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N A T I O N

Farm sector in crisis: PM
Bangalore, August 3
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the benefits of the country’s booming economy had yet to trickle down to the rural poor with entire farming sector being in a state of crisis.

Mayawati announces farm policy
Lucknow, August 3
A new agriculture policy announced by Chief Minister Mayawati today is likely to pass on the fruits of the retail boom to the state farmer by giving it more discretion to sell its produce at the best market prices or even directly to consumers.

123 Agreement
Left to study document, talk to govt soon
New Delhi, August 3
Strongly opposed to the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation, the Left parties, which prop up the Manmohan Singh government, today said they would hold discussions with the government next week on the 123 agreement.


EARLIER STORIES




Heavy rains disrupt life in Mumbai
Mumbai, August 3

After a lull of more than a month, Mumbai has been lashed by heavy rains. The monsoon fury since Thursday night disrupted traffic across the country’s financial capital as major arterial roads across the city were waterlogged.
Among the major roads flooded across the city included King circle, Matunga Circle, Hindmata junction, Panduang Budhkar Marg, Worli Naka, Haji Ali Junction and Peddar Road. Rail traffic was also hit as the authorities could not drain water from rail tracks for several hours. Trains slowed to a crawl in many places and office goers reported late for work in many parts of the city.



People walk along a flooded street in Mumbai on Friday. Normal life was thrown out of gear due to heavy rains in the city. — PTI
People walk along a flooded street in Mumbai on Friday. Normal life was thrown out of gear due to heavy rains in the city.

Engineering college for blind on anvil
Hyderabad, August 3
In a first such experiment in Asia, an engineering college exclusively for the blind students is being planned here by a charity organisation. The Devnar Foundation for the Blind, which runs India’s biggest school for the visually challenged, has drawn up plans for establishing an engineering college and is looking for affiliation.

Silence engulfs Kafeel’s home
Bangalore, August 3
The doctor couple Zakia and Maqbool Ahmed, parents of Glasgow bomber Kafeel Ahmed, who succumbed to severe burn injuries today, shuttered themselves in their house and were unavailable for comments.

3 ULFA ultras held
Guwahati, August 3
The police today arrested three militants belonging to the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) from two locations in the state’s capital and recovered 24 detonators.

Strained Sena-BJP ties
Manohar Joshi meets Advani
New Delhi, August 3
The continuing crisis in the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance appears to be getting resolved with former Lok Sabha Speaker and senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi meeting Leader of the Opposition L.K Advani here today.

Shrawasti Rape Case
Secy refuses to share report
Lucknow, August 3
The home secretary today refused to share the commissioner’s report in the Shrawasti rape case asking a delegation of women human rights activists who met him today in this connection to procure a copy of it on their own by filing an RTI.

Maya seeks Rs 2,200 cr for flood-hit
Lucknow, August 3
Following an aerial survey and review of flood-hit districts of the state, Chief Minister Mayawati has demanded a central package of Rs 2,200 crore for immediate flood relief.

Reddy meets Sonia
New Delhi, August 3
With a view to take the sting out of Left's attack on him following the police firing in Khammam district, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S Rajashekhara Reddy today said his government was doing more for distribution of land and houses among landless in the state than any of the previous governments.

Wheat Scam
BJP to launch agitation
New Delhi, August 3
The BJP will launch a nationwide farmers agitation and will march to Parliament on August 20 to protest against the anti-farmer policies of the ruling UPA government.

BJP team to visit J&K
New Delhi, August 3
The BJP is sending a three MP team led by Bhagalpur Lok Sabha MP Syed Shahnawaj Hussain to Jammu and Kashmir to study the problem of immigrant agricultural labourers, who are leaving the state in face of threat from separatist Hurriyat leader S.A.S. Gilani.

Dwindling tiger population attracts PM’s attention
New Delhi, August 3
India's dwindling tiger population has once again attracted the attention of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The PM has asked State governments to strengthen institutional arrangements in tiger reserves and prioritise recruitment of frontline staff of the forest department especially in sanctuaries.

Heroin worth Rs 45 lakh seized, 1 held
Guwahati, August 3
The police today seized 950 grams of heroin worth about Rs 45 lakh in the underground market and arrested one person in this connection.

Sectt meeting flays CPI
Kolkata, August 3
The state secretariat meeting held at the Alimuddin Street party office today criticised the three major partners - the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc - for "ganging up against the CPM" on the Nandigram issue. The meeting also cautioned senior leader Benoy Konar against making any irresponsible and provocative statements on the issue.


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Farm sector in crisis: PM
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 3
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the benefits of the country’s booming economy had yet to trickle down to the rural poor with entire farming sector being in a state of crisis.

The PM, while talking to Congress leaders at a function here, said it was a matter of deep concern that farmers in some states were forced to commit suicide. He said the UPA government had on its part taken a number of steps to make agriculture a “viable proposition” and had come out with a special package in this regard last year.

Dr Singh said efforts were being taken to include all sections of society in the economic growth of the country. He warned against complacency due to the burgeoning Indian economy and said the dividends of this growth process had still not trickled down to the rural poor.

Detailing the steps being taken to bring about inclusive growth, the PM said the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), which was providing 100 days of work to the needy in 11 districts of Karnataka, would be extended to the other districts also. The Bharat Nav Nirman (BNN) scheme, which was aimed at bridging the digital divide between the urban and rural areas, would be extended further in the state, he added. He said the scheme was expected to provide rural connectivity at a cost of 17.5 lakh crore.

Speaking about the economy, Dr Singh said it was presently growing at nine per cent per annum, which was highest growth since Independence. He said the country was among the top five growing economies in the world with investments and savings rate being recorded as high as 35 per cent of the national income.

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Mayawati announces farm policy
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 3
A new agriculture policy announced by Chief Minister Mayawati today is likely to pass on the fruits of the retail boom to the state farmer by giving it more discretion to sell its produce at the best market prices or even directly to consumers.

Releasing the ‘Agriculture Infrastructure and Investment Policy’ at a press conference, the Chief Minister said it would hopefully attract private investment to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore by 2011.

According to the Chief Minister, the policy aims to take the advantage of the retail revolution in the world economy so that the rural economy of the state becomes a part of the mainstream.

She said under the policy only serious investors would be permitted to buy the produce from the farmers directly who had a net worth of more than Rs 500 crore and who were ready to make a capital investment of a minimum of Rs 5,000 crore in the next three years.

The thrust of the policy is to develop a direct commercial relationship between the farmer and investor while fully guaranteeing ownership rights of the farmers on their land. It envisages the elimination of the middlemen and encourages the participation of the big retail players in the state.

Presided over by Chief Minister Mayawati, the state cabinet today approved the policy that also required amendment to the existing Agricultural Production Mandi Committee Act.

Private investors will now have the right to set up private mandis while small entrepreneurs can go ahead and set up kisan bazar in joint sector. 

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123 Agreement
Left to study document, talk to govt soon
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
Strongly opposed to the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation, the Left parties, which prop up the Manmohan Singh government, today said they would hold discussions with the government next week on the 123 agreement.

As their initial reaction, the Left leaders were silent on the 22-page 123 agreement, which was made public simultaneously in New Delhi and Washington.

“The text (of the agreement) has just been released. We will say not anything before studying it thoroughly. Left leaders are meeting here next week and we will probably react after that,” CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said.

“It is an important document and a highly technical one too. The agreement can impact our security interests and our economic and foreign policies also. We will analyse the text and come out with a considered response in a couple of days,” CPI national secretary D Raja said.

Left leaders said they have to analyse its finer points and consult scientists before coming out with a formal reaction.

The four Left wing parties are meeting here on Tuesday to discuss the civil nuclear cooperation agreement and chalk out a countrywide protest plan against the joint naval exercises to be carried out in the Bay of Bengal next month.

Left leaders are expected to hold another round of discussions with the government before the monsoon session of Parliament begins on August 10.

With UNPA, the third front, deciding to oppose the deal on the floor of the House, and the BJP not too eager to support the Manmohan Singh government on the nuclear issue, the Left parties, who have been critical of the Congress-led coalition on the deal, would have to tread cautiously.

National security advisor MK Narayanan had stated that the deal that allays India’s principal concerns by not hindering its strategic programme, grants it prior consent to reprocess spent fuel and assures the supply of a strategic fuel reserve for civilian reactors.

The Left parties had expressed concern on issues relating to full nuclear cycle, reprocessing and enrichment of nuclear fuel and dual use technology.

They had stated that the Hyde Act - the US legislation - runs contrary to most of the assurances given by the PM. This includes provision of imposing restrictions and trade regimes barring access to duel use nuclear technology, thus, denying India its full nuclear cycle. The annual good conduct certification by the US President remains. There are nine references to India’s role being one of support and complicity with the US designs on Iran. The Act talks of India’s foreign policy being “congruent to that of the United States.”

With the text of the 123 agreement now in public scrutiny, the Communists, with the help of their scientific advisors, would be particularly keen to know whether the “goal posts” have been shifted in India’s favour or not and whether New Delhi has succeeded in avoiding the country’s foreign policy from serving the strategic interests of Washington.

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Heavy rains disrupt life in Mumbai
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 3
After a lull of more than a month, Mumbai has been lashed by heavy rains. The monsoon fury since Thursday night disrupted traffic across the country’s financial capital as major arterial roads across the city were waterlogged.

Among the major roads flooded across the city included King circle, Matunga Circle, Hindmata junction, Panduang Budhkar Marg, Worli Naka, Haji Ali Junction and Peddar Road. Rail traffic was also hit as the authorities could not drain water from rail tracks for several hours. Trains slowed to a crawl in many places and office goers reported late for work in many parts of the city.

According to the disaster management cell of the Maharashtra government, major roads like the SV Road and Linking Road were cleared by late Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the weather department has warned of heavy to very heavy rains and gusty winds over the next 24 hours

Flights connecting Mumbai were also affected in the morning due to poor visibility, according to information available from major airlines.

The authorities declared schools and colleges closed in many areas as a precautionary measure.

In the past 24 hours 104.2mm of rainfall were recorded by the Colaba observatory in downtown Mumbai while 82.6mm of rainfall was recorded in the suburban Santa Cruz observatory, according to the met department.

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Engineering college for blind on anvil
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 3
In a first such experiment in Asia, an engineering college exclusively for the blind students is being planned here by a charity organisation. The Devnar Foundation for the Blind, which runs India’s biggest school for the visually challenged, has drawn up plans for establishing an engineering college and is looking for affiliation.

“We have applied to the Birla Institute of Technological Sciences (BITS), Pilani, for affiliation. We are hopeful of getting affiliation from them. Otherwise, we will approach institutions like JNTU here,” the chairman of the foundation A. Saibaba Goud said.

The Devnar Foundation has developed a digital library by using indigenously developed software by downloading the textbooks’ and general knowledge books’ material into a CD with MP3 format. Information technology will be the main specialisation offered in the proposed engineering college.

“We are planning to restrict the intake to 40-50 students per year and select them on merit,” Goud said. He said people with visual impaired were no less qualified than others and pointed out that one such student, Naga Babu, who completed his engineering from Vijayawada, was recruited by Wipro Technologies during the campus selections.

The students at Devnar School are taught how to operate computers from class VI and they are able to handle computer and browse the Internet by the time they come to IX standard.

“The computer education is imparted using latest computers and screen reading software called Jaws which converts a PC into a talking computer for the visually challenged children who learn mostly by sound” Goud explained.

The Devnar Foundation, set up in 1991, had established the school for the blind in a rented room here with just four students. Now, it has grown into a full-fledged institution with 227 students. The school was adjudged the best in the country among schools for students with disabilities in 2002 and had won the President’s award, he said.

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Silence engulfs Kafeel’s home
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 3
The doctor couple Zakia and Maqbool Ahmed, parents of Glasgow bomber Kafeel Ahmed, who succumbed to severe burn injuries today, shuttered themselves in their house and were unavailable for comments.

Though Kafeel’s mother Zakia had claimed immediately after the Glasgow terror attack that the person who had driven a gasoline filled jeep into the airport terminal was not her son, she had relented soon after to identify him from a video grab.

The couple and their daughter Sadia did not stir out of their house situated in the Banashankari area in the city. They declined to come out of the house and give any reaction despite requests from the waiting media.

It was left to Kafeel’s advocate B.T. Venkatesh to speak on behalf of the family. Venkatesh said the family had not received any official communication about the death of Kafeel Ahmed from the British authorities. “They do not know whether the man who was admitted with 90 per cent burns in a hospital in Glasgow is Kafeel Ahmed”.

He said as far as the parents were concerned they could only react to the incident after they were in full possession of all facts.

The doctor couple has not made any attempt to contact the British authorities. “It is up to them to inform the Ahmeds in case their son has really died”, he said.

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3 ULFA ultras held
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 3
The police today arrested three militants belonging to the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) from two locations in the state’s capital and recovered 24 detonators.

A police source said that two ultras were arrested from Dispur police station area while one was held from area under Bharalumukh police station.

The police has launched a low-profile operation in and around the state’s capital city on the basis of information that some fresh recruits of the banned ULFA had sneaked into the city with huge quantity of explosives as part of the outfit’s design to create trouble in the run-up to Independence Day.

A police source said that these explosives had been dumped in at least ten different places in and around the city. Though the police have launched a special operation to locate these explosives, it is yet to taste any success.

In a change of tactics, the ULFA has started engaging its newly recruited cadres, who have been recently trained in handling explosives and bombs, to carry explosives and assemble improvised explosive devices.

As these new recruits of the outfit don’t have any past record with the police, it has become difficult for the security forces to track them down easily.

Meanwhile, the city police’s efforts to put on a list inhabitants of all rented premises in the capital city have only tasted partial success given that most of the landlords, notwithstanding repeated appeal from the police, have failed to furnish details about their tenants to the nearest police station.

Militants from different outfits in the region including the banned ULFA find it easier to take shelter in rented houses in densely populated Guwahati as it is humanly impossible for the police to scan every household. 

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Strained Sena-BJP ties
Manohar Joshi meets Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The continuing crisis in the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance appears to be getting resolved with former Lok Sabha Speaker and senior Sena leader Manohar Joshi meeting Leader of the Opposition L.K Advani here today.

The ties between the two Hindutva parties, which came under strain when Shiv Sena refused to support and vote for NDA-backed independent presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, are going to through a turbulent phase with BJP leadership threatening to review the 18-year-old alliance.

While BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar today admitted that Maharashtra BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari and Gopinath Munde have expressed their views on the state of ties with Shiv Sena before the party’s Parliamentary Board meeting yesterday evening, final decision on the alliance is not expected before the end of the month.

Sources said the problem between the two parties is the style of functioning of the Shiv Sena Executive President Uddhav Thackarey who is inaccessible to state leaders.

Earlier in the day, Joshi met Advani and is understood to have impressed upon the senior BJP leader that the continuation of alliance between the two Hindu parties was in the interest of both the parties. Joshi is also likely to meet former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and BJP President Rajnath Singh.

The BJP leadership is understood to have taken an exception to Thackarey's statement that his party would take a decision on its stand in the vice-residential election scheduled for August 10 once the BJP clarifies the situation and the Sena's status with regard to the NDA.

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Shrawasti Rape Case
Secy refuses to share report
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 3
The home secretary today refused to share the commissioner’s report in the Shrawasti rape case asking a delegation of women human rights activists who met him today in this connection to procure a copy of it on their own by filing an RTI.

Speaking to the press Jashodara Dasgupta said a women’s delegation today met home secretary Javeed Ahmad to present him a report of an independent Fact Finding Team that had gone to Shrawasti last month to investigate the ‘Identity-based Gang Rape’.

He turned down the request of the delegation that the findings of the official probe by a commissioner, Devipatan be made public, pointed out Dasgupta

“Since women had testified in front of the commissioner that they had been raped, stripped and paraded naked, so we were interested to know the facts”, she said.

Pointing out that the report cannot be made public, the home secretary, agreed to look into the matter of ensuring better protection and compensation for the victims.

The women organisations are now planning to put in an RTI for the commissioner’s report and demand to know why it will not be made public said Dasgupta.

Charging the home secretary of turning down their other demand of applying appropriate sections of the IPC entailing sexual assault, rape and robbery in the FIR, Dasgupta said that the home secretary maintained that the FIR could not be changed.

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Maya seeks Rs 2,200 cr for flood-hit
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 3
Following an aerial survey and review of flood-hit districts of the state, Chief Minister Mayawati has demanded a central package of Rs 2,200 crore for immediate flood relief.

After assessing the situation, she called upon the central government to negotiate a permanent settlement with Nepal so that rivers flowing from the neighbouring country did not create annual havoc.

Earlier, she had made an ariel survey of the divisions of Azamgarh, Gorakhpur, Basti and Faizabad. She halted at the seriously affected districts of Kushinagar, Maharajganj, Bahraich and Gonda.

She announced the immediate suspension of executive engineer Akbar Ali Khan from Sidharth Nagar for not being present on duty where he had been posted at Sakraul Bhikaripur dam in Tarabganj tehsil in the flood-hit Gonda. He had not reported the breaching of the dam that has caused great damage in the area.

The Chief Minister has also ordered to probe the repair work of dams carried on during the past three years at an enormous cost.

Meanwhile, seven more persons reportedly died in incidents of house collapse in different parts of the state since Wednesday, taking the toll in rain-related deaths in Uttar Pradesh to more than 100.

Four persons were killed in a house collapse in Barabanki district while three persons perished in Bahraich, official sources said in Lucknow yesterday.

Over three lakh people have been uprooted from hundreds of villages in flood-affected Bahraich, Faizabad and Barabanki districts alone.

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Reddy meets Sonia
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
With a view to take the sting out of Left's attack on him following the police firing in Khammam district, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S Rajashekhara Reddy today said his government was doing more for distribution of land and houses among landless in the state than any of the previous governments.

Reddy, who today met Congress president Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of the situation in the wake of police firing, said she was “satisfied” with the response of the state government, However, Congress President asked the state government to be more careful in the future and take measures for relief on a war-footing.

Reddy said while Left parties had the right to carry out their “political activity” the administration had to see that no hindrance was caused to the common man.

Admitting that proper drill was not followed by the police in dealing with the situation in Khammam district, he said judicial inquiry had been ordered into the incident and immediate action had been taken against police officials. He said the kin of those killed would be given an ex-gratia of Rs 6 lakh, a piece of land or house besides a government job.

On comparisons between Khammam and Nandigram, Reddy said his government had acted promptly in ordering a judicial probe. Terming Khammam as a "stray incident," he said there was state-wide bandh on the day in which buses were stoned at nearly 120 places. The police, he said, had acted with restraint except in Khammam where an inquiry had been ordered. Reddy said Nandigram issue had been building for days.

He said the state government had a pro-active land distribution policy and it would construct 70 lakh houses during its term in office.

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Wheat Scam
BJP to launch agitation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The BJP will launch a nationwide farmers agitation and will march to Parliament on August 20 to protest against the anti-farmer policies of the ruling UPA government.

Briefing mediapersons, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said farmers from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan would hold a rally in capital’s Ramlila Maidan on August 20 and then would march to Parliament in protest against the anti-farmer policies of the Centre and demand a CBI probe into the wheat import scam.

The scam was not only an error of judgement as being made out by the government, Javadekar said and added that only a CBI inquiry could reveal why the government cancelled the first tenders in May, 2007, at the rate of $263 per MT and then accepted the July, 2007, tenders with much higher prices of $320-360 per MT.

“It is pertinent to know why the government did not wait until September, when international prices are expected to fall”, the spokesman said and stressed that it was important to know why the government persisted with import plan even after realising that the indigenous production has increased by 5 million tonnes over the last year.

“What has hurt Indian farmers most is the fact that the government, which is paying Rs 1400 per quintal to foreign farmer, is paying only Rs 850 to Indian farmers”, he said adding that the MSP declared by the government last week was an insult added to injuries of the farmers and demanded an increase of Rs 100 per quintal across the board for all foodgrains.

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BJP team to visit J&K
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The BJP is sending a three MP team led by Bhagalpur Lok Sabha MP Syed Shahnawaj Hussain to Jammu and Kashmir to study the problem of immigrant agricultural labourers, who are leaving the state in face of threat from separatist Hurriyat leader S.A.S. Gilani.

The team will interact with the state government officials, representatives of the political parties and the labourers, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said here today.

The team would also meet Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, he said.

Other members of the team are Brij Bhushan Singh and Sukhdeo Paswan, Javadekar said. He added that team would submit its report to party president Rajnath Singh.

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Dwindling tiger population attracts PM’s attention
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
India's dwindling tiger population has once again attracted the attention of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. The PM has asked State governments to strengthen institutional arrangements in tiger reserves and prioritise recruitment of frontline staff of the forest department especially in sanctuaries.

According to figures by wildlife experts, the number of tigers in India today is in the range of 1200 to 1500. The 2002 tiger census put the tiger population in the country at 3,642. The tiger population estimation currently entrusted to the Wildlife Institute of India, is expected in December.

After reviewing the implementation of the Tiger Task

Force report, the Prime Minister found that a large number of frontline posts in the Department of Forests are lying vacant in several States. He has asked the States to fill these vacancies at the earliest.

Dr Singh has also asked the Chief Ministers to set up a development agency in each tiger reserve to encourage local participation in tiger reserve management. He has asked the states to consider major parks and tiger reserves as autonomous profit centres.

During his visit to the Ranthambore national park and tiger reserve in Rajasthan's Sawai Madhopur district in May 2005,Dr Manmohan Singh had said, “The future of tiger is in our hands.''

Friday clearly belonged to the tiger as some of India's most noted tiger conservationists gathered in World Wildlife

Fund here to debate on the future of the tiger. These included members of the recently constituted International Tiger Coalition, which is represented by 35 non-government wildlife organisations. The two hour long debate centred on China's resistance to the clear call of the international community disfavouring trade in tiger parts for commercial reasons.

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Heroin worth Rs 45 lakh seized, 1 held
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 3
The police today seized 950 grams of heroin worth about Rs 45 lakh in the underground market and arrested one person in this connection.

Acting on a tip-off, the police arrested one Anu Rabha from Sonarphooli village in Bagsa district this morning and seized the drug from his possession.

A police source informed that the arrested person had confessed to having procured the drug from a peddlers’ den at Panjabari in Guwahati. Although the police immediately raided the den, it came to a naught as the suspected drug peddlers had already left the place apprehending police action.

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Sectt meeting flays CPI

Kolkata, August 3
The state secretariat meeting held at the Alimuddin Street party office today criticised the three major partners - the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc - for "ganging up against the CPM" on the Nandigram issue. The meeting also cautioned senior leader Benoy Konar against making any irresponsible and provocative statements on the issue.

Incidentally, yesterday, Konar held a press conference at the Assembly, stating that the party did not regret the killing of 14 people in the police firing at Nandigram on March 14, as Naxalites and some anti-social people, in the name of farmers movement, were agitating and attacking the police party, which went there for freeing the area from their control. — TNS

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