SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Cong presents facts about ‘clean’ Pratibha
New Delhi, June 28
Caught off-guard by the BJP’s persistent campaign of financial irregularities against the UPA’s presidential nominee Pratibha Patil, the Congress woke up rather belatedly today to put the record straight.

Pratibha to face media on July 1: Cong
New Delhi, June 28
Continuing its aggressive stance on allegations being made by the BJP against its presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, the Congress today accused the main opposition party of resorting to politics based on character assasination and "subverting" the system of presidential elections.

Monsoon reaches Delhi a day in advance

New Delhi, June 28
The much-awaited monsoon rains arrived in the Capital a day ahead of the normal onset date - June 29 - but no one is complaining.

Office-goers face the monsoon fury in Mumbai on Thursday. — PTI photo


EARLIER STORIES



Terror in way of creating South Asian community
India seeks Bangladesh help
New Delhi, June 28
India has made it clear that terrorism is a major obstacle for realisation of South Asia Community and sought the help of Bangladesh in achieving this objective.

Nalanda Varsity Post
Nitish awaits Kalam’s response
Patna, June 28
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is looking forward to a positive response from President A.P.J Abdul Kalam to accept the post of visitor of the proposed international university in Nalanda.

Bapu’s letter: India to make a bid at auction
New Delhi, June 28
Determined to prevent a priceless letter of Mahatma Gandhi from falling into private hands, India has decided to join the July 3 auction at the Christie's through the Capital-based Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).

Is IAF’s long wait for combat jets over?
Paris, June 28
The week-long biennial Paris Air Show is over, and so it appears the long wait for an Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

Dravidian parties silent on Moily report
Chennai, June 28
The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the opposition All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have decided to remain silent as far as the recommendations of the administrative reforms commission headed by Veerappa Moily are concerned.

Natwar Intimidation Issue
NDA to petition EC against Cong
New Delhi, June 28
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is going to file a petition before the Election Commission tomorrow for exercising "undue influence" on Rajya Sabha MP Natwar Singh in order to compel him to support the UPA-Left presidential candidate Pratibha Patil.

Cabinet defers salary hike of Prez
New Delhi, June 28
The Union Cabinet today deferred its approval to double the salary of the President and vice-president and decided to take up the matter before the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which is likely to begin in the first week of August.

Left tirade on against Kalam
New Delhi, June 28
Despite President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam stating that he will not run for a second term, the main Left party continued its tirade against him by questioning his very intention to seek re-election and criticised that the support he received in the cyber space was not enough even to win a municipal ward poll.

New train timetable released
New Delhi, June 28
The new railway timetable ”Trains at a Glance” has proposed the introduction of eight pairs of air-conditioned Garib Rath trains during 2007-08.

  • Udhampur-Katra line soon

BJP to boost its election prospects
New Delhi, June 28
BJP today constituted four committees and a Booth Management Programme to boost its election prospects in coming Assembly and Lok Sabha election of 2009. Party President Rajnath Singh had indicated the formation of the committees during its two days meeting of the National Executive, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters saying that booth management would strengthen the organisational reach and efficacy of the party at the booth level all over the country.

Protecting Children’s Rights
Parliament’s role highlighted
New Delhi, June 28
The Indian Parliament has played a pivotal role by enacting several legislations to ensure the protection of our children’s rights and for their fuller development, said deputy speaker of Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal.

Kerala school gets HC notice on HIV kids
Kochi, June 28
The Kerala High Court today issued notices to Mar Dionysius Lower Primary School, Pampady, and its Parent Teacher Association (PTA) on a public interest petition seeking continued education for five HIV positive children admitted in the school earlier.

The Boss is in trouble
Chennai, June 28
"Sivaji- The Boss", the Rs 100-crore budget Tamil movie running to packed houses is apparently in trouble as a film maker has accused the director of plagiarism and filed a case in a city court to stop screening.

Caste Abuse
Bharat Shah in dock
Mumbai, June 28
Film financier and diamond merchant Bharat Shah is once again in the dock after the watchman of a local holiday resort filed a complaint against him for hurling casteist abuse.

Sex workers campaign for Taj
Patna, June 28
With the new list of "seven wonders of the world" scheduled to be released in Portugal on July 7, sex workers in Muzzafarpur of Bihar have launched a campaign for the inclusion of Taj Mahal into the same.

Two jewel thieves held
New Delhi, June 28
Two people were arrested here for stealing diamond jewellery worth Rs 8 million near the capital's domestic airport two years ago, the police said on Thursday.

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Cong presents facts about ‘clean’ Pratibha
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
Caught off-guard by the BJP’s persistent campaign of financial irregularities against the UPA’s presidential nominee Pratibha Patil, the Congress woke up rather belatedly today to put the record straight.

Although Congress spokespersons have cried themselves hoarse over the last few days describing the charges as “baseless”, parliamentary affairs minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, who is the UPA candidate’s official representative, today presented a series of facts and figures showing that Patil is clean.

Congress sources said it was only after this documentary evidence was placed before him that a relieved Prime Minister broke his silence yesterday to publicly defend Pratibha Patil.

Culled from state government records by minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office Prithviraj Chavan, the facts presented by the Congress showed that contrary to BJP’s charges, Pratibha Patil was the chairperson of the the Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank only for one month and eight days way back in 1990 and that she did not sanction any loans during her short tenure.

She quit as its director in 1994, several years before the entire board resigned following non-cooperation by the BJP-led employees union in 2002. The bank went into liquidation a year later.

Patil’s relatives, including her niece and sister-in-law, who borrowed money from the bank, repaid their loans within the stipulated period.

The Congress was compelled to go in for this damage-control exercise after it realised that there was no stopping the Opposition campaign.

In fact, a booklet written by BJP MP Arun Shourie detailing Patil’s involvement in financial irregularities was officially released today. Shourie’s writings were also e-mailed widely by Sudheedhra Kulkarni, former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s OSD, who also sent out SMS messages giving the website address where the detailed articles can be read.

Initially complacent, the Congress has now gone into an overdrive. Rebutting charges of Patil’s involvement in the Jalgoan-based Sant Muktabai Sahakari Sahkar Karkhana which has been issued a notice for non-payment of dues, Dasmunsi said Patil was not issued any such notice as she had stepped down as chairperson in 2001 and as director two years later.

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Pratibha to face media on July 1: Cong
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
Continuing its aggressive stance on allegations being made by the BJP against its presidential candidate Pratibha Patil, the Congress today accused the main opposition party of resorting to politics based on character assasination and "subverting" the system of presidential elections.

The Congress, which is keen to effectively rebuff the allegations and prevent any political fallout, is likely to field Patil to face the media once she begins presidential campaign on July 1. She was being briefed about the likely posers from the media. Speaking separately, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi ruled out any change in presidential candidate.

The spokesman said the UPA candidate would be President in about 30 days. "She has a proud past and quiet dignity. Not a single allegation was made against her during her long years in public life. There is no charge against her where she is accused of impropriety, irregularity or misconduct," he said.

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Monsoon reaches Delhi a day in advance
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The much-awaited monsoon rains arrived in the Capital a day ahead of the normal onset date - June 29 - but no one is complaining.

After showers hit Delhi around 10.30 in the morning following a week-long dry and sultry spell, the India Meteorological Department confirmed that monsoon had indeed set in over the Capital a day before schedule.

The morning rains were followed by a heavily overcast sky and intermittent moderate to light rains throughout the day. The prediction for the rest of the northwest region, comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, is that rain or thundershowers are likely at many places over the region. The current meteorological analysis suggests that fairly widespread rains are likely over the western Himalayan region and plains of northwest India during the next 48 hours.

The southwest monsoon advanced into remaining parts of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, most parts of east Rajasthan, some parts of west Rajasthan and some more parts of Haryana, including Delhi, and Punjab.

At present, its northern limit is passing through Barmer, Jodhpur, Ajmer, Jaipur, Narnaul, Rohtak, Ludhiana and Amritsar. The rains are a result of a low-pressure area created over the North and adjoining Bay of Bengal, the IMD added.

While the normal date of onset of monsoon over Delhi is June 29 but so far as its reaching bang on date is concerned, it has happened only on six occasions in the past 106 years. In comparison, its arrival has been delayed on 63 occasions while it reached ahead of schedule on 37 occasions. But Met officials say that June 29 is a tentative date based on past experience and the onset of monsoon may vary from year to year depending upon various conditions.

For the record, the maximum the monsoon got delayed was in 1987 when it reached the Capital on July 26, while the earliest arrival happened in 1998 when it hit Delhi on June 16.

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Terror in way of creating South Asian community
India seeks Bangladesh help
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
India has made it clear that terrorism is a major obstacle for realisation of South Asia Community and sought the help of Bangladesh in achieving this objective.

In turn, India has impressed upon Bangladesh of exploiting its strategic geographic location to position itself as a transportation hub for South Asia, South East Asia and China by upgrading roads, railways and ports and has promised its all-out help for achieving this objective.

This was conveyed to Bangladeshi political establishment by foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon during his just-concluded three-day visit to Dhaka. Menon’s interaction with Bangladesh’s top political leadership demonstrates that India has started engaging Bangladesh in a pro-active manner ever since the Begum Khaleda Zia regime’s tenure ended several months ago. Begum Zia’s uncooperative attitude on India-centric terrorist outfits getting succour and sanctuary in Bangladesh had brought Indo-Bangladesh relations to a new low in past five years.

India’s new Bangladesh approach was articulated by Menon yesterday when he addressed the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute in Dhaka on “Creating a South Asian Community: India-Bangladesh Relations” wherein he talked of ways of taking bilateral relations to an “irreversible higher trajectory” and to strengthen cooperation in all spheres.

Menon spoke of a comprehensive better connectivity, such as linking national power grids, gas pipelines, and telecommunications, to overcome shortages in certain areas and create synergy.

The Foreign Secretary , however, added a note of caution when he said the menace of terrorism remained a serious problem in realising the goal of a South Asian Community.

“The vision of a South Asian community must include as an essential component the idea of a South Asia free from violence and disputes, at peace with itself, free to concentrate on its primary tasks of abolishing poverty, improving the life of its people as well as seeking common prosperity…This is not to say that there are no obstacles to our realising the vision of a South Asian community. If the opportunities are economic, the challenges that come to mind immediately are primarily political. Terrorism is one such. A South Asian community can hardly be realised if terrorist violence and the politics of hate and confrontation continue in our subcontinent.”

He said India was willing to improve air connectivity by establishing daily air services between Bangladeshi cities to as many as 24 Indian cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata.

He stressed that commonalities between India and Bangladesh far outweighed bilateral differences. About half a million Bangladeshis visited India legally last year. He underlined that there needed to be a freer flow of people across the region to build upon the cultural and civilisational affinities that the two countries enjoy.

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Nalanda Varsity Post
Nitish awaits Kalam’s response
Tribune News Service

Patna, June 28
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is looking forward to a positive response from President A.P.J Abdul Kalam to accept the post of visitor of the proposed international university in Nalanda.

The centre has already announced the appointment of the Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen as the head of the experts committee to supervise the revival of Nalanda University, once known as an ancient seat of learning.

The Tribune, earlier quoting Nitish Kumar, had broken the news of the move to appoint Amartya Sen as the head of the experts committee.

On his part, Nitish has already requested Kalam to accept the post of visitor of the revived Nalanda University, which in fact was latter’s brainchild.The move by the Nitish government followed after Kalam spelt out his post-presidency plans last week by expresseing his desire to get back to academics and teach in colleges or seats of higher learning in predominantly rural areas.

Besides an unsuccessful bid by him in recent past to ensure a second term for Kalam as President, Nitish always showered praise on the missile man for his love for Bihar.

Under the Nalanda Open University Act, the varsity will have a chancellor, vice-chancellor and the top post of a visitor. Nitish hoped that Kalam would accept his offer.

Nalanda, known as an ancient seat of Buddhist learning, was set up in 450 AD. More than eight centuries after Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed it, the varsity is being revived by the Bihar government.

The Nitish government has already acquired land for the Rs 1,000-crore project and the university may start functioning from next year. The Nalanda project hogged limelight after President Kalam included it in his "Vision-2020" and also campaigned for it globally.

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Bapu’s letter: India to make a bid at auction

New Delhi, June 28
Determined to prevent a priceless letter of Mahatma Gandhi from falling into private hands, India has decided to join the July 3 auction at the Christie's through the Capital-based Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).

A culture ministry official said the NMML had been instructed to seek advice of the external affairs ministry and the Indian high commission in London to chalk out the strategy for entering the bidding process of the letter. External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has already discussed the issue with foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon.

The letter, which appeared in the January 11 issue of ‘The Harijan’ is likely to go under the hammer in the region of 2 million pounds with individual estimates ranging from 500 to 1,20,000 pounds. The issue was brought to the notice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by two staunch Gandhians B.K. Birla and Satya Paul, who urged him to intervene and prevent the letter from being auctioned.

They also appealed to the Prime Minister to initiate efforts to bring the letter back to India.

The letter will be a part of the most comprehensive collection of handwritten letters to be seen on the market for a generation.

The collection is titled ‘The Albin Schram Collection of Autograph Letters’, a personal and private collection assembled over a period of 30 years by the late Albin Schram. — UNI

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Is IAF’s long wait for combat jets over?
Gulshan Luthra

Paris, June 28
The week-long biennial Paris Air Show is over, and so it appears the long wait for an Indian Air Force (IAF) tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major, who attended the air show with senior defence ministry officers, has been quoted by representatives of half a dozen aircraft suppliers as telling them that the request for proposals (RFPs) should come within a couple of months.

This has prompted the suppliers to rev up their engines and thoughts on how to compete to be the number one - technically and financially.

There are indications that the MoD's defence acquisition committee (DAC) could clear the RFPs at its meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

"The longest wait seems to be over," said Torkel Patterson, president of Raytheon International, which does not make aircraft but provides cutting-edge technology from missiles and bombs to the highly sophisticated advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that could provide the decisive edge in the choice of aircraft and its electronics and armaments package.

When the air show began June 18, suppliers were still wondering about the RFPs, and one journal even wrote that it was coming on a Friday, but did not specify which Friday. Now, with the DAC meeting Friday, that question could be answered.

Questioned about the RFPs, Major's predecessors had used the word "shortly" so often that it had lost all meaning. It was only after Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony stated last fortnight that it was indeed around the corner that the adrenalin started flowing all over again.

After all, it will be the single biggest military aviation order of the 21st century up to now, touching anything from $6-9 billion.

The IAF has been starved of modern jets, and according to a survey published in the India Strategic defence magazine recently, India needs to spend at least $35 billion over 15-20 years in the military aviation sector to make up for the paralysis in acquisitions after the Rajiv Gandhi government lost power in 1989.

The figure also includes the requirements of aircraft and helicopters for the Indian Army and the Indian Navy, which have suffered equally due to the very same paralysis.

For instance, the Army did not have adequate number of shells for its 155mm Bofors guns during the 1999 Kargil war and these had to be imported at a short notice for the effective engagement of the Pakistani troops.

As for the combat jets, Major told the aircraft manufacturers that the deal would be purely on merit, considering both the technology and the price.

The RFP, defined by the Air Staff Requirements (ASR) set by a panel headed by the IAF vice chief, would clearly indicate what the IAF wants for its next generation of aircraft. After the bids are submitted, another panel headed by the IAF deputy chief, will make the selection.

The key, Major told this writer, lies in the technology. — IANS

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Dravidian parties silent on Moily report
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 28
The ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the opposition All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) have decided to remain silent as far as the recommendations of the administrative reforms commission headed by Veerappa Moily are concerned.

Other than scrapping of the Armed Forces (Special) Powers Act, the ARC has recommended the deployment of central forces in case a state government failed to tackle the law and order situation.

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Natwar Intimidation Issue
NDA to petition EC against Cong
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is going to file a petition before the Election Commission tomorrow for exercising "undue influence" on Rajya Sabha MP Natwar Singh in order to compel him to support the UPA-Left presidential candidate Pratibha Patil.

Taking exception to parliamentary affairs minister P.R.Dasmunsi's comment on Natwar Singh, NDA presidential campaign's spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said the NDA would file a petition to the EC tomorrow against the Congress for attempts of intimidation to stop the former external affairs minister from voting and canvassing for Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in the presidential election.

Former chairman of the BJP legal cell and former Chandigarh MP Satyapal Jain, who is preparing the petition, confirmed that the NDA would submit a petition to the EC tomorrow.

Stating that Dasmunsi was either short on his history or was suffering a "memory loss", Swaraj justified the conscience vote and quoted former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who had appealed for a conscience vote not only during the election of former President V.V.Giri but also in the presidential election of Vice-President Zakir Hussain.

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Cabinet defers salary hike of Prez
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The Union Cabinet today deferred its approval to double the salary of the President and vice-president and decided to take up the matter before the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which is likely to begin in the first week of August.

A decision on the issue has been deferred so as to incorporate the salary of Governors in the Bill meant for the proposed hike, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told newspersons after the Cabinet meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.

“A conference of Governors had suggested consideration of increase in the Governors salary also. Hopefully, the matter will be brought before the Cabinet just before the Monsoon Session of Parliament commences,” Mr Dasmunsi said.

The salaries of the President and vice-president were last revised to Rs 50,000 and Rs 40,000 respectively in 1998, with effect from January 1, 1996.

Under the new salary revision proposal, the emoluments of the President and vice-president are to be doubled -- from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh and from Rs 40,000 to Rs 85,000, respectively.

The salary of Governors would go up from Rs 36,000 to Rs 75,000.

Asked when the Monsoon Session of Parliament will commence, the Minister said leaders of UPA constituents will meet on July 11 to decide on the date and “it is unlikely that the session will begin before July 31, 2007.”

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Left tirade on against Kalam

New Delhi, June 28
Despite President A.P.J.Abdul Kalam stating that he will not run for a second term, the main Left party continued its tirade against him by questioning his very intention to seek re-election and criticised that the support he received in the cyber space was not enough even to win a municipal ward poll.

Technology-savvy Kalam has set new standards to Raisina Hill and caught the imagination of people.

However, the CPM said Dr Kalam couldn’t resist the temptation of seeking a second term, as he was overwhelmed by the response he received in cyber space for continuing as the President. His e-mail, media informs, was choked with such requests. — TNS

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New train timetable released
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The new railway timetable ”Trains at a Glance” has proposed the introduction of eight pairs of air-conditioned Garib Rath trains during 2007-08.

These air-conditioned trains feature in the annual railway time-table released by Member, Traffic, Railway Board, V.N Mathur, here today. The time-table will come into force from July 1.

The new Garib Raths are in addition to the four pairs of Garib Rath trains started last year — the first being the 2203/2204 Saharsa-Amritsar Garib Rath Express.

Lalu's brainchild, these trains are aimed at giving the poor people a memorable train journey in hitherto undreamt air-conditioned comfort at fares that are 40 per cent cheaper than those of AC-three tier.

As per the new time table, the eight Garib Raths are proposed to be run on the following sectors: New Delhi-Dehradun, Secunderabad-Yasvantpur, Jaipur-Bandra (T) via Ahmedabad, Kolkata-Patna and Bhubaneshwar-Ranchi.

The trains will run thrice a week between these destinations. Three Garib rath trains identified for a bi-weekly run would link Kolkata with Guwahati, Raipur with Lucknow Junction and Tiruvananthpuram with Lokmanya Tilak (T).

In tune with the Rail Bhawan's repeated emphasis on high-speed trains that would fly on tracks, the time-table has promised to improve the speed of 178 mail/express trains. The most promising speed augmentation of 255 minutes would be experienced by passengers who board the 6360 Patna-Ernakulam Express.

This is the maximum speed augmentation for an Express train.

Similarly, 93 passenger trains will also record an improvement in speed. The 408 Ambikapur-Dur Passenger will be speeded up by 315 minutes, the maximum speeding up for passenger trains.

Two pairs of trains that have been converted into superfast are the 6595/6596 Bangalore-Patna Sanghamitra Express (new number 2295/2296). The running time of these trains has been reduced by two hours 40 minutes and 1 hour 20 minutes, respectively. The 5277/5278 Darbhanga-Banglaore Bagmati Express (new number 2577/2578) has also been converted into a superfast train with a reduction in running time by 2 hours 15 minutes and 3 hours 20 minutes, respectively.

Fifteen trains will see an increase in frequency. From July 1, the 2419/2420 New Delhi-Lucknow Gomti Express will run all seven days instead of the previous six day schedule. The 2309/2310 Rajdhani Express, linking New Delhi with Patna, will now run throughout the week instead of the previous two days. The date from which the new frequency will come into effect will be notified later.

It is also proposed to extend 24 trains keeping in view public demand and commercial viability. The 4517/4518 Unchahar Express has now been extended from Ambala Cantonment till Chandigarh.

On the question of trains running behind time, Mathur said serveral factors affect punctuality. These include assets failure, theft of railway equipment, construction

or public agitations that are beyond the control of the Railways. 

Udhampur-Katra line soon

Railway minister Lalu Prasad has promised to look into the construction schedule of the railway line from Udhampur to Katra and the connecting link with Qazigund and cut short delays.

The minister made this assurance to union minister for water resources Saifuddin Soz last evening when the latter met him and expressed dismay over the slow pace of work on the construction of the railway line.

The Railways is running behind its April 2007 deadline on the 25-km stretch between Udhampur and Katra due to technical problems in a tunnel.

Sources in Northern Railways told The Tribune that they were in the process of consulting experts to tide over this problem. Work on this section is now expected to end by 2008.

However, the work on the 125-km stretch between Katra and Qazigund is an enormous engineering challenge as 92 per cent of it has either tunnels or bridges.

Although the Northern Railway is optimistic that part of the Qazigund-Baramulla stretch will be opened this year and trials will begin soon.

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BJP to boost its election prospects
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
BJP today constituted four committees and a Booth Management Programme to boost its election prospects in coming Assembly and Lok Sabha election of 2009.
Party President Rajnath Singh had indicated the formation of the committees during its two days meeting of the National Executive, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters saying that booth management would strengthen the organisational reach and efficacy of the party at the booth level all over the country.
Prasad said a three-month programme on booth management would begin on July 6 and would culminate on September 25.

The BJP President also announced the formation of a committee headed by senior party leader Sushma Swaraj to prepare a road map on the party’s decision of providing 33 per cent reservation for women in the party organisational structure.

Earlier, the BJP President blamed the Congress for the delay in the Women’s Reservation Bill, alleging the ruling party lacked sincerity and will, although, it always talked of women empowerment.

Supporting Shekhawat’s candidature, Singh opined that having a women president can hardly make a difference in the plight of women. For that, you cannot have a better person than Bhairon Singh Shekhawat. Singh, who was speaking after a function organised by the party’s Women’s wing to felicitate him on his announcement of 33 per cent reservation for women in the party ranks.

Other three committees were related to agriculture, security and border management and for the celebration of the 150 years of country’s first war of independence. While the committee on Agriculture Policy would be headed by M Venkaiah Naidu, the Security and Border Management Committee and Committee for celebration of first War of Independence would be headed by Kharvel Swain and Ananth Kumar.

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Protecting Children’s Rights
Parliament’s role highlighted
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The Indian Parliament has played a pivotal role by enacting several legislations to ensure the protection of our children’s rights and for their fuller development, said deputy speaker of Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal.

Addressing the Regional Seminar on Developing a Protective Environment for South Asian Children in Islamabad, Atwal said Indian Constitution gurantees many Fundamental Rights to the children, including equality before law, free and compulsory education, and prohibition of trafficking and forced labour.

A release issued by deputy speaker's office here, quoting him, said Atwal explained that our Parliament has constituted a parliamentary forum on children.

The forum provides a platform to parliamentarians to exchange ideas, views, experiences and expertise, practices in relation to children in a structured manner. This interaction helps in sensitising and motivating the members of Parliament to play a proactive role in evolving policy options and in toning up the administration.

He conveyed the importance of Parliament’s Department Related Standing Committees. These committees observed that funds of several schemes like the integrated child development scheme, gender budgeting, integrated child protection scheme, combating trafficking of women and children, relief and rehabilitation of rape victims have remained more or less underutilised and also pointed out grave laxity in the implementation of these schemes. In recent times two Bills were referred to the committee for examination: The Commission for Protection of Child Rights Bill 2005 and the Immoral Traffic Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2006. The committee heard the views of a number of voluntary organisations, social workers, legal persons working in areas like child welfare, protection of child rights their education, health, juvenile justice and child labour.

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Kerala school gets HC notice on HIV kids

Kochi, June 28
The Kerala High Court today issued notices to Mar Dionysius Lower Primary School, Pampady, and its Parent Teacher Association (PTA) on a public interest petition seeking continued education for five HIV positive children admitted in the school earlier.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice H. L. Dattu and Justice Sankaran, while directing that the notices be despatched through a special messenger, posted the case for further hearing to July 10.

The court direction came following a petition filed by the Thiruvananthapuram-based Foundation which sought that five HIV positive children admitted to the school. — UNI

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The Boss is in trouble
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 28
"Sivaji- The Boss", the Rs 100-crore budget Tamil movie running to packed houses is apparently in trouble as a film maker has accused the director of plagiarism and filed a case in a city court to stop screening.

The Fifth City Civil Court today heard the petition and issued notices to the film's director Shankar and three others and posted it for hearing next week.

The petitioner, S.K. Jayarajadevan, who works as an assistant film director in the Tamil film industry, claimed that the story, "Sivaji- The Boss" was, in fact, written by him and he had even met Shankar's manager two years ago to discuss the script.

Since then, the manager had been evading him and did not set up any
meeting with Shankar as promised, he stated.

Just before the release of the movie on June 15 he learnt that it was based on the story which he had penned and when he tried to contact Shankar, he was told that the film director was away in Canada.

Jayarajadevan sought an injunction to restrain screening of the movie till his petition was disposed and stated that failing which he would undergo huge losses.

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Caste Abuse
Bharat Shah in dock
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 28
Film financier and diamond merchant Bharat Shah is once again in the dock after the watchman of a local holiday resort filed a complaint against him for hurling casteist abuse.

After summons were issued to him, Shah surrendered at the Magistrate's Court at Borivali in North Mumbai. He was taken into judicial custody even as his bail application was put up for hearing.

The Mumbai police filed a case against Shah under the Prevention of Atrocities Act in the complaint filed by Lahanu Pathare, a watchman at Royal Palms Club. Pathare alleged that Shah had abused him, referring to his caste in February this year.

The police was asked to lodge an FIR against Shah. The merchant's plea before the high court seeking to stay the proceedings was quashed.

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Sex workers campaign for Taj
Tribune News Service

Patna, June 28
With the new list of "seven wonders of the world" scheduled to be released in Portugal on July 7, sex workers in Muzzafarpur of Bihar have launched a campaign for the inclusion of Taj Mahal into the same.

The marble mausoleum has already made it to the top 10 monuments of the world. It was also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Official sources said that in a unique move, the sex workers in Muzzafarpur are now asking people to cast their vote for the monument of love to pave the the way for its inclusion in the list of seven wonders.

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Two jewel thieves held

New Delhi, June 28
Two people were arrested here for stealing diamond jewellery worth Rs 8 million near the capital's domestic airport two years ago, the police said on Thursday.

Dharmalingum alias Dharma, wanted in over 100 cases of theft in many states, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon. The Police said that jewellery worth Rs 300, 000 and Rs 1.8 million in cash were recovered from them.

Dharma had stolen jewellery worth Rs 8 million from Ambrish Kothari, a Mumbai-based jeweller, when he was travelling from the Palam airport here to Sainik Farms in south Delhi in December 2005.

During investigations Delhi, the Police found that he was facing several cases of theft in Coimbatore, his hometown. — IANS

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