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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

‘123 an assault on our N-sovereignty’
New Delhi, August 4
The BJP today slammed the Indo-US nuclear deal as “an assault on India’s nuclear sovereignty and foreign policy” and demanded that the agreement be referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

The BJP’s arsenal on N-deal

Kill Naxalites, get rewarded
AP revives policy that discredited TDP regime
Hyderabad, August 4
After extending the ban on Maoists, the Andhra Pradesh government has revived the policy of fixing rewards on the heads of Naxalites, a practice that had discredited the previous TDP regime.

Sonia to visit flood-hit Assam
Guwahati, August 4
The UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, is scheduled to visit some of the flood-affected areas in on August 7 next along with the union home minister Shivraj Patil.





One-horned rhinos take shelter in highland area inside the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in the flood-affected Morigaon district of Assam on Saturday. — PTI photo

One-horned rhinos take shelter in highland area inside the Pobitora wildlife sanctuary in the flood-affected Morigaon district of Assam on Saturday.






EARLIER STORIES




ANOTHER WONDER

Pratap Singh, 7 feet 10 inches, who claims to be the tallest man in the world, shakes hands with a man of normal height at a park in front of Taj Mahal in Agra on Saturday.
Pratap Singh, 7 feet 10 inches, who claims to be the tallest man in the world, shakes hands with a man of normal height at a park in front of Taj Mahal in Agra on Saturday. Singh belongs to Pratapgarh in UP. — PTI photo

5 more die in UP floods, toll 125
Lucknow, August 4
Five more persons died in flood-related incidents in Uttar Pradesh, taking the toll to 125 as major rivers in the state maintained a rising trend inundating large tracts of land, especially in the eastern region.

Choppers drop food in Bihar
Patna, August 4
Air Force helicopters started air-dropping food packets in the worst-hit Darbhanga district of Bihar as there was no let up in the flood situation, which has so far claimed 77 lives in the state, official sources said today.

I gave no directions to pilots: Lalu
New Delhi, August 4
As a controversy broke out over a helicopter landing on a highway, Railways minister Lalu Prasad today said he gave no directions to pilots to land his helicopter on the highway.

NBWs against Ashok Malhotra
New Delhi, August 4
A city court on Saturday issued non-bailable warrants against tea vendor-turned alleged land mafia contractor Ashok Malhotra, for allegedly possessing huge unaccounted assets worth over Rs 100 crore.

SC moved for trial against Maya
New Delhi, August 4
A complainant on whose petition the Supreme Court had set the ball rolling to probe the Taj corridor scam case against UP Chief Minister Mayawati today moved the apex court for a direction to special judge at Lucknow to go ahead with the trial overriding Governor T.V. Rajeshwar’s order denying sanction for her prosecution.

Assets Case
M’rashtra DGP exonerated
Mumbai, August 4
An inquiry conducted against Maharashtra's director-general of police P.S. Pasricha has exonerated him from holding assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

RSS welcomes Sanjay Dutt’s conviction
New Delhi, August 4
The RSS has welcomed the jailing of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt for possessing weapons illegally as a “well-deserved” punishment.

Sanjay complains of chest pain
Pune, August 4
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt complained of chest pain and spent second night unconsciously at the Yerawada jail.

DIG commits suicide
Bangalore, August 4
A deputy inspector general of police (DIG) today allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence here, the police said. DIG (Prisons) B.S. Abbai, 53, took the extreme step when his wife was not at home.


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‘123 an assault on our N-sovereignty’
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
The BJP today slammed the Indo-US nuclear deal as “an assault on India’s nuclear sovereignty and foreign policy” and demanded that the agreement be referred to a Joint Parliamentary Committee.

The saffron party’s stand on the nuclear deal, which many experts view as India’s biggest foreign policy achievement since the 1971 treaty of friendship with the Soviet Union, makes it clear that the Opposition is sharpening its knives for an attack on the government in Parliament next week.

“Our worst fear is that the deal is to circumvent or as the Hyde Act says to cap, roll back and to eliminate India’s nuclear weapons programme is what the US is trying to achieve through this 123 bilateral agreement… Thus, the BJP believes that the agreement is an assault on our nuclear sovereignty and foreign policy options,” former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha said.

Two days ago, the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) had attacked the 123 Agreement, saying it was aimed at making India a US satellite state and announced its decision to oppose the deal in Parliament. The constituents of the UNPA are scheduled to hold a monsoon session-eve meeting here on August 9 to finalise their strategy for better floor coordination in the two Houses.

For its part, the government is clear that it would not predicate the implementation of the 123 agreement to its prior approval. It seems determined to slug it out with the Opposition in the Parliament and give a point-by-point rebuttal during the debate on the nuclear deal issue.

The BJP’s arsenal on N-deal

The US officials’ assertion that the 123 Agreement is “Hyde Act-bound”.

Article 2(2)(d) of the Agreement relating to “aspects of the associated nuclear fuel cycle”. The BJP’s contention is that “Aspects mean parts and hence all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle are not covered under this Agreement.”

According to article 5(2) of the Agreement, sensitive nuclear technology, heavy water production technology, sensitive nuclear facilities and major critical components of such facilities can be transferred to India only after an amendment to this Agreement has been carried out. The BJP dubbed it as “a peculiar arrangement”, and said, “The provision for such transfer should have been included in this Agreement itself instead of leaving it to a future amendment.”

Under the same provision, the US will retain the right of end-use verification of all its supplies. This will ensure that American inspectors will “roam around our nuclear installations”.

The US commitments on fuel supplies are “vague and futuristic”.

India is required under the 123 Agreement to establish a new national reprocessing facility dedicated to reprocessing safeguarded nuclear material under IAEA safeguards. BJP’s take on this clause: “If it is an agreement between two equal parties with reciprocal commitments, is the US accepting a similar provision for its reprocessing facilities? Is any such facility being created in any country belonging to the Nuclear Five?”

India has accepted legally enforceable commitments in perpetuity. “We are being forced to accept a bilateral CTBT with more stringent provisions than the multilateral CTBT.”

There is nothing in the Agreement regarding the reprocessing of the spent fuel of Tarapur, which has accumulated over the last 33 years.

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Kill Naxalites, get rewarded
AP revives policy that discredited TDP regime
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 4
After extending the ban on Maoists, the Andhra Pradesh government has revived the policy of fixing rewards on the heads of Naxalites, a practice that had discredited the previous TDP regime.

The underground leaders, starting from an ordinary member of CPI (Maoist) to the central committee secretary Ganapathi, will carry the bounty in the range of Rs 20,000 to Rs 12 lakh.

Reviving a five-year-old policy with some modifications, the government has put a prize on the heads of 1,133 Maoists, totaling a whopping Rs 16 crore.

As per the latest order, 13 top Maoist leaders of the central committee, including Ganapathi and Ramakrishna, will carry a reward of Rs 12 lakh each on their heads while 27 leaders in the next layer of hierarchy representing state special zonal committees, including Dandakaranya special zonal committee and Andhra-Orissa border committee, carry Rs 10 lakh each.

The police pay-off for the members of other state-level committees is fixed at Rs 8 lakh each and Rs 6 lakh for regional committee member while district committee and division committee secretaries, military platoon commanders and members of the struggle and publicity committees will carry Rs 5 lakh reward.

The bounty for deputy commanders and action team commanders is Rs 3 lakh each, area committee and “dalam” (squad) commanders Rs 2 lakh and Rs 1 lakh each for local guerilla squad members and military platoon section deputy commanders.

The lower level Maoist cadres will carry rewards ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 50,000.

As per the estimates prepared in 2002, when TDP was in power, there were 1,233 hardcore underground Naxalites. The number has now come down to 1,133.

During the past four years, 364 top Maoist leaders had surrendered to the police and availed the benefits of rehabilitation scheme.

As many as 182 were eliminated in police encounters while 83 were arrested. Despite the police succeeding in eliminating several top leaders, there has been considerable fresh recruitment into the organization.

The state cabinet had recently decided to extend the ban by one more year on CPI (Maoist) and six of its frontal organisations.

The ban was re-imposed on August 17, 2005, two days after Naxalites gunned down senior Congress legislator C. Narsi Reddy and 10 others in Mahaboobnagar district during an official function to mark the Independence Day.

The policy of fixing rewards had drawn flak from the civil rights groups in the past who alleged that it amounted to encouraging police to indulge in fake encounters and eliminate large number of Naxalites and their sympathisers for the sake of money.

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Sonia to visit flood-hit Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 4
The UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, is scheduled to visit some of the flood-affected areas in on August 7 next along with the union home minister Shivraj Patil.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi informed that Gandhi was slated to make rounds of some flood-affected areas and the details of her day-long trip to was yet to be finalised.

“The worst of the flood is over due to receding of water level in most parts of the state during the last couple of days. What the UPA chairperson will get to see are the damages caused by the havoc and the plight of the flood-hit in the state,” he said.

He termed the current wave of flood as one of the worst ever faced by the state. The wave of flood has rendered about 64 lakh people homeless in 26 districts out of total 27 districts in the state inundating over 8 lakh hectares of land in 5,326 villages, besides taking lives of 23 persons.

The Assam government would welcome any flood relief materials and help coming from international voluntary organisations like the Red Cross, especially food stuff for flood-hit children and infants. However, the Chief Minister claimed that the state was not facing any paucity of relief materials.

The relief materials distributed by the state government don’t include any special for items for flood-hit children and infants. The state government has distributed rice, pulses, salt, molasses, and flattened rice for the flood-hit.

The state government has constituted a commissioner level inquiry panel to probe into circumstances leading to a large number of breaches in embankments in the state during the current wave of flood. The swirling flood waters breached 53 embankments in the state.

“Besides the embankments, the floods have caused extensive damage to roads and bridges all over the state. We are yet to start the process of assessing and quantifying the damages caused to infrastructure by the flood,” Gogoi said.

Meanwhile, the state health department has been put on high alert to remain prepared to tackle any possible out break of any epidemic disease in the state once the flood waters recede.

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5 more die in UP floods, toll 125

Lucknow, August 4
Five more persons died in flood-related incidents in Uttar Pradesh, taking the toll to 125 as major rivers in the state maintained a rising trend inundating large tracts of land, especially in the eastern region.

Reports reaching here said one death each was reported from Derioa, Gorakhpur, Gonda, Barabanki and Kushinagar districts due to wall collapse since yesterday. Over 2,200 villages have been affected by floods and about 1,100 villages have been marooned in 20 districts. While Army was called out in Barabanki and Gorkahpur district, Provincial Armed Constabulary had been pressed in other flood-affected districts to evacuate people to safety. The government has announced an ex gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh each to those killed in flood-related incidents, official sources said. — PTI

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Choppers drop food in Bihar

Patna, August 4
Air Force helicopters started air-dropping food packets in the worst-hit Darbhanga district of Bihar as there was no let up in the flood situation, which has so far claimed 77 lives in the state, official sources said today.

Two IAF choppers had begun air-dropping of food packets in four blocks — Jale, Biraul, Singhwara and Gaurbairam — of Darbhanga district, which had remained cut off from the rest of the state for the last several days, road construction secretary R.K. Singh said. According to disaster management department sources, the number of those affected by flood has crossed 1.03 crore.

Muzaffarpur, Sitamarhi, Saharsa, east Champaran, Supaul, Darbhanga, Patna, Bhagalpur, West Champaran, Katihar, Madhubani, Samastipur, Sheohar, Nalanda, Khagaria, Gopalganj, Madhepura and Begusarai districts are in the grip of floods, they said.

Several major rivers including Burhi Gandak, Bagmati, Adhvara, Kosi, Mahananda and Gandak are flowing above the danger level.

CM Nitish Kumar, who undertook an aerial survey of Darbhanga, Sitamarhi, East Champaran, Muzaffarpur and Khagaria yesterday, made an assessment of the flood situation in Nalanda and Saharsa today. — PTI

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I gave no directions to pilots: Lalu

New Delhi, August 4
As a controversy broke out over a helicopter landing on a highway, Railways minister Lalu Prasad today said he gave no directions to pilots to land his helicopter on the highway.

“I don’t know why they (pilots) landed, the decision was not in my hands,” Lalu said when asked about how the MI-17 helicopter had landed on the national highway near Manihari village, while he was undertaking an aerial survey of flood-affected areas of Bihar.

“They were Air Force personnel and doing their job. I had nothing to do with it,” he said.

The incident of helicopter landing on the highway has come in for sharp attack from Opposition parties, who said this could have endangered civilian lives.

Meanwhile, the Air Force has sent a report to defence minister A.K. Antony about the unscheduled landing. IAF officials were tight-lipped about the incident, but sources claimed that it was only on the insistence of the minister that the pilots landed on the highway, disregarding usual norms.

Sources said VVIP flights normally have to give advance notice of their landings and destinations and if any changes are made they have to do it six hours in advance. — PTI

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NBWs against Ashok Malhotra

New Delhi, August 4
A city court on Saturday issued non-bailable warrants against tea vendor-turned alleged land mafia contractor Ashok Malhotra, for allegedly possessing huge unaccounted assets worth over Rs 100 crore.

Special Judge SK Kaushik who issued the NBWs on an application moved by the CBI, asked the investigating agency to produce him before the court on or before August 14.

A CBI spokesperson said several teams have been dispatched to different parts of the country in search of Malhotra. — PTI

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SC moved for trial against Maya
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 4
A complainant on whose petition the Supreme Court had set the ball rolling to probe the Taj corridor scam case against UP Chief Minister Mayawati today moved the apex court for a direction to special judge at Lucknow to go ahead with the trial overriding Governor T.V. Rajeshwar’s order denying sanction for her prosecution.

Advocate Ajay Agrawal in his application said in view of last year’s ruling by the apex court in Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s case that no sanction was required under Section 197 of the IPC to prosecute a public servant in a corruption case, there was no need to obtain sanction by the CBI to go ahead with the trial in the case against Mayawati and her cabinet colleague Naseemuddin Sidiqui.

Advocate Krishan Mahajan, appointed as amicus curiae by the apex court to assist it in all Taj-related matters, in a separate application said the Governor’s order was “wrong” and contrary to law and open to judicial review.

Since sanction was denied reportedly by the Governor under Section 197 of the CrPC, Agrawal interestingly sought commencing of the trial only under different sections of the IPC for forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy slapped by the CBI against Mayawati. The application was silent on the charges under Prevention of Corruption Act.

It said the denial of sanction by the Governor was nothing but an “attempt to exonerate” Mayawati in the case.

It alleged that the Governor was “too blatant” in “ignoring” the law laid down by the Supreme Court while taking the decision refusing sanction to the CBI on June 3 last. He had simply brushed aside the evidence collected by the agency and even a series of orders passed by the apex court while monitoring the investigation, Agrawal in his application said.

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Assets Case
M’rashtra DGP exonerated
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 4
An inquiry conducted against Maharashtra's director-general of police P.S. Pasricha has exonerated him from holding assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Pasricha, a high-profile police officer, came under the scanner after a television channel carried out a sting operation against him.

The report alleged that Pasricha had amassed property by putting pressure on builders who had a number of cases against them. It was also alleged that the police official had put pressure on junior police officials to dilute charges against builders who helped him by selling properties at below-market prices.

After the scandal broke, Pasricha insisted that all his dealings were above board and he had declared details of properties held by him in the Annual Immovable Property Returns filed with the state government every year.

Shortly afterwards, Maharashtra's deputy chief minister R.R. Patil ordered an inquiry against Pasricha to be conducted by a three-member committee headed by chief secretary Johny Joseph. The inquiry exonerated Pasricha of all wrong-doing.

Patil has now ordered an inquiry into the leak of the AIPR filed by Pasricha to the media. “The details of the AIPR are sealed and kept with the home department and is confidential in nature," a senior IAS officer said.

The inquiry into the leak will be conducted by the criminal investigative department of the Mumbai police. In all, about 20 persons in the home department, are to be interrogated in the matter.

“Now, my honour has been restored,” said Pasricha.

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RSS welcomes Sanjay Dutt’s conviction

New Delhi, August 4
The RSS has welcomed the jailing of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt for possessing weapons illegally as a “well-deserved” punishment.

In an editorial in its mouthpiece “Organiser”, it, however, flayed the role of the media over its coverage of Dutt’s case as “revolting”.

“Nobody asks what this man was doing with AK-47s and AK-56 in his house. In India, most of the high-profile culprits go scot-free and by handing down the well-deserved punishment to Dutt, Justice (Pramod Dattaram) Kode has once again proved that the Indian judiciary delivers justice, albeit a little delayed,” the editorial said.

“The Bombay serial bombings, the Beant Singh assassination and the Coimbatore serial blasts — though all these verdicts are from the lower courts and could be challenged, it is a solace that the guilty have been brought under the law and their faces revealed,” it said. — PTI

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Sanjay complains of chest pain

Pune, August 4
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt complained of chest pain and spent second night unconsciously at the Yerawada jail.

Jail authorities confirmed that actor would be given a medical check up today to decide whether he should be taken to government-run Sasoon hospital. Sanjay, who suffers from blood pressure, is also a heavy smoker.

Sanjay Dutt was today shifted to a high security cell at Yerawada Jail here, where he was transferred from Mumbai's Arthur Road Jail on August 1.

According to the Yerawada Jail sources, Dutt, who was lodged in an egg-shaped cell, has been shifted to barrack number 3.

The actor, sentenced to six years of rigorous imprisonment (RI) by the special TADA court under the Arms Act for keeping an AK-56 rifle and a 9 mm pistol at his Bandra residence, will have the company of his close friend Yusuf Nullwala who too was shifted to another cell in the same barrack.

The process of securing bail for Sanjay has been started by his sister Congress MP Priya Dutt, who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi yesterday.

It is also learnt that Dutt has signed the bail application form brought to him his lawyer today. — UNI

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DIG commits suicide

Bangalore, August 4
A deputy inspector general of police (DIG) today allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his residence here, the police said. DIG (Prisons) B.S. Abbai, 53, took the extreme step when his wife was not at home.

Abbai left a suicide note in which he said that nobody was to be blamed for his act, they said. He is survived by wife and a 12-year-old son. — PTI

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