SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

UP FOR GRABS 2007
2 CRPF jawans arrested, 3 suspended for negligence
45 pc voting in last phase

Lucknow, May 8
In the last phase of polling, two jawans of the CRPF on poll duty were arrested today in Gorakhpur and Maharajganj for rape and attempt to rape. Three more CRPF personnel were suspended for dereliction of duty.
Voters wait in queue outside a polling booth in Ayodhya on Tuesday during the ongoing elections in Uttar Pradesh Voters wait in queue outside a polling booth in Ayodhya on Tuesday during the ongoing elections in Uttar Pradesh.
— Reuters photo

Left will keep BJP out of power in UP,
says CPI

Agra, May 8
With counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh Assembly poll just three days away, the CPI today said it along with other Left parties would strive to see that the BJP is kept out of power in the event of a fractured verdict.



EARLIER STORIES


A man looks at the private aircraft that lost control and damaged the wall of Devi Ahalaya airport in Indore on Monday night. The plane was carrying 10 passengers who were rescued safely.
All safe here too: A man looks at the private aircraft that lost control and damaged the wall of Devi Ahalaya airport in Indore on Monday night. The plane was carrying 10 passengers who were rescued safely. — PTI

BSP single largest party: exit polls
New Delhi, May 8
As the polling in staggered Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh drew to a close today, exit polls today projected a hung House with Mayawati-led BSP emerging as the single largest party but ruling Samajwadi Party recovering some ground pushing BJP to the third spot.

PM files papers for Rajya Sabha
Guwahati, May 8
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh arrived here today afternoon to file his nomination paper for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha election scheduled for May 24.

Mamata’s formula on Nandigram
Kolkata, May 8
Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee today offered a seven-point “compromise formula” for resolving the Nandigram crisis, which, she blamed, had been created by the CPM and the “arrogant Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee”.

Nandigram casts shadow over Bihar
Patna, May 8
After the Bhumi Bachao Committee of Bengal, it is the turn of Bhumi Bachao Kishan Sangharsh Samiti in Bihar. The only difference is that unlike Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress is siding with the Bhumi Bachao Committee, in Bihar it is the CPI.

Banks promise 13,000 cr credit flow in Bihar
Patna, May 8
The state-level meeting of nationalised commercial banks held here yesterday assured the deputy Chief Minister, in-charge of finance portfolio, Sushil Modi, to substantially increase their credit flow to the state for developmental work in the current fiscal.

Marina beach gets 5 cr for beautification
Chennai, May 8
Marina, the second longest beach in the world and one of the major tourist attractions in the city, would be beautified at a cost of Rs 5 crore during the current year. Announcing this in the state assembly during the reply for grants for his department, Tourism Minister N Suresh Rajan said many people both domestic and foreign, came to South India to visit the beaches.

Shahabuddin, Gujarat issues rock Parliament
New Delhi, May 8
For the second day today, Parliament was thrown into pandemonium with Congress and BJP members clashing over the Gujarat fake encounter killing issue leading to adjournment of both Houses twice in the pre-lunch session.

Sohrabuddin Killing
AP police denies involvement
Hyderabad, May 8
The Andhra Pradesh Police today refuted allegations that it had extended help to Gujarat Police in Sohrabuddin encounter case. The state DGP M.A Basith told reporters here that the local police had not given any official support to the Gujarat Police in the case.

‘Fake’ encounter by Army: Assam govt orders probe
Guwahati, May 8
Assam government has ordered a commissioner-level inquiry into the incident of killing of Budheswar Moran by the Army in Tinsukia district of Assam even as hundreds of people blocked NH-37 at Makum for the second day today in protest against the ‘fake encounter’ killing.
In video (56k)

Traders’s son rescued, 2 kidnappers killed
Lucknow, May 8
A 16-year-old boy, kidnapped here a week ago, was rescued today from a forest area in neighbouring Barabanki district following a gun-battle in which two of his abductors were killed by Special Task Force personnel.

SC reserves verdict on FIR against Modi
New Delhi, May 8
The Supreme Court yesterday reserved its verdict on a petition seeking registration of FIR against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly delivering communally inflammatory speeches during last Gujarat elections held in the background of post-Godhra riot scenario.

Hussain’s house: SC stays attachment order
New Delhi, May 8
The Supreme Court stayed the attachment of M F Hussain’s property today. The attachment order was issued by a judicial magistrate in Haridwar after Hussain failed to appear in a complaint case relating to the alleged portrayal of “Bharat Mata” in an obscene manner.

Mysore Lamps has no office, but IAS officer as MD
Bangalore, May 8
The government-owned defunct Mysore Lamps may not have any office or staff but it does have a senior IAS officer posted as its managing director. The IAS officer, who has been asking the government about the nature of his job since two months, has now held a meeting of the board of the company, which was attended by him alone.

LTTE threat: India to mobilise addl air assets
New Delhi, May 8
The government today decided to mobilise additional air assets in the south and step up surveillance following fears that LTTE could carry out aerial attacks on Indian nuclear facilities.

SIMI faces 179 cases
New Delhi, May 8
As many as 179 cases have been registered against the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in various states, the Lok Sabha was informed today. The cases were under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substances Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act, Arms Act, the Essential Services Act, etc.

Prem Bhatia memorial lecture
Market or civil society can’t replace govt: Rizvi
New Delhi, May 8
Emphasising that the government is and will remain central to society, Prof Gowher Rizvi of Harvard University said the discussion on reinvention or reconceptualisation of government was about better and more effective governance of society and not about replacement by the market or the civil society.

Punjab panel to study Knowledge Commission proposals
Chandigarh, May 8
The Punjab government has constituted a panel headed by the Chief Secretary to study the first report of the National Knowledge Commission and prepare an action plan for implementing its recommendations.

Close call for disaster management team
Dehra Dun, May 8
Even the disaster management experts could not ‘manage’ this mishap as the mock exercises turned out to be horribly wrong for them. It was a close shave for the experts of the National Disaster Management Authority when one of the helicopters in which they reached Uttarakashi district to carry out mock disaster management exercises today overturned at Matli helipad of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

Water, power crises unabated
Dehra Dun, May 8
Despite the presence of rich natural water resources, Uttarakhand is facing power and drinking water crises causing problems to the people of the hill state known as ‘Urja Pradesh’ on both fronts. As the problem of water and power scarcity continues unabated since the start of summer season.

Gritty woman auto driver sets an example
New Delhi, May 8
She is the only one among 53,000 in Delhi. In fact, Sunita Chaudhury (26) is most likely the only woman auto rickshaw driver in the entire North India. Sunita drives her auto on the Capital’s overcrowded roads with guts and skill that match those of her male counterparts.

Sunita Yadev the only woman autorickshaw driver in New Delhi. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Sunita Yadev the only woman autorickshaw driver in New Delhi

Shatrunash to provide testing ground for drones
Mumbai, May 8
Two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Nishant and Lakshya, would be tested during d‘Shatrunash’, the joint exercise by the Indian Army and the Air Force on Punjab's border with Pakistan beginning May 11. Sources say both the Army and the IAF are keen on inducting the UAVs or drones in large numbers as part of a technology- upgradation programme.

Baby boy stolen from hospital
Mumbai, May 8
A young woman disguised as a nurse entered a hospital run by the Mumbai MCand walked out with a three-day-old baby boy last evening, the police said today. The woman in her late 20s entered the children ward of the Sanjay Gandhi Municipal Hospital in suburban Jogeshwari and told baby’s mother Rita Jadhav that the child needed to be administered some tests.

FERA case: Romesh gets five-yr RI
New Delhi, May 8
Romesh Sharma, an alleged frontman of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was today sentenced to five years' rigorous imprisonment by a court here in an eight-year-old FERA violation case.

Video
Munnabhai at Cannes.
(56k)





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UP FOR GRABS 2007
2 CRPF jawans arrested, 3 suspended for negligence
45 pc voting in last phase
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 8
In the last phase of polling, two jawans of the CRPF on poll duty were arrested today in Gorakhpur and Maharajganj for rape and attempt to rape. Three more CRPF personnel were suspended for dereliction of duty.

Besides these two revolting incidents, the marathon seven-phase voting came to a close this evening without any major incident of violence or booth capturing. The average polling per cent today was registered at 45 per cent. The same area had registered 53.73 per cent polling during the last Assembly election in 2002.

In the first incident occurring in Dhuriapar assembly segment in Gorakhpur district, CRPF jawan Raj Kumar raped a minor girl near the polling station where he was on duty. He was not only suspended but an FIR under IPC 378and SC ST Act was also registered against him and he was put behind bars. Three of his colleagues were also suspended for dereliction of duty.

Principal secretary home K. Chandramauli, while regretting the incident, declared that speedy action against the guilty was ensured to restore the confidence of the voters.

In another incident in Maharajganj, another CRPF jawan Jai Sika went berserk and broke into a house. But he was overpowered when the woman of the house cried out for help. A case has been registered against the jawan, who was also suspended and arrested.

In Ambedkar Nagar, two persons were arrested when they were trying to vote on the basis of bogus ration cards. In one polling station at Kushinagar a complaint was registered against a candidate for trying to canvas inside the polling station.

Admitting that a report of 100 per cent voting had been received from booth number 138 in Ayodhya chief electoral officer A.K. Bishnoi said that the EC was looking into the matter.

Another 35 EVM related and 30 voter list - related complaints were received in an otherwise peaceful poll.

The highest polling percentage was reported from Jalalpur in Ambedkar Nagar district and the lowest at Bansgaon in Gorakhpur and Doaba in Ballia district.

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Left will keep BJP out of power in UP, says CPI

Agra, May 8
With counting of votes in Uttar Pradesh Assembly poll just three days away, the CPI today said it along with other Left parties would strive to see that the BJP is kept out of power in the event of a fractured verdict.

Addressing a press conference here, CPI national secretary D. Raja said as per exit poll there would be a fractured verdict in UP elections.

The CPI would support any government that was democratic and secular. "The BJP should be kept at bay and not allowed to play a sinister role in the formation of a government in UP".

Holding that communalism was a grave threat to the development of the country, he said the BJP had come to power in Punjab and Uttarakhand by "default".

Asked if his party supported Samajwadi Party chief and UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Raja said "we did not have any understanding with him. We worked against that government".

He said the UPA government had "failed" on agricultural front and farmers were distressed and were committing suicides in many parts of the country.

Raja said the CPI did not agree with the idea that Special Economic Zones were a must for economic development.

"The zones could be acceptable in special cases, with the size of plots not exceeding 400 hectares", he added.

Raja said the UPA government at the Centre should not take the Left support for granted and the National Executive of CPI would meet on May 19 and 20 to review the performance of the government.

This would be followed by discussions with other Left parties and then strong reminders would be given to the government that it had "failed" to address the problems of the masses, he added.

Raja said the main complaint of CPI and other Left parties was that the UPA government had "failed" to control inflation and give a better deal to farmers.

The CPI did not understand what the government meant by "moderating inflation" since the growth of GDP by 9.2 per cent was meaningless for the common man who was more concerned with the rising cost of his daily needs. — PTI

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BSP single largest party: exit polls

New Delhi, May 8
As the polling in staggered Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh drew to a close today, exit polls today projected a hung House with Mayawati-led BSP emerging as the single largest party but ruling Samajwadi Party recovering some ground pushing BJP to the third spot.

The surveys have projected only a marginal improvement in the position of Congress despite vigorous campaign by Rahul Gandhi.

According to the Star News-Nielsen Exit poll, SP may end up with 96 seats in the 402-seat Assembly while main opposition; BSP would be the single largest party with 137 seats.

It said BJP might end up with 108 with Congress way behind at 27, a marginal increase than their previous performance of 25 seats in 2002 elections.

The exit poll conducted by CNN-IBN and IE newspaper projected BSP with a seat share of 152 to 168 seats followed by SP with 145 seats and BJP ending at the third spot at 108 seats. — PTI

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PM files papers for Rajya Sabha
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 8
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh arrived here today afternoon to file his nomination paper for the forthcoming Rajya Sabha election scheduled for May 24.

An official source informed that Dr Singh is slated to file his papers to the returning officer, G.P. Das, at the latter’s office in Assam Assembly premises tomorrow. He will be accompanied by the AICC poll observers of the RS poll, Shivraj Patil and Motilal Vohra.

Meanwhile, union home minister Shivraj Patil, who arrived here earlier than Dr Singh, held a meeting with the 53 Congress legislators in the Congress Legislature Party office at the state Assembly complex today afternoon to fine tune the Congress strategy for the Rajya Sabha election.

The Congress is going to field only Dr Singh though election will be held for two Rajya Sabha seats on expiry of terms of the Prime Minister and BJP MP Indramoni Bora.

Patil is also scheduled to review the law and order situation in the state besides discharging his duty as AICC observer.

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Mamata’s formula on Nandigram
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 8
Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee today offered a seven-point “compromise formula” for resolving the Nandigram crisis, which, she blamed, had been created by the CPM and the “arrogant Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee”.

At a crowded press conference at her south Calcutta residence in the afternoon, Banerjee said they were sincerely wanting that peace and normalcy be restored at Nandigram and they were ready to attend the all-party meeting, provided it was sincere and meaningful. She said they were not against the industrialisation but certainly not at the cost of the livelihood of the poor people.

Banerjee alleged in the past on two occasions on january 8 and February 19, the TMC attended in the all-party meetings called by the Chief Minister. But soon after the meetings were over, no action had been taken on the decisions. On the contrary, more repressive measures were taken by the police at the instance of the Chief Minister. The CPM cadres were also allowed and encouraged to invade Nandigram and capture the area for their control.

She alleged that Bhattacharjee did not even hesitate to dishonour the commitments he made to the President and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about her withdrawal of the hunger strike on the 26th day of fasting against the forcible acquiring of farmlands for industries.

Nandigram problem but all political dialogues should also be made effective administratively.

Mamata’s compromise formula included:

(1) A CBI probe be conducted along with the peace-talk

(2) holding of a meaningful all-party meeting

(3) otherwise, the meeting be called by the governor

(4) the on-going terror activities by the CPM be stopped immediately at Nandigram;

(5) proper official notifications be issued by the government stating that no lands be acquired at Nandigram for Salim groups or any other industries

(6) the lands already forcibly acquired at Singur for Tata Motors be returned to the owners

(7) the criminal cases falsely registered against the Krishi Bachaoo Committee members and supporters be withdrawn forthwith and the affected people be adequately compensated and rehabilitated.

Referring to today’s incident of the Krishi Bacchaoo Committee’s attempt to break the Tata Motors’s boundary wall at Singur, Mamata said it was a spontaneous attempt by the evicted farmers to get back their lands. She warned the government that such attempts would be continued till a peaceful solution to their problems was reached.

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Nandigram casts shadow over Bihar
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 8
After the Bhumi Bachao Committee of Bengal, it is the turn of Bhumi Bachao Kishan Sangharsh Samiti in Bihar. The only difference is that unlike Bengal, where the Trinamool Congress is siding with the Bhumi Bachao Committee, in Bihar it is the CPI.

In what seemed to have put railway minister Lalu Prasad’s wagon-repairing factory project at Sonepur in Saran district in trouble is that the Patna High Court yesterday asked the railways to file an affidavit within two weeks explaining its moves to acquire fresh land in Sonepur for the factory, instead of opting for 2,200 acres of land, which had already been acquired for the Air Breaks Goods Coach project by it at Garhara yard in Begusarai 10 years back.

Besides the wagon-repairing factory, Lalu Prasad has also announced another electric locomotive factory for his Lok Sabha constituency in Chapra, which again falls under the Saran district.

The intervention by the division bench of Justice Narayan Roy and Justice J.N. Singh followed a recent Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Bhumi Bachao Kisan Sangharh Samiti, opposing the acquisition of fertile land for railways project. Further hearing on this issue will take place after two weeks.

Interestingly, former CPI MP from Balia in Begusarai Shatrughan Prasad Singh and others filed an intervening petition in support of the PIL.

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Banks promise 13,000 cr credit flow in Bihar
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 8
The state-level meeting of nationalised commercial banks held here yesterday assured the deputy Chief Minister, in-charge of finance portfolio, Sushil Modi, to substantially increase their credit flow to the state for developmental work in the current fiscal.

Modi said against a little over Rs 8,000 crore credit flow in the last fiscal, the branches of commercial banks in Bihar have fixed up a target of over Rs 13,000 crore credit disbursement in the current fiscal.

Besides, the banks have also agreed to disburse Rs 1,000 crore for educational loans this fiscal.

“For educational loan up to Rs 4 lakh, banks will not insist for collateral security,” Modi informed.

The positive attitude of the banks towards Bihar was reportedly in the backdrop of the record deposits of Rs 56,000 crore in the last fiscal. “This was again a jump by Rs 14,000 crore against Rs 42,000 crore deposits in the past,” Modi said.

Modi, however, insisted to hike the credit-deposit ratio to at least 40 per cent to foster economic growth against the prevailing 33 per cent.

Explaining the reasons behind the changing attitude of the banks, Modi claimed that in 2006-07 the ruling NDA in Bihar spent over Rs 8,000 crore under various plan heads, which was one third of the total Rs 25,000 crore being spent by the previous RJD regime in past 15 years between 1990 and 2005.

Modi promised to spend another Rs 25,000 crore under various plan heads, including roads, power, education and health sectors, in the next three years to remove the underdeveloped tag attached to the state.

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Marina beach gets 5 cr for beautification

Chennai, May 8
Marina, the second longest beach in the world and one of the major tourist attractions in the city, would be beautified at a cost of Rs 5 crore during the current year.

Announcing this in the state assembly during the reply for grants for his department, Tourism Minister N Suresh Rajan said many people both domestic and foreign, came to South India to visit the beaches.

''Keeping this in mind, the Tamil Nadu government has proposed to develop and promote beaches in the state both at national and international levels,’’ he added.

In the first phase Marina Beach would be taken up for development at a cost of Rs 5 crore during 2007-08'', he announced.

Suresh Rajan said with a view to increasing the number of tourists and as part of promoting pilgrimage centres, the government would produce films to develop and promote the "Navagraha" circuit and Arupadai Veedugal circuit (the six abodes of Lord Muruga).

He said the temple city of Srirangam, the seat of Lord Vishnu and one of the 108 “Divya Desams” of Vaishnavite sects, would be developed under destination development scheme at a cost of Rs 5 crore. The temple tower of Sri Ranganathaswamy at Srirangam was one of the largest in India.

The Minister said the script for establishment of Sound and Light Show in the Lord Brahadeeswarar Temple (also called "Big Temple") at Thanjavur was prepared. After getting permission from the Archaeological Survey of India, the tourism ministry would start implementing it.

Suresh Rajan said the government would also introduce "Hop on Hop Off" tour in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu and the Gateway to South India. For the benefit of tourists, the tour would be implemented in association with the State Transport Corporation. Under this, the tourist could board the bus at any location and get off at any spot convenient for seeing tourist attractions.

There would not be any fixed time schedule and the tourists could spend as much time as they require at any tourist attraction.

Considering the increase in number of both domestic and foreign tourists, the government had decided to set up a Sculptor Park at Poonjeri in the tourist spot of Mamallapuram for the benefit of tsunami affected sculptors and artisans at a cost of Rs 10 crores. — UNI

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Shahabuddin, Gujarat issues rock Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
For the second day today, Parliament was thrown into pandemonium with Congress and BJP members clashing over the Gujarat fake encounter killing issue leading to adjournment of both Houses twice in the pre-lunch session.

While the Question Hour could not be taken up in the Lok Sabha, as the Congress, Left allies and Samajwadi Party demanded removal of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, in Rajya Sabha trouble started during the Zero Hour.

As Speaker Somnath Chatterjee did not allow them to raise the issue during Question Hour, noisy scenes broke out and Samajwadi Party member stormed the Well raising slogans against Modi. The House was then adjourned till noon.

When the House re-assembled, the BJP-led opposition trooped again into the Well demanding resignation of RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin, who was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Siwan court in a kidnapping case.

Seeing the turmoil, the Speaker adjourned the House again for two hours.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed uproar over the Gujarat issue and had to be adjourned for 45 minutes during Zero Hour.

As Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat allowed Leader of the Opposition Jaswant Singh to speak, agitated Congress members sprang to their feet and wanted the House to take up the Gujarat issue first.

While the Congress, supported by Left, Rashtriya Janata Dal and Samajwadi Party MPs, demanded an immediate discussion on the Gujarat fake encounter, BJP members, led by S.S. Alhuwalia, protested that they would not be dictated to.

Shekhawat reminded the Treasury members that the decision to allow Jaswant Singh to speak was taken earlier.

“If you want to set a precedent - when the Leader of the Opposition will not be given a chance to speak - then that is a very wrong precedent,” he said.

This triggered noisy protests from Opposition benches with BJP members rushing into the Well. As noisy scenes continued, the House was adjourned.

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Sohrabuddin Killing
AP police denies involvement
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 8
The Andhra Pradesh Police today refuted allegations that it had extended help to Gujarat Police in Sohrabuddin encounter case. The state DGP M.A Basith told reporters here that the local police had not given any official support to the Gujarat Police in the case.

"If any policeman rendered any help in his personal capacity or committed any illegal act, it is his responsibility and we will take action after receiving reports from Gujarat," the DGP said.

He said action would be taken if any policeman from the state was found to be involved in the operation.

Sohrabuddin and his wife were picked up by Gujarat policemen from a bus carrying them from Hyderabad to Sangli in Maharashtra in November 2005, after intercepting the vehicle in Karnataka.

Gujarat government had disclosed to the Supreme Court that armed men of anti-terrorist squad (ATS) and Andhra Pradesh Police were allegedly involved in the killings of Sohrabuddin and his wife.

The DGP pointed out that the kidnapping of Sohrabuddin and his wife Kausar bi did not occur within AP border. The AP police had also not received any official communication from Gujarat Police seeking assistance in nabbing them.

Maintaining that neither the action taken report, filed by Gujarat government in the Supreme Court, nor the affidavit of Sohrabuddin's brother made any mention of the involvement of AP police in the fake encounter, the DGP said he would wait for investigations to be completed before taking any action.

He said though it was a normal practice for the police to extend assistance to their counterparts from other states, but in this particular case neither was any request received nor was any help rendered. He said the department had already conducted an internal inquiry but nobody had come forward to say that he provided any assistance.

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‘Fake’ encounter by Army: Assam govt orders probe
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 8
Assam government has ordered a commissioner-level inquiry into the incident of killing of Budheswar Moran by the Army in Tinsukia district of Assam even as hundreds of people blocked NH-37 at Makum for the second day today in protest against the ‘fake encounter’ killing.

The Army had claimed that ULFA militant Budheswar Moran had been killed in an ‘encounter’ in the early hours of May 6 at a place called Laopatty under Talap police station in Tinsukia district.

However, local villagers raised a hue and cry over the killing stating that Budheswar Moran, who is survived by his young wife and two minor children, including a 3-month-old baby, was not an ULFA militant but a watchman in a local tea estate.

Enraged over the ‘fake encounter’ killing by the Army, hundreds of villagers came out on the roads yesterday to block the highway that links Assam to four districts of Arunachal Pradesh via Tinsukia district. The protest continued for the second day today.

Meanwhile, the banned ULFA informed media houses here that Budheswar Moran was not a member of the outfit and was falsely branded as ULFA cadre by the Army.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has directed the eastern Assam commissioner Hemanta Narzary to conduct an inquiry into the killing of Budheswar Moran even as protesters demanded a judicial probe into the incident.

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Traders’s son rescued, 2 kidnappers killed

Lucknow, May 8
A 16-year-old boy, kidnapped here a week ago, was rescued today from a forest area in neighbouring Barabanki district following a gun-battle in which two of his abductors were killed by Special Task Force personnel.

The STF team of the UP Police raided an outhouse in a forest near Ganeshpur village and rescued Mohit, son of a city-based cloth merchant Purushottam Chandnani, after an encounter, state police chief G L Sharma told reporters here.

Two of the kidnappers were gunned down during the encounter, he said, adding that combing operations were on to nab the other kidnappers.

Some weapons were also recovered from the possession of the kidnappers, who had demanded Rs 50 lakh in ransom.

“Mohit is safe and sound and has been handed over to his parents,” Sharma said and added that a cash reward of Rs 70,000 had been announced for STF team involved in the operation.

The boy was kidnapped from the posh Aliganj area in the state capital on May 1. The kidnappers rammed their car into the scooter in which the boy was riding pillion while on his way to school with his father. They also fired in the air to scare away the morning walkers before kidnapping Mohit.

Four policemen, including the SHO of Aliganj police station, were suspended and SP Transgomti Jagjit Singh was transferred last week for alleged negligence in handling of the case. — PTI

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SC reserves verdict on FIR against Modi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 8
The Supreme Court yesterday reserved its verdict on a petition seeking registration of FIR against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly delivering communally inflammatory speeches during last Gujarat elections held in the background of post-Godhra riot scenario.

But a three-judge Bench, headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat indicated that it at the most could issue a direction that whosoever was aggrieved with the speeches, could approach the court of a magistrate concerned in Gujarat and file a complaint for registering the FIR as provided under Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

The Magistrate would examine the material as per the provisions of Section 156 or 200 of the CrPC as the case may be and issue an appropriate direction to the Police.

The indication was given on the face of stiff objection to entertaining a PIL on the issue of registering FIR by Gujarat Government counsel Mukul Rohtagi, saying that it would set a bad precedence of examining every election speech of politician.

Despite giving the indication on the nature of the verdict, the apex court reserved it for giving a detailed reasoning judgement as an important question of law was involved whether PIL has any role in the registeration of FIR.

At the most if any one was aggrieved, remedy for him was open for filing an election petition against the Chief Minister, he argued.

The PIL for filing of FIR was moved by Mumbai-based theatre personality Aleque Padamsee, whose counsel said that a complaint for registering the FIR against Modi filed with Azad Nagar police station in Mumbai in 2002 but the Maharashtra DGP had sent it to his counterpart in Gujarat, who failed to take any action on it.

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Hussain’s house: SC stays attachment order
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 8
The Supreme Court stayed the attachment of M F Hussain’s property today. The attachment order was issued by a judicial magistrate in Haridwar after Hussain failed to appear in a complaint case relating to the alleged portrayal of “Bharat Mata” in an obscene manner.

A Bench of Justices B.N. Agrawal and P.P. Naolekar passed the stay order on a petition filed by Hussain, through his counsel Akhil Sibal, who made a special mention of it and sought a stay on the attachment of the artist’s Mumbai house.

The 90-year-old painter, who has been living in a self-imposed exile in London, had approached the apex court after the attachment order hit the headlines.

He has also sought transfer of his case from Haridwar court to Patiala House in New Delhi, where he is facing trial in over 10 other cases pertaining to the “nude painting of Hindu goddesses”.

All these cases were transferred to Patiala House from different parts of the country. They were filed mostly by activists of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal.

The latest case of “nude painting of Bharat Mata” was filed by an advocate in Hardiwar court. While accepting Hussain’s petition for the hearing, the court sought replies from the Uttrakhand Government and the Hardiwar lawyer who filed the latest case against him.

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Mysore Lamps has no office, but IAS officer as MD
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 8
The government-owned defunct Mysore Lamps may not have any office or staff but it does have a senior IAS officer posted as its managing director. The IAS officer, who has been asking the government about the nature of his job since two months, has now held a meeting of the board of the company, which was attended by him alone.

IAS officer M.N. Vijay Kumar told The Tribune he had written a letter to the principal secretary to the Chief Minister requesting him to inform the board of directors of the company to attend the meeting held yesterday one month in advance. He said since there was no response and no one came to attend the meeting it was interpreted that the MD was the sole member of the board and authorised to take decisions on agenda items.

The “meeting” held at the residence of the IAS officer pinpointed steps that could be taken to revive the company. However, the fact that the state government had told the court that the company could not be revived was also taken note of. The meeting, Vijay Kumar said, also highlighted the fact that at present there was no infrastructure to carry on day to day management.

Mysore Lamps has been locked up and at present there are only six security guards posted on the premises to guard the material inside it. Vijay Kumar does not have any office, supporting staff nor are there any officers under him even though he was appointed MD of the company two months ago.

The IAS officer, who has been transferred six times in the last six months, is, however, not one to rest with just holding the “meeting” of the board. He has signed the minutes of the meeting and forwarded the same to the government for “action”.

The IAS officer had on appointment to his current post asked the department to propose the terms and conditions of deputation so that he can do something to revive the closed company. With nothing forthcoming from the government, Vijay Kumar approached the commerce and industries department and the personnel department to get answers to his queries through the RTI Act. When this also did not get any response, he filed an appeal in the Karnataka Information Commission, which asked the government to look into the matter.

Vijay Kumar was posted as the regional commissioner of Gulbarga in September 2006. On October 26, 2006, he was made principal secretary to the minorities department. On October 27, 2006, he was sent back to Gulbarga. On February 3, 2007, he was posted as Bangalore regional commissioner. On February 24, 2007, he was again transferred as principal secretary to the department of public enterprises. Again the decision to appoint him as principal secretary too was reversed before he could take charge.

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LTTE threat: India to mobilise addl air assets 
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, May 8
The government today decided to mobilise additional air assets in the south and step up surveillance following fears that LTTE could carry out aerial attacks on Indian nuclear facilities.

The decision to move more fighters and surveillance systems to the south was taken at a high-level meeting here chaired by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, a day after Sri Lanka said there was a possibility of LTTE conducting air attacks, sources said.

Among those who attended the meeting included Defence Minister A K Antony, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, Air Chief F H Major and Naval Chief Sureesh Mehta.

India has so far underplayed the LTTE’s recent air strikes on Sri Lankan army bases and has aired concerns primarily on “the humanitarian consequences.”

The meeting also decided to intensify the vigil by Naval warships deployed in the Indian Ocean, particularly using Airborne Early Warning aircraft.

Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary Palitha Kohona had yesterday gone on record saying that there was a possibility of LTTE carrying out air strikes on nuclear installations in India besides the shipping interests in the Indian Ocean.

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SIMI faces 179 cases

New Delhi, May 8
As many as 179 cases have been registered against the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in various states, the Lok Sabha was informed today. The cases were under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substances Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act, Arms Act, the Essential Services Act, etc.

These cases were at different stages of trial in the courts, minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal said, in reply to written questions. Under the MPF Scheme, the states have been categorised into “A” and “B” Categories with 100 per cent and 75 per cent Central funding,. Jammu and Kashmir and seven northeastern states have been classified as “A” category states in view of problems of insurgency, militancy and terrorism. — UNI

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Prem Bhatia memorial lecture
Market or civil society can’t replace govt: Rizvi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
Emphasising that the government is and will remain central to society, Prof Gowher Rizvi of Harvard University said the discussion on reinvention or reconceptualisation of government was about better and more effective governance of society and not about replacement by the market or the civil society.

“Aspiration for democratic government is almost universal and the expectations of the citizens have changed and they want a government that is responsive to their needs and wishes,” observed Prof Rizvi, director of the Ash Institute of Democratic Governance and Innovation, delivering the 12th Prem Bhatia Memorial lecture on the theme “Government in the 21st Century: Some challenges of governance and democracy in India” here this evening.

Stressing that an awakened and empowered citizenry considers the business of governance too important to be left entirely to the government, Prof Rizvi said they wanted the government to enable them to do the things they want. “Free and easy flow of information means that citizens no longer depend on the government as a source of information - censorship, the most potent instrument of tyrants is obsolete - and the growth of an informed public has increased the pressures on governments to be more accountable and transparent”.

He said it was naive to think that the government could be supplanted by the market or the civil society but this did not mean that many of the functions historically performed by the government could not be transferred to the market. In a competitive environment the market could be both cheaper and more effective than the government in providing certain types of services. At the same time markets operated for profit and must be regulated to decrease excesses.

Unlike the market, governments have a broad responsibility towards their citizens. The government could gnore the weak, the vulnerable, the unemployed, the sick and the destitute. They had a responsibility towards all of them as the guarantor of social justice.

Prof Rizvi firmly held that “it is also clear that if the government is to regain popular trust then it must not only become smarter, flexible and more innovative but it must also proactively advance social justice. The focus of the government and reinvention must put social justice at the heart of the discourse on governance. The crisis of governance is real and just tinkering on the edges will not suffice”.

In the new governance paradigm reflecting the changed circumstances resulting from economic liberalisation, technological advances and the rise of market ideology, the governments are moving away from being operational agencies to regulatory authorities. This had indeed made governments nimble, cost effective and responsive. The governments now recognised that the appropriate role of the state was to regulate, facilitate and create an enabling environment that fostered development but did not stifle initiative and enterprise, leaving citizens the room to manage and shape their own communities.

Prof Rizvi said the efficiency of the government in itself was not enough to legitimise the role and authority of the government, and nor did it adequately address the concerns of those who remain outside the domain of the market.

He said economic liberalisation and the shift to market economy showed that it had brought little cheer to the poor. From the perspective of the poor, reliance on the market had led to distorted development and further impoverishment. However, the inability of the government to tackle poverty was not due to any inherent defect of democracy but rather it was due to the weaknesses of political institutions and processes, which had largely excluded the poor and vulnerable groups. The poor or poorer because they were not empowered enough to establish their entitlements. Evidence suggested that even democratic governments were constrained by the powerful elite and interest groups.

Noting that entrenched groups would resist any attempts by the government to alter the existing power structure, he said on the other hand the poor were largely unorganised and could not be mobilised easily despite their large numbers.

“The government faced with the conflicting demands of the articulate sections and the voiceless poor has often sought safety by siding with the powerful. From the perspective of the poor the combination of the failure of the government and the market has led to distorted development in which the rich have become richer and the poor poorer”.

Prof Rizvi said unlike the market, the government could not ignore its citizens just because they were poor. The poor to be able to enforce their political and economic entitlement had to be empowered. This calls for mobilisation, community organisation, advocacy and training and building human capacity. “The government could not abdicate its responsibilities to the market, and if India is to keep its tryst with destiny, it must make its democratic institutions work for the poor as it has done for the others,” Prof Rizvi added.

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Punjab panel to study Knowledge Commission proposals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The Punjab government has constituted a panel headed by the Chief Secretary to study the first report of the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) and prepare an action plan for implementing its recommendations.

The first meeting of the panel will be held on May 10. Panel members include the secretary, department of planning, vice-chancellors of various universities, R.P. Bambah, former vice-chancellor of Panjab University, R.K. Verma, Director, Information Technology, N.S. Tiwana, Executive Director, Punjab State Council for Science and Technology, and the principal secretary, department of higher education.

The NKC was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, under the chairmanship of Sam Pitroda, “to prepare a blueprint to tap into the enormous reservoir of our knowledge base so that our people can confidently face challenges of the 21st century.”

The NKC’s ‘Report to the Nation 2006’ makes several recommendations, categorised under Libraries, Translation, Language, Knowledge Network, Right to Education, Vocational Education, Higher Education, National Science and Social Science Foundation and E-Governance.

Under Libraries, recommendations include the setting up of a National Commission on Libraries, a Central Library Fund, a national census of all libraries, revamping of education, training and research in library and information services, and modernisation programmes.

Under Translation, recommendations include providing an impetus for translation as an industry, creating and maintaining various tools for translation, translation of all pedagogic materials, specifically in natural and social sciences and the setting up a national web portal on translation. “A National Translation Mission performing these activities could be set up during the 11th plan, with a proposed budget of Rs 250 crore…” the report says.

Under Language, the key recommendation is that English language teaching should be augmented and its reach widened, recognising that “an understanding and command of the English language is a most important determinant of access to higher education, employment possibilities and social opportunities.”

The idea of a Knowledge Network is to connect, with gigabyte capabilities, “all universities, libraries, laboratories, hospitals and agricultural institutions to share data and resources across the country.” The purpose “goes to the very heart of the country’s quest to build quality institutions with requisite research facilities and to create a pool of highly trained persons.”

NKC has envisioned a 'Right to Education Bill' for providing universal access to quality school education as a cornerstone of development. It stresses the need for central legislation in this regard and has promised a broader set of recommendations on school education in the near future.

On Higher Education, a much-publicised recommendation has been the need to create at least 1500 more universities nationwide, enabling a gross enrolment ratio of at least 15 per cent by 2015.

The National Science and Social Science Foundation the NKC has envisioned is aimed at ensuring that all knowledge is looked at as a “seamless entity.” The foundation’s task will be “to make India a leader in the creation and use of new knowledge in all areas of natural, physical, agricultural, health, and social sciences, with emphasis on those areas which cut across traditional disciplines.”

On E-Governance, the NKC believes that it is “more about an opportunity for administrative reforms than merely about electronics and information technology and infrastructure.” Governance should aim for “simplicity, transparency, productivity and efficiency.”

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Close call for disaster management team
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, May 8
Even the disaster management experts could not ‘manage’ this mishap as the mock exercises turned out to be horribly wrong for them.

It was a close shave for the experts of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) when one of the helicopters in which they reached Uttarakashi district to carry out mock disaster management exercises today overturned at Matli helipad of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). According to reports, nobody was hurt in the mishap.

Three experts, including Prof N. Vinod Chander Menon, Lt Gen J.R. Bhardwaj (retd) and Brig B.M. Khanna (retd), along with principal secretary, Disaster Management Uttarakhand, N.S. Naplichiyal flew to Uttarkashi in two Air Force helicopters to supervise the mock exercises. As they went about their task, strong winds blowing at a speed of nearly 100 km overturned one of the helicopters at the helipad, damaging its rotors.

Subsequently, the team had to cancel their visit to Chamoli district due to the accident and bad weather conditions. They returned to Dehra Dun by road.

This was the first day of a series of such exercises to be carried out in disaster-prone districts of the state to ascertain the preparedness in case of a natural disaster.

NDMA along with the state government, the Army, the ITBP, the Air Force and the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB), are involved in these exercises, which would be carried out in Pithoragarh and Bageshwar districts of Kumaon region next week.

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Water, power crises unabated

Dehra Dun, May 8
Despite the presence of rich natural water resources, Uttarakhand is facing power and drinking water crises causing problems to the people of the hill state known as ‘Urja Pradesh’ on both fronts.

As the problem of water and power scarcity continues unabated since the start of summer season, the state unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) highlighted the public woes by organising a dharna at Gandhi Park here today. Notably, this was the first protest on the issue since the formation of BJP government about two months back.

Even as Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri termed the problem as the legacy of the previous Congress government, which failed to generate even one megawatt of additional power during its tenure, state NCP president Suyrakant Dhasmana while addressing the protesters alleged the BJP government turned out to be equally callous.

Since becoming the Chief Minister, Khanduri had declared there would be no power cuts but undeclared regular cuts of 3 to 8 hours were being imposed in various parts of the state. Similarly, about 70 per cent areas in the capital city of Dehra Dun were reeling under drinking water crisis. The residents of Karanpur, Old Dalanwala, EC Road, Subhash Road, Balbir Road, Vijay Park, Dhamawala, Lunia Mohalla, Imanullah Building were having hard time getting drinking water supply. Dhasmana also alleged that water crisis was deepening even in high altitude areas where people have to walk miles to get water. — TNS

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Gritty woman auto driver sets an example
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
She is the only one among 53,000 in Delhi. In fact, Sunita Chaudhury (26) is most likely the only woman auto rickshaw driver in the entire North India.

Sunita drives her auto on the Capital’s overcrowded roads with guts and skill that match those of her male counterparts. Her day begins at 7 am and ends at midnight. To earn an average of Rs 500 per day, she makes several trips in the day. Having fought for self-respect and safety, her only concern now is to do well in life. “My aim is to earn money so that quality of my life improves. There is no time for anything else,” she adds

She has a place in Malviya Nagar and is paying instalments for a flat in NOIDA. But is not afraid of spending a night in her auto at the railway station if she has to. She also talks of her ambition to acquire a heavy vehicle licence and eventually own a bus or a truck.

And no, she is not afraid of anyone, even indulges in small fights on the road if she has to. “ If there are problems, I sort them out in my way,” she adds.

Since she first hit streets of Delhi in 2003, she has got used to probing questions and answers them with elan. Her feel-good story has found place in foreign media as well. “There was initial hesitation and some autowallahas even harassed me, but now they have got used to me and even help me out. They know that I am here to stay”.

As far as passengers are concerned, there have been no issues except for some natural curiosity. Like any other autowallah, she takes care of mechanical problems in her auto herself. And to ward of any serious attacks on notorious Delhi roads, she has a black belt in judo.

Sunita has even dabbled in politics and fought and lost Assembly elections and campaigned for her party in Punjab. Why politics? “Because of the power it would give me to help others,” she adds.

Her life story, which could have been like that of any other Indian woman from an obscure village in Uttar Pradesh, is quite extraordinary. Married at 13, harassed by her husband and in-laws for dowry, she decided to run away from home after a fight.

She took a train to Delhi when she was just 14. She knew no one in the big city, had no money or friends and was also pregnant. For a few months she lived in an orphanage and was later sent a primary health centre, where her child was born but died unfortunately.

Not wanting to look back at the hardships, she stayed on at the centre and started working with patients. If a patient needed to be taken to a hospital she would fight with auto drivers to take him for free. If she saw an accident, she would take injured to hospital.

Because she wanted to help people, she decided to become an auto driver and applied for a commercial licence in 2001. But she was told that she was ineligible as she was a woman. She carried on her “fight” with officials for two years till they relented. After training from the IDTR, she decided to hire an auto.

In November 2004, she used a government loan to buy her own three-wheeler. Now she proudly wears a white shirt, symbolic of a driver who owns his, in this case her, own vehicle. If she sees an accident, she still stops and takes injured to hospital for free. As far as marriage is concerned, she is in no hurry. “There are several proposals but I prefer to wait.”

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Shatrunash to provide testing ground for drones
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 8
Two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Nishant and Lakshya, would be tested during d‘Shatrunash’, the joint exercise by the Indian Army and the Air Force on Punjab's border with Pakistan beginning May 11.

Sources say both the Army and the IAF are keen on inducting the UAVs or drones in large numbers as part of a technology-upgradation programme. Both the drones, developed by the Defense and Research Development Organisation, can stay on air for four hours after their launch and can carry a payload of 45 kg.

They are fitted with a 35mm camera to obtain visuals of enemy territory and improved versions of the drones can carry night-vision cameras and radio tracking equipment, sources say.

In India, so far the drones have been used for domestic operations, mainly against Naxalites in central India and insurgents in Jammu and Kashmir. Valuable pictures of insurgents’ bases in inaccessible areas have been obtained by these UAVs. They have also helped commanders of paramilitary forces to promptly deploy helicopter-borne commando units to neutralise the targets.

According to reports, more than 15,000 troops, 150 battle tanks and several squadrons of the Indian Air Force would participate in the four-day combat exercise to be held in the open areas of the Nakodar and the Jagraon sub-divisions of Punjab.

The Western Command, under Lt Gen Daljeet Singh, would carry out ‘Shatrunash’.

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Baby boy stolen from hospital
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 8
A young woman disguised as a nurse entered a hospital run by the Mumbai MCand walked out with a three-day-old baby boy last evening, the police said today.

The woman in her late 20s entered the children ward of the Sanjay Gandhi Municipal Hospital in suburban Jogeshwari and told baby’s mother Rita Jadhav that the child needed to be administered some tests.

The woman took the baby to another ward in the hospital, but gave the mother a slip and left the premises.

The police suspect that the woman may have been accompanied by other accomplices, who helped in taking away the baby.

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FERA case: Romesh gets five-yr RI

New Delhi, May 8
Romesh Sharma, an alleged frontman of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, was today sentenced to five years' rigorous imprisonment by a court here in an eight-year-old FERA violation case.

The court also fined him Rs 61 lakh, half the amount, which was allegedly duped by Sharma through his partnership firm M/s Nextone in 1997-98. The court had, on April 21, convicted Sharma in the case under various provisions of FERA for failing to realise the value of exports of $3.5 lakh made through one of his firms, M/s Nextone.

Sharma is in jail since his arrest in November 1998, facing trial in various criminal cases including criminal intimidation, extortion and murder. — PTI

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Rescue still on
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
The search and rescue teams were still at the accident site of the Kenyan Airlines plane that crashed into a mangrove swamp near Douala on May 5, the Ministry of External Affairs said today. There is no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties. As the accident site is inaccessible to vehicles, the recovery of bodies and investigation is expected to be a difficult and slow process.

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Indian envoy in Lesotho
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
High Commissioner of India to South Africa R.K. Bhatia has been concurrently accredited as the next High Commissioner of India to the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The Ministry of External Affairs announced this on Tuesday. Bhatia would continue to have residence in Pretoria.

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