SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Gujjar leaders call on Rajnath
New Delhi, June 1
The BJP leadership today appealed to all communities, particularly the Gujjars, to help in restoring normalcy in Rajasthan even as the state remained comparatively peaceful.

Pilgrims stranded at Hardwar
Dehra Dun, June 1
The heat of the violence by the Gujjar community in Rajasthan is being felt here affecting bus and train services to that state. Community members have organised peaceful demonstrations in Dehra Dun and Hardwar districts and burnt effigies of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

Reservation
Karunanidhi calls for strong legislation
New Delhi, June 1
Apparently unhappy over the OBC quota issue getting stuck, DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said a ‘strong new’ legislation should be enacted and proposed setting up a Parliamentary committee for backward classes.






EARLIER STORIES




Chief of the Air Staff Homi Major (right) writes his wishes before flagging off 'Round the World Microlight Expedition’ at Air Force station near Ghaziabad on Friday.
Chief of the Air Staff Homi Major (right) writes his wishes before flagging off 'Round the World Microlight Expedition’ at Air Force station near Ghaziabad on Friday — PTI

Man who supplied gun to Dutt gets nine years
Mumbai, June 1
Sitting far back among the convicts, actor Sanjay Dutt today witnessed the special TADA court sentencing his one-time friend and film producer Samir Hingora to nine years’ rigorous imprisonment in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

HC stays proceedings against NRN
Bangalore, June 1
In a relief to Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy, the Karnataka High Court today stayed for eight weeks the proceedings initiated against him by a magistrate court in connection with a criminal case filed on charges of insulting the national anthem.

Pilgrims advised to avoid trucks, bikes
Hemkund Sahib shrine opens
Dehra Dun, June 1
Pilgrims coming to pay obeisance at Hemkund Sahib, Nanak Matta and Reetha Sahib in Uttarakhand should avoid travelling in improvised double-decker trucks to ensure their safety. Groups of youths visiting these places on motor cycles are also advised to desist from the practice to avoid any accidents.

Wage Boards chief assumes office
New Delhi, June 1
Chairman of the Wage Boards for working journalists and non-working journalists of newspapers and news agencies Justice K. Narayana Kurup has assumed office. Justice Kurup heads the two Wage Boards having 10 members each. The board is to submit its report within three years.

Anand serves notice on NDTV
New Delhi, June 1
Senior advocate R.K. Anand today said he had served a legal notice seeking Rs 50 crore as damages from NDTV, accusing the news channel of defaming him by telecasting a sting operation related to the BMW case.

Firing again in Nandigram
Nandigram, June 1
Gunshots and bomb explosions were heard here today, for the second time in the past three days. But, there were no casualties.

Kanimozhi assets worth Rs 8.45 cr
Chennai, June 1
The assets of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s poetess daughter Kanimozhi are worth Rs 8.45 crore, according to the mandatory affidavit accompanying her nomination for the Rajya Sabha.

Nagaland CM faces rebellion
Guwahati, June 1
A crisis of dissidence has troubled the 4-year-old Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government in Nagaland headed by the chief minister Neiphiu Rio.

Tahir Law Commission member
New Delhi, June 1
Noted legal expert and former chairman of the National Minorities Commission Tahir Mahmood was today appointed member of the Law Commission.

An 8-year-old serial killer?
Patna, June 1
He smiles and asks for a packet of biscuits from everyone asking him questions. This is the story of eight-year-old Amarjeet Sada from Musahari village of Begusarai district, who is suspected to be the youngest serial killer of Bihar.

Imtiaz Alam Saarc MPs’ meeting begins today
Shimla, June 1
The largest and most representative congregation of parliamentarians from the SAARC countries will strive to put in place some sort of institutional mechanism to help achieve the ultimate goal of a South Asian Parliament during the two-day conference “Parliamentary Forum-II” beginning here tomorrow. The 83 delegates from eight countries representing a wide and varied spectrum of political ideologies will deliberate on core issues to further regional cooperation as mandated by the Bhurban declaration adopted at the Parliamentary Forum-I held in 2005.

Gupta panel disbanded
Lucknow, June 1
The UP cabinet today ordered the disbanding of the A.N. Gupta commission, set up by the previous Mulayam Singh government to probe into the irregularities in allotment of 1,250 plots in Noida during July 2005, putting a stamp on the government’s earlier decision to order a CBI inquiry into the matter.


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Gujjar leaders call on Rajnath

New Delhi, June 1
The BJP leadership today appealed to all communities, particularly the Gujjars, to help in restoring normalcy in Rajasthan even as the state remained comparatively peaceful.

Party sources said leaders of the All-India Gujjar Mahasabha and the Gujjar Development Council called on party president Rajnath Singh and sought his intervention to direct the Rajasthan Chief Minister to consider their demands sympathetically, failing which it would be difficult for them to withdraw their agitation.

Rajnath Singh, however, urged them not to do anything to further escalate the situation. The foremost priority should be to establish peace and social amity in the state and they should cooperate in it, he said.

BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said the party leadership was in touch with Chief Minister Vasundara Raje to keep itself abreast of the situation.

Expressing serious concern over torching of police stations in various parts of the state by agitating Gujjars in an “organised manner”, he said it was very disturbing.

“There seems to be a conspiracy to disturb peace and social harmony in Rajasthan,” he said, but, however, declined to comment if he foresaw the hand of any political party behind it.

“We are appealing to all the communities and political parties to cooperate in establishing peace in the state,” he said.

Prasad remained evasive when asked the reasons why the state government was taking so much time to announce an inquiry into the police firing on Wednesday in which at least four persons were killed and several injured and also the compensation for the victims. — UNI

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Delhi-Dehra Dun road blocked

Muzaffarnagar, June 1
Showing solidarity with the Gujjar community, the members of the Bhartiya Gurjar Samaj burnt the effigy of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje near Khatoli town here and blocked the Delhi-Dehra Dun National Highway today, the police said.

Hundreds of Gujjar activists protesting the police firing in Rajasthan also took out a procession at Khandvi village in the district yesterday. The district administration of Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Ghaziabad has been put on alert considering the volatile situation in Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, in Ghaziabad over 5000 protesters belonging to the Gujjar community resorted to stone pelting and damaged a bus and two trucks today. They also staged a dharna and blocked the Delhi-Loni road near Dhopura here. — PTI

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Protest echoes in MP

Bhopal, June 1
Pro-reservation agitation by Gujjars in Rajasthan had its echo in Madhya Pradesh with the community members staging demonstrations and blocking roads at some places today, seeking dismissal of the BJP government in the neighbouring state.

Rallies, sit-ins and road blocks were held in Neemuch, Morena, Mandsaur, Ratlam, Gwalior and other districts as Gujjars demanded Scheduled Tribe status for them and compensation to families of those killed in Rajasthan police firing.

Security was tightened in many areas, particularly in Gujjar dominated Chambal belt, in a bid to prevent any untoward incident during the protests, the police said.

In Neemuch bordering Rajasthan, a rally was held under the banner of Gujjar samaj at Manasa to protest police firing in Rajasthan and a memorandum addressed to the President was handed over to officials. Rallyists also burnt effigies of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia.

Besides seeking dismissal of the Raje government, the protesters also wanted action against those involved in police firing, district Gujjar samaj president Manohar Gujjar said.

Families of those killed in police firing should be given Rs 10 lakh compensation each and one member of a deceased's family must be provided job, he said, adding job reservation should be extended to Gujjars in Madhya Pradesh.

A call was given for Morena bandh tomorrow by the Gujjar Vikas Sangathan as members of the community blocked road traffic in areas bordering Rajasthan, state sangathana president Virendra Singh Harsana said. — PTI

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Delegation meets Pranab, Sheila; wants govt to go
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
Even as members of the Gujjar community in various parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi continued to agitate in support of their demand for inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe list, a delegation of their leaders led by Shyamdev Bhadana today called on the Union defence minister Pranab Mukherjee and Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

The delegation urged the defence minister to ensure that the Army deployed in Rajasthan does not fire indiscriminately on agitating community members. Demanding the dismissal of the Rajasthan government, Bhadana sought heavy compensation for those killed in police firing during the last few days of the agitation.

Later addressing reporters, Bhadana, who is also the national president of the Indian Trade Union Congress, said that the Delhi Chief Minister fully supported their demand and had also demanded heavy compensation for those killed in the violence in Rajasthan.

He said that about 30 lakh Gujjars in the National Capital Territory of Delhi were agitating peacefully but were ready to make any sacrifice for the cause.

Dikshit also exhorted Gujjars to maintain peace, calm and amity when delegations of the community members met her to convey their deep concern over the recent happenings in Rajasthan.

The Chief Minister condemned the firing on peaceful demonstrators in Rajasthan.

“The firing was unwarranted as demonstrators were raising their demands in a democratic way. The firing has resulted in continued violence which is very worrying,” she added.

She told members of the delegation that home minister Shiv Raj Patil was fully aware of the latest situation and was in constant touch with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

Dikshit suggested to the members of the Gujjar community to continue a dialogue and talks and help in finding an amicable solution.

The Delhi cabinet yesterday expressed its deep sense of regret over the loss of lives on the peaceful agitation of the Gujjar community in Rajasthan.

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Situation worsening, says Cong
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
Terming the situation in Rajasthan as “spiralling out of control”, the Congress accused the state Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of failing in her duty.

Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan said that the situation in the state had taken a serious turn. “There is a grave security threat to the lives of citizens in Rajasthan. The CM should accept moral responsibility of this dangerous turn of events,” she said.

The spokesperson said there were sufficient warnings in the media and elsewhere that such clashes could occur but the Chief Minister chose to remain abroad for nearly 20 days and failed to take a single step to prevent these incidents.

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Pilgrims stranded at Hardwar
Raju William/Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, June 1
The heat of the violence by the Gujjar community in Rajasthan is being felt here affecting bus and train services to that state. Community members have organised peaceful demonstrations in Dehra Dun and Hardwar districts and burnt effigies of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje.

As its major fallout, the Uttarakhand State Transport Corporation has suspended buses to the trouble-torn state. The decision was taken after the protesters set afire a state-owned bus on the Rajasthan-Haryana border on Thursday. This has affected the movement of bus services to Rajasthan from Tanakpur, Kotdwar, Ramgarh, Kathgodam, Dehra Dun and Hardwar.

Similarly, buses from Rajasthan too have been suspended. The MD, State Transport Corporation, K K Pant, said the decision would remain in force till the restoration of normalcy. Since this has happened in the peak of tourist season, the hardships being faced by pilgrims and tourists have doubled as the situation has also affected the movement of trains from Hardwar which included Mumbai Express, Jodhpur Express, Ahmedabad Mail and Ganganagar Express.

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Reservation
Karunanidhi calls for strong legislation

New Delhi, June 1
Apparently unhappy over the OBC quota issue getting stuck, DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said a ‘strong new’ legislation should be enacted and proposed setting up a Parliamentary committee for backward classes.

“New legislation that is strong enough need to be enacted. A committee for backward classes should also be set up in Parliament,” he said in an interview to ‘The Week’ magazine.

Sending a clear signal that his poet-daughter Kanimozhi would be DMK’s face in Delhi, he said the entire party had reposed faith in her and that is why the party is sending her to the Rajya Sabha.

Until recently, Dayanidhi Maran, who was forced to quit the Union Cabinet following a family feud, was the link between the DMK and the UPA.

Asked for his opinion about Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he said she sacrificed the post of Prime Minister to discharge her duties as Congress leader. “I have no words to praise her,” the magazine quoted the DMK veteran as saying.

The DMK supremo also brushed aside differences with his allies like PMK in Tamil Nadu.

Showering praise on the Manmohan Singh government, Karunanidhi said schemes worth several thousand crore rupees have been devised for the poor and farmers.

“Schemes like food for work are very good. All ministers are discharging their duties so well that they are appreciated by the people,” he said.

Describing her father as an amazing leader, Kanimozhi said: “Politics is something you have to compromise on. But he still holds close to him the goals for which he came to politics.”

Asked to describe her relationship with her brothers M.K. Azhagiri and M.K. Stalin and whether it would change with her entry into the politics, she said it was like between any normal siblings. “I don’t see any reason for change, but I do hope to get their guidance.”

“My public life keeps me energetic and enthusiastic, Karunanidhi said, who will be celebrating his 84th birthday on Sunday. — PTI

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Man who supplied gun to Dutt gets nine years

Mumbai, June 1
Sitting far back among the convicts, actor Sanjay Dutt today witnessed the special TADA court sentencing his one-time friend and film producer Samir Hingora to nine years’ rigorous imprisonment in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

Going by Sanjay’s confession, recorded after his arrest in April 1993, his association with the blasts conspiracy began with Hingora and his partner in Magnum Video, Hanif Kadawala.

According to Sanjay, during the post-Babri demolition riots, he had talked with Hingora and Kadawala about his fear that his family might be harmed, as the Hindu fundamentalist elements were not happy with his father Sunil Dutt helping the riot-affected Muslims.

The duo then told Sanjay that they could arrange a weapon for him for self-protection, and a few days later, in mid-January, they landed up at his Bandra residence alongwith Abu Salem and Baba Chuahan with AK-56 rifles, ammunition and hand grenades.

They persuaded him to keep the three rifles, but the actor later returned the two and kept one, for which, he has been convicted by the TADA court under the Arms Act.

As Sanjay and eight others, who are on bail, put in regular appearance in the court today, special judge Pramod Kode pronounced Hingora’s sentence of nine years’ RI and a two lakh fine.

The judge said not only Hingora gave arms to Sanjay, but was also guilty of being party to commit the terrorist act.

“He provided arms to Sanjay at the instance of Anees Ibrahim (absconding accused and Dawood Ibrahim’s brother),” the judge said.

The judge, however, clarified that Hingora was not involved in the final part of the conspiracy - carrying out the serial blasts in March 1993.

He said Hingora being a heart patient and having undergone angioplasty could not be given a harsher punishment. Hingora has already spent about six years in jail as an under trial.

He and his partner and co-accused Hanif Kadawala produced two movies - ‘Dil hi to Hai’ and ‘Sanam’. Sanjay Dutt starred in the latter.

Hanif Kadawala was killed by the Chhota Rajan gang. — PTI

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HC stays proceedings against NRN

Bangalore, June 1
In a relief to Infosys chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy, the Karnataka High Court today stayed for eight weeks the proceedings initiated against him by a magistrate court in connection with a criminal case filed on charges of insulting the national anthem.

The stay was granted by Justice Mohan Shantanagoud while admitting a petition filed by Murthy praying for quashing the proceedings launched against him in the 2nd Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court and also the summons issued by it.

The ACMM court had on May 26 issued summons to Murthy, returnable by June 21, and ordered registering of a criminal case under the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act 1971 following a complaint filed against the software icon for his reported remarks on national anthem singing.

The controversy involving Murthy erupted after he defended the playing of instrumental version of the national anthem at a function held in Mysore Infosys campus on April 8, which was attended by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

Addressing the post-function press conference, Murthy had said the instrumental version of the national anthem was played to avoid embarrassment to company employees of foreign origin present there.

However, Murthy had tendered an apology for his remarks. — PTI

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Pilgrims advised to avoid trucks, bikes
Hemkund Sahib shrine opens
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, June 1
Pilgrims coming to pay obeisance at Hemkund Sahib, Nanak Matta and Reetha Sahib in Uttarakhand should avoid travelling in improvised double-decker trucks to ensure their safety. Groups of youths visiting these places on motor cycles are also advised to desist from the practice to avoid any accidents.

Taking a serious view of the practice in the interest of the safety of the pilgrims, Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri has asked his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal in a letter to issue directions to officials to ensure that pilgrims coming from Punjab should travel only in passenger vehicles, besides adhering to rules of road safety.

The pilgrimage season to the famous Hemkund shrine got underway today for six months. Around 6,000 pilgrims participated in the opening “ardas”, according to Giani Parduman Singh of the Govindghat Gurdwara. More than a million pilgrims, mostly Sikh pilgrims from Punjab, visit these holy places in Uttarakhand.

As per a copy of the letter written in April, Khanduri informed Badal that most of the trucks carrying pilgrims were converted into double deckers by fixing wooden planks in the vehicles to accommodate more people. These trucks also carry other supplies like cooking utensils and gas cylinders. "Use of goods vehicles for the transportation of pilgrims was not only illegal but hazardous also," he pointed out.

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Wage Boards chief assumes office
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
Chairman of the Wage Boards for working journalists and non-working journalists of newspapers and news agencies Justice K. Narayana Kurup has assumed office. Justice Kurup heads the two Wage Boards having 10 members each. The board is to submit its report within three years.

The Wage Boards have been constituted for the purpose of fixing or revising wages of working journalists and newspaper employees and non-working journalists in accordance with the provisions of the Working Journalists and other Newspaper Employees (Conditions of Service) and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1955.

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Anand serves notice on NDTV
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, June 1
Senior advocate R.K. Anand today said he had served a legal notice seeking Rs 50 crore as damages from NDTV, accusing the news channel of defaming him by telecasting a sting operation related to the BMW case.

“NDTV should apologise for misrepresentation of facts. I have initiated legal action against them and the notice has been served to them for damages of Rs 50 crore,” he said in a statement.

When contacted for NDTV’s reaction to Anand's allegations, the channel's managing editor Barkha Dutt said NDTV has already handed over all unedited footage to the trial court as well as to the Delhi High Court. We will follow the legal process in this case, she said.

Anand, who is defending the main accused Sanjeev Nanda, grandson of former Navy chief S.M. Nanda and senior advocate I.U. Khan, who was dropped yesterday as public prosecutor, were shown as purportedly trying to influence Sunil Kulkarni, a witness in the case.

Demanding apology for misrepresentation of facts, Anand said, “I regretfully state that NDTV has put its reputation at stake by relying upon a person like Sunil Kulkarni, whose character and intentions have been doubted not just by media, courts and police but by NDTV itself.

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Firing again in Nandigram

Nandigram, June 1
Gunshots and bomb explosions were heard here today, for the second time in the past three days. But, there were no casualties.

Shots were fired and crude bombs hurled at Bhangabera area for half an hour, SP G.A. Srinivas said, adding there was no report of any casualty or injury in the incident.

Police personnel, posted at Tekhali bridge, did not intervene to prevent any flare-up as the firing went on for some time from both Bhangabera and Khejuri sides.

While the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), which is spearheading the movement against land acquisition, has been active for the past five months in Nandigram, the CPM has its camps in the adjacent Khejuri area.

When asked, Trinamool Congress MLA and BUPC leader Shubhendu Adhikary denied any firing from the Nandigram side. He, however, accused the CPM of trying to instigate violence from the Khejuri side by opening fire and triggering blasts.

Meanwhile, the BUPC decided to cancel its proposed rally to Khejuri today after a meeting with the administration last night.

About the allegations that displaced CPM supporters were yet to return home in Nandigram, the BUPC claimed those, not involved in the atrocities on people, were already returning “without any problem”. — PTI

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Kanimozhi assets worth Rs 8.45 cr
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 1
The assets of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s poetess daughter Kanimozhi are worth Rs 8.45 crore, according to the mandatory affidavit accompanying her nomination for the Rajya Sabha. Kanimozhi and DMK’s other nominee Tiruchy N. Siva today filed their nominations for the Rajya Sabha poll scheduled on June 15. Siva declared assets worth Rs 76 lakh.

This was Kanimozhi’s maiden entry into electoral politics as she is all set to get elected to the Rajya Sabha as one of the six members who will reach the Upper House. While the DMK has two nominees, its allies - the CPI and Congress - have been allotted one each. While the CPI has nominated its national secretary D. Raja, the Congress is yet to name its candidate. The rest two seats will go to AIADMK, which has nominated V. Maitreyan and R. Ilavarasan.

Compared to the rich poetess Kanimozhi, Raja who will enter the Rajya Sabha along with her seems to be the poorest among all the nominees.

According to his declaration, he has only Rs 61,000, out of which Rs 58,000 was in the form of bank deposits in the names of his family members. He has no property in his name except for Rs 3,000 in cash.

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Nagaland CM faces rebellion
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 1
A crisis of dissidence has troubled the 4-year-old Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government in Nagaland headed by the chief minister Neiphiu Rio.

A group of 22 rebel MLAs submitted a memorandum to the Governor expressing 'loss of confidence' in the chief minister. Rio's bete noir is former finance minister of the state, K Therie who was dropped from the ministry by the Chief Minister in 2005.

A source in the ruling coalition in Nagaland comprising Nagaland People's Front (NPF) led by Rio, the BJP and the Janata Dal (United), informed that 22 MLAs led by Therie had revolted against the Chief Minister even as the opposition Congress was waiting in the wing to cash in on the crisis.

Rio who was in New Delhi to attend the National Development Council (NDC) meeting rushed back to the state to tackle the situation.

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Tahir Law Commission member
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
Noted legal expert and former chairman of the National Minorities Commission Tahir Mahmood was today appointed member of the Law Commission.

He had earlier served as the Dean of the Law Faculty in Delhi University.

Author of a number of law books, Mahmood was an Expert-Member of the National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities besides being the NCM chairman.

Earlier this week, A.R. Lakshmanan, a former Supreme Court judge, was appointed chairman of the Law Commission.

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An 8-year-old serial killer?
Tribune News Service

Patna, June 1
He smiles and asks for a packet of biscuits from everyone asking him questions. This is the story of eight-year-old Amarjeet Sada from Musahari village of Begusarai district, who is suspected to be the youngest serial killer of Bihar.

The police had taken him to confinement after he was accused of murdering his infant sister and two other babies over the past year. The police today said his latest victim was six-month-old Khusboo.

Khusboo was sleeping alone in a village primary school and her mother Chunchun Devi was busy doing chores at her house nearby when Amarjeet strangled the infant and also hit her with a brick before attempting to bury the body in the nearby field. He later led the villagers to the spot and reportedly told them how he executed the killing.

The earlier two killings, reportedly involving his sister and cousin, went unreported because the family members pushed those cases under the carpet.

Begusarai SP Amit Lodha described the case as horrible. “It appears the boy is mentally deranged,” he said, adding that the boy had confessed to the police to the latest murder. Lodha said the police were also investigating the deaths of Amarjeet’s sister and cousin.

The boy has been placed in a remand home in the nearby town of Munger. As per the Indian law, a child cannot be sentenced to death or sent to prison until he turns 18, but he can be detained at a children’s home.

Amarjeet’s father and mother, both daily wagers, have fled the village fearing the wrath of the villagers.

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Saarc MPs’ meeting begins today
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 1
The largest and most representative congregation of parliamentarians from the SAARC countries will strive to put in place some sort of institutional mechanism to help achieve the ultimate goal of a South Asian Parliament during the two-day conference “Parliamentary Forum-II” beginning here tomorrow.

The 83 delegates from eight countries representing a wide and varied spectrum of political ideologies will deliberate on core issues to further regional cooperation as mandated by the Bhurban declaration adopted at the Parliamentary Forum-I held in 2005. Four plenary committees will finalise the roadmap for promoting regional cooperation in the key areas of trade and tourism, connectivity and communication, food security and poverty alleviation and conflict resolution. The recommendation so the committee will from the basis for the Shimla Declaration to be adopted after two days of deliberations.

Apart from moving forward on pivotal issues like relaxation in the restrictive visa regimes, encouraging free flow of information and making collective efforts to combat terrorism, the forum will discuss issues of common concerns like management and distribution of depleting water resources, cooperation in the energy sector to help evolve a South Asian Energy Grid to facilitate power trading and a South Asian Development Bank to promote investment across the borders.

The forum will also commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first war of independence fought jointly by the people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Imtiaz Alam, general secretary of the South-Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), which took the lead in bring the parliamentarians together, said that the historic city of Shimla was purposely chosen as the venue as it had been the centre of political dialogue during the freedom movement.

SAFMA had done its bit by bringing together the elected representatives from all major parties and from all shades of opinion and it was now up to these leaders to grab the opportunity to prepare the ground for a South Asian Parliament and show the way leading towards a South Asian Union on the pattern of the European Union. It was worth mentioning that as the delegates had been nominated by the heads of the respective political parties, they were official representatives of the parties concerned.

He said the media had a vital role to play in promoting regional cooperation and this was the reason that SAFMA took the initiative to bring the elected representatives on a common platform. The effort had been successful as evident from the fact that all countries had been represented in the second conference. There had been positive movement on several fronts after the first conference held in Bhurban in Pakistan.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterji will inaugurate the conference while Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh will deliver the opening remarks. The keynote address will be given by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee while former union minister Yashwant Sinha will deliver the concluding address.

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Gupta panel disbanded
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 1
The UP cabinet today ordered the disbanding of the A.N. Gupta commission, set up by the previous Mulayam Singh government to probe into the irregularities in allotment of 1,250 plots in Noida during July 2005, putting a stamp on the government’s earlier decision to order a CBI inquiry into the matter.

Briefing the press, cabinet secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh said that the cabinet chaired by Mayawati took this decision as the commission had failed to give any report or recommendations till now.

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