SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

BMW hit-and-run case
Nanda was not at wheel: Witness

New Delhi, May 29
In a setback to prosecution in the BMW hit-and-run case, a key witness today told a trial court here that it was not Sanjeev Nanda, the main accused, who was driving the car which mowed down six persons in 1999.

Mumbai blasts case: 7 sentenced
Mumbai, May 29
The special court set up under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) to hear the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case sentenced seven men, including four customs officials, to rigorous imprisonment from between five years and life, today.

Wheat procurement date extended
New Delhi, May 29
In a significant decision that would benefit wheat farmers in Punjab, the Centre has decided to extend the date of procurement till June 30, thus enabling the peasants to continue to avail the incentive bonus.


EARLIER STORIES




Security forces fire teargas shells at Bhutanese refugees to prevent them from crossing the border into India at Mechi River Bridge, some 40 km from Siliguri, on Tuesday.
Security forces fire teargas shells at Bhutanese refugees to prevent them from crossing the border into India at Mechi River Bridge, some 40 km from Siliguri, on Tuesday. Some 10,000 Bhutanese refugees from camps in Eastern Nepal attempted to cross into India as part of their "Long March" for voluntary repatriation to Bhutan. — AFP

Girls outshine boys in Class X
New Delhi, May 29
Girls have outshone boys in the Class X examinations the results of which were declared today showing an increase of 7.28 per cent in the pass percentage from last year’s result. The overall pass percentage this year was 84.44 per cent.

Paramilitary forces rushed to Rajasthan
New Delhi, May 29
In the wake of violent protests by the Gurjar Community in Rajasthan, the Centre today rushed over 2000 Central Paramilitary force personnel to various trouble-torn districts in the state to help the local administration to restore peace and normalcy.

ST status to Gurjars
Constitutional amendments needed: Rajasthan govt
Jaipur, May 29
Rajasthan government today said the Gurjar community could be shifted from OBC to Scheduled Tribe category only through Constitutional amendments and that it was not "averse" to recommending the same to the Centre.

BJP split over Dausa; Verma flays firing incident
New Delhi, May 29
Differences within the BJP over the police firing in Dausa cropped up today with former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma denouncing the action as a fit case for investigation and the central party appealing for calm over the unfortunate incident.

SC seeks data of motor accident cases
New Delhi, May 29
The Supreme Court has sought data from all the sates on the total number of motor vehicle accident cases registered with Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) with them as it was found that many cases were not referred to the tribunal by the police.

AIDS patient turned out by hospital, dies
Kolkata, May 29
An AIDS patient, who was readmitted to a government hospital after being humiliated and driven out by employees, has died.

Daler sues Yash Chopra
New Delhi, May 29
Pop singer Daler Mehendi today sent legal notice to film producer Yash Chopra seeking damages of Rs one crore for criminal breach of trust, alleging that his voice was replaced by that of another singer in the title song of soon to be released film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.

Jaipur girl alleges gang-rape
Jaipur, May 29
A college girl has alleged that she was gang-raped by two youths who abducted her last week, the police said today.

Force against Iran won’t work: Pranab
Clears India’s stand before Burns’ visit
New Delhi, May 29
Two days before Nicholas Burns, American point man on the Indo-US nuclear deal, holds talks with his Indian counterparts here, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today reiterated India’s unchanged policy towards Iran to Washington.

Fake Encounter
Javed Akhtar moves SC

New Delhi, May 29
After the Supreme Court order in Sohrabuddin “fake encounter” and killing of his wife Kausaurbi, numerous petitions are being moved in the apex court on the stage-managed shootouts by the state police.

Modi comes under EC scanner
Patna, May 29
Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Modi came under the scanner of the state election commission for alleged violation of the code of conduct during the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) poll held here today.

Campaigning trouble in Goa BJP
Party wants Rudy out, Sushma in
Mumbai, May 29
Just days before Saturday's Assembly elections in Goa, the state unit of the BJP wants its main strategist, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, removed. The reason: the leader seemingly failed to establish a rapport with the party’s rank and file in Goa.

LTTE threat
Narayanan for coordinated patrolling on sea
New Delhi, May 29
Concerned about the Sri Lanka’s terrorist outfit LTTE’s sea and air capabilities, national security adviser M. K. Narayanan underlined the need for coordinated patrolling and not joint patrolling by the navies of India and Sri Lanka for enhancing the security of fishermen from Tamil Nadu on the high seas.

Ground water depletion
Haryana asks Centre for financial help
New Delhi, May 29
Haryana today urged the Centre to provide financial support to the state to offset its additional burden as the depletion of ground water and its exploitation for irrigation was caused due to denial of Sutlej Yamuna Link canal infrastructure to Haryana.

Prepare state-specific Plans: Pawar
New Delhi, May 29
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today asked the Chief Ministers to prepare state-specific Plans on agriculture, keeping in view the agro-climatic conditions, natural resource and available technology.

Police tightens noose around Surajbhan
Patna, May 29
After controversial RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin from Siwan was awarded life imprisonment recently for the kidnapping of CPI-ML activist Chote Lal Gupta in 1997, it now seems to be the turn of Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) MP Surajbhan Singh.

Fresh ban on 2 Assam outfits
Truce with NDFB extended
Guwahati, May 29
The Central government has decided to extend the ban on two insurgent groups from Meghalaya while it has extended the term of ceasefire with Assam-based National Democratic Front of Bodoland.

TDP convention favours Left turn
Tirupati, May 29
A welfare approach to economy and forging a Third Front in conjunction with regional parties and the Leftists is the way forward for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

CM visits ‘jinxed’ town
Bangalore, May 29
Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy yesterday chose to prove a popular superstition wrong in a novel style. He carted most of his cabinet and the top bureaucracy of the state to Chamarajanagar in Mysore district. The backward town is said to rob all chief ministers who visit it of their power.

India to have 25 pc decrease in emissions by 2020
New Delhi, May 29
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) yesterday made India’s stand clear on a variety of environment and wildlife-related issues, ranging from its position on greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions and climate change to tiger farming in China. It also issued an appeal to the Gujarat Government to help save the only population of Asiatic lions in the country.

Agni Mission
Centre open to grant addl funds to states: FM

New Delhi, May 29
The Centre today said it was open to providing additional resources to states to help them implement a proposed mission for increasing production of wheat, rice and pulses - spurt in whose prices has been driving inflation up.

Lakshmanan is law panel head
New Delhi, May 29
Justice A R Lakshmanan, who was in a controversy over the receipt of anonymous threatening letter in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s disproportionate assets case just before his retirement as Supreme Court judge in March, has been appointed the chairman of the Law Commission.


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BMW hit-and-run case
Nanda was not at wheel: Witness

New Delhi, May 29
In a setback to prosecution in the BMW hit-and-run case, a key witness today told a trial court here that it was not Sanjeev Nanda, the main accused, who was driving the car which mowed down six persons in 1999.

"It was a healthy and hefty man that emerged out of the driving seat of the car just after the accident and he is not present in the court right now," Kulkarni, a Mumbai-based trader, told additional sessions judge Vinod Kumar during his cross-examination by the prosecution.

As against the prosecution theory that claimed that Nanda, grandson of former Naval chief S M Nanda, was on the steering when the accident took place, he said the alleged driver's physical features did not match with either of the accused present in the courtroom.

Kulkarni, however, admitted Nanda was one of the occupants who alighted from the car just after the incident.

He reiterated that it was sheer Delhi "police pressure" that had forced him to name Sanjeev Nanda in his earlier statement whereas he had actually heard his nick name "Sanj" or "Sanz" being used by co-accused after the accident.

Kulkarni also virtually disowned his statement made to the police on March 31, 1999, in which he had identified Nanda at the Patiala House courts as the man who "killed" six persons by his rash driving.

"I do not remember having made any such statement to the police and had it been the case, I would not have waited for such a long time," he told the court.

Earlier during the day, the Delhi High Court had dismissed Nanda's petition challenging summoning of Kulkarni as a court witness and allowed his cross-examination. — PTI

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Mumbai blasts case: 7 sentenced
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 29
The special court set up under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities
Act (TADA) to hear the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case sentenced seven men, including four customs officials, to rigorous imprisonment from between five years and life, today.

Among those sentenced was R K Singh, a former assistant collector of Customs, who was found guilty of aiding the landing and dispatch of RDX explosives and other weapons that were used in the blasts. The contraband was landed near the Raigad coast from where it was moved to Mumbai.

Singh was sentenced to nine years’ rigorous imprisonment and fined Rs 3 lakh.

“It has been proven beyond doubt that R K Singh accepted a huge bribe from (Dawood Ibrahim associate Mohammad) Dossa to ensure the safe landing of the consignment at Maharashtra coast. He also misused his official position and even had private meetings with Dossa in connection with the operation. He also had links with Tiger Memon,” chief public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told reporters outside the TADA court. The other customs officials who were sentenced along with Singh were two superintendents - M S Sayyed and Sudhanwa Sadhashiv Talwadekar - who got seven and eight years’ imprisonment, respectively.

A customs inspector, Jaywant Gurav, was sentenced to eight years’ RI. All were fined between Rs 1 and 2 lakh. Others sentenced today included associates of Dossa who were found guilty of being part of the conspiracy.

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Wheat procurement date extended
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
In a significant decision that would benefit wheat farmers in Punjab, the Centre has decided to extend the date of procurement till June 30, thus enabling the peasants to continue to avail the incentive bonus.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had urged the Centre to extend the date of wheat procurement from May 31 to June 30 to which the union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar acceded.

Following this decision, the farmers would continue to get incentive bonus of Rs 100 per quintal on wheat.

The CM had urged Pawar to extend the procurement time period in the wake of delayed wheat arrivals in the mandis due to late maturity of the crop and widespread manual harvesting.

The decision was taken at a meeting held between union agriculture, consumer affairs food and public distribution minister Sharad Pawar and the CM who called on the former at his residence late last evening.

Meanwhile, Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal told reporters on the sidelines of the National Development Council meet that as per their estimates, as much as 20 lakh tonnes of wheat was currently with farmers in the state. He said farmers were holding stocks in anticipation of a better price during the coming months.

The official procurement in the state has reached 65 lakh tonnes against a target of 80 lakh tonnes, he said.

According to Food Corporation of India, wheat procurement in Punjab stood at 64.73 lakh tonnes as on yesterday against the target of 75 lakh tonnes in the current season.

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Girls outshine boys in Class X
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Girls have outshone boys in the Class X examinations the results of which were declared today showing an increase of 7.28 per cent in the pass percentage from last year’s result. The overall pass percentage this year was 84.44 per cent.

Announcing the results, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) chairman, Ashok Ganguly, said the overall pass percentage for girls was 84.72 per cent, while that of boys was 84.24 per cent.

“Girls have done exceptionally well this year also, as was the case with Class XII examinations,” he said.

Last year, the pass percentage for the Class X examination was 77.16 per cent.

More than 7,05,152 students, including 4,12,455 boys, appeared for the X Class examinations, held from March 2 to 28.

The figure for X Class has also recorded an increase of 8.11 per cent from last year when 6,47,992 students appeared.

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Paramilitary forces rushed to Rajasthan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
In the wake of violent protests by the Gurjar Community in Rajasthan, the Centre today rushed over 2000 Central Paramilitary force personnel to various trouble-torn districts in the state to help the local administration to restore peace and normalcy.

According to a Home Ministry spokesperson, an additional 1500 central police jawans were likely to be dispatched to Rajasthan.

Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta spoke to the state chief secretary and took stock of the situation while special secretary (internal security) M.L. Kumawat spoke to the state DGP about it.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who was in the national capital to attend the National Development Council meeting, is understood to have apprised home minister Shivraj Patil about the situation arising out of the protest launched by Gurjars seeking reservation.

The central forces include companies of the CRPF, BSF, Rapid Action Force and companies of the police from some states. The Centre will provide additional forces to Rajasthan if required by the state government.

Meanwhile, in the wake of spurt in naxal attacks against security personnel in Chhattisgarh, a team of officers from the Home Ministry is likely to visit the state in the next few days to discuss the issue with the state officials and take necessary steps to beef up security.

Reacting to the Naxal situation in Chhattisgarh, where over 100 police personnel have died in the last one month, a Home Ministry spokesperson said the Centre is in constant touch with the state government and monitoring the situation.

Madhukar Gupta had a detailed review of the naxal situation with all concerned agencies.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs sent a helicopter to the state this morning.

The spokesperson also pointed out that the home secretary recently wrote to the state government offering assistance in strengthening the intelligence machinery.

Following this, a central team has already visited the state and special arrangements are being worked out to beef up intelligence, he added.

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ST status to Gurjars
Constitutional amendments needed: Rajasthan govt

Jaipur, May 29
Rajasthan government today said the Gurjar community could be shifted from OBC to Scheduled Tribe category only through Constitutional amendments and that it was not "averse" to recommending the same to the Centre.

A ten-member Cabinet Advisory Committee has asked the district collectors in the state to prepare a fresh report on the matter by July 31. After considering the report, the government could recommend to the Centre to take it up for Constitutional amendments, home minister G.C. Kataria told mediapersons here.

"The BJP government is not averse to recommend (the matter) to the Centre but we will have to follow a due procedure," Kataria said, adding "We never put the Gurjars' demand of quota-shifting in the party manifesto".

The BJP government would take up the matter after the collectors' report and get it passed in the Cabinet when required, he said.

Putting the onus of responsibility of not deciding on Gurjar quota issue on the state Congress government of early eighties, he said, "the then Shivcharan Mathur government should have decided this issue way back in 1981."

Mathur government had recommended only the Banjara and Gadaria Lohar to the Scheduled Tribe category and left Gurjars for the OBC which was taken up during the A.B. Vajpayee government at the Centre, Kataria said.

"Following the Gurjar Action Committee's warning of 'chakka jam', the government had invited all factions of the community for dialogue but one Kirori Singh Bhansolia who gave the call did not turn up at any meeting," Kataria said. — PTI

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BJP split over Dausa; Verma flays firing incident
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Differences within the BJP over the police firing in Dausa cropped up today with former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma denouncing the action as a fit case for investigation and the central party appealing for calm over the unfortunate incident.

“It’s not the question of which party is in power.... I strongly condemn the police firing there. There should be a high-level inquiry. Do you want me to use a stronger language than this?” Verma, who holds the post of vice-president in the central organisation of the BJP, told newspersons here.

His comments came barely minutes before spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad was about to give the BJP’s official reaction from the same podium to the police firing in the party-ruled state.

“The incident is unfortunate. It’s sad. We express our condolences....We are not condoning it either. We appeal for calm,” Prasad, who neither condemned the firing nor demanded a probe into it, said.

He also praised Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje for her track record as he sought to defend her against allegations that she had not kept her promise to designate Gurjars as Scheduled Tribes.

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SC seeks data of motor accident cases
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 29
The Supreme Court has sought data from all the sates on the total number of motor vehicle accident cases registered with Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) with them as it was found that many cases were not referred to the tribunal by the police.

Since referring of each accident case to the tribunal was mandatory under Section 158 (6) of the Motor Vehicles Act, any laxity regarding this by the police amounted to violation of the law.

A Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and D K Jain, while issuing notices to the Centre, all the states and UTs, directed that they should furnish an affidavit by making pointed reference to the total number of accidents and how many of them were actually referred to the MACT.

Five insurance companies, in a joint petition, brought the issue before the court yesterday. They allege that the police were not referring a large number of motor vehicle accident cases to MACT, which poses various problems in settlement of the accident claims later and leads to harassment of the claimants.

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AIDS patient turned out by hospital, dies

Kolkata, May 29
An AIDS patient, who was readmitted to a government hospital after being humiliated and driven out by employees, has died.

Nitai Adhikary, from Ghatal in West Midnapore, caused dismay among hospital employees after his admission to the Medical College and Hospital.

Uma Devi, Adhikary’s wife, was told by the employees to take him away as he was an AIDS patient, but when she refused to do so, they yanked him out of bed and sent him packing.

Uma Devi’s ordeal might have continued had an NGO not alerted the hospital authorities.

Adhikary, whose condition had worsened, was readmitted, but he died on Sunday.

It was alleged that some hospital employees even demanded a bribe from Uma Devi for readmitting Adhikary.

Adhikary, who tested HIV positive recently, had been advised admission to the Medical College and Hospital by a doctor of the School of Tropical Medicine, STP sources said today.

The College authorities, when contacted, confirmed that Adhikary died on Sunday, but refused to admit that he had been driven away by its employees.

“We are under the Health Directorate and are not supposed to speak on issues raised around Nitai Adhikary’s death,” they said. — PTI

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Daler sues Yash Chopra

New Delhi, May 29
Pop singer Daler Mehendi today sent legal notice to film producer Yash Chopra seeking damages of Rs one crore for criminal breach of trust, alleging that his voice was replaced by that of another singer in the title song of soon to be released film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom.

Mehendi, through his counsel Nawal Kishore Jha, also sent notices to film director Shaad Ali, lyricist Gulzar and singer Shanker Mahadevan and sought unconditional apology within 15 days.

If the parties do not reply within the stipulated time-frame, his client (Daler Mehendi) shall be constrained to proceed for prosecution against all these persons for "criminal acts of cheating, fraud and deceitful manoeuvring " Jha said.

This fact came to light only on May 15 when the album was released, the counsel said. — PTI

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Jaipur girl alleges gang-rape

Jaipur, May 29
A college girl has alleged that she was gang-raped by two youths who abducted her last week, the police said today.

In an FIR lodged with Vidhyadhar Nagar police station late last night, her father alleged that after the crime the boys hailing from Bikaner threatened him with dire consequences if he went to lodge the case, they said.

After committing the crime, the girl was abandoned near Ajmeri gate in the state capital. A case has been registered and the circle officer Mahila thana (north) Yogita Meena has been asked to probe the case. — PTI

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Force against Iran won’t work: Pranab
Clears India’s stand before Burns’ visit
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Two days before Nicholas Burns, American point man on the Indo-US nuclear deal, holds talks with his Indian counterparts here, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today reiterated India’s unchanged policy towards Iran to Washington.

Mukherjee made a strong intervention at the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Hamburg, Germany, and said military or economic force against Iran over that country’s controversial nuclear programme would not yield any positive results.

He even went to the extent of warning that Iran’s social and cultural mores should not be “demonised”.

Mukherjee’s remarks on Iran assume more significance as the Hyde Act on the nuclear deal underlines the need for India to toe the American line on Iran.

“In our view,” Mukherjee said, “Iran must be engaged purposefully and candidly, not by demonising its social and cultural mores but by recognising their internal dynamic even while we may not accept them for ourselves.”

He said the threat or the implied threat of use of military or economic force against Iran will not work and the problem could be resolved only through engagement. At the same time, Mukherjee made it clear that Iran too had to be mindful of its international obligations.

Burns is coming here for talks with Indian officials on May 31 and June 1. A week after these talks, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush are to hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of G-8 summit in a resort town in Germany. Both the sides are keen to at least finalise the 123 agreement before the two meet.

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Fake Encounter
Javed Akhtar moves SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 29
After the Supreme Court order in Sohrabuddin “fake encounter” and killing of his wife Kausaurbi, numerous petitions are being moved in the apex court on the stage-managed shootouts by the state police. The one such petition was filed today by poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar on the alleged killing of Sameer Khan, who faced a murder case.

Akhtar in his PIL though made a reference to the 19-year-old Mumbai girl Ishrat Jhan Raza and Sadiq Jamao Mehtar encounter cases also, the focus was on the Sameer Khan case with a plea for a CBI probe.

The PIL said though an FIR was registered against Sameer for the alleged murder of a constable in 1996, he was never arrested in that case. However, a new case pertaining to his involvement in the terrorist activities was registered against him and 12 others in September 2002 and he was arrested on October 1.

He was allegedly killed at Usmanpura Garden of Ahmedabad on the night of October 21. This was the place where he allegedly had killed a Gujarat police constable in 1996. A team of 22 personnel took him there, it alleged.

The PIL had named IG Tirath Raj and DSP I. K. Yadav (both now retired) as the officers involved in the alleged encounter.

As per the police version, Sameer Khan had tried to flee from the police custody by snatching a rifle from a constable. He was killed in police firing following the attempt.

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Modi comes under EC scanner
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 29
Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar Sushil Modi came under the scanner of the state election commission for alleged violation of the code of conduct during the Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) poll held here today.

Modi was said to have entered the 200-metre prohibitory area near the polling booth with his official car along with the security guards to cast his vote.

State election commissioner J.K. Datta asked the Patna DM B.Rajendra to inquire into the issue and submit a report to him at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the district administration ordered shoot-on-sight orders to deal with miscreants during the local body poll for 72 seats.

While ballots would be counted on May 31, for the first time 50 per cent of the 72 seats in the
corporation were reserved for women by the Nitish government following the said reservation model for women at the statewide panchayat poll held
last year.

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Campaigning trouble in Goa BJP
Party wants Rudy out, Sushma in
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 29
Just days before Saturday's Assembly elections in Goa, the state unit of the BJP wants its main strategist, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, removed. The reason: the leader seemingly failed to establish a rapport with the party’s rank and file in Goa.

Rudy was brought in to plan the party’s campaign strategy, help out the state leadership in selection of candidates and oversee the final leg of the election campaign.

Sources said Rudy's relations with the Goa BJP, particularly its only mass leader, Manohar Parrikar, soured over the planning of BJP's election campaign. After several disagreements in the recent past, Parrikar is believed to have asked the BJP central leadership to remove Rudy and send in “more effective” leaders like Sushma Swaraj and even Lal Krishna Advani.

BJP insiders in Goa said though Rudy enjoyed a good equation with several of the party leaders, his lack of mass appeal is the trouble area.

Known for his love of the good life, Rudy had reportedly stayed at Goa's best hotels. As aviation minister during the NDA government, he had run up huge bills in Goa's seaside hotels and paid up only when media reports said he was planning to pass on the tab to the public sector airlines.

The party's central leadership had hoped that Rudy would take the place of the late Pramod Mahajan who single-handedly scripted the party’s impressive performance in 2002. Despite the post-Godhra taint over the BJP, Mahajan managed to portray the Goa-BJP as distinct from its Gujarat unit. However, Rudy hasn't succeeded in communicating as well.

The Goa BJP today is ridden by factionalism in several seats. Though the secular vote is split between the Congress, the United Goans Democratic Party and the Save Goa Front, the BJP is worried about the in-house rebellion. Its units in several constituencies have broken away over distribution of tickets and alliances with regional leaders.

The BJP is non-existent in the Taleigao and Santa Cruz constituencies on either side of the Panjim seat held by Parrikar himself.

With party dissidents working to defeat Parrikar in his home base, Rudy was expected to do some firefighting.

Sources said the central leader did not quite succeed and Parrikar has had to work out arrangements with his old enemy Atanasio Babush Monserrate from Taleigao. Monserrate enjoys considerable clout among the Catholics of Panjim and Parrikar hopes to win on their support.

Support by some Hindus, particularly Saraswat Brahmins like Parrikar, to the Congress candidate in Panjim is worrying the BJP.

Sushma Swaraj, it is expected, would do some tough talking and rein in the dissidents who can play spoilsports in the last days of the election campaign.

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LTTE threat
Narayanan for coordinated patrolling on sea
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Concerned about the Sri Lanka’s terrorist outfit LTTE’s sea and air capabilities, national security adviser M. K. Narayanan underlined the need for coordinated patrolling and not joint patrolling by the navies of India and Sri Lanka for enhancing the security of fishermen from Tamil Nadu on the high seas.

Narayanan made these observations after his meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi here today in the wake of the kidnapping and attacks on fishermen. He acknowledged that the sea Tigers were a threat.

“We are always concerned about any terrorist organisation having sea and air capabilities,” he said when asked about the threat faced by the country on its southern seaboard.

As regards coordinated patrolling, he said the opinion of Sri Lanka would be sought in the matter though he did not expect any problems from the Indian side.

Karunanidhi had drawn Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s attention yesterday to the increase in kidnappings and attacks on fishermen from Tamil Nadu.

The Chief Minister wanted the Centre to take firm steps in this regard.

Subsequently, Dr Singh directed Narayanan to meet Karunanidhi and apprise him of the steps taken to gear up security.

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Ground water depletion
Haryana asks Centre for financial help

New Delhi, May 29
Haryana today urged the Centre to provide financial support to the state to offset its additional burden as the depletion of ground water and its exploitation for irrigation was caused due to denial of Sutlej Yamuna Link canal infrastructure to Haryana.

The state irrigation minister while addressing the Chief Minister’s conference on power sector issues here, said due to continued denial of surplus Ravi-Beas water to Haryana, our farmers have no option but to exploit groundwater to sustain agriculture production.

This has depleted ground water resources, affected our soil and put a strain on our electricity system. The state is providing subsidy to the tune of Rs 2,366 crore in the current year on the account of subsidised power to the agriculture sector. — TNS

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Prepare state-specific Plans: Pawar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today asked the Chief Ministers to prepare state-specific Plans on agriculture, keeping in view the agro-climatic conditions, natural resource and available technology.

These Plans should integrate various schemes in the agriculture sector with rural development programmes, irrigation projects, and other related programmes.

Pawar was addressing the 53rd meeting of the National Development Council held here specially to discuss the food and agriculture sector.

The state Plans, the minister said, would need to be backed up with an effective extension system, which should provide assistance to farmers not only on crop-related activities but also on animal resource development.

He observed that the deceleration in agricultural growth in the recent years had coincided with the falling share of agriculture, irrigation, and rural development in the state Plan outlays. Enhancing investment and Plan outlays had to be complemented with effective implementation of the programmes and schemes.

Pawar further emphasised the need for higher investments in these sectors. “The twin objectives of ensuring food security and improving the lot of our farmers can be achieved through higher investments in the agriculture and allied sectors, including irrigation.

However, the allocation to this crucial sector, in relation to other sectors, has been going down over the years. This needs to be reversed”, he stated.

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Police tightens noose around Surajbhan
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 29
After controversial RJD MP Mohd Shahabuddin from Siwan was awarded life imprisonment recently for the kidnapping of CPI-ML activist Chote Lal Gupta in 1997, it now seems to be the turn of Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) MP Surajbhan Singh.

Official sources said the police filed a chargesheet against Surajbhan, known as a "bahubali", in a fast track court in Begusarai district for opening fire on policemen during a raid in 1992.

The court yesterday directed petitioner to produce evidence against Surajbhan in the next hearing.

It was learnt that when a police team in 1992 had raided a contractor’s house in Begusarai, Surajbhan, along with a few accomplices, who were hiding in the house, had allegedly opened fire on the team. While two persons were arrested, Surajbhan and some others managed to escape.

In January this year, the Nitish government decided to expedite trial of several old criminal cases, including those against Surajbhan, who is known to be close to steel minister and party chief Ram Vilas Paswan.

The state government also appointed a special public prosecutor to look into criminal cases involving politicians, cutting across party lines.

An MP from Ballia in Bihar, Surajbhan faced many charges of murder and extortion between 1992-96.

The sources said while the trial against the "bahubali" and JD (U) MLA Sunil Pandey, now languishing in jail, was almost complete, JD(U) parliamentary party leader Prabhunath Singh, too, was facing trial in criminal cases.

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Fresh ban on 2 Assam outfits
Truce with NDFB extended

Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 29
The Central government has decided to extend the ban on two insurgent groups from Meghalaya while it has extended the term of ceasefire with Assam-based National Democratic Front of Bodoland.

According to an official source in Shillong, the Centre has decided to extend the ban on two Meghalaya-based tribal insurgent groups, Achik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) and Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), for another two years.

The Centre has also extended the current term of ceasefire with the Assam-based Bodo militant group, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), by another six months with effect from June 1 as the current term of the truce expires on May 31.

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TDP convention favours Left turn
Tribune News Service

Tirupati, May 29
A welfare approach to economy and forging a Third Front in conjunction with regional parties and the Leftists is the way forward for the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).

The political resolution passed at the three-day party convention "Mahanadu" said that an alternative economic policy aimed at benefiting the poor was the need of the hour. The party would involve the Leftists in this exercise, which would also pave the way for forming a Third Front.

The resolution, passed on the concluding day of the party conclave, said that recent UP election results clearly showed that national parties had lost their relevance. Both Congress and BJP were relegated to the back benches.

"The UP poll outcome is a clear indication of the political changes occurring in the country. The Congress is all set to lose Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra Assembly elections and will be reduced to a regional party by 2009," the TDP resolution, introduced by the party Parliamentary leader, said.

More than 10,000 delegates attended the session at the Nehru High School grounds here in which party delegates deliberated on the challenges ahead for the party, which is bracing up for the 2009 Assembly elections.

"Political developments at the national level indicate the need for coming together of new forces. TDP wants to play a constructive role in forging unity among like-minded parties," the resolution said.

The TDP political resolution also condemned the Indo-American nuclear agreement as being detrimental to the national interests. The US had violated all assurances given by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament.

The government's foreign policy is being dictated by American interests. "The UPA government's attitude towards the Iranian issue is also objectionable. India appears to be toeing the Bush line only to appease the American government," the resolution said.

On Manmohan Singh, the resolution said that the three-years of UPA rule had only diluted the power and position of the Prime Minister. "Sonia Gandhi is wielding the remote control, which controls Singh. Sonia has turned into an extra-constitutional authority," the 16-page resolution in Telugu said.

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CM visits ‘jinxed’ town
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, May 29
Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy yesterday chose to prove a popular superstition wrong in a novel style. He carted most of his cabinet and the top bureaucracy of the state to Chamarajanagar in Mysore district. The backward town is said to rob all chief ministers who visit it of their power. Successive chief ministers have kept away from Chamarajanagar due to this superstition.

Kumaraswamy took up the “challenge” to visit the town after answering a question during a video conference in Mysore during which a journalist claimed that development works in the town had suffered due to the propagation of this myth.

The Chief Minister and his father H.D. Deve Gowda, who are often accused of plotting to hold on to power even after the scheduled change of guard expected in October according to an understanding with the BJP, said if he was destined to stay in power no one could prevent it. He, however, hastened to add that he was heading a coalition government and that he would hand over power to senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa in October as per the power-sharing agreement between the two coalition partners.

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India to have 25 pc decrease in emissions by 2020
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 29
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) yesterday made India’s stand clear on a variety of environment and wildlife-related issues, ranging from its position on greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions and climate change to tiger farming in China. It also issued an appeal to the Gujarat Government to help save the only population of Asiatic lions in the country.

Clarifying India's stand on cutting down GHG emissions, environment secretary Pradipto Ghosh said the country would not accept any targets or mandates that could impact future development or growth. Developed countries, which have contributed to climate change, should take bigger steps and commitments to control emissions, he said.

As a result of India's existing green and energy-efficient practices, there will be a 25 per cent decrease in emissions by 2020, he said.

To begin with, the ministry made an appeal to the Gujarat Government to save Asiatic lions by agreeing to shift a few animals to Kuno Palampur in Madhya Pradesh, where a home for them has been developed. “Lions are not just Gujarat's but India's pride," he said.

Gir has the only wild population of the endangered Asiatic lions. But so far Gujarat has been reluctant to part with the lions, as they gave a distinctive place to the state from a tourism point of view.

Experts have been canvassing for the need of developing a second population of lions in order to avoid inbreeding and achieve genetic diversity to make the species more resistant to diseases and epidemics.

In his first real reaction on the latest Wildlife Institute of India(WII) study, which shows a decrease in the number of tigers in four central Indian states, Ghosh said while the ministry accepted the number of tigers given by the WII, it would be erroneous to compare them with figures of the past census.

The ministry has also commissioned an analysis to see what impact tiger farming in China might have on India's tiger conservation programme. "India has asked China to ensure that there is proper identification and labelling of tiger body parts sourced from farming,” Ghosh said.

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Agni Mission
Centre open to grant addl funds to states: FM

New Delhi, May 29
The Centre today said it was open to providing additional resources to states to help them implement a proposed mission for increasing production of wheat, rice and pulses - spurt in whose prices has been driving inflation up.

Attributing high inflation to rise in prices of primary articles including food items, finance minister P. Chidambaram said there is an emerging consensus between the Centre and the states on launching the mission.

"It is in our common interest that we agree on a plan of action for the Central government and state government (for the proposed mission) and implement it without hindrance," he said addressing a meeting of the 53rd National Development Council.

"I realise that when we launch the mission, there will be demand for more funds. Hence, I would support the proposal to provide additional resources and transfer the same through the method of additional Central assistance," Chidambaram said.

He said in his view, horizontal allocation across the state should be based on a transparent formula. The size of agricultural GDP of the state and the prevalent yield gap could be some of the parameters.

The success of the proposed mission would depend on the willing participation of states to the actions that fall within their areas of responsibility, he said.

Recognising the different requirements of the states, the finance minister supported the view that state-specific plans for agriculture should be developed.

"Even a state-specific plan should be an aggregate of district specific plans, formulated for the districts in that state," Chidambaram said. — PTI

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Lakshmanan is law panel head
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 29
Justice A R Lakshmanan, who was in a controversy over the receipt of anonymous threatening letter in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s disproportionate assets case just before his retirement as Supreme Court judge in March, has been appointed the chairman of the Law Commission. The post had been lying vacant since September last year.

The speculations about justice Lakshmanan’s appointment as the law panel head were rife even before his retirement in March. The letter of appointment was handed over to him yesterday and he was asked to assume the charge the same day, sources said.

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