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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Goa: Barring MLAs from voting in floor test
SC moved over speaker’s decision

New Delhi, August 1
The action of Goa Vidhan Sabha speaker Partapsingh Rane not allowing three MLAs to participate in the confidence vote by state Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on July 30 was today challenged in the Supreme Court by one of the affected legislator.

Pak silent on transit rights to Afghanistan
New Delhi, August 1
Commerce secretaries of India and Pakistan today concluded their two-day deliberations here with a statement of intent to take their bilateral trade from the current measly figure of $ 2 billion to $ 10 billion by 2010.

22 drowned as boat capsizes in UP
Lucknow, August 1
Tragedy struck residents of Harikpur village under Paniyar police station in flood-hit Maharajganj district in Eastern Uttar Pradesh this morning when a boat ferrying them to safety capsized in the swollen Rohin river.



EARLIER STORIES


ban the bulb

Greenpeace activists create a huge life preserver out of small life preservers in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai
Greenpeace activists create a huge life preserver out of small life preservers in the Arabian Sea off the coast of Mumbai on Wednesday. A "ban the bulb" logo floats in the middle as part of a Greenpeace campaign for a legislation aimed at phasing out incandescent light bulbs by 2010. — Reuters

Maoists kill 1, blow up two railway stations
Ranchi, August 1
One person was killed and 17 injured in two incidents of firing by CPI(Maoists) activists, who also detonated bombs in two railway stations during their 24-hour Jharkhand bandh that began on midnight last night.

DSGMC-run Institutions
‘10 pc seats for those who later join Army’
New Delhi, August 1
In a unique and perhaps the first effort of its kind, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee today decided to ensure that at least 10 per cent of the students who pass out from its four technical institutions in the Capital join the Army’s engineering service.

Trinamool MLAs gherao speaker
Kolkata, August 1
Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim was gheraoed in the assembly on the last day of the budget session today by agitated Trinamool Congress MLAs. They were demanding the arrest of senior CPM leader Benoy Konar for misusing the House for party purposes which, they felt, had tarnished the sanctity of the House.

Newspaper wage boards to meet today
Kochi, August 1
The two national wage boards for working journalists and other newspaper employees set up by the Union Labour and Employment Ministry will meet here tomorrow. The boards are chaired by former Madras High Court acting Chief Justice K Narayana Kurup.

Tata Project
Karunanidhi calls Jaya a liar
Chennai, August 1
The war of words between Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Opposition leader and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam supremo Jayayalithaa over the proposed titanium dioxide project of the Tata group climaxed with the ruling DMK president virtually calling her a liar and she threatening to file a defamation suit against him.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi arrives for a public meeting in Halora, near Rae Bareli
BLESSINGS FOR THE BAHU:
Congress president Sonia Gandhi arrives for a public meeting in Halora, near Rae Bareli, on Wednesday. — PTI

Union home minister Shivraj Patil receives the draft paper of 'National Policy on Criminal Justice System' from Prof N R Madhava Menon in New Delhi
Union home minister Shivraj Patil receives the draft paper of 'National Policy on Criminal Justice System' from Prof N R Madhava Menon in New Delhi on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

Save-Yamuna efforts take roots
New Delhi, August 1
As a first step towards “saving the Yamuna” and stopping the construction of the 2010 Commonwealth Games village on its riverbed, environmentalists today planted trees at the proposed site to urge the government to instead make a “panchvati of five types of trees" at the ecologically sensitive location.

Mass suicide by physically challenged vendors
Toll rises to five, media’s role to be probed
Lucknow, August 1
The toll in the tragic mass suicide of physically challenged roadside vendors in Varanasi rose to five. One more person is still battling for life in the Banaras Hindu University hospital said Home Department secretary Mahesh Gupta.

Artistes’ drive to save wildlife
Guwahati, August 1
A large group of leading artistes and wildlife activists in Assam have come together to launch a ‘save wildlife’ campaign in Kaziranga National Park calling upon the masses to chip in to protect the precious one-horned rhino and other animals in the UNESCO world heritage site.

Bird flu: Mizoram declared vulnerable
Aizawl, August 1
Sandwiched between Bangladesh, Myanmar and Manipur, all affected by the dreaded avian influenza, Mizoram has been declared as the most vulnerable state, animal husbandry and veterinary principal secretary Vanhela Pachuau said today.

Imphal scribes protest ultras’ threat
Guwahati, August 1
All newspapers published from Imphal (Manipur) didn’t hit the stands this morning as the journalists in the northeastern state resorted to indefinite strike since last night in protest against militants’ threat to The Sanghai Express, the largest circulated English daily in the state.

Tea garden executive abducted
Guwahati, August 1
Unidentified armed gang of miscreants abducted a tea garden executive from Dhekiajuli in north Assam’s Sonitpur district last night. The abducted executive is a son of former Assam legislature Bhimananda Tanti from the Congress.

New envoys to Russia, Libya
New Delhi, August 1
The ministry of external affairs today announced three ambassadorial appointments, including that of P.P. Shukla to the Russian Federation. Shukla (IFS 1974 batch) is presently Indian High Commissioner in Australia.

New Rly Board chief joins
New Delhi, August 1
Ramesh Chandra, an officer of the 1968 batch of the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers, has taken over as the new chairman of the Railway Board. He succeeds J.P. Batra who retired today.

Labour leader dead
Pune, August 1
Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) founder president Ramanbhai Shah (81) died after cardiac arrest here today. Shah was born in 1926 into a business-cum-agriculturist family at Talegaon Dabhade near here. He started his career in Swatik Oil Mills, Mumbai, but quit after a decade to join the workers movement by joining the BMS through the RSS cadre. — UNI


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Goa: Barring MLAs from voting in floor test
SC moved over speaker’s decision
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 1
The action of Goa Vidhan Sabha speaker Partapsingh Rane not allowing three MLAs to participate in the confidence vote by state Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on July 30 was today challenged in the Supreme Court by one of the affected legislator.

A special mention of the petition was made by advocate Mukul Rohtagi for his client Deepak Dhavalikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) before a Bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan. Hearing on it was posted for August 6.

Dhavalikar accused the speaker of preventing him, his party colleague and another MLA from voting in the floor test by applying the wrong principles of law relating to the provision of 10th schedule governing disqualification of legislators.

Apart from challenging the constitutional validity of the speaker’s action, he sought immediate stay on the speaker’s decision announcing the victory of Kamat in the floor test.

The BJP and the other two MLAs, who were not allowed to cast their votes are also planning to move the court in a day or two, their counsel Pinky Anand said.

Dhavalikar in his petition said the Kamat government was allowed to stay in the office illegally by the speaker even when six MLAs, two of the MGP, including himself, two of the Save Goa Front, one each of the United Goans Democratic Party and Independent, had withdrawn support to it.

The Kamat government was reduced to minority after the withdrawal of support by these MLAs as the strength of the 40-member Vidhan Sabha reduced to 39 with the resignation of Congress MLA Victoria Fernandes, it said.

All the six MLAs had extended support to BJP leader Manihar Parikar, whose party has 14 MLAs in the Assembly, thus he had the majority support of 20 members but still the speaker announced victory by a “voice vote” by the Kamat ministry, Dhavalikar said.

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Pak silent on transit rights to Afghanistan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
Commerce secretaries of India and Pakistan today concluded their two-day deliberations here with a statement of intent to take their bilateral trade from the current measly figure of $ 2 billion to $ 10 billion by 2010. However, going by the state of current political logjam between the two countries, this pledge may well prove to be a bunch of empty words.

Pakistan-watchers here look at the pledge of increasing the Indo-Pak official trade by five times in three years as “highly optimistic” which cannot materialise till the two neighbours move from trust deficit to trust surplus stage. Besides, the infrastructure at designated road head and railhead trading points remains poor.

However, the reason for the two governments’ optimism stems from the fact that the Indo-Pak trade has tripled in past three years and the unofficial trade between the two countries via Dubai is already in the region of $ 10 billion.

On the dark side, Pakistan’s position on denial of transit rights to India for Afghanistan remained unchanged at the fourth round of India-Pakistan talks on economic and commercial cooperation. The Indian side led by G K Pillai took up the issue forcefully at the July 31-August 1 talks, but the Pakistani delegation, led by Syed Asif Shah, did not respond. Though the transit rights issue has nothing to do with Indo-Pak bilateral trade, it is seen as a powerful indicator of the level of trust between the two countries.

Also there was forward movement on getting basmati rice patented as geographical indicator (GI). Pakistan broke its silence of two years and agreed to nominate its representative to the joint working group to discuss the issues relating to joint registration of Basmati rice as GI. The first meeting of the group will be held at an early date. The Pakistani stand on Basmati is an encouraging sign as Islamabad had been dragging its feet on doing precisely the same thing for past two years. The Pakistan side raised the issue of notification issued by India declaring ‘super basmati rice’.

India and Pakistan smell a kill in at least two promising areas of trade: cement and tea. Pakistan conveyed its willingness to export sizable quantities of cement to India.

A joint statement issued at the end of the talks said:

lTo facilitate import of cement from Pakistan, the Indian side informed that India will complete all statutory certification related formalities on a fast track. The Indian side informed that it is also in the process of making appropriate policy changes to accept third-party certification.

lTo facilitate import of tea from India it was agreed to facilitate and encourage the trading of tea through rail.

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22 drowned as boat capsizes in UP
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 1
Tragedy struck residents of Harikpur village under Paniyar police station in flood-hit Maharajganj district in Eastern Uttar Pradesh this morning when a boat ferrying them to safety capsized in the swollen Rohin river.

As many as 22 bodies have been recovered and four are still missing, said home secretary Mahesh Gupta. Amongst the dead were 12 children, six women and four men.

Expressing sorrow at the tragedy, Chief Minister Mayawati has announced Rs 1.5 lakh each for the next of kin of the dead. She has also instructed the district administration in the flood-hit districts to extend support to the residents on a war footing.

The alertness of the PAC personnel posted at the place of tragedy managed to save the lives of 60 persons who had also fallen into the river after the overloaded boat lost its balance and overturned.

Meanwhile, the flood situation in the 20 districts of Purvanchal has turned from bad to worse. Incessant rainfall and the havoc of the major rivers like Ghagra, Sharda, Rapti, Kuano and Kathnayia has caused 42 more deaths in the past 24 hours taking the total toll by floods in the state to approximately 100.

Road link between India and Nepal via Sanauli in Gorakhpur district has been snapped following water logging on the road. Around 52 villages in Deoria district have been submerged.

People from 26 villages in Gonda district are also being evacuated to safer places following floodwaters entering the villages.

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Maoists kill 1, blow up two railway stations

Ranchi, August 1
One person was killed and 17 injured in two incidents of firing by CPI(Maoists) activists, who also detonated bombs in two railway stations during their 24-hour Jharkhand bandh that began on midnight last night.

Report from Garwah said the militants opened indiscriminate fire on a bus at Bhaguaghati on the Ambikapur-Garwah road at about 4.30 am that injured 17 passengers, three of them seriously.

As the driver managed to speed away despite the firing, a truck that followed the bus became the target of the ultras. They fired on the truck, killing the driver on the spot.

Three seriously injured bus passengers were referred to the state capital for treatment.

Earlier, ultras in two groups went to Bendi and Demu railway stations in Latehar district at about 1.30 am and detonated bombs after asking the staff and other people to vacate the premises.

Railway property was damaged in the incidents which were carried out simultaneously and in similar manner, the police said.

Report from Koderma said, the bandh impacted long distance traffic. Schedules of various trains running on the Grand Cord section were changed.

No untoward incident was, however, reported from Lohardaga.

The CPI (Maoist) called the bandh protesting the reported arrest of a top cadre along with two other accomplices by the Bihar police on July 29 night while they were travelling by a Patna-bound train.

Though the police did not confirm nor deny the arrest of hardcore ultra Jugalpaul, a resident of Barda village under Bishrampur block in Jharkhand's Palamu district along with two others, a release issued by Prabir, the outfit's spokesperson for Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, to the local media said the bandh was against the arrest of their three cadres. — UNI

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DSGMC-run Institutions
‘10 pc seats for those who later join Army’
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
In a unique and perhaps the first effort of its kind, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) today decided to ensure that at least 10 per cent of the students who pass out from its four technical institutions in the Capital join the Army’s engineering service.

DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna told The Tribune that this was the first time a religious body was making an attempt like this. He added that the decision would be implemented with immediate effect in the Guru Tegh Bahadur Institute of Technology and the Guru Tegh Bahadur Polytechnic Institution, besides the two industrial training institutions run by it.

According to Sarna, the decision was taken following a meeting with director-general of corps of electronics and mechanical (EME), Lt-Gen Arvind Mahajan, this morning. “We approached the EME chief in order to seek the help of the Army in holding workshops for our technical institutions’ students so that they could gain better exposure and experience. They not only agreed to help us in this venture but also decided to send their expert faculty members to our institutions as guest lecturers,” he said.

Sarna said the DSGMC took the decision to give preference to those students who agreed to join the Army when their delegation was informed by senior officers that these days not many youngsters were interested in joining the armed forces.

“Our effort will now be to give preference to those students who agree to sign a bond that they would join the Army after passing out,” he said, adding that the DSGMC would give admission to at least 10 per cent such students in each course. “The percentage could even increase after students interact with Army officers in the course of their studies and get their perspective,” he added.

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Trinamool MLAs gherao speaker
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, August 1
Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim was gheraoed in the assembly on the last day of the budget session today by agitated Trinamool Congress MLAs. They were demanding the arrest of senior CPM leader Benoy Konar for misusing the House for party purposes which, they felt, had tarnished the sanctity of the House.

They alleged that Konar was a trespasser who had no legal right to use the official room of the chief whip for announcing the party’s stand on the Nandigram issue.

Around 11 am when the session began today, all TMC MLAs started raising slogans and came down to the well of the House. Afterwards, they gheraoed the speaker and demanded severe penal action against Konar.

Konar had held a press conference at the chief whip’s room yesterday where he announced that the party was not sorry for the killing of 14 farmers at Nandigram on March 14 in the firing by the police and their cadres.

He also declared that the affected families there would not get any compensation.

These announcements caused an uproar in the House, leading to gheraoing of the speaker. After noon, the angry MLAs staged a walkout, shouting slogans and demanding the arrest Konar and the Chief Minister.

Later, replying to a question, the Chief Minister reiterated that the government was firm on setting up a chemical hub in the state, but whether it would be built at Haldia or some other place would be decided after holding an all-party meeting.

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Newspaper wage boards to meet today

Kochi, August 1
The two national wage boards for working journalists and other newspaper employees set up by the Union Labour and Employment Ministry will meet here tomorrow.

The boards are chaired by former Madras High Court acting Chief Justice K Narayana Kurup.

The boards will meet representatives of newspaper establishments, working journalists and non-journalists of newspapers and other persons interested in fixation and revision of wages for them.

The boards will receive written representations during the hearing, an official release here today said. — UNI

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Tata Project
Karunanidhi calls Jaya a liar
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 1
The war of words between Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and Opposition leader and All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) supremo Jayayalithaa over the proposed titanium dioxide project of the Tata group climaxed with the ruling DMK president virtually calling her a liar and she threatening to file a defamation suit against him.

Karunanidhi yesterday described Jayalalithaa’s stand over the project as a “complete U-turn” and claimed that contrary to her statement both the district collectors had given the green signal for acquiring lands vide their letters which was ample proof of her “blatant lies”.

In return, Jayalalithaa said she would file a defamation suit against the Chief Minister for alleging that she had an unwritten agreement with one particular person who is illegally mining and exporting garnet from the area and making crores of rupees and that person was a Jaya TV shareholder.

She pointed out that not only the Opposition but allies of the DMK also were opposing the project and said, “Now, he is accusing me of trying to protect the interests of an individual through a protest against the Tata project.”

Jayalalithaa further pointed out that garnet being a major mineral would come under the direct control of the union ministry of mines and any wrongdoings or illegal extraction in the sector would be dealt with according to the laws and regulations.

She said because of the existing regulation over the extraction of major minerals, Karunanidhi’s charge that she was trying to protect the interests of an individual, who was allegedly swindling the precious resource, through an agitation only went to prove that the Chief Minister possessed little knowledge of law or aware of the public mood at Tutucorin and Tirinelveli districts.

She charged the Chief Minister with using government machinery as his propaganda tool and misusing the taxpayers’ money.

Reacting to Jayalalithaa’s statement that even after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Tata group for the titanium dioxide project, she had returned the file without signing since both district collectors opposed the move, Karunanidhi said there was no truth in it as the bureaucrats had given their assent.

He cited documentary evidence that the collectors had recommended acquisition of 2,500 acres and 5,000 acres of land in the respective districts.

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Save-Yamuna efforts take roots
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
As a first step towards “saving the Yamuna” and stopping the construction of the 2010 Commonwealth Games village on its riverbed, environmentalists today planted trees at the proposed site to urge the government to instead make a “panchvati of five types of trees" at the ecologically sensitive location.

According to well-known water conservationist Rajendra Singh, who is heading the environmentalists’ campaign against the games village, the tree plantation drive stated at 4 am today in which several social activists, including Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan convener Manoj Misra and Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, participated. Environmentalists, who claimed they faced objection from the police and DDA officials, managed to plant more than 100 trees.

Next on their agenda is to start a round-the-clock “satyagraha” at the spot and encourage Delhi citizens to visit the proposed games village site. “We would like them to see for themselves the kind of irreversible damage any further construction on the riverbed would cause to the river, its fragile eco-system, the water table in the region and the people living in the area,” they said.

Delhi University professor S. Prakash, who is helping revive the Krishni, a tributary of the Yamuna near Saharanpur, started the “satyagraha”.

Supporting the move of peaceful demonstration in the form of a “satyagraha”, Rajendra Singh said it was now the time to act rather than try and meet some more leaders to seek their help.

“Now, if anyone wants to meet us, he can come to the ‘satyagraha’ site. In the past two months, we met former President A.P. J Abdul Kalam, water resources minister Saifuddin Soz, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and even Delhi Metro chief E. Sreedharan. They are all very nice people with whom we discussed nice, pleasant matters. The problem is that as far as ecology and environment protection is concerned, they support different ideas,” he said.

During the past few weeks, environmentalists protest against the Delhi metro’s infrastructure and the proposed village for the 2010 Commonwealth Games on the Yamuna riverbed has been gaining momentum. They say there is sufficient official documentary evidence to prove that no permission was given or even sought by the authorities concerned.

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Mass suicide by physically challenged vendors
Toll rises to five, media’s role to be probed
Shahira Naim
TNS

Lucknow, August 1
The toll in the tragic mass suicide of physically challenged roadside vendors in Varanasi rose to five. One more person is still battling for life in the Banaras Hindu University hospital said Home Department secretary Mahesh Gupta.

Yesterday, 12 physically disabled vendors in the Gurubagh area under Luxa police station of the holy city had attempted suicide ostensibly to draw attention to a latent possibility of the Varanasi Nagar Nigam demolishing their kiosks in an anti-encroachment drive.

While four of them had died by late last night, this evening, the number of dead reached five. The dead vendors include Rajesh Kumar Maurya, Tribhuwan Mishra, Gurudev, Ram Chand and Magroo Prasad. Another vendor Rajesh is in a critical condition at the intensive care unit of the BHU hospital.

An immediate relief of Rs 20,000 each has been sanctioned to the next of kin of the dead said Varanasi district administration officials.

Speaking to the media, home secretary Mahesh Gupta said that the role of mediapersons of two major news channels is being investigated for provoking these physically disabled vendors to commit mass suicide in full public view.

“Thorough investigations are being conducted into the role of two electronic mediapersons in the entire episode,” said Gupta hinting at further legal action against them once the magisterial report was available.

Meanwhile, the other six vendors being treated at the emergency unit of the hospital are stated to be out of danger.

Interesting, deputy medical superintendent of the hospital Anand Srivastava has revealed that only five of the 12 who had attempted suicide had consumed sulphas, a pesticide freely available across the counter, while the remaining had consumed some other less poisonous substance.

It is possible that the remaining six patients may not have consumed the dangerous pesticide and had only taken sleeping pills or some other substance opined Dr Srivastava.

Those who are suspected to have consumed poison substance include the self-styled leader of the physically disabled vendors Namo Narayan Upadhyay.

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Artistes’ drive to save wildlife
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 1
A large group of leading artistes and wildlife activists in Assam have come together to launch a ‘save wildlife’ campaign in Kaziranga National Park calling upon the masses to chip in to protect the precious one-horned rhino and other animals in the UNESCO world heritage site.

Zubin Garg, singer from Assam who shot to national limelight for his popular ‘Ya Ali ..’ number in the Bollywood blockbuster ‘Gangster’, led the day-long campaign by holding road show in four of the ranges of the sprawling 600 sq km National Park located between the Brahmaputra to the north and the National Highway 37 on the south.

The park has been hit by rampant poaching of late given that 10 rhinos fell prey to poachers’ bullets so far this year while nine deer were killed as the national park was reeling under the flood fury. Three of the flood-hit deer were killed by poachers while six run over by speeding vehicle on the highway that passes by the sanctuary.

The state forest and wildlife department was trying hard to raise the awareness level among the people living in the periphery of the national park against the poaching and seeking their cooperation in taming the poachers’ gangs on the prowl.

The wildlife staff in Kaziranga Park has been bolstered through deployment of two companies of armed personnel as the park was running short of sufficient number of wildlife personnel.

The group of popular singers, leading painters, wildlife activists in coordination with the authority of Kaziranga National Park today staged road performance at Bokakhat, Kohora, Bagori and Burapahar within the park area urging the people to come out en masse to protect the wildlife in the sanctuary.

Kaziranga Park official Utpal Bora said the artistes venture elicited overwhelming response from the people of the area. Zubin Garg and his co singers sang a song especially composed in tune with the objective of the campaign.

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Bird flu: Mizoram declared vulnerable

Aizawl, August 1
Sandwiched between Bangladesh, Myanmar and Manipur, all affected by the dreaded avian influenza, Mizoram has been declared as the most vulnerable state, animal husbandry and veterinary principal secretary Vanhela Pachuau said today.

While stressing the need to be alert, veterinary officials, however, advised against unnecessary panic.

“As far as we know, Mizoram is still free from the avian influenza. However, we have to take every precaution since it has already affected our neighbourhood,” veterinary director C Sangnghina said.

The veterinary director also pointed out that due to lack of water bodies, the state has a lesser chance of contracting the virus from migratory birds.

As a precautionary measure, all of Mizoram’s borders have been sealed against animal traffic since a few weeks back.

“I have instructed the BSF and the state police to keep strict vigil along the borders as well,” Vanhela added.

“There have been reports of ‘sudden and mysterious deaths’ of chickens in Ngopa area, near Manipur, border a few days back. We have sent a team to this area. They will collect the samples to be sent for tests. The death of the chickens might have been due to some other reason but this has awakened us to the need to keep a strict vigil along the Manipur border,” he said.

He added that there had also been reports of “mysterious” deaths of chickens at Pawlrang village in the northeast Mizoram a few days back but it was later confirmed that the death was caused due to consumption of carelessly disposed rat poison. — UNI

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Imphal scribes protest ultras’ threat
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 1
All newspapers published from Imphal (Manipur) didn’t hit the stands this morning as the journalists in the northeastern state resorted to indefinite strike since last night in protest against militants’ threat to The Sanghai Express, the largest circulated English daily in the state.

According to a source in Imphal media, a banned militant group called PREPAK delivered a parcel bomb at the office of The Sanghai Express last evening threatening the newspaper house against publication of a statement.

This has prompted the media fraternity in the state to stand united against the threat issued by the underground rebel group. The journalists decided to go for indefinite cease work in protest immediately resulting in non-publication of any newspaper today.

A police official manning the control room in Imphal said the journalists were staging a sit in demonstration. However, the police said it was yet to receive any formal complaint about the alleged militants’ threat from any newspaper house.

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Tea garden executive abducted
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 1
Unidentified armed gang of miscreants abducted a tea garden executive from Dhekiajuli in north Assam’s Sonitpur district last night. The abducted executive is a son of former Assam legislature Bhimananda Tanti from the Congress.

The police today informed that the assistant manager of Hirajui Tea Estate, Anniruddha Tanti, was abducted by an armed group of suspected militants when he was coming back to his official residence within the tea garden from the tea factory.

An FIR was lodged with the local police station today. The police has launched a search operation. The identity of the gang behind the abduction was yet to be ascertained.

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New envoys to Russia, Libya

New Delhi, August 1
The ministry of external affairs today announced three ambassadorial appointments, including that of P.P. Shukla to the Russian Federation. Shukla (IFS 1974 batch) is presently Indian High Commissioner in Australia.

D. Chakravarti (IFS:1977), presently High Commissioner of India to Tanzania, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Romania. Ms. M. Manimekalai (IFS: 81), presently joint secretary in the ministry, has been appointed as the next Ambassador of India to Libya. — TNS

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New Rly Board chief joins
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
Ramesh Chandra, an officer of the 1968 batch of the Indian Railway Service of Electrical Engineers (IRSEE), has taken over as the new chairman of the Railway Board. He succeeds J.P. Batra who retired today. A press release issued by the Railway ministry said Chandra would also continue to look after the duties of Member Electrical, Railway Board.

Chandra said he would focus on safety, passenger comfort and cleanliness and make efforts to augment the passenger and freight earnings of the Railways.

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