SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

SC okays ban on HP constructions
New Delhi, May 28
In a major boost to the Himachal Pradesh government’s move to preserve the historic Mall Road in Shimla as heritage zone, the Supreme Court has put its seal of approval on the state’s decision to ban all types of constructions there, holding that it was necessary to protect the ecology of the entire area.

UPA consultations on presidential nominee gain momentum
New Delhi, May 28
Consultations on evolving a consensus on the Congress-led UPA's nominee for the highest constitutional office in the country gained monmentum with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and regional DMK chief K. Karunanidhi having discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi here today.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is presented with a shawl by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi during a meeting in New Delhi
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is presented with a shawl by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi during a meeting in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo



EARLIER STORIES


Presidential poll
Cong does not rule out apolitical person
New Delhi, May 28
Despite the Left and some of the UPA allies insisting on a political person as the presidential candidate, the Congress today did not rule out an apolitical person for the top post.

Sting operations
Notice to govt, TV channels
New Delhi, May 28
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the ministries of telecom and information and broadcasting, three TV channels and a leading English news magazine on a petition by three sadhus from Gujarat, seeking to put a halt on sting operations directly invading the privacy of individuals and using it for commercial purposes.

Conference on Kashmir
India’s no to Pugwash
New Delhi, May 28
India has refused permission to Pugwash, a 50-year-old international NGO and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, for holding a conference on Kashmir in Mumbai early next month.

Nandigram
Action against West Bengal CM, Ratan Tata demanded
Kolkata, May 28
When the left-front parties meet on June 2 to finalise the date and agenda of another peace meeting on the Nandigram issue, the State Legal Aids Forum and human rights activists will be filing a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding legal action against Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Ratan Tata.
The police arrests activists of the Socialist Unity Centre of India who were demonstrating in Siliguri
The police arrests activists of the Socialist Unity Centre of India who were demonstrating in Siliguri on Monday against the police firing and the subsequent death of farmers in Nandigram. — PTI

Cops help Bhosale to give DRI the slip
Mumbai, May 28
Avinash Bhosale, a prominent builder and government contractor linked to all major politicians in Maharashtra, exhibited his clout today when the Mumbai police freed him from the grip of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

New wage boards constituted
New Delhi, May 28
Two wage boards for journalists and non-journalists of newspapers and news agencies were formally constituted today with the government issuing a notification to this effect.

Bandh against ULFA violence hits life
Guwahati, May 28
A dawn-to-dusk 'anti-ULFA' bandh called by trading community and key opposition parties, the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) brought life to a halt here and other parts of Kamrup district.

Protest over removal of Mangal Pandey’s statue
Kolkata, May 28
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists led by all-India national president Amit Thakerr led a protest march today to the Writers Buildings against the removal of the statue of Mangal Pandey, the hero of the First War of Independence and the sepoy mutiny of 1857, from the BBD Bag area.

Rajasthan police team arrives
DGP goes on medical leave
Cuttack, May 28
A police team from Rajasthan arrived here today to arrest Orissa’s DGP (fire sewrvice) B.B. Mohanti only to be told that the top policeman had proceeded on medical leave since yesterday.

‘Fake encounter’ in Gujarat
SC accepts another petition
New Delhi, May 28
The Supreme Court today accepted another petition on a “fake encounter” of four youths, including Javed Gulam Mohd Seikh, a convert to Islam in June, 2006, for allegedly plotting the assassination of state Chief Minister Narendera Modi.

Arrest warrants against 5 cops
Ahmedabad, May 28
A local court today issued arrest warrants against five policemen, including three from Rajasthan, in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case. The warrants were issued by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate K.J. Upadhyay after the Gujarat CID filed an application that neither of them had replied to their summons regarding the case.

Take up visa issue with China, says Arunachal CM
New Delhi, May 28
Describing as unfortunate the Chinese Embassy’s decision to deny visa to an IAS officer from Arunachal Pradesh, state Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu today asked the Centre to take up the issue with China at an “appropriate level”.

Valleys to be christened after crops
Dehra Dun, May 28
The Uttarakhand government today launched a unique project linking marketing of the local agricultural produce of a particular area with tourism by earmarking Bharpur Patti valley in Tehri-Garhwal district as the “Pulses Valley”.

Lalu demolishes ‘Rabri halt’
Patna, May 28
Railways minister Lalu Prasad now truly seems to be in an image-makeover drive. Lalu was said to be instrumental in making his unwilling wife Rabri Devi the first woman Chief Minister of Bihar in the wake of his arrest in 1997 in connection with the multi-crore fodder scam.

SC refuses to intervene
New Delhi, May 28
Even as Sangh Parivar outfits are making a high- pitched ground for stopping the prestigious Sethusamundaram project for fear of damage to mythological “Ram Setu”, the Supreme Court today declined to intervene in the matter.

Indian held in US for ‘blackmailing’ top official
New Delhi, May 28
An Indian-born IITian Rajadata A Patkar has been arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for allegedly blackmailing a top US official over a “sexual exploitation” row.

Nuclear Deal
Take Parliament into confidence: Vajpayee
New Delhi, May 28
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ‘satisfy’ both Houses of Parliament before commiting the country to the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Kerala govt favours non-Hindus in temples
Thiruvananthapuram, May 28
The Left Front government in Kerala today favoured legislation to allow non-Hindus in temples even as a meeting of vedic scholars and priests came out strongly against government intervention in customs and rituals of the shrines.

Soren case: HC pulls up CBI counsel
New Delhi, May 28
The Delhi High Court today pulled up the CBI counsel for failing to do his “home work” in the Shashi Nath Jha murder case, in which former union minister Shibu Soren has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court last year.

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SC okays ban on HP constructions
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 28
In a major boost to the Himachal Pradesh government’s move to preserve the historic Mall Road in Shimla as heritage zone, the Supreme Court has put its seal of approval on the state’s decision to ban all types of constructions there, holding that it was necessary to protect the ecology of the entire area.

Since special regulations were framed for the core area of Shimla declared as “heritage zone” which required to be protected, hence no permission could be issued to raise any building in the area that would affect the ecology, a Bench of Justices S.B. Sinha and Markandey Katju said, setting aside an order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court allowing construction of a hotel in the Mall Road area.

The high court by its August 12 order had permitted Prem Lata Sood and four other owners of a property to build their hotel in the “heritage zone” after the Municipal Corporation of Shimla had turned down their application, citing the provisions of the Himachal Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act of 1995.

Allowing the Municipal Corporation’s appeal against the high court’s order, the apex court said: “Such regulations have been framed in public interest. Public interest, as is well-known must override the private interest and for these reasons, the impugned judgement cannot be sustained.”

The court accepted the argument of corporation’s lawyer Anil Nag that Regulation 10.7 framed under the Act did not permit the development and even reconstruction of any nature in the heritage zone, unless specifically recommended by the heritage advisory committee of the state government by granting due approval to it.

The “heritage zone” include Viceregal Lodge complex, certain areas surrounding it, area of one-building-depth on either side of the Mall Road right from the Viceregal Lodge up to Chhota Shimla Chowk, near state secretariat.

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UPA consultations on presidential nominee gain momentum
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 28
Consultations on evolving a consensus on the Congress-led UPA's nominee for the highest constitutional office in the country gained monmentum with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and regional DMK chief K. Karunanidhi having discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi here today.

While Karunanidhi refused to go into specifics, it was quite apparent that the nominee for Rashtrapati Bhawan had to meet several criteria and had to be acceptable to myriad parties and groups.

Having a candidate from the South is ruled out as incumbent President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and father of the country's missile programme is from Tamil Nadu and his predecessor the late K.R. Narayanan hailed from Kerala.

Agriculture minister and NCP head Sharad Pawar and CPM general secretary Prakash Karat also met Karunanidhi and discussed the possible presidential nominees whose image, political acumen and understanding of the Constitution will endear him to all constituents of the UPA as well those extending support to the UPA government from outside.

It appears unlikely that the DMK will pitch for a Dalit or a non-Brahmin at this juncture though it is widely accepted across the political spectrum in the UPA to have a seasoned politician who is the least controversial.

The UPA is seeking to speed up consultations as most of its allies are in the capital for the day-long National Development Council (NDC) meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

Both Pawar and Karat described their meeting with Karunanidhi as a courtesy call. Karat said he had come to pay his respects to Karunanidhi and acknowledged consulting him with regard to the presidential nominee.

On being asked if there was any concurrence between him and Karunanidhi on the selection of nominee, he replied “it is a process of consultation and not concurrence...We are talking to reach a common understanding.”

Karat said his party would hold consultations with other UPA parnters on the issue. He reiterated that the presidential nominee should have a political background and firm secular credentials.

The future president must be able to maintain balance among Parliament, the Executive and the Judiciary, he said.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati's BSP has made it clear that she supports the UPA which will be crucial in the electoral college in a presidential poll comprising the two Houses of Parliament and the State legislatures.

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Presidential poll
Cong does not rule out apolitical person

New Delhi, May 28
Despite the Left and some of the UPA allies insisting on a political person as the presidential candidate, the Congress today did not rule out an apolitical person for the top post.

“A non-political person is not ruled out,” party spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi told reporters in reply to a question.

Asked what is the Congress criterion for the presidential candidate, he said he should be a “highly experienced person with secular credentials”.

On whether the nominee would be a political person, he said it goes without saying.

Asked whether he could be a non-political person, he said it cannot be ruled out. — PTI

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Sting operations
Notice to govt, TV channels
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 28
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the ministries of telecom and information and broadcasting, three TV channels and a leading English news magazine on a petition by three sadhus from Gujarat, seeking to put a halt on sting operations directly invading the privacy of individuals and using it for commercial purposes.

The notice was also issued to Cobra Post, an organisation which had conducted a sting operation against the sadhus, entrusted with some temple trusts, being shown as encouraging people to invest money in the trusts to get tax relief.

Cobra Post had also carried the sting operation against the MPs caught in cash-for-query scam and then sold its video tapes to a TV channel.

The three TV channels issued notices by the court are CNN-IBN, its sister network in Hindi IBN-7 and the TV-18.

Besides, Outlook magazine, which had published the story, was also issued the notice by a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and D.K. Jain, seeking replies from all respondents to the issues raised in the petitions.

The petition filed by the sadhus, led by Mahamandeleshwar Swami Pragyanand Maharaj, said: “The sting operation by unauthorised persons projecting themselves as representatives of corporate houses, amounted to violation of their fundamental rights aimed at blackmailing them.”

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Conference on Kashmir
India’s no to Pugwash
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 28
India has refused permission to Pugwash, a 50-year-old international NGO and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize, for holding a conference on Kashmir in Mumbai early next month.

The Ministry of External Affairs has denied visas to some 50-odd high-profile people from several countries who wanted to participate in the conference. The Ministry of Home Affairs, too, is learnt to have put its foot down in denying permission to Pugwash for holding the conference. The MHA’s objection stemmed from internal security concerns and government policy issues.

The unannounced reason for New Delhi’s decision is that the Government of India has never allowed any international organisation to hold a conference on Kashmir in India so far. There is no indication to suggest that this policy could be changed in foreseeable future.

Nearly 50 people were to attend the maiden Pugwash conference on Kashmir in India, more than half of them from Pakistan. Participants were to come from countries like Italy and the UK as well.

Initially, Pugwash had planned to hold its conference last month, but it clashed with a round table conference on Kashmir, convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi. Kashmiri separatist leaders were supposed to attend the Pugwash conference. The guest list from Pakistan included politicians, academicians, diplomats, journalists and retired military personnel.

Pugwash has convened several Kashmir-specific conferences in neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. All these conferences were marked by anti-India rhetoric.

The stated purpose of the Pugwash Conferences is to bring together, from around the world, influential scholars and public figures concerned with reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems. Meeting in private as individuals, rather than as representatives of governments or institutions, Pugwash participants exchange views and explore alternative approaches to arms control and tension reduction.

The Pugwash Conference takes its name from the location of the first meeting held in 1957 in the village of Pugwash, Nova Scotia, Canada, the birthplace of American philanthropist Cyrus Eaton, who hosted the meeting.

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Nandigram
Action against West Bengal CM, Ratan Tata demanded
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 28
When the left-front parties meet on June 2 to finalise the date and agenda of another peace meeting on the Nandigram issue, the State Legal Aids Forum and human rights activists will be filing a petition in the Supreme Court, demanding legal action against Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Ratan Tata.

Both are being held responsible for the death of Prasanta Das, Raj Kumar Bag and Haradhan Mondal, who had allegedly committed suicide at Singhur after failing to return back their farmlands acquired forcibly for Tata Motors.

Chairman of the forum, B.P. Das, said they would fight the case in the Supreme Court against Bhattacharjee, Ratan Tata and others involved in the forcible acquiring of farmlands from the poor farmers.

Yesterday, social activists and members of the forum visited families of the bereaved farmers and assured them of financial assistance for maintaining their livelihood and their children’s education.

Of the three persons, Prasana Das committed suicide on Saturday by hanging himself, while Bag and Mondal killed themselves during the past two months of their agitation, while demanding the return of their lands.

Today, the TMC Yuva Congress held demonstrations as a mark of protest against the suicidal death of the farmers. They burnt the chief minister's effigies and have demanded his resignation.

The chief minister said he had ordered an inquiry into the death of Das. But he reiterated that the land already acquired for Tata Motors could not be returned back to the owners at this stage but assured that alternative land and adequate compensation would be given to the bereaved families and a few others who were still demanding the return of their land.

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Cops help Bhosale to give DRI the slip
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 28
Avinash Bhosale, a prominent builder and government contractor linked to all major politicians in Maharashtra, exhibited his clout today when the Mumbai police freed him from the grip of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).

Bhosale, who arrived here from London yesterday, was intercepted by DRI officials at the Sahara airport while he attempted to walkout through the green channel. A search of Bhosale’s baggage revealed expensive goods like diamond-studded watches and jewellery, which he did not declare before the Customs officials.

DRI officials interrogated Bhosale, his wife and three others who were accompanying him on the trip. While the others were allowed to leave, Bhosale was detained for further questioning.

Later, DRI officials handed over Bhosale to the Mumbai police for night custody. However, Bhosale successfully used his political contacts to free him from the clutches of the DRI with the police help. The police produced Bhosale before the night magistrate who released him on bail of Rs 50,000. According to sources Bhosale was also fined Rs 15 lakh.

DRI officials got to know of Bhosale’s release only when they landed up at the police station to produce him before the court.

Bhosale, who owns several five star hotels, was in the news recently when his spacious bungalow in Pune was used for shooting of the movie, “A mighty heart” starring Hollywood star Angelina Jolie. He also hit the headlines when he offered his Bell helicopter to Sharad Pawar and his nephew Ajit.

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New wage boards constituted

New Delhi, May 28
Two wage boards for journalists and non-journalists of newspapers and news agencies were formally constituted today with the government issuing a notification to this effect.

Both the wage boards would be headed by Dr Justice K Narayana Kurup, former acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.

Both the wage boards would have Justice Kurup, a former judge of the Kerala High Court, as the chairman and 10 members each representing the employers’, the working journalists and the non-journalists.

As per notification, the employers’ would be represented by Naresh Mohan (Indian Newspaper Society), Gurinder Singh (All India Small and Medium Newspapers Federation) and Prataprai Tarachand Shah (Indian Language Newspaper Association). They would represent the employers in both the wage boards.

In the wage board for journalists, the employees will be represented by Suresh Akhouri (Indian Journalists Union), Nand Kishore Trikha (National Union of Journalists-India) and K. Vikram Rao (Indian Federation of Working Journalists).

The non-journalists would be represented in their wage boards by Madan Phadnis (All India Newspaper Employees Federation), M S Yadav (Federation of PTI Employees Unions) and Uma Shankar Mishra (National Federation of Newspaper Employees).

Former Labour Secretary K M Sahni, B P Singh and P N Prasanna Kumar would be the independent members of the two wage boards, the notification said. — PTI

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Bandh against ULFA violence hits life
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 28
A dawn-to-dusk 'anti-ULFA' bandh called by trading community and key opposition parties, the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) brought life to a halt here and other parts of Kamrup district.

All business establishments and financial institutions remained closed during the bandh called by 28 traders' organisations led by the influential Kamrup Chamber of Commerce (KCC) and the two opposition political parties in protests against the series of blasts triggered by the banned ULFA of late.

Vehicular traffic was off the road while government offices and educational institutions remained closed during the bandh period. Rail services were not affected by the bandh while the police claimed that there was no report of violence during the bandh.

The KCC claimed that most suppliers of essential commodities from outside the state were indicating their unwillingness to supply essentials on credit to the state as they had become unsure of realising their investment due to the deteriorating law and order situation.

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Protest over removal of Mangal Pandey’s statue
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 28
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha activists led by all-India national president Amit Thakerr led a protest march today to the Writers Buildings against the removal of the statue of Mangal Pandey, the hero of the First War of Independence and the sepoy mutiny of 1857, from the BBD Bag area.

But the marchers were condoned off at a distance by the police who arrested several leaders including Thakerr.

Earlier, several BJP leaders and BJYM workers assembled at Esplanade near Mero station and held a meeting, condemning the dishonourable actions of the CPM and other Left parties for removing Mangal Pandey's statue, located in front of Writers Buildings.

They also criticised the government for not celebrating the 150th anniversary of the sepoy munity which broke out first at Barrackpore.

The leaders alleged that while the CPM did not care to honour the sacrifice and the bravery of great Indian heroes of the past, they would be remembering and honouring the so-called heroic deeds of Mao Tse Tung and Che Guevera and other communist leaders of the world.

Accompanied by the state BJP president Sukumar Banerjee and secretary Rahul Sinha, the workers later led the protest march towards Writers Buildings for submitting a memorandum to the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. But they were not allowed.

The memorandum included the demand for immediate installation of the statue and a memorial in the ‘maidan’ area and at Barrackpore Lalbagan where the hero of the sepoy munity had been hanged to death.

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Rajasthan police team arrives
DGP goes on medical leave

Cuttack, May 28
A police team from Rajasthan arrived here today to arrest Orissa’s DGP (fire sewrvice) B.B. Mohanti only to be told that the top policeman had proceeded on medical leave since yesterday.

The team, led by deputy superintendent of police Mukund Bihari, first met superintendent of police S.K. Priyadarshi and then visited the DGP’s office. An official at the DGP’s office informed them that Mohanti had proceeded on medical leave till May 31 since yesterday.

Bihari told reporters that the police team had arrived with the intention to arrest the DGP under the provisions of Section 225 of the the IPC in connection with the disappearance of his son Bitihotra, a rape convict, while on parole last December.

“We went to the DGP’s office and were informed that he was suffering from blood dysentery and a private hospital had advised him to get admitted into a hospital in the city,” he said. — PTI

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‘Fake encounter’ in Gujarat
SC accepts another petition
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 28
The Supreme Court today accepted another petition on a “fake encounter” of four youths, including Javed Gulam Mohd Seikh, a convert to Islam in June, 2006, for allegedly plotting the assassination of state Chief Minister Narendera Modi.

The petition was moved by Javed’s father M R Gopinatha Pillai from Kerala, whose son Pernesh Kumar PillaI had converted to Islam. He had gone missing after he left for Mumbai from Kerala on June 6, 2004, in his own vehicle. Javed’s wife, Sajitha, had informed about the missing of her husband on June 15.

According to media reports, the Gujarat police claimed to have foiled an attempt to assassinate Modi on June 16, 2004, and killed four youths in an encounter in Ahmedabad. One of the victims was identified by the police as Javed from Pune, who, Pillai said, was his son.

A Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and D. K Jain after accepting the petition put it for hearing along with the fake encounter case of Sohrabuddin, being investigated by a special team of the Gujarat Police CID, headed by IPS officer Geeta Johri under the direct monitoring of the apex court.

Pillai said he was a retired government official and the alleged murder of his son had left his daughter-in-law and three grandchildren Sadiq, Sadaf and Musa with little financial backing.

“My son had no link with any terrorist group or anti-social elements. There was no police case or complaint against him,” Pillai said.He said that he and his daughter-in-law had been continuously harassed since then by the Gujarat police, which was threatening them against any move to file a complaint to any authority, especially after a message was mailed to the National Human Rights Commission by them in 2004 itself.

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Arrest warrants against 5 cops

Ahmedabad, May 28
A local court today issued arrest warrants against five policemen, including three from Rajasthan, in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.

The warrants were issued by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate K.J. Upadhyay after the Gujarat CID filed an application that neither of them had replied to their summons regarding the case.

All the five officials — M.L. Parmar, (Deputy SP Anti-Terrorist Squad, Gujarat), B.R. Chaube (police sub-inspector ATS), Abdul Rehman Sheikh (police inspector, Rajasthan police), Himanshusinh and Shyamsinh (both PSI, Rajasthan police) were allegedly part of the entire operation.

According to the CID probe, police inspector Abdul Rahman was one of the three officials who allegedly shot Sohrabuddin on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in November 2005. The other three are already in police custody. — PTI

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Take up visa issue with China, says Arunachal CM

New Delhi, May 28
Describing as unfortunate the Chinese Embassy’s decision to deny visa to an IAS officer from Arunachal Pradesh, state Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu today asked the Centre to take up the issue with China at an “appropriate level”.

“It is quite unfortunate that China refuses to accept the reality that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India,” Khandu said in a statement here.

Last week, the government had called off a visit by over 100 IAS officers to China for a training programme after the Chinese mission here refused visa to an officer belonging to Arunachal Pradesh who was part of the visiting team.

The team was to go for a two week training to Beijing to understand the functioning of the administration in that country. — PTI

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Valleys to be christened after crops
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, May 28
The Uttarakhand government today launched a unique project linking marketing of the local agricultural produce of a particular area with tourism by earmarking Bharpur Patti valley in Tehri-Garhwal district as the “Pulses Valley”.

This initiative aims at benefiting poor women farmers of the area by removing their dependence on the middlemen.

The government proposes to start similar projects soon by christening other valleys after the local produce they are known for. For instance, the nearby Agrakhal valley on the Rishikesh-Uttarkashi route will be known as the ‘Ginger Valley’, Yamuna valley as ‘Vegetable Valley’ and then ‘Apricot valley’.

Agriculture Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said after studying that instead of the farmers, the middlemen were earning the real profit by buying this organic produce at throwaway prices, we thought of marketing such produce by identifying the place with the local resources with the aim of benefiting small farmers.

Billboards mentioning the major local produce of such areas would be put enroute tourists destinations and pilgrim centres to attract buyers.

State Agricultural Department would provide better seeds of pulses, storage facility, and equipment to grade the produce.

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Lalu demolishes ‘Rabri halt’

Patna, May 28
Railways minister Lalu Prasad now truly seems to be in an image-makeover drive.

Lalu was said to be instrumental in making his unwilling wife Rabri Devi the first woman Chief Minister of Bihar in the wake of his arrest in 1997 in connection with the multi-crore fodder scam, he now did not hesitate to demolish an illegal railway halt named after Rabri Devi.

Known as the new icon of management following the turn around of the Railways under his stewardship, Lalu thus ordered the East Central Railway authorities to demolish the illegal halt named after his wife in Rohtas district.

Confirming this, station manager of Sasaram district S.K. Verma said: “The ‘Rabri halt’ has been demolished with the help of the Railway Protection Force as it was illegal.” It was learnt that villagers had erected a makeshift platform and a board displaying the name of the halt in 2005.

Drivers and guards of local trains were reportedly forced by villagers to stop trains at the spot. — TNS

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Sethusamundaram
SC refuses to intervene
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 28
Even as Sangh Parivar outfits are making a high- pitched ground for stopping the prestigious Sethusamundaram project for fear of damage to mythological “Ram Setu”, the Supreme Court today declined to intervene in the matter.

A Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and D K Jain told advocate P. Venugopal, appearing for Dandi Swami Sri Vidyananda to take up the matter with the authorities concerned in the government and convince them.

“We are not experts… you have not placed the material before the government authorities. If after placing the data before the government it is not considered, then only you could approach the court,” the Bench said.

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Indian held in US for ‘blackmailing’ top official

New Delhi, May 28
An Indian-born IITian Rajadata A Patkar has been arrested by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) for allegedly blackmailing a top US official over a “sexual exploitation” row.

Rajadata, who according to his family was also the Japanese interpreter for the late former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, has been in the custody of the US police since March 3, 2007 for allegedly blackmailing Robert alias Bob Awana, Secretary to the Governor of Hawai, over the latter’s alleged sexual exploitation of Jullie Mae, a Philippine national and the accused’s girl friend.

The allegation against Rajadata was that while working in Tokyo he hacked the e-mail ID of his girl friend from which he learnt of her alleged sexual exploitation by the US official.

Subsequently, it was alleged that Rajadata started blackmailing Awana and reportedly pocketed about $4000.

In a habeous petition filed before the Supreme Court on Monday, Patkar’s mother Snehalata Patkar sought production of her son in India on the ground that his arrest by the US police on “false charges” was illegal. — PTI

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Nuclear Deal
Take Parliament into confidence: Vajpayee

New Delhi, May 28
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ‘satisfy’ both Houses of Parliament before commiting the country to the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Mr Vajpayee, chairman of the Opposition National Democratic Alliance, said under normal circumstances, the government was not required to seek parliamentary approval for signing an international agreement, but yet, Dr Singh had given specific assurances to the Parliament last year and it is incumbent upon him to satisfy both Houses, before confirming the deal, that the assurances he has given have been fulfilled. — UNI

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Kerala govt favours non-Hindus in temples

Thiruvananthapuram, May 28
The Left Front government in Kerala today favoured legislation to allow non-Hindus in temples even as a meeting of vedic scholars and priests came out strongly against government intervention in customs and rituals of the shrines.

Kerala Cooperation Minister G Sudhakaran told reporters here that the LDF government was of the opinion that all believers should be allowed to worship in temples.

The government would think of bringing in legislation in this regard after consulting all concerned, he said.

“The matter has to be discussed with Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan and if necessary, we will bring in a law”, he added reacting to Guruvayur temple’s high priest statement that he only followed existing rules and it was for the government to change the rules. — PTI

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Soren case: HC pulls up CBI counsel

New Delhi, May 28
The Delhi High Court today pulled up the CBI counsel for failing to do his “home work” in the Shashi Nath Jha murder case, in which former union minister Shibu Soren has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the trial court last year.

“Don’t give up your case like this. As a Public Prosecutor (PP), you fill the gap in the case,” a Division Bench of Justice R,S, Sodhi and Justice H.R. Malhotra told CBI counsel R.M. Tiwari while commencing its hearing on final arguments on the appeal filed by Soren. — PTI

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