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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Monsoon fury
11 die in Pune wall collapse
A man made homeless by the floods sits among belongings salvaged from his house at Kolluru village in Kurnool on Saturday. Pune, June 23
Eleven persons, mostly construction workers, were killed in wall collapse incidents as heavy rains lashed the city and suburbs.

A man made homeless by the floods sits among belongings salvaged from his house at Kolluru village in Kurnool on Saturday. — AFP photo

Guru-ta-Gaddi Diwas
Badal wants UN recognition
New Delhi, June 23
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said the day commemorating the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib should be observed as an event of significance on national as well as international calendar as part of the global human awareness campaign.


EARLIER STORIES


Mysore project: Karnataka moves SC afresh
New Delhi, June 23
The Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka has given a new twist to the multi-crore Bengalore-Mysore corridor controversy in a fresh application moved in the Supreme Court claiming that two original files related to the project deal, “suppressed” by some officials during the Dharam Singh regime, had uncovered a massive fraud pertaining to transfer of excess land worth Rs 30,000 crore to construction company.

Top Maoist leader killed in encounter
Hyderabad, June 23
Maoists in Andhra Pradesh received a major setback when their top leader S. Rajamouli, one of the accused in the assassination bid on former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, was killed in an encounter with police in Anantapur district last night.

Loan defraud allegations against Pratibha Patil
Mumbai, June 23
A section of the Congress in Maharashtra has accused Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar of spreading reports of loan default against presidential hopeful Pratibha Patil.

BJP trains guns on Pratibha Patil
New Delhi, June 23
In an open declaration of no holds barred ideological-cum-personal war on UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, the NDA and the BJP today shot missiles at the opponent of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is gong to file his nomination on Monday which happens to be the 32nd anniversary of the imposition of national emergency.

UPA rubbishes criticism of Patil
New Delhi, June 23
Terming as “malicious” the allegations made against UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, two senior ministers today said the attack reflected frustration of those who saw no prospect of winning the election. Referring to allegations that a cooperative sugar factory that Ms Patil had headed was a loan defaulter, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said it was wrong to single out a factory from where Patil had severed her connections about three years ago.

Killjoy board withholds 7-yr-old’s Class X mark sheet
Lucknow, June 23
At seven, Sushma has cleared the Class X examination. However, she cannot join Class XI until the UP board does not release her mark sheet.

Punjab highways set for facelift
New Delhi, June 23
The union government has given a green signal to the modernisation of several major national highways in Punjab.

Relatives of Sunita celebrate her safe return
Ahmedabad, June 23
Paternal kin of Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams broke into spontaneous celebrations as news of the safe touchdown of her spacecraft Atlantis trickled in the wee hours today.

Sonia, Shekhawat felicitate Sunita
New Delhi, June 23
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Congress President Sonia Gandhi today congratulated

Third line between Palwal, Mathura
New Delhi, June 23
The Railways is laying a third line between Palwal in Haryana and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh to ensure that train movement is not disrupted during any agitation.

Annual Plan
Uttarakhand govt lacks vision: Cong MP
Dehra Dun, June 23
Blaming the state government for showing lack of vision in preparing the state’s annual fiscal plan and its poor presentation before the Planning Commission, Congress MP and former vice-chairman of the state planning board Vijay Bahuguna today said the Chief Minister should have availed the services of his predecessor N.D. Tiwari in securing more funds.

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Monsoon fury
11 die in Pune wall collapse

Pune, June 23
Eleven persons, mostly construction workers, were killed in wall collapse incidents as heavy rains lashed the city and suburbs.

Two compound walls collapsed in Baner and Kothrud areas claiming seven and four lives. The victims lived in make-shift hutments, they said. Heavy rains began late last evening and continued till this morning. The city recorded 97.4 mm rainfall last night, the Met office said.

7 die in Karnataka

Raichur: Heavy rain, accompanied by gusty winds, has claimed seven lives, including that of an infant, in the past 24 hours in this district of Karnataka.

DSP Padmanayana told UNI here that four persons, including the infant, were killed and two injured when the roof of their house collapsed at Kallur village in Malvi taluk last night. In another incident, two boys were killed when a house collapsed on the outskirts of Raichur.

Toll 33 in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: The death toll in the incessant rains that wreaked havoc in Kerala under the influence of the South West Monsoon rose to 33, with 15 more casualties reported today.

The torrential rains had driven thousands of people to relief camps and damaged standing crops and houses.

The police said four members of a family were buried alive in a landslide at Valathodu in Wayanad district. Another person was killed here when a tree fell on him. Three deaths were reported from Kozhikode, two from Kannur and one each from Kasargode, Thrissur, Kollam, Kottayam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts.

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Guru-ta-Gaddi Diwas
Badal wants UN recognition
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said the day commemorating the installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib should be observed as an event of significance on national as well as international calendar as part of the global human awareness campaign.

Urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to get Guru-ta-Gaddi Diwas (October 29) declared as International Day of Commitment to Secularism, Badal said the government should take up the issue with the appropriate forum in the United Nations.

He said relevance of the message of Sri Guru Granth Sahib needed to be emphasised as part of a national movement on secular, egalitarian, patriotic and cross-cultural ideals.

Badal called upon the Centre to effectively use the occasion to emphasise India’s approach to find solution to the global problems.

The Chief Minister, who today attended the first meeting of National Committee for Commemoration of Tercentenary Celebrations of Guru-ta-Gaddi Diwas, held under the chairmanship of union home minister Shivraj Patil, made a strong case for its integrated development of Talwandi Sabo by the union government.

He said the tenth Guru gave final shape to Guru Granth Sahib at Takht Sri Damdama Sahib in Talwandi Sabo. He said it was imperative that besides integrated development of Sri Nanded Sahib, the union government should also undertake the integrated development of Talwandi Sabo.

Badal said a special session of Parliament should be convened to salute the message of the Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The route of the last journey undertaken by Shri Guru Gobind Singh from Talwandi Sabo to Nanded Sahib, which passes through various states, should be named as Sri Guru Gobind Singh Marg.

Besides, the road should have milestones carved in the traditional style of Sikh architecture with inscriptions from Gurbani of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

He urged the government to run a train connecting the five Takhts at Patna, Nanded, Talwandi Sabo, Anandpur Sahib and Amritsar.

Badal said an all-religion function should be organised at Sri Damdama Sahib and a march taken out from Sri Anandpur Sahib to Nanded Sahib where the Guru announced the decision to bestow Guru-ta (guruhood) on Sri Granth Sahib.

He also sought the release of a commemorative postal stamp and a coin.

The Chief Minister suggested that the proposed National Defence University in the state be named as Sri Guru Gobind Singh University.

According to an official spokesman, those who attended the meeting included Tamil Nadu Governor S.S. Barnala, Kerala Governor R.L. Bhatia, Chief Minister of Maharashtra Vilasrao Deshmukh, union culture minister Ambika Soni, PPCC president S.S. Dullo, leader of opposition in Punjab Assembly Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, DSGMC president P.S. Sarna, Tarlochan Singh, MP, and Swami Chinmynand.

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Mysore project: Karnataka moves SC afresh
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 23
The Kumaraswamy government in Karnataka has given a new twist to the multi-crore Bengalore-Mysore corridor controversy in a fresh application moved in the Supreme Court claiming that two original files related to the project deal, “suppressed” by some officials during the Dharam Singh regime, had uncovered a massive fraud pertaining to transfer of excess land worth Rs 30,000 crore to construction company.

Making it a fresh ground for modifying the apex court’s June 2006 order asking the Karnataka government not to proceed with the inquiry by the B C Patel Commission into the entire project, the Kumaraswamy government said the two missing files had shown that the actual facts were “suppressed” from the court and “substituted” with the fabricated records.

This had led to the transfer of an additional 2,289 acres of land for sale in the toll road section and township of the project illegally to Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE), which was given the contract for building the expressway.

Kumaraswamy’s father and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda was deadly against the transfer of land to NICE and it was cited as one of the reasons for pulling down the Dharam Singh government by his party, Janata Dal (S).

Figures substituted in the fabricated records, in place of those in the original files, had formed the basis of the decision of the government to make “saleable” land measuring 2,289 acres worth Rs 30,000 crore as per the present value in terms of the Floor Space Index available to NICE, the government counsel Sanjay Hegde in his recent reply to the company’s application stated. The case is to come up for hearing after vacation.

The reply came in response to NICE’s application, moved earlier, in which the Kumaraswamy government sought to be restrained from giving effect to its letter of January, 2007, intending to terminate the Frame Work Agreement (FWA) of April, 1997, regarding the execution of the project.

In fact, out of the 20,193 acres of land placed in Schedule-I, 14,255 acres was to revert back to the government and the right to alienate or sell would be restricted to only 30 per cent of the total land.

But due to fabrication of records, which also became the basis for the orders of the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court permitting the project to go ahead in the “public interest”, the total land to be reverted to the government was reduced to 11,966 acres by the then government, the Kumaraswamy administration alleged.

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Top Maoist leader killed in encounter
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 23
Maoists in Andhra Pradesh received a major setback when their top leader S. Rajamouli, one of the accused in the assassination bid on former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, was killed in an encounter with police in Anantapur district last night.

The shoot-out occurred at Dharmavaram railway station in full public view as a special police party gunned down the Naxalite leader after a hot chase. Two of his accomplices, believed to be his bodyguards, managed to escape.

Rajamouli, alias Prasad, a member of the CPI (Maoist) Central Committee and Central Military Commission, was on the most-wanted list of the state police, carrying a reward of Rs 16 lakh on his head.

The extremists were spotted by the police at the railway station at around 9.30 pm. They allegedly opened fire on seeing the police team. The police then retaliated, killing Rajamouli on the spot while two others, including a woman, fled the scene with bullet injuries.

The police recovered a revolver and some kit bags from the encounter site.

Rajamouli, who figured in 120 criminal cases, was believed to be an expert in military planning and played a key role in the "Operation Alipiri" on Naidu at Tirupati in October 2003. He was a member of the Maoist outfit's Central Military Commission which is responsible for planning attacks on the chosen targets all over the country.

A native of Karimnagar district, the traditional stronghold of Naxalites, Rajamouli had joined the People's War Group in 1985 and rose from the ranks to become one of its key military strategists. He worked as squad member of Husnabad in his native district before becoming the district committee member and later the district committee secretary.

He was later elevated as North Telangana Special Zonal Committee Secretary and then to the central committee, a decision-making body of the ultra left outfit.

Rajamouli's wife N. Rajitha, alias Padmakka, who had worked as Nizamabad district committee secretary of PWG, was killed in a police encounter a few years ago.

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Loan defraud allegations against Pratibha Patil
Shiv Kumar/TNS

Mumbai, June 23
A section of the Congress in Maharashtra has accused Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar of spreading reports of loan default against presidential hopeful Pratibha Patil.

Though the Mumbai Central District Co-operative Bank had issued notices to 74 sugar factories across the state earlier this month, only the notice to Shri Sant Muktabai Sugar Co-operative factory at Jalgaon, which Patil’s family controls, received a wide display across the media.

NCP leaders control the MCDC BANK. The party also holds the co-operation portfolio in the Vilasrao Deshmukh government. The co-operation department oversees the co-operative banks as well as the sugar co-operatives in the state.

What adds fuel to the gossip mills is Pratibha Patil's old rivalry with Pawar. She remained a loyalist of Indira Gandhi through the 1970s when the Syndicate tried to depose her and despite her close association with Pawar, she refused to join him when he broke away from the Congress in 1978.

Considering Pawar's reputation as one who neither forgives nor forgets, the Congress leaders here feel that the publicity surrounding the notice could not have come without his blessings. Conspiracy theorists also suggest the timing of the news when BJP leaders in New Delhi produced the widow of a Congress leader who blamed the presidential hopeful for being involved in her husband’s murder.

Congressmen in Mumbai have been stating for long that the NCP is all set to replace the Shiv Sena as the BJP's ally in Maharashtra. And the allegations against Pratibha Patil only add to such speculation.

The Shiv Sena, which stands to lose an ally as much as the Congress in the event of a realignment of political forces, has come out in support of Pratibha Patil. “In politics, such allegations are only to be expected,” Thackeray said, virtually giving a clean chit to the first presidential candidate from Maharashtra.

Political observers say the Shiv Sena could try to score some political points on the issue since ‘Marathi Asmita’ or Marathi pride is at stake here. The Sena's open support to Patil seems to have forced Pawar on the back foot.

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BJP trains guns on Pratibha Patil
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
In an open declaration of no holds barred ideological-cum-personal war on UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, the NDA and the BJP today shot missiles at the opponent of Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is gong to file his nomination on Monday which happens to be the 32nd anniversary of the imposition of national emergency.

The strategy evolved for ensuring Shekhawat’s victory in the presidential election is a division of work between the NDA and the BJP.

While the NDA spokesperson Sushma Swaraj has been entrusted with the task of shooting ideological missiles, it has been left to the BJP to first discredit the UPA’s claim of bringing a woman to the highest constitutional office and then expose Patil in public perception.

Swaraj said today that June 25 had been chosen for filing Shekhawat’s nomination as a Congress government under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had murdered democracy 32 years ago and the present Congress ruled UPA had also declared an “unofficial emergency” by trampling upon the constitutional offices like that of the institution of Prime Minister which had been “weakened”.

Earlier, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad had asked Patil to personally answer a set of questions related to the murder of a Congressman in her home constituency of Jalgaon in Maharashtra in which her brother G.N. Patil is allegedly involved and an unpaid loan taken by the Mukta Bai Sugar factory in which she was the chairman at the time of sanctioning and disbursement of Rs 5 crore loan which in between has grown to Rs 17.70 crore.

Prasad said the BJP “does not have the slightest doubt that the Congress leadership (read Sonia Gandhi) knew about all these facts. Yet, Patil was chosen to be the UPA candidate for the presidential election. Is it because, apart from loyalty to the Gandhi family, she was also vulnerable, so that she would sign on dotted line?”

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UPA rubbishes criticism of Patil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
Terming as “malicious” the allegations made against UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, two senior ministers today said the attack reflected frustration of those who saw no prospect of winning the election. Referring to allegations that a cooperative sugar factory that Ms Patil had headed was a loan defaulter, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said it was wrong to single out a factory from where Patil had severed her connections about three years ago.

Addressing a press conference shortly after Patil filed her nomination, Pawar said Ms Patil was founder chairperson of the Jalgaon-based Mukta Bai Co-operative Sugar Factory, which started operating from 1999. For some reasons the factory was later declared a defaulter but it was wrong to say that she was responsible for it, he said.

He said notice was served on the factory in December 2006 along with 73 other cooperative sector mills and leaders from the NCP, Congress and other political parties were associated with some of them.

Pawar said it was unfortunate that a cooperative sugar factory, from where Ms Patil had already severed her connections after she was made Rajasthan Governor, was being singled out and that too after UPA had made its decision on her candidature. He said it was not a person but institution which would respond to the notice served by the bank.

Refuting allegations that the cooperative bank was being managed by NCP, he said the bank was doing its work and had issued the notice for the recovery of its debt.

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Killjoy board withholds 7-yr-old’s Class X mark sheet
Shahira Naim
Tribune New Service

Lucknow, June 23
At seven, Sushma has cleared the Class X examination. However, she cannot join Class XI until the UP board does not release her mark sheet.

The youngest to clear the Class X exams, Sushma left for Shirdi with her father yesterday to seek the blessings of Sai Baba. Confirming that her daughter had not received the mark sheet as yet, Tej Bahadur, a gardener, said Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad, which conducts the UP Board Class X exams, has been withholding it.

Born on February 7, 2000, Sushma had passed the Class X examination by scoring 59 per cent marks.

However, secretary of the UP Board, in a letter to the Lucknow district inspector of schools (DIOS), has asked him to explain how Sushma was allowed to appear for the high school examinations. The Parishad has asked the DIOS to elucidate those “rare qualities and abilities” that made them clear all decks for the girl to take the examination.

In a reply to the Parishad’s letter, DIOS Ganesh Kumar has pointed out that according to the rulebook, there is no minimum age prescribed for appearing in the Class X examination. The only prerequisite is having passed the Class IX exams, which Sushma did last year.

Ironically, the Parishad has been playing spoilsport for quite some time now. Initially, it made Sushma over 100 years old by mentioning her year of birth on the hall ticket as 1900. When the mistake was discovered, it was changed to 1990 - still making her 10 years older than she really is.

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Punjab highways set for facelift
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
The union government has given a green signal to the modernisation of several major national highways in Punjab.

Following a meeting of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal with union surface transport minister T.R. Baalu, the Centre agreed to release a special grant for the repair and up gradation of Amritsar-Pathankot NH-35.

The minister also agreed to the proposal of widening of the Patiala-Bathinda national highway.

Four-laning of the national highway from Ludhiana to Talwandi Bhai has now been extended up to Hussainiwala.

The Chief Minister also submitted a list of projects lying pending for approval with the union ministry.

An official spokesman said Punjab has accelerated the process of up gradation of road network in the state.

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Relatives of Sunita celebrate her safe return

Ahmedabad, June 23
Paternal kin of Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams broke into spontaneous celebrations as news of the safe touchdown of her spacecraft Atlantis trickled in the wee hours today.

“We have been anxiously following the return journey of Altantis since the past three days,” said Chayaa Pandya, a cousin of Williams residing here.

“The tension that had built up among the family members since the past couple of days gave way to celebrations as we received the news of her safe landing early this morning,” she said.

According to Chayaa, most of the relatives were wide awake even past midnight and were following the news of the descent of spacecraft which landed at the Edwards Air Force base in California in its fourth attempt around 1.20 am.

“As soon as we received the news our happiness knew no bounds and we burst crackers, distributed sweets and danced in joy,” Chayaa said, stating the celebrations went on till the wee hours of the morning. — PTI

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Sonia, Shekhawat felicitate Sunita
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Congress President Sonia Gandhi today congratulated

astronaut Sunita Williams on her safe return to earth.

In a statement, Sonia Gandhi said: “The entire country is proud of her courage, determination and pioneering spirit, which have motivated her in her superb accomplishment. I’m confident that she will scale greater heights of achievement in the future than ever before reached.” The Vice-President said Sunita had made the country proud and had become a space icon for the younger generation.

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Third line between Palwal, Mathura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
The Railways is laying a third line between Palwal in Haryana and Mathura in Uttar Pradesh to ensure that train movement is not disrupted during any agitation.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad told mediapersons here that the third line will facilitate easy movement of trains on the busy North and West and for North East bound trains in case the traffic is badly affected due to any agitation.

Lalu said that the third line would provide additional route to the congested line in these zones.

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Annual Plan
Uttarakhand govt lacks vision: Cong MP
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, June 23
Blaming the state government for showing lack of vision in preparing the state’s annual fiscal plan and its poor presentation before the Planning Commission, Congress MP and former vice-chairman of the state planning board Vijay Bahuguna today said the Chief Minister should have availed the services of his predecessor N.D. Tiwari in securing more funds.

Since Tiwari has been former union finance minister as well as chairman of the state planning board, his experience and advice in preparing a bigger plan could have ensured more than Rs 378 crore increase in the first annual plan of Rs 4,500 crore.

Besides being beneficial for the state, the move would have set a healthy political precedent, said Bahuguna in an informal chat with reporters here.

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