SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

32 hurt as train derails
Rescue workers and local people gather near the derailed engine and bogies of the Jodhpur-Howrah Express in Kanpur on Tuesday.
Kanpur, August 7
Thirtytwo passengers were injured when the Jodhpur-Howrah Express derailed near the Juhi yard in the district today, disrupting train traffic on the route.

Lalu orders probe

Rescue workers and local people gather near the derailed engine and bogies of the Jodhpur-Howrah Express in Kanpur on Tuesday. — PTI

Naveen Chawla issue
SC allows BJP to petition CEC
New Delhi, August 7
In a twist to the Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla appointment controversy, the Supreme Court today permitted the BJP to withdraw its petition against him in view of a new stand taken by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswami and allowed the party to directly approach the poll panel chief.





EARLIER STORIES




Ensure extradition of Dawood, says BJP
New Delhi, August 7
The BJP today asked the Centre to take all possible steps and use all available leverages to secure the extradition of global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and his close accomplice Tiger Memon to face charges for waging a war against the nation.

Dawood moved to safe house in Karachi
New Delhi, August 7
“Global terrorist” Dawood Ibrahim has been moved from his palatial Karachi residence to another secret safe house in the same city, authoritative sources told this correspondent today.

22 sentenced in fodder scam case
Ranchi, August 7
A special CBI court today sentenced 22 of 29 convicts, including 10 former government officers, to prison terms varying between five and six years in connection with a fodder scam case pertaining to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 4.5 crore from the Ranchi treasury.

N-deal against India’s interests: Jaya
Chennai, August 7
Tamil Nadu opposition leader Jayaram Jayalalithaa today described the Indo-US nuclear deal as harmful to India’s sovereignty and demanded that a committee of MPs, scientists and eminent citizens be constituted to examine its clauses.

Bush invites PM to Texas ranch
New Delhi, August 7
US President George W Bush has invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Crawford ranch in Texas, an honour no American President has extended to any Indian Prime Minister before.

Govt interfering, says IIM-A director
Ahmedabad, August 7
The government’s decision to invite applications for the post of director in three Indian Institutes of Management has drawn a strong reaction from IIM-Ahmedabad director Bakul Dholakia, who described it as an infringement of the autonomy of these institutions.

Ashok Malhotra, prime accused in the multi-crore land scam in the national capital, being taken away after he was produced at Tis Hazari court on Tuesday. Malhotra remanded in CBI custody for 14 days
New Delhi, August 7
A court here today remanded Ashok Malhotra, the alleged kingpin of the multi-crore land scam in the Capital, in CBI custody for 14 days.

Editorial: Cars and crores

Ashok Malhotra, prime accused in the multi-crore land scam in the national capital, being taken away after he was produced at Tis Hazari court on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Manas Ranjan Bhui

Shekhawat for simultaneous poll to LS, assemblies
New Delhi, August 7
Asserting that frequent elections adversely impact the quality and content of governance, outgoing Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat today favoured simultaneous elections to both Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

Salman case verdict on August 24
Jodhpur, August 7
Bollywood actor Salman Khan's fate in the blackbuck poaching case will be decided on August 24.

Sanjay moves SC against conviction, seeks bail
New Delhi, August 7
After days of speculation about the next legal course to be followed by Sanjay Dutt, convicted and sentenced to six years’ jail term by a special TADA court for possessing prohibited arms during the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, the actor today filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.

Education dept corrupt: Assam govt
Guwahati, August 7
The state government today admitted in the Assembly that there was an urgent need to purge the state’s Education Department of corruption and called upon the opposition parties to extend help to streamline the department.

Teacher in custody for student’s death
Udaipur, August 7
A teacher, whose alleged beating led to the death of a 17-year-old schoolboy here last week, was sent to 15 days of judicial custody by a court today.

Sonia to host dinner for MPs today
New Delhi, August 7
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will host a dinner for MPs of UPA and supporting parties tomorrow, two days ahead of the start of the monsoon session of Parliament and the vice-presidential election.

Sonia, Patil face angry crowd in Samastipur
Congress president Sonia Gandhi meets flood-affected people at Samastipur, Bihar on Tuesday.Samastipur/Dhemaji, August 7
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and home minister Shivraj Patil today faced an angry crowd that complained of tardy relief operations when they arrived in Samastipur after making an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in Bihar and Assam.



Congress president Sonia Gandhi meets flood-affected people at Samastipur, Bihar on Tuesday. — PTI

Telugu Desam to consult experts on economic policy
Hyderabad, August 7
Keen to re-invent populism in a bid to come to back to power, the Telugu Desam Party will consult Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, agricultural scientist M S Swaninathan and other experts to incorporate their ideas in the alternative economic policy being formulated by the party.

Engineer jumps to death
Lucknow, August 7
Suicides from high-rise buildings in the Uttar Pradesh capital continued unabated, with a senior official of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) jumping from the 14th floor of Shakti Bhawan today.


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32 hurt as train derails
Tribune News Service & PTI

Kanpur, August 7
Thirtytwo passengers were injured when the Jodhpur-Howrah Express derailed near the Juhi yard in the district today, disrupting train traffic on the route.

Two of them were in critical condition.

The seriously injured passengers have been identified as Mohd Anif of Kanpur and Noor Mohammad of Hajaribagh district in Jharkhand, District Magistrate Anurag Srivastav said.

The derailment occurred due to some technical problem in the track, he said.

The engine and two coaches of the train jumped the tracks near the industrial city at 12:25, railway sources said.

The assistant driver was trapped inside the derailed engine and has been rescued, Srivastav said adding the driver was injured in the mishap.

Several trains on this route have been hit by the derailment.

Lalu orders probe

New Delhi: Railway Minister Lalu Prasad has ordered a statutory inquiry into the derailment of 2308 Dn Jodhpur-Howrah Express near Kanpur today afternoon.

R.K. Kardam, Commissioner Railway Safety, Northern Circle, will conduct the inquiry into the accident.

Sources in Rail Bhawan said 32 persons were injured when two engines of Jodhpur Howrah Express derailed at 12.25 p.m. at Juhi yards, 8 km from Kanpur station under Allahabad division of North Central Railway. 

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Naveen Chawla issue
SC allows BJP to petition CEC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 7
In a twist to the Election Commissioner Naveen Chawla appointment controversy, the Supreme Court today permitted the BJP to withdraw its petition against him in view of a new stand taken by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N. Gopalaswami and allowed the party to directly approach the poll panel chief.

The CEC in his affidavit stated that under Article 324 (5) of the Constitution he had the power to deal with the issue either on a complaint against an Election Commissioner or on a suo motu initiative.

“The said power of the CEC has to be exercised under Article 324 so as to preserve and uphold the independence, impartiality, neutrality, integrity and dignity of the Election Commission.

A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhan and V.S. Sirpurkar, while allowing the withdrawal of the petition by the BJP filed by its leader Jaswant Singh, left all questions raised by the party “open” for being agitated before the CEC.

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Ensure extradition of Dawood, says BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
The BJP today asked the Centre to take all possible steps and use all available leverages to secure the extradition of global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim and his close accomplice Tiger Memon to face charges for waging a war against the nation.

Briefing newspersons, BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad referred to the arrest of Dawood and Memon in Pakistan and said, “We seriously apprehend that Islamabad, as usual, would deny his presence there”.

New Delhi must ensure that the occasion was properly used to expose the patent falsehood of Pakistan, Prasad said and pointed out that the issue of deportation of Dawood was taken up in the most focused manner during the NDA regime when the then Deputy Prime Minister, L K Advani, raised the issue with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf before the Agra summit.

It was the persistence of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee that Pakistan for the first time acknowledged and agreed in the January 6, 2004, agreement that it shall not permit its territory to be used for the spread of terror-related activities, the spokesman said.

Charging the UPA government with forgetting the January 6, 2004, agreement, Prasad said, “Terror and terrorism are politically dirty words for them”.

Pointing out the close links of Dawood and Al-Qaida elements, the spokesman said the US must demonstrate its bonafides and earnest commitment to wage a global war on terror.

The US must prevail upon Pakistan to extradite Dawood to India to prove its commitment against terrorism, he said.

The threat of the Al-Qaida terror including its affiliates continues to loom large and the latest threat video needs to be taken seriously, Prasad said and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to control the “comical” statements of his ministers on the Al-Qaida threat.

India must use diplomatic pressure to get Jamat-ud-Dawa, which is the new name of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba, banned under the Security Council resolution number 1373, Prasad said adding China was reportedly opposing this move in concert with Pakistan.

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Dawood moved to safe house in Karachi
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
“Global terrorist” Dawood Ibrahim has been moved from his palatial Karachi residence to another secret safe house in the same city, authoritative sources told this correspondent today.

Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), which has been the unofficial “controller” of the underworld don ever since he fled from India to Pakistan 14 years ago, moved him elsewhere in Karachi.

The ISI has given Dawood a fresh, long list of do’s and don’ts. Perhaps the most important instruction to Dawood is to lie low and copy the modus operandi of Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden to avoid public gaze.

Dawood has been told to keep off all technological contraptions like cell phones, landlines, satellite phones and internet, a lifestyle which Osama bin Laden has adopted for years. This is how bin Laden has managed to evade his capture - dead or alive - despite being the most wanted man on earth, carrying a $50 million reward on his head.

Moreover, like bin Laden, Dawood has been advised to shun all human contact which means that for all practical purposes he would not be directing his vast “business” empire till the ISI relaxes the restrictions.

The implications and the nuances of the development are a bit complicated. Does it mean Dawood is under arrest, or is it preventive custody, or house arrest?

Sources insist that it is actually none of the above. After the US increased its pressure on Pakistan to hand over Dawood, the Pervez Musharraf regime was left with no other option. Islamabad could not have handed over Dawood to Washington for two reasons. One, it would have gone contrary to the stand consistently taken by Pakistan’s top leadership for over a decade that Dawood is not on Pakistani soil. Two, Dawood continues to be a strategic weapon for the ISI.

Asked to react to reports in a section of the media that Dawood, along with his henchmen Chhota Shakeel and Tiger Memon, had been taken in “custody” and shifted from Karachi to Quetta, the sources dismissed these as “cock and bull stories”. It is believed that such stories were “leaked” by Dawood’s aides in Mumbai on specific instructions. The idea was to take Washington off the scent.

The American interest in Dawood flows primarily from specific intelligence reports, gleaned by American agencies themselves, which say that the don has been working hand in glove with the Al- Qaida. These reports say how the D company has been carrying out smuggling missions on behalf of the Al-Qaida entailing transportation of contraband from Asia to African and European destinations.

Dawood is not merely following Al-Qaida’s smuggling routes, but his D company is verily carrying out smuggling operations on behalf of the Al-Qaida. The US is aware, since 2003, of D company’s ships’ frequent calls on ports in Mogadishu (Somalia) and Mombasa (Kenya).

And as for reports of Dawood being moved to Quetta, the sources said nothing could be farther from the truth. “Of all the places, Quetta? No way. Quetta is very much within the striking distance of US bases in bordering Afghanistan. No place in Pakistan is safer than Karachi for Dawood,” an official remarked.

The bottom line in this context is that Dawood is not expendable for Pakistan. At least not yet.

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22 sentenced in fodder scam case

Ranchi, August 7
A special CBI court today sentenced 22 of 29 convicts, including 10 former government officers, to prison terms varying between five and six years in connection with a fodder scam case pertaining to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 4.5 crore from the Ranchi treasury.

The court of Judge J.K.N. Tiwari, who has sentenced seven other convicts in the case, awarded rigorous imprisonment for six years to K.N. Jha, Junul Bhengraj and O.P. Diwakar, all former regional directors of the animal husbandry department.

The same sentence was also given to former officers K.M. Prasad (assistant director), Brajnandan Prasad Verma, Chandra Kishore Lal, Hemendra Kumar, Sunil Kumar Sinha, Braj Bhushan Prasad and Bhubaneswar Sahay.

While Braj Bhusan Prasad was fined Rs 1.6 lakh, the other officers were fined Rs 1.8 lakh by the court. The court sentenced eight suppliers to RI for six years and gave RI for five years to four other suppliers. Fines ranging from Rs 1.15 lakh to Rs 1.35 lakh were also imposed on the suppliers. — PTI

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N-deal against India’s interests: Jaya
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 7
Tamil Nadu opposition leader Jayaram Jayalalithaa today described the Indo-US nuclear deal as harmful to India’s sovereignty and demanded that a committee of MPs, scientists and eminent citizens be constituted to examine its clauses.

Describing the agreement as a “pair of golden cuffs”, the AIADMK general secretary said, “There are more clauses in the agreement working against India’s interests than clauses that favour India’s interests. The central government is obdurate in its view that such a deal requires to be concluded, thereby proving that it is acting against India’s interests.”

Jayalalithaa said, “There are very deleterious clauses working against India’s sovereignty. The important points among these relate to our research centres, atomic power processing, atomic power plants and the disposal of atomic waste after use. All these will come under the supervisory control of the US as well as the powers of inspection and gathering of information pertaining to our nuclear capability.”

Describing the ruling UPA government at the centre as “a conglomeration of 22 parties holding contradictory views and acting according to the diktats of foreign masters”, she said it had absolutely no moral right to sign the above nuclear agreement.”

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Bush invites PM to Texas ranch
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
US President George W Bush has invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Crawford ranch in Texas, an honour no American President has extended to any Indian Prime Minister before.

However, the Prime Minister is in no hurry to embark on this visit due to certain political and diplomatic considerations.

An indication of this was made available today, as sources said that external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee would be representing India at the United Nations General Session, which begins in New York on September 25.India’s turn to speak is on September 28.

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Govt interfering, says IIM-A director

Ahmedabad, August 7
The government’s decision to invite applications for the post of director in three Indian Institutes of Management has drawn a strong reaction from IIM-Ahmedabad director Bakul Dholakia, who described it as an infringement of the autonomy of these institutions.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, the government played the role of a facilitator in educational institutions, particularly in institutions of higher learning,” he said today.

“For the past one decade, you find more and more instances of (government) interference in the operations and autonomy of these institutions,” Dholakia said in his inaugural address at a two-day workshop organised by the Press Institute of India at the IIM here.

“More significant is the (interference in appointment of chairmen and directors of these institutes,” he said, hitting out at the government’s decision to invite applications for the post of director in the IIMs in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Kolkata through an advertisement.

“Where is the freedom as far as educational institutions are concerned,” asked Dholakia, whose term ends in October.

“Do they have freedom with regard to their administrative structures,” he said, adding that about 60 to 70 per cent members on the board of institutions like the IIMs were government appointees.

Dholakia said institutions of higher learning did not have any say in fixing the pay of their faculties. Decisions on general hierarchy of the organisation and number and kind of cadres were taken by the government, he pointed out. — PTI

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Malhotra remanded in CBI custody for 14 days
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
A court here today remanded Ashok Malhotra, the alleged kingpin of the multi-crore land scam in the Capital, in CBI custody for 14 days.

Special judge S.K. Kaushik sent Malhotra in CBI custody till August 21 after the investigating agency submitted that he was to be confronted with voluminous documents and other evidence collected during raids at his residence in Mukhrjee Nagar here.

"Considering the extent of investigation to be carried out by the CBI, I am satisfied that 14-day custody is justified in the circumstances of the case," the judge said.

Malhotra was arrested yesterday after he had made a dramatic appearance at the studio of a news channel and surrendered there.

Earlier, Ashok Soni, counsel for the accused submitted that CBI could not produce a single document to connect Malhotra with the case.

The probe agency contended that custodial interrogation of the accused was required to unearth his alleged nexus with other suspects in the case.

The accused had also argued before the court on the necessity of issuing a Non-Bailable Warrant (NBW) against him, saying he always wanted to join the investigation. On August 4, the court had issued NBW against the city-based contractor.

Malhotra is accused of having entered into a criminal conspiracy with five DDA officials and fraudulently acquiring plots in Dhirpur area that were meant for resettlement of slum dwellers during 2000-02.

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Shekhawat for simultaneous poll to LS, assemblies
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
Asserting that frequent elections adversely impact the quality and content of governance, outgoing Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat today favoured simultaneous elections to both Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.

“Electoral reforms are a matter of urgency.We need to take the country out of the every-year-elections-syndrome by holding simultaneous elections to both Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies,” Shekhawat said at a farewell function organised for him here.

“Today, frequent elections adversely impact on the quality and content of governance,” he added.

Shekhawat, who tendered his resignation after his defeat in the just-concluded presidential elections, wanted the legislators to take electoral politics and public life to a high pedestal of exemplary moral and ethical norms.

Shekhawat, who had always stressed on the quality rather than quantity of debates as chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, said “It is my conviction that quality of governance in democracy will critically hinge on the quality of business transacted in Parliament.

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Salman case verdict on August 24

Jodhpur, August 7
Bollywood actor Salman Khan's fate in the blackbuck poaching case will be decided on August 24.

The District and Sessions Court Judge K K Singhvi today reserved the judgment for August 24 on conclusion of hearing on an appeal petition filed by the actor against the five-year sentence awarded to him.

Chief Judicial Magistrate Brijendra Kumar Jain had convicted Salman for poaching two blackbucks in the Ghoda farmhouse and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 25,000.

Salman also recorded his presence in the court of Judicial Magistrate Dalpat Singh Rajpurohit in the Chinkara poaching case yesterday.

The actor had also appealed against the February 17, 2006, verdict given by Magistrate Brijendra Kumar where he was sentenced to one- year imprisonment for killing a chinkara in Bhavad village under Mathania police station. — UNI

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Sanjay moves SC against conviction, seeks bail
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 7
After days of speculation about the next legal course to be followed by Sanjay Dutt, convicted and sentenced to six years’ jail term by a special TADA court for possessing prohibited arms during the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts, the actor today filed an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The film star also moved a separate bail petition, seeking his release from the historic Yerwada jail in the interim period till his appeal is decided by the apex court.

Among the main grounds for bail, he has cited his “good conduct” when he was out on bail during the trial, granted by the apex court after his 16-month incarceration.

Dutt also sought exemption from placing before the court the detailed order on conviction, as it was not made available to any of the convicted persons and is expected to be delivered by special judge P D Kode by the end of this month.

He has challenged his conviction, claiming that the CBI, the prosecuting agency in the case, had not found any evidence against him as no recovery of arms was made from his premises and he was convicted only on the basis of his “confession” recorded under TADA.

In this context, he cited his acquittal under TADA to make it a ground for setting aside his conviction under the Arms Act as well in the absence of no recovery of arms.

Dutt, who has to undergo sentence by excluding the 16 months from his six-year jail term, has also made a formal plea for adjusting the sentence undergone during his confinement in jail after his arrest before he was released on bail.

Meanwhile, the CBI has moved a caveat in the SC pleading that if an appeal is filed by any of the convicted persons in the serial blast case either against his conviction, sentence or bail, no ex-parte interim order be passed by the court.

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Education dept corrupt: Assam govt
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 7
The state government today admitted in the Assembly that there was an urgent need to purge the state’s Education Department of corruption and called upon the opposition parties to extend help to streamline the department.

State education minister Ripun Bora admitted to corruption in response to a discussion about the alleged Rs 2,000 crore scandal in the Education Department regarding sustained withdrawal of salaries against over 13,000 ‘non-existent’ posts of teachers in 5,799 ‘non-existent’ lower primary schools in the state.

While admitting that the department was looked down upon due to rampant corruption which plagued its functioning, the minister stated that it was unlikely that the salaries were being pilfered from the state exchequer against over 13,000 non-existent posts of teachers as alleged in a local daily.

The minister informed that the state government was mulling to set up an autonomous body called ‘State Education Service Commission’ to streamline the appointment of teachers to keep corruption at bay.

The government is studying models of similar commissions functioning in other states of the country.

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Teacher in custody for student’s death

Udaipur, August 7
A teacher, whose alleged beating led to the death of a 17-year-old schoolboy here last week, was sent to 15 days of judicial custody by a court today.

Indira Samar was arrested yesterday after she surrendered at the Goverdhanvilas Police Station as a sessions court rejected her anticipatory bail application.

Samar was today presented before Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sudheer Pareek who sent her to judicial custody, public prosecutor Rajendra Singh Rathore said. Arpit, a class 12 student of Alok School, was "caned" by Samar on July 26 to discipline him. The boy succumbed to his injuries in a hospital on August 2 while Samar was placed under suspension and the school closed for indefinite period.

Relatives of Samar, including her husband Navneet, were also present in the court.

Samar had asked Arpit not to keep his leg outside the bench. When the boy told her there was not enough space, she started beating him.

Arpit's father had registered an FIR in which he alleged his son was "badly beaten" by the teacher and his death was caused by the assault. — PTI

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Sonia to host dinner for MPs today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will host a dinner for MPs of UPA and supporting parties tomorrow, two days ahead of the start of the monsoon session of Parliament and the vice-presidential election.

UPA’s vice-presidential nominee Mohammad Hamid Ansari will also be present at the dinner which will be attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues. Ansari will interact with UPA and Left MPs at the dinner meeting.

AICC sources said the dinner would be held at the Maurya Sheraton hotel. Congress leaders are confident of getting more support for Ansari than the combined strength of the UPA and its supporting partners. They said Ansari needed 393 first preference votes to sail through in the August 10 vice-presidential election. The new Vice-President is likely to take oath on August 11.

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Sonia, Patil face angry crowd in Samastipur

Samastipur/Dhemaji, August 7
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and home minister Shivraj Patil today faced an angry crowd that complained of tardy relief operations when they arrived in Samastipur after making an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in Bihar and Assam. When Gandhi and Patil, accompanied by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, railway minister Lalu Prasad and union minister Ramvilas Paswan, landed in Samastipur in a special IAF helicopter hundreds of people gathered to air their grievances before them.

The people were prevented from entering the enclosure where the leaders were interacting with flood victims. “Zila prashasan murdabad (death to the district administration)” and “Rajya sarkar murdabad (death to the state government)”, they shouted.

Reporters and Samastipur’s chief medical officer B. Prasad too were not allowed to enter the enclosure. Only cameramen of TV channels and photographers were permitted inside.

Gandhi and Patil made a brief stopover in Samastipur and flew to Patna after hearing the problems of the people. Gandhi was briefed about the flood situation in Bihar by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Earlier, Gandhi and Patil made an aerial survey of flood-hit areas in seven districts, Nagaon, Lakhimpur, Golaghat, Morigaon, Kamrup, Nalbari and Barpeta, in Assam.

They also visited Assam’s worst flood-hit district Dhemaji and met affected people there.

Gandhi arrived at Lilabari airport in Assam’s Lakhimpur district for a three-hour visit to the state and flew to Dhemaji in an IAF helicopter.

About 500 persons living in relief camps were brought by the district authorities to meet Gandhi, who stayed with them for half an hour and listened to their problems.

The flood-affected people alleged that they were not getting adequate relief, medicines and drinking water and asked Gandhi to ensure that they were rehabilitated.

Gandhi directed Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to ensure that the district authorities provided relief to the flood-hit people for the whole year and to see that roads were repaired immediately. — PTI

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Telugu Desam to consult experts on economic policy
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 7
Keen to re-invent populism in a bid to come to back to power, the Telugu Desam Party will consult Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, agricultural scientist M S Swaninathan and other experts to incorporate their ideas in the alternative economic policy being formulated by the party.

Seeking to shed its pro-urban and reforms-savvy image, the TDP is in the process of preparing a document on new economic policy focused on agriculture, rural economy and welfare of the weaker sections.

“After taking inputs from experts like Amartya Sen and studying various models, we will finalise the document which will then be circulated among like-minded parties,” senior TDP leader and former Minister T Devender Goud said.

Goud, who heads a 10-member party panel constituted by the TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu to suggest an alternative economic policy, said the emphasis would be on measures needed to revive agriculture and rural economy and improve the living standards of the poor.

A full-fledged meeting of the committee would be held on August 18 where broad contours of the new policy would be discussed threadbare, he said.

The exercise is in tune with the decision taken at the regional party’s annual convention “Mahanadu” at Tirupati in May last to redraw strategies to win back confidence of the poor and farmers as TDP’s drubbing in the 2004 elections was largely attributed to its pro-rich and pro-urban image.

“The present reforms model has created a new generation of billionaires but the poor have become poorer. There is a need for an alternative model that will help improve the living standards of farmers, rural artisans and weaker sections,” Goud said.

Once seen as a poster boy of reforms, Chandrababu Naidu has been desperately seeking an image make-over ever since losing power and warming up to the left parties in a bid to win back the confidence of the poor and farmers.

He had constituted a special committee, comprising senior party leaders, in September last year to examine the entire gamut of economic reforms and formulate a document that will form the basis for the party’s manifesto for the 2009 polls.

The party had decided to make “mid-course corrections” and come up with a “new, alternative set of economic policies” that are pro-farmer and pro-poor.

The committee would study where the economic reforms went wrong and what modifications were needed to make them effective and ensuring equitable distribution of wealth.

The alleged neglect of agriculture sector was the main reason for TDP’s worst-ever drubbing in the previous elections.

According to party sources, the new policy would promise not only free power to farmers, which is the USP of the ruling Congress, but also a string of subsidies, low cost loans and relief packages to revive agriculture sector.

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Engineer jumps to death

Lucknow, August 7
Suicides from high-rise buildings in the Uttar Pradesh capital continued unabated, with a senior official of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) jumping from the 14th floor of Shakti Bhawan today.

UPPCL general manager Brijesh Kumar Agarwal, who was recently promoted to the post, jumped from his chamber situated at the 14th floor, the police said here.

Depression is said to be the main reason for the official to take the step, said UP Power Employees Union convenor Shailendra Dubbey. — UNI

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