SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Mumbai Blasts
One more gets death sentence
Mumbai, July 20
Somnath Thapa, a custom official found guilty in the Mumbai blast case, arrives at a special court in Mumbai on Friday. He was awarded life sentence for his role in the blast. The special court constituted under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act today sentenced one more bomber in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts to death, taking the total number of those to be hanged to seven.

Somnath Thapa, a custom official found guilty in the Mumbai blast case, arrives at a special court in Mumbai on Friday. He was awarded life sentence for his role in the blast. — Reuters photo

Vice-Presidential Poll
Hamid Ansari is UPA-Left choice
New Delhi, July 20
Seasoned diplomat and chairman of the National Minorities Commission was today named as the UPA-Left candidate for the post of Vice-President.

For NDA, it is Atwal or Gautam
New Delhi, July 20
After the UPA today announced the name of Hamid Ansari as its vice-presidential candidate, the National Democratic Alliance is either going to field Deputy Speaker Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal or former Union Minister Sanghapriya Gautam as its candidate.



EARLIER STORIES


Martyrs’ widows to meet next President
New Delhi, July 20
Chairman of All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) M.S. Bitta today said that families of martyrs who repulsed the attack on Parliament would meet the next president to seek rejection of Mohammad Afzal's mercy petition and carrying out Supreme Court judgement for his execution.

Govt to amend law governing AIIMS, PGI
Tenure of director to be fixed
New Delhi, July 20
In a significant decision, the union cabinet today decided to amend the law governing the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the PGI, Chandigarh, which could lead to another round of confrontation between union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss and AIIMS director P. Venugopal.

State-owned first cable TV service
Chennai, July 20
Tamil Nadu will be the first state in India to offer State Government-owned cable television service to viewers.

Ugandan gets India’s first unrelated cord blood transplant
Chennai, July 20
A Ugandan boy suffering from a genetic blood problem received India's first unrelated cord blood transplantation at a city hospital here.

Egyptian girl’s mummy slipping into history
Hyderabad, July 20
The ravages of time have begun to take their toll on Nasihu, a young Egyptian girl from the remote past resting at a state museum here. More than 4,500 years after her death, Nasihu, the daughter of VIth Pharaoh of Egypt, now faces the risk of slipping into history, for ever, in the absence of specialised conservation.

UPA trying to wind up SC Green Bench
New Delhi , July 20
After having had its say on setting up of the new Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on forests, the UPA government, in what can lead to a confrontation with the Supreme Court, has moved an application before it for closure of the monitoring of the case relating to the protection of forests by the apex court and urged it to dispose off a decade old Public Interest Litigation on the issue.

HC stays delimitation in Assam
Guwahati, July 20
The Gauhati High Court has stayed the implementation of the final notification of the Delimitation Commission for redefining boundaries of Assembly constituencies in Assam.

Navy to deploy underwater vehicles
Mumbai, July 20
In the next few weeks, the Navy will deploy underwater unmanned vehicles that can lay mines to knock off enemy vessels and escape undetected.

Smoke-free workplace soon
New Delhi, July 20
Ninety days from now, non-smokers will enjoy complete protection from offensive and carcinogenic second-hand smoke at all workplaces across the country. Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss today announced his resolve to make all workplaces in India smoke-free by enforcing the existing law stringently.

Law firm to fight Potter pirates
New Delhi, July 20
As the wait for the last instalment in the hugely popular Harry Potter series draws to an end, its publisher and bookstores are all geared up to prevent its pirated versions from hitting the market.

Support assured to Haneef’s wife
Bangalore, July 20
Terror suspect Dr Mohammed Haneef’s wife Firdous Arshiya today said she was overwhelmed and moved by the manner in which Prime Minister had deputed Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed to meet her last night and assure complete support to her husband who is presently being detained in Australia.

Surrender of passport
Monica urges SC to waive condition
New Delhi, July 20
Bollywood starlet Monica Bedi awaiting release on bail in a passport forgery case in Hyderabad after her acquittal by a Bhopal court in another case of the identical offence, today moved the Supreme Court for waiving the condition of surrendering her original passport and let her gain her freedom.

Leave big brotherly attitude: Basu
Kolkata, July 20
Jyoti Basu today advised the party leaders and the workers to give up their "big-brotherly attitude" towards the small partners but to treat them at par so that the unity of the left front could be further strengthened.

Bomb blast kills four in Guwahati
Guwahati, July 20
Four persons, including two minors, were killed and 18 others injured in a bomb explosion that rocked the busy Srirampur Charali market area in Gossaingaon Sub-division of Kokrajhar district in western Assam bordering West Bengal at around 11:30 am today.

Mayawati seeks Rs 80,000 crore as development assistance
New Delhi, July 20
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek Rs 80,000 crore package for the state to bring it in frontline of states in development indices.

UNPA fields Masood for vice-president
New Delhi, July 20
United Nationalist Progressive Alliance (UNPA) candidate Rashid Masood today filed his nomination papers for the vice-presidential election.

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Mumbai Blasts
One more gets death sentence
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 20
The special court constituted under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities (TADA) Act today sentenced one more bomber in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts to death, taking the total number of those to be hanged to seven.

Judge Pramod Kode of the special court today passed the death sentence on Mohammad Iqbal Shaikh for planting a scooter packed with RDX. He was also found guilty of throwing a hand grenade on the slums near the Mumbai airport.

“He is guilty of two separate terrorist acts and I have kept that in mind while giving him the death sentence,” the judge ruled.

Two other co-conspirators were given life imprisonment. They are: Bashir Qureshi, who was found guilty of throwing grenades at a fishermen’s colony and senior customs official Somnath Thapa, who was found guilty of allowing explosives and weapons to be smuggled into the country. The court spared Thapa of the death penalty since he is in the terminal stages of cancer.

Meanwhile, the fate of actor Sanjay Dutt, who was found guilty under the Arms Act in the 1993 serial blasts case, might be decided in the last week when his sentencing is likely to be taken up. Dutt and his friends would be sentenced after the bombers, including members of the Tiger Memon family, who are still to be sentenced.

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Vice-Presidential Poll
Hamid Ansari is UPA-Left choice
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Seasoned diplomat and chairman of the National Minorities Commission was today named as the UPA-Left candidate for the post of Vice-President.

The formal announcement was made this evening by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi after a brief meeting of the UPA-Left coordination committee, called sepcifically to endorse Ansari’s candidature.

“All of us have come to unanimous understanding that Mohammad Hamid Ansari would be our candidate,” Sonia Gandhi announced in a statement issued after the meeting held at PM’s official residence. She said Ansari has an excellent record of serving the nation in many capacities, including as a civil servant and diplomat, as an academician and in his current position.

In picking Ansari,the UPA and the Left parties appear to have taken a cue from the UNPA, which has also fielded a Muslim, Rasheed Masood, as its vice-presidential candidate.

In sharp contrast to the hectic parleys which preceded the announcement of the UPA-Left presidential candidate, the decision on choosing the Vice-President was a much smoother affair. While the UPA partners and the Left parties had acceded that the presidential candidate would be from the Congress, the Marxists had extracted a promise that the Vice-President would be of their choice.

Although informal discussions on this were underway for the past several days, the exercsie gained momentum after the presidential elections yesterday when the four Left parties confabulated amongst themselves.

CPM leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury followed this up with a formal meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last night where they proposed Hamid Ansari as their choice. The Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi subsequently consulted the UPA partners and supporting parties like the BSP. In fact, the Congres presdient called up Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati this morning to inform her about their choice.

UPA sources said the Left parties had proposed only one name which was endorsed by all UPA partners. No other name was even considered, it was stated.

Speaking to mediapersons after the formal announcement, Ansari said he felt humbled by the confidence reposed in him.

Ansari, who served as Indian ambassador to the UAE, Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia and as permanent representative to the UN in New York, was awarded the Padma Shri in 1984. Before this appointment as chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Ansari was the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University.

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For NDA, it is Atwal or Gautam
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
After the UPA today announced the name of Hamid Ansari as its vice-presidential candidate, the National Democratic Alliance is either going to field Deputy Speaker Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal or former Union Minister Sanghapriya Gautam as its candidate.

While former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and NDA convener George Fernandes have been officially authorised to shortlist the opposition alliance candidate, sources said though the NDA was waiting for the UPA to make the announcement but now with Ansari emerging as the ruling alliance's choice the opposition alliance is going to choose between Atwal and Gautam. Since the ruling alliance and the third front have selected Muslim candidates, the NDA is going to field a Dalit candidate, a senior BJP leader said.

Sources also said there are serious differences within the BJP over whether the NDA should field a candidate for losing, particularly in the backdrop of a certain defeat of its presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Meanwhile, the saffron party sought to downplay its negative campaign against UPA presidential candidate Pratibha Patil when party president Rajnath Singh said one should be clear that it was not the BJP which had manufactured the allegations.

Asked if this would mean that the BJP would accept Patil as President if she were to win elections, he initially said he would answer all these questions tomorrow evening.

To a question if the BJP would attend the swearing in ceremony, he shot back ''why not? we will be there.''

Answering questions about the NDA allies, he said the NDA was in touch with all its allies especially the Shiv Sena on the vice-presidential elections.

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Martyrs’ widows to meet next President
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Chairman of All India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF) M.S. Bitta today said that families of martyrs who repulsed the attack on Parliament would meet the next president to seek rejection of Mohammad Afzal's mercy petition and carrying out Supreme Court judgement for his execution.

Bitta, who was addressing mediapersons here along with members of the families of martyrs, made a veiled attack on leaders of Shiv Sena for their earlier remarks linking the delay to the President.

He said the government had to give opinion on the mercy petition after it was referred back by the President and the delay could not be attributed to him.

He said the next president should build pressure on the government to arrive at a final conclusion in the vital case.

Bitta said that a new law should be framed to deal with the sensitive cases where the apex court awards capital punishment to terrorists for their heinous crime against the state.

Terrorists should never get an opportunity to approach the President with their clemency petition, he said.

Widows of the martyrs said they had "given back" bravery medals given to their husbands to protest against the delay in Afzal's execution and "denial of justice" to them.

They said that the medals should be put up at the national museum.

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Govt to amend law governing AIIMS, PGI
Tenure of director to be fixed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
In a significant decision, the union cabinet today decided to amend the law governing the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the PGI, Chandigarh, which could lead to another round of confrontation between union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss and AIIMS director P. Venugopal.

The amendment to the AIIMS Act reportedly proposes to fix the tenure of the institute director for five years or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier.

Information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, briefing newspersons after the cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said the council of ministers solidly stood by the health minister.

The move to amend the Act comes after the Delhi High Court stayed the dismissal of Venugopal, calling it an arbitrary action by the government. Dasmunshi said an appropriate legislation would be introduced in the first week of the monsoon session of parliament. The proposal of the health ministry, he said, was unanimously supported by the members of the cabinet.

If the proposal is adopted by parliament, then Venugopal might have to relinquish office immediately as he turned 65 this month and the amendment would be with retrospective effect.

He said the dreaded pictorial warning of skull and crossbones on cigarette and beedi packets would soon go up in smoke as the government was for other types of messages to wean away the addicts.

The cabinet approved a proposal to amend the relevant laws by introducing a Bill in the monsoon session, he said.

The cabinet also gave its approval for dispensing with controls over ‘gur’ and gave its approval for amending the Sugarcane (Control) Order, 1966. The new amended order will be called the Sugarcane (Control) Amendment Order, 2007.

The cabinet also approved restructuring of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) with selection of the chairman by a search committee headed by the cabinet secretary and comprising the secretary, DORT&H, the secretary, Planning Commission, a CMD or MD of a financial institution and one of the directors of the IIMs to be nominated by the cabinet secretary.

The tenure of the chairman will be fixed for at least three years which can be extended up to five years. The age in case of the chairman will be relaxed up to 62 years if required for a three-year tenure.

The NHAI will have six full-time members (against five at present), one each for finance, administration, public private partnership (PPP), two members (project) and one member (technical).

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State-owned first cable TV service
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 20
Tamil Nadu will be the first state in India to offer State Government-owned cable television service to viewers.

Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said following suggestions by the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)'s ally, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), the state government has decided to soon begin its own cable television operations.

The suggestion has been long mooted by PMK founder Dr S. Ramadoss, a staunch critic of present Tamil television channels which offers "cheap soap operas and degenerated song sequences".

Karunanidhi said he too agreed with the PMK leader and was considering how to make optimum use of cable television operations by the State Government.

Till recently, Sun TV network, owned by the Marans, was considered to be the audio-visual organ of the DMK but after the group's newspaper "Dinakaran" published an opinion regarding Karunanidhi's successor, the Marans fell out of favour resulting in the unceremonious exit of Dayanidhi Maran as Union Minister for IT and Telecommunications. However, the group's cable network is spread all over Tamil Nadu and they practically rule the business to the roost.

The Opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) has Jaya TV named after the party's supreme Jayaram Jayalalithaa as its mouthpiece.

Sun TV's rival, Raj TV has recently announced to launch "Kalaignar TV" going by the name with which Karunanidhi is popularly called here.

Though Dr Ramadoss demanded that the State Government take over the existing cable operations run by private television channels in the state, officials after obtaining legal opinion found it would not stand in a court of law.

The former AIADMK regime had passed a legislation taking over cable television operations run by private companies but it was not valid since the power to regulate cable television is with the Central Government. As such, the State Government decided to start its own television channel.

Karunanidhi said, "A state government owned cable television service will be able to earn huge revenue like the liquor shops owned by the Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation." In Tamil Nadu there are no private liquor shops.

He said after initial study the projections were that the government could earn around Rs 500 core each year through this service and the revenue could be utilised for developmental work.

No specific time frame has been decided since the idea was still at a planning stage and opinions of experts were being sought on how to run the operation at its best and compete with private networks, he added.

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Ugandan gets India’s first unrelated cord blood transplant
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 20
A Ugandan boy suffering from a genetic blood problem received India's first unrelated cord blood transplantation at a city hospital here.

The treatment done on an eight-year-old Howard Kafeero at the Apollo Speciality Hospital has now opened opportunities for many patients who require blood and bone marrow transplant to survive but cannot find matching donors within their families.

In case of Howard, who hails from Kampala in Uganda, the donor came through the US-based National Marrow Donor Programme (NMDP) which has a tie-up with Apollo Hospitals.

Howard was suffering from Fanconi anemia, a genetic condition that leads to bone marrow failure, which if untreated would have resulted in leukemia leading to death. His elder brother had died 12 years ago of the same disease.

But Howard's parents, Herman and Sarah Kafeero, a former school teacher did not give up hope and was determined to ensure that her younger child did not meet the same fate.

Howard showed the first symptoms of this disease when he was only five and needed frequent blood transfusions. His parents could not afford the expensive treatment in the USA.

Sarah said, "We heard about this hospital from our Indian friends and enquired if he could be treated here." She came here with Howard in October, 2006.

However, it was not easy as blood tests of close relatives did not come up with a match for a stem cell transplant. After a long wait of six months the donor was found through NMDP and the boy was given transfusion from two matching cord blood units.

"I thought it was going to be over, we could finish the surgery and go home. We landed up staying for nine months," Sarah said.

Dr Revathy Raj, senior consultant in pediatric hematology said, "The doctors had to use two cord blood units on the boy because of his weight.

But eventually only one of the two cords will engraft and grow as bone marrow.

"It was a very difficult period for Howard and his mother, Sarah. But now after more than three months, he is doing very well. His blood count is normal and he is now active," she said.

For the two cord blood units Howard's parents had to pay Rs 30 lakh, the most expensive part of the treatment which totaled up to Rs 45 lakh. For the same treatment his family would have had to spend more than Rs 4.5

crores in the USA, 10 times of the amount spent here.

Howard is now raring to return to Kampala and play with his friends. He said, "When they said I needed blood transfusion, I was very afraid. But when they did it, I did not feel any pain at all. I am going back home and see my brother."

Dr Raj said, "The predominant and life-threatening aspect of Fanconi Anaemia is bone marrow failure. It is this condition that we have corrected."

In India unrelated transplants of stem cells and bone marrow for patients with advanced leukemia and bone marrow failure could not be done since not only there is a lack of number of donors but matching techniques are also not enough advanced. In the US and Europe, more than five million cord blood donors and a huge number of frozen cord blood units are available.

Dr Ramesh Nimmagada, Director of Medical Oncology, said Apollo Hospital had registered with the National Marrow Donor Programme (NMDP) in January this year and was the first Indian hospital to be accepted by the NMDP to perform a donor search.

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Egyptian girl’s mummy slipping into history
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 20
The ravages of time have begun to take their toll on Nasihu, a young Egyptian girl from the remote past resting at a state museum here. More than 4,500 years after her death, Nasihu, the daughter of VIth Pharaoh of Egypt, now faces the risk of slipping into history, for ever, in the absence of specialised conservation.

Nasihu is one of the six Egyptian Mummies preserved at different museums in India.

This mummified visitor from the far-away lands is kept at a special enclosure at Andhra Pradesh State Museum at Public Gardens here. But the existing facilities at the museum and the conservation methods are not enough for its long-term preservation.

"We have been desperately trying to get an international expert to help us conserve the Mummy in a better way. This is a specialised task requiring latest technologies and methods," the Director of Archaeology and Museums J Kedareswari said.

She said the government had already approached the British Council in Chennai and the British Museum, London, seeking help in inviting an Egyptian Mummy conservationist.

"The British Museum has expressed its inability to spare a conservationist," the official said. The Mummy experts in Cairo were also approached but there has been no response so far. The Mummy, preserved here for the last seven decades, is that of a young girl aged between 16 years to 18 years and daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh dating back to 2,500 B.C.

The scars of time have started inflicting decay on the prized possession. The wrapping around the Mummy has started to peel with cracks appearing at several places.

The outer crust of the Mummy, with colourful motifs painted over it, has started disintegrating at several places. The museum officials had recently shifted it to a new enclosure. But, they say the rare treasure requires immediate expert attention.

The Mummy was brought by Nazeer Nawaz Jung, son-in-law of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the VIth Nizam ruler of the erstwhile Hyderabad in 1920s. It is said that he had paid 1,000 pounds for it and later gifted to the VIIth Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan. He had in turn donated it to the Hyderabad Museum which was opened in 1930 and since then the Mummy has been on put on display.

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UPA trying to wind up SC Green Bench
S S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi , July 20
After having had its say on setting up of the new Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on forests, the UPA government, in what can lead to a confrontation with the Supreme Court, has moved an application before it for closure of the monitoring of the case relating to the protection of forests by the apex court and urged it to dispose off a decade old Public Interest Litigation on the issue.

The application of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has been moved by additional solicitor general Vikas Singh before a Special Forest Bench, comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia.

The issue can lead to a potential confrontation between the executive and judiciary as the Forest Bench earlier had taken strong exception to the government trying to have its say in the constitution of the CEC.

But the government ultimately had its say after Vikas Singh, in a earlier hearing before the summer vacation, had cited some rules giving power to the Centre to appoint members of the CEC.

Emboldened by the move, the MoEF in a fresh application sought to dispose of the 1995 PIL, filed by T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad from Tamil Nadu, which had resulted in the forest-related matters attaining multiple dimensions and the court passing a series of order by imposing various conditions on clearing of the projects in forest areas, including those related to Army’s firing range and strategic roads in border areas.

The ministry, apparently trying to get its complete control on deciding and clearing the projects in forest areas said in the application that the apex court “may review its earlier orders relating to the constitution of the CEC.”

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HC stays delimitation in Assam
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 20
The Gauhati High Court has stayed the implementation of the final notification of the Delimitation Commission for redefining boundaries of Assembly constituencies in Assam.

In an interim order that has been hailed by various political and non-political groups in the state, a five-member Bench of the court headed by the Chief Justice J. Chelamaswaram directed the ‘respondents’ not to take any action on the basis of the final notification of the Delimitation Commission.

The court order came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate R.P. Sharma urging the court to put a stay on the delimitation process till the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951, was updated in the state.

The petitioner raised apprehension that if the final notification of delimitation of Assembly constituencies was enforced in the state at this juncture illegal migrants from Bangladesh would form the majority in several Assembly segments in the state.

The petitioner’s stand was in tune with that of the All Assam Students Union (AASU), which had been maintaining that a large number of illegal migrants from Bangladesh had already managed to get their names enrolled in the state voters’ list.

The AASU had been opposing the implementation of the final delimitation notification unless the NRC 1951 was not updated in the state. The AASU hailed the interim order of the High Court putting a stay on the implementation of the final delimitation notification.

Earlier, all political parties in the state had moved the Delimitation Commission with a request to put off the process in the state. The state government also filed an affidavit supporting the contention of the PIL. The court would take up the case for further hearing on August 13.

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Navy to deploy underwater vehicles
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 20
In the next few weeks, the Navy will deploy underwater unmanned vehicles that can lay mines to knock off enemy vessels and escape undetected.

Drawing heavily from the latest advances in robotics, infra-red technology and global positioning systems, the new equipment will comprise indigenously developed underwater unmanned vehicles (UUV) and underwater mines that go with it.

According to sources, the technology has been developed by the Vishakapatnam-based Naval Scientific Technological Laboratory (NSTL), a wing of the Defence Research Development Organisation. The NSTL has completed all trials on the devices and will hand over these to the Navy in the coming weeks.

The UUVs that can operate about four metres below the surface can be remotely controlled from a submarine or a warship using the GPS technology. These can be used to unobtrusively penetrate enemy defences and plant mines that can sink enemy warships.

Sources say the UUVs equipped with spy cameras may also be used against enemy shipping. They may also be used to launch missiles and return to the mother ship only on the basis of commands issued via remote control.

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Smoke-free workplace soon
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Ninety days from now, non-smokers will enjoy complete protection from offensive and carcinogenic second-hand smoke at all workplaces across the country. Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss today announced his resolve to make all workplaces in India smoke-free by enforcing the existing law stringently.

The ban on smoking in workplaces will apply to hotels, offices, lobbies, airports and all places that employ people.

Dr Ramadoss announced his decision today after receiving the WHO Director General's Special Award for his 'outstanding contribution to safeguard future generations from the devastating consequences of tobacco use'.

The minister went a step further and said that in keeping with the WHO's emphasis on smoke-free indoors, smokers who wish to smoke can have a puff either on the road or in their own homes.

"Even in homes, there are maids and since it is their workplace, you will need their permission to smoke. The WHO says that passive smoking is as dangerous as active smoking. Why should non-smokers bear the brunt of smokers?" he asked. WHO's theme for the World No Tobacco Day (May 31) this year is smoke free environments.

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Law firm to fight Potter pirates

New Delhi, July 20
As the wait for the last instalment in the hugely popular Harry Potter series draws to an end, its publisher and bookstores are all geared up to prevent its pirated versions from hitting the market.

The publisher and distributor - Bloomsbury and Penguin India - are working with police across the country to counter the business of pirated versions. “We have launched an anti-piracy initiative at a very large-scale this time to curb the practice,” said Hemali Sodhi, spokesperson, Penguin India.

Vigilance cells are being set up to detect sale of pirated copies of J K Rowling’s last in the Potter series.

Bloomsbury and Penguin India have roped in Aca-Law, a law firm, to counter circulation of pirated versions of the new Harry Potter. A 24-hour helpline number (011-26499936) has been launched to report incidents of piracy, Sodhi said.

“Any person found dealing in pirated copies of Harry Potter can be arrested and charged with the offence of infringement of copyright, which is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine,” said Akash Chittranshi, head of Aca-Law.

The copies were to reach distributors only on the night before the release of the book and were to be delivered to bookstores on the morning of the day of release, that is July 21.

“We are supposed to get the book supplies from Penguin tonight and we will start distributing the copies to bookstores by 6.30 am tomorrow morning,” said Baldev Verma, manager, India Book Depot.

“Only die-hard Harry Potter fans would buy the original version as the rest hope to get the pirated version in the next two days,” said a bookseller.

The original copy is priced at Rs 975 and customers who have placed advance orders get a discount varying from five per cent to 25 per cent. “You can get the pirated copy for around half the original rate or even less than that, so why would people want to spend more,” said Jatin Singh, another bookseller. — PTI

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Support assured to Haneef’s wife
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 20
Terror suspect Dr Mohammed Haneef’s wife Firdous Arshiya today said she was overwhelmed and moved by the manner in which Prime Minister had deputed Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed to meet her last night and assure complete support to her husband who is presently being detained in Australia.

The Minister, who flew to the city last night from Delhi, met Firdous and another relative at a local hotel. During the visit, the Minister assured that the Union government would do its utmost to ensure Haneef faced a fair trial in Australia.

Reacting to the meeting today, Firdous said she was “relieved” at the support she was getting not only from the Union government, but also the people of the country as well as those in Australia. She said the “gesture” shown by the External Affairs Minister of State in visiting her had “moved” the entire family which was now sure that Haneef’s interests would be guarded by the government.

Firdous disclosed that the Minister had told her that India had been granted consular access to Haneef. She said along with this, the visa granted to her cousin Imran Siddiqui, had also eased some tension from the mind of the immediate family.

Ahmed during his meeting with Firdous conveyed the steps taken by the PM to ensure Haneef is treated fairly under Australian laws.

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Surrender of passport
Monica urges SC to waive condition
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 20
Bollywood starlet Monica Bedi awaiting release on bail in a passport forgery case in Hyderabad after her acquittal by a Bhopal court in another case of the identical offence, today moved the Supreme Court for waiving the condition of surrendering her original passport and let her gain her freedom.

Senior advocate K.T.S. Tulsi, who mentioned her petition before a Bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, stated that Bedi at present did not have any passport as all her belongings, including the travel documents, were seized by the Portuguese authorities at the time of her arrest with underworld don Abu Salem with whom she was living as his declared wife.

Bedi, convicted in the Hyderabad passport forgery case and sentenced to three years imprisonment, was granted bail by the apex court with various conditions, including surrendering of her original passport.

Since she could not meet the condition, the jail authorities in Hyderabad refused to release her on bail. After her acquittal in the Bhopal passport forgery case recently, she was hoping to gain freedom as there was no other case pending against her.

Monica was arrested with Salem at Lisbon in September 2002 and had undergone two years of imprisonment there for travelling on fake documents and thereafter both were extradited to India in November 2005.

While Salem faced several criminal cases, including murder, she was wanted by the Indian authorities in the two cases of passport forgery.

She will have to wait for a few days to gain freedom as her petition is likely to be listed for hearing next week

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Leave big brotherly attitude: Basu
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 20
Jyoti Basu today advised the party leaders and the workers to give up their "big-brotherly attitude" towards the small partners but to treat them at par so that the unity of the left front could be further strengthened.

He reminded the leaders that the importance of the front could not be minimised by any means since the coalition politics had been the order of the day. He felt there was no possibility of a single-party government in the country in near future.

Basu's advices followed in the wake of the growing grievances and resentment among the major partners like the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc against the CPI(M) on various issues, particularly, in the recent Singur and Nandigram controversies vis-à-vis the CBI inquiry into the Tapashi Mallick's case.

The patriarch was speaking at the party secretariat meeting at the Alimuddin Street party office in the morning, which the Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the secretary Biman Bose, the senior leader, Benoy Konar, the CITU president, Shyamal Chakraborty, among others, attended.

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Bomb blast kills four in Guwahati
Bijay Sankar Bora

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 20
Four persons, including two minors, were killed and 18 others injured in a bomb explosion that rocked the busy Srirampur Charali market area in Gossaingaon Sub-division of Kokrajhar district in western Assam bordering West Bengal at around 11:30 am today.

The blast site is not far off from the inter-state boundary check-point at Srirampur.

Police said unidentified militants triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) killing two persons on the spot. The slain were identified as Abdul Mazid (22) and Munna Shah (18). Two of the injured were four-year-old Manowara Khatun and 10-year-old Mandal Sheikh, both later succumbed to their injuries hospital.

An official in Gossaingaon police station informed that the injured were rushed to Kokrajhar Civil hospital while senior district police officials had rushed to the spot immediately after the occurrence of the blast.

The police was yet to ascertain the identity of militant group involved in triggering the blast though the needle of suspicion was pointed towards the banned ULFA.

Meanwhile, Army yesterday apprehended two couriers of the ULFA along with two bombs packed with deadly RDX in Tinsukia district of the state. The ULFA couriers were identified as Kamal and Durgeswar hailing from Rupai and Doomdooma area in Tinsukia district. The Army also recovered some detonators, two Maruti cars and some quantity of counterfeit currency from the duo. 

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Mayawati seeks Rs 80,000 crore as development assistance
Prashant Sood/Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek Rs 80,000 crore package for the state to bring it in frontline of states in development indices.

Talking to mediapersons here, Mayawati said a target of 10 per cent growth rate had been fixed for the state during the 11th five year plan. She sought Rs 9,400 crore and Rs 4,700 crore for backward regions of Poorvanchal and Bundelkhand to develop infrastructure.

Referring to the flight of industry to Uttarakhand, she urged the Prime Minister to provide special area incentive package to the industry in the backward regions of the state.

The Chief Minister said her government was committed to provide an administration which was free from injustice and corruption.

"The UPA chairperson called me on phone this morning and suggested some names for Vice-President and also sent their biodatas,'' Mayawati said.

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UNPA fields Masood for vice-president
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 20
United Nationalist Progressive Alliance (UNPA) candidate Rashid Masood today filed his nomination papers for the vice-presidential election.

Belonging to the Samajwadi Party, his name was proposed and seconded by several MPs of the newly-floated front. The UNPA candidate filed his nomination papers in the presence of TDP leader N. Chandrababu Naidu, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala.

AIADMK supremo J. Jayalalithaa was not present though her party’s MP K. Malaisamy was representing the party. Leaders from Jharkhand Vikas Party, MDMK and AGP were also present.

Yadav said both the Congress and the BJP had similar policies on farmers, women and the poor. He criticised the political parties who had made adverse comments against AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa over her party's legislators casting votes in the presidential election.

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