SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Violence at Sealdah railway station
Passengers cane-charged; trains delayed

Kolkata, May 5
Large-scale violence broke out at the Sealdah railway station after drivers, motormen and guards went on strike, which subsequently triggered passenger demonstrations, suspending the train services in the division for over six hours.

Amar Singh SP lashes out at Cong
New Delhi, May 5
Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh today lashed out at the Congress accusing it of helping the BJP to come to power in UP and declared his party’s opposition to Congress’s presidential candidate.

Law and order could prove to be SP’s undoing
Lucknow, May 5
While caste identity remains a dominant feature in Uttar Pradesh’s fragmented polity, the deteriorating law and order situation in the state will prove to be Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav’s undoing in the current assembly elections.



EARLIER STORIES


Farmers sit pensively on soaked grain bags of unpolished rice after unseasonal rain in the early hours of the morning at Bhongir Mandal, about 50 km from Hyderabad
Farmers sit pensively on soaked grain bags of unpolished rice after unseasonal rain in the early hours of the morning at Bhongir Mandal, about 50 km from Hyderabad, on Saturday. As many as 23,000 40-kg bags of rice were soaked in the unexpected rain — AFP

Chautala warns of farmer unrest on SEZ
New Delhi, May 5
Seeking to corner the Bhupinder Hooda government over its decisions relating to change in land use and SEZs, former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala today demanded termination of the SEZ Act and creating Manufacturing Investment Regions (MIRs) to boost employment and industry.

PM to file Rajya Sabha nomination on May 8
New Delhi, May 5
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is expected to file his nomination for the biennial election to the Rajya Sabha seat from Assam on May 8. He is likely to undertake a two-day visit to the state from May 8, sources informed.

PMO official accused of domestic violence by wife
New Delhi, May 5
Nearly 13 years after tying the nuptial knot, the wife of a senior PMO official has filed a criminal complaint in a court here alleging dowry harassment and domestic violence, a charge denied by him.

Death only hope for 70-year-old, 3 sons
Bhadrak (Orissa), May 5
An impoverished 70-year-old man and his three physically challenged sons have sought permission from the President of India to end their lives, saying there seemed to be little hope for the family.

Gallantry award for Navymen
Mumbai, May 5
Four Navy personnel, including two officers, have been selected for the prestigious ‘Indian Steamship Gallantry at Sea Award 2006’ for saving the lives of 27 people on board a sinking ship in the Arabian Sea last year.

Knowledge commission
Bhargava dropped as vice-chairman
New Delhi, May 5
P.M. Bhargava, who was at loggerheads with National Knowledge Commission chairman Sam Pitroda, has been dropped as vice-chairman of the high-profile body, which has been reconstituted.

Top ULFA leader killed
Guwahati, May 5
The Commander of the 27th battalion of the proscribed ULFA was killed by a joint team of army and Assam police following an encounter in Karbi Anglong hill district of Assam late last night.

3 killed in explosion in Nasik factory
Nasik, May 5
An explosion in a gelatin factory at Sinnar in this district today killed three persons and injured five, a senior official said. Nasik Collector S. Chokkalingam said three workers of the factory were killed and five injured in the blast that occurred at Premier Exploer Chemical Company in Harsule village, about 35 km from here, at 1.30 am.

CBI begins trial in police uniform scam
Patna, May 5
The history of scams in Bihar is not confided to the previous RJD regime alone. The designated CBI court has finally begun trial in the Rs 24.91 lakh police uniform scam of 1983-84 in the state.

‘No central probe into infants’ death in Kerala’
Thiruvananthapuram, May 5
In a relief to Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi who is under Opposition attack over infants’ deaths in a state-run hospital here, the union health ministry today discounted the possibility of sending a team to probe the issue.

Buddhadeb declines to reveal whether he offered to quit
New Delhi, May 5
In the backdrop of the agitation in Singur and Nandigram, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today declined to reveal whether he offered to resign from his post saying it is a “party secret”.

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Violence at Sealdah railway station
Passengers cane-charged; trains delayed
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 5
Large-scale violence broke out at the Sealdah railway station after drivers, motormen and guards went on strike, which subsequently triggered passenger demonstrations, suspending the train services in the division for over six hours.

All passenger, mail and long-distance trains through the station were stopped.

During the demonstrations, the RPF and the police lathi-charged passengers in the face of attack on station staff and railway property. Over 200 stranded passengers, including women and elderly people, were injured in the lathi-charge and related violence.

Physically challenged persons also became target of the RPF personnel.

The trouble arose around 11 am following the arrest of guard of Sealdah-bound budget local Monoj Mondal and its driver Dipak Sarker for refusing the railway magistrate at the Sealdah court Montu Mondal to board the guard’s cab at Lake Gardens station on his way to the court.

On reaching the court, Mondol issued a suo motu arrest order of the guard and the driver, which provoked other guards, drivers and motormen to begin the strike. They demanded the release of their arrested colleagues and the arrest of the magistrate.

They also demonstrated in front of the DRM’s office and gheraoed him and other senior officers.

Angry guards and drivers soon reached the adjoining Sealdah court and ransacked the magistrate’s office. A section of the passengers stranded at the station demonstrated at platforms and demanded the resumption of normal train services.

Irate passengers pelted the station premises with stones, and broke and ransacked the station master’s rooms and ticket counters.

The RPF and the railway police soon swung into action and beat up passengers. The passengers were also chased out of the station premises. Soon reinforcements came in and took control of the station.

Some trade union leaders and legal department officers initiated dialogue with the striking guards and drivers and resolved the crisis. The train services resumed after 4 pm following the release of the arrested guard and the driver.

The government has agreed to inquire into the magistrate’s action and take legal action against him.

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SP lashes out at Cong
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 5
Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh today lashed out at the Congress accusing it of helping the BJP to come to power in UP and declared his party’s opposition to Congress’s presidential candidate.

Addressing mediapersons on the penultimate day of campaigning in UP, Singh said Sonia Gandhi and her MP son Rahul Gandhi all through the poll campaign only targeted the SP and never said anything against the BJP, its leader A.B. Vajpayee and the BSP.”

“The Congress was in fact helping in the saffronisation of the country by conceding power to the BJP. The latest example is the return of the BJP to Uttarakhand, Delhi and Punjab,” the SP leader asserted.

Debunking the poll surveys, which predicted the BSP as the single largest party, Singh claimed that his party would have no difficulty in forming the government in the state.

“The people have seen BSP leader Mayawati and the BJP together for three times and they now know that they cannot do any good for the state,” he pointed out.

Seemingly rattled by the Congress’s attacks during the election in UP, the SP leader came down heavily on head of the UP Poll Campaign Committee, Kapil Sibal, for his attack on the SP and CM Mulayam Singh Yadav in connection with the Noida land scam.

“The fact is that the CM has nothing to do with these allotments. The allottees have been given plots out of the general quota, not out of the Chief Minister’s discretionary quota,” Singh claimed.

Moreover, he said Sibal should know that there were also Congressmen among the allottees.

Ruling out the SP’s support to a Congress candidate for the post of the president, Singh said we would back a CPM candidate.

At the same time, he also made it clear that if the CPM chose to support a Congress candidate, his party would not go with it.

“We are an independent party and not bound with what the CPM does,” Singh asserted.

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Law and order could prove to be SP’s undoing
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 5
While caste identity remains a dominant feature in Uttar Pradesh’s fragmented polity, the deteriorating law and order situation in the state will prove to be Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav’s undoing in the current assembly elections.

Law and order has been a key campaign issue in the month-long seven-phase election, which draws to a close next Tuesday and the SP-led government headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav has emerged as the chief villain in this crucial electoral battle.

The SP has become synonymous with criminal activity. “Goonda raj” and “Yadav raj” are invariably clubbed together as the SP’s main support base of Yadavs is held responsible for unleashing a reign of terror in the state.

While all key political players have been quick to exploit this issue in this election, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has been the most successful in presenting her party as the only political outfit capable of taking on the SP. Not only does she have a strong support base among the Dalits, but her personal reputation as a tough administrator is also working in her favour.

As one travels from Allahabad into the eastern tip of the state, traversing through Mirzapur, Bhadoi, Chandouli, Sonbhadra, Azamgarh, Jaunpur and Gorakhpur, the strong undercurrent of support for the “haathi” is hard to miss. People in the villages and ‘kasbahs’ of this region speak admiringly of how Mayawati cracked down on criminal elements when she was Chief Minister.

While the BSP retains its vice-like grip on the Dalits, sections of upper castes like Brahmins and Banias who have been victims of the SP’s “goonda raj” are also being drawn to Mayawati. Not only do they see her as a saviour, who can deliver them from the SP regime, but they see the Dalit outfit as a means of getting into power since the BSP has fielded a large number of Brahmins and Thakurs in this election. This support for the BSP comes with a clear rider. Brahmins are willing to vote the "haathi" provided the candidate belongs to their community.

The BSP is a constant factor in virtually all assembly segments in this region as the battle is invariably between the “haathi” and the others though there are exceptions like Varanasi and Gorakhpur where BJP is in the lead. The SP is fighting with its back to the wall and though it continues to enjoy the support of the Yadavs, it will not be enough to catapult it to the top slot.

Like the BSP, the BJP campaign has also focused on the SP’s poor track record in tackling crime but it has not been averse to stoking communal passions with its Hindutva agenda. Despite a slow start, the BJP is expected to make substantial gains in this region as it has the advantage of a well-oiled party machinery and the support of the RSS cadres.

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Chautala warns of farmer unrest on SEZ
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 5
Seeking to corner the Bhupinder Hooda government over its decisions relating to change in land use and SEZs, former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala today demanded termination of the SEZ Act and creating Manufacturing Investment Regions (MIRs) to boost employment and industry.

Addressing mediapersons in national capital in the backdrop of recurring violence in Nandigram, Chautala accused Hooda government of “cheating” people of the state and changing laws relating to land to “benefit” his friends and associates.

Warning of farmer unrest in the state, he said “The government has started working like a property dealer.”

The INLD leader said the government had liberalised the law which limited change in land use to eight kilometre outside the city. The government, he said, had also passed a legislation under which gram panchayats can “gift” land. Big industrial houses were using the new law to get resolutions passed by panchayats for transfer of land, Chautala added.

The former Chief Minister, accompanied by party leaders Ajay Chautala, Sampat Singh and MP Tarlochan Singh, sought cancellation of the planned SEZ near Gurgaon. He warned of agitation by farmers who, he said, had been paid “inadequate compensation” and were being told to give affidavits that the land acquired from them was not fertile.

Sampat Singh used a map to explain the proximity of the proposed SEZ by Reliance Industries Limited to the industrial area of Gurgaon and its closeness to IMT Manesar. Refuting claims by Hooda government about not having purchased land from farmers for the SEZ, Sampat Singh said nearly 1400 acres of the 1715 acre HSIDC plot had already been given to RIL for SEZ while the rest of the land was under litigation.

He said the SEZ had been planned initially in 25,000 acres of land in an area which yields three crops a year and which will be linked by an Express Highway.

Chautala said while land in Gurgaon for SEZ had fetched farmers a compensation of Rs 12.5 lakh per acre, HSIDC plots measuring four acre in IMT Manesar had been auctioned at Rs 72.5 crore per acre. “This is a huge land scam to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore,” he said.

“When farmers come to know that they had been cheated, violence worse than Nandigarm can happen,” he said, adding that some villages had not accepted the compensation.

Accusing the government of taking decisions to benefit RIL, he said the company had purchased 4,000 acre so far although the original agreement stipulated that it will purchase 75 per cent land. He said land should be returned to the farmers.

The INLD leader cited example of three villages where his government had given compensation of Rs 29 lakh in 2004. He accused the Hooda government of changing masterplan of Gurgaon to benefit some chosen people.

Maintaining that INLD had been raising its voice against the SEZ decisions of the Hooda government, Chautala said his party will “not tolerate them.”

He said a meeting of the office-bearers of the party will be held on May 14 to decide the strategy. “The farmers have been misled and cheated. We will fight against it,” he said.

Chautala said SEZs will not benefit the state exchequer due to various exemptions given to them. Asserting that he was in favour of any idea that boosted manufacturing and employment, Chautala suggested creating Manufacturing Investment Regions with focus on employment generation.

Replying to a query, Chautala said that there was no infertile land in Haryana.

He also said a third front will be formed as people wanted an alternative to both, the Congress as well as BJP led governments at the Centre. “It is the duty of leaders to provide an alternative in the form of a third front," he said.

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PM to file Rajya Sabha nomination on May 8
R. Suryamurthy/Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 5
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is expected to file his nomination for the biennial election to the Rajya Sabha seat from Assam on May 8.

He is likely to undertake a two-day visit to the state from May 8, sources informed.

Election for the seat represented by Manmohan Singh would be held on May 24.

The present tenure of Singh, who has been representing the North Eastern state for the last three terms after entering politics in the middle of 1991, expires on June 14.

He became the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha when he was elected for a third term in 2001 and two years later he became the Prime Minister after Congress president Sonia Gandhi declined to hold the post.

He has been a member of the AICC from Assam as well as Punjab.

Notification for the election for the seat will be issued on May 7. The last date of filing of nominations is May 14 and the papers will be scrutinised the next day.

The last date for withdrawal of candidature is May 17. Counting of votes will take place on May 24.

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PMO official accused of domestic violence by wife

New Delhi, May 5
Nearly 13 years after tying the nuptial knot, the wife of a senior PMO official has filed a criminal complaint in a court here alleging dowry harassment and domestic violence, a charge denied by him.

Shivani Kabra, who married IAS officer Shaleen Kabra in 1994, said in her complaint before a Delhi court that her husband used to often beat her up and she was constantly harassed by her in-laws before being thrown out of the house on April 10 this year.

Shaleen, now posted as Director in the PMO, allegedly demanded Rs 4 lakh to buy a car after he shifted to Delhi from Jammu and Kashmir in 2002, a demand vehemently objected to by Shivani who was then abused and beaten up, she said in her complaint.

Disputing the charge, the J&K cadre officer said his wife had left the house on her own and denied that she was not allowed to meet their two sons aged nine and four-and-a-half years. The children study in DSP School and she regularly meets them there, he contended.

Metropolitan Magistrate Sanjay Bansal in his order on May 1 granted temporary custody of the two children to Shivani.

“Having gone through the application (of Shivani) and hearing of both the parties, I am inclined to grant interim order for temporary custody to the applicant in view of the present factual circumstances,” the magistrate ruled.

The officer and his parents have been asked to file their detailed replies by July 2 when the matter will again come up.

Shivani filed the complaint under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. She had also sought custody of their two children, alleging that she was not being allowed to meet them.

She has also named her father-in-law Ram Parsan, mother-in-law Leelawati and sister-in-law Lata Soni as accused in the case.

Shivani alleged that within a month after their marriage in February, 1994, her in-laws started torturing her to bring more dowry despite her family meeting all their demands. She claimed that Rs 40 lakh was spent on the wedding. This included cash and jewellery given to her in-laws. — PTI

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Death only hope for 70-year-old, 3 sons

Bhadrak (Orissa), May 5
An impoverished 70-year-old man and his three physically challenged sons have sought permission from the President of India to end their lives, saying there seemed to be little hope for the family.

“With nobody to extend a helping hand, death is probably a wise option,” says Hakimuddin, a resident of Kamalpur village in Bhadrak district.

His three sons - Raffiuddin (35), Mayiuddin (33) and Mustaffa (30) - are stated to be suffering from a rare genetic disease, which weakens the limbs, since they were 15 years old. They have no money to seek treatment.

“Doctors at the district headquarters hospital couldn’t cure the disease. I have already spent all my money on their treatment. I don’t have the means to consult renowned physicians outside the state and even in the SCB Medical College at Cuttack. Nobody is coming forward to help me,” Hakimuddin said.

He and his wife have worked as daily wage labourers and managed to make ends meet for their seven-member family. Hakimuddin has so far dutifully looked after his three disabled sons.

“I do all their day-to-day work. But with my husband turning 70, it is very difficult for us to bear the responsibilities. He is now unable to work and many times we have to go without food at night,” said 58-year-old Kalsum Bibi, wife of Hakimuddin.

To add to their woe, their thatched house, which was partially damaged in the 1999 super-cyclone, is yet to be repaired.

“Surprisingly, in spite of being poor, they have not been included in the below poverty line list and have not been able to get a house under the Indira Awas Yojana,” said Mayinuddin Khan, a neighbour.

In spite of repeated requests, neither government officials nor local leaders have done anything for Hakimuddin’s family. Finally they have appealed for mercy death.

“In my letter to the President, Prime Minister and Chief Minister, I have urged them to take responsibility for my sons or else allow us to end our lives,” Hakimuddin said.

Asks Raffiuddin: “We are at the mercy of my parents. What will be our future after their death?” Bhadrak collector N.K. Burma admitted that a copy of their letter had reached his office.

“I had not come across their plea earlier. Now I will definitely go according to the provisions of government rules and regulations. Procedures to include the family in the poverty alleviation scheme have already been initiated,” he said.

This is the third time a family from Orissa has made such a plea, driven to desperation by poverty. Earlier, a family in Keonjhar and another in Nayagarh had sought the President’s nod for mercy death. — IANS

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Gallantry award for Navymen

Mumbai, May 5
Four Navy personnel, including two officers, have been selected for the prestigious ‘Indian Steamship Gallantry at Sea Award 2006’ for saving the lives of 27 people on board a sinking ship in the Arabian Sea last year.

The Directorate General of Shipping, which has instituted the award, has praised the “exemplary courage” shown by the officers, both of them Naval helicopter pilots and their two colleagues, in saving the lives, a Navy official said.

The awardees are Commanders Pravin Shankarrao Deshpande and Vishwanath Shrikant Kore, Winch Operator Jaiveer and Free Diver Balwan Singh.

On August 2 last year, after drifting dangerously close to two oil rigs in the Bombay High oil field, cargo vessel ‘MV OEL Vision’ sank barely 1.25 km away from an unmanned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) platform.

The vessel, which began drifting in the sea after its generators went off and the ship lost its propulsion, was on its way from Colombo to Pipava port in Gujarat. It sank after water entered it through a hole.

Attempts were made to tow the vessel but it couldn’t be done due to rough weather.

Deshpande and Kore, who piloted a Navy’s Sea King helicopter, rescued the entire crew of 27 members in the choppy sea.

“All the 27 officers and crew were evacuated one by one by the pilot and his associates,” a statement by Director General Shipping said.

“Both Deshpande and Kore are seasoned pilots who have undertaken various rescue and relief missions in the past,” the Navy official said. — PTI

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Knowledge commission
Bhargava dropped as vice-chairman

New Delhi, May 5
P.M. Bhargava, who was at loggerheads with National Knowledge Commission chairman Sam Pitroda, has been dropped as vice-chairman of the high-profile body, which has been reconstituted.

Pitroda will continue to head the commission, which will have P. Balram of the Indian Academy of Sciences and Sujatha Ramdorai, associate professor at the School of Mathematics at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, as new members.

They replace Bhargava and Andre Beteille. Beteille had earlier quit the commission on the reservation issue.

“I have got a note from the Planning Commission yesterday stating that the Prime Minister has reconstituted the National Knowledge Commission,” he said from Hyderabad.

Bhargava, believed to have differences with Pitroda, said he had to pay for being “honest and truthful. I am very relieved now”. The sparring between the top brass of the commission over the issue of commission’s recommendation on higher education reached a flashpoint recently when the matter landed in the Prime Minister’s Office. — PTI

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Top ULFA leader killed
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 5
The Commander of the 27th battalion of the proscribed ULFA was killed by a joint team of army and Assam police following an encounter in Karbi Anglong hill district of Assam late last night.

A police source informed that ‘commander’ of the 27th battalion of the ULFA, Rajiv Kalita alias Bipul Choudhury alias Biplab Choudhury, was killed in an encounter with a team of army and policemen at Sunpura under Howraghat police station of Karbi Anglong hill district.

The security personnel recovered one 9 mm pistol with 9 rounds of ammunition and a magazine of AK 47 assault rifle from the site of encounter. Atleast two other militants managed give a slip under the cover of darkness.

The police claimed that the slain ULFA commander was the mastermind behind January 6 explosion that killed seven persons including three policemen at Howraghat in Karbi Anglong.

Meanwhile, the army today issued a statement raising alarm that the ULFA had started using LPG cylinders to plant powerful improvised explosive devices (IEDs). One such device weighing about 40 kg was recovered by an army patrol party from Chikajan in Hukanpukhuri area of Tinsukia district of eastern Assam on May 3 last.

The IED was planted under a culvert and was placed inside an LPG cylinder. The Army spokesman Col Narendra Singh informed that the IED was potent enough to blow up to pieces, two big vehicles moving together.

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3 killed in explosion in Nasik factory

Nasik, May 5
An explosion in a gelatin factory at Sinnar in this district today killed three persons and injured five, a senior official said. Nasik Collector S. Chokkalingam said three workers of the factory were killed and five injured in the blast that occurred at Premier Exploer Chemical Company in Harsule village, about 35 km from here, at 1.30 am.

Thirteen persons were reported missing and a search was launched for them, the police said.

The police had earlier said that 15 persons were feared killed in the blast.

The three-storey factory collapsed due to the impact of the explosion.

Chhagan Bhujbal, who is Nasik’s guardian minister, said he had ordered a probe into the blast. — PTI

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CBI begins trial in police uniform scam
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 5
The history of scams in Bihar is not confided to the previous RJD regime alone.

The designated CBI court has finally begun trial in the Rs 24.91 lakh police uniform scam of 1983-84 in the state. The CBI judge Ram Shrestha Rai framed charges after 20 years of the probe yesterday against nine persons, including two retired IPS officials.

The Congress was in power in Bihar in 1983-84.

In the process, the court also dismissed the petition by the retired IPS officer, the then (IG), Ram Chandra Khan, seeking discharge in the case.

The other retired IPS official involved was Rajendra Sharma who was then functioning as commandant of the Bihar Military Police.

In 1983-84, Khan had sanctioned the said amount for purchase of uniforms, shoes, shocks, belts and badges for policemen attached to the Bihar Military Police. Later, sub-standard materials were allegedly found to have been supplied leading to the scam.

The probe was handed over to the CBI after the opposition then had raised a hue and cry.

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‘No central probe into infants’ death in Kerala’

Thiruvananthapuram, May 5
In a relief to Kerala Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi who is under Opposition attack over infants’ deaths in a state-run hospital here, the union health ministry today discounted the possibility of sending a team to probe the issue.

The central ministry also expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the state government on the issue.

Sreemathy also received strong support from her party, the CPM, which ruled out her resignation and criticised the direction of a local court to police to register a case against the minister and six others following the death of 38 newborn babies in the Sree Avittam Tirunal (SAT) Hospital, allegedly due to infection in the last few months.

Taking lessons from the development, the health department today announced a slew of measures for keeping maternity hospitals clean and hygienic and set up a 24-hour control room at SAT hospital. — PTI

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Buddhadeb declines to reveal whether he offered to quit

New Delhi, May 5
In the backdrop of the agitation in Singur and Nandigram, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today declined to reveal whether he offered to resign from his post saying it is a “party secret”.

“This is a party secret. I should not disclose it,” said Bhattacharjee when asked by NDTV whether he offered to resign from his post.

Asked if he expressed his feelings to party colleagues, he said “that part is over. I still feel bad but individual matters little. It is a mission. I have to carry.

“What I feel is not a question of an individual, it is a question of a mission, question of a party’s political programme.” — PTI

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