SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

National Security Council discusses Naxal threat
New Delhi, August 2
The National Security Council (NSC), presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, held a marathon meeting this evening on the resurgence of the Naxal threat.

BJP: Cong, Left aided Madhani’s acquittal
New Delhi, August 2
The BJP today accused the Congress and the Left parties of facilitating the acquittal of Coimbatore blasts accused Abdul Nasser Madhani by saying that the pseudo secular character of the two parties stood exposed.

Kerala-based People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Abdul Nassar Madhani along with his wife, Soofiya, and sons, Omar and Salahuddin, at a hotel in Kochi on Thursday, after his arrival from Coimbatore. Kerala-based People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Abdul Nassar Madhani along with his wife, Soofiya, and sons, Omar and Salahuddin, at a hotel in Kochi on Thursday, after his arrival from Coimbatore. — PTI





EARLIER STORIES




6th pay panel to cover SC staff
New Delhi, August 2
The Centre said today salaries of the Supreme Court employees would also come under the purview of the Sixth Central Pay Commission, which is set up to review the wages of government staff.

CBI hunts for Delhi sectt canteen contractor
New Delhi, August 2
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) continued search operations for Ashok Malhotra, main suspect in a large-scale land scam involving top Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials, for the second day today.

Pak to allow trade across LoC
New Delhi, August 2
Pakistan has expressed willingness to allow trade across the line of control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir for a limited basket of goods.

Kiran Bedi to resume duty today
New Delhi, August 2
After strongly protesting for being ignored for the key post of Delhi police commissioner, the country's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi today changed her mind and decided to return to work after a "great meeting" with home minister Shivraj Patil.

123 text to be released today
New Delhi, August 2
Text of the 123 agreement on civilian-nuclear cooperation between India and the USA will be released tomorrow morning simultaneously here and in Washington, a top source told this correspondent tonight.

Four cops suspended for custodial death
Guna (MP), August 2
Four constables were suspended today for dereliction of duty after a man died in their custody, even as a preliminary autopsy report suggested that the death was due to a heart attack.

Land Distribution to Poor
Andhra CM invites Left for talks
Hyderabad, August 2
Beleaguered Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, facing the Opposition wrath over the Mudigonda police firing, today extended an olive branch to Left parties with an offer to hold talks on land distribution to the poor, a raging issue that led to the confrontation.

Monsoon revival after weak phase
New Delhi, August 2
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today said that the southwest monsoon, which was in a weak phase for the past two weeks with subdued rainfall activity, particularly over central and adjoining peninsular India, has revived. But as far as the northern plains are concerned, the IMD said that rainfall activity was likely to remain subdued in this area till mid-August.

India objects to use of B’desh territory by insurgents
New Delhi, August 2
India today objected to the use of Bangladesh territory by some insurgent groups like ULFA as security related issues dominated the first day of the two-day Home Secretary level talks here.


Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta (left) shakes hands with his Bangladeshi counterpart Abdul Karim before the eighth home secretary-level talks between India and Bangladesh in New Delhi on Wednesday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal
Union home secretary Madhukar Gupta (left) shakes hands with his Bangladeshi counterpart Abdul Karim before the eighth home secretary-level talks between India and Bangladesh in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Media baron Ramoji ‘violating’ RBI directions
Hyderabad, August 2
The ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh has fired a fresh salvo against media baron Ch Ramoji Rao, alleging that Margadarsi Financiers, owned by him, was still accepting deposits from public in violation of the RBI directions.

I-Day celebration venues under scan
Guwahati, August 2
The lurking threat from the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants out to disrupt celebrations of Independence Day has prompted the Assam police and other security agencies to sanitise all official parade grounds to prevent ultras from planting bombs equipped with programmable timer devices much in advance.

Naveen Chawla Appointment Case
CEC takes diametrical stand
New Delhi, August 2
In a new turn to the Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla appointment case, the Supreme Court was informed by the poll panel that its chief has power either to initiate suo motu action for removal of a member of the commission or on the receipt of a complaint against him.

Teacher beats student to death
Jaipur, August 2
A 17-year-old schoolboy in Udaipur city succumbed to his injuries today, eight days after he was allegedly beaten by a woman teacher in a private school to discipline him.

Flash floods disrupt life
Dehra Dun, August 2
Even as flash floods and landslides caused by incessant rains in the upper areas of the hill state continue to disrupt normal life, no respite is expected as the state Met department has predicted more rains over the next 24 hours.

Declining sex ratio highlighted at NCW meeting
New Delhi, August 2
Declining sex ratio in States and Union Territories and effective implementation of the Pre Conception Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act figured in the discussions today between the National Commission for Women (NCW) and State Women Commissions (SWC).

Uttarakhand Guv for RTI manuals in libraries
Dehra Dun, August 2
Uttarakhand Governor Sudarshan Agarwal has asked chief secretary of the state to make available all departmental manuals relating to the Right to Information (RTI) Act and approved by the Information Commission to all major libraries, including Raj Bhavan library. He has also suggested to put all these manuals on the Internet at the earliest.

Bigger role for Rahul soon, says Dasmunsi
New Delhi, August 2
Concerned over the UPA government not getting due credit for “success” of its ambitious programmes such as the Bharat Nirman and NREGA, information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi today suggested creating a Bharat nirman action committee in all districts with participation of Youth Congress functionaries.


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National Security Council discusses Naxal threat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
The National Security Council (NSC), presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, held a marathon meeting this evening on the resurgence of the Naxal threat.

It is understood that one of the topics that came up for substantive discussion at today’s NSC meeting was the Naxalites getting money through hawala. The role of NGOs in states like Bihar is also understood to have come under the scanner.

The top-level discussions, which continued for several hours, discussed a comprehensive response mechanism in wake of a series of attacks by Naxalites in various states, the last being in Chhattisgarh on July 9 wherein 24 policemen were killed by the left wing extremists.

The NSC comprises of ministers of home, external affairs, defence, finance and deputy chairman of planning commission. National security adviser M K Narayanan and top brass of intelligence agencies like the Intelligence Bureau and the Research and Analysis Wing were also present at today’s meeting. The NSC, in its modern avatar under UPA government, is closer to the way the intelligence agencies function, and, therefore, much of its activities remain secret.

In keeping with the UPA government policy on the functioning of the NSC, there was no formal briefing or a statement on what transpired at today’s meeting.

Last year the Prime Minister had described the Naxalite/Maoist threat as the single biggest challenge to internal security. More recently, the Indian government had adopted a 14-point national action plan to deal with the Naxalites. This includes Centre’s liberal funds to the affected states to upgrade weaponry and communication systems of their police forces as well as training for state police personnel.

At present 182 districts in 16 states are affected by the Naxal menace.

The Maoists have been openly bragging that by 2010-15, 30 to 35 per cent of India will be under their control. Their enthusiasm, albeit misplaced, can be gauged by the fact that in 2002 Indian intelligence agencies warned of a compact revolutionary zone or red corridor from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh.

The Asian Centre for Human Rights, in its recent Naxal Conflict Monitor, had warned that the conflict was intensifying due to increase in casualties among security forces. It identified Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand with the highest levels of violence. It said one major reason for the spread of Naxal ideology was failure of governance. Abject poverty, illiteracy and poor implementation of developmental schemes and projects were fanning the Naxal fire. 

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BJP: Cong, Left aided Madhani’s acquittal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
The BJP today accused the Congress and the Left parties of facilitating the acquittal of Coimbatore blasts accused Abdul Nasser Madhani by saying that the pseudo secular character of the two parties stood exposed.

Warning the two parties against following pro-terrorist policies for votes, BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi described Madhani as India's Osama Bin Laden urging the Congress and the Left to take a lesson from the condition in neighbouring Pakistan where President Pervez Musharraf was facing a threat from militants as a result of adopting pro-terror policies.

In a statement, Naqvi said the two parties were displaying ''height of so called secularism'' by celebrating Madhani release. ''Their so called secular character stands exposed today,'' he stressed.

During Kerala poll, posters of both the Congress and the Left featured Madhani which showed the extent to which the parties could stoop for the sake of votes, he pointed out.

The Kerala Assembly resolution for Madhani's release and the fact that leaders of both the parties met Madhani in jail, proved that the UPA and the state governments of its allies were compromising on terrorism.

He said abrogation of POTA and the delay in the execution of Mohommad Afzal, convicted in the December 13 Parliament attack case, would only encourage anti-national and separatist forces.

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6th pay panel to cover SC staff

New Delhi, August 2
The Centre said today salaries of the Supreme Court employees would also come under the purview of the Sixth Central Pay Commission, which is set up to review the wages of government staff.

“The Union Cabinet has given its approval to amend the terms of reference of the Sixth Central Pay Commission that will now cover the employees of the Supreme Court while making recommendations,” minister for information and broadcasting Priyaranjan Dasmunshi told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

Constituted last year, the four-member commission has been asked to submit its report within 18 months. Also, it has to look into the desirability and need to sanction interim relief, if any, till the time its recommendations are submitted and accepted by the government.

Under its terms of reference, the commission is to make recommendations for pension and gratuity for employees appointed prior to January 1, 2004, as those recruited after this date are covered under the defined contributory pension scheme.

Dasmunshi said the Cabinet also decided to bring an amendment to the Aircraft Act, 2007, and the amended bill would be introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the coming monsoon session, which starts from August 10. — PTI

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CBI hunts for Delhi sectt canteen contractor

New Delhi, August 2
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) continued search operations for Ashok Malhotra, main suspect in a large-scale land scam involving top Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials, for the second day today.

Malhotra, who ostensibly runs a canteen in the Delhi Secretariat among other enterprises, is known for his proximity to some key Delhi politicians, said a senior CBI official. “We have received vital information about his (Malhotra’s) possible hideouts in the capital and raids are underway to arrest him,” the official said.

“Some incriminating documents have also been recovered from his Mukherjee Nagar home in north Delhi, but we can’t reveal the details pertaining to the scam as investigations are still under way,” he added.

However, it is reliably learnt said that the CBI was presently scrutinising some 60,000 files and documents related to the land allotment scam.

According to CBI sources, search operations have been on at Malhotra’s residence since late Wednesday after his name figured in the scam pertaining to regularisation of slum clusters.

“He had allegedly siphoned off millions of rupees in association with five DDA officials and a private contractor by selling plots meant for allocation to displaced slum-dwellers,” the official said.

During investigations, the agency found that hundreds of plots had been allotted to fictitious persons. The scam reportedly took place between 2000 and 2002.

Besides seizing several incriminating documents related to the land scam, investigators also impounded at least 50 luxury cars and 10 motorcycles, all bearing VIP number plates, from Malhotra’s residence.

Teams also swooped down at 10 other places in north Delhi and at least three premises owned by Malhotra. His properties in Model Town and Nehru Vihar neighbourhoods of Delhi were also raided. — IANS

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Pak to allow trade across LoC

New Delhi, August 2
Pakistan has expressed willingness to allow trade across the line of control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir for a limited basket of goods.

This was indicated by Pakistan commerce secretary Syed Asif Shah in his meeting with minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh here. “I raised this issue whether Pakistan would allow trade across the LoC, to which Shah said Pakistan is in favour of free trade across the line,” Ramesh told reporters after the meeting. — PTI

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Kiran Bedi to resume duty today

New Delhi, August 2
After strongly protesting for being ignored for the key post of Delhi police commissioner, the country's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi today changed her mind and decided to return to work after a "great meeting" with home minister Shivraj Patil.

Bedi, who proceeded on a three-month protest leave on July 25 after Y.S. Dadwal, a 1974 batch IPS officer and two years junior to her, was named the police chief, said she would not have decided to join duty from tomorrow if she still had "any grievances left".

"I had a very very good... great meeting with the home minister. I am grateful to him. I will continue to deliver my very best," she told mediapersons here after calling on Patil at his North Block office.

Bedi, who is posted as the director general of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), had described the government's decision to prefer Dadwal over her as "unfair". — PTI

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123 text to be released today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
Text of the 123 agreement on civilian-nuclear cooperation between India and the USA will be released tomorrow morning simultaneously here and in Washington, a top source told this correspondent tonight.

The source said the government today shared the 123 text with the Left parties and the BJP. However, the government officials stoutly denied this.

National security adviser M K Narayanan and foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon today met L K Advani, and briefed him about the 123 agreement. Advani was given an exclusive briefing by these key government officials because he was not in the country when the Prime Minister had hosted a luncheon briefing for the BJP leaders. Both the Left and the BJP have reserved comment on the government’s contention that the 123 agreement was within the parameters of assurances given by the Prime Minister to Parliament last year. They said that they would declare their stand only after studying the text.

CPIM leader Prakash Karat and CPI leader D Raja, when contacted tonight, said they had not seen the 123 text.

The government has assured the Left and the BJP leaders that three paramount Indian concerns - uninterrupted fuel supplies, India reserving the right for future nuclear weapon testing, and unhindered development of Indian strategic programme - were met in the N-deal negotiations. There is no mention of future nuke tests by India in the 123 agreement.

Before the 123 agreement becomes operational, three more hurdles: nod of approval from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group and the US Congress and New Delhi signing an additional protocol and an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA are yet to be crossed. 

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Four cops suspended for custodial death

Guna (MP), August 2
Four constables were suspended today for dereliction of duty after a man died in their custody, even as a preliminary autopsy report suggested that the death was due to a heart attack.

The constables were suspended after Buddha (32), a Scheduled Castes man, arrested on charges of gambling in Raghogarh, died in their custody yesterday, SP Yogesh Choudhary said.

A team of doctors performed an autopsy and found no injury marks on his body. The preliminary report suggested that the death was due to a cardiac arrest, he said.

Buddha had complained of increased perspiration after being arrested and was rushed to a hospital where he was declared dead, he said.

District Collector G. K Saraswat, who ordered a magisterial probe into the death, said financial aid of Rs 25,000 would be given to kin of the man. — PTI

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Land Distribution to Poor
Andhra CM invites Left for talks
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 2
Beleaguered Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, facing the Opposition wrath over the Mudigonda police firing, today extended an olive branch to Left parties with an offer to hold talks on land distribution to the poor, a raging issue that led to the confrontation.

“We have no differences with communists as far as providing land to the landless poor is concerned. We are willing to discuss modalities of land distribution,” Reddy told a meeting of the state Cabinet here.

The first round of talks with CPI and CPM leaders had failed to break the deadlock over the composition of the proposed land commission to monitor the identification and distribution of lands to the poor.

While the Left had insisted on the constitution of an autonomous commission with quasi-judicial powers, the government had appointed a special commissioner under the administrative control of the chief commissioner of land administration (CCLA) for the purpose.

Another point of disagreement was over the implementation of the recommendations of a high-level committee headed by municipal administration minister K. Ranga Rao on land related issues.

The Left parties wanted the report to be accepted in toto, the government issued an order for implementing 74 out of the total 104 recommendations while the rest were referred to a Cabinet sub-committee for a detailed examination.

A day after the talks collapsed, the Left parties organised a state-wide shutdown on July 28 that witnessed violence at Mudigonda in Khammam district leading to police firing at a mob of Left supporters that resulted in the death of seven persons.

The Chief Minister’s offer to revive talks is seen as an effort to wean the Left parties away from the Chandrababu Naidu-led TDP, the principal adversary of the ruling Congress.

In the immediate aftermath of the firing incident, Naidu swiftly joined the land struggle, demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation and even promised to provide land to all the eligible poor if his party was voted to power in the 2009 polls.

In a bid to prevent the Left parties from joining hands with Naidu to intensify the agitation, the government has started wooing the communists.

“The Left parties should not fall into the trap being laid by Naidu, who is bent upon garnering political mileage out of a human tragedy. They should realise that during his nine-year rule Naidu never even thought of distributing the lands to the poor. His much talked about Vision 2020 document does not even mention about land reforms,” the revenue minister D. Prasada Rao said.

In a calibrated counter attack, the Congress leaders pointed out that the previous TDP government did not even provide ex-gratia to the victims of police firing at Basheerbagh in the city in August 2000 during the agitation against power tariff hike.

“As Chief Minister, Naidu had refused to visit the injured at the hospital. He did not agree for a judicial probe. Now, when our government has acted swiftly and ordered a judicial inquiry he has no moral right to attack us,” the information minister A. Ramanarayana Reddy said. 

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Monsoon revival after weak phase
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today said that the southwest monsoon, which was in a weak phase for the past two weeks with subdued rainfall activity, particularly over central and adjoining peninsular India, has revived. But as far as the northern plains are concerned, the IMD said that rainfall activity was likely to remain subdued in this area till mid-August.

According to the IMD, though Gangetic plains and northeastern states have experienced good rainfall activity during the past two weeks as the monsoon trough was located close to foothills of Himalayas, but the situation was likely to change during the next 48 hours.

The current meteorological conditions and interpretation of various numerical weather prediction models suggest a revival in monsoon activity over central and adjoining peninsular India, as a low pressure area will form over the northwest Bay of Bengal on August 4, along with a southward shift in monsoon trough. The low-pressure area is likely to become more marked and move slowly in a west-northwesterly direction.

Under this scenario, there will be enhanced rainfall activity with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Orissa, north Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from August 4 to 7. Subsequently, the enhanced rainfall belt will shift to Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and south Rajasthan between August 8 and 11.

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India objects to use of B’desh territory by insurgents

New Delhi, August 2
India today objected to the use of Bangladesh territory by some insurgent groups like ULFA as security related issues dominated the first day of the two-day Home Secretary level talks here.

Raising its security concerns, New Delhi demanded action against Indian insurgent groups operating from Bangladesh territory and made a particular mention of the presence and activities of ULFA, sources in the Home Ministry said.

A senior ministry official said India also expressed concern over growing anti-India activities of ISI from Bangladeshi soil.

The two sides, led by union home secretary Madhukar Gupta and his Bangladeshi counterpart Mohd. Abdul Karim, also discussed border management and cooperation in police matters, a home ministry spokesman said.

Describing the talks as "positive and constructive", he said the two sides expressed commitment to further enhance cooperation.

The two countries hoped the current round of talks would lead to further strengthening of mutual cooperation.

The eighth round of talks are part of the bilateral institutional mechanism set up in 1994 to resolve security and border management issues. The last such talks were held in Dhaka last year.

Three working groups have been set up to go into security-related matters, border management and enhanced cooperation between the two sides. A joint statement is likely to be issued at the end of the talks tomorrow. — PTI

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Media baron Ramoji ‘violating’ RBI directions
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 2
The ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh has fired a fresh salvo against media baron Ch Ramoji Rao, alleging that Margadarsi Financiers, owned by him, was still accepting deposits from public in violation of the RBI directions.

Quoting from the company’s website, the Congress MP U. Arun Kumar said the company continued to flout the norms with impunity, despite the central bank asking it not to collect public deposits.

In a letter to RBI Governor Y.V. Reddy, Kumar, who had started the war of wits with the media czar last year, said “It clearly shows how helpless we are in the face of a powerful offender of law continuing to accept deposits with impunity.”

Margadarsi Financiers, an undivided hindu family (UHF) entity and part of Ramoji Group, had given an undertaking to the RBI that it would not accept deposits from the public.

The allegation against the company was that it had raised Rs 2,600 crores from public, as on March 31, 2006, though section 45 S of the RBI Act clearly prohibits individuals and unincorporated bodies from mobilizing public deposits.

The MP, who enclosed a copy of the company’s website updated on July 31, said he was “shocked at the complicity” of the RBI in allowing an illegal activity to continue.

He also wanted to know from the RBI Governor as to why the bank had given time for Margadarsi to repay the deposits on maturity instead of straightaway prosecuting its promoters as per provisions of law. “Does this not tantamount to encouraging and promoting illegal business?,” he asked.

Though the RBI knew about the illegal collection of public funds in March last year, it had neither initiated prosecution proceedings nor did it inform the state government. Kumar, who represents Rajahmundry constituency, had stirred the hornet’s nest when he complained to the Union Finance Ministry in November last year about the alleged financial irregularities of the company. It led to a bitter stand-off between the Congress and Ramoji Rao who owns “Eenadu” group of publications and ETv channels. His media group has been carrying stories critical of the government.

The MP claimed that some banks had extended funding to the group companies of Margadarsi in complete violation of banking norms.

“Some of those who were responsible for these transactions are occupying very important positions in the RBI now,” he said and sought Governor’s appointment to “explain the issues in detail.”

Margadarsi Financiers is presently locked in a bitter legal battle with the Rajasekhar Reddy government after its premises were raided and the documents seized.

A government-appointed one-man committee, headed by former Chairman of IRDA, N. Rangachari, had, in its report on February 15 last, concluded that Margadarsi had violated RBI provisions by collecting deposits from public.

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I-Day celebration venues under scan
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 2
The lurking threat from the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) militants out to disrupt celebrations of Independence Day has prompted the Assam police and other security agencies to sanitise all official parade grounds to prevent ultras from planting bombs equipped with programmable timer devices much in advance.

Of course, the current wave of devastating floods has been a distraction for the administration and the police which wanted to focus completely on making arrangements for foolproof security in the fortnight before Independence Day.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi admitted that the state police force was torn between its rigorous counter-insurgency duty as well as flood-time emergency duty. He said there was intelligence inputs that the banned ULFA would try to create trouble on or before Independence Day.

The police said separate arrests of at least five ULFA militants during the past 10 days at Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Guwahati along with deadly explosives exposed the banned outfit’s design to create terror by disrupting celebrations of Independence Day in the state.

According to the police, the self-styled commander of the 28th battalion of the ULFA, Prabal Neog had issued instructions to cadres to detonate blasts on I-Day especially in Upper Assam areas and Judges’ Field in Guwahati, the venue for state-level celebrations of the I-day.

This has prompted the police to beef up security arrangements in and around all parade grounds in the state and metal detectors is being used to scan nooks and corners of such grounds. The Judges’ Field in Guwahati, where all VVIPS gather every year to celebrate Independence Day, has been turned into a virtual fortress making it totally out of bound for common people.

Besides round-the-clock vigil by gun-toting paramilitary force personnel who have pitched their camps within the piece of green in the heart of the city, sniffer dogs, metal detectors are being used to scan every nook and corner of the ground. Anyone daring to trespass on to the ground run the risk of being shot down without being asked a question by the men on guard.

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Naveen Chawla Appointment Case
CEC takes diametrical stand
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 2
In a new turn to the Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla appointment case, the Supreme Court was informed by the poll panel that its chief has power either to initiate suo motu action for removal of a member of the commission or on the receipt of a complaint against him.

The stand of the commission on the powers of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) was contrary to an earlier submission made on his behalf that he could take action against a member of the panel only after the President had sought his opinion on a complaint submitted to him.

The court was hearing detailed arguments on BJP leader Jaswant Singh’s petition challenging the action of former President A P J Abdul Kalam not sending the NDA complaint against Chawla to the CEC directly for his opinion and instead forwarding it to the Prime Minister.

The BJP leader, in his petition, had said Article 324 of the Constitution, which governs the formation of the Election Commission and appointment of CEC and its other members, clearly states that if the President receives such a complaint, it has to be forwarded to CEC directly for his opinion.

The latest stand of the CEC assumes significance as it was diametrically contrary to the earlier submission made by the poll panel on the issue.

The submission on behalf of the CEC came in response to a query by a Bench of Justices Ashok Bhan and V.S Sirpurkar whether the poll panel chief has the power to recommend action against commission’s members suo motu or only on a complaint.

EC counsel Minakshi Arora told the court that the CEC has power to recommend to the President about alleged “misconduct” of the Election Commissioner suo motu as well as on the receipt of a complaint against him.

At this the court said then it would dispose of the petition and ask the petitioner to approach the CEC. "We can't stop anyone from filing a complaint to the CEC. We have full faith in CEC and we expect him to decide it in accordance with advice… CEC has been given the status of a Judge by the Constitution,” the Bench said.

But it was strongly objected to by the Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Centre. He said the government would like to respond to the new stand of the CEC.

The court gave time till August 7 to the government file its affidavit.

The BJP leader had questioned the appointment of Chawla on several counts, including taking money for two family trusts from the MPLAD scheme of several Congress MPs, his alleged close “proximity” to the Congress, “bias” against BJP and “indictment’ by Shah Commission for his certain actions during Emergency.

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Teacher beats student to death

Jaipur, August 2
A 17-year-old schoolboy in Udaipur city succumbed to his injuries today, eight days after he was allegedly beaten by a woman teacher in a private school to discipline him.

Arpit, a Class twelve student of Alok school, was admitted to a government hospital yesterday with the injuries which he sustained in the school in Udaipur, 325 km from here.

The boy’s father has registered an FIR in which he alleged his son was “badly beaten” by a woman teacher on July 26 and his death was caused by the assault, police said.

The SHO of Govardhanvilas police station, Sobhag Singh, told PTI over phone from Udaipur that a case of murder under Section 302 IPC has been registered against the teacher identified as Indira Samar.

The teacher has been placed under suspension with some reports saying she has been sacked from the school. She has not been seen in public eye after the death of the boy.

Over 1,000 persons gathered outside the school raising slogans against the management after the news of the death of the boy spread. — PTI

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Flash floods disrupt life
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, August 2
Even as flash floods and landslides caused by incessant rains in the upper areas of the hill state continue to disrupt normal life, no respite is expected as the state Met department has predicted more rains over the next 24 hours.

Hilly districts of Nainital and Uttarkashi today received heavy rainfall. Most of the highways in Garhwal Himalayas remained closed for the second day due to landslides.

The administration has declared a red alert along all rivers in the Garhwal region up to Haridwar as most of them are in spate. Director, Meteorological Department, Anand Sharma said that heavy rains were expected to lash the state for another day.

However, the danger of flash floods due to breach in a lake formed by a glacier at Satopant in Chamoli district in Garhwal has subsided.

Chamoli district magistrate D.S. Garbayal informed that due to the breach, large amount of water had started flowing into Alaknanda river between Badrinath and Mana, the last village on the China border, raising its level by eight to ten feet above normal.

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Declining sex ratio highlighted at NCW meeting
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
Declining sex ratio in States and Union Territories and effective implementation of the Pre Conception Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act figured in the discussions today between the National Commission for Women (NCW) and State Women Commissions (SWC).

India's Sex Ratio at birth is 880 girls per 1000 boys, according to the 2002-'04 National Sample Registration Survey. NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas who chaired the meeting at India Habit Centre here told TNS, ``70 per cent of the problems are common to all States. So a common agenda should be evolved to address them.'' Vyas said the meeting also stressed the need for empowering State Commissions.

Participants agreed to the proposal on sharing resources for better handling of complaints. The NCW Chairperson also chaired another meeting of the expert committee on North Eastern States.

Participants deliberated on various issues as Customary laws, role of women in decision-making, impact of ethnic violence and armed conflict, alcoholism and trafficking and HIV/AIDS.

NCW chairperson yesterday released a handbook titled ‘Confronting the demand for sex trafficking’.

The handbook is specifically designed for law enforcement agencies. NCW chairperson yesterday released a handbook titled ‘Confronting the demand for sex trafficking’. 

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Uttarakhand Guv for RTI manuals in libraries
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, August 2
Uttarakhand Governor Sudarshan Agarwal has asked chief secretary of the state to make available all departmental manuals relating to the Right to Information (RTI) Act and approved by the Information Commission to all major libraries, including Raj Bhavan library. He has also suggested to put all these manuals on the Internet at the earliest.

The Governor discussed progress of effective implementation of RTI Act in the state with chief information commissioner (CIC) R.S. Tolia at Raj Bhavan today. He asked the Information Commission and the government to make effective records management, a pre requisite to information management.

Tolia said all 58 departments had prepared the 16 manuals relating to the department as prescribed under section 4(1)(b) of RTI Act and had been approved by the commission. The Information Commission would ensure that all those manuals were available in every government office so that people could use them easily at will.

A copy of second annual report, comprising analysis of appeals and complains under RTI for the period of 2006-07, presented by the CIC showed that most appeals received by the commission related to revenue department followed by department of urban development. About 66 per cent of total appeals submitted to the commission were due to the fact that information had not been provided within set time limit.

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Bigger role for Rahul soon, says Dasmunsi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2
Concerned over the UPA government not getting due credit for “success” of its ambitious programmes such as the Bharat Nirman and NREGA, information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi today suggested creating a Bharat nirman action committee in all districts with participation of Youth Congress functionaries.

The minister, who was addressing the national executive of the Indian Youth Congress here, said he would discuss it with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Answering queries later on the IYC demand for a more active role for Rahul Gandhi in the party, Dasmunsi indicated that the MP could be given a bigger responsibility in near future. “He is already the leader of next generation. The leadership will shortly decide what role he would play,” the minister said.

A speech full of plain speaking, Dasmunsi said people were not feeling the impact of UPA government’s ambitious rural welfare measures because these had been launched “without involving the party first.”

Dasmunsi said Youth Congress should not shirk from agitating even in Congress-ruled states if they felt that benefits of Central schemes were not reaching the people.

The minister expressed concern over “appropriation” of NREGA by some non-UPA state governments. He said the funds were coming from the Centre and the programme was the dream of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “You have to explain that it is UPA programme,” he told IYC office-bearers.

While advocating free hand to IYC president in appointments of office-bearers, Dasmunshi pointed to lack of information among district youth chiefs about the government schemes. Referring to fake entries in programmes such as the mid-day meal scheme and problems faced by people in getting information about their entitlement under the NREGA, he said YC workers had to play an active role in creating awareness among the people.

Asserting that UPA government would fulfill all commitments made in the national common minimum programme by next year’s Budget, he said new programme would be formulated for the remaining tenure of the government. “No government in the last 15 years has spent as much money on education as the UPA has done. Our spending on social welfare is much more than any other government in the past,” he said.

IYC chief Ashok Tanwar said that membership drive of the organisation, under which a committee is being formed at every booth in the country, would be completed by next month.

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