SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Prime Minister presents his government’s report card
New Delhi, May 22
Introduction of biometric e-passports for existing diplomatic and official passports is targeted for completion during 2007, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today. In presenting his government’s report card here this evening, Dr Singh drew pointed attention to fulfilling life’s promise of healthcare, education and assuring Child Rights.

Govt faceless, spineless, says BJP
New Delhi, May 22
The main opposition BJP today described the UPA’s three-year rule as “faceless, direction less and spineless” during which national security and sovereignty had been compromised.

BJP President Rajnath Singh addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. The BJP also released a copy of a report titled "UPA's three years of Aam Admi's tear years". — A Tribune photograph
BJP President Rajnath Singh addresses a press conference in New Delhi



EARLIER STORIES


DSGMC demands arrest of Sacha Sauda head
CPM criticises Takht stand
New Delhi, May 22
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today took umbrage to the directive passed by the Akal Takht for Punjab bandh and serving of an ultimatum to the state government to seal all assets of Dera Sacha Sauda by May 27. Meanwhile, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee demanded that the sect chief be arrested.

‘Curb violence during bandh in Punjab’
New Delhi, May 22
The Bharatiya Janata Party today described the law and order situation in Punjab as ‘serious’ in the light of the clashes between the Sikh community and followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and asked chief minister Parkash Sigh Badal, to ensure that peace was maintained in the state.

Rahul Singh has tough time outside TV studio
Chandigarh, May 22
Well known journalist Rahul Singh, who is son of legendary Khushwant Singh, narrowly escaped being manhandled by a group of Sikhs outside the studio of a television channel after making some candid observations at a talk show on the functioning of the SGPC and the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy.

States told to protect dera property
New Delhi, May 22
Centre today issued advisory to Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar to take effective measures to ensure that property of Dera Sacha Sauda was not damaged.

Spotlight on naval airport in Goa poll
Mumbai, May 22
Goa politicians are whipping up passions against the naval airport at Dabolim during the campaign for the June 2 Assembly elections. At the forefront of the campaign against relinquishing operations of civilian flights at the Dabolim airport is former Congress MP Churchill Alemao. In video (56k)

SP demands UP Governor’s sack
Lucknow, May 22
The Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha today witnessed uproarious scenes as Samajwadi Party members demanded Governor T V Rajeswar’s dismissal for his remarks that the previous government was “unconstitutional”, forcing Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar to adjourn the day’s proceedings.

UP debacle
BJP session in Jaipur next month
New Delhi, May 22
The recent dismal poll performance of the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will be discussed threadbare at the party’s national executive session in Jaipur beginning from June 15. The party leadership is at loss to comprehend the reasons for such a poor performance with its vote percentage dropping to an all time low of 18 per cent.

CPI (ML) rally against SEZs on May 25
Bangalore, May 22
The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) would hold an anti-SEZ rally in Kolkata on May 25 to extend support to people of Nandigram and Singur. The rally was to protest against the central and state governments for using the SEZ Act 2005 and Land Acquisition Act 1894 to "reverse" land reforms and initiating "corporate landlordism", CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, who was here to attend a convention, told reporters today.

Abu Salem (centre) is escorted by police personnel as he is produced in a court in New Delhi
Abu Salem (centre) is escorted by police personnel as he is produced in a court in New Delhi on Tuesday. — AFP

Hasina seeks anticipatory bail
Mumbai, May 22
Hasina Parkar, the sister of fugitive mobster Dawood Ibrahim, approached a court for anticipatory bail today. Parkar, whose name figures in the FIR filed by Mumbai Police's Anti-Extortion Cell in connection with a real estate deal, has been on the run for the past few weeks.

Wage Boards
Scribes seek proposals within 18 months
New Delhi, May 22
Journalists and non-journalists today urged the government for the immediate notification of the proposed wage boards and the declaration of their recommendations within 18 months.

Dedicated airline for N-E on the cards
Guwahati, May 22
A dedicated airline is being planned for the hilly north-eastern region of the country which suffers from low connectivity as laying railways and roads is difficult here. The North Eastern Council, the regional planning body under the Department of North Eastern Region has approved a recommendation for a dedicated airline for the landlocked region.

Dharna against land acquisition
Patna, May 22
Taking a cue from West Bengal, farmers in Bihar today staged a dharna here to protest the acquisition of their land by the state government for proposed industrialisation.

Pilot killed in MiG crash
Jammu, May 22
A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the IAF crashed in the snowbound mountains between Doda and Basantgarh in Reasi district, today, killing its pilot, Sqn Ldr P.G. Reddy.

Dalit charred to death
Yamunanagar, May 22
Tensions prevailed in Ismailpur village of Chhachhrouli block here after a dalit, Biram Pal (32), of the village died under mysterious circumstances in a mango orchard fire, today evening. Police has been deputed in the village and some members of the Gurjar community have been booked.

Case against Trehan
New Delhi, May 22
Renowned Cardiologist Naresh Trehan today landed in legal trouble as a case of trespassing and vandalism was registered against him by the police even as his standoff with the new management at Escorts hospital continued.

Videos
Train in Kolkata turns a "Ghost Train".
(56k)
Spice exports touch to an all time high.
(56k)
Shootout... runs into legal row.
(56k)





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Prime Minister presents his government’s report card
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

UPA: Three and looking ahead

  • Major initiative on agriculture within next 10 days
  • Dedicated mega city and desert policing schemes planned
  • A legislation regarding the public services soon
  • A National e-Governance Plan has been prepared with 26 Mission Mode Projects
  • Government to take forward the National Identify Card Project under the National e-Governance Plan

New Delhi, May 22
Introduction of biometric e-passports for existing diplomatic and official passports is targeted for completion during 2007, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today.

In presenting his government’s report card here this evening, Dr Singh drew pointed attention to fulfilling life’s promise of healthcare, education and assuring Child Rights, striving for a Just Society of maintaining communal harmony and promoting welfare of minorities as well as empowering women, the weaker sections and workers of the unorganised sector, the ambitious Rs 1,72,000 crore Bharat Nirman spread over four years till 2009, governance and civil society, economic resurgence, building bridges in the neighbourhood and pursuing an independent foreign policy in keeping with national interests and addressing disasters where the approach has been changed from relief centric to a holistic one.

Dr Singh promised that in the next two years, the government would focus on ensuring that important flagship programmes are properly implemented. At the same time there are many more challenges, which require greater attention and new initiatives.

“In the next 10 days, we will be unveiling a major initiative which will not only enhance the total public investment in agriculture but enable states to resolve problems of agriculture through comprehensive, localised plans.”

The Prime Minister disclosed that the Chief Ministers would be involved in a dialogue to move to a power surplus position by 2012.

On internal security, the Prime Minister noted the overall situation remains under control coupled with the government taking multiple initiatives.

Realising the need for unique police requirements of mega cities and desert areas, a dedicated mega city and desert policing schemes have been formulated.

The government also intends to significantly improve the present police-population ratio. The government proposes to introduce a bill for a new Police Act for the Union Territories.

Referring to Governance and Civil Society, Dr Singh said the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has been set up to undertake a comprehensive review of the government machinery at all levels and make recommendations on the organisational structure of the government.

The government will be bringing a legislation regarding the public services to lay down public service standards, values, code and ethics, protect whistle blowers, and provide for performance management.

About the historic Right to Information Act, the Prime Minister said it would increase transparency in the functioning of the government at all levels. The Act has wide reach covering the Central and State governments, Panchayati Raj institutions, local bodies as well as recipients of government grants.

A National e-Governance Plan has been prepared with 26 Mission Mode Projects some of which are nearing completion.

Under another Mission Mode Project the facility for online submission of passport applications has been introduced at a number of India’s diplomatic missions. Introduction of biometric e-passports for existing diplomatic and official passports is targeted for completion during 2007. For other passports this is targeted for completion in 2008. E-filing of corporate returns has been a resounding success. India Portal, a single point of Internet access to information and services from all government departments is also expected to be functional by end 2007. The government will take forwad the National Identify Card Project under the National e-Governance Plan for a nationwide rollout in a phased manner to ensure better delivery of services. A bill for setting up the National Judicial Council for greater accountability and transparency in the judiciary has been tabled in Parliament.

A Group of Ministers is deliberating on the draft Lok Pal bill. Another Group of Ministers is actively looking into some far reaching amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, pertaining to (i) provision for forfeiture of property of corrupt public servants; (ii) provision for a competent authority to grant sanction in respect of Members of Parliament and State Legislators; and (iii) granting protection of previous sanction to public servants who have retired or have ceased to be public servants. About the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, over 1.4 crore households have benefited.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that much more needs to be done to win the war against poverty, ignorance and disease and the fight against extremism, communalism and terrorism.

Congress president and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who spoke in Hindi, congratulated the Prime Minister and the partners of the UPA for having remained steadfast in implementing the National Common Minimum Programme. Even though the partners of the UPA have differing points of view, the government has been able to provide a cooperative endeavour.

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Govt claims credit for welfare of ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
The Manmohan Singh government today claimed that it had taken several measures for the welfare of ex-servicemen, including the introduction of a Bill for setting up an armed forces tribunal to provide a cheaper and speedier mechanism for adjudicating on a large number of pending cases.

The UPA government’s three-year progress card said housing projects had been initiated under the Jai Jawan Awas Yojana with the completion of the first project in Jaipur slated later this year.

Ministries had been advised to engage only ex-servicemen for outsourced security jobs and the department of ex-servicemen’s welfare had been set up.

Anomaly in the pension of personnel below officer’s rank, who had retired before 1996, had been rectified and pension to personnel retiring from the lower ranks would also get close to full pension despite short lengths of service, benefiting around 11.85 lakh pensioners. Special drives to clear pension cases with pension adalats were held to redress grievances.

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Govt faceless, spineless, says BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
The main opposition BJP today described the UPA’s three-year rule as “faceless, direction less and spineless” during which national security and sovereignty had been compromised.

Releasing a 66-page booklet containing a charge sheet against the UPA’s three years of “misrule”, BJP president Rajnath Singh called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as one of the “weakest” premiers of the independent India, who heads a Cabinet of “collective irresponsibility”.

Mocking him as a “Prime Minister not in command”, the BJP leader said he would go down in the history as the only Prime Minister who never faced the electorate”.

Refusing to acknowledge even one good feature of the UPA administration, Rajnath Singh listed non-achievements and failures of the UPA during its three-year rule.

Rajnath Singh also targeted Congress president Sonia Gandhi describing her ‘renunciation’ as a drama and sought to ridicule her saying prices did not come down by writing letters.

“Aam adami (the common man) has been hit the hardest during its regime with prices of essential commodities shooting through the roof,” Rajnath Singh pointed out.

Rising prices of all essential commodities like wheat, rice, pulses, oil, vegetables, petrol, diesel, cement had adversely affected the living standards of the masses, the booklet pointed out and added that the UPA converted the Indian economy from a state of surpluses to a state of scarcity.

Accusing the UPA of compromising national security, the charge sheet said the abandonment of POTA without any substitute stringent anti-terror law had emboldened terrorist organisations resulting in an increase in terrorist attacks.

The list is unending... Ayodhya, Bangalore, Kashi, Delhi, Mumbai, Malegaon, Samjhauta Express, Jammu and now it is Hyderabad, it said.

Turning to Kashmir, the BJP leader reminded the UPA that its own former defence minister Pranab Mukherjee had admitted that there were 59 terror training camps in Pakistan.

The Manmohan Singh government had also turned a Nelson’s eye towards the protest march by pro-Pakistani Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) activists.

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DSGMC demands arrest of Sacha Sauda head
CPM criticises Takht stand
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today took umbrage to the directive passed by the Akal Takht for Punjab bandh and serving of an ultimatum to the state government to seal all assets of Dera Sacha Sauda by May 27. Meanwhile, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) demanded that the sect chief be arrested.

“It is unfortunate that the Akal Takht and the five high priests gave a call for a statewide bandh on May 22 and an ultimatum to the state government to seal all assets of the sect by May 27. This type of intervention by religious organisations in the public and political spheres can have dangerous implications,” the CPM polit bureau said in a statement.

The CPM said SAD-BJP government in Punjab cannot take be soft on this growing intervention of the religious bodies and the fanning of extremist passions. It must firmly discharge its constitutional obligations to maintain peace and protect the rights of all communities.

Already, certain actions of the Sacha Sauda sect are being investigated and these cases must be pursued, the statement said, while expressing deep concern at the developments in Punjab.

Recalling the history of violence and terrorist activities which were unleashed in Punjab in the 1980s, the party appealed to all sections of the people of Punjab to rebuff the extremists on both sides who are bent upon sowing discord and ensure that peace and communal amity is maintained.

DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna said there were several cases pending against the Sacha Sauda chief and the state government should immediately take legal action against him.

“If the Punjab government fails to act, the Centre must act and the Haryana government should extend all possible cooperation as the sect is headquartered in Sirsa,” he said.

Sarna said he had met the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on the issue and demanded immediate arrest of Sacha Sauda chief.

The DSGMC chief decried the visit of all religious delegations to Sacha Sauda headquarters saying the religious leaders should not visit the place where a person (Sacha Sauda chief) who is accused of heinous crimes stays.

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‘Curb violence during bandh in Punjab’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
The Bharatiya Janata Party today described the law and order situation in Punjab as ‘serious’ in the light of the clashes between the Sikh community and followers of Dera Sacha Sauda and asked chief minister Parkash Sigh Badal, to ensure that peace was maintained in the state.

Replying to the questions of the mediapersons on the situation in punjab, the BJP president Rajnath Singh, said he had spoken with Badal on phone twice and told him that the bandh organised in the state should be peaceful.

“We are very keen that no untoward incident takes place in the state during the bandh and every measure should be taken to curb violence,” Singh said.

The BJP leader, however, refused to take further questions on the Dera issue in Punjab, where the BJP is in coalition with the Badal government.

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Rahul Singh has tough time outside TV studio
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Well known journalist Rahul Singh, who is son of legendary Khushwant Singh, narrowly escaped being manhandled by a group of Sikhs outside the studio of a television channel after making some candid observations at a talk show on the functioning of the SGPC and the Dera Sacha Sauda controversy.

“At Barkha Dutt’s show, I carried my father’s history book that has a painting of Guru Gobind Singh dressed in an attire that is very different from the one worn by Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. I further made a point that since there was no photography in the 17th century, it is very difficult to say how someone dressed”. These comments were not liked by some people in the audience who wanted to see the book after the show. One of them grabbed him by the collar. Barkha Dutt’s presence of mind saved him from being roughed up, he told The Tribune.

Some hot-headed participants and members of the audience were so angry with him that the television channel had to call security. He was escorted all the way till the Delhi border. After Barkha helped him get away from the audience, they cornered her and tried to misbehave with her too, Rahul disclosed.

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States told to protect dera property
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
Centre today issued advisory to Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar to take effective measures to ensure that property of Dera Sacha Sauda was not damaged.

The advisory, issued by the union home ministry, also asked these states to take security measures to maintain peace and law and order.

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Spotlight on naval airport in Goa poll
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 22
Goa politicians are whipping up passions against the naval airport at Dabolim during the campaign for the June 2 Assembly elections.

At the forefront of the campaign against relinquishing operations of civilian flights at the Dabolim airport is former Congress MP Churchill Alemao. Having cited the plan to construct another airport at Mopa near Goa border with Maharashtra as a reason to resign as a Congress MP, Alemao is campaigning for more civilian flights from the Dabolim airport as a candidate of the new Save Goa Party.

“We don’t oppose the airport just for the sake of it. The airport at Mopa will benefit Maharashtra since it is farther away from the beaches of Goa,” Alemao says. Over the years Alemao has enabled scores of people living near the existing airport to set up businesses in the taxi, travel and hotel trades. Alemao says he is now trying to protect the interests of Goan businessmen, who could lose out if tourists adopt the virgin beaches in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district bordering Goa.

“We want the existing Dabolim airport to be upgraded to international standards so that flights from other countries can land round the clock,” Alemao says. Though the Pratapsinh Rane government has put the proposed Mopa airport in cold storage, Alemao warns that plan could be revived if he does not make it to the Assembly.

The Navy’s arguments that it needs the Goa airport since the new INS Kadamba, formerly Seabird, base in Karwar does not have a proper airport is also washing thin. Bending to pressure from the Karnataka government, the Navy is extending the runway of the Karwar airport from 6,000-ft to 10,000 ft. This will enable the Boeing and Airbus aircraft to land here, according to naval officials.

Naval officials say the demand from the civilian authorities to share the naval airport infrastructure with commercial aviation poses security threats. INS Kadamba has been chosen because of its location away from the bustling urban areas of Mumbai, Trivandrum and Kannur, say sources.

When the second phase of the naval base is completed in another five years, much of the Navy’s Western Naval Command will be moved there.

The new facilities will allow 25 naval vessels, including aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, renamed the INS Vikramaditya, to be berthed here.

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EC suspends top Goa cops
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 22
The Election Commission today ordered the suspension of two senior police officials in Goa after the opposition BJP complained against them.

The suspension orders of DIGP Ujjwal Mishra and South Goa Superintendent Umesh Gaonkar were sent to the police headquarters this morning.

Sources said, the BJP trained its guns on the two officers after its activists campaigning for the June 2 Assembly elections filed a number of complaints of favouritism against the two officers.

EC officials, acting on information that a sum of more than Rs 2 crore was stored at these premises, conducted raids only to find campaign material on the premises. It has been alleged that senior Goa police officials who were asked to participate in the raid by the EC observers may have tipped off the ruling party members.

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SP demands UP Governor’s sack

Lucknow, May 22
The Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha today witnessed uproarious scenes as Samajwadi Party members demanded Governor T V Rajeswar’s dismissal for his remarks that the previous government was “unconstitutional”, forcing Speaker Sukhdeo Rajbhar to adjourn the day’s proceedings.

After the House assembled to take up the motion of thanks on the Governor’s speech, deputy leader of the SP, Azam Khan, and some other party members were on their feet and strongly condemned the remark and demanded they be expunged before the House takes up the day’s agenda.

In his address to the joint sitting of the state legislature yesterday, Rajeswar said an atmosphere of “anarchy” prevailed in UP during the past four years. He termed the SP-led dispensation as “unconstitutional” as it was formed by splitting political parties.

Protesting SP members today trooped into the well of the House and even had a scuffle with the marshals, who had a tough time in preventing them from rushing towards the chair.

As repeated adjournments running for over two hours failed to make any impact, Rajbhar hurriedly went through the agenda and adjourned the House for the day. — PTI

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UP debacle
BJP session in Jaipur next month
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
The recent dismal poll performance of the BJP in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections will be discussed threadbare at the party’s national executive session in Jaipur beginning from June 15.

The party leadership is at loss to comprehend the reasons for such a poor performance with its vote percentage dropping to an all time low of 18 per cent.

The BJP leadership had put up the best efforts and had left no stone unturned to emerge as number one in the election, but the party’s failure to secure the confidence of the electorate is baffling, a senior leader said. The RSS had also put its best efforts for ensuring the party’s victory, he added.

The UP unit of the party will present a detailed report and the executive members will discuss it and suggest measures for reviving the BJP’s hold in the biggest state.

The role of party president Rajnath Singh and senior BJP leader Kalyan Singh, whom the party had projected as its chief ministerial candidate, will also come under sharp focus.

The party’s alliance with the Janata Dal (U) and the Apna Dal will also be a topic of debate.

The party president got ticket to his loyalists from the Apna Dal and JD (U) quota, a senior leader pointed out.

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CPI (ML) rally against SEZs on May 25

Bangalore, May 22
The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) would hold an anti-SEZ rally in Kolkata on May 25 to extend support to people of Nandigram and Singur.

The rally was to protest against the central and state governments for using the SEZ Act 2005 and Land Acquisition Act 1894 to "reverse" land reforms and initiating "corporate landlordism", CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, who was here to attend a convention, told reporters today.

The convention was part of CPI (ML)'s initiative at spearheading a campaign demanding scrapping of the SEZ Act and strict implementation of land reforms and rural employment measures.

The Kolkata rally would also mark the 40th anniversary of the famous 'Naxalbari peasant agitation', he said.

Replying to a query, he said that the party was not against development, but the "model of industrialisation of the 21st century cannot be a xerox copy of the 19th century".

"India can ill afford a development model that is an elitist model, benefiting a few," he said.

He said the creation of SEZs had only resulted in transfer of capital from non-SEZ areas to SEZ areas, leading to government forcibly acquiring agricultural land for SEZs and releasing current industrial land for real estate developers. — pti

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Hasina seeks anticipatory bail

Mumbai, May 22
Hasina Parkar, the sister of fugitive mobster Dawood Ibrahim, approached a court for anticipatory bail today.

Parkar, whose name figures in the FIR filed by Mumbai Police's Anti-Extortion Cell in connection with a real estate deal, has been on the run for the past few weeks.

Accompanied by her counsel Shyam Keshwani, Parkar approached the sessions court to seek anticipatory bail. Acting Sessions judge N.D. Despande directed Parkar to appear before the court tomorrow for the formalities and also instructed police not to arrest her till the court instructs them to do so.

Earlier in the day, Keshwani had approached the special MCOCA court to seek anticipatory bail. However, special MCOCA judge M.R. Bhatkar had pointed out that Parkar should instead approach the session's judge.

Keshwani informed the court that his client had not been absconding or left the metropolis as the police had been claiming. “How can a person be absconding from the city if she can appear at the court within two hours of submitting an application for anticipatory bail,” he said. — IANS

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Wage Boards
Scribes seek proposals within 18 months
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 22
Journalists and non-journalists today urged the government for the immediate notification of the proposed wage boards and the declaration of their recommendations within 18 months.

The government yesterday appointed K. Narayana Kurup, retired judge of the Kerala High Court, chairperson of the two wage boards for working journalists and non-journalists following an approval by the Prime Minister.

Protesters under the banner of the Confederation of Newspaper and News Agency Employees’ Organisation were, however, prevented from reaching the Prime Minister’s residence and stopped opposite the Shram Shakti Bhawan, housing the labour ministry’s office.

They shouted slogans against the delaying tactics of the labour ministry pertaining to notification of the boards and organised a rally on the spot.The leaders demanded that the stipulated time framework of three years for finalising the recommendations to be curtailed to 18 months on the pattern of the government employees’ case and asked the government for early announcement of the interim relief not less than 60 per cent of the basic pay.

A memorandum was also submitted in the labour ministry.

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Dedicated airline for N-E on the cards
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 22
A dedicated airline is being planned for the hilly north-eastern region of the country which suffers from low connectivity as laying railways and roads is difficult here.

The North Eastern Council (NEC), the regional planning body under the Department of North Eastern Region (DONER) has approved a recommendation for a dedicated airline for the landlocked region.

A committee set up with Manipur Governor S S Sidhu recommended a dedicated airline as a panacea for the toughest infrastructural hurdle in the way of region's development.

In the year 2004, the NEC had entered into an agreement with the Alliance Air to connect of the state capitals and major towns of the region and provided substantial funds to the domestic air operators for the purpose. That move led to better air connectivity to Aizwal, Imphal and Agartala in the region with Guwahati emerging as a regional hub for airlines.

Now, the weekly flight frequency is likely to increase to 600 flights within two years within the region and with other important centres in rest of the country.

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Dharna against land acquisition

Patna, May 22
Taking a cue from West Bengal, farmers in Bihar today staged a dharna here to protest the acquisition of their land by the state government for proposed industrialisation.

Demanding suitable compensation and separate plots of land for constructing new homes, the agitated farmers under the banner of 'Ekta Parishad', a non-governmental organisation, sat on dharna since morning.

Seeking an immediate stay on further use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, the agitating farmers also demanded suitable steps to ensure that those who had already lost their land were given possession of new plots.

''In support of our demands we will undertake a peaceful padyatra to New Delhi on October 2, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi,'' a spokesman of the agitating farmers said. — UNI

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Pilot killed in MiG crash

Jammu, May 22
A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the IAF crashed in the snowbound mountains between Doda and Basantgarh in Reasi district, today, killing its pilot, Sqn Ldr P.G. Reddy.

The aircraft lost contact with ground control minutes after taking off from the Udhampur air base at 10.40 am and was reported missing for over five hours as IAF helicopters and the Army search teams were sent out to locate it.

“The Body of the pilot was found near the wreckage site in the snow bound pass between Doda and Basantgarh district, about 165 kms from Jammu,” an IAF spokesman, Wing Commander Sanjiv Sharma said in New Delhi. — PTI

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Dalit charred to death
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, May 22
Tensions prevailed in Ismailpur village of Chhachhrouli block here after a dalit, Biram Pal (32), of the village died under mysterious circumstances in a mango orchard fire, today evening. Police has been deputed in the village and some members of the Gurjar community have been booked.

Members of Dalit and Gurjar communities of the area are on loggerheads for the past one-and-half-year and there had been at least two violent incidents in which the two groups had fired shots at each other.

Biram Pal who had a contract of a mango orchard.

Police sources and locals said a villager took Biram Pal to the orchid on pretext of watering trees in the afternoon, informed Reshma, wife of the deceased. Shanki, son of the deceased went to the orchard twice in search of his father. However, during his third visit to the orchid he saw that there was a fire and his father’s body with mouth gagged with a piece of cloth lying on ground.

SP K.V. Raman and DSP Ram Chander reached the village. The police registered a case of murder.

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Case against Trehan

New Delhi, May 22
Renowned Cardiologist Naresh Trehan today landed in legal trouble as a case of trespassing and vandalism was registered against him by the police even as his standoff with the new management at Escorts hospital continued.

On arrival at Escorts, Trehan was permitted to enter the premises but his key aides were stopped.

The police filed an FIR against Trehan. — PTI

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