SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

UPA slams BJP ‘slander’ against Pratibha
New Delhi, July 3
In a collective show of support for its presidential nominee Pratibha Patil, the UPA-Left leadership today slammed the BJP for its frivolous smear campaign against her and appealed to the electoral college to rise above narrow political considerations and vote for their candidate.

SC dismisses PIL against Pratibha’s nomination
New Delhi, July 3
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition seeking cancellation of the nomination papers of UPA-Left nominee Pratibha Patil for presidential election, saying there was no sufficient document to substantiate the allegations against her.
In video (56k)

NDA takes exception to campaign against Shekhawat
New Delhi, July 3
The NDA today took exception to a campaign being allegedly carried out by the Congress against its presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.


EARLIER STORIES




Pak home secy cuts short visit, flies back
New Delhi, July 3
The Lal Masjid developments in Islamabad cast a shadow on the India-Pakistan home secretary-level talks here today as Pakistani home secretary Syed Kamal Shah cut short his visit and flew back to Islamabad tonight. As a result, the two-day talks, which began today, were abruptly concluded this evening.

Bill to reform convicts in Andhra Pradesh
Hyderabad, July 3
The first-time petty offenders in Andhra Pradesh will no longer be kept in jails but will be drafted for community service.

Ranvir Sena-politicians nexus
Take action on Amir Das panel report: HC
Patna, July 3
In what appears to be a big blow to the Nitish government, the Patna High Court yesterday ordered the Bihar government to decide whether the Justice Amir Das commission be revived or a fresh commission constituted.

Heavy rain disrupts life
Kolkata, July 3
Heavy rains, accompanied by thunder-storms and lightning, lashed the city and several parts of South Bengal district today, throwing outdoor life and activities completely out of gear. Rail, air and transport services also collapsed as a result of the heavy downpour. Incessant rain since last night resulted in at least 13 deaths, including that of two children, due to building collapse. Eight members of one family at Bishnupar in South 24 Parganas were killed following collapse of their house.





A street dweller sits on a street lamp post foundation with her kid beside an open junction box on a flooded street in Kolkata on Tuesday. — AFP photo
A street dweller sits on a street lamp post foundation with her kid beside an open junction box on a flooded street in Kolkata on Tuesday.

Gujarat rain toll 84: PM speaks to Modi
New Delhi, July 3
Monsoon fury continued to wreck havoc in Gujarat, claiming 84 lives in the past three days, while eight people were killed as heavy rain lashed Kolkata and its adjoining districts.

Surgery by teenager
Couple’s bail plea rejected

Tiruchirappalli, July 3
A sessions court here today rejected the bail plea of a doctor-couple arrested for allegedly allowing their teenaged son to perform a surgery. K. Murugesan and his wife Gandhimathi, whose teenaged son reportedly performed a Caesarean section at the family-run hospital in Manapparai, near here, were arrested on June 25 and remanded to judicial custody.

Punjab proposal for tech institutes okayed
New Delhi, July 3
The Centre has given clearance to the Rs 400-crore package for setting up of a cluster of premier technology institutes, including a world-class National Institute of Bio-technology for Agri-foods and a Rs 150-crore National Institute for Nanotechnology in Punjab.

Suicides in Army
MoD, Army discuss remedial measures
New Delhi, July 3
The image of the Indian Army and the defence establishment took a beating with the suicide of Capt Megha Razdan of the 113 Engineers’ Regiment on Sunday night. In fact, the situation was serious enough for the entire South Block top brass to huddle into meetings throughout the day.

Singur Murder
CBI revelation puts CPM in the dock
Kolkata, July 3
The CBI's revelation of the CPI(M)'s involvement in the gruesome killing of Tapashi Mallick (17) in Singur on December 18 has put the party in the dock.

Parliamentary panel wants ICADR to be top arbitration body
Chandigarh, July 3
Parliamentary standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice has recommended that all institutions in the country established for arbitration and conciliation should come under the International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR).

Soz asks Badal to enact bill on ground water depletion
New Delhi, July 3
Union minister for water resource Saiffudin Soz has asked the Punjab government to go for an early enactment of a legislation to regulate “development and management” of ground water in the state.

Terrorist activities
34 UP districts ‘sensitive’

Lucknow, July 3
Of the 70 Uttar Pradesh districts, almost half are vulnerable to terrorists or ISI activities and are on the “sensitive list” of the Home Department, said minister for parliamentary affairs Lalji Verma.

BJP flays Patil’s remarks on Pak
New Delhi, July 3
The BJP today condemned home minister Shivraj Patil’s remarks that “we should not blame Pakistan for every wrong thing, either increase in infiltration or spurt in violence here”, saying, it was like giving a clean chit to Islamabad.

Cong leader highlights plight of alcohol consumers
Dehra Dun, July 3
Bacchus lovers in Uttarakhand may have reason to thank leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Harak Singh Rawat who highlighted the problems caused to them by the Khanduri government's decision of early closure of liquor shops in the state.

Gandhians oppose film on Mahatma
Patna, July 3
Gandhians in Bihar are now up in arms against a new film on Mahatma Gandhi focusing his relationship with his eldest son.

Hyderabad to house fourth US consulate
Hyderabad, July 3
The USA will now set up its consulate in Hyderabad, the fourth in India after Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Another extension to Liberhan panel
New Delhi, July 3
The Liberhan Commission, which is probing into the circumstances that led to the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, has got a two month extension up to August 31.

PM condemns killing of FCI official
New Delhi, July 3
The Prime Minister today condemned the killing of Food Corporation of India executive director Phulchand Ram by ULFA.

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UPA slams BJP ‘slander’ against Pratibha
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
In a collective show of support for its presidential nominee Pratibha Patil, the UPA-Left leadership today slammed the BJP for its frivolous smear campaign against her and appealed to the electoral college to rise above narrow political considerations and vote for their candidate.

Having been on the defensive in the face of BJP’s onslaught, the Congress and its UPA allies decided to hit back when all its top leaders lined up to express their solidarity with Pratibha Patil at a press conference.

A joint statement, signed by the UPA and Left leaders, which was released on the occasion refrained from naming the BJP but was severely critical of the opposition for lowering the dignity of a presidential election.

Pointing out that the sanctity of the election is being destroyed by certain parties through a smear campaign, the statement said, “We strongly condemn the nature and tenor of the current campaign which cannot but dilute the norms that must form part of our political process, being a mature democracy. Released here by Lok Sabha leader Pranab Mukherjee, the statement also appealed to the electoral college, comprising MPs and MLAs, to vote for Pratibha Patil.

Others present at the press conference included RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, DMK’s T.R.Baalu, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, IUML’s E.Ahamed and E.Ponnuswamy of the PMK, HRD minister Arjun Singh and parliamentary affairs minister and Patil’s representative Priyaranjan Dasmunsi.

Responding to questions from media persons Mukherjee indirectly suggested that vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat should have stepped down after he entered the presidential race. “There are certain issues on which individuals are to take a decision at appropriate moment. I leave it at that,” Mukherjee said, adding that he would not like to say anything more as Shekhawat holds the country’s second highest office.

In this connection, he nailed the opposition’s disinformation, saying V.V.Giri had resigned from vice-presidency before contesting the 1969 presidential election.

Referring to the BJP’s appeal for a conscience vote, Mukherjee explained that the electoral college consisted of only elected representatives of Parliament and state assemblies and they will always vote according to the wishes of the party on whose ticket they had won their seats.” Therefore there is always a conscience vote,” he remarked.

Asked about the suggestion that presidential candidates could make a suo motto declaration of their assets, the Lok Sabha leader said this is not question of somebody’s wishlist but one of law, stating there is no legal provision requiring presidential candidates to file affidavits on their assets, as demanded by the BJP. “Even if somebody wants to file such an affidavit, who will they give it to,” he asked.

Besides lashing out at the BJP for its campaign against Patil, a highly combative

Mukherjee was equally critical of Lok Sabha opposition leader L.K. Advani for his recent comment that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was handpicked by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and that he had no authority of his own.

Coming down heavily on Advani, Mukherjee said Dr. Singh was not an unknown person when he became the country's premier. He was a successful finance minister for five years and was also the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Mukherjee said, adding that he was never handpicked but was unanimously elected by the Congress Parliamentary Party.

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SC dismisses PIL against Pratibha’s nomination

New Delhi, July 3
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition seeking cancellation of the nomination papers of UPA-Left nominee Pratibha Patil for presidential election, saying there was no sufficient document to substantiate the allegations against her.

However, the Bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and P.K. Balasubramanyan, gave liberty to the petitioner Manohar Lal Sharma, an advocate, who had alleged irregularities by Patil and her family members in a cooperative bank and a sugar mill, to approach the appropriate authorities for redressal of his grievances.

“This petition is filed under Article 32 of the Constitution. We find no ground to interfere and exercise our jurisdiction. However, this will not prevent the petitioner from approaching appropriate authorities for redressal of his grievances,” the Bench said.

After the dismissal of the petition, senior advocate and Congress spokesman Abhishekh Manu Singhvi, tried to impress upon the court saying that according to law, such petitions cannot be entertained after the election process was set in motion.

However, the Bench shot back saying “who is responsible for this”. Senior law officers including solicitor general G.E. Vahanvati and additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanian were in agreement with Singhvi.

The PIL filed by Sharma had sought a direction against Patil continuing as the presidential candidate alleging that she was an undischarged insolvent in a case relating to Sant Muktai Sugar Factory, set up by her at Jalgaon, against which a loan of Rs 17.7 crore was due as on 1994 when she was a part of it.

The PIL contended that Patil comes under the ambit of serious offence of criminal breach of trust as the Pratibha Mahila Sahkari Bank, belonging to her and her family members, had collected Rs 4,556 (one-day salary) each, from 30 employees, for the Kargil war victims but allegedly embezzled the entire amount and did not deposit it with the national fund.

However, the court was not satisfied with the contention of the petitioner. — PTI

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NDA takes exception to campaign against Shekhawat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
The NDA today took exception to a campaign being allegedly carried out by the Congress against its presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Responding to the charge levelled by Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi on a TV channel last night that Shekhawat had withdrawn cases against him as Rajasthan Chief Minister, NDA spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said the cases against him were registered during the Emergency for participating in a non-cooperation movement against the state government’s decision to impose a levy on agricultural production.

Swaraj said many wrong acts and anti-people action were perpetrated during the Emergency, which were set right by the subsequent Janata governments in states and the Centre.

Even the Supreme Court had upheld the withdrawal of the Baroda Dynamite case against George Fernandes, Swaraj said. She asked the Congress if it were questioning the rationale behind withdrawing cases filed for political motives, then it stand accused of changing the law for making the Allahabad High Court’s judgement on declaring the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s election ineffective.

Referring to negative campaign against Shekhawat’s tenure in the state police, she said he had joined as assistant head constable and had resigned after six years of service.

He was given a certificate of good conduct and good service by the then SP of Sikar. That is why disinformation about his suspension from the police reflected the mentality of the opponents, she pointed out.

Rubbishing the allegation allegedly levelled by an organisation called Matdata Mandal of Rajasthan, Swaraj produced a letter written by Chairman of the organisation Prakash Shukla to the Vice-President in which he had denied of any letter by the organisation and described the allegations as the product of a sick mind. 

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Pak home secy cuts short visit, flies back
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
The Lal Masjid developments in Islamabad cast a shadow on the India-Pakistan home secretary-level talks here today as Pakistani home secretary Syed Kamal Shah cut short his visit and flew back to Islamabad tonight. As a result, the two-day talks, which began today, were abruptly concluded this evening.

The two sides showed considerable convergence on two issues -- (i) combating drug trafficking and agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to set up an institutionalised mechanism for cooperation on drug-related issues in near future, and (ii) releasing hundreds of civilian prisoners who are languishing in each other’s jails on charges of crossing over into their territory unwittingly.

One important issue Shah and his Indian counterpart Madhukar Gupta spent quite time discussing related to the Indo-Pakistan joint anti-terror mechanism or JTM as it is popularly called. The JTM had held just one meeting so far ever since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf announced their decision to set up such a body in September 2006. The two sides today agreed that the JTM should hold its next meeting “as soon as possible”.

India and Pakistan held in-depth discussions on the issue of terrorism, but the two sides agreed to disagree with each other on this major issue. India reiterated its concerns about the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan, which is still alive and kicking and the continued infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan-controlled territories into India.

India also made a pointed reference to “global terrorist” Dawood Ibrahim and other most wanted individuals who continued to be harboured by Pakistan and demanded their custody. The Pakistanis stuck to their well-known stand that Dawood and others wanted by Interpol and India were not in Pakistan.

When the Indian side pressed the Pakistani delegation for a follow up on the leads New Delhi had provided to Pakistan on July 11, 2006, Mumbai train blasts, the Pakistani side harped on blasts in Samjhauta Express-feeder train. 

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Bill to reform convicts in Andhra Pradesh
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 3
The first-time petty offenders in Andhra Pradesh will no longer be kept in jails but will be drafted for community service.

In a novel experiment in Prison Reforms, the government will soon introduce a legislation regarding community service assignments for convicts for a stipulated period.

“The idea is to provide an opportunity to the first-time offenders to reform themselves instead of getting into the company of hardcore criminals in prisons,” Home Minister K. Jana Reddy said.

A Bill on Prison Reforms, envisaging substitution of jail terms with community service, would be introduced in the monsoon session of the Assembly commencing on July 8, he added.

The move, billed as the first such initiative in the country, will prove to be a boon for those who have committed small and unintentional crimes in a fit of rage and will be eager to serve the society as an atonement for their mistake.

It will be applicable for the first-time offenders, above 18 years of age, who have been awarded less than three year imprisonment.

Instead of going to jail, they will have to work for a few hours everyday in a slum, hospital or public place under the supervision of a probationary officer.

Depending on educational qualifications and skills, they will be allotted duties, the minister said.

There are an estimated 16,200 convicted prisoners in the state. Significantly, almost 99 per cent of them are first-time offenders and 60 per cent of them sentenced to less than three-year jail term.

The concept of community service will also help address the problem of overcrowding in jails. Several countries like the USA, Canada, Britain, New Zealand and France are implementing the system.

The duration of the “unpaid work” will be fixed by a board, comprising judges, jail authorities and experts, taking into account the provisions in the Indian Penal Code. The offender would have to produce a surety from his family or any responsible person.

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Ranvir Sena-politicians nexus
Take action on Amir Das panel report: HC
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 3
In what appears to be a big blow to the Nitish government, the Patna High Court yesterday ordered the Bihar government to decide whether the Justice Amir Das commission be revived or a fresh commission constituted.

According to agency reports, the High Court also directed the state government to take action as per the recommendations of the Amir Das commission that was constituted by the Lalu Yadav-led RJD government to probe nexus between political leaders and the banned Ranvir Sena in connection with the 1996 Lakshmanpur Bathe massacre of 61 Dalits in Jehanabad district.

The court order is likely to create a political storm in the state as several members of the ruling Janata Dal-(U) and the BJP combine, including Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, were named in the report by the commission. The court took a serious note of the commission’s report naming 37 politicians as supporters of the Ranvir Sena.

A division Bench comprising Chief Justice J.N. Bhatt and Justice S.K. Sinha disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Bihar government’s decision last year to rescind the commission.

The then President, K.R. Narayanan, had described the incident as “national shame”.

On its part, the commission had failed to submit its report to the state government although its term was extended several times in a row since 1996 and the then Governor Buta Singh had decided to wind up the panel when the state was under the President’s rule in 2005. The NDA government had scrapped the commission in 2006 when it came to power.

The Bench, however, directed the HC’s registry to make available to the state government all the documents of the commission submitted to it with respect to the probe carried out by the commission headed by retired Justice Das.

The court on October 12 last year had ordered the commission to submit the documents pertaining to the probe to its registry, which was complied with by the judicial panel.

Earlier, appearing on behalf of the state government, advocate general P.K. Sahi argued that it would be better if the documents submitted by the commission to the court were made available to the state for taking a view on the matter.

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Heavy rain disrupts life
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 3
Heavy rains, accompanied by thunder-storms and lightning, lashed the city and several parts of South Bengal district today, throwing outdoor life and activities completely out of gear. Rail, air and transport services also collapsed as a result of the heavy downpour.

Incessant rain since last night resulted in at least 13 deaths, including that of two children, due to building collapse. Eight members of one family at Bishnupar in South 24 Parganas were killed following collapse of their house. Two people were killed due to lightning at Entally and Cossipore respectively while three died due to falling of trees in the Behala area.

The rainfall, recorded at 150 mm during the last 24 hours in the city, submerged most of the North, Central and Southern parts of the metropolis. 

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Gujarat rain toll 84: PM speaks to Modi

New Delhi, July 3
Monsoon fury continued to wreck havoc in Gujarat, claiming 84 lives in the past three days, while eight people were killed as heavy rain lashed Kolkata and its adjoining districts.

PM Manmohan Singh called Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and assured him central assistance for relief and rehabilitation of the people affected by the floods. Modi, who is currently on a visit to Geneva, has cut short his stay and is reportedly rushing back to the country.

Thirteen persons have gone missing in Gujarat of whom eight are from Vadodara, three from Navasari and two from Basarkanthe.

In West Bengal eight persons were killed as the season’s heaviest rain pounded Kolkata and its adjoining districts. In Maharashtra, 358 persons were killed in rain during the past one month. — PTI

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Surgery by teenager
Couple’s bail plea rejected

Tiruchirappalli, July 3
A sessions court here today rejected the bail plea of a doctor-couple arrested for allegedly allowing their teenaged son to perform a surgery. K. Murugesan and his wife Gandhimathi, whose teenaged son reportedly performed a Caesarean section at the family-run hospital in Manapparai, near here, were arrested on June 25 and remanded to judicial custody.

Public prosecutor R. Edwin Jayakumar argued that the case was in the initial stage of investigation and bail should not be granted to the couple.

After hearing the arguments, principal sessions judge Thangakani rejected the bail plea. Special police teams have been formed to trace their son Dhileepan Raj.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had disposed of the 16-year-old boy’s anticipatory bail plea a few days ago with a direction to the police to produce him before the Juvenile Justice Board, which will decide the question of bail. — PTI

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Punjab proposal for tech institutes okayed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
The Centre has given clearance to the Rs 400-crore package for setting up of a cluster of premier technology institutes, including a world-class National Institute of Bio-technology for Agri-foods and a Rs 150-crore National Institute for Nanotechnology in Punjab.

The Centre has also agreed to upgrade the Medical Institute at Jalandhar to a National Institute for Research in Health Sciences with an annual funding of Rs 100 crore. Punjab’s proposal for setting up a centre of excellence for key seed technologies through genetic engineering in Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, also got the nod from the Centre.

The clearences came after Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal met science and technology minister Kapil Sibal here yesterday.

An official spokesman said the Centre has asked Punjab Government to identify at least one college in every city to be given the status of a “star life sciences college”. These colleges would be treated as role models for excellence in the field of learning. The skills and the level of learning of faculty in these colleges would be constantly upgraded through special courses.

The Centre has also given a green signal to the centre of excellence for research and marketing for medical and aromatic plants in the state.

Among the other proposals that got the nod were an Institute of Innovative and Emerging Technologies at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and first of its kind Center of Excellence for Technology Assessment and Transfer. The government also agreed, in principal, for setting up a Centre of Biotechnology for Veterinary and Animal Sciences. 

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Suicides in Army
MoD, Army discuss remedial measures
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
The image of the Indian Army and the defence establishment took a beating with the suicide of Capt Megha Razdan of the 113 Engineers’ Regiment on Sunday night. In fact, the situation was serious enough for the entire South Block top brass to huddle into meetings throughout the day.

Defence minister A.K. Antony chaired a meeting here today, which was attended by defence secretary Shekhar Dutt, senior officials of the Indian Army, the Defence Institute of Psychological Research (DIPR) and the Directorate General of the Armed Forces Medical Services.

Media reports of another suicide by a jawan posted at Jammu yesterday added to the urgency of the MoD. Recently, the DIPR had come out with the report on suicides and had suggested remedial measures. However, these are still to be implemented.

Since 2005, five women officers of the Indian Army (including Capt Megha) have committed suicide. The figure gains significance when compared to the percentage of women officers in the Army, which is miniscule - of the 34,000 officers, only 1,000 are women. This makes the rate of suicide among women much higher than the men in the Army.

Among the men too, the trend has been more among the Other Ranks (ORs) and the Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs), making it negligible among the officers. As many as 120 soldiers committed suicide last year, which incidentally was much more than the number of soldiers the Army lost while fighting insurgents and militants, i.e., 72.

This year too, there has been no let down in the number of suicides, but suicide by two women officers in just over a year’s time has pushed the Army on the back foot. On June 15 last, Lt Sushmita Chakravarty had killed herself with an automatic rifle at Udhampur.

At the meeting today, Antony not only asked the Army to expedite its probe into the case but also stressed on the need to have a follow-up on the remedial measures on the issue. However, there was no word on the reason why the young officer committed suicide.

Besides, the Sainik boards have been asked to be sensitive to the problems of the soldiers and their families. For this purpose, the Defence Minister wrote to the Chief Ministers of all the states.

However, observers point out women in the Army face other problems, which are difficult to control. The first itself is the condescending attitude of the colleagues, besides the operational, practical and cultural problems.

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Singur Murder
CBI revelation puts CPM in the dock
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 3
The CBI's revelation of the CPI(M)'s involvement in the gruesome killing of Tapashi Mallick (17) in Singur on December 18 has put the party in the dock.

Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee had yesterday led a deputation to the Rashrapati Bhavan and today she met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding the Centre's intervention in protecting the lives and the livelihoods of the poor people in Singur and Nandigram and elsewhere against the CPI (M) onslaught. The deputation included the parents of Tapashi and several other Singur residents and the representatives of Samajwadi Party, Sanjukja Janata Dal and a few NDA partners. But there was no representation from the BJP.

Earlier, the TMC and the Krishi Bachao Committee took out a protest march from Jantar Mantar to Sansad Marg which they called the "bhukha michil" protesting the CPI (M) misrule and the misuse of the police and the administration for serving their vested interests.

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Parliamentary panel wants ICADR to be top arbitration body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Parliamentary standing committee on personnel, public grievances, law and justice has recommended that all institutions in the country established for arbitration and conciliation should come under the International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR).

The committee, in its 20th report, suggested that the ICADR should be made a nodal organisation for all matters relating to arbitration and conciliation. The committee felt that there was a big scope for improvement because international arbitration is being referred to this centre i.e. ICADR.It was observed that when international arbitration centres like Singapore, Paris, London and Hong Kong were catching up, the ICADR should also be promoted as a nodal centre for excellence.

A meeting of the governing council of the ICADR is scheduled to be held on July 13 in New Delhi. The meeting will discuss the above-mentioned 20th report and will also consider holding a conference on ADR in March 2008.

Another vital recommendation of the committee was that necessary budgetary provisions for grants-in-aid to the ICADR should be made from the next financial year so as to set up regional centres of the ICADR. The move, the committee felt, would help ease burden of courts and also make India a hub of international arbitration. The committee recommended that the ICADR should not earn money by leasing out its building to government bodies.

Ashwinie Kumar Bansal, member of the ICADR governing council confirmed the recommendations of the committee and informed that the committee was also of the opinion that all government departments and PSUs should refer their arbitration matters to the ICADR instead of going to the courts directly.

The committee in its ninth report on the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill had already suggested that sole arbitrators, who were working as government officers discharging dual role, should be gradually eliminated and that the ICADR or such other private arbitration centres should be allowed to involved in it for effective alternative dispute resolution.

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Gandhians oppose film on Mahatma
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 3
Gandhians in Bihar are now up in arms against a new film on Mahatma Gandhi focusing his relationship with his eldest son.

The film, directed by veteran theatre personality Feroz Abbas Khan and scheduled for release on Aug 3, explores the Mahatma’s strained relationship with his eldest son Harilal who embraced Islam.

Razi Ahmad, noted Gandhian and secretary of Gandhi Sangrahalaya here, has written to President A.P.J Abdul Kalam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, seeking their intervention to stop the release of the film “Gandhi My Father” as it is reportedly based on the controversial aspects of the life of the father of the nation.

“Gandhians are against the release of the film as it portrays Mahatma Gandhi in bad light”, said Razi Ahmed, adding that they were opposed to any attempt that intended to tarnish the image of national heroes.

The film narrates incidents from Gandhiji’s life between 1906 and 1948 and uses the then socio-political structure as its backdrop.

The film, first independent production of Bollywood star Anil Kapoor, has been shot in Hindi and English over a period of 100 days. 

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Soz asks Badal to enact bill on ground water depletion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
Union minister for water resource Saiffudin Soz has asked the Punjab government to go for an early enactment of a legislation to regulate “development and management” of ground water in the state.

In a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the minister said almost all states and union territories had enacted such legislation keeping in view its benefits.

The proposed legislation, Soz said, would check the depletion of water table, ensure sustainability of ground water on a long-term basis and augment agricultural production in the state.

The minister said during their meeting some time back Badal had assured him of initiating early steps in this direction. Soz also called for steps to encourage rainwater harvesting in the state on a large scale.

According to an official spokesman, the minister, who again forwarded draft Bill on the regulation of ground water to the state, said necessary modifications may be carried out to cater to the local conditions.

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Terrorist activities
34 UP districts ‘sensitive’

Lucknow, July 3
Of the 70 Uttar Pradesh districts, almost half are vulnerable to terrorists or ISI activities and are on the “sensitive list” of the Home Department, said minister for parliamentary affairs Lalji Verma.

Responding to queries during the Question Hour in the Vidhan Sabha today, Verma admitted that 34 districts of the state had been recognised as sensitive from the point of view of increasing terrorist activities.

Giving details of government measures to check these activities, Verma said besides the Intelligence Headquarters, Special Intelligence Cells had been set up to keep an eye on terrorist and anti-national activities and outfits.

Additionally, 13 cells had been set up along the Nepal border to gather and provide added intelligence inputs. District-level meetings were held in the 34 sensitive districts every three months to take stock of the situation. The DM, the SSP and representative of the Intelligence or LIU Department attend these meeting. — TNS

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BJP flays Patil’s remarks on Pak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 3
The BJP today condemned home minister Shivraj Patil’s remarks that “we should not blame Pakistan for every wrong thing, either increase in infiltration or spurt in violence here”, saying, it was like giving a clean chit to Islamabad.

In a written statement, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said this clean chit to Pakistan by Shivraj Patil is not only ridiculous but also astounding as this statement in one stroke, has deflated India’s effort to raise the issue of infiltrate with Pakistan in the ongoing composite dialogue at the secretary level meeting, beginning today.

This bail out policy is the clear result of the continuous soft approach of the UPA government towards both, infiltration and the deteriorating situation in the valley, Javadekar said.

“The UPA alone will have to bear the blame and responsibility for the increasing militancy if they do not blame Pakistan”, he said.

“What makes the home minister’s statement so remarkable is that the ground reality is exactly opposite to his remarks. In April 2007, more than 82 attempts of infiltration were detected, which is alarmingly high and thrice than that in the corresponding period last year”, Javadekar said.

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Cong leader highlights plight of alcohol consumers
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, July 3
Bacchus lovers in Uttarakhand may have reason to thank leader of Congress Legislature Party (CLP) Harak Singh Rawat who highlighted the problems caused to them by the Khanduri government's decision of early closure of liquor shops in the state.

His comments, while speaking in the zero hour on adjournment motion moved by his party, provided amusing moments in the ongoing Budget Session as he talked of the plight of the common people especially the employees by the closure of liquor shops by 8 pm. Even his party legislators had no idea of why their leader took upon himself to air the alcohol consumers’ grievances in such a spirited manner.

Criticising the BJP led government for the ‘ill-conceived’ policy, he pointed out that earlier the employees used to buy liquor on way home after office hours. But the changed timing left them with no other option than buy liquor during the day time and carry it to their respective offices.

He also faulted CM Khanduri for wrong choice of the excise minister Madan Kaushik who belongs to Haridwar which has been declared as prohibited area due to its religious significance. He said the minister was not expected to be aware of the problems created by the government decision because liquor was not sold in his area. All this robbed the evening parties of their charm, he added. Rawat, a former Congress minister, who had to resign in the wake of his alleged involvement in the unwed mother scandal, finally led the entire CLP in staging a walkout in protest against the policy.

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Hyderabad to house fourth US consulate

Hyderabad, July 3
The USA will now set up its consulate in Hyderabad, the fourth in India after Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

A lease agreement to this effect was signed here today in the presence of US Ambassador to India David C Mulford and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy.

Initially, a temporary consulate office will be housed in the Paigah Palace, a heritage structure of the Nizam period, at Begumpet before shifting to a permanent campus on a 12-acre site at Madhapur.

The temporary office would become operational by the end of 2008 after completion of renovation works, while the permanent facility would be ready by 2011, Mulford said. — TNS

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Another extension to Liberhan panel

New Delhi, July 3
The Liberhan Commission, which is probing into the circumstances that led to the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya, has got a two month extension up to August 31.

“The term of the Liberhan Commission, headed by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, has been extended by two months up to August 31, 2007,” a Home Ministry statement said here today.

This is the third extension given to the commission this year. The last extension was up to June 30.

The panel was appointed within a fortnight of the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. — TNS

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PM condemns killing of FCI official

New Delhi, July 3
The Prime Minister today condemned the killing of Food Corporation of India executive director Phulchand Ram by ULFA. In a message to the family, the Prime Minister said he was greatly distressed to hear of the killing of the officer who was kidnapped by militants in April. — TNS

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