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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Efforts on to buy peace with Left
New Delhi, August 21
In an effort to buy peace with Left parties over the nuclear deal, the UPA is mulling a compromise formula which will allow the government to participate in the next month’s meeting of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency without moving ahead with formal negotiations on India-specific safeguards, which is the next step in operationalising the nuke agreement.

40 yrs after death, soldier cremated
Guwahati, August 21
What if the body had arrived 40 long years after the death. There were still thousands of people besides his near and dear ones to attend the cremation of soldier Mahendra Nath Phukon at his ancestral village today.



Military personnel stand near the coffin of soldier Mahendra Phukan at Deodhai Gaon in Sivsagar district, about 400 km from Guwahati, on Tuesday. — AFP photo

Military personnel stand near the coffin of soldier Mahendra Phukan at Deodhai Gaon in Sivsagar district, about 400 km from Guwahati




EARLIER STORIES


Freedom eludes Sanjay
Pune, August 21
Freedom that beckoned actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted in 1992-93 Mumbai riots case, following the Supreme court granting him interim bail remained elusive even today as legal documents for his release did not reach reach the local Yeravada jail where he is lodged.                                                                  
Sanjay Dutt
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Sanjay Dutt

Vajpayee in AIIMS, stable
New Delhi, August 21
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 83, was admitted to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences here today after complaining of giddiness. Doctors said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader’s condition was stable.

Qurratulain Haider dead
Noida, August 21
Renowned Urdu writer and Jnanpith winner Qurratulain Haider died in Noida on Tuesday after a prolonged illness. Haider (80) breathed her last at around 2.30 am in a hospital where she was admitted for several weeks, family sources said.                      
Qurratulain Haider
Qurratulain Haider

A ‘form’ of employment at Nitish’s janata durbar
Patna, August 21
When Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar holds a janata durbar to establish direct contact with the people for a proper feedback on promised good governance, it helps people in more ways than he intends.

Central team to review UP flood situation
Lucknow, August 21
A high level central team headed by a joint-secretary level officer is visiting Uttar Pradesh to review the flood situation in the eastern districts and recommend a central flood assistance package.

Onion prices decline
Nashik, August 21
Onion prices lowered today by nearly Rs 300-400 per quintal in the main Lasalgaon market due to adequate arrival of the crop. The onion prices had zoomed up to a year's high of Rs 1,823 per quintal yesterday.

Uttarakhand to raise 4 eco task companies
Dehra Dun, August 21
To serve the purposes of protecting forests and giving employment to ex-servicemen, Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri said his government would raise four companies of the proposed eco-task force.

Mid-term poll this year: Pawar
Mumbai, August 21
Nationalist Congress Party chairman Sharad Pawar has warned of mid-term Lok Sabha elections before the end of this year following frayed relations between the Congress and Left parties over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

N-option to overcome energy shortage: EU
New Delhi, August 21
Even as the government finds itself in an invidious position over the Indo-US nuclear deal, the European Union has said India should look for all options, including nuclear to overcome shortage of energy.

Insecticide Scam
CBI conducts raids
New Delhi, August 21
The CBI today conducted raids at seven places in six cities after registering a case against some officials of the agriculture ministry and an insecticides company for alleged falsification of accounts and paying of bribes.

First casualty evacuation at night by IAF
New Delhi, August 21
For the first time in the history of the Indian Air Force, its intrepid pilots successfully carried out a casualty evacuation at night using night vision goggles through a narrow valley close to the border in the country’s north-east region.

IAF man jailed for passing on secrets
New Delhi, August 21
A court here today sentenced a suspended corporal of the IAF to rigorous imprisonment for five years for possessing and passing official documents to Pakistan High Commission officials five years ago.

Another golden temple in TN
Chennai, August 21
A Hindu spiritual organisation claims to have constructed a golden temple which will be sanctified on Friday. The Mahalakshmi temple, built at a cost of Rs 600 crore on a sprawling 100 acres at Sripuram, near Vellore, about 120 km from here, will be inaugurated by Sri Sakthi Amma, spiritual leader of Narayani Peetam.

Thakur sworn in Karnataka Governor
Bangalore, August 21
Former Orissa and Andhra Pradesh Governor Rameshwar Thakur was today sworn in the 15th Governor of Karnataka. Thakur( 80) was administered the oath of office by Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Cyriac Joseph at a function at Raj Bhavan here.

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Efforts on to buy peace with Left
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 21
In an effort to buy peace with Left parties over the nuclear deal, the UPA is mulling a compromise formula which will allow the government to participate in the next month’s meeting of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) without moving ahead with formal negotiations on India-specific safeguards, which is the next step in operationalising the nuke agreement.

Unnerved at the prospect of a snap poll and the possibility of the BJP returning to power, renewed efforts were made by the Congress-led coalition and the Left parties to find some middle ground to end the stand-off over the nuclear agreement.
CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury held another round of talks with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today to hammer out a consensus. Yechury told reporters after this meeting that the CPM was not against the government participating in the next month’s meeting as a member country of the IAEA but it should not discuss the safeguards agreement.

Participating in the general council as a member country was a normal activity and every country did it, the CPM leader said, adding that their party’s Central Committee which was meeting here over the next two days would also discuss the issue.

Although there was no official word from the government, UPA sources indicated that they were amenable to this suggestion as there was a growing view in the ruling combine that the confrontation with the Left parties should be scaled down and their views be given due consideration.

“We are not saying battlelines have not been drawn by both sides, but a middle path will be found,” remarked a senior UPA minister, adding that the government would address the Left’s concerns in its reply to the debate on the nuclear deal, which is tentatively slated for August 29 and 30.

While reiterating that the civil nuclear deal was in India’s national interests, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said all options were open and that they were willing to hear differing viewpoints. “Just as we don’t negotiate out of fear, we don’t fear to negotiate,” he said and invited the Left to participate in a full debate on the nuke deal in Parliament where their specific objections would be answered.

The UPA sources revealed that the debate had been delayed to allow both sides to arrive at a consensus so that the discussion did not degenerate into a full-scale battle on the floor of the House. Stating that several more rounds of discussions would be held with the Left befere the debate to ensure that the government’s reply provided a way forward. “We don’t want to send out any negative message, the reply should not aggravate the confrontation... instead it should hold out an assurance,” said a UPA minister.

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40 yrs after death, soldier cremated
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 21
What if the body had arrived 40 long years after the death. There were still thousands of people besides his near and dear ones to attend the cremation of soldier Mahendra Nath Phukon at his ancestral village today.

People lined up along both sides of the 3-km road connecting the National Highway 61 and Deodhai village at Amguri in Sivasagar district when the Army convoy carried the mortal remains of the soldier who died around 40 years ago in a plane crash in the Lahaul valley, Himachal Pradesh, while he was flying to his posting at Leh from Chandigarh on February 7, 1968.

The soldier was cremated in front of his ancestral residence at the village with full military honours in the presence on senior Army officials, including the GoC of the 21 Mountain Brigade based in Dinjan in Tinsukia district of Assam.

The funeral pyre was lighted by all four brothers of the soldier while Army subedar K. K. Tiwari from Kanpur posed as the priest overseeing the ritual.

The frozen mortal remains of soldier Mahendra was recovered by an Army expedition team near the site of accident beneath the snow capped exterior on August 11 last.

The soldier was cremated on the bank of the pond that was earlier dug by the family years back in the memory of their lost son whose body lied buried under the sheet of ice at the foot of Chadrabhaga Peak in Himachal Pradesh.

An Army official informed the media that the metallic identity disc that Mahendra was wearing helped the Army to identify his frozen remains four decades after the plane crash.

News of the tragic death of Mahendra was conveyed to the family by the Indian Army, but the body could not be recovered then.

Forty years later his brothers met at the Mohanbari airport in Dibrugarh yesterday to receive Mahendra’s body frozen in a coffin and wrapped in the Tricolour. The blurred memory of their long lost brother as a strapping youth of 20 came back to haunt them at the autumn of their life.

The mortal remains were kept at the Sivasagar Civil Hospital on Monday night and the Army men from 316 Field Regiment took it to the soldier’s native village at 10 am today for cremation.

Mahendra was born in 1942. He joined the Indian Army in February, 1963. Two of his brothers were also in the Army. One of his brothers Tuben retired as a subedar from the 7 Assam Regiment in 1985 while another brother Durganath retired as a havildar from 5 Assam Regiment in 2002. Durganath was only 10 when he last saw Mahendra.

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Freedom eludes Sanjay

Pune, August 21
Freedom that beckoned actor Sanjay Dutt, who has been convicted in 1992-93 Mumbai riots case, following the Supreme court granting him interim bail remained elusive even today as legal documents for his release did not reach reach the local Yeravada jail where he is lodged.

The apex court bail order, which was expected to be produced before TADA court judge Pramod Kode, had not been received in the jail by 5.30 hrs today, the conventional deadline for submission of release orders, prison sources said.

Justice Kode would be issuing directions to the jail authorities for release of Dutt after perusal of the apex court order granting interim bail to him.

The bail order and the TADA court’s directive to the jail authorities would be carried to Yeravada by Dutt’s lawyers and relatives.

Now, the formalities regarding Dutt’s release could be completed only tomorrow.

A crowd gathered in front of the jail as the police maintained strict security along the roads leading to the prison. — PTI

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Vajpayee in AIIMS, stable

New Delhi, August 21
Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, 83, was admitted to the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here today after complaining of giddiness.

Doctors said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader’s condition was stable.

“Vajpayeeji complained of giddiness and was feeling drowsy. He was admitted to our institute in the afternoon. He has been referred to the cardio-thoracic and neuroscience centre,” said Shakti Gupta, professor in charge of media.

“We conducted a few tests. We will also carry out a more thorough body scan,” he added.

A team of cardiologists, neurologists and physicians are closely monitoring his condition,” Gupta, who is also the chief medical officer of R.P. Centre of Ophthalmology, said.

“The former prime minister is conscious, stable and all his vital signs are normal,” he added.

The veteran political leader will be in hospital for at least one day, the authorities said. — IANS

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Qurratulain Haider dead

Noida, August 21
Renowned Urdu writer and Jnanpith winner Qurratulain Haider died in Noida on Tuesday after a prolonged illness.

Haider (80) breathed her last at around 2.30 am in a hospital where she was admitted for several weeks, family sources said.

Born in Aligarh, UP, the writer first shifted to Delhi and then settled in Noida, a satellite township of the national capital.

A trendsetter in Urdu fiction, Haider began writing at a time when writing fiction was yet to take deep roots as a genre in the poetry-dominated Urdu literature.

An author of 12 novels and four collections of short stories, she is credited with instilling a new sensibility to Urdu literature.

Aag ki Darya (River of Fire), a historical tale that moves from the fourth century to the modern India and Pakistan is considered her magnum opus. Haider herself had translated it into English.

She was awarded the Jnanpith in 1989 for her novel Aakhir-e-Shab ke Hamsafar (Travellers Unto the Night). She was also awarded the Sahitya Akademi award in 1967, the Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1969 and Ghalib Award in 1985.

The government honoured her with the Padma Shri for her outstanding contribution to the Urdu literature.

She also served as a guest lecturer at various universities abroad including those of California, Chicago, Wisconsin and Arizona. — PTI

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A ‘form’ of employment at Nitish’s janata durbar
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, August 21
When Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar holds a janata durbar to establish direct contact with the people for a proper feedback on promised good governance, it helps people in more ways than he intends.

This is happening as janata durbars are providing employment to those who have started printing and selling request forms for those going to such durbars.

The durbars have been organised for the last two years. This employment generation aspect of janata durbar came to the fore yesterday when Nitish was going through the applications of a group of women from different parts of the state, who came there with the commonly made request for financial help to get their daughters married.

Most of the women carried the similar printed forms with names and addressed handwritten. Upon enquiring, some of those present informed Nitish that such forms were being sold in different parts of the state from Rs 5 to Rs 10.

Subsequently Nitish asked a security man to call the person selling the forms outside his residence. The form seller pleaded that he had been writing applications for the illiterate people for submitting to the Chief Minister at janata durbars for past few months.

The man further informed that when he came across requests to write applications for financial aid for marriage under the proposed "CM Kanyadan Yojana", he got a form prepared on computer and printed leaving the space for name and address.

A smiling Nitish asked the man to carry on the business from a distance.

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Central team to review UP flood situation
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, August 21
A high level central team headed by a joint-secretary level officer is visiting Uttar Pradesh to review the flood situation in the eastern districts and recommend a central flood assistance package.

According to the chief secretary P K Mishra the team which will consist of experts of agriculture, drinking water, irrigation, animal husbandry etc. will arrive on 23 August.

During their three day stay in the state they will split into three teams and make on the spot visits of the affected areas informed Mishra.

Meanwhile, eight more persons were killed across the state today taking the toll to 205. Two deaths each were reported from Rampur, Pilibhit and Bahraich and one each from Ballia and Shahjahanpur.

The Army has been assisting civil administration in flood-affected Gorakhpur, Farukhabad and Barabanki district while PAC personnel have been pressed into service in Shravasti, Gonda, Siddharth Nagar, Maharajganj and Baharaich.

The government has announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs 1.5 lakh each to those killed in flood-related incidents and has so far spent approximately Rs 792 lakhs in relief and rescue operations.

Over Rs 327 lakhs had been distributed by the government to the dependents of those killed in rain-related incidents.

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Onion prices decline

Nashik, August 21
Onion prices lowered today by nearly Rs 300-400 per quintal in the main Lasalgaon market due to adequate arrival of the crop. The onion prices had zoomed up to a year's high of Rs 1,823 per quintal yesterday.

Nearly 15,000 quintal of onion arrived in the market today, bringing the crop prices down by about Rs 300-400. The price ranged between Rs 1,111 and Rs 1,715, depending on the quality, whereas the average price was Rs 1,400 per quintal, sources said.

A similar condition was prevalent at the Niphad market, another important market, where the rates hovered at Rs 1,300-Rs 1,400. Around 10,000 quintal of crop arrived in the market. — UNI

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Uttarakhand to raise 4 eco task companies
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, August 21
To serve the purposes of protecting forests and giving employment to ex-servicemen, Uttarakhand Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri said his government would raise four companies of the proposed eco-task force. The development follows an assurance given by the Chief Minister to Army Chief Gen J.J. Singh here today while discussing proposed welfare measures for the serving as well as the ex-servicemen in the state.

On a visit to Dehra Dun today, the Army chief called upon Governor Sudarshan Aggarwal and the Chief Minister. Assuring him of doing everything possible for the welfare of the Army men and the ex-servicemen, Khanduri also committed that the state government would give land for residential colonies on a priority basis to the serving as well as retired soldiers.

Regarding the proposed force, Khanduri said his government was making efforts to seek a financial help of Rs 5 crore from the central government for setting up of these companies, two each in Garhwal and Kumaon regions. But, if those efforts failed, he reiterated his government’s commitment to fund the proposal from the state’s resources in view of the urgent requirement to save the state’s forests.

The government proposed to build guest houses for the Army men at all important pilgrimage and tourist resorts to provide board and lodging facilities to them and their families. These guest houses would also be managed by ex-servicemen, he added.

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Mid-term poll this year: Pawar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 21
Nationalist Congress Party chairman Sharad Pawar has warned of mid-term Lok Sabha elections before the end of this year following frayed relations between the Congress and Left parties over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

At a meeting of party workers in Maharashtra's Ahmednagar district Monday night, Pawar noted that mid-term poll were likely in the next few months. Details of Pawar's message to the party workers was revealed by the NCP state unit president Arun Gujarati.

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N-option to overcome energy shortage: EU

New Delhi, August 21
Even as the government finds itself in an invidious position over the Indo-US nuclear deal, the European Union has said India should look for all options, including nuclear to overcome shortage of energy.

“India has a shortage of energy and should look for all kinds of options, including nuclear energy,” the outgoing ambassador, head of the delegation of the European commission to India Francisco da Camara Santa Clara Gomes said, at an interaction with the forum of financial writers yesterday.

“We do not have a common position. Time must be given to India and the US to come to a final conclusion. Thereafter, we will come up with a common position on the nuclear deal,” he said. The EU represents several members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). — PTI

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Insecticide Scam
CBI conducts raids

New Delhi, August 21
The CBI today conducted raids at seven places in six cities after registering a case against some officials of the agriculture ministry and an insecticides company for alleged falsification of accounts and paying of bribes.

The case was registered against R.L. Rajak, a retired official of the directorate of plant protection, quarantine and storage in the agriculture ministry, and the managing director of DE Nocil Crop Protection Limited (now DOW Agro Sciences), an Indian subsidiary of a US-based chemical firm. — PTI

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First casualty evacuation at night by IAF

New Delhi, August 21
For the first time in the history of the Indian Air Force (IAF), its intrepid pilots successfully carried out a casualty evacuation at night using night vision goggles through a narrow valley close to the border in the country’s north-east region.

The Headquarters of the IAF Eastern Air Command was approached by an operational division of the Indian Army with an emergency request at 1630 hrs yesterday for evacuating two casualties.

The helipad being located in the narrow valley close to the international border, the late hour of the day, bad weather conditions and the deteriorating health of the casualty necessitated a prompt decision to undertake the evacuation in a helicopter using night vision goggles.

Twelve minutes after the request being received, the most qualified aircrew from Air Force Station Mohanbari were launched using an Mi-17 helicopter. Surmounting low visibility conditions and turbulent monsoon-induced weather, the air warriors were successfully in evacuating the patient from Kibitoo helipad to Jorhat Air Force Hospital. — UNI

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IAF man jailed for passing on secrets

New Delhi, August 21
A court here today sentenced a suspended corporal of the IAF to rigorous imprisonment for five years for possessing and passing official documents to Pakistan High Commission officials five years ago.

Special judge Virender Kumar Goel held suspended corporal Hariom Sharma, 36, guilty of committing the crime under Sections 3 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act and Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and also fined him Rs 7,500.

The judge noted that a “stiff sentence” should be imposed on the convict “to provide deterrent effect”.

The prosecution said Sharma, while working as a corporal in the Indian Air Force during 2000-02, entered into a criminal conspiracy with Aftab Ahmed and Tariq, officials of the Pakistan High Commission, and passed on to them secret official documents related to “bomb disposed training” and other unauthorised materials.

“It is directly or indirectly useful to an enemy country and likely to affect the sovereignty and integrity and security of India. To provide deterrent effect, stiff sentence should be imposed on the convict,” the judge said.

The case against Sharma was registered by the special cell of the Delhi Police on September 11, 2002, after a preliminary inquiry the same year. — PTI

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Another golden temple in TN
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 21
A Hindu spiritual organisation claims to have constructed a golden temple which will be sanctified on Friday.

The Mahalakshmi temple, built at a cost of Rs 600 crore on a sprawling 100 acres at Sripuram, near Vellore, about 120 km from here, will be inaugurated by Sri Sakthi Amma, spiritual leader of Narayani Peetam.

Mutt sources said the temple would be a multi-religious place of worship as the pathway to the temple had been constructed in the shape of a star with messages of the spiritual leader and quotes from Bhagvad Gita, the Bible and the Quran displayed on either side.

The temple with intricate carvings and sculptures of gold and copper all over except the pathway would look more majestic than any temple in the world including the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the sources claimed.

It took six years for around 400 goldsmiths and coppersmiths and craftsmen from the famous worship place of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh to complete the marvelous architecture.

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Thakur sworn in Karnataka Governor
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 21
Former Orissa and Andhra Pradesh Governor Rameshwar Thakur was today sworn in the 15th Governor of Karnataka.

Thakur( 80) was administered the oath of office by Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Cyriac Joseph at a function at Raj Bhavan here. State Chief Secretary P. B Mahishi read out the Presidential communique appointing Thakur as the Governor of the state.

Outgoing Governor T. N Chaturvedi, Chief Minister H. D Kumaraswamy and Deputy Chief Minister B. S Yediyurappa were present on the occasion. Thakur’s family members, including his wife ,Narmada, and daughters Mrudulla Sinha and Sangeeta Thakur was present.

Thakur’s appointment comes at a crucial period in state politics with the Janata Dal (Secular) scheduled to hand over power to its alliance partner the BJP in the beginning of October.

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