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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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N A T I O N

Cong-Left imbroglio
Uneasy calm: Who will blink first?

New Delhi, August 18
Despite the standoff between the UPA and the Left parties on the nuclear deal with the latter insisting that the Manmohan Singh government should not go ahead without clearing the doubts of parliamentarians, the effort for now is not to precipitate matters but bide time. Even as the crisis managers of the ruling coalition will be putting their heads together, there is a strong feeling in the ruling party circles that the Prime Minister need not have been so strident in his interview to a Kolkata newspaper, daring the Left to withdraw support to the UPA.

SC moved on withdrawal of plea against Q
New Delhi, August 18
Even as the UPA government is under attack on the last-minute withdrawal of appeal in the Bofors case accused Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi’s extradition in Argentina, the Supreme Court was today approached for a direction to the CBI to explain the reasons and circumstances under which the case has been withdrawn there.




EARLIER STORIES




A bird is silhouetted against the rising sun in New Delhi
A bird is silhouetted against the rising sun in New Delhi on Saturday. 
— Reuters

Code Violation
Union minister Fatmi surrenders

Patna, August 18
Union minister of state for human resources development and RJD leader M.A.A. Fatmi today surrendered before the local court in Darbhanga, which granted him bail in connection with a case pertaining to the violation of the code of conduct during the 2005 Lok Sabha elections.

Explain failure to notify food Act: SC to Centre
New Delhi, August 18
The Supreme Court has sought an explanation from the Centre why it was sitting over a vital Food Safety and Standard Act passed by Parliament last year.

Insurgency
Assam takes to jungle warfare 

Guwahati, August 18
The Assam government has decided to raise a ‘Jungle warfare police battalion’ to smoke out insurgents from jungle bases through sustained operations.

Rescue workers and firemen look for survivors at a building-collapse site in Mumbai |
Rescue workers and firemen look for survivors at a building-collapse site in Mumbai on Saturday. At least three persons were feared dead when a portion of a five-storeyed residential building collapsed on Friday night. — Reuters

ST status for six communities  
Gogoi govt in soup

Guwahati, August 18
The centre’s decision to reject the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by six ethnic communities in Assam has landed the Congress government in a soup.

‘Citizens’ bodies must act for potent democracy’
Lucknow, August 18
Unless citizens’ movements and pressure groups operate at grassroots level and demand accountability from the elected representatives, democracy will have no place for real issues declared activist and Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy.

Telgi case: CBI plea dismissed
New Delhi, August 18
The Supreme Court has dismissed a CBI petition seeking cancellation of bail granted to former DCP of the Mumbai police involved in the Telgi fake stamp paper scandal.

Death for six kidnappers
Patna, August 18
Additional sessions judge of the Patna Civil court Ram Pravesh Sharma today pronounced death penalty for six kidnappers who had subsequently killed the victim for failing to realise the ransom.

UN agency lauds bamboo tech centre’s success
Guwahati, August 18
The success story of the Cane and Bamboo Technology Upgradation and Networking Project intended to tap the vast potential of bamboo resources in northeast India is all set to take centre stage at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) headquarters in Vienna.

Power of attorney misused in UP
Mumbai, August 18
In a new twist to the controversy over farm land acquired by Amitabh Bachchan in Uttar Pradesh, the superstar has alleged that his power of attorney was misused to buy the property in Barbanki district.

 
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Cong-Left imbroglio
Uneasy calm: Who will blink first?
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 18
Despite the standoff between the UPA and the Left parties on the nuclear deal with the latter insisting that the Manmohan Singh government should not go ahead without clearing the doubts of parliamentarians, the effort for now is not to precipitate matters but bide time.

Even as the crisis managers of the ruling coalition will be putting their heads together, there is a strong feeling in the ruling party circles that the Prime Minister need not have been so strident in his interview to a Kolkata newspaper, daring the Left to withdraw support to the UPA.

After deliberating the nuclear deal at its two-day meeting, the CPI (M) made it clear to the Prime Minister and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi that the government should not take the next step in negotiating the agreement with the IAEA.

In a resolution adopted unitedly, the CPI (M) maintained that going ahead with the deal will have serious consequences for the country and the Congress should decide on the matter.

It is apparent that if the government decides to go ahead with the deal in the wake of the Prime Minister ruling out re-negotiation and similar views emanating from Washington, the Left might be left with no option but to withdraw its support.

Left leaders insist that they are not withdrawing support to the government but leaving the door ajar for a rapprochement if the Prime Minister removes their misgivings on the applicability of the Hyde Act. There are serious differences of opinion with regard to the Act even though external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee sought to clear the air that “what is stated in the Hyde Act is not binding on us.”

That the Left wants the deal to be debated threadbare in Parliament is indicative that they are not hellbent on withdrawing support but finding ways of overcoming the irritants which are not in the country’s best interests. The controversial matter is likely to be taken up for discussion in Parliament next week, subject to the availability of the Prime Minister.

At the same time, the smaller Left parties appeared more strident in their demand for reviewing the support to the government with CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan stressing that the situation has become untenable and the Left should extend “merit based” support. Bardhan also feels that the UPA-Left coordination committee, the mechanism so far being used for consultations on key issues, is dead and there is no point in carrying forward with it.

Even as the Prime Minister believes that the deal is historic in many ways and in no way compromises the country’s interests, political observers believe there is a strong element of personal prestige of the Prime Minister and the Left leaders. On its part, the Congress, which prides itself on being flexible, is underlining the need for moderation rather than taking extreme postures.

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SC moved on withdrawal of plea against Q
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 18
Even as the UPA government is under attack on the last-minute withdrawal of appeal in the Bofors case accused Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi’s extradition in Argentina, the Supreme Court was today approached for a direction to the CBI to explain the reasons and circumstances under which the case has been withdrawn there.

The CBI, instead of pursuing the case against Quattrocchi in right earnest, seems to be coming to his rescue at every stage

The application to this effect was moved by advocate Ajay Agrawal, whose PIL on various aspects of Bofors case is pending before the apex court.

He sought a direction to the government as well as the CBI from the apex court to brief it about every aspect of extradition proceedings and place on record the material relating to it.

In his pending PIL, Agrawal had raised various aspects of the Bofors case, including the CBI not filing appeals against Delhi High Court’s two judgements - delivered by single judges’ Justice J.D. Kapoor and Justice R.S. Sodhi, respectively - and allowing Quattrocchi to withdraw Rs 20 crore from two bank accounts in London with the agency agreeing to lift the freeze on them though it had claimed that the money was linked to Bofors payments.

Agrawal in his fresh application moved today sought a direction to the CBI to furnish details how Quattrocchi, arrested by Argentina authorities as a follow-up of a red-corner notice against him, was allowed to leave that country after withdrawal of the agency’s appeal from the Supreme Court in Buenos Aires.

Quattrocchi, declared as fugitive accused by the CBI against whom letters rogatory for probe had been sent by a Delhi court earlier to various countries, was detained on February 6.

After rejection of CBI’s application for his extradition by a lower court in Buenos Aires earlier, Quattrocchi was allowed to leave Argentina by the authorities there after the lawyers hired by the Indian probe agency withdrew its appeal on August 15.

Agrawal alleged that it seemed that the CBI, instead of pursuing the case against Quattrocchi in right earnest, seemed to be coming to his rescue at every stage.

From the action of the CBI it was apparently evident that it had “deliberately” showed the failure of its extradition case in Argentina, he alleged.

He also sought the disclosure of confidential correspondence of New Delhi pertaining to the case with Buenos Aires and the opinion sought by the agency from its law officers and advocates engaged there to handle the extradition proceedings.

Agrawal initially filed the PIL in May, 2005 after the law ministry allegedly refused to permit the CBI to file appeal against High Court’s two verdicts - first by Justice Kapoor diluting the charges against Hinduja brothers and second by Justice Sodhi, acquitting them.

Justice Sodhi in his verdict had said that the documents relating to the alleged payment of commission to Hinduja brothers by Swedish company AB Bofors were not “original” but “duplicate”, which were not properly authenticated.

Three Hinduja brothers had claimed that the money received by them from Bofors was not in any manner linked to the gun deal but part of some other services rendered by their company to the Swedish arms manufacturers.

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Code Violation
Union minister Fatmi surrenders
Tribune News Service

Patna, August 18
Union minister of state for human resources development and RJD leader M.A.A. Fatmi today surrendered before the local court in Darbhanga, which granted him bail in connection with a case pertaining to the violation of the code of conduct during the 2005 Lok Sabha elections.

Chief judicial magistrate Vijay Kumar Srivastava allowed his petition for bail with a direction that he should furnish a bail bond of Rs 5,000 and a surety of the same amount.

Election officer Sanjay M. Kaul had found the MP campaigning at Hayaghat in the Darbhanga parliamentary constituency on November 12, 2005, even though the campaign had officially ended.

Kaul had lodged a complaint against him.

The CJM had taken cognisance of the case and issued an arrest warrant against him. 

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Explain failure to notify food Act: SC to Centre
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 18
The Supreme Court has sought an explanation from the Centre why it was sitting over a vital Food Safety and Standard Act passed by Parliament last year.

The Act makes it mandatory for every manufacturer of food items and other related products to disclose with clear print on packaging the contents and chemicals used in preparing them. This will cover all types of soft drinks and juices.

A Bench of Justices A. K Mathur and Dalveer Bhandri gave the government time till September 5 to respond, failing which a directive could be issued by it.

The court gave the direction yesterday during the hearing of a PIL relating to the safety aspects in food stuff, particularly cold drinks, including Pepsi and Coca Cola, pending in the court since 2004. The Bench described it a serious matter, particularly when the government itself had brought the Bill before Parliament which duly passed it and the President considering its importance had given his assent in August last year itself.

But the government was sitting over it since than and was not issuing the gazette notification for implementing the law. Unless the government notifies the Act, it would merely remain on paper and could not be operationalised, the court pointed out.

In a specific direction to Additional Solicitor- General Mohan Prasaran, it said that he should come back with clear reply why the Act was not being notified.

The court was not impressed with his submission that the Centre was facing certain procedural difficulties in notifying the law as it said that once the Act was passed by the legislature, the executive could not sit over the same for indefinite period.

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Insurgency
Assam takes to jungle warfare 
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 18
The Assam government has decided to raise a ‘Jungle warfare police battalion’ to smoke out insurgents from jungle bases through sustained operations.

Learning from the latest carnage of Hindi-speaking people in thickly forested Karbi Anglong hill district, the state government has initiated the process to raise a well-equipped and well-trained jungle warfare battalion as early as possible.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday said the central government had given its nod for raising the jungle warfare battalion which probably going to be the first ever such police battalion in the country.

“The battalion will be meant not only for Karbi Anglong forests but also for the entire state to facilitate sustained operations against ultras inside jungles instead of the on and off operations,” he said.

The Assam government has started the process to reorganise the police administration in Karbi Anglong where militants killed 29 Hindi-speaking settlers so far this month.

The ministry of home affairs has recommended for creation of three police districts in the 10,434 sq km hill district where there are only six police stations to guard over a population of 8.2 lakh.

“Initially, we are going to set up two police districts in Karbi Anglong and it will be increased to three as soon as we recruit about 6,000 more personnel for the force,” the CM said.

Gogoi today dismissed allegations made by some Opposition political parties in Lok Sabha about ‘Congress-ULFA’ nexus in Assam and countered it claiming that the ULFA had so far killed 102 Congressmen in Assam since 1985 against 21 members of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and five from the BJP.

The BJP today slammed the Gogoi government for failing to protect Hindi-speaking settlers in Karbi Anglong. The party’s Rajya Sabha MP, Kalraj Mishra, who led a team of party legislators for a visit of the violence-hit district, alleged that the militants were virtually running a parallel government there.

He alleged that the insurgents obeying instructions from their masters in the Pakistani ISI had resorted to purging of Hindi-speaking people in Assam to make space for illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

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ST status for six communities
 Gogoi govt in soup
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 18
The centre’s decision to reject the demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status by six ethnic communities in Assam has landed the Congress government in a soup.

The six communities that were promised the ST status by the Congress before the last assembly election in the state have now threatened to resort to agitation against the government’s rejection of their demand by union tribal affairs minister P.R. Kyndiah in the Lok Sabha.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who has found himself in a bind over Kyndiah’s action, has vowed to take up the matter with the UPA government in New Delhi.

“I am definitely going to press the centre to review its decision to reject the demand for ST status for Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Moran, Motok, Chutia and Tea Tribe communities,” Gogoi said.

Incensed at the decision of the centre, the communities have called for a 12-hour Assam bandh on August 22, demanding review of the decision.

Youth organisations of these communities have burnt effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Kyndiah in different parts of the state in protest.

All six communities have threatened to form a common platform to launch joint agitation to press for their demand for a ST status.

All-Assam Motok Yuba Chatra Sanmilan general secretary Mintu Borpatra has warned the ruling Congress against going back on its election promise to provide ST status to the communities.

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) has been alarmed by the situation, given that the party has been enjoying a strong support within some of these communities, especially the Tea Tribe and the Tai Ahom.

The Congress could win power in the state for the second consecutive time after the 2006 assembly poll, which saw massive erosion of party’s base among religious minority voters, mainly because of support extended by these six communities.

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‘Citizens’ bodies must act for potent democracy’
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 18
Unless citizens’ movements and pressure groups operate at grassroots level and demand accountability from the elected representatives, democracy will have no place for real issues declared activist and Magsaysay Award winner Aruna Roy.

Giving an example of the irrelevance of citizens’ issues in present day politics she said that if a person like her decides to contest an election she would definitely lose her deposit. In sharp contrast are today’s politicians who manage to get elected using caste and religious affiliations and work for their own ends.

She was delivering the keynote address at the inaugural session of the two-day Fourth National Conference on Electoral and Political Process Reforms organised by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) along with UP Election Watch. Substantiating her point she said the Parliament had taken a monumental decision after merely two days of debate to deprive a large number of people of their land in the name of special economic zones (SEZs).

“No political party or person bothered to go to the people and ask what they thought about being deprived of their land and livelihoods,” she pointed out.

According to her some political leaders have now come forward in their personal capacities to support the farmers protesting against SEZ.

Chairman of Standing Committee of Parliament on Electoral Reforms Dr E.M.S Natchiappan agreed to take up the suggestion given in an earlier session to provide the Election Commission the power to derecognise political parties that did not hold regular party elections or otherwise violated mandatory requirements like auditing party accounts etc.

Eminent Gandhian and former member of the Planning Commission L.C. Jain chaired the first session on ‘Reforms political parties’.

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Telgi case: CBI plea dismissed

New Delhi, August 18
The Supreme Court has dismissed a CBI petition seeking cancellation of bail granted to former DCP of the Mumbai police involved in the Telgi fake stamp paper scandal.

Police officer Pardeep Bhalchandra Sawant was arrested by the CBI on January 7, 2004, for not taking action against Abdul Karim Telgi, the alleged kingpin of the scandal.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P.K. Balasubramanian, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, declined to interfere with the judgement of the Bombay High Court and dismissed the appeal. — UNI

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Death for six kidnappers

Patna, August 18
Additional sessions judge of the Patna Civil court Ram Pravesh Sharma today pronounced death penalty for six kidnappers who had subsequently killed the victim for failing to realise the ransom.

Sumit Kumar (13), a student of class VII, from Phulwari Sharif was abducted on November 21, 2004 by six kidnappers. His body was recovered from the area on November 23.

Taking serious note of the incident, the judge awarded death penalty to the accused. The accused were Santosh Kumar, Sani Kumar, Neraj, Rabinder Kumar, Rabi Chor (all between 18-20 years age) and Gorakhnath Singh (60). — TNS

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UN agency lauds bamboo tech centre’s success
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 18
The success story of the Cane and Bamboo Technology Upgradation and Networking Project intended to tap the vast potential of bamboo resources in northeast India is all set to take centre stage at the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) headquarters in Vienna.

The project was included in UNIDO projects for India and is considered quite successful.

Various new technologies are being developed at the Cane and Bamboo Technology Centre (CBTC) in Guwahati, set up under the project. The technologies help in allowing innovative uses of bamboo, which is part of traditional lifestyle of the northeast.

CBTC director Kamesh Salam said the work so far done by the centre would be in focus at the biennial general conference meeting of UNIDO at its headquarters in December this year.

The Country Service Framework 2001-2006 on UNIDO's operations in India reviewed the CBTC’s activities and found it to be functioning well.

On the efficient management of the CBTC, the Framework mentions, "More than two years after project termination, which would have been the end of many other centres, the CBTC is alive and kicking."

The centre receives its funding from the North Eastern Council (NEC) and other donors besides the nominal fees it collects for conducting various training programmes.

The centre was set up with the US $1.5 million committed by the UN Development Programme. The Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India, was the executing agency for the project. UNIDO was assigned the role of implementing agency, while the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation (NEDF) became the counterpart agency.

The review of the working of the CTBC in the Country Framework said, "The CBTC has put bamboo on the political agenda, and its services are sought after by many institutions in India. There is a continuous demand for training from both inside India as well as from abroad, which is not only a sign for effectiveness, but also indicates sustainability."

Since the start of the project in 2000, more than 2,400 people (including 530 women) have been trained in three-month courses in basic bamboo technology while other 900 participated in actual project training phase. 

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Power of attorney misused in UP
land purchase: Bachchan 

Mumbai, August 18
In a new twist to the controversy over farm land acquired by Amitabh Bachchan in Uttar Pradesh, the superstar has alleged that his power of attorney was misused to buy the property in Barbanki district.

"In an application addressed to the deputy commissioner of police (zone IX), Bachchan had said in that early 2006, one Vinay Shukla, an Allahabad resident who claimed to be a big fan of the actor, had approached him in Mumbai and told him there was land in Daulatpur village in Barbanki in his family's name," a senior police official said today.

"Shukla then allegedly approached Bachchan again in April 2006 with papers showing the possession of land there and requested for power of attorney to buy adjacent plots for him."

"However, Bachchan has now alleged that the documents shown to him by Shukla were fake and that he had given his power of attorney to Shukla in good faith to buy the land in his name," the official said.

Bachchan has asked police to carry out an inquiry into the matter. A police team will be sent to Allahabad tomorrow for investigations, the official said.

The land owned by Bachchan in Barbanki district has been in the eye of a storm after a local court quashed the order allocating the agricultural plot to the actor. He has approached the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court, which is hearing the matter.

Bachchan also bought farm land near Pune on the basis of the land owned in Barbanki, which he later said he would donate to the local village council.

The star's secretary declined to comment on the issue. — PTI

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