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N A T I O N

Congress-NCP bags Goa
Gets 19/40; 14 for BJP
Panjim, June 5
The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance is all set to form the next government in Goa having bagged 19 out of the 40 seats in the Assembly. With independent legislator Vishwajit Rane, son of Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, extending support, the alliance needs just one more MLA for absolute majority in the house.


Race hots up for CM

Pratapsinh Rane front runner
Pratapsinh Rane

Two Manipur seats in Cong kitty
Imphal, June 5
The Congress today won the Khangabok and the Khundrakpam Assembly constituency seats in Manipur, by-election for which was held on June 2.






EARLIER STORIES




53 charges of corruption
Major gets 7-year RI
Chandigarh, June 5
A general court martial (GCM) has found a major from the Army Medical Corps guilty on as many as 53 charges of corruption. He has been cashiered from service and sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment, it is learnt.

DJ Auqeel detained at Dubai airport
Mumbai, June 5
India's leading disc jockey Auqueel was today detained at the Dubai airport for allegedly possessing drugs. Aqueel, who went to Dubai for a radio programme, would undergo urine test tomorrow, according to his wife Fara Khan here. — PTI

Land transfer case
Big-B moves HC for land transfer
Lucknow, June 5
Amitabh Bachchan today moved the Allahabad High Court challenging the decision of the Faizabad additional commissioner to quash the transfer of land in his name at Daulatpur village in Barabanki district.

Now, Aamir in land row
Mumbai, June 5
After megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan is under the scanner for purchasing agricultural land in Pune district by allegedly claiming he is a farmer.

Disaster Management
Kot Malla nation’s role model
Mandi, June 5
The nondescript Kot Malla village in Rudraprayag in Garhwal Himalayas has become what scientists call country’s first practical “natural disaster management mixed farming model”. It provides a cure-all for geo-hazards like flash floods, landslides, droughts and forest fires that take its toll on local residents, natural resources, wrecking terror in the hazard-prone areas in the state every year.

Info About Netaji
Home Ministry on the backfoot
New Delhi, June 5
The mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose today returned to haunt the Home Ministry as the Central Information Commission expressed displeasure over its stand of not parting with documents related to his alleged death in a plane crash in 1945.

PM leaves for G-8 summit today
New Delhi, June 5
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves here tomorrow for the G-8 summit in Germany as part of the five Outreach countries where he will have a full aside with US President George Bush and touch upon the bilateral nuclear issue without going into the specifics of the proposed 123 Agreement and enlarge on India’s ideas pertaining to climate change.

Kamalesh for C’wealth secy-gen post
New Delhi, June 5
India today decided to put forward the candidature of Kamalesh Sharma, currently Indian High Commissioner to the UK, for the post of Secretary-General of the 53-nation Commonwealth, a development that is bound to trigger a chain reaction of top-level Indian diplomatic assignments.


Youngest matriculate
Lucknow, June 5
A seven-and-a-half year-old city girl, daughter of a daily labourer, created a record today by becoming India’s youngest matriculate. Sushma Verma, born in February 2000, cleared the Uttar Pradesh Board High School examination today by securing 354 marks out of 600, missing a first division by a meagre six marks.









Seven-year-old Sushma Verma shows her matriculation certificate of UP board of high school examinations on Tuesday in Lucknow on Tuesday. — PTI
Seven-year-old Sushma Verma shows her matriculation certificate of UP board of high school examinations on Tuesday in Lucknow on Tuesday.

Indira Gandhi award for Uttarakhand
Dehra Dun, June 5
Uttarakhand today received a rare distinction of getting Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Purskar, the nation's highest award in the field of environmental protection both in individual and institutional categories.

Cong MP for quota on economic basis
New Delhi, June 5
With agitation in Rajasthan on the issue of reservation leading to heavy loss of life and property and creating caste tensions, a senior Congress leader today suggested quotas only on economic basis and doing away with caste criterion.

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Congress-NCP bags Goa
Gets 19/40; 14 for BJP
Shiv Kumar

Panjim, June 5
The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party alliance is all set to form the next government in Goa having bagged 19 out of the 40 seats in the Assembly. With independent legislator Vishwajit Rane, son of Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, extending support, the alliance needs just one more MLA for absolute majority in the house. “We are waiting for (AICC general secretary) Margaret Alva to arrive before we decide on whom we ally with,” Margao MLA of the Congress, Digamber Kamat said.

On the other hand, the BJP bagged 14 seats while smaller parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, the Save Goa Front, the UGDP and the independents collectively won seven seats.

Prominent among the losers were several heavyweights like speaker Fransisco Sardinha of the Congress who lost his Curtorim seat to Alex Reginald of the Save Goa Front. Industries minister and former Chief Minister, Luizinho Faleiro (Cong) lost to another former Chief Minister Churchill Alemao from his Navelim seat. Deputy Chief Minister

Dr Wilfred D’Souza of the NCP, another former CM, lost his Saligao seat to Dilip Parulekar of the BJP. Another big loser was Subash Shirodkar of the Congress who was bested by Mahadev Naik of the BJP at his Shiroda seat.

The Congress-NCP’s victory was marred by severe infighting which saw two splinter parties take on the alliance’s candidates in Catholic-dominated South Goa. The Save Goa Front floated by former party MP from South Goa, Churchill Alemao, who quit just before the polls, damaged the prospects of Congress-NCP candidates in many constituencies.

The United Goans Democratic Party, led by Babush Monserrate, who also quit the Congress at the last minute, played the role of a spoiler as well. The new Assembly will see the relatives of several prominent politicians making their presence felt. Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane has son Vishwajit who won as an independent candidate from Valpoi to keep him company. PWD minister Sudhin Dhavalikar of the MGP managed an easy victory for brother Dipak Dhavalikar from Priol. The party, founded by the first Chief Minister Dayanand Bandodkar, has now passed into the hands of the Dhavalikar brothers.

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Race hots up for CM

Panjim, June 5
Two senior Congress leaders, incumbent Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane and former Chief Minister are in the race for the post of Chief Minister in the new Assembly.

Both leaders are lobbying with Central leaders of the Congress to further their cases. However, Rane enjoys considerable advantage over Naik and is all set to continue as Chief Minister of Goa, sources said.

At the meet of CLP leaders, Rane has mustered the support of most MLAs of the Congress-NCP combine. His son Vishwajit Rane, who is one of the Independent MLAs, is backing Rane for the top job. Vishwajit has also roped in the two-member Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, comprising Sudhin and his brother Dipak Dhavalikar, to back his father.

Unlike Rane, Naik is at a disadvantage. Vishwajit will not back him and neither will the two-member MGP. However, Naik has the support of Babush Monserrate, the lone UGDP legislator. However, the party high command is not in favor of Monserrate, sources said. — TNS

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Two Manipur seats in Cong kitty

Imphal, June 5
The Congress today won the Khangabok and the Khundrakpam Assembly constituency seats in Manipur, by-election for which was held on June 2.

The party has, thereby, gained the full majority in the 60-member House with 31 MLAs.

Okram Landhoni, wife of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, won the Khangabok Assembly constituency in Thoubal district with a margin of over 18,000 votes. Landhoni got 22,245 votes, while Qutub Ali of the NCP of the Samajwadi Party polled 3,613 votes.

The Chief Minister had vacated the Khangabok seat as he had won in two constituencies in the elections held in February. — UNI

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53 charges of corruption
Major gets 7-year RI
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
A general court martial (GCM) has found a major from the Army Medical Corps guilty on as many as 53 charges of corruption. He has been cashiered from service and sentenced to seven years rigorous imprisonment, it is learnt.

The trial concluded at Jammu today. The sentence is subject to confirmation by the convening authority.

According to sources, the accused officer Maj A.K. Malhotra was tried on 63 charges under various provisions of the Army Act. The court acquitted him on 10 charges. The officer on his part maintained that he was not guilty of any of the said charges and was being framed.

It has been an extremely rare instance in the history of military trials where an accused has faced so many charges. Sources familiar with military law reveal that in 2001 an officer posted in Southern Command had faced about 90 charges.

The officer was posted as the quarter master of 166 Military Hospital in Jammu, when the authorities concerned received an anonymous complaint about various acts of commission and omission by certain people dealing with stores.

Based upon the complaint and other inputs, a court of inquiry (COI) was ordered by the General Officer Commanding 26 Infantry Division to ascertain facts of the case and fix responsibility.

The COI, presided by the commander of an infantry brigade found large scale tampering in the vouchers and documents pertaining to rations, supplies and other store items, sources said.

Besides the major, a jawan was awarded one year rigorous imprisonment and dismissal while two other personnel were dismissed from service by summary courts martial for their alleged role in the case.

The trial also saw an unusual episode when the GCM issued contempt against the defence counsel over certain remarks made in the court and forwarded a memorandum to the civil magistrate concerned. The civil court, however acquitted because of procedural irregularities committed by the GCM while issuing contempt.

Later the accused had moved Jammu and Kashmir High Court over engaging a defence counsel and the High Court had directed that the accused could have a defence counsel of his choice. He opted for the same counsel to defend him.

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Land transfer case
Big-B moves HC for land transfer

Lucknow, June 5
Amitabh Bachchan today moved the Allahabad High Court challenging the decision of the Faizabad additional commissioner to quash the transfer of land in his name at Daulatpur village in Barabanki district.

The petition, which was filed in the registry of the Lucknow Bench of the High Court today, was likely to come up for hearing on Thursday.

Bachchan in his petition has pleaded that he was not accorded an opportunity of being heard in the matter by the commissioner’s court.

“The Faizabad additional commissioner exceeded his jurisdiction by going into the merits of the case whereas he was only to decide upon a technical point,” Bachchan’s counsel Gaurav Bhatia told PTI here.

He said the megastar was not even given an opportunity of being heard before the matter was decided, which was a gross violation of the principles of natural justice.

Additional commissioner (administration) V.S. Prasad had on June 1 quashed the transfer of land in the name of Bachchan in 1983 and termed the proceeding as illegal and fraudulent.

After hearing the arguments of Bachchan’s counsel M.B. Singh, the court had upheld the March 24, 2006, orders of the then Barabanki District Magistrate Aashish Goyal quashing the transfer of land by the consolidation officer of Barabanki to Bachchan.

District magistrate R.S. Sahu, who succeeded Goyal, on the revision petition of Bachchan requesting for giving him an opportunity to put up his case for the sake of natural justice, stayed the execution of Goyal’s order and directed for maintaining status quo in April, 2006.

Bachchan later filed a revision suit before the commissioner, Faizabad division, under which Barabanki falls, with a prayer to quash Goyal’s order on the ground that no opportunity was given to him to present his legal position.

Meanwhile, the Faizabad divisional commissioner has recommended action against the officials responsible for making forged entries in the land records in the village.

Those against whom action had been recommended include then Barabanki district magistrate R.S. Sahu, sub-divisional magistrate M.S. Yadav and their subordinate staff, sources said.

The commissioner had sent a report to the government in this connection but had, however, made no mention of Bachchan in it, they said. — PTI

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Now, Aamir in land row

Mumbai, June 5
After megastar Amitabh Bachchan, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan is under the scanner for purchasing agricultural land in Pune district by allegedly claiming he is a farmer.

Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane today said Pune’s district collector would conduct an inquiry into the allegations against Aamir.

Every Indian citizen has the right to purchase agricultural land provided he has documents to claim that he is a farmer by profession, Rane said here. Rane said he did not have any specific information or details about Aamir’s case.

Aamir has reportedly purchased some agricultural land in the scenic Maval taluka of Pune district.

Rane said the administration would take strict action against any one who used fake documents to purchase farm land. Bachchan too bought agricultural land in Maval by claiming to be a farmer and the matter is being looked into by authorities in Pune district. — PTI

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Disaster Management
Kot Malla nation’s role model
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, June 5
The nondescript Kot Malla village in Rudraprayag in Garhwal Himalayas has become what scientists call country’s first practical “natural disaster management mixed farming model”. It provides a cure-all for geo-hazards like flash floods, landslides, droughts and forest fires that take its toll on local residents, natural resources, wrecking terror in the hazard-prone areas in the state every year.

The brain behind the success story of Kot Mala village is not a scientist or an environmentalist, but a Garhwali farmer, Jagat Singh Chaudhary, who has now earned an epithet of a “Junglee” in Uttarakhand for showing the world that “individual, community participation when combined with science” can work wonders.

To share his success with NGOs, scientists and administrators at a national workshop on geo-hazards, Chaudhary today presented a documentary on as to how he transformed a private barren piece of land prone to landslides into a mixed farm that now abounds with multipurpose trees, planets, herbs, beans crop and water stream. Chaudhary helps provide employment to local families. Chaudhary said “We grow 60 species of trees, which are now used for fodder, fuel, furniture, wood, fruits and oils used for medicinal purposes. “We grow 20 types of ever-green flora and harvest cash crops like turmeric, ginger, cardamom, pulses, creepers, seasonal vegetable tea beetles and flowers”.

Chaudhary said scientists, environmentalists and others nature lovers should visit Kot Malla mini-biosphere, which now thrives with birds and other fauna. He further said there was no water in the area but now they have pure water. “I feel good that 30 years of labour has yielded us something and we have come here to share it with others”, he said.

Dr S. K. Bandooni, reader, geography, at SBS College, University of Delhi, and the coordinator of the workshop, who has conducted a study on the village, observed that the multipurpose species have succeeded in preventing geo-hazards.

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Info About Netaji
Home Ministry on the backfoot

New Delhi, June 5
The mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose today returned to haunt the Home Ministry as the Central Information Commission expressed displeasure over its stand of not parting with documents related to his alleged death in a plane crash in 1945.

"Who are you to decide if an information can cause unrest? You have to be accountable to the people of the country as to why an information cannot be disclosed. You must change your stated position and take a reasoned decision," information commissioner A N Tiwari said during a hearing by a bench.

The full bench, headed by chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, met to decide on a plea by Sayantan Dasgupta, who had sought information from the ministry about documents, relied on by two commissions that had arrived at the conclusion that Netaji had died in an air crash in Taiwan. — PTI

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PM leaves for G-8 summit today
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh leaves here tomorrow for the G-8 summit in Germany as part of the five Outreach countries where he will have a full aside with US President George Bush and touch upon the bilateral nuclear issue without going into the specifics of the proposed 123 Agreement and enlarge on India’s ideas pertaining to climate change.

It is for the third consecutive year that India will be attending the G-8 summit reflecting its readiness to be part of global solutions to challenges facing the international community. Even though New Delhi’s perspectives may be different from those of the developed countries in the G-8, the effort is to engage with them constructively.

The Manmohan Singh-Bush interface at Helligendamm on the Baltic coast though not a bilateral in the formal sense is unlikely to touch upon the problems in finalising the 123 Agreement even though the interlocutors on both sides acknowledged that some progress has been made in ironing out the differences. After talks earlier this month, both India and the USA emphasised that the nuclear issue was an important aspect of the bilateral relationship.

US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns observed in a statement that “more work needs to be done to complete arrangements that will permit a civil nuclear agreement to be finalised between the US and India”.

On the eve of the G-8 and Outreach countries Summit on Thursday, the Prime Minister is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, the UN Secretary-General, the Heads of State or government of the five developing countries and the Presidents of Nigeria and Mexico. In the Manmohan Singh-Hu discussions, the two leaders will review the progress achieved in implementing various decisions. Besides India, the other four Outreach members are South Africa, Brazil, China and Mexico.

The next day Dr Manmohan Singh will proceed from Berlin to the highly sanitised Helligendamm resort on the Baltic for the G-8 and Outreach countries Summit and at the working session the leaders will dwell on the global economy, climate change, FDI, intellectual property rights and energy security. Africa being a special focus, the discussions will revolve around the Doha round of negotiations and the Millennium Development Goals.

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Kamalesh for C’wealth secy-gen post
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
India today decided to put forward the candidature of Kamalesh Sharma, currently Indian High Commissioner to the UK, for the post of Secretary-General of the 53-nation Commonwealth, a development that is bound to trigger a chain reaction of top-level Indian diplomatic assignments.

This will be the second high-profile election for top post of an international body in the past few months for which India has thrown its hat in the ring -- after Shashi Tharoor’s unsuccessful bid to become United Nations Secretary General. In case of Sharma, however, India is already smelling victory.

Indian Ambassador in Nepal, Shiv Shanker Mukherjee, is in the reckoning for succeeding Sharma in London. If Mukherjee is shifted to London, the Kathmandu slot would be up for grabs - a Grade I or Grade II posting normally meant for Secretaries or Additional Secretaries in the Ministry of External Affairs.

However, the London post would fall vacant only in March 2008 and that too if Sharma wins the Commonwealth election.

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Youngest matriculate

Lucknow, June 5
A seven-and-a-half year-old city girl, daughter of a daily labourer, created a record today by becoming India’s youngest matriculate. Sushma Verma, born in February 2000, cleared the Uttar Pradesh Board High School examination today by securing 354 marks out of 600, missing a first division by a meagre six marks.

Verma, who secured 58 marks in Hindi, 60 in English, 66 in maths, 63 in science, 68 in social science and 39 in computers, said she was happy for achieving the honour, but felt sad at the same time for failing to secure first division due to her poor performance in computers.

The record for the youngest matriculate was held so far by Patna’s Tathagat Avatar Tulsi, who accomplished the feat when he was nine years of age.

She appeared in the board examination amid media attention, which had worried her school, St. Meera’s Inter College, that her attention might get diverted, but she “excelled in the examinations as expected,” school manager Vinod Kumar said.

Sushma had secured direct admission to Class IX last year, following permission given by the secondary education department. Before this she had studied at home.

Her father Tej Bahadur Verma, a daily wage labourer, and mother Chhaya, a housewife, are happy at the rare feat.

She is, however, not the only such genius in her family. Her brother Shailendra had passed Class XII at the age of 11 and cleared the Scholastic Assessment Test and Test of English as a foreign language. He secured admission to a US university but could not go owing to monetary problems. — PTI

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Indira Gandhi award for Uttarakhand
Raju William

Dehra Dun, June 5
Uttarakhand today received a rare distinction of getting Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Purskar, the nation's highest award in the field of environmental protection both in individual and institutional categories.

While Jyotsna Sitling, an Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, got the award for cleaning up and rejuvenating the world famous "Valley of Flowers", the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre (GRRC) doubled the honours by receiving the award in the organisation category for doing exemplary work in turning Lansdowne, a more than a century old Army station, located at 6000 feet, in Garhwal Himalayas, into an ecological beauty.

After receiving the award on behalf of the GRRC from Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee at the World Environment Day function held in Delhi today, Commandant Brigadier Ajai Prakash told The Tribune that he was elated to have received this award on behalf of all jawans of the Garhwal Rifles Regimental Centre whose work had been recognised at the national level for immensely contributing to the environmental protection and water management of Lansdowne and area around it. The success of the Army initiative in eco-conservation for better environment is a model, which can be replicated at many similar hill stations.

It was in 1999 that the concern over rapidly deteriorating environment due to large-scale deforestation made the GRRC authorities to launch a multi-pronged drive in and around the cantonment area by actively involving the Army personnel as well as the locals. Its execution in subsequent years witnessed that the people stopped cutting trees.

The perpetual water scarcity during summers has been partially overcome by resorting to large-scale water harvesting during monsoons by constructing a large number of check dams. Since no major river exists there, an artificial lake for the purpose of rain harvesting has been created in the station.

"For the coming years, a project is underway to rejuvenate the dry or about-to-dry water springs with the help of scientists of the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre and the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation to overcome water scarcity in Uttarakhand," added the Commandant.

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Cong MP for quota on economic basis
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
With agitation in Rajasthan on the issue of reservation leading to heavy loss of life and property and creating caste tensions, a senior Congress leader today suggested quotas only on economic basis and doing away with caste criterion.

Party leader Satyavarat Chaturvedi, MP, who is a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee, warned that tensions witnessed in Rajasthan could be seen in other parts of the country unless “a just and rational policy” was evolved on the issue of reservation.

Giving his personal views on the issue, he said developments in Rajasthan should not be seen in isolation.

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