SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Peace process ‘based’ on Pak promise on terror
New Delhi, April 10
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon today enumerated how the US was important for India in a vast range of issues, including for bringing about the much-needed second green revolution.

MLA gets jail for breaking seals of illegal shops
New Delhi, April 10
The sealing drive in Delhi, which cost the Congress dearly in the recent MCD elections, today had its heat on the BJP and the Delhi police with the Supreme Court convicting saffron party’s MLA H.S. Balli for breaking seals of 22 illegal shops.

Climate change
We will be hit the hardest
New Delhi, April 10
Climate change is not that far as you think and will hit hardest an agrarian country with dense population like India, heavily dependent upon perennial rivers and monsoon and virtually no road map to deal with the challenges ahead.



EARLIER STORIES


Chief of Naval Staff Suresh Mehta (right) with his Indonesian counterpart Admiral Slamet Soebijanto at South Block in New Delhi
Chief of Naval Staff Suresh Mehta (right) with his Indonesian counterpart Admiral Slamet Soebijanto at South Block in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

Male mindset blocking ‘woman raj’ in Bihar
Patna, April 10
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s dream of an empowered woman raj apparently faces the biggest roadblock from the prevailing male mindset, rather than government policies, opposing gender equality in Bihar.

8 ULFA militants killed
Guwahati, April 10
The Army today killed at least eight militants belonging to the banned ULFA, including two women cadres of the group, following a fierce encounter at Tikalibam near Lathau village in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh in the early morning hours.

1,300 tourists trapped in landslide saved
Gangtok, April 10
Nearly 1,300 tourists were trapped by a huge landslide while returning from Changu Lake on way to the Nathula Pass, but were rescued and safely trans-shipped back to Gangtok, the police said today.

Split in Hindu vote may tip BJP applecart
Bijnore, April 10
The Bharatiya Janata Party is confident of encashing the CD issue in this region where Muslims play a decisive role in the electoral politics. The districts of Merrut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Bijnore are Muslim dominated districts in the state.

Clear majority for BJP in Uttarakhand
Dehra Dun, April 10
The BJP tally in the Uttarakhand Assembly increased to 36 giving the party a clear majority on its own with the nomination of an Anglo-Indian as the member of the House.

Swaminathan, Vatsyayan get RS berth
New Delhi, April 10
Noted agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, who has been acclaimed as the father of the Green Revolution, and eminent classical dancer Kapila Vatsyayan have been nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

CPI unhappy with govt
New Delhi, April 10
In clear signs that it is not happy with the UPA coalition, the CPI today made it clear that its support cannot be taken for granted and the government should take mid-course corrections in its economic policies, especially to check prices.

PM to visit Germany for G-8 summit in June
New Delhi, April 10
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will travel to Germany in early June this year for outreach session of the G-8 summit. The date being considered for the trip is June 7. The Prime Minister is also keen to undertake two bilateral visits abroad as soon as possible i.e. to Saudi Arabia and Bhutan. 

India, Belarus to sign extradition treaty
New Delhi, April 10
India and Belarus will sign an extradition treaty next week when Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko arrives here on April 15 on a three-day official visit. President Lukashenko will hold delegation level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 16 after which several agreements are expected to be signed in the areas of science and technology, agriculture and extradition.

Uttarakhand
Report: e-governance project a failure
Dehra Dun, April 10
e-governance in Uttarakhand, which is still in the nascent stage, suffered a jolt as an official enquiry into the purchase of computer hardware and system software and peripherals for certain government departments revealed loss of crores to the state exchequer.

Only 5 pc of food consumed in India is processed
New Delhi, April 10
Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss said today that the recent enactment of the new Food Safety and Standards Act would afford India an excellent opportunity to have a relook at its food regulatory regime.

Hand-pulled rickshaws to ply again in Kolkata
Kolkata, April 10
The hand-pulled rickshaws, which Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharee decided to disband, will ply again in the city streets. The Calcutta High Court today issued an order, directing the local municipal corporation to renew the licences to the rickshaw pullers, which had been stopped since December 12, 2006 following the state government’s decision.

Murthy apologises
Bangalore, April 10
Chief mentor of Infosys Technologies Ltd N.R. Narayana Murthy has said he “deeply apologises” if his media statement on the issue of playing the national anthem during President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s recent visit to the company’s Mysore campus, has hurt anybody’s sentiments.

Pranab discharged
New Delhi, April 10
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee was discharged from the Army Hospital today three days after suffering head injuries in a road accident in West Bengal. The 72-year-old senior minister was discharged after a team of specialists found him fit to resume work.
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3rd roundtable soon: Azad
Srinagar, April 10
Expressing the hope that the third Round Table conference would be held within a month, during which economic, social, political and other matters would be deliberated upon, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has urged all political parties and other concerned sections of the society to participate in it.

Brajesh, Abid on ORF board
New Delhi, April 10
Brajesh Mishra, former principal secretary to the Prime Minister and national security adviser, and Abid Hussain, former ambassador to the USA, have joined the board of trustees of the Observer Research Foundation.

9 revellers meet watery grave
Kaushambi, April 10
A picnic turned tragic today when nine persons, including three children, met a watery grave when one of them fell into the Yamuna while playing on its banks and the rest jumped to rescue him in this district neighbouring Allahabad.

Report on child abuse released
New Delhi, April 10
Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury said yesterday that the issue of child abuse should be placed on the national agenda. Releasing a report on the national study on child abuse, the minister said the government, society and communities needed to work towards creating a protective environment for children.

IPS officer suspended for illegal rail travel
Patna, April 10
Not only the law-breakers, law makers too are not above the law under the promised good governance by the new dispensation in Bihar. This was evident when the Nitish government suspended the Commandant of the Bihar Military Police, Katihar, H.N. Deva, on charges of travelling on unauthorised pass in Bangalore.

SC nod to cases against Dalmias
New Delhi, April 10
The Supreme Court today gave the green signal for filing of criminal cases against prominent industrialists Sanjay Dalmia and Anurag Dalmia, besides three others of Dalmia Industries Ltd in a cheque bounce case involving over Rs 90 lakh.

Order against judge for misusing official house upheld
New Delhi, April 10
Observing that a judge could be dismissed for letting out his official residence, the Delhi High Court has upheld the Lt Governor's order asking a Sessions Judge to go on compulsory retirement about two years ago.

Dalit woman burnt to death
Nagpur, April 10
A 35-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly burnt to death after she refused to lend money to a man in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district. Indubai Tandekar was allegedly doused with kerosene and set ablaze by Babulal Bhagat of different community, at Pachgaon village, 12 km from the district headquarters, on Saturday, SP Bhan Deva district Suresh Sagar told UNI.

15 die in jeep-tanker collision
Jaipur, April 10
Fifteen persons were killed when the jeep in which they were travelling collided with a tanker at Kirwa village under Pali district last evening, the police said today. According to the police, 12 persons, including six women, died on the spot, while three more succumbed to their injuries later at the Bangar hospital.

CBI files second chargesheet in Nithari case
Ghaziabad, April 10
The CBI today filed a second chargesheet in connection with the serial rape and murder of women and children in Nithari. The second chargesheet was filed in the special designated court only against Surinder Koli, servant of another accused Moninder Singh Pandher, in connection with rape, murder and abduction of a girl Pinki Sarkar.

Justice Sethna quits
Ahmedabad, April 10
Controversial Gujarat High Court judge B.J. Sethna, who was involved in a scuffle with his senior colleague that led to his transfer to the Sikkim High Court, today tendered his resignation.

Das is new DG of CISF
New Delhi, April 10
Mr Ranjit Kumar Das today took over as the new Director General of Central Industrial Security Force. Das, a 1970 batch UP Cadre IPS officer, has served in state and Central Government in various capacities.

Clash at Taj Mahal
Agra, April 10
The world-famous Taj Mahal witnessed an ugly scene when men from two central para military forces clashed over valid entry tickets. The incident took place yesterday when Border Security Force men on poll duty tried to gain entry inside the monument without valid tickets.

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Peace process ‘based’ on Pak promise on terror
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon today enumerated how the US was important for India in a vast range of issues, including for bringing about the much-needed second green revolution.

He also summed up India’s Pakistan policy by saying that the success of dialogue process was predicated on Pakistan fulfilling its commitment not to permit any territory under its control to be used to support terrorism in any manner. Menon said this point had been made amply clear to Islamabad.

“For us, terrorism remains a particular concern. Infiltration continues from across the border,” the Foreign Secretary said in his speech at the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) on the topic: “The challenges ahead for India’s foreign policy”. He pointed out that the composite dialogue, the joint commission and the joint anti-terrorism mechanism provided a structured framework within which major issues were discussed with Pakistan.

The Foreign Secretary mentioned the Indo-US ties several times in his speech in different contexts and said the tendency to view relations with Washington only within the narrow confines of nuclear deal should be avoided. “We seek to arrive at an early agreement with the US on civil nuclear energy cooperation within the parameters laid out in the July 18, 2005, India-US joint statement and the March 2, 2006, separation plan,” he said.

Menon said relations with the US were important to New Delhi. “Not just because it is the superpower, but also because of the positive effect it has on our dealings with the rest of the world and on our access to markets, high technology and resources crucial to our future economic growth and development.”

He pointed out that how last year India was a net importer of food after many years and added that by 2020, India would be needing a whopping 340 million tonnes of foodgrains to feed its citizens. This target could only be met if the country could bring about a second green revolution, harnessing contemporary tools like bio-technology, water conservation and rain harvesting techniques.

“The India-US agriculture knowledge initiative announced in July, 2005, is a step in this direction and aims to address new challenges and facilitate agricultural research, education, and extension,” he reminded the audience.

Now consider the Foreign Secretary’s yet another stout defence of the US in yet another area. He elaborated how despite India’s large population and GDP growth averaging over 8 per cent in the last few years, the Indian per capita electricity consumption continued to be as low as one-sixth of the world average. He cited figures. Presently 67 per cent of our electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, and 70 per cent of our oil is imported.

“To meet our future energy requirements, we will build partnerships with other countries who have surplus energy. Additionally, we will have to increase the share of non-fossil fuel based energy resources in our energy mix. The India-US civil nuclear energy cooperation is one step in this direction,” Menon said.

On China, the Foreign Secretary said there had been some concerns expressed about the “peaceful rise” of China. He quoted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as saying that India believed that there was enough space for both to grow.

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MLA gets jail for breaking seals of illegal shops
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 10
The sealing drive in Delhi, which cost the Congress dearly in the recent MCD elections, today had its heat on the BJP and the Delhi police with the Supreme Court convicting saffron party’s MLA H.S. Balli for breaking seals of 22 illegal shops and summoning the city police chief tomorrow to explain why force was not provided to the monitoring committee for carrying out the sealing drive.

Balli, in a virtual show of defiance to various directions issued by the Supreme Court last year for sealing of illegal shops, declared before a bench of Justices Arijit Passayat, C.K. Thakker and Lokeshwer Singh Panta that he had wilfully broken the seals in the Raja Garden area as a public representative as he felt that the court orders were against public interest.

Convicting Balli in a suo motu motion for “contempt of court”, the bench sentenced him to three months’ imprisonment, saying that he consciously had defied its orders claiming that he was doing it as part of his duty as a representative of the people.

“We don’t find any substance in such a statement. We do not think a people’s representative should act in such a brazen manner,” the bench said.

On summoning of police commissioner K.K. Paul for not providing adequate force to monitoring committee for carrying out the sealing drive on March 3, 4 and 9, the court said “nowadays people think the Supreme Court is an unimportant institution in the country.”

The court took exception to police counsel Ashok Bhan’s statement that after the MCD elections, maintenance of law and order was more important and “it was not that important a matter that the police commissioner should appear in person.”

“We do not accept your statement,” the bench plainly told Bhan and also summoned the police officers in charge of the area where the sealing was to go on.

Even a request made by Bhan later for exempting the police chief from personal appearance was turned down.

The court also directed the MCD commissioner to submit an affidavit, explaining why it did not extend cooperation to the monitoring committee for carrying on the sealing.

The court, in an order passed before the MCD polls, had clarified that the sealing in those areas not covered for mixed land use under the Delhi Master Plan, 2021, brought out recently by the centre and the two notifications of September last year, would continue without hindrance. It had directed the police chief to provide adequate force to the monitoring committee and the MCD commissioner was asked to extend it full cooperation.

But in its report submitted today, the monitoring committee said neither the police nor MCD officials extended any help to it.

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Climate change
We will be hit the hardest
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

  • Gross per capita water availability decline from 1820 cu m to 1,000 cu m by 2050
  • Human health, food security, agriculture to be hit maximum
  • Vector-borne diseases like dengue will increase

New Delhi, April 10
Climate change is not that far as you think and will hit hardest an agrarian country with dense population like India, heavily dependent upon perennial rivers and monsoon and virtually no road map to deal with the challenges ahead.

On his return from Brussels where the fourth assessment report by the inter-government panel on climate change was released recently, IPCC chairman R.K. Pachauri today said like most countries India was ill-equipped to meet future challenges due to climate change and global warming.

“On a scale of one to 10, I will put India’s capacity to meet the challenges ahead at 0.5 points. Everyone seems to be talking about climate change, but as an actual measure very little is being done,” Pachauri said, urging India to take a lead and devise a clear-cut strategy and road map as India happened to be among the most vulnerable countries.

“Adaptation will be necessary to address impacts resulting from the warming, which is already unavoidable due to past emissions. We need much more work on monsoon, given its importance with regard to life and agriculture in this country. As an individual and community we have reactive adaptive resilience but the country has to devise anticipatory measures, including protective infrastructure and encouraging natural methods,” he added.

Giving an overall India-specific picture, he said the country would witness severe changes in precipitation, water scarcity due to impact on hydrology and water resources, melting of glaciers and subsequent impact on agriculture and food security in the years to come.

The gross per capita water availability will drop by almost 38 per cent by 2050, declining from 1820 cu m at present to 1,000 cu m. Glacial melting in the Himalayas will increase flooding and affect water resources in the next two to three decades.

Climate change also poses substantial risks to human health. Empirical models suggest that population at risk of vector-borne diseases like dengue will be 50 per cent greater by 2030. Besides this, morbidity due to climate-attributable diarrhoea and malnutrition and heat stress is also projected to be very high. There will be substantial decrease in cereal production and substantial losses are also likely in rain-fed wheat production.

Even under the most conservative scenario, sea level will be 40 cm higher than today by the end of 21st century. Densely populated and low-lying areas like Mumbai and Kolkata are especially at risk. Kolkata’s frontline defence Sunderbans are already vulnerable.

Rainfall patterns will change and more frequent and prolonged droughts will result in increasing trends of desertification. Twenty to 30 per cent of plant and animal species are likely to be at increased risk of extinction.

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Male mindset blocking ‘woman raj’ in Bihar
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 10
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s dream of an empowered woman raj apparently faces the biggest roadblock from the prevailing male mindset, rather than government policies, opposing gender equality in Bihar.

These deliberations at the convention of elected women representatives of state’s panchayati raj system in Patna yesterday revealed these views. It also revealed some harrowing tales that how a good number of women were physically abused and threatened by their male counterparts, who still considered them inferior.

Besides, the caste-ridden society of Bihar was also yet to come to terms over the emergence of poor women representing Dalits and Mushars as a new governance class by creating further hurdles to this path-breaking move by the Nitish government.

Over 1,000 elected women representatives took part in the first-ever such convention organised by an NGO to share their experiences after the state reserved 50 per cent seats for women at the state panchayat polls held last year.

Bihar was the first state to reserve 50 per cent seats to promote gender equality at grassroots democracy.

The audience were shocked at the way one woman panch, Chanda Khatoon, was allegedly stripped in public at Siswa village in East Champaran district in her bid to assert her governing position in a land dispute related case.

A case was filed against Alauddin for reportedly beating and tearing her clothes this Saturday, just two days before she reached Patna to attend the convention. Chanda, a poor maidservant, was elected as a panch of the Kutchery village in the election held last year.

Gayetri Devi from West Champaran district narrated her experience how a male bank employee humiliated her when she went to apply for a loan to start a self-help group (SHG) for poor women in her village.

Gayetri Devi belongs to the poor Mushar community, who are among the poorest members in the society.

For Pyari Devi of Nawada district it were the government officials, who shouted at her for demanding to ensure proper supply of mid-day meals in the schools running in her locality. Sangeeta Thakur of Madhubani block complained how she was discriminated against not only by government officials, but also by her male colleagues, too, on the district board.

Even though the speaker of the Bihar Assembly Udai Narayan Choudhary asked the women representatives at the convention to fight for their rights, Kiran Sharma of Development Initiatives was of the view that unless women were properly educated, they could not use the rights effectively.

Irrespective of the prevailing odds against empowered women raj, the deliberations, however, vindicated the views of Nitish Kumar in respect of greater accountability in grassroots democracy with more and more participation of women in the same.

Nitish has already decided to extend the same 50 per cent reservation for women in the coming urban bodies polls too.

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8 ULFA militants killed
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 10
The Army today killed at least eight militants belonging to the banned ULFA, including two women cadres of the group, following a fierce encounter at Tikalibam near Lathau village in Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh in the early morning hours.

The Army operation, carried out by its 11 Gorkha Regiment on the basis of intelligence inputs, served a major blow to the banned militant group as it resulted in killings of some hardcore ultras of the outfit’s dreaded 28th battalion.

An officer of the 2 Mountain Division of the Army based in Dinjan in Tinsukia district of Assam said the encounter started around 5 am and two militants were killed within half an hour. The Army intensified the operation with arrival of reinforcement from its nearest base after a couple of hours and that led to killing of six more militants.

The official confirmed that the slain militant included two women cadres of the militant group. The Army claimed that there was no casualty on its part although the militants fired from AK 47 rifles and hurled grenades at the approaching Army party while retreating.

The Army recovered three weapons, including two AK 47 assault rifles, and a large number of ammunition from slain ultras.

The slain women cadres were identified as Himadree, alias Pappu Gohain, and Lily Moran. Three of the other slain ultras were Jagan Doley, Rituparna Dabidar, alias Rishabh Bora, Babu, alias Prafulla Hazarika.

Meanwhile, author and peace talks facilitator Indira Goswami today urged for renewal of talks between the Centre and ULFA and expressed willingness to take the necessary initiative in this regard.

Goswami said in Guwahati that the Nagarik Shanti Mancha, a recently formed forum of prominent citizens and intellectuals, floated by her, was preparing a draft to take the peace process forward.

The final draft would be soon sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she added.

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1,300 tourists trapped in landslide saved

Gangtok, April 10
Nearly 1,300 tourists were trapped by a huge landslide while returning from Changu Lake on way to the Nathula Pass, but were rescued and safely trans-shipped back to Gangtok, the police said today.

About 183 vehicles carrying the tourists were stranded when a huge landslide struck the JN road at Eight Mile yesterday, it said. The Changu Lake is one of the most popular tourist spots in Sikkim.

About 150 m of the road was swamped by debris and boulders under the effect of the landslide bringing traffic along the route to a halt yesterday.

The police and the Travel Agents Association of Sikkim assisted by the locals took about four hours to safely rescue all tourists escorting them over the slide zone and trans-shipping them back to Gangtok, the police added.

Torrential rains in Gangtok and the adjoining areas over the past few days had triggered the landslide. — PTI

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Split in Hindu vote may tip BJP applecart
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

Bijnore, April 10
The Bharatiya Janata Party is confident of encashing the CD issue in this region where Muslims play a decisive role in the electoral politics.

The districts of Merrut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Bijnore are Muslim dominated districts in the state.

The BJP, which had contested the 2002 Assembly election in alliance with the Rashtirya Lok Dal (RLD), expects to consolidate its last time tally of 12 seats if we take into account three seats won by Rastriya Kranti Party of Kalyan Singh.

Barring former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, every single leader, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP, has been campaigning and has addressed small and big meetings in the state.

The purpose of bringing Modi in the poll campaign in this region is that Muslims are in decisive numbers in at least 50 out of 58 constituencies which are going to elect their representatives on coming Friday and the saffron strategists feel that the Gujarat Chief Minister can help in polarising the Hindu voters.

"Yes, we want to see and hear Modi but whether our vote would go to the BJP is not certain. We will vote for a party which is in a position to defeat the SP", Ramprakash Sharma said after attending the Gujarat Chief Minister's public meeting.

The BJP hopes rest on its belief and analysis of the ground situation that while Muslim votes would get divided between the Samajwadi Party, the United Democratic Front (UDF), the RLD, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, the Hindu voters rising above the caste considerations would rally behind its candidates.

But it seems to be a too simplistic calculation as it can be seen in Merrut city, where BJP candidate Lakshmikant Bajpai is trying to retain his seat for the fourth time and is pitted against UDF's Haji Yaqoob Quereshi, SP's Dilshad alias Munna, RLD's Bundu Khan, Congress's Rohitashva Kumar Agarwal and BSP's Vinay Kurali.

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Clear majority for BJP in Uttarakhand
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, April 10
The BJP tally in the Uttarakhand Assembly increased to 36 giving the party a clear majority on its own with the nomination of an Anglo-Indian as the member of the House.

Governor Sudarshan Agarwal on the recommendation of the government today nominated Karen Hilton (41) as member of the House using powers vested in him under Section 333 of the Constitution. With this, the BJP tally in the House of 71 has increased to 36.

Interestingly, the BJP had fiercely opposed the nomination of Hilton’s predecessor R.B. Gardner by the previous Congress government on the grounds that the Anglo-Indian community did not have population in the state deserving its member’s nomination as legislator. A petition filed by BJP’s co-spokesperson Ajayendra Ajay in this regard is still pending in Nainital High Court.

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Swaminathan, Vatsyayan get RS berth

New Delhi, April 10
Noted agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan, who has been acclaimed as the father of the Green Revolution, and eminent classical dancer Kapila Vatsyayan have been nominated to the Rajya Sabha.

Swaminathan has been accommodated against the vacancy caused by the retirement of a member, while Vatsyayan has been nominated against the casual vacancy caused by her resignation following the office of profit controversy.

She will remain a member till February 15, 2012, the remainder of the six-year term, it was officially announced today. — UNI

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CPI unhappy with govt

New Delhi, April 10
In clear signs that it is not happy with the UPA coalition, the CPI today made it clear that its support cannot be taken for granted and the government should take mid-course corrections in its economic policies, especially to check prices.

The party’s central secretariat met here and reviewed the policies of the government which, the party felt, was helping the revival of the BJP and went against the very concept for which the UPA and Left came together — to keep the BJP out. Secretary of the CPI D. Raja said the government’s economic policies were resulting in the “unbearable” rise in prices. — PTI

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PM to visit Germany for G-8 summit in June
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will travel to Germany in early June this year for outreach session of the G-8 summit. The date being considered for the trip is June 7.

The Prime Minister is also keen to undertake two bilateral visits abroad as soon as possible i.e. to Saudi Arabia and Bhutan. The Bhutan visit may be a stand-alone one. The Saudi visit may be tagged with the Germany visit.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee was scheduled to be in Saudi Arabia today, which had to be cancelled because of his road accident on Saturday. One of the points on the agenda during Mukherjee’s Saudi Arabia visit was to firm up the exact dates for the Prime Minister’s visit to Riyadh.

The PMO has already conveyed to the ministry of external affairs that Manmohan Singh had a brief window open for undertaking foreign visit in May end to early June.

The Prime Minister is also keen on undertaking a bilateral visit to Bhutan.

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India, Belarus to sign extradition treaty
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
India and Belarus will sign an extradition treaty next week when Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko arrives here on April 15 on a three-day official visit.

President Lukashenko will hold delegation level talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on April 16 after which several agreements are expected to be signed in the areas of science and technology, agriculture and extradition.

A bilateral protocol on the accession of Belarus to the WTO will be signed after Lukashenko’s talks with the Prime Minister. A joint statement will be issued on the outcome of the visit.

Lukashenko, who had earlier paid a state visit to India in 1997, will be accompanied by a high level official delegation, including seven ministers, as well as a business delegation representing major areas of Belarusian trade and industry. Vice-President and external affairs minister will call on the President.

India and Belarus are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. India was one of the first countries to recognise Belarus as an independent country after the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Formal diplomatic relations were established in 1992. India’s resident mission was opened in Minsk the same year. Belarus opened its Embassy in New Delhi in 1998. Belarus has been supportive of India’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded UNSC.

In the economic and commercial spheres, cooperation between India and Belarus has been growing steadily. Two-way trade has been growing at the rate of nearly 100 per cent per annum over the past two years (from US $ 62 million in 2003 to US $ 118 million in 2004; and US $ 244 million in 2005).

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Uttarakhand
Report: e-governance project a failure
Raju William

Dehra Dun, April 10
e-governance in Uttarakhand, which is still in the nascent stage, suffered a jolt as an official enquiry into the purchase of computer hardware and system software and peripherals for certain government departments revealed loss of crores to the state exchequer.

As per the copy of the report available with The Tribune, a detailed enquiry conducted by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) into this on the directions of chief secretary, Uttarakhand, termed the e-governance projects in the five Departments of Forests, Social Welfare, Urban Development, Food and Civil Supplies, Collectorate and Tehsils (Revenue) as total failure.

The state government had spent around Rs 14 crore on the purchase of computer hardware, system software and peripherals for these departments about two years back. The report did not justified the purchase of servers along with switches without setting up local area network (LAN). Lack of any networking planning and supply of relevant system software also rendered the server-based set up as non-feasible.

It was also noted that most of the systems and peripherals supplied to the remote areas like godowns of Department of Food and Civil Supplies were lying packed even after two years of supply. Lack of infrastructure had been cited as the reason behind this. No application was found to be running in any of the sectors covered under the enquiry.

Sources say the enquiry was ordered in September 2006 but its report is begging for attention. Notably, the information technology (IT) portfolio is with Chief Minster B.C. Khanduri. Onus is on him to take action against the guilty officials.

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Only 5 pc of food consumed in India is processed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss said today that the recent enactment of the new Food Safety and Standards Act would afford India an excellent opportunity to have a relook at its food regulatory regime.

Inaugurating the first international Food Regulatory Summit 2007 here on the theme ‘Aligning India to the world’, Dr Ramadoss said India with its vast and varied population had its own concerns about domestic food, as street food, food services from organised and unorganised sectors that required special attention to regulation without disrupting innovations and services in the food supply chain. Relying on estimates, the minister said less than five per cent of the food consumed in India was processed. The rest was food cooked at home, in the street or restaurant.

He said food was a basic biological necessity and food safety was an important aspect of population health.

Hailing the CII for hosting the summit, the minister said it would provide the strategic and practical ground work to strengthen the food regulatory system and serve as a critical and useful guideline for the new Food Safety and Standards Authority.

“We have been concerned with the integration of our food laws, many of them time-specific and dealt with by different agencies. Hence, we have recently enacted the

Food Safety and Standards Act as an integrated food law that will be administered by a single autonomous and scientific regulatory body,” he said.

Dr Ramadoss said the government had also undertaken a comprehensive audit of the regulatory infrastructure in the country and instituted measures to build the

infrastructural and technical capacity in the existing regulatory system for food safety under the World Bank funded Capacity Building Project.

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Hand-pulled rickshaws to ply again in Kolkata
Subhrangshgu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, April 10
The hand-pulled rickshaws, which Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharee decided to disband, will ply again in the city streets.

The Calcutta High Court today issued an order, directing the local municipal corporation to renew the licences to the rickshaw pullers, which had been stopped since December 12, 2006 following the state government’s decision.

The order was delivered by justice Dipankar Dutta following a petition filed by the city rickshaw pullers’ associations that had the support of railway minister Lalu Yadav and NDA chairman George Fernandes, among others.

Justice Dutta said since the government could not provide any alternative means of livelihood to the thousands of poor rickshaw pullers and their families, it would be disastrous to summarily disband the hand-pulled rickshaws, which had been plying in the city since the British Raj.

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Murthy apologises

Bangalore, April 10
Chief mentor of Infosys Technologies Ltd N.R. Narayana Murthy has said he “deeply apologises” if his media statement on the issue of playing the national anthem during President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s recent visit to the company’s Mysore campus, has hurt anybody’s sentiments.

“If the media statement has hurt anybody’s sentiments, I deeply apologise,” Murthy said here today.

“We played the instrumental version of the national anthem so that we could all sing along, and all of us did so. We wished to share the pride of being an Indian in the gracious presence of our President. We are informed that this is as per protocol,” he said. Murthy had said at a press meet that singing the national anthem would have “embarrassed” company employees of foreign origin, remarks which evoked a strong reaction from some quarters. — PTI

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Pranab discharged
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee was discharged from the Army Hospital today three days after suffering head injuries in a road accident in West Bengal.

The 72-year-old senior minister was discharged after a team of specialists found him fit to resume work.

A medical bulletin issued by the Army Research and Referral Hospital here said, a round of investigations on Mukherjee, including CT and MRI of head and chest today ruled out bone and internal injuries. He is now able to walk around. "His vital parameters continue to be within normal limits. He has a lacerated wound scalp, which is clean and has nine sutures. Apart from this, there are no other bone or soft tissue injuries," it added.

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3rd roundtable soon: Azad
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 10
Expressing the hope that the third Round Table conference would be held within a month, during which economic, social, political and other matters would be deliberated upon, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has urged all political parties and other concerned sections of the society to participate in it.

Addressing a public meeting at Raithan in the central Kashmir district of Budgam near here yesterday, the Chief minister said all political parties should put efforts to find a lasting solution to the issue.

The first two round table conferences had been held in New Delhi and Srinagar, respectively, last year.

Azad said several measures had been taken to restore peace and normalcy for development and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir adding that India and Pakistan were holding dialogue on a regular basis to discuss various matters.

The dialogue process was continuing and top leadership of India and Pakistan was engaged in carrying forward peace process.

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Brajesh, Abid on ORF board
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Brajesh Mishra, former principal secretary to the Prime Minister and national security adviser, and Abid Hussain, former ambassador to the USA, have joined the board of trustees of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

An ORF press note today quoted R.K. Mishra, chairman, as saying that their induction would help the ORF acquire greater depth in policy research in its focus areas like international affairs, defence security and energy.

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9 revellers meet watery grave

Kaushambi, April 10
A picnic turned tragic today when nine persons, including three children, met a watery grave when one of them fell into the Yamuna while playing on its banks and the rest jumped to rescue him in this district neighbouring Allahabad.

Eighteen persons, who had come here from Allahabad to attend an engagement ceremony had gone to the riverside on a picnic when the incident occurred in the afternoon, Superintendent of Police R. P. Singh said. He said the children were playing on the banks of the river when one of them fell into it and 17 others jumped to rescue him.

Singh said while nine swam to safety, nine others, including three sons of Mohammad Aslam, were drowned.

Three sons of Mohammad Aslam were also drowned in the mishap, the SP said, adding that though some Pakistani guests of the family had also gone on picnic, none were reported missing. — PTI

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Report on child abuse released
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 10
Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury said yesterday that the issue of child abuse should be placed on the national agenda.

Releasing a report on the national study on child abuse, the minister said the government, society and communities needed to work towards creating a protective environment for children.

The study has been conducted by the Women and Child Development Ministry with the help of UNICEF, Save the Child and a Delhi-based voluntary organisation.

Chowdhury said her ministry had taken significant measures such as enabling legislation to set up the national and state commissions for the protection of rights of the child and the Integrated Child Protection Scheme.

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IPS officer suspended for illegal rail travel
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 10
Not only the law-breakers, law makers too are not above the law under the promised good governance by the new dispensation in Bihar.

This was evident when the Nitish government suspended the Commandant of the Bihar Military Police (BMP), Katihar, H.N. Deva, on charges of travelling on unauthorised pass in Bangalore.

Home secretary Afzal Amanullah said investigation proved that Deva misused his position to travel on the pass.

A 1993-batch IPS officer, Deva, was caught travelling on the railway pass of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Arshad Zaman, in Bangalore on August 30 last year. He was fined Rs 3,713 and was released after furnishing a bail bond of Rs 25,000. 

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SC nod to cases against Dalmias

New Delhi, April 10
The Supreme Court today gave the green signal for filing of criminal cases against prominent industrialists Sanjay Dalmia and Anurag Dalmia, besides three others of Dalmia Industries Ltd in a cheque bounce case involving over Rs 90 lakh.

A Bench of Justices S.B. Sinha and Markandeya Katju today allowed the appeal of Everest Advertising, which had sought registration of criminal cases against the Dalmias under the Negotiable Instruments Act.

Senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the Dalmias, had stated that the petition should be dismissed as chairpersons, directors and other senior functionaries of a company cannot be held criminally liable in such cases.

He argued that since the complainant did not make any specific allegation on the role of the Dalmias in the alleged cheque dishonour case, they cannot be held criminally liable.

The complainant Everest Advertising through its general power of attorney Sudheer Kohli had sought criminal proceedings against chairman Sanjay Dalmia, vice-chairman Anurag Dalmia, director N.K. Pandita, executive director Vishnu Sharma and senior general manager R.K. Gupta. — PTI

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Order against judge for misusing official house upheld

New Delhi, April 10
Observing that a judge could be dismissed for letting out his official residence, the Delhi High Court has upheld the Lt Governor's order asking a Sessions Judge to go on compulsory retirement about two years ago.

A Division Bench of Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice H.R Malhotra, in an order has said the act of letting out the official bungalow in Gulabi Bagh by Additional Sessions Judge L.S Solanki amounted to the violation of the code of conduct for a judge.

Dismissing a petition filed by Solanki challenging the Delhi Government's order, the Bench observed that Solanki had also concealed the fact that he had been receiving Rs 4,000 as rent from his own house in Badli village.

Acting upon a report in August 2005, the state government said the conduct of the judge was violative of Delhi Judicial Services and asked him to go on compulsory retirement. — PTI

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Dalit woman burnt to death

Nagpur, April 10
A 35-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly burnt to death after she refused to lend money to a man in Maharashtra’s Bhandara district.

Indubai Tandekar was allegedly doused with kerosene and set ablaze by Babulal Bhagat of different community, at Pachgaon village, 12 km from the district headquarters, on Saturday, SP Bhan Deva district Suresh Sagar told UNI.

Indubai later succumbed to her burn injuries in hospital.

In her dying declaration, she said Bhagat had asked her for money on loan to attend a wedding, when she refused, he set her afire, he said, adding, Bhagat has been absconding since then.

The accused and the woman had known each other for some time and Bhagat used to frequently visit Indubai’s home, Mr Sagar said.

An offence under Sections 3 (ii)(v) of the Atrocity Act and Sections 302 and 307 of the IPC has been registered, he added. — UNI

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15 die in jeep-tanker collision

Jaipur, April 10
Fifteen persons were killed when the jeep in which they were travelling collided with a tanker at Kirwa village under Pali district last evening, the police said today. According to the police, 12 persons, including six women, died on the spot, while three more succumbed to their injuries later at the Bangar hospital.

The deceased were on their way back home after paying obeisance at the Ramdevara temple in Jaisalmer district. The jeep carrying them collided with a tanker on the NH 15 at Kirwa under Guda Endala police station, the police said.

The victims belonged to Ahmedabad and their bodies have been handed over to the relatives after a post-mortem, they added. — UNI

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CBI files second chargesheet in Nithari case

Ghaziabad, April 10
The CBI today filed a second chargesheet in connection with the serial rape and murder of women and children in Nithari.

The second chargesheet was filed in the special designated court only against Surinder Koli, servant of another accused Moninder Singh Pandher, in connection with rape, murder and abduction of a girl Pinki Sarkar.

Koli, during his confessional statement, had admitted to killing Pinki. He has been chargesheeted for offences of criminal conspiracy to kidnap, rape and murder. He was also slapped an additional charge of destroying the evidence.

This is the second chargesheet in the grisly murder cases investigated by the agency. — PTI

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Justice Sethna quits

Ahmedabad, April 10
Controversial Gujarat High Court judge B.J. Sethna, who was involved in a scuffle with his senior colleague that led to his transfer to the Sikkim High Court, today tendered his resignation.

Citing “personal reasons”, the judge sent in his resignation to the President and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, his personal assistant S.A. Sheikh told reporters tonight.

Sethna was recently transferred to the Sikkim High Court following a recommendation by the Supreme Court with the apex court asking him to report on April 14. His colleague, P.B. Majumdar, with whom he was involved in the unprecedented incident, was shifted to the Rajasthan High Court.

Sheikh said no other reason was cited by Sethna while tendering his resignation.

Sethna reportedly manhandled Majumdar after an argument during their morning walk on January 11. — PTI

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Das is new DG of CISF

New Delhi, April 10
Mr Ranjit Kumar Das today took over as the new Director General of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

Das, a 1970 batch UP Cadre IPS officer, has served in state and Central Government in various capacities. Prior to joining CISF, he was posted in Intelligence Bureau as Special Director.

He has been decorated with Police Medal for meritorious service and with the President’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. — TNS

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Clash at Taj Mahal

Agra, April 10
The world-famous Taj Mahal witnessed an ugly scene when men from two central para military forces clashed over valid entry tickets.

The incident took place yesterday when Border Security Force (BSF) men on poll duty tried to gain entry inside the monument without valid tickets. When the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel deployed there refused to grant 350 BSF personnel free entry, a clash ensued at the western gate. — UNI

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