SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Prez poll: Patil front-runner
New Delhi, June 6
The process of choosing UPA’s candidate for the presidential election is expected to gain momentum after return of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi from their visits abroad towards the end of the week.

HP gets $220 m WB loan for roads
New Delhi, June 6
The World Bank has approved a $ 220 million loan to Himachal Pradesh, aimed to reduce transport costs and to improve traffic flows on the state’s core road network.

Kudos for Rajasthan police
New Delhi, June 6
This is a feel-good story that can possibly inspire all men in khaki to not just ensure enforcement of law and order but also save Earth with all its bio-diversity for future generations.

Murder case against Gujjar leaders
Jaipur, June 6
A case has been filed in a Rajasthan court charging Gujjar leaders Kirori Singh Bainsala and Roop Singh with murder and conspiracy during the agitation demanding scheduled tribe status for the community, a senior police official said tonight.


EARLIER STORIES



Commandant, Command Hospital (Northern Command), Udhampur, Major-Gen Naresh Kumar, received the RM’s trophy for best run Command Hospital under Armed Forces for the year 2006 from defence minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi on Wednesday. Army Chief Gen J.J. Singh and Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major are also seen in the picture.
Commandant, Command Hospital (Northern Command), Udhampur, Major-Gen Naresh Kumar, received the RM’s trophy for best run Command Hospital under Armed Forces for the year 2006 from defence minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi on Wednesday. Army Chief Gen J.J. Singh and Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major are also seen in the picture. — PTI

BJP defers national executive meeting
New Delhi, June 6
The BJP yesterday decided to defer its National Executive meeting, which was scheduled to be held for three days in Jaipur from June 15, to June 25-26 in the Union capital.

’93 blasts: 3 convicted
Mumbai, June 6
The special TADA court today sentenced three more convicts in the 1993 serial blasts case, including Ibrahim alias Baba Moosa Chauhan who supplied an AK-56 rifle and grenades to actor Sanjay Dutt, awarding them punishment ranging from five-year jail terms to life imprisonment.

In grip of chikungunya, Kerala seeks help
Thiruvananthapuram, June 6
With nearly 30,000 people in south and central districts of Kerala hospitalised with chikungunya fever, an infection spread by the Aedes mosquito, the state has decided to seek help from the Central government.

Panic-hit Congmen seek poll postponement
Ultras kill one more leader
Guwahati, June 6
The fate of the forthcoming election to North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council hangs in balance in view of killing of three senior Congress leaders by ‘Black Widow’ militant groups since yesterday.

Pak Army backing militants: Army Chief
New Delhi, Jun 6
With the past few months witnessing a spurt in infiltration bids across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, India today blamed "elements in the Pakistan Army" for backing militants sneaking into the country.

Get Class X degree for a song in UP!
New Delhi, June 6
The names of three young MPs figure in the list of students who passed this year’s Uttar Pradesh Class X examination, it has been revealed in a TV sting operation conducted to expose corruption in the state education board.

Heat to escalate, good for timely monsoon
New Delhi, June 6
It is above 40°C in most parts of the northwest and central India and the heat is here to stay, at least till the first half of June.

Malas, Madigas take tough stance over categorisation of SCs
Andhra heading Rajasthan way

Hyderabad, June 6
An inter-caste war on the lines of Gujjars vs Meenas is brewing in Andhra Pradesh, largely thanks to the politically expedient policies of the Congress government led by Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Countering Naxals
Centre allows Chhattisgarh to hire chopper
New Delhi, June 6
In a much-needed assistance to Chhattisgarh, battling with the Naxal menace, the Centre today allowed the state government to hire a chopper from Pawan Hans for moving security personnel and augment supplies during operations against left wing extremists.

11 monuments to be given security cover
New Delhi, June 6
The government has selected 11 monuments and places of religious importance, including the Ram Janma Bhoomi/Babri Masjid complex, Ayodhya; the Taj Mahal, Agra; Salarjung Museum, Hyderabad and Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok, for providing special security cover to them.

Congress, NCP undecided on next CM of Goa
Mumbai, June 6
One day after winning the state Assembly elections, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party are undecided on who will rule Goa.

News Analysis
Fate of Congress-NCP govt uncertain
Panjim, June 6
Will the new government in Goa be stable? Or will the Congress-NCP-led government collapse under the weight of so many political aspirations? For the moment, the fate of the Congress-NCP led government in Goa which takes office later this week seems secure. The numbers seem to add up nicely in favour of the two Congress parties which has a strength of 19 in a house of 40.

ULFA threatens to ‘punish’ journalists
Guwahati, June 6
The banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has threatened to “punish” four senior journalists based in the city for daring to organise a demonstration and protest march against the reign of terror let loose by the outfit in the state.

New Front
Cong not perturbed
New Delhi, June 6
Amid talk of the revival of the Third Front by leaders of some regional parties in Hyderabad, the Congress today said it was not perturbed over the development.

Barnala releases book on Guru Arjan Dev
Chennai, June 6
Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala released a book, “A Saga of Supreme Sacrifice - Martyrdom of Shri Guru Arjan Dev”, here this evening.

Nathula: China for tapping tourism potential
Gangtok, June 6
China and India need to tap Nathula’s potential for tourism promotion, a Chinese diplomat has said.

Seema Bal men scale Mount Jogin-I
New Delhi, June 6
Shastra Seema Bal (SSB) mountaineers scaled Mount Jogin I (21, 210 feet) today. Five mountaineers of the force, conquered the summit after a five-hour climb, force’s headquarters here said.

12 engg colleges to be opened
Jaipur, June 6
Twelve new engineering colleges will be opened in Rajasthan in the new academic session which will account for an increase of 3,000 engineering seats.

Budhia’s walk stops at start
Bhubaneswar, June 6
The much-hyped 500-km “walkathon” from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata by wonder-kid Budhia Singh, failed to take off today.

Anara looks forward to release of ‘Miss Anara’
New Delhi, Jun 6
The main protagonist of the controversial CD case that hit the headlines some time back, former Miss Jammu Anara Gupta is now all set to hit the silver screen, starring in a film based on the infamous episode.

 

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Prez poll: Patil front-runner
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
The process of choosing UPA’s candidate for the presidential election is expected to gain momentum after return of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi from their visits abroad towards the end of the week. It is then the Congress would seek endorsement of its nominee from the UPA partners and allies.

Having held consultations with the Left and its partners, the party took the next step towards deciding the candidate in the Congress Working Committee meeting that authorised the Congress president to take a deicison.

Party sources said home minister Shivraj Patil is seen to have emerged as the front-runner among the names doing the rounds for UPA’s candidate for the top post.

Though the Left is apparently keen on the candidature of external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, the

Congress has to decide if it can spare its Leader of House in the Lok Sabha, who heads several GoMs and

is seen as a key trouble-shooter of the government.

Names of AICC treasurer Motilal Vora and power minister Sushil Kumar Shinde are also doing the rounds and they enjoy the confidence of party leadership. Anticipating a contest for the top post, some leaders in the ruling alliance have argued that the UPA candidate for the top post should be a leader of high stature who can counter influence of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Mukherjee is seen by the Left as a leader who can match the cross-party influence of Shekhawat. Before taking the final call, the Congress will convince its allies of the winnable credentials of the candidate who is chosen as the UPA nominee.

Patil has vast administrative and legislative experience and and is well regarded by the party leadership. A former Speaker, he has been handling the crucial home portfolio in the UPA government and has a personal profile seen to be suiting the incumbent of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

BSP president and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is expected to formally announce her support for a UPA candidate in the next few days.

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HP gets $220 m WB loan for roads
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
The World Bank has approved a $ 220 million loan to Himachal Pradesh, aimed to reduce transport costs and to improve traffic flows on the state’s core road network.

The Himachal Pradesh State Roads Project will upgrade priority segments of the state’s core road network, including widening of formation and pavement strengthening of about 450 km of roads, and implementation of ancillary social, environmental and bio-engineering measures. It will also support periodic maintenance and minor rehabilitation of about 2,000 km of roads, a WB release issued here today said.

The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has 20 years maturity, including a five-year grace period.

“As a mountainous state with limited rail connections, no waterways and only three small domestic airports, Himachal relies almost exclusively on its road network for transport,” said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank country director for India.

“This project, complementing the ongoing World Bank-supported Himachal Pradesh Rural Roads Project, will improve the quality of the road network and ensure speedier movement of agriculture products to markets, which in turn,will help the growing of alternative high-valued crops and investment in agro-industry, leading to increased business activity and higher rural incomes,” he said.

The road network in the state is about 28,000 km, comprising 2,000 km of national highways, 2,160 km of state highways, and 2,240 km of major district roads.

The quality and extent of this road network is viewed as inadequate to meet the social and economic needs of the state. Half of all roads are unpaved, 90 per cent of the highway network is single lane, and fewer than half of all villages are deemed connected.

The project is also expected to have some positive social impacts in terms of reducing travel costs to markets and social services, as well as helping to integrate the scattered population. The selection of project roads for upgrading took into account the issue of regional balance with the poorer districts in the state.

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Kudos for Rajasthan police
Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
This is a feel-good story that can possibly inspire all men in khaki to not just ensure enforcement of law and order but also save Earth with all its bio-diversity for future generations. While the Rajasthan police received brickbats from the Supreme Court for not being able to contain violence during the recent Gujjar stir, the state police department has also won bouquets for its efforts to protect environment and wildlife.

This Monday the state police department received the Clark R. Bavin Wildlife law Enforcement Award 2007 for “bravery and commitment to wildlife law enforcement” and apprehending India’s most notorious wildlife criminal Sansar Chand at the ongoing CITES Conference of the Parties in The Hague, the Netherlands.

And a day later, on World Environment Day, the department was honoured with the prestigious Priyadarshini Vriksha Mitra (IPVM) award in New Delhi in the government agencies category for efforts made in the field of afforestation and wasteland development.

According to the Wildlife Trust of India, the wildlife awards were presented to various agencies at the Species Survival Network’s June-4 reception for delegates invited to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Seven other individuals and organisations from different parts of the world were also honoured.

The recipients of this award are chosen for excellence, bravery and commitment to wildlife law enforcement.

Officers of the special operation group of the Rajasthan police department had apprehended several wildlife traders and seized volumes of endangered wildlife articles since 2003.

The most notable was the arrest of the notorious wildlife trader Sansar Chand, his wife Rani and their son Akash in 2005. The trio had been responsible for smuggling of tiger, leopard and otter skins from India to Tibet.

“The Rajasthan police has arrested nearly 36 criminals, including India’s most notorious wildlife criminal. It has succeeded in breaking up entire wildlife criminal networks from poachers, suppliers, middlemen and those receiving the wildlife products within India,” the Animal Welfare Institute authorities said.

Incidentally, for a state, which was in the eye of the storm following the infamous Sarisa debacle two years ago, it is a encouraging development. Rajasthan DGP G. S. Gill said: “The award has come in the right time and will encourage the force to fight wildlife crimes more actively.”

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Murder case against Gujjar leaders

Jaipur, June 6
A case has been filed in a Rajasthan court charging Gujjar leaders Kirori Singh Bainsala and Roop Singh with murder and conspiracy during the agitation demanding scheduled tribe status for the community, a senior police official said tonight.

Other cases against thousands of protestors were also registered at Todadhim police station and in four other districts of the state that comes under Bhartpur range, Purohit said.

He said 84 cases of arson and blocking roads were registered in Bharatpur district where some shops, police chowki and stations were set on fire, 31 cases in Sawaimadhopur district, 16 cases in Dholpur and 30 cases in Karauli district.

Nearly 66 persons were arrested in Bundi district on the charge of destroying national property.

Bainsala, convenor of the Samiti, and Roop Singh were booked in connection with the killing of Dungra Ram, a Rajasthan Armed Constabulary man during clashes on May 29 when protestors organised a road blockade at Todadhim.

Karauli district superintendent of Police Praful Kumar said investigation was on in the cases against Bainsala and others and action would be taken depending on its outcome.

The Supreme Court had yesterday termed the week-long violence that accompanied the Gujjar stir as “national shame” and asked the governments of Rajasthan, Haryana, UP and Delhi to submit their action taken reports on the incidents.

Meanwhile, a section of Gujjar leaders felt let down by their leader Col Kirori Singh Bainsla, saying he was made to sign the agreement with the state government under pressure.

At a press conference here today, Gujjar leaders and Congress legislators Govind Singh Gujjar (Nasirabad) and Ramchandra Saradhana (Jamwaramgarh), said the agreement signed with Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is not clear on many points, including the time of formation of three member panel and the time when the state government will send its recommendations to the Centre.

They agreed that although the deal is likely to establish peace in the riot-hit state, it is not in favour of the community.

They reiterated that the Gujjars would restart their agitation once the time period of the panel is over and if nothing comes off it, but assured it will be held peacefully. — Agencies

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BJP defers national executive meeting
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
The BJP yesterday decided to defer its National Executive meeting, which was scheduled to be held for three days in Jaipur from June 15, to June 25-26 in the Union capital.

The decision was taken at the meeting of the party general secretaries, party spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said here.

He said the meeting also reviewed the party's performance in Goa and in other byelctions in which the BJP has done well.

The Parliamentary board will take a detailed view of the Goa results and decide upon the strategy after the entire results are out, he said.

He said the party had secured both the byelections in Chhattisgarh winning Khairghar and Mankhurda (ST) constituencies by huge margins. The party had wrested the tribal seat from the Congress for the first time after independence, he said.

In Hamirpur, Lok Sabha byelection in Himachal pradesh, former state Chief Minister P K Dhumal has won with decisive margins.

General Secretaries Gopinath Munde and Ananth Kumar briefed the party about developments in Rajasthan. Both Munde and Kumar had been asked by President Rajnath Singh to proceed to Rajasthan after Gujjar agitation took a violent turn and Vasundhara Raje government came under flak for its mishandling of the crisis.

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’93 blasts: 3 convicted

Mumbai, June 6
The special TADA court today sentenced three more convicts in the 1993 serial blasts case, including Ibrahim alias Baba Moosa Chauhan who supplied an AK-56 rifle and grenades to actor Sanjay Dutt, awarding them punishment ranging from five-year jail terms to life imprisonment.

Sardar Shaha Wali Khan, who attended conspiracy meetings and was present at prime accused Tiger Memon's Al Husseni building when RDX was filled into vehicles used in the attacks, was given two concurrent life sentences and directed to pay a fine of Rs 1 lakh.

Khan was also involved in a recce of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation building -- one of the targets in the original plan drawn up by the conspirators.

Gangster Abu Salem's associate Baba Moosa Chauhan, convicted for giving an AK-56 rifle, grenades and ammunition to Dutt and deceased accused Salim Kurla, was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and asked to pay a fine of Rs 2.77 lakh. — PTI

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In grip of chikungunya, Kerala seeks help

Thiruvananthapuram, June 6
With nearly 30,000 people in south and central districts of Kerala hospitalised with chikungunya fever, an infection spread by the Aedes mosquito, the state has decided to seek help from the Central government.

Reports from Pathanamthitta, Kottayam and Ernakulam districts indicate that around 40 people have died of high fever in the last three weeks.

"We have decided to call an all party meeting on Friday to discuss this issue and June 12 will be observed as cleanliness day across the state," Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told reporters after the weekly cabinet meet here Wednesday.

The reason for the spread of chikungunya has been cited to be poor waste management facilities at the famed temple in Sabarimala in Pathanamthitta, where the peak season ended in January.

Over 25 people have died due of high-fever in Pathanamthitta alone in the last three weeks.

The state government has asked private hospitals to open special wards for patients suffering from fever.

The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association has also decided to extend their normal working hours given the seriousness of the situation.

A Central government team had visited the affected districts last week and Kerala hopes to get additional funds to control the spread of the fever. Funds are also required to launch a massive 'Clean Kerala' campaign on a regular basis. — IANS

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Panic-hit Congmen seek poll postponement
Ultras kill one more leader
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 6
The fate of the forthcoming election to North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council (NHADC) hangs in balance in view of killing of three senior Congress leaders by ‘Black Widow’ militant groups since yesterday.

Police recovered body of senior Congress leader Ajit Bodo, deputy chairman of the now dissolved NCHADC, from Maibong area on last night, hours after the suspected Black Widow ultras had gunned down two other senior Congress leaders Purnendu Langhthasa and Nindo Langthasa at Langlaibasti under Umrangshu police station of the hill district.

Ajit Bodo was abducted by suspected militants from Black Widow group led by Jewel Garlosa. The Black Widow is opposed to the peace process involving the rival Dima Halam Daogah and the Government of India.

The killings have created panic among ruling Congress workers and party candidate for the district council election, who have demanded postponement of the election because of the grave situation. The election is scheduled for June 12 next.

The Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has called for an emergency Cabinet meeting to decide whether to postpone the election or not. It was the Congress which was enjoying absolute majority in the previous hill district council.

Earlier, in the morning Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Ajai Kumar Singh and Chief Minister Gogoi had rushed to the headquarter of the violence-hit district to review the security situation with the state police chief R N Mathur, senior Army and district administration officials. They also visited the bereaved families of Purnendu and Nindo at Haflong.

Sparsely populated NC Hills, though one of the bigger districts having an area of 4980 sq km. It is manned by only four police stations at Haflong, Maibong, Umrangso and Mahur. The district is being manned by 20 companies of police and paramilitary force personnel as on date.

An intelligence sources informed that a faction of the Black Widow group is out to disrupt election in the hill district. The Black Widow is opposed to the on-going peace process between rival Dima Halam Daogah and the Government of India.

It may be mentioned that the ruling Congress has even fielded Gopinath Garlosa, brother of the Black Widow leader Jewel Garlosa to keep the outfit in good humour before polls.

However, the step might have boomeranged and created split within the outfit. Police suspected that a group opposed to Jewel Garlosa was behind yesterday’s killings of Congress leaders.

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Pak Army backing militants: Army Chief

New Delhi, Jun 6
With the past few months witnessing a spurt in infiltration bids across the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, India today blamed "elements in the Pakistan Army" for backing militants sneaking into the country.

"We have reports to suggest some elements of the Pakistan Army, including the Inter-Services Intelligence, are helping push the militants across," said The Army Chief Gen J.J. Singh.

"There is always some support available to militants to infiltrate across the border," Singh told reporters at a defence ministry function here.

Earlier, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said April had witnessed an unusual upswing in infiltration attempts. The Army has been asked to "closely monitor" the situation all along the 742 km LoC to check the "pattern and strength" of infiltration bids.

Antony said the Army was asked to monitor the situation for three months to discern whether there was a pattern in the bids by militants to sneak across the LoC.

"There was a hike in infiltration attempts in April, and we will monitor the figures for the months of May, June and July," he said.

"But the ceasefire is holding all along the Indo-Pakistan border," Antony said, pointing out that the Directors General of Military Operations of the two armies were in "regular touch" on the hotline to discuss the situation along the border.

Antony also dismissed reports that Pakistan had built new bunkers and watchtowers close to the border in no-man's land in the RS Pura sector in Jammu and Kashmir. — PTI

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Get Class X degree for a song in UP!

New Delhi, June 6
The names of three young MPs figure in the list of students who passed this year’s Uttar Pradesh Class X examination, it has been revealed in a TV sting operation conducted to expose corruption in the state education board.

They are Lok Sabha MPs Milind Deora and Naveen Jindal and Rajya Sabha MP B.J. Panda, all of whom actually completed their education several years ago, said STAR News.

The channel clarified that “the honourable MPs had nothing to do with the operation except that their identities were used”.

“Their candidature was pushed into the system to expose the level of corruption in the Uttar Pradesh Education Board,” said STAR News, which conducted the sting along with investigative portal Cobrapost.

The TV channel claimed that the sting exposed the connivance of school officials, board invigilators and board officials.

In the exposé, “Star News and Cobrapost show just how the copy-mafia operates in Uttar Pradesh. All three MPs were registered as genuine students for this exam. Officials of the local schools were only too keen to register these MPs as regular students of their school in exchange for money. The necessary documentation to prove that they had studied in the school was comfortably ‘forged’,” said the TV channel.

“During our investigation these officials readily admitted to filling out numerous such forms illegally every year. A district school invigilator also accepted money on the promise that he wouldn’t conduct surprise checks while the exams were being held.

“A board official posted in Meerut readily accepted money, promising to improve their marks if they did not get enough to pass the exams,” said STAR News. When the exams drew near, the greedy school officials changed the photographs on the hall tickets and sent dummy candidates to write the Class X exam.

“Thus the three MPs, who had nothing to do with the Uttar Pradesh school board, managed to clear these exams without applying or appearing for these examinations,” said the Star News-Cobrapost team.

Their names were used to demonstrate just how deep the rot in the school board exams was and how easily officials connected with the high school and intermediate Board could destroy the sanctity of examinations. — IANS

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Heat to escalate, good for timely monsoon
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
It is above 40°C in most parts of the northwest and central India and the heat is here to stay, at least till the first half of June.

The current meteorological analysis suggests that day temperatures are likely to increase in the region in the next two to three days. And as is the normal trend of mercury during this time of the year, till June 15 temperatures will hover around 41°C, leading to hot, humid and uncomfortable days ahead in the northern, western and central India.

Mainly dry weather and strong northwesterly surface winds will lead to a further rise in day temperature over plains. But as weathermen say, don’t worry, be happy as heating up of the land is one of the factors that affect the monsoon and high temperatures are quite crucial for a timely and strong monsoon.

As per weather expert Akhilesh Gupta, monsoon is a sea-breeze activity and more the land is heated more would be the intensity of the current from sea to land. Prior to the monsoon, more is the heating over north, central and western India, more is the tendency for a good monsoon rains, he adds.

Meaning that high temperatures during April, May and June are in fact favourable for the monsoon to establish.

The only problem has been that this year April and May were quite pleasant but hopefully other factors that affect this most important weather phenomenon of the country may nullify that.

IMD director B.P. Yadav says that monsoon circulation is established only due to temperature difference between land and sea. While high temperatures are crucial for timely and strong monsoon, the low pressure area formed due to this actually controls the sea-breeze flow towards the land.

Whenever temperature difference is more, it gets converted into pressure difference with strong flow of current from the high-pressure area into the low-pressure area, he adds.

Now the good news is that the analysis of the current meteorological conditions and numerical weather prediction models suggest that the conditions are becoming favourable for the further advance of southwest monsoon over northeastern states during the next 72 hours. With this the rainfall activity is also likely to increase over south peninsula during the same period

The very severe cyclonic storm that disrupted the monsoon emerged into the Gulf of Oman and is now moving in a northwesterly direction with slow weakening.

Yadav also adds that in the second half of June temperatures will come down due to occurrence of dust storms and thundershowers activities. Moreover, there will also be a change in the wind pattern from hot and dry westerlies to moisture-laden easterlies that will bring respite to the people in this part of the country.

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Malas, Madigas take tough stance over categorisation of SCs
Andhra heading Rajasthan way
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 6
An inter-caste war on the lines of Gujjars vs Meenas is brewing in Andhra Pradesh, largely thanks to the politically expedient policies of the Congress government led by Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Malas and Madigas, two sub-castes under SCs in the state, have become sworn enemies over what has come to be known as categorisation of SCs for the purpose of sharing the reservation benefits.

The state government tried to appease both communities by acceding to mount pressure on the Centre to expedite categorisation as Madigas wanted, even while promising the Malas that their opposition to SC sub-classification would be conveyed to the Centre.

Peeved over what they described as the pro-Madiga stance of the government, 10 legislators and one MP of the ruling Congress belonging to the Mala caste, decided to resign en masse if the government failed to stop categorisation.

“The Reddy government is hurting the sentiments of the 80 lakh Malas, who have been traditionally the vote bank of the Congress,” party MP Harsha Kumar told reporters, emerging out of the meeting.

The Mala MLAs said they would complain to Sonia Gandhi against the Reddy government for acting against the interests of the party on the categorisation issue.

Interestingly, the Madigas, too, are annoyed with the Congress government for indirectly encouraging the Malas to protest against the efforts towards categorisation. Madigas suspect that it was the government, which engineered the counter-fast of the Mala Mahandu president J. Prabhakara Rao in an attempt to keep the Madiga Reservation Porata Samithi (MRPS), spearheading the movement, in check.

Curiously, Reddy attended public meetings called by the Malas and Madiga leaders on the issue, and even extended support to their diametrically opposite demands.

Though the demand for the sub-categorisation of SCs into A,B,C and D in proportion to their population was raised by the Madigas, the more numerous but more backward than Malas, as early as in 1994, what has turned the issue into a full-scale caste war currently is the opportunistic politics of the Reddy government.

In a bid to garner the support of both communities, the Congress government pitted one against another and adopted carrot-and-stick policy, using the caste leaders to mobilise their community in favour of the ruling party during various local body elections.

After a protracted struggle by the Madiga community, the government issued an order classifying SCs into A, B, C and D categories in 1997. As the order was struck down by a single judge of the High Court, the government promulgated an ordinance, which received the President's assent in November 1999. The SC categorisation came into force in 2000 but four years later the Supreme Court struck down the law.

After the Madigas mounted pressure once again to break the impasse on categorisation, the Centre has recently decided to constitute the Usha Mehra committee to study the issue of categorisation of SCs for the purpose of reservation in education and employment exclusively in Andhra Pradesh.

The agitation by the Madigas recently witnessed violence across the state, as MRPS activists torched state-owned buses and attacked government property.

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Countering Naxals
Centre allows Chhattisgarh to hire chopper

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
In a much-needed assistance to Chhattisgarh, battling with the Naxal menace, the Centre today allowed the state government to hire a chopper from Pawan Hans for moving security personnel and augment supplies during operations against left wing extremists.

The expenditure pertaining to this will be reimbursed by the Centre under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) Scheme and will be valid for six months.

For the optimum use of the chopper, the ministry of home affairs has asked the Chhattisgarh government to share the facility with Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, official sources said.

The Security Related Expenditure Scheme (SRE), a non-plan scheme, was under implementation since April 1, 1996, to supplement the efforts of the states to deal with the Naxalite problem effectively.

The scheme was revised comprehensively in February 2005 thereby increasing the rates of reimbursement from 50 per cent to 100 per cent and also covering more districts and more items of reimbursement.

The revised scheme also permits advance release of funds to the states.

Under the revised scheme, 76 districts in nine states (Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) are covered and the ministry reimburses 100 per cent of the expenditure incurred on security related items such as, ex gratia grant paid to families of the victims of Naxalite violence, providing logistic and camp facilities to the CPMFs amount spent on special training given to state police personnel and the provision of insurance for state police personnel involved in anti-Naxalite operations.

The payment of a a lump sum grant to village defence committees (VDCs), nagrik surakasha samitis (NSSs) for security related expenditure, lump sum amount per Naxalite surrendered, expenditure incurred on publicity material, advance releases under the SRE scheme, hiring of vehicles, including helicopters, weapons or communication equipment not covered under the Police Modernisation Scheme are also covered under the scheme.

So far Rs 137.61 crore had been reimbursed to the states along with advance releases of Rs 20. crore, sources said.

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11 monuments to be given security cover

New Delhi, June 6
The government has selected 11 monuments and places of religious importance, including the Ram Janma Bhoomi/Babri Masjid complex, Ayodhya; the Taj Mahal, Agra; Salarjung Museum, Hyderabad and Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok, for providing special security cover to them.

A Culture Ministry official said the other places and monuments were the National Museum, New Delhi; Khajuraho, Sanchi; Rajghat, Kashi Vishwanath temple and Gyanvapi mosque complex in Varanasi; the Red Fort in Agra and Delhi; and Krishna Janma Bhoomi and Shahi Idgah Masjid complex in Mathura.

The Home Ministry has made a budgetary provision of Rs 24.91 crore for the security of these monuments and sites.

The official said the Home Ministry had been issuing necessary guidelines for strengthening security of religious sites and places to all states and UT’s from time to time, depending upon the threat perception.

“However, if any state or Union Territory approaches the Union Government for assistance to provide security coverage to the religious places, the same was to be considered by taking into account intelligence inputs received from the agencies concerned,” he added.

Pointing out that ‘law and order’ and ‘police’ are the State subjects as per the VII Schedule of the Constitution, the official said the security of religious sites and places was the responsibility of the state government and the Union Territory Administration concerned.

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Congress, NCP undecided on next CM of Goa
Shiv Kumar

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 6
One day after winning the state Assembly elections, the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party are undecided on who will rule Goa.

AICC general secretary Margaret Alva and NCP general secretary Gurunath Kulkarni are holding talks on the portfolios NCP will get in Goa. The party is already demanding the post of Deputy Chief Minister, which was held by Dr Wilfred D’Souza in the outgoing government. NCP MLA from Benaulim Mickey Pachecho is demanding the post for himself

following Dr D’Souza's defeat. The party has three seats in the coalition.

The Congress, which bagged 16 seats, itself is unable to decide who will hold the top job. While incumbent Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane is the most likely candidate, former Chief Minister Ravi Naik is also angling for the post. However, the two-member Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party is opposed to Naik. Though the Congress-NCP coalition is smug with two Independents backing it to give a wafer thin majority of one in the 40-member House, the MGP’s support is being sought to give the new government some stability.

Goa’s power minister Digambar Kamat is emerging as a consensus candidate. “We have left it to the party high command to decide,” Kamat told The Tribune. Sonia Gandhi is expected to name the candidate late this evening or early tomorrow, sources said from Goa.

Rane has formally submitted his resignation to Governor S.C. Jamir. Rane has been asked to continue as caretaker Chief Minister till alternative arrangements are made.

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News Analysis
Fate of Congress-NCP govt uncertain
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Panjim, June 6
Will the new government in Goa be stable? Or will the Congress-NCP-led government collapse under the weight of so many political aspirations? For the moment, the fate of the Congress-NCP led government in Goa which takes office later this week seems secure. The numbers seem to add up nicely in favour of the two Congress parties which has a strength of 19 in a house of 40.

The two parties need just two more MLAs. One Independent, Vishwajit Rane, son of Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, has already extended support to the government. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party with two MLAs, Churchill Alemao's Save Goa Front with two MLAs and the other Independent Anil Salgaocar are all talking with the Congress party.

But the devil in the story lies in the details. The Congress on its own has just 16 MLAs, just two more than the main opposition party - the BJP.

The survival of the Goa government will depend on the political equations at the national level in the run-up to the 2009 general elections. Or even earlier depending how Sharad Pawar and the Congress leadership succeed in stitching together an alliance for the forthcoming Gujarat assembly polls.

The wily Maratha strongman is expected to bargain hard when the two Congress parties sit together to discuss seat-sharing arrangements for the Gujarat polls and Goa may well be a nice bargaining chip.

The MLAs belonging to the Congress (and the BJP) themselves are not immune from being poached. The shortcomings of the anti-defection law was exposed during the life of the last assembly when legislators resigned their membership at will only to contest under a different flag with the support of money and muscle.

The resignation of even two MLAs from the membership of the assembly would be enough for the incumbent Chief Minister to lose a vote of confidence in the face of a rag-tag coalition.

Babush Monserrate, the lone legislator of the United Goans Democratic Party, has shown that he has the requisite money and muscle to make or break every party in Goa. Goa's biggest moneylender has been wooed and wed by the BJP as much as the Congress in the past and with just a single seat in the house has enough clout to give sleepless nights to any Chief Minister of Goa.

In other words, the coming together of the BJP and the NCP with Monserrate chaperoning the proceedings should suffice to ring down the curtains on the present Goa assembly.

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ULFA threatens to ‘punish’ journalists
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 6
The banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has threatened to “punish” four senior journalists based in the city for daring to organise a demonstration and protest march against the reign of terror let loose by the outfit in the state.

Addressing the protest meeting organised at the Guwahati Press Club, the four journalists, D.N. Chakrabarty, Nava Thakuria, Ronen Goswami and Rupam Baruah, condemned the escalating campaign of violence, particularly bomb attacks in markets, which have been attributed to the banned extremist group.

In a statement e-mailed to the media here, fugitive commander in chief of the outfit Paresh Baruah, who is suspected to be master-minding ULFA operations in the state from his shelter in Bangladesh, threatened the four journalists for daring to mobilise public protest against the outfit.

The ULFA commander stated that the outfit didn’t bother about such protests by “agents of Indian colonial rulers” and warned that it would not hesitate from punishing the four journalists for holding a campaign against the outfit.

Responding to an anti-terror call given by 14 citizens, including writers, journalists and social activists, hundreds of people took out a protest march from the club on May 31. Raising anti-ULFA slogans, the protesters went through several busy streets in the city.

Kick-starting the march, veteran journalist D. N. Chakrabarty termed the latest incidents of explosions as the fourth invasion of Assam by ULFA in intensity and devastations, the previous three being those of the Burmese troops in pre-British old Assam.

Similar protests against ULFA were witnessed in the wake of a blast during the Independence Day celebrations at Dhemaji in north Assam in 2004 that killed 13 persons, mostly schoolchildren.

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New Front
Cong not perturbed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
Amid talk of the revival of the Third Front by leaders of some regional parties in Hyderabad, the Congress today said it was not perturbed over the development.

Answering queries from mediapersons, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said it was natural in democracy for such combinations to be formed.

Rejecting criticism of the government's economic policies by leaders of the regional parties opposed to the Congress, she said the government knows the ground realities and was working according to common minimum programme.

Answering questions on the Taj Corridor case, she said the Governor had taken a decision according to the powers vested in him and the party had nothing to do with it.

She said the Congress return to power in Goa was a result of the good work done by the party's government. She said the new government in the state will continue to be responsive to the needs of people.

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Barnala releases book on Guru Arjan Dev
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 6
Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala released a book, “A Saga of Supreme Sacrifice - Martyrdom of Shri Guru Arjan Dev”, here this evening.

The first copy of the book, authored by Harbhajan Singh, was handed over to the US consul-general David T. Hopper.

Praising the author’s efforts, Barnala said, “The book combines historical and religious facts with creativity and also convey’s Guru Arjan Dev’s teachings. I find the author has wonderfully picturised part of Sikh history.”

He reminded the audience that Sikhism is the message of devotion and remembrance of God and truthful living, which denounces superstition and blind faith.

Barnala observed that as a playwright Harbhajan Singh also depicted the villainy of the Guru's brother too while elucidating the torture and death of Guru Arjan Dev.

Hopper said India found its strength in its religious diversity, which was frequently challenged. “But one marvels at how India rises to such challenges.”

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Nathula: China for tapping tourism potential

Gangtok, June 6
China and India need to tap Nathula’s potential for tourism promotion, a Chinese diplomat has said.

Bu Jiamguo, minister counsellor at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, made this point to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling when she led a four-member Chinese team to meet the latter here yesterday.

“Both China and Sikkim should explore the possibility of tourism via Nathula,” she said, adding that there was an urgent need for good infrastructure like hotels and warehouses on either side of the border for trade to flourish.

The delegation called on Chamling soon after its return from a study trip to Sherathang and Nathula in Sikkim and Renquinggang in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) across the border. — PTI

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Seema Bal men scale Mount Jogin-I
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 6
Shastra Seema Bal (SSB) mountaineers scaled Mount Jogin I (21, 210 feet) today. Five mountaineers of the force, conquered the summit after a five-hour climb, force’s headquarters here said.

Twentyfive-member mountaineering team of the force will attempt Mt. Jogin III (20, 065) on June 7. It is situated on the Garhwal-Kumaon Himalayas in the Gangotri region of Uttarakhand.

Veteran mountaineer G.C. Sah is leading the team on a 34-day expedition, including acclimatisation camp.

The force intends to expose its men to the stupendous dynamics of planning to conduct long-range patrols and expeditions along our international border. The team also cleared litter on the way.

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12 engg colleges to be opened

Jaipur, June 6
Twelve new engineering colleges will be opened in Rajasthan in the new academic session which will account for an increase of 3,000 engineering seats.

“One government engineering college each would be opened in Bikaner, Bharatpur, Ajmer and Jhalawar, while one private college each would be opened in Jodhpur, Ganganagar, Pilani, Kota and Alwar,” Vasudev Devnani, Minister for Education said.

Jaipur will see three new engineering colleges in this session.

Sources in the Technical Education Department said, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), has given an in-principal approval for opening these colleges.

Currently there are around 50 engineering colleges in the state of which around five are in the government sector, while about 45 are in the private sector, accounting for 16,000 engineering seats in the state. — IANS

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Budhia’s walk stops at start

Bhubaneswar, June 6
The much-hyped 500-km “walkathon” from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata by wonder-kid Budhia Singh, failed to take off today.

Armed by a directive of the Khurda District Child Welfare Committee, a quasi-judicial body entrusted by the Orissa High Court to keep an eye on Budhia and which had imposed a ban on the him being used or engaged in the event, the district authorities stopped the programme that was to be flagged off here this morning.

After a prolonged wrangling between senior district officials and the organisers of the event, Budhia was not allowed to proceed as planned earlier. — PTI

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Anara looks forward to release of ‘Miss Anara’

New Delhi, Jun 6
The main protagonist of the controversial CD case that hit the headlines some time back, former Miss Jammu Anara Gupta is now all set to hit the silver screen, starring in a film based on the infamous episode.

The film “Miss Anara” produced by K.K. Yadav features debutante actor Amit Rao opposite her will be released on June 22.

Gupta said she acted in the film to put across her version of events in the case of the pornographic CD that allegedly featured her and in which she eventually got the clean chit.

“The film was a good experience for me. My family said it was a good way to restart my life as I wanted to stop living after I went through that ordeal,” Gupta said. — PTI

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Petrol prices hiked in Delhi

New Delhi, June 6 
Prices of petrol and diesel have been hiked in the city from midnight.

Now the Delhi populace would have to shell out Rs 43.52 for a litre of petrol as compared to Rs 42.85 and for an equivalent amount of diesel they would be paying Rs 30.48 instead of the earlier Rs 30.25. — UNI

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RS member takes oath

New Delhi, June 6
Rajya Sabha chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat yesterday administered oath and affirmation to Mohammed Yamin, who has been elected from West Bengal. Yamin’s name was proposed by the CPM to fill the vacancy following Chittabrata Majumdar’s demise. — TNS

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