SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Northeast blockade
Vehicular, rail traffic hit
Guwahati, May 24
The 100-hour rail-cum-road blockade called by former militants of the Bodo Liberation Tiger has cut off surface transport between Northeastern states and rest of the country since 5 am today.

All-party meeting on Nandigram
Mamata stages walkout
Kolkata, May 24
The much-talked about Nandigram peace meeting held at Mahajati Sadan today ended in a fiasco following heated exchanges between Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee and the CPM minister Subhas Chakraborty.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee walks out of the all-party meeting on Nandigram in Kolkata on Thursday.
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee walks out of the all-party meeting on Nandigram in Kolkata on Thursday. — PTI photo


EARLIER STORIES

Rs 1,568 cr extra grant for J&K
New Delhi, May 24
The Centre today approved additional central assistance of Rs 1,568.34 crore to Jammu and Kashmir for the long term reconstruction of damaged buildings, hospitals and roads in the October 2005 quake affected regions.

Escorts, Trehan agree on out-of-court settlement
New Delhi, May 24
Putting an end to their long impasse, Fortis-owned Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre and cardiologist Naresh Trehan have agreed to an out of court settlement and sort out their differences.

Plea for NBW against Orissa DGP rejected
Jaipur, May 24
A local court today refused to issue a non-bailable warrant against defiant Orissa DGP B.B. Mohanty, who is accused of helping his son, convicted of rape, jump parole, but said the Rajasthan police was free to arrest the top cop.

Left criticises UPA’s economic policies
New Delhi, May 24
Left parties today came out with a stinging criticism of the UPA government’s economic policies asking the ruling coalition to “seriously introspect” its role in tackling communal forces as also the price situation.

‘Communal harmony’ is offensive word in Goa
Mumbai, May 24
Though the government in Goa is headed by the Congress, officials of the State Election Commission overseeing the June 2 Assembly elections have ensured that the words ‘communal harmony’ is banned from the lexicon of public discourse in the state.

UPA govt fails in People’s Report card
New Delhi, May 24
The Manmohan Singh government has secured mere 30 per cent marks in its three-year performance appraisal by civil society in a hard-hitting People’s Report released here today.

M’rashtra to probe all encounter deaths
Mumbai, May 24
The Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra has decided to rein in the police force by warning trigger-happy cops that every case of police encounter which results in casualties would henceforth be probed by the state Criminal Investigation Department. A circular to this effect has been issued to police stations across Mumbai.

Bulandshahr SSP suspended
Lucknow, May 24
Seeking to improve law and order, the Uttar Pradesh government today suspended the SSP of Bulandshahr and gave a stern warning to police chiefs of Meerut and Ghaziabad besides terminating the services of an inspector for their alleged laxity in performing their duties.

Haseena gets bail in extortion case
Mumbai, May 24
A local court today granted bail to Haseena Parkar, sister of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, in a case of extortion after ruling that there was insufficient evidence against her. While granting bail on payment of a personal bond of Rs 25,000 the court observed that prima facie a case of extortion or forgery could not be made out against her.

Vasundhara’s plane makes emergency landing
New Delhi, May 24
The nosewheel of a plane carrying Rajasthan Chief Minsiter Vasundhara Raje collapsed while making an emergency landing at the Indira Gandhi International airport here today while she was returning to Jaipur after a foreign trip.

Each penny should reach poor, says Shekhawat
New Delhi, May 24
Exhorting people working in the rural road sector to see that each penny of allocated funds is used meaningfully for the welfare of the poor, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat today said that tackling rural poverty should be the ultimate focus of development programmes.

Two killed in Maoist attack in Bihar
Patna, May 24
At least two persons were killed and four injured in a Maoist attack on Maniapur village of east Champaran district near Nepal border, around midnight yesterday.

7 of family found dead near Jaipur
Jaipur, May 24
Seven members of a family were found dead in suspicious circumstances in Chandlai village near Shivdaspura about 20 km from here this morning.

Andhra rights panel to probe police firing
Hyderabad, May 24
The Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission will conduct an inquiry into the police firing on protestors soon after the bomb blast at Mecca Masjid here last week resulting in the death of five persons.

Threat to attack Film City
Mumbai, May 24
Security was beefed up near the Film City area here after the police received an anonymous letter which warned to attack the City’s studios tomorrow.


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Northeast blockade
Vehicular, rail traffic hit
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 24
The 100-hour rail-cum-road blockade called by former militants of the Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) has cut off surface transport between Northeastern states and rest of the country since 5 am today.

The Ex-BLT Welfare Society called for the blockade to protest against the ‘series of killings’ of its members by rival National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), an allegation refuted by the latter.

The former militant leaders of the BLT are now in the helm of affairs of the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District Council (BTADC) comprising four western Assam districts including Kokrajhar located on the north bank of Brahmaputra.

The broad gauge railway line and the national highway 39 passing through Kokrajhar district are vital links between the Northeastern states including Assam and the rest of the country.

According to an official source in Kokrajhar district, there was no movement of any vehicle or train through the district since morning even as ex-BLT picketers were seen squatting over the highway and the railway track on different spots.

However, the blockade failed to have any impact in the Brahmaputra valley in eastern and central Assam and southern Assam where the Ex-BLT leaders command no influence.

According to Trikalagya Rabha, chief public relation officer of the Northeast Frontier Railway, the blockade had sent the train schedule haywire. All long distance out-going and in-coming trains had to be regulated in different stations between Guwahati and New Jalpaiguri in West Bengal much to the discomfort of thousands of passengers.

Not a single train including the Guwahati-New Delhi Rajdhani Express was allowed to leave Guwahati station till noon. “However, we allowed the Rajdhani to leave Guwahati at 2.45 pm followed by New Delhi-bound Northeast Express at 3 pm after getting the go-ahead from the state government,” he informed.

Students travelling from the Northeast to New Delhi and other cities to seek admission in colleges and different professional institutions were the worst hit by the blockade.

Over 3,000 trucks carrying goods into the region were stranded at Sri Rampur, the entry point to the region from outside.

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All-party meeting on Nandigram
Mamata stages walkout
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 24
The much-talked about Nandigram peace meeting held at Mahajati Sadan today ended in a fiasco following heated exchanges between Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee and the CPM minister Subhas Chakraborty over “the causes and responsibilities” of the March 14 incident in which the 14 poor farmers at Nandigram were gunned down by the police and CPM cadres.

In the midst of charges and counter-charges, Mamata and seven other leaders representing the Krishi Bachao Committee, suddenly staged a walk out, protesting against the CPM’s strong reluctance for calling the March 14 killing as “a carnage” which Mamata and the others demanded.

The three CPM stalwarts - Jyoti Basu, Biman Bose and Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee - were not present.

At the meeting, a formal resolution on the March 14 incident calling it a mass killing and carnage was placed by Mamata which the Congress and even the front partners like the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc also endorsed.

But the CPM leaders refused and on the contrary, Chakraborty justified the police action on the March 14 incident. The meeting began around at 3.30 pm but ended abruptly around 5 pm as Ms Banerjee and other leaders staged a walk out.

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Rs 1,568 cr extra grant for J&K
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24
The Centre today approved additional central assistance of Rs 1,568.34 crore to Jammu and Kashmir for the long term reconstruction of damaged buildings, hospitals and roads in the October 2005 quake affected regions.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reconstruction Plan of Rs 635.88 crore for earthquake affected areas has to be implemented over a period of two years, 2006-07 and 2007-08, said information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

He said the additional central assistance to Jammu and kashmir for implementing the reconstruction plan was in the form of grant component of Rs 572.29 crore and loan component of Rs 63.59 crore.

The Cabinet also gave its approval for the exemption of all textiles and all textile machinery manufactured in India from the textiles committee cess under Section 5E of the Textiles Committee Act, 1963.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today announced a Rs 550 crore scheme to develop skills of one million school dropouts and workers with no formal training over the next five years to improve their employability.

Dasmunshi said the minimum age limit for persons to take part in the scheme was 15 years but there was no upper age limit, adding that it was a centrally sponsored scheme with 100 per cent central assistance.

The minister said one million people would be trained or their existing skills certified over a period of five years.

Under the scheme, Dasmunsi said about Rs 5,000 per person would be spent on an average on imparting training and certification of work force. Direct expenses for a million people would be Rs 500 crore.

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Escorts, Trehan agree on out-of-court settlement

New Delhi, May 24
Putting an end to their long impasse, Fortis-owned Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre (EHIRC) and cardiologist Naresh Trehan have agreed to an out of court settlement and sort out their differences.

“The two parties are working towards mutually agreed out of court settlement of their differences,” said a Fortis management statement.

The details of the settlement plan are being worked out and will be made public soon. When contacted, the Head of Operations Escorts and Fortis CEO Daljit Singh refused to comment on the details of the settlement plan.

Earlier today, the Delhi High Court adjourned till May 29 hearing on a writ petition seeking appointment of a doctors’ committee to run the Escorts and the court asked the hospital management and doctors to settle the issue amicably in the better interests of the patients.

On the other hand, the doctors’ association said negotiations with the management on the issue were on and that it needed some time to settle the matter.

The writ in the High Court was filed yesterday by a group of doctors after the management suspended the cardiologist as Executive Director of the Escorts Hospital on May 18.

On May 19, the court had permitted Dr Trehan to treat patients and have unrestricted entry to the hospital

A group of 10 to 12 doctors from Escorts have also filed a petition in the High Court, saying that Dr Trehan should be allowed to continue as Executive Director of the hospital.

On May 22, the Escorts management registered a case of “trespassing” and “vandalism” against the eminent doctor and his staff.

The FIR named Dr Trehan’s administrative staff Jugal Sharma and K S Sehgal, who were recently sacked, and Anil Khoobchandani, former legal adviser, who had quit the hospital two months ago.

On May 18, the hospital management, under instructions from Fortis Healthcare, which owns 90 per cent of stake in Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre (EHIRC), removed Dr Trehan and his support staff citing “conflict of interest”.

Dr Trehan, who is 10 per cent stakeholder in Escorts, said the move of the management to stop him or his staff from entering the hospital was against the high court judgment that allowed him unrestricted access.

Shivinder Mohan Singh, managing director, Escorts and Fortis Healthcare, said, “Over the past 18 months, Dr Trehan has been increasingly focused on the Rs 1000-crore Medicity project at Gurgaon. It was a clear case of conflict of interest as he continued to concentrate more on his personal project.” — UNI

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Plea for NBW against Orissa DGP rejected

Jaipur, May 24
A local court today refused to issue a non-bailable warrant against defiant Orissa DGP B.B. Mohanty, who is accused of helping his son, convicted of rape, jump parole, but said the Rajasthan police was free to arrest the top cop. Rejecting the Rajasthan police’s petition for a warrant after two days of arguments, additional chief judicial magistrate Rajendra Bansal said the police could arrest Mohanty as the Supreme Court’s six-week deadline for the top cop to surrender before the chief judicial magistrate’s court had ended on May 21. The apex court had also ordered that Mohanty be not arrested till that date.

“It is quite possible that DGP Mohanty is on duty in Orissa and the Rajasthan police should make attempts to arrest him instead of procuring the non-bailable warrant,” said Virendra Jhakhar, a police official associated with the investigation, quoting the order.

Reacting to the court order, Mohanty said he did not want to comment on the plan of action of the Rajasthan police, but said any move to arrest him would be beyond its legitimate powers. The court had yesterday postponed the proceedings till today after the police sought a fresh warrant saying it was studying all documents, including the proceedings in the Orissa High Court and the Supreme Court related to the case.

A team of the Rajasthan police was ready to proceed to Orissa to arrest the DGP and bring him here in connection with a case registered at the Lal Kothi police station on January 10 for allegedly sheltering and helping his son Biti, who is convicted for raping a German tourist, an official said. — PTI

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Left criticises UPA’s economic policies

New Delhi, May 24
Left parties today came out with a stinging criticism of the UPA government’s economic policies asking the ruling coalition to “seriously introspect” its role in tackling communal forces as also the price situation.

While the CPM said “popular pressure” has to be mounted on the government in the coming days to bridge the “growing hiatus between the shining and ‘suffering’ India”, the Forward Bloc blamed the UPA for its “failure” to combat communalism, terrorism and corruption.

Maintaining that UPA policies were benefiting the “communal combine”, CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said if this was happening, then “the very raison de etre of the UPA comes under a serious question mark” as the BJP-led NDA had gained in the recent assembly polls in some states.

“It is tantamount to felling the tree on which one is sitting,” Yechury said in an editorial in the ‘People’s Democracy’ on the UPA’s three-year report card. “On its third anniversary, the UPA needs to squarely face this contradictory situation”.

In a scathing attack on the Planning Commission, Yechury said while the government swore by the CMP, the plan body was “vigorously pushing the public-private partnership model for crucial infrastructure sector development”.

“Instead of attracting private money for public sector projects, which the Planning Commission claims it does, it is actually promoting private profit-making with public money”, he said. — PTI

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‘Communal harmony’ is offensive word in Goa
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 24
Though the government in Goa is headed by the Congress, officials of the State Election Commission overseeing the June 2 Assembly elections have ensured that the words ‘communal harmony’ is banned from the lexicon of public discourse in the state.

Today, officials under the orders of the Election Commission prevented a lecture by well-known social commentator Ram Puniyani from taking place. The lecture was organised by a local group, Citizens Initiative on Communal Harmony. The topic of the lecture was ‘Communal Threats to Secular Democracy in India’ organised at the Kare Law College in Margao.

However, at the last minute, officials from the collector’s office descended at the venue and prevented the lecture from taking place. A case under Section 299 A, which deals with spreading communal hatred, was levelled against the Citizens’ Initiative on Communal Harmony. “It is totally ridiculous. Some government officials are playing into the hands of the communal forces,” noted activists Albertina Almeida, who heads the organisation Bailancho Saad, said.

SDM Nathu Periera, who banned the talk from taking place, said the collector’s office acted after an anonymous letter was sent warning that communal harmony would be disturbed by the lecture. He objected to the words: ‘Ideology of right wing Hindutva is growing at a serious state leading to a feeling of insecurity among minorities’, which was mentioned in the invite.

Periera said the mention of Hindutva would result in communal tension.

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UPA govt fails in People’s Report card
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24
The Manmohan Singh government has secured mere 30 per cent marks in its three-year performance appraisal by civil society in a hard-hitting People’s Report released here today.

The report prepared on the basis of a survey of 500 grassroots and development organisations across 20 states said the UPA government was not just ignoring but violating the mandate of the people that brought it to power.

The report gave the UPA government an aggregate of 30 per cent on achievements in education, health, employment, social exclusion (caste, gender and religion), decentralisation through panchayats and peace and security.

“We have been reviewing UPA’s promises made in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for the last three years and nothing has changed,” said Amitabh Behar, convenor, ‘Wada Na Todo Abhiyan’ (WNTA), the national coalition of 900 development and grassroots organisations which produced the People’s Report.

“Largely, people continue to be angry and discontent. It is evident that our insensitive government needs not only engagement but also politics and street action to keep its promises.” The guiding principle of the CMP was socially inclusive and regionally balanced economic growth.

In education, for instance, the UPA has used the education cess as a substitute for increasing allocations. Adjusted for the cess and external funds, the government's contribution to education has declined from 68 per cent in 2001-02 to 35 per cent in 2007-08. In health, the budget allocations have remained almost stagnant at 0.3 per cent of the GDP.

“Lack of basic services like primary education, health, water and sanitation is increasing inequality and delaying the formation of a strong human capital,” said B. Muralidharan, member, WNTA Steering Committee.

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M’rashtra to probe all encounter deaths
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 24
The Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra has decided to rein in the police force by warning trigger-happy cops that every case of police encounter which results in casualties would henceforth be probed by the state Criminal Investigation Department. A circular to this effect has been issued to police stations across Mumbai.

The state CID is a nodal unit based in Pune and would be reporting to the highest officials in the state. Till now, encounter killings by the police in Mumbai were handled at the city police commissioner's level.

The decision taken by Vilasrao Deshmukh follows the controversial encounter killings in Gujarat where top police officials under Narendra Modi’s watch have been implicated. In Maharashtra itself, senior police officials from Mumbai are in the dock over the disappearance of a software engineer, Mohammad Yunus.

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Bulandshahr SSP suspended

Lucknow, May 24
Seeking to improve law and order, the Uttar Pradesh government today suspended the SSP of Bulandshahr and gave a stern warning to police chiefs of Meerut and Ghaziabad besides terminating the services of an inspector for their alleged laxity in performing their duties.

SSP, Bulandshahr, Vinod Kumar Singh, who was recently transferred there, had been suspended after he failed to answer queries regarding a murder case, DGP G.L. Sharma told reporters here.

Sharma said the officer, who was transferred 10 days ago, had inspected only four police stations out of 24 which showed his “laxity” towards performing his duties.

He said he had made calls to the SSP, Meerut, and Ghaziabad — Vijay Prakash and Deepak Ratan respectively — this morning and inquired about their inspection of police stations and after finding unsatisfactory answers from them gave them a stern warning to improve their functioning within 15 days or be prepared to face action.

Inspector, Utraula, (Balrampur) R.P. Singh was dismissed for his failure to act timely, which resulted in communal clash in the area, Sharma said.

The DGP said officers had been directed to take action against those involved in crime and should not bow to any pressure from leaders of any political party. — PTI

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Haseena gets bail in extortion case

Mumbai, May 24
A local court today granted bail to Haseena Parkar, sister of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, in a case of extortion after ruling that there was insufficient evidence against her. While granting bail on payment of a personal bond of Rs 25,000 the court observed that prima facie a case of extortion or forgery could not be made out against her.

The court also directed her to cooperate with the investigators in the case and report regularly to the anti-extortion cell of the police.

The court observed that the money retained by the Shukla brothers, also accused in the case, after the realty deal with the complainant fell through had been kept in their bank account and there was no evidence that the money had reached Haseena.

The FIR in the case also did not mention that Haseena had extorted money from real estate agent Avlani, who is the complainant in the case, the court said. — PTI

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Vasundhara’s plane makes emergency landing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24
The nosewheel of a plane carrying Rajasthan Chief Minsiter Vasundhara Raje collapsed while making an emergency landing at the Indira Gandhi International airport here today while she was returning to Jaipur after a foreign trip.

This resulted in the blockage of one of main runways of the airport for nearly 75 minutes. No one was injured in the incident. All passengers were disembarked on the taxiway by a fleet of emergency vehicles, sources said.

The pilot of the Beechcraft-100 aircraft, which had taken off for Jaipur at 5.20 pm, suspected hydraulic problem and landed back under full emergency conditions in 10 minutes, sources said.

The CM, accompanied by a team of high-ranking Rajasthan government officials was returning to Jaipur after a five-day visit abroad. She later cancelled her plan to go to Jaipur today, sources said.

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Each penny should reach poor, says Shekhawat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24
Exhorting people working in the rural road sector to see that each penny of allocated funds is used meaningfully for the welfare of the poor, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat today said that tackling rural poverty should be the ultimate focus of development programmes.

Speaking at the valedictory function of national conference on rural roads, Shekhawat said money allocated for the poor should go to them properly. “There is an impression that construction of roads is plagued with corruption...Complete information should be disseminated to the local population which will help bring transparency,” he said.

The Vice-President, whose extempore remarks lasted more than his prepared speech, spoke against corruption in a vein similar to that of Prime Minister Manmohan yesterday. 

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Two killed in Maoist attack in Bihar
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 24
At least two persons were killed and four injured in a Maoist attack on Maniapur village of east Champaran district near Nepal border, around midnight yesterday.

Police said about 200 armed Maoists, including women, began firing indiscriminately and ransacked the houses of villagers.

The left-wing ultras also set ablaze vehicles and looted some houses, minutes before they fled.

They reportedly attacked the village in search of a farmer who was a witness in a case related to the killing of a rich farmer, Maheshwar Singh, by a Maoist.

Senior officials rushed to the spot and a massive manhunt was on, to nab the ultras.

This was the seventh Maoist attack in past few months.

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7 of family found dead near Jaipur

Jaipur, May 24
Seven members of a family were found dead in suspicious circumstances in Chandlai village near Shivdaspura about 20 km from here this morning.

A police spokesman said that Gopal Raigar, his wife Sharda, three daughters and two sons aged between 5 and 15 years, all having cuts in their neck, were found dead in their house.

The spokesman said the circumstantial evidence suggested that the family had consumed or administered poison while having their dinner last night. Cuts on neck of all victims and recovery of a knife from the spot also suggested that they might have been killed by someone. — UNI

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Andhra rights panel to probe police firing
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 24
The Andhra Pradesh Human Rights Commission will conduct an inquiry into the police firing on protestors soon after the bomb blast at Mecca Masjid here last week resulting in the death of five persons.

Commission chairman Justice B Subhashan Reddy issued a notice to city police commissioner Balwinder Singh, seeking a report on the firing before June 11.

The notice was issued based on a memorandum submitted by Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) seeking a probe by the rights panel.

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Threat to attack Film City

Mumbai, May 24
Security was beefed up near the Film City area here after the police received an anonymous letter which warned to attack the City’s studios tomorrow.

The letter said that an attack would be made on the studio in Goregaon tomorrow but did not specify the reason or whether any particular movie unit would be targeted, the police said. Security has been tightened at the location as a precaution, they added.

Yesterday, the World Trade Centre authorities here received an anonymous letter which had threatened to blow up the building today. — PTI

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