With the implementation of the OBC quota stuck in legal wrangles following the Supreme Court stay, the HRD Ministry has asked all the IIMs, IITs and Centrally funded institutions to put on hold the admission process.

The ministry has told the central educational institutions, including top medical, engineering and management schools like IIMs not to issue offer of admission, ministry sources said.

They said the managements of these institutions had been told to keep the entire admission process on hold “till they hear from the ministry”.

The directive from the ministry comes a day after a meeting of leaders of UPA and Left parties which resolved that the government would take all “appropriate” steps to ensure that the reservation for OBCs to the extent of 27 per cent becomes operational from this academic session.

The apex court order staying the central law had led to demands from across the political spectrum that the government act fast to get the stay vacated and HRD minister Arjun Singh had declared that all constitutional and legal measures would be taken to ensure this. — PTI

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Student’s labour lost
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 7
A student of Chandigarh is keeping her fingers crossed about her impending examination. She does not know how to prepare for the examination in the absence of her books, particularly the notes she had prepared laboriously over the last one year.

The problem for Rachel John, who studies in Queen Mary College, London, began when she landed in New Delhi on the morning of March 30 by a Jet Airways flight from London.

She was one of the first to reach the conveyor belt to pick up her heavy suitcase, which contained all her textbooks and notebooks, besides clothes.

Unfortunately for Rachel John, her luggage did not arrive. After several hours of waiting by when all the passengers had left, she complained to the ground staff of Jet Airways, who promised to have the luggage traced and sent to her house in Chandigarh in a couple of days.

Since then she has been contacting the Jet Airway staff, who say the luggage has not yet been traced. The airline has made a suggestion that it would pay compensation at the rate of $20 per kilogram of luggage lost, which is supposed to be rate fixed by the International Air Transport Authority.

Rachel John is not enamoured of the monetary compensation as she is keen to have the luggage returned to her. All her hopes of spending the next few weeks to prepare for the final examination due in mid-May in London lie in a shambles thanks to the inefficiency of the airline, which is clueless about how a checked-in luggage for which a proper receipt was given was irretrievably lost.

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CIC denies info on premature retirement of fighter pilots

New Delhi, April 7
The Central Information Commission has rejected an RTI appeal seeking information on premature retirement of fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and said such disclosures were “sensitive” and could lead to unforeseen consequences.

“Any hasty disclosure of seemingly innocuous statistical information, as in this case, can lead to consequences which may not be properly foreseen at a given point of time”, Information Commissioner A.N. Tiwari said in a recent decision.

Dismissing an appeal filed by one Wing Commander Alok Joshi seeking detailed records of the IAF’s fighter pilots who were granted premature retirement from 2004 onwards, the CIC said there was need to exercise caution in divulging information on manpower planning in the armed forces. — PTI

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SC officials told to appear before CIC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the public information officer (PIO) and Additional Registrar of the Supreme Court to appear before it on May 25.

Acting on an application from Ziley Singh, an inhabitant of Tehkhand village in Delhi, Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, has directed the PIO of the Apex Court to appear personally and show cause as to why a penalty at the rate of Rs 250 per day from the date when the information is due to the date when it is actually supplied, should not be imposed on him under Section 20 (1) of the Right to Information Act.

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Pune rave party:249 revellers test positive for drugs

Pune, April 7
As many as 249 out of 287 youths, most of them students, detained last month at a rave party here have tested positive for drugs.

According to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report, 249 revellers who were detained on March 4 at a rave party in the foothills of Sinhgad Fort near Pune have tested positive for the banned drugs.

The FSL took almost a month to test the blood samples collected by the Pune Rural Police.

Following the drug tests reports, necessary legal action will be initiated against those found guilty, the police said.

Most of them students and young professionals had spent a few days in Pune's Yerawada Jail before being released on bail.

The revellers, picked up from a farmhouse near Pune on March 4 for indulging in drug abuse, included women and some foreigners. All those arrested in the raid were booked under the NDPS Act and Foreigners Act. — ANI

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Govindacharya hospitalised

New Delhi, April 7
Former BJP general secretary and Sangh Pracharak K N Govindacharya was today admitted to a private hospital with head injury.

Close associates said Govindacharya sustained the injury at Hisar in Haryana after he fell from his bed in the wee hours today.

Initially it was felt that the injury was casual and did not require any medical attention but when he slipped into unconciousness he was moved to Appollo hospital.

Sources said Govindacharya, considered as thinktank of BJP, had clot in the brain and was kept under observation. — UNI

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A clarification
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 7
In reference to the news item ‘SC upholds Amrit’s absorption in police’, published in Saturday’s edition, it is clarified that she is the sister of Avinder Singh Brar for whose bravery she was given compassionate employment in the CRPF and later absorbed in the Punjab Police. The error in the news item pertaining to her relation with Avinder Singh Brar, who fell to the terrorists’ bullets during militancy in Punjab had cropped up inadvertently. We regret the hurt caused to her and her family members’ sentiments.

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