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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

No J-K demilitarisation: Antony
New Delhi, June 18
Defence Minister A K Antony today reiterated his stand that there would be no demilitarisation or troop reduction in Jammu and Kashmir, but said that the two committees constituted by the Centre were assessing the situation about the reconfiguration of security forces in the troubled state.
Defence Minister A K antony along with Army Chief General J J Singh after the inauguration of the Army Commanders' Conference at South Block in New Delhi on Monday. Defence Minister A K Antony along with Army Chief General J J Singh after the inauguration of the Army Commanders' Conference at South Block in New Delhi on Monday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Left may pitch for post of vice-president
New Delhi, June 18
It now appears certain that the vice-president’s post would go to non-Congress leader and indications are that the Left parties would be keen to have their own person there.





EARLIER STORIES




Three stages of the “Lunar occultation of the moon” as captured by Tribune lensman Karam Singh in Chandigarh on Monday night.
MOON DATES VENUS: Three stages of the “Lunar occultation of the moon” as captured by Tribune lensman Karam Singh in Chandigarh on Monday night.

UPA watching moves closely
New Delhi, June 18
Apprehensive about the newly-formed front adopting a common strategy with the NDA in the presidential contest, the Congress is meticulously planning the campaign of UPA candidate Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who enjoys a comfortable lead over any of her potential rivals.

Overcrowded Tihar
Court orders release of 600 inmates
New Delhi, June 18
The Delhi High Court today ordered the Tihar jail authorities to release 600-odd prisoners who have been subjected to preventive detention, on their furnishing a personal bond of Rs 2,000 each.

Samajwadi MP’s reserved category claim set aside
Lucknow, June 18
In a major embarrassment to the Samajwadi Party, sitting MP from Akbarpur reserved constituency, Shankhlal Manjhi’s claim to be belonging to a Scheduled Caste has been set aside by the Sant Kabir Nagar district magistrate today.

Violent Agitations
Apex court sets up panels
New Delhi, June 18
As a follow up to its suo motu notice on large-scale destruction of public properties during recent Gujjars’ agitation, the Supreme Court today set up two committees to examine the effectiveness of the 1984 law protecting government assets during any agitation and strike.

14 convicted for Bhagalpur riots
Bhagalpur, June 18
Seventeen years after the massacre of 116 persons belonging to the minority community during the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, a local court today convicted the 14 accused, one of whom fled soon after the verdict was announced.

Chikungunya
Centre convenes ministers’ meeting
New Delhi, June 18
Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss will chair the mid-week a meeting of health ministers of eight Chikungunya-affected states to take stock of the situation arising out of the spread of the viral disease.

Medha Patkar opposes mega dams in N-E
Guwahati, June 18
Anti-dam agitation champion Medha Patkar today raised an alarm over New Delhi’s plan to tap the enormous hydel power potential of the North-Eastern states, especially Arunachal Pradesh by setting up mega dams at the cost of lives and property of large number of people.

‘Sivaji’ catches leaders’ fancy
Hyderabad, June 18
Southern superstar Rajnikant’s latest flick “Sivaji-The Boss” has caught the imagination of political parties in Andhra Pradesh, providing the ammunition to their battles. As “Rajni Mania” grips film lovers across age groups, the warring politicians could not have been left behind. The Telugu Desam Party supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu was the first to invoke the movie’s central theme of corruption to hit out at the ruling Congress.


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No J-K demilitarisation: Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
Defence Minister A K Antony today reiterated his stand that there would be no demilitarisation or troop reduction in Jammu and Kashmir, but said that the two committees constituted by the Centre were assessing the situation about the reconfiguration of security forces in the troubled state.

The PDP, which is the UPA ally at the Centre and also the coalition partner in the state has been demanding reduction in troops and has made it a political issue and has also been holding rallies in support of the demand. On the other hand, Antony has over and again stressed that there would be no troop reduction in the state which is also the view of the Indian Army and has been conveyed to the government.

The Defence Minister said the two committees were assessing the situation. “Whatever decision has to be taken will depend on professional advice ... As of now there is no proposal of demilitarisation”, he said on the sidelines of the inaugural day of the two-day conference of Unified Commander's-in-Chief Conference here.

The Centre had constituted two expert panels to go into the issues. One is headed by Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, which is carrying out an in depth assessment of the situation. The second panel will undertake a review of Armed Forces Special Powers Act to different areas of the state and would conform to legal requirements for a periodic review of the act.

These two panels would be submitting recommendations to a high power committee headed by the Defence Minister which would comprise representatives of the Central and state governments and would be empowered to take decisions on the recommendations made by the two panels.

On infiltration from across the border, Antony said on the whole there have been a few incidents but the number is not increasing.

On a related issue the Defence Minister said that Pakistan would have to authenticate the Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) in Siachen before any forward movement could be made to resolve the issue.

The Defence Minister also sought to downplay the recent controversy over China's claims on Arunachal Pradesh saying it was not a new thing. “They have their own position, we also have ours. Our categorical stand is that Arunachal Pradesh is part of India.”

Observing that the border dispute was still unsettled, he said 10 rounds of negotiations have already taken place and further discussions are taking place.

Earlier, inaugurating the two-day Unified Commander's-in-Chief conference, he in a veiled reference to Pakistan, said that vested interests for scuttling role of New Delhi in rebuilding war-ravaged Afghanistan.

Expressing concern over the resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan, the Defence Minister said certain vested interests are trying to scuttle our role in rebuilding the country. “We are committed to support this (rebuilding) process and help Afghanistan to emerge as a stable, democratic state,” he said.

India has already dispatched a fresh batch of commandos to Afghanistan from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police to protect the Indian projects and those working there.

During his address to the top brass of Army, Indian Air Force and the Navy, Antony delved on the security scenario in the immediate neighbourhood and beyond. The most crucial challenge facing is in the near future is growing instability in our neighbourhood.

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Left may pitch for post of vice-president
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
It now appears certain that the vice-president’s post would go to non-Congress leader and indications are that the Left parties would be keen to have their own person there.

Sources indicated that although the Left parties have not made any formal claim for the post, preliminary discussions have taken place within the UPA and with its allies.

They said there was a view among the UPA allies and supporting parties that since the Congress had the presidential candidate, the vice-president should be a non-Congress person, preferably the second largest group. Such a group incidentally happens to be the Left parties.

The term of vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is planning to contest the presidential poll as an Independent with the support of the BJP-led NDA, ends in August.

“But the UPA leadership would have every right to accept or reject our proposed candidate for the post of vice-president, as we did not accept their presidential candidates Shivraj Patil, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Dr Karan Singh and others.”

Although the Left is keen to nominate the name of Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee for the post, it is likely that the communists would come up with at least two or three names for the post.

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UPA watching moves closely
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
Apprehensive about the newly-formed front adopting a common strategy with the NDA in the presidential contest, the Congress is meticulously planning the campaign of UPA candidate Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who enjoys a comfortable lead over any of her potential rivals.

Though the Congress leaders officially maintained that there was no doubt over Patil's victory, they are not leaving anything to chance.

Senior Congress leaders met at party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence today to discuss election strategy.

The party rejected a statement by vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, made today evening, in which he said he would be happy if consensus could be achieved on Kalam.

Congress spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi said the UPA had received a negative response (from the NDA) when it had sought a consensus on Patil’s name. “It remains to be seen how the new front joins hands with communal forces,” he said.

Sources within the Congress said the party’s main objective was to make sure that the UPA candidate gets over 50 per cent votes in the first round and that the contest does not move to other rounds. They said UPA-Left had nearly 53 per cent of vote share and efforts would be made to ensure all votes were polled and there was no cross-voting.

They added that at least four sets of nominations would be filed, each signed by 50 proposers and 50 seconders. While members of various assemblies would file two sets, two sets are likely to be filed by the UPA and Left MPs.

Sources said Patil, who has begun reaching out to leaders outside the UPA, today talked over the telephone to TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, BJD leader and Orissa CM Naveen Patnaik and JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav, sources said.

They said among the scenarios discussed by the Congress leaders was of UNPA putting up its candidate and giving its second preference votes to Shekhawat, and of NDA ultimately coming round to supporting Kalam for another term, if he agrees to contest. The leaders felt that the first scenario could make the contest “close”, while it would be tougher for the party in the second case.

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Overcrowded Tihar
Court orders release of 600 inmates

New Delhi, June 18
The Delhi High Court today ordered the Tihar jail authorities to release 600-odd prisoners who have been subjected to preventive detention, on their furnishing a personal bond of Rs 2,000 each.

To ease overcrowding in the jail, the court directed the release of the 600-odd prisoners who have no one to stand their surety. It ruled that the detainees, who have been booked under offences like Section 107 read with Section 151 of the CrPC, might be released on a personal bond. They would, however, be required to report to their local police stations daily and mark their presence.

“These inmates need to be set free without surety. Threat, to citizens, if any due to activities of these prisoners, can be met by directing these inmates to mark their presence with their local police stations,” a vacation bench, comprising justice Pradeep Nandrajog and justice P.K. Bhasin said.

Taking suo motu action on the findings of the three-member fact finding committee, looking into the seven deaths which occurred in the jail within a period of seven days in a row this month, issued notice to the Delhi Jal Board and the Tihar officials, to reply by July 2, as to why there are no satisfactory provisions in the jail relating to the problem of water, space and other amenities.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Seema Maini, who was one of the committee members, told the court that there seemed to be a “nexus” between some jail officials and “some persons” to keep some people in jail. Besides the nexus, the report suggested that the reason for the deaths could be the constraint of space as Tihar had more than double the capacity of inmates than it could accommodate.

There are about eight outlets of water but only four of them are functional and even they worked for about half-an-hour daily in which water comes out at a trickle. The report also said owing to the excessive number of inmates in the jail, around 13,712 inmates against its capacity of 6,258, extremely harsh and hard environmental conditions existed in the jail with the “stench of urine and sweat so strong that the fact-finding committee could not stay there for long”. — UNI

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Samajwadi MP’s reserved category claim set aside
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 18
In a major embarrassment to the Samajwadi Party, sitting MP from Akbarpur reserved constituency, Shankhlal Manjhi’s claim to be belonging to a Scheduled Caste has been set aside by the Sant Kabir Nagar district magistrate today.

The order came on the last day of the six-month deadline set by the Allahabad High Court in a 14-year-old case challenging the Scheduled Caste certificate of Manjhi who claims to be a Manjhwar.

With the DM’s order today the matter would most likely be taken to the Election Commission in the coming days.

On December 19, 2006 the High Court had given clear instructions to the DM, Sant Kabir Nagar, the home district of Manjhi, to look into records and ascertain if he was a SC as claimed by him or an OBC (Nishad or Gaudia) as claimed by the petitioner Lalmani Prasad, BSP MP from Basti.

The High Court order (dated December 19) had come down heavily against Sant Kabir Nagar DM’s previous order of June 30, 2005 in which he had said Manjhi was found to be a Gaudia which is synonymous to Manjhwar.

Setting a six-month deadline for the DM to give clear orders, the HC had observed that under Article 341 of the Constitution there was no scope for ambiguity in this regard.

Speaking to TNS Sant Kabir Nagar DM C.S Verma said today’s decision came after examining records dating back to 1916. In the land record Manjhi’s grandfather had called himself a Gaudia.

The DM said police station records against Manjhi’s father, dated 1957, and even against Manjhi, dating 1975, show them to be belonging to OBC.

Calling the DM’s order “historical” Lalmani Prasad, while speaking to TNS, said, “Today Baba Saheb’s dreams have been fulfilled.”

Manjhi who originally hails from Mukhlispur village of Khalilabad tehsil in Sant Kabir Nagar had first procured a SC certificate through the tehsildar in 1971 that was renewed in 1993.

In 1995 following complaints by his political rival Lalmani Prasad, now BSP MP from Basti, the DM had probed the authenticity of Manjhi’s claim and found him to be an OBC.

Manjhi went to court and received a stay order on the DM’s decision. For the past 14 years the matter has been dragging in court.

Meanwhile, Manjhi was elected an MLA from Hainserbazar reserved constituency in 2002 and even became a minister of state in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s government in 2003.

In 2004 Manjhi entered the Lok Sabha in by poll held in Akbarpur after BSP supremo Mayawati vacated the seat on getting a Rajya Sabha seat.

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Violent Agitations
Apex court sets up panels
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 18
As a follow up to its suo motu notice on large-scale destruction of public properties during recent Gujjars’ agitation, the Supreme Court today set up two committees to examine the effectiveness of the 1984 law protecting government assets during any agitation and strike.

The first penal, ordered to be set up by a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P.P. Naolekar will be headed by former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas and will have former Attorney General K. Parasaran, former CBI Director R.K. Raghavan, senior advocate Rajiv Dhawan, Law Secretary and an officer of joint secretary level from the Ministry of Home as its members with Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati as convener.

The court said the committee would go into the efficacy of the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, as the legislation was found by the Bench to be quiet ineffective in controlling the vandalism of government assets during strikes as it had become a routine and authorities failing to take any remedial measures.

The court issued notices to the Centre and states seeking their replies in the form of suggestions about the steps required to be taken to make the 1984 Act more effective. The states were directed to submit details as how many cases punitive actions, including imposition of damages, had been resorted to for destruction of public properties during strikes in their respective territories.

The second committee, headed by noted lawyer Fali S Nariman, was set up to find the damage during the Gujjars’ agitation, basis for it and suggest modalities to prevent it in future.

Since Rajasthan and Delhi Police chiefs in their replies had blamed electronic media for “escalating” the violence by repeatedly showing the footages of dead persons during the Gujjars’ agitation, the court though “prima facie” disagreed with them, but said it would still examine the role of the media also.

For that purpose, it included Editor-in-Chiefs of The Times of India, The Indian Express, Dainik Jagaran and NDTV as representatives of media in the second panel. 

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14 convicted for Bhagalpur riots

Bhagalpur, June 18
Seventeen years after the massacre of 116 persons belonging to the minority community during the 1989 Bhagalpur riots, a local court today convicted the 14 accused, one of whom fled soon after the verdict was announced.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Shambhunath Mishra fixed June 27 for announcing the quantum of sentence.

The case involved the killing of 116 persons, including women and children, at Logain village under Jagdishpur police station of the district where the victims were buried in a mass grave, which was camouflaged with cauliflower plantation to escape detection.

The court also convicted the then officer in-charge of Jagdishpur police station Ramchandra Singh and chowkidar Thakur Paswan.

Though there were 24 named accused in the case, six died during the trial, while four never turned up, prompting the court to proclaim them absconders and order attachment of their property.

Those convicted are Kuldip Mandal, Arjun Mandal, Prabhas Mandal, Sukhdev Mandal, Subhash Mandal, Ajablal Mandal, Shivlal Mandal, Naresh Mandal, Jattu Mandal, Ramdev Mandal, Saryu Prasad Singh, Thakur Paswan, Ramchandr Singh and Jaiprakash Mandal. — PTI

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Chikungunya
Centre convenes ministers’ meeting
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss will chair the mid-week a meeting of health ministers of eight Chikungunya-affected states to take stock of the situation arising out of the spread of the viral disease.

Sources in the Health Ministry said the meeting scheduled for Thursday would be attended by health ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

So far, 400 persons are reported to have been affected with Chikungunya in eight states.

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Medha Patkar opposes mega dams in N-E
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 18
Anti-dam agitation champion Medha Patkar today raised an alarm over New Delhi’s plan to tap the enormous hydel power potential of the North-Eastern states, especially Arunachal Pradesh by setting up mega dams at the cost of lives and property of large number of people.

She said mega dams were not in the interest of the people of the Northeast, where the maximum requirement of power was not over 7000 MW.

He called upon the people of all the N-E states and grass root organisations fighting against mega dams to come together under one platform to launch a united movement against these projects.

Talking to the media here this afternoon, the Narmada Bachao Andolan fame activist alleged that these dams were being planned by the Central government at the behest of multinational companies without caring to the immense damages that would be caused to life of large number of villagers and tribal people of the region.

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‘Sivaji’ catches leaders’ fancy
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 18
Southern superstar Rajnikant’s latest flick “Sivaji-The Boss” has caught the imagination of political parties in Andhra Pradesh, providing the ammunition to their battles.

As “Rajni Mania” grips film lovers across age groups, the warring politicians could not have been left behind.

The Telugu Desam Party supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu was the first to invoke the movie’s central theme of corruption to hit out at the ruling Congress.

“The level of corruption depicted in the film reflects the ground reality prevailing in the state. The Congress bigwigs are steeped in scandals and corruption similar to the one that is shown in “Sivaji”,” Naidu said while addressing a party meeting here on Sunday.

He asked the party cadre to watch the movie without fail and don the role of “Sivaji”, the corruption-busting protagonist in the film, to expose the misdeeds of the Rajasekhar Reddy government.

“The film should be an eye-opener for the corrupt Congress leaders,” he told a gathering of TDP sarpanches after inaugurating a training programme for them.

Incidentally, Naidu is a long-time friend of Rajnikant who had arranged a special preview for him here on June 14, a day before the movie hit the theatres amidst unprecedented hype.

Billed as the most expensive film ever made in India, “Sivaji” is a run-of-the-mill masala movie in which the Rajnikant wages a war on corruption and wins in his inimitable style.

“You should take inspiration from the movie and take up the task of unearthing the black money from the houses and offices of Congress leaders,” Naidu told his partymen.

Expectedly, the “filmy attack evoked strong reaction from the ruling party. “Naidu is best suited to be the honorary president of the International Corruption Association. His nine-year rule in the past was an epitome of scandals and corruption,” the Congress spokesman N Tulasi Reddy said.

Ridiculing the Opposition leader’s charges over corruption, he pointed out that “Transparency International”, an independent watchdog, had placed AP among the least corrupt states in India.

“Naidu used to take pride in calling himself CEO of AP Inc when he was Chief Minister. Now, he appears to be interested in serving as chief publicity officer for “Sivaji” rather than as the opposition leader,” the Congress leader said.

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