SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Delhi HC allows extradition of Kohli
New Delhi, July 27
The Delhi High Court today allowed extradition of Maninder Pal Singh Kohli to the United Kingdom to face trial in British teenager Hannah Foster rape and murder case. “There is sufficient evidence to prove prima-facie case against Kohli. The review petition filed by Kohli has no merit and we dismiss it,” a Bench comprising Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice P.K. Bhasin said.

New appointment for defence secretary
To take over as deputy national security adviser
New Delhi, July 27
Defence secretary Shekhar Dutt has been appointed deputy national security advisor (DNSA). Dutt retires as defence secretary on July 31.

Quota limit can’t exceed 50 per cent cap: SC
New Delhi, July 27
Even as a constitution Bench is set to examine the validity of the new central law extending quota for OBCs in admission to government institutions next month, the Supreme Court today once again affirmed that the 50 per cent cap imposed by it on reservation cannot be violated in any manner.


EARLIER STORIES


SC bans bull races in Tamil Nadu
New Delhi, July 27
Taking cognizance of Animal Welfare Board’s petition highlighting the cruel treatment to bulls during races organised in Tamil Nadu as part of ‘Pongal’ celebrations every year, the Supreme Court today put a blanket ban on these.

SC directive to Centre on call menace
New Delhi, July 27
The Centre’s proposal for preparing a national data bank of all mobile phones to check the menace of unsolicited business calls was rejected by the Supreme Court as it said the proposal was impractical.

SC tags Javed Akhtar’s plea with Soharab case
New Delhi, July 27
The Supreme Court today referred the petition filed by lyricist Javed Akhtar, seeking a probe into alleged fake encounters in Gujarat in which innocent people, particularly Muslims, were being targeted as terrorists, to the Bench hearing the Soharabuddin Sheikh case.

Goa Crisis
GDA stakes claim to form govt

Panaji, July 27
Goa Democratic Alliance (GDA), the BJP-led political formation, today staked its claim to form a government, a day after the Congress-led ministry was reduced to a minority, and moved its MLAs out of the state to guard against poaching by rival camp for a trial of strength.

Goa Governor to abide by Constitution
Mumbai, July 27
The MLAs belonging to the ruling party in Goa, who were reduced to a minority following defections yesterday, were disappointed after Governor S C Jamir told Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and his supporters that he would not place the assembly in suspended animation. Jamir said this shortly after returning from New Delhi.

Changes in state Cong units likely
New Delhi, July 27
The appointment of a new team in the Haryana Congress today could well signal wider changes in other state units as the party leadership prepares for a string of Assembly polls and the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

India ‘retains’ right to conduct fresh nuclear tests
New Delhi, July 27
The Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement was formally announced this evening, with India categorically stating that it retained the right to conduct fresh nuclear tests and its strategic programme remained untouched by the 123 agreement.

Wife does not want Haneef deported
Says release made possible due to PM’s intervention
Bangalore, July 27
Dr Mohammed Haneef’s wife, Firdous Arshiya, who led a spirited campaign to get her husband absolved of terrorism-related charges, today said that she would continue her battle to win justice for Haneef by maintaining that he should not be deported from Australia after all charges against him were dropped.

Firdous Arshiya, wife of Mohammed Haneef, answers a question from a reporter in Bangalore on Friday. — AFP photo
Firdous Arshiya, wife of Mohammed Haneef, answers a question from a reporter in Bangalore

India pleased at Haneef’s release
New Delhi, July 27
India today said it was “pleased” that Dr Mohammed Haneef had been released from the Correction Centre in Brisbane and the charges against him have been dropped by the Australian Federal Police.

Culling continues in Manipur
Neighbouring states sound alert
Guwahati, July 27
Even as the culling of poultry birds continued in avian influenza-affected Manipur, alert has been sounded in neighbouring states of the North-East as a preventive measure.

Nafisa Ali to remain head of film society
New Delhi, July 27
Actress and socialite Nafisa Ali will continue to be the chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India (CFSI).

Assam flood situation gets worse
Guwahati, July 27
Flood situation in Assam has taken a turn for the worse with swirling flood waters from rain-fed main channel of Brahmaputra river and its tributaries continuing to submerge more areas in the state.

 
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Delhi HC allows extradition of Kohli

New Delhi, July 27
The Delhi High Court today allowed extradition of Maninder Pal Singh Kohli to the United Kingdom to face trial in British teenager Hannah Foster rape and murder case.

“There is sufficient evidence to prove prima-facie case against Kohli. The review petition filed by Kohli has no merit and we dismiss it,” a Bench comprising Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice P.K. Bhasin said.

The court also strongly objected to the remarks made by a British court against Indian Government while dismissing Centre’s plea for extradition of music composer Nadeem to India.

“It (comment) is not justified but the observation cannot lead us to the conclusion that there is a biasness against Asian community,” the Bench said, rejecting Kohli’s contention that he would not get fair trial in the United Kingdom.

The court also said the Supreme Court order rejecting Kohli’s petition does not give him the liberty to file review petition in the High Court.

The court had yesterday expressed its displeasure on the remarks made by the British court in dealing with the Indian Government’s request for extradition of music composer Nadeem Saifi, who fled the country after the murder of music baron Gulshan Kumar.

The Bench was particularly upset over a paragraph of the order in which the court observed that the “plea of the applicant (Indian Government) has not been made in good faith”. — PTI

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New appointment for defence secretary
To take over as deputy national security adviser

New Delhi, July 27
Defence secretary Shekhar Dutt has been appointed deputy national security advisor (DNSA). Dutt retires as defence secretary on July 31.

Dutt would hold the DNSA post in the National Security Council Secretariat for strategic and defence-related subjects, official sources said.

He would be in the rank and pay of secretary to the Government of India and would hold the post for a period of two years in the first instance or until further orders, whichever is earlier.

Dutt was appointed as defence secretary in July 2005. Prior to this appointment, he was secretary, defence production.

He is an IAS officer of the 1969 batch of the Madhya Pradesh cadre. He had also served in the Army and for his role in the Western Sector during 1971 War, he was awarded Sena Medal for gallantry.

In his long and distinguished career in the Indian Administrative Service, Dutt held several key posts, including that of director general, Sports Authority of India and principal secretary in the Department of Tribal and Scheduled Caste Welfare and principal secretary, Departments of School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, both in the government of Madhya Pradesh.

Dutt also held the appointment of secretary, Department of Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

During his tenure in the Sports Authority of India, Dutt played a pivotal role in the successful conduct of the first Afro-Asian Games in November 2003.

As the principal secretary, Tribal Welfare, Dutt was instrumental in drawing up a number of schemes, including special projects concerning area development, collection and marketing of minor forest produce and forest village development through joint forest management mechanism.

In his capacity as principal secretary in the Departments of School Education, Sports and Youth Welfare, Dutt was credited with the introduction of an innovative programme called Education Guarantee Scheme in which the community panchayats owned and administered the schools. The scheme helped in universalising elementary education in Madhya Pradesh to a great extent. — UNI

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Quota limit can’t exceed 50 per cent cap: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 27
Even as a constitution Bench is set to examine the validity of the new central law extending quota for OBCs in admission to government institutions next month, the Supreme Court today once again affirmed that the 50 per cent cap imposed by it on reservation cannot be violated in any manner.

This was held by a Bench of Justices A.K. Mathur and Dalveer Bhandari while dismissing an appeal of the Orissa government seeking to justify its reservation scheme providing for enhanced quota limit of 65.75 per cent in the state.

Orissa after Tamil Nadu was the second state to increase the reservation beyond 50 per cent cap, fixed by the apex court in the Mandal Commission case judgement and reiterated in last year’s Nagraj case verdict on reservation in promotion in public employment.

As per the break-up given by the Orissa government, the quota in the state was fixed at 22.5 per cent to Scheduled Tribes, 16.5 per cent to Scheduled Castes and 27 per cent to Other Backward Classes.

The state government moved the apex court after the Orissa High Court, in its April 17 order, had rejected its first appeal against the Administrative Tribunal’s order of 1998, refusing to recognise appointments to state civil services under the new quota scheme beyond 50 per cent limit in view of the clear-cut guidelines of the apex court.

After the Mandal case judgement, the Orissa government, in April 1994, had issued a notification fixing the OBC reservation at 11.25 per cent to make the total reservation at 50 per cent. But the OBC quota was extended to 27 per cent in December the same year by inserting an exception clause in the notification, stating that the raise of 15.75 per cent would be beyond the Mandal case verdict of the apex court.

Both the Administrative Tribunal and the high court had rejected such a stand of the state government.

The apex court is already examining the violation of 50 per cent cap by Tamil Nadu, which had put its law in the Ninth Schedule, taking it out of judicial review.

But the apex court, in its historic judgement last year, had held that any law which hit at the basic structure of the Constitution was subject to judicial review. In view of the ruling, the court is now examining the validity of the Tamil Nadu reservation law also.

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SC bans bull races in Tamil Nadu
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 27
Taking cognizance of Animal Welfare Board’s petition highlighting the cruel treatment to bulls during races organised in Tamil Nadu as part of ‘Pongal’ celebrations every year, the Supreme Court today put a blanket ban on these.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) approached the apex court in an appeal after a Madras High Court Division Bench had set aside a single judge’s order prohibiting the “cruel bulls” races.

Senior advocate K.K Venugopal, appearing for AWBI, told a Bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Tarun Chatterjee and R V Raveendran that the kind of cruelty meted out to the bulls, could not be permitted in a modern civil society.

He said the Tamil Nadu Government instead of following the guidelines laid down by the single judge, preferred an appeal in the Division Bench of the High Court to set aside his order, which was ultimately allowed, over sighting the cruelty involved.

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SC directive to Centre on call menace
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 27
The Centre’s proposal for preparing a national data bank of all mobile phones to check the menace of unsolicited business calls was rejected by the Supreme Court as it said the proposal was impractical.

Justices A. K Mathur and Dalveer Bhandari, who said they themselves were the victims of the business calls, disapproved the proposal, saying that creation of a data bank of 20 crore phone users to check the menace would only be a futile exercise and instead put unnecessary burden on the government.

The court told Additional Solicitor-General P. P Malhotra that the Centre instead should make an effort to prepare a data bank of those phone users who wanted to get the business calls on their numbers as their national figure would be too small- not more than a few lakhs.

The court said unless some provision of punitive action was also made in the law against the callers who intrude into the privacy of a person at any time, the menace could not be checked.

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SC tags Javed Akhtar’s plea with Soharab case

New Delhi, July 27
The Supreme Court today referred the petition filed by lyricist Javed Akhtar, seeking a probe into alleged fake encounters in Gujarat in which innocent people, particularly Muslims, were being targeted as terrorists, to the Bench hearing the Soharabuddin Sheikh case.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan tagged Akhtar’s petition with that of Soharbuddin’s case, the investigation of which was being monitored by a Bench headed by Justice Tarun Chatterjee.

The court refrained from issuing notice to the Gujarat government saying the Bench concerned would decide on it.

Akhtar, who sought a probe by a special investigation team into the alleged fake encounters, cited news reports and a recent sting operation by a news magazine into the killing of criminal Sameer Khan in October 2002.

He alleged that it was a fake encounter and there was an attempt at the highest level of the Gujarat government to hush up the entire incident.

Khan, who was in police custody, was killed on the intervening night of October 21-22, 2002 when he allegedly snatched the revolver of a policeman accompanying him, along with a team, to a spot where he had murdered a constable.

An FIR was lodged alleging that Khan was involved in a conspiracy hatched by Pakistan’s ISI and Jaish-e-Mohammed to assassinate Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other leaders.

Akhtar, who jointly filed the petition with social activist Shabnam Hashmi, alleged it was the same team of Gujarat police which had killed Soharabuddin Sheikh in the fake encounter and later murdered his wife Kauser Bi. — PTI

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Goa Crisis
GDA stakes claim to form govt

Panaji, July 27
Goa Democratic Alliance (GDA), the BJP-led political formation, today staked its claim to form a government, a day after the Congress-led ministry was reduced to a minority, and moved its MLAs out of the state to guard against poaching by rival camp for a trial of strength.

A delegation of GDA met Governor S.C. Jamir and urged him to invite former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar of BJP to form government claiming the support of majority 20 MLAs in the 40-member Assembly with an effective strength of 39.

On a day of hectic parleys in the rival camps, Chief Minister Digamber Kamat too met the Governor and claimed he enjoys majority support and would be able to pass financial bill in the Assembly on Monday without much problem.

The Kamat-led government has run into trouble after its ally MGP with two MLAs and an independent legislator withdrew their support.

The BJP-led political formation comprising MGP, Save Goa Front, United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP) and independent legislator Anil Salgaoncar enjoys majority support.

While GDA has 20 legislators, the Congress-led alliance has 19 on its side.

"We have elected Manohar Parrikar, leader of opposition as our leader and therefore request you to call upon Parrikar who enjoys the majority support to form the government," a petition addressed to Jamir and signed by all 20 legislators, said.

"We support the leader of Opposition to form the government so that Goa gets able administrator and stable governance," the petition said. — PTI

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Goa Governor to abide by Constitution
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 27
The MLAs belonging to the ruling party in Goa, who were reduced to a minority following defections yesterday, were disappointed after Governor S C Jamir told Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and his supporters that he would not place the assembly in suspended animation. Jamir said this shortly after returning from New Delhi.

A section of the Congress MLAs backing Kamat was keen on the Governor putting the assembly in suspended animation since no political group in Goa is in a position to provide a stable government. “The governor will follow protocol and not interfere with the political process since the assembly is in session,” a Raj Bhavan source said.

The Digambar Kamat government has earned a respite till Monday’s Assembly Session when the demands for voting would be taken up. The government stands to be defeated since it is in a minority.

Meanwhile, the newly-formed Goa Democratic Alliance, under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar of the BJP, today met the Governor and staked claim to form the government.

The Congress leaders today continued to make last minute efforts to save the government. Attempts to woo Churchill Alemao, leader of the Save Goa Front, failed after he refused to leave the BJP camp. Even the Independent MLA - industrialist Anil Salgaokar - refused to leave the BJP camp. 

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Changes in state Cong units likely
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The appointment of a new team in the Haryana Congress today could well signal wider changes in other state units as the party leadership prepares for a string of Assembly polls and the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

Organisational changes in the Congress have been in the pipeline for several months but have been delayed for one reason or the other. This exercise has acquired urgency now as elections are due in a number of key states, including Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.There is a general consensus in the party that several PCC presidents need to be replaced as they are not effective enough while a number of state units do not even have an organisation in place.

“The party is set to see large-scale changes in the coming days... We have to start preparing for the assembly polls and, more importantly, for the next general election,” said a senior AICC office-bearer.

Punjab figures high on this list of states and it is expected that it will have a new PCC president after next month’s municipal corporation elections. PCC president Shamsher Singh Dullo, who put in his papers after the party’s dismal performance in the assembly elections, has been functioning on borrowed time as he was asked to continue till his successor was appointed. In an effort to bring in a semblance of unity in the faction-ridden Punjab Congress, the party leadership has set up a coordination committee comprising all key leaders from the state.

Rajasthan PCC president B.D.Kalla and Madhya Pradesh state unit chief Subhash Yadav are also expected to be replaced as their performance has been found wanting by the Congress leadership. Both these BJP-ruled states are to go to polls next year and the Congress is hoping to cash in on the anti-incumbency of the current dispensations for which it requires strong state leaders who can rejuvenate the party organisation. Former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot is tipped to return to the state while Lok Sabha MP Sachin Pilot is also likely to be given an important slot in the state unit.

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh, who is at present AICC general secretary, has declared that he is not interested in returning to state politics but it is highly unlikely that he will be kept out of any new set-up being planned for MP. Lok Sabha MP Jyotiraditya Scindia is seen as a strong contender for the PCC presidentship in Madhya Pradesh while Ajay Singh, former state minister and HRD minister Arjun Singh’s son, is also in line for a key position.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who was also the West Bengal PCC president, resigned soon after the assembly elections but his successor is yet to be named. Similarly, Uttarakhand state unit president Harish Rawat also offered to step down after the party’s poor performance in the assembly polls but he has yet to be replaced.

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India ‘retains’ right to conduct fresh nuclear tests
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement was formally announced this evening, with India categorically stating that it retained the right to conduct fresh nuclear tests and its strategic programme remained untouched by the 123 agreement.

National security advisor M.K. Narayanan admitted that “the deal is not the best, but is a very good one”. Asked what he felt were the shortcomings of the agreement, Narayanan said India would have liked to get reprocessing and enrichment technologies.

Foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon said there were “no conditionalities” attached to the deal. Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar said the deal was “satisfactory” and there was no reason to be unhappy.

The three jointly addressed a crowded press conference, where the agreement was formally announced. Under secretary of state for political affairs Nicholas Burns made a simultaneous announcement of the agreement in Washington DC.

The text of the agreement was not released.

Narayanan said it would be done “soon”. It is understood that the text will be released next week simultaneously by the two governments.

Narayanan said the nuclear deal fulfilled the terms outlined by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Parliament on August 17 last year. He said there was no reference in the agreement to future nuclear tests by India. "It refers to only civil nuclear cooperation," Narayanan said.

It is understood that the agreement is silent on what would happen to the nuclear deal if India were to conduct fresh nuclear tests. Though the Hyde Act of the United States makes it clear that the nuclear deal would be off the moment India conducts fresh tests, New Delhi has been assured that President George W Bush would use his waiver in case of such an eventuality.

Narayanan read out a Joint Statement issued today by External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and his US counterpart Condoleeza Rice where the two described the 123 agreement as “a historic milestone”. 

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Wife does not want Haneef deported
Says release made possible due to PM’s intervention
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 27
Dr Mohammed Haneef’s wife, Firdous Arshiya, who led a spirited campaign to get her husband absolved of terrorism-related charges, today said that she would continue her battle to win justice for Haneef by maintaining that he should not be deported from Australia after all charges against him were dropped.

Firdous, who is in her home nursing her new born baby as well as looking after an ailing mother, said she would oppose any move by the Australian authorities to deport Haneef. The gutsy woman, who stood for the restoration of the dignity of her husband, said, “He should be allowed to return to India on a normal visa.”

Firdous also made it a point to give the credit for Haneef’s release to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the external affairs ministry. She said her husband’s release would not have been possible but for the personal intervention made by the Prime Minister. Besides the Indian government, she thanked human rights activists in Australia who persisted in fighting for Haneef’s release.

Haneef’s family is, however, not likely to press for any apology from the Australian government for the treatment meted out to him. Firdous gave the impression today that the family would take this in its stride. She, however, remains unsure whether the family will ever return to Australia again. “I really don’t know. I had come to India for the delivery of my child. Going back now is not so sure”, she said.

Apparently, Haneef rang his wife yesterday and told her that everything would be all right soon. She said though she did not have any official word from the Australian authorities, she had been briefed by Haneef’s lawyer as well as her cousin Imran Siddiqui. “All I can understand is that the truth has finally triumphed,” she added.

There was an atmosphere of relief and vindication at Firdous’s parents house, with the family also interacting with newsmen without any inhibition for the first time. Though a few relatives did visit the house with sweeets, the family is clearly not celebrating as of now. One of the factors is that Firdous’s mother is unwell. Firdous’s father and brother are, however, scheduled to visit the local mosque for thanksgiving.

Speaking about the sentiments of the family, Haneef’s sister Sumaiyya said Haneef’s mother Qudrat Unissa had been overcome with emotion when she heard the news. 

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India pleased at Haneef’s release
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
India today said it was “pleased” that Dr Mohammed Haneef had been released from the Correction Centre in Brisbane and the charges against him have been dropped by the Australian Federal Police.

“We understand that Dr Mohammed Haneef has been granted a bridging visa and the Australian Minister for Immigration has requested the Solicitor-General of Australia to review the immigration decision revoking the visa of Dr Mohammed Haneef,” Foreign Office spokesperson Navtej Sarna told reporters this evening.

Bridging visa is given in such cases as Haneef’s to enable a person stay in a country legally till a normal visa is given. The Ministry of External Affairs did not specify the length of the bridging visa given to Haneef.

“It is a matter of satisfaction that justice has been done in this unfortunate case, which had been closely followed amongst members of the public and media in both countries. It is the sincere hope of the Government of India that Dr. Mohammed Haneef will be able to depart Australia of his own accord in the near future,” the spokesman said.

Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamad said the Indian High Commission in Canberra had been instructed to support Haneef to get a regular visa. The minister said a regular visa to Haneef would prevent a situation wherein Haneef is deported because in case he were to be deported, he would not be able to go back to Australia.

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Culling continues in Manipur
Neighbouring states sound alert
Bijay Sankar Bora/Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 27
Even as the culling of poultry birds continued in avian influenza-affected Manipur, alert has been sounded in neighbouring states of the North-East as a preventive measure.

Dr R.Kharlung, a veterinary official in Imphal, informed over phone that the culling of chickens continued for the second day today.

A strain of bird flu virus was found in samples collected from a private poultry firm at Chingmeirong in Imphal East district of the state.

Meanwhile, blood samples of about 200 chickens, belonging to household firms in Churachandpur district in Manipur over the last three weeks, were sent for testing. However, Manipur veterinary officials suspected that the deaths of those chickens was due to some bacterial infection, as rest of the stock in the area was found healthy on examination.

The Assam government has taken steps to face the situation in case of outbreak of bird flu in the state. State deputy director of poultry K.Bardoloi informed that instructions were issued to district administrations to stop the inflow of poultry birds, eggs to the state from other states and neighbouring countries where incidence of bird flu had been confirmed.

The Assam government has formed 65 well-equipped rapid response teams (RRTs) and trained 324 doctors and para-veterinary staff to man these RRTs. However, the official said that there was no cause for worry in Assam.

Meanwhile, the government in Mizoram, which has border with bird flu affected Manipur, has sounded alert against the importing of poultry products from Manipur and Bangladesh and Myanmar.

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Nafisa Ali to remain head of film society
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
Actress and socialite Nafisa Ali will continue to be the chairperson of the Children's Film Society of India (CFSI).

Announcing the reconstitution of the executive council and general body of the Children's Film Society here today, the government said that the tenure of the reconstituted body would be for a period of three years according to the provisions of the CFSI rules.

Rinki Bhattacharya has been appointed vice-chairperson of the CFSI. A press release issued by the information and broadcasting ministry here said that Dr Jabbar Patel, Jahnu Barua and Raja Dasgupta have been appointed members of the executive council. Besides members of the executive council, the general body will comprise seven members. 

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Assam flood situation gets worse
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 27
Flood situation in Assam has taken a turn for the worse with swirling flood waters from rain-fed main channel of Brahmaputra river and its tributaries continuing to submerge more areas in the state.

The situation is particularly grim in northern Assam district of Dhemaji which has been cut off from the rest of the state with all roads, including the national highway leading to the district, being flooded.

All major rivers in the district including Jiadhal, Kumotia have breached embankments, inundating hundreds of villages, virtually converting the entire district into a cluster of islands and affecting over 60,000 people so far.

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