SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Army called in
Rain claims six lives in Mumbai
Mumbai, June 30
Commuters wade through the waterlogged railway station in Mumbai on Saturday. Heavy rain disrupted rail and air traffic in the city. At least six people have died across Mumbai due to drowning and electrocution as the city reeled under heavy rainfall.
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Commuters wade through the waterlogged railway station in Mumbai on Saturday. Heavy rain disrupted rail and air traffic in the city. — PTI photo

74 aspirants in the fray
Bardhan defends BJP allegations against Patil
New Delhi, June 30
The filing of nominations for the presidential polls ended today with 31 more people throwing their hats in the ring today, taking the total number of aspirants to 74 for the July 19 polls.


EARLIER STORIES


Bhopal tragedy: Govt might indemnify Dow
New Delhi, June 30
Organisations representing survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster today alleged that the government was trying to "exonerate" Dow Chemical from its liabilities in Bhopal. Condemning commerce minister Kamalnath for his “recent public assurance to indemnify Dow Chemical in Washington," they accused him and the PMO of "selling out to Dow Chemical", the current owners of Union Carbide.

Backing Pratibha is parochialism, Fernandes tells Thackeray
New Delhi, June 30
National Democratic Alliance convenor George Fernandes today accused Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray of being parochial in supporting UPA-Left presidential candidate Pratibha Patil and asked him to decide whether his party stands for nationalism or parochialism, for fiscal impropriety and possible interference with justice or for integrity and honour in public life.

Cong ready to get Shekhawat ‘tainted’
New Delhi, June 30
While rebuffing the BJP’s call for the withdrawal of Pratibha Patil’s candidature from the presidential race, the Congress has begun the process of putting together a dossier of documents on the “involvement” of NDA-backed nominee Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in cases of corruption and political blackmail.

Steps to keep ultras out of cell phone network
Guwahati, June 30
Getting a mobile phone connection has become difficult for applicants in the North East (NE), thanks to insurgency.

Identification parade not right of accused: SC
New Delhi, June 30
Finding several criminal cases falling flat due to following of wrong procedure for conducting the test identification parade by the investigating agencies on the first production of the accused before the trial judge, the Supreme Court has held that the identification parade cannot be claimed as a matter of right by the accused.

‘Body’ of kidnapped FCI official found
Guwahati, June 30
Assam police recovered a semi-decomposed body, suspected to be that of the abducted Food Corporation of India (FCI) executive director P C Ram, from a paddy field at Anandapara under Barama police station in Baksa district today.

Arrack banned in Karnataka
Bangalore, June 30
After banning sale of lottery tickets in the State, the ruling Janata Dal (Secular) - BJP government today implemented its second major social reform promise by banning the sale of arrack.

4 killed, 39 injured in bomb blasts
Guwahati, June 30
Four persons were killed and 39 others injured when militants of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) triggered four powerful explosions in Tinsukia and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam this evening.

Dalit takes over as chief priest in Bihar temple
Patna, June 30
In a state known for its caste ridden politics, about thousands of people, cutting across castes and creed, today reportedly gathered at Paliganj village to attend the ceremony marking the installation of one Dalit, Janardan Majhi, as chief priest of the famous Hindu temple there.

Bill on renaming King George varsity opposed
Lucknow, June 30
Despite the absolute majority in the lower house the BSP government suffered a setback on Thursday when it could not push through a bill in the upper house concerning changing the name of King George Medical University (KGMU) to Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University.

Bandh hits construction work at TATA project
Kolkata, June 30
The 12-hour bandh called by the CPI(M) at Singur, today, paralysed the on-going construction of the Tata Motors' project and it also affected the normal lives and activities in the Hooghly district. The train services in this section and the traffic and transport movement on the adjoining Durgapur national highway was also affected.

Child abducted from Surat rescued
Lucknow, June 30
Sanjay alias Sanju, the two-year-old son of a diamond-cutter from Surat, who was kidnapped on June 27 was rescued today near Varanasi in a joint operation by the state STF and Surat police. Two persons have been arrested in connection with his kidnapping.



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Army called in
Rain claims six lives in Mumbai
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 30
At least six people have died across Mumbai due to drowning and electrocution as the city reeled under heavy rainfall. The authorities have pressed in the army and other paramilitary forces in Mumbai and different parts of Maharashtra as part of contingency measures following heavy rainfall from the wee hours of Saturday. The authorities appealed to people to stay indoors till 5 pm and not travel unless absolutely necessary. Schools were ordered shut in many parts.

Met department officials said parts of Mumbai have received nearly 150 mm of rainfall till late this afternoon with even heavier rainfall reported from parts of the Konkan region, Raigad district and other parts of Maharashtra. With the levels of the Mithi River, contingents of the Indian Army were pressed in low-lying areas nearby.

"Army rescue teams equipped with inflatable boats and other emergency equipment have been posted at Kalina, Santa Cruz and other low-lying areas," a fire brigade spokesman told The Tribune. These areas surrounding the Mumbai airport had received record rainfall on July 26, 2005 with several neighborhoods coming under eight feet water.

Police officials said residents of shanty towns along the Mithi are being evacuated after the river showed signs of breaching its banks at many places. Several cases of mild use of force by the police have been reported after slum dwellers refused to move.

Among the worst affected areas are Matunga, Sion, Worli, Lower Parel, Chembur, Wadala, Bandra, Andheri, Borivali and Dahisar. Many of these areas have been flooded for the first time in living memory.

Environmentalists allege that the construction boom has caused buildings to come up on natural drainage systems of the city.

With nearly 400 mm of rainfall coming till late afternoon, the air traffic control ordered the Mumbai airport closed due to poor visibility. Flights were diverted to other cities like Ahmedabad and Delhi as authorities waited for the high tide period from 12.30 pm till 2 pm to pass. With most parts of Mumbai being located at below sea level, gigantic pumps are used to drain out rainwater into the sea. However the pumps are shut down during high tide to prevent ingress of sea water into the city areas.

Flights resumed later in the afternoon after the high-tide alert passed.

With the rains showing no signs of subsiding, low-lying areas of Mumbai like the Bandra-Kurla complex, central Mumbai like Lower Parel, Bombay Central and the Milan subway in the suburbs were waterlogged with levels rising to waist deep.

The rains affected the city's local train networks as well with much of the Central railway network being flooded. Though the Western Railway network was not as badly hit, trains were running nearly an hour late.All trains from Kurla to Chhatrapti Shivaji Terminus in south Mumbai have been suspended, said a railway spokesman. Among the worst affected areas were the cities of Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara and parts of Raigad district. Several landslides were reported and about 200 people have been reported missing across Western Maharashtra.

Mahad town in Raigad was the worst hit with parts of the town coming under five feet of water. Highways have been shut after several bridges were reported to have gone under water. Two columns of the army have been sent to Khed and Chiplun in the Konkan as a precautionary measure, officials said.

Long distance trains connecting Mumbai to Southern India have suspended services and are being terminated in different parts en route, officials said. The Mumbai-Goa highway has been closed and thousands of travellers have been stranded along the way.

Fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea The LC III flag signifying maximum danger has been hoisted at ports from Dahanu to Marmagoa and of Maharashtra-Goa coast.

The waters of the Krishna and the Godavari are rising and threaten to breach the danger mark, officials say. With the rains expected to continue through Sunday, authorities are on a high alert.

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74 aspirants in the fray
Bardhan defends BJP allegations against Patil
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
The filing of nominations for the presidential polls ended today with 31 more people throwing their hats in the ring today, taking the total number of aspirants to 74 for the July 19 polls.

The UPA-Left candidate Pratibha Patil filed two more sets of nomination papers, half an hour before the deadline for joining the fray came to an end.

As the tirade against the UPA and NDA candidates is expected to become clamorous in the coming days, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan came out in support of Patil by dubbing the allegations against her as ‘fascistic trick’ of the BJP.

Describing Patil as a simple woman who is facing lies manufactured by the BJP's dirty tricks factory, he questioned the motive behind hurling these charges now and said he was quite sure that she will defend herself.

In an interview to the CNN-IBN, Bardhan was candid about questions on the closure of Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank headed by her and allegations that she had doled out loans to her brothers and her nephews.

It so happens that so many banks fail, so many cooperatives fail. It only shows that she was not a very great executive director in all these economic affairs, he said referring to the closure of the cooperative bank headed by her.

Asked about allegations that Patil's relatives benefited by obtaining loans from the bank intended to empower poor women, he flatly refused the charges saying this is neither corruption nor is it nepotism.

You see in a cooperative bank if members of a family are also there, what is so surprising about it? Bardhan asked and added that some of her relatives have paid back their loans.

He trained guns at the BJP and its senior leader L.K. Advani for leveling allegations against Patil saying it is only a fascistic trick to throw sufficient mud at a person (so that) some of it might stick.

On charges that she shielded her brother who is involved in a murder, he said you will have to prove that she did was for her brother (and) that she was responsible for what her brother did.

After all, she is not her brother's keeper. If her brother is guilty of any crimes, he should be prosecuted. The law should take its own course.

No such charges were leveled when she was an MLA, a minister, when she was deputy chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, when she was Governor of Rajasthan, he remarked.

The nomination papers of Pratibha Patil were submitted to the secretary general of Lok Sabha P.D.T. Achary, who is also the returning officer, by her representative and Information and Broadcasting Minister P.R. Dasmunshi.

With 74 aspirants filing their papers, Lok Sabha sources said this time the election for the top post seemed to have generated more enthusiasm among the people. Last time some 60-odd candidates had filed their papers, they said.

Filing of nomination had begun on June 16. Scrutiny will take place on July two and the last date for withdrawal is July 4. The counting of votes will take place on July 21.

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Bhopal tragedy: Govt might indemnify Dow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
Organisations representing survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster today alleged that the government was trying to "exonerate" Dow Chemical from its liabilities in Bhopal. Condemning commerce minister Kamalnath for his “recent public assurance to indemnify Dow Chemical in Washington," they accused him and the PMO of "selling out to Dow Chemical", the current owners of Union Carbide.

Well-known Bhopal activists Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla alleged that files obtained by from the PMO through the use of Right to Information reveal that the PMO was involved in plans that would allow Dow Chemical to walk away from its liabilities in Bhopal, including cleaning up of the contaminated soil and ground water and paying compensation for health-related damages caused to more than 20,000 persons due to exposure to toxic contaminants in drinking water.

"The files contain evidence that top-level politicians and bureaucrats are conniving with Indian and US corporations to close the book on the world's worst industrial disaster and its long-suffering victims without addressing the pending issues," adds Rashida Bee. The files are available at www.bhopal.net/pmo.html.

They said that in a note to the PMO, Kamalnath said, “…with a view to sending an appropriate signal to Dow Chemicals, which is exploring investing substantially in India, I would urge that a group under the chairmanship of the cabinet secretary be formed to look into the matter in a holistic manner in a similar manner as was done with respect to the Enron Corporation with respect to Dabhol Power Corporation,” referring to an out-of-court settlement with Enron.

“Prompted by letters written by industrialist Ratan Tata to the Planning Commission and the finance minister, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and P. Chidambaram too have written letters to the Prime Minister recommending taking the matter out of court,” they said.

The bone of contention is an application submitted by the Ministry of Chemicals in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, appealing the court to order Dow to deposit Rs. 100 crore against initial payment for costs of remediation.

“Dow Chemical has said that it will not invest in India unless this application is withdrawn,” Rashida Bee said, adding that a note by the cabinet secretary, dated April 6, is categorical about what the government's course of action should be. "The note recommends reconstituting the GoM on Bhopal with appropriate changes in its mandate to address the issue of exonerating Dow," she said.

“The aim is to remove uncertainties and pave way for promoting investments in the sector,” said activist Satinath Sarangi, adding that as 100 per cent owner of Union Carbide, Dow Chemical was liable for cleaning up toxic contamination of soil and ground water at the site.

Activists also alleged that another letter revealed that Dow was advised by none other than PM's principal secretary to meet and seek the opinion of Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi. Singhvi is also the legal counsel for Dow in the Madhya Pradesh High Court.

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Backing Pratibha is parochialism, Fernandes tells Thackeray
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
National Democratic Alliance convenor George Fernandes today accused Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray of being parochial in supporting UPA-Left presidential candidate Pratibha Patil and asked him to decide whether his party stands for nationalism or parochialism, for fiscal impropriety and possible interference with justice or for integrity and honour in public life.

In an open letter to Thackeray, Fernandes, reminded him that he had always opposed a foreign-born person from occupying a Constitutional post in the national interest and then went on to charge him of "succumbing to the wishes of an Italian born who did not even care to become an Indian citizen for 15 years by condoning a tainted person simply because she happens to be a Maharashtrian".

He told the Shiv Sena supremo that "the Congress president has not nominated a Maharashtrian because she loves Maharashtra but because she wants a rubber stamp” and added that "it is clear she does not care enough for the country or else she would not try to force a tainted person into the chair of the President of India".

The NDA leader said since "the facts" (charges against Patil) are being brought out by the media "it becomes our duty to take note and protect the chair (of President) from the discredit that the Congress president wishes to bring to it".

Fernandes appealed to the Shiv Sena chief to '' stand by your country and the aspirations of all Indians for an independent, honest and capable person to grace the chair of Rashtrapati Bhavan.'' Patil "is not that kind of person, even though she may hail from Maharashtra'', he pointed out.

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Cong ready to get Shekhawat ‘tainted’
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
While rebuffing the BJP’s call for the withdrawal of Pratibha Patil’s candidature from the presidential race, the Congress has begun the process of putting together a dossier of documents on the “involvement” of NDA-backed nominee Bhairon Singh Shekhawat in cases of corruption and political blackmail.

The Congress has officially said it has no intention to emulate the BJP by attacking the Vice-President personally to counter the opposition’s smear campaign against Patil, but it has rushed its foot soldiers to Rajasthan to dig out all possible “incriminating material ” on Shekhawat during his tenure as Chief Minister. The party plans to go public with these details later during the campaign besides coming out with a point-by-point rebuttal of all charges being levelled against Pratibha Patil next week.

However, an indirect campaign against Shekhawat has already begun. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi made passing comments on the opposition candidate’s educational qualifications and about the possible involvement of his relatives in scams.

Today, a three-page “open letter”, titled “Shekhawat- Bhishampitama of corruption”, levelling a series of allegations against the Vice-President, was sent out to all Rajasthan MPs and legislators by a Jaipur-based organisation Rajasthan Matdata Mandal, apparently enjoying the Congress party’s blessings.

This letter has covered a gamut of charges, ranging from Shekawat’s “feudal style” of functioning and his “personal involvement” in scams to the manner in which his son-in-law has emerged as an “extra-constitutional centre of power” and the latter’s “involvement” in dubious land deals. In addition, the Congress is seeking details about a 1976 case of hoarding against Shekhawat, which he allegedly scrapped on taking over as Chief Minister. So far, however, the Congress has been constantly on the defensive, as it is busy responding to the opposition’s charges against Patil. Its campaign is clearly suffering as none of the senior party leaders have evinced any interest in it. Congress leaders said it is ironical that the two senior ministers from Maharashtra had not come out to defend Patil, while senior women leaders have also maintained a studied silence in this regard. Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who is currently on a US tour, belatedly issued a statement condemning BJP leader Arun Shourie's attack on Patil.

Meanwhile, parliamentary affairs minister and Patil’s official representative Priyaranjan Dasmunsi hit out opposition leader L.K. Advani for the manner in which his office released his unsigned statement addressed to the PM yesterday seeking Patil’s withdrawal from the race.

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Steps to keep ultras out of cell phone network
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 30
Getting a mobile phone connection has become difficult for applicants in the North East (NE), thanks to insurgency.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued a fresh set of strict guidelines for mobile phone operators in the region to prevent insurgents from accessing to mobile phones network through connections taken in fictitious names.

The DoT guidelines on new connections have been issued after the security forces could lay hands on several mobile phones SIM cards from arrested and killed militants in Assam in the past couple of months.

The fresh set of DoT guidelines has made it mandatory that applications for new mobile phone connections should be endorsed by a guarantor or introducer who must be a subscriber of the same service at least for the previous three months.

The mobile phone companies have been asked to cross-check all documents submitted by the new subscriber through telephonic conversation which should be recorded. Compact Discs (CDs) of such conversations should be submitted to security agencies as well the DoT.

The SIM cards must be sent to the new subscriber through the speed post service and under no circumstances it should be handed over personally.

“We will have to follow the fresh guidelines that have been issued by the DoT for new connections,” said C R Deka, head of operation for the Reliance Telecom Ltd, Assam Circle.

The Army early this month disclosed a list of 221 mobile numbers used by militants operating in North Cachar hill districts of Assam and all these numbers were found to be issued against fake names sans proper verification of documents and identity of the subscriber by the mobile service providers.

The Assam police last week arrested a correspondent of a vernacular Daily from Kakopathat in Tinsukia district of Assam on charges of supplying at least 23 mobile SIM cards taken in fake names to ULFA militants.

The security forces last month claimed that at least four mobile connections used by senior ULFA leaders of the outfit’s 28th battalion were issued against the address of Rajiv Bhavan, Guwahati, the State Congress headquarters.

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Identification parade not right of accused: SC
S.S. Negi

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 30
Finding several criminal cases falling flat due to following of wrong procedure for conducting the test identification parade by the investigating agencies on the first production of the accused before the trial judge, the Supreme Court has held that the identification parade cannot be claimed as a matter of right by the accused.

Clearing various doubts on the evidentiary value of the identification of the accused by witnesses on their first introducing to the court, a Bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justices D.K. Jain said: “The test identification parade belongs to the stage of investigation and there is no provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which obliges the investigating agency to hold or confers a right upon the accused to claim it.”

The court said the failure to hold the identification parade by the investigating agencies would not make “inadmissible” the evidence of the identification of an accused by a witness at later stage during the cross-examination.

But when an accused was not previously known to a witness, the identification parade soon after his arrest was of great importance because it furnished assurance that the investigation was proceeding on right lines in addition to furnishing corroboration of the evidence given by a witness at later stage during the trial proceeding, the Bench ruled.

Therefore, it was important in the interest of justice that the “identification parade is held without avoidable and unreasonable delay after the arrest of the accused. It is in adopting this course alone that justice and fair play can be assured both to the accused as well as the prosecution,” the court said.

The ruling came on an appeal by two accused convicted for looting a petrol pump in Rajasthan in 1997. They had claimed improper identification parade as a defence. The trial court had convicted all seven members of a gang involved in the dacoity but the high court had found the evidence credible only against Heera and Nopia, who were clearly identified during the identification parade by workers at the petrol station.

The apex court dismissed their appeal and upheld the conviction and the sentence awarded to them.

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‘Body’ of kidnapped FCI official found
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 30
Assam police recovered a semi-decomposed body, suspected to be that of the abducted Food Corporation of India (FCI) executive director P C Ram, from a paddy field at Anandapara under Barama police station in Baksa district today.

The body was exhumed by the police in the presence of a magistrate after villagers had spotted a hand struck out of muddy ground in the field and informed the police.

Inspector general of police (special branch) Khagen Sharma informed that the body had been identified as that of Ram by his maid servant Junu Murmu, who hails from Baganpara village about three kilometer away from the place of recovery of the body. The maid servant was staying with Ram at his Guwahati residence at the time of his abduction.

He informed that the body was found in a semi-decomposed state and sent for post-mortem at the government civil hospital in Nalbari. The police will wait for Ram’s family to come from New Delhi and identify the body before making any official declaration.

“Technically, we can’t confirm that the body was that of Ram on the basis of identification done by his maid. We have to wait for a legal heir to identify it. We have sent message to the family of the senior FCI official,” the IGP said.

“Given the semi-decomposed condition of the body, death might have occurred few days back and exact time of death can be ascertained after the post-mortem was done,” the police official added.

The FCI official was abducted by the banned United Liberation Front of Assom (ULFA) from Guwahati on April 17 while he was coming home. His driver was also kidnapped along with only to be released after a couple of days.

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Arrack banned in Karnataka
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, June 30
After banning sale of lottery tickets in the State, the ruling Janata Dal (Secular) - BJP government today implemented its second major social reform promise by banning the sale of arrack.

Arrack sales will discontinue from midnight today, ensuring Karnataka becomes the fourth State after Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh to ban intoxicant.

The state government has been spurred into action after the Karnataka High Court refused to give relief to the Arrack Vedors’ Welfare Association of Bangalore Urban and Rural districts which had claimed that twenty lakh people would be rendered jobless in case a ban came into effect.

The association had also pointed out that forty per cent of the government’s revenue came from the sale of arrack and that various schemes would be affected by the ban.

Deputy Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, who had earlier announced the ban on arrack in the State budget, said the government had already increased the license fee for bars, hotels and clubs to make up for the loss due to the ban on arrack. Yediyurappa said the government would implement the ban effectively by setting up vigilance posts in border areas and also establish an central vigilance cell to monitor illegal distilling if any.

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4 killed, 39 injured in bomb blasts
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 30
Four persons were killed and 39 others injured when militants of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) triggered four powerful explosions in Tinsukia and Karbi Anglong districts of Assam this evening.

The police informed that three persons were killed and 20 others injured when suspected ULFA ultras triggered two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) within ten minutes at the daily fish market in Tinsukia town on Tinsukia district in eastern Assam.

The first explosion occurred at 5-05 p.m. followed by another at 5-15 p.m. One of the IED was planted in a pressure cocker planted in front of a tea stall in the market, police informed.

One person was killed and 12 others hurt in another bomb blast that occurred in front of Ananta Cinema at tea town of Doom Dooma in Tinsukia district at around 6.20 pm.

In another blast triggered by militants in front of a temple in Diphu town of Karbi Anglong hill district left seven persons injured. The blast occurred at 7-15 this evening.

The twin blasts at Tinsukia market which is located near the town police station, evoked sharp and loud reactions from the people of the area that came out on the road to confront senior police officials raising slogans against the police and security forces for failing to protect lives and property of common people.

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Dalit takes over as chief priest in Bihar temple
Tribune News Service

Patna, June 30
In a state known for its caste ridden politics, about thousands of people, cutting across castes and creed, today reportedly gathered at Paliganj village to attend the ceremony marking the installation of one Dalit, Janardan Majhi, as chief priest of the famous Hindu temple there.

The Brahmins and other upper castes residing in the locality did not raise any objection to the said move by the Bihar State Religious Trust Board (BSRTB).

The chief administrator of BSRTB Kishor Kunal,a former IAS, said henceforth religious rituals in this historic temple would be performd by Janardan Majhi, who was now known as Janardan Das.

The development coincided with the birth anniversary day of saint Kabir that falls on this day.

The BSRTB has already constituted a temple trust committee for the smooth management of this ancient temple that has 100 acres of valuable land under its possession.

Incidentally, the temple trust committee is also headed by a Dalit - Sidheshwar Majhi. The Secretary of the committee, Suresh Kashyap also belongs to an extremely backward caste.

Besides the Paliganj temple, the Mahavir Temple of Patna, Vishal Nath Mandir at Hajipur and Shiva Mandir at Bihta already have Dalits as their chief priests which perhaps only signal that winds of change are finally blowing in Bihar after the Nitish government reconstituted the BSRTB with Kishor Kunal as its chief administrator.

The BSRTB already reportedly recovered land and properties worth crores of rupees under various mutts and temples which were illegally occupied by criminals and other anti-social elements in the past.

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Bill on renaming King George varsity opposed
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 30
Despite the absolute majority in the lower house the BSP government suffered a setback on Thursday when it could not push through a bill in the upper house concerning changing the name of King George Medical University (KGMU) to Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Medical University.

The BSP MLCs were outnumbered when a voice vote was taken on the issue. The overwhelming majority of the Samajwadi party and Rashtriya Lok Dal MLCs referred the bill to a Select Committee which will present its report within a month.

After smoothly passing the bill in the Vidhan Sabha where the BSP has 209 members the matter came up in the Vidhan Parishad late in the evening. Opposing the bill to re-name the prestigious medical college RLD leader Munna Singh Chauhan requested the bill to be referred to a Select Committee that may decide on the matter within a week.

However, leader of Opposition and Samajwadi Party MLC Ahmad Hasan asked for a one-month period for the committee to hear arguments and present its report.

Hasan said that the KGMU might lose its identity if its name was changed.

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Bandh hits construction work at TATA project
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, June 30
The 12-hour bandh called by the CPI(M) at Singur, today, paralysed the on-going construction of the Tata Motors' project and it also affected the normal lives and activities in the Hooghly district. The train services in this section and the traffic and transport movement on the adjoining Durgapur national highway was also affected.

But the railway minister, Lalu Prasad Yadav's functions of flagging off a new train at Siuri, laying of foundations of the new road over- bridge at Durgapur and the gauge conversion of Bardhaman-Katwa line, which the CPI(M) MP, Basudeb Acharia and several other MPs and MLAs attended, however, were undisturbed.

Former railway minister, Mamata Banerjee who was today at Tapashi Mallick’s house for consoling her parents, demanded death for the two accused and criticised Yadav for wasting several lakhs on such minor occasions simply to please the CPI (M), which had organised a victory celebration at Siuri for opening of the new trains.

Mamata criticised when it was reported to her that a concretised air-conditioned stage with a huge expenditure of funds was built at Siuri station on the occasion.

The Trinamool leader later addressed a public meeting at Singur demanding resignation of the Chief Minister and hanging Suhrid Dutta, the CPI(M) zonal committee secretary of Singur and Debu Mallick, another party worker.

Both were arrested by the CBI for their alleged involvement in the gruesome killing of Tapashi (17), an active member of the Singur Krishi Bachao Committee who was raped and then burnt alive inside the Tata Motors' plant site on 18 December last year. Today they had been taken to Delhi under strong police escort for their hearing at the Patiwalla Court on Monday morning.

The arrests of Dutta and Mallick had justified their allegations. Mamata reiterated their agitations would be further strengthened at Singur and Nandigram and elsewhere in support of the poor farmers. She feared that the CPI (M) could create pressure on the CBI and the judiciary for releasing Dutta and Mallick with a clean chit.

The CPI (M) local committee which observed the bandh at Singur alleged that a conspiracy was hatched at highest level for maligning the party by implicating the CPI(M) in the killing of Tapashi. Both the veteran Jyoti Basu and the officiating party secretary, Benoy Konar supported the bandh call.

The chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacjarjee, however, did not make any comment in this connection. But he reiterated that irrespective of their party affiliations, necessary actions would be taken against the criminals and the police had been told to act accordingly.

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Child abducted from Surat rescued

Lucknow, June 30
Sanjay alias Sanju, the two-year-old son of a diamond-cutter from Surat, who was kidnapped on June 27 was rescued today near Varanasi in a joint operation by the state STF and Surat police. Two persons have been arrested in connection with his kidnapping.

Sanju was found safe and sound. They, however, claimed to have no information about the ransom amount that had been paid.

The two persons arrested and taken to Surat on remand are Rajesh Tiwari of Rasulgarh, Sarnath, and his sister, Gita of Samastipur, Bihar.

One Hanuman Pathak, who was himself a diamond cutter, lived in a rented house near Kunnu Bhai Marwar’s residence in Surat. His wife’s sister Gita, had been living with them for some time. — TNS

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