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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

IAF floats tender for 126 fighters
New Delhi, August 28
After a laborious and time consuming process, the Indian Air Force floated a global tender today for 126 fighter jets at an estimated cost of $ 10 billion.

Children-in-distress tie Patil in bond of love
President Pratibha Patil ties a rakhi to a school girl on the occasion of Rakshabandhan at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday. New Delhi, August 28
This year the festival of Rakshabandhan was somewhat unique at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

President Pratibha Patil ties a rakhi to a school girl on the occasion of Rakshabandhan at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Reliance Retail pulls out of WB
Kolkata, August 28
Reliance Retail suddenly backed out from its ongoing retail-outlet inauguration programme in West Bengal in the face of large-scale violence and resistance by the opposition parties and also two other major partners of the Left Front, the Forward Bloc (FB) and the RSP.



EARLIER STORIES


Hyderabad Blasts
Two who planted bombs identified

New Delhi, August 28
Security agencies and the police have been able to identify at least two men who are suspected to have planted the bombs that went off in Hyderabad on Saturday last.

Tackling Terror
AP to set up special force
Hyderabad, August 28
The Andhra Pradesh government will set up a special police force to exclusively deal with terrorist activities on the lines of Maharashtra model.

DMK spat over quarrying with PMK
Chennai, August 28
Quarrying has now become one of the bones of contention between the ruling DMK and its main ally PMK.

RSP questions relevance of proposed panel
New Delhi, August 28
As major Left parties expressed willingness to consider the government’s proposal to form a committee to resolve differences over the nuclear deal, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), an ally in the Left front, today struck a discordant note by questing the use of such a committee.

‘Jhappi’ cop reinstated
Mumbai, August 28
Rajendra Kalekar, a police constable posted at Pune's Yerwada jail who was suspended for hugging actor Sanjay Dutt last week, has been ordered back on the job by Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Police ‘helps’ mob beat up snatcher
Patna, August 28
A day after the top brass of the police looked helpless before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for their failure to know the whereabouts of DAV School student Akash Pandey, the police helped a mob beat a suspected thief in front of a television camera with one policeman tying the victim to his motorbike and dragging him mercilessly.

Dasmunshi walks out of party meeting
Kolkata, August 28
Union information minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi was heckled today during the Chhatra Parisad’s foundation day function here when he had to quit the stage without making any speech.

Assam minister has a close shave
Guwahati, August 28
Kharsing Ingti, hill areas development minister of Assam, had a close shave as militants triggered an explosion in his residential compound at Howraghat in violence-affected Karbi Anglong hill district in the pre-dawn hours today.

Ghosh remanded in judicial custody
Kolkata, August 28
A court here today remanded Amarendra Nath Ghosh, who was extradited from Germany for allegedly cheating several Indian banks to the tune of Rs 27.69 crore, to judicial custody for 14 days.

US marines in Mizoram for guerilla training
Aizawl/Shillong, August 28
As many as 60 American marines arrived at the Counter-Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte in Mizoram today for joint exercises with elite Indian soldiers.

Dinakaran removed from AIADMK
Chennai, August 28
In a major revamp in the party's organisational structure, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa has removed her party treasurer T.T.V Dinakaran from his post.

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IAF floats tender for 126 fighters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
After a laborious and time consuming process, the Indian Air Force floated a global tender today for 126 fighter jets at an estimated cost of $ 10 billion.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) has been sent to the manufacturers of six aircraft, the Russian MiG-35, the US F-16 and F-18 Super Hornet, the European consortium's Eurofighter, the Swedish Gripen and the French Rafale. These companies have been given six months to respond and will be asked to sign a confidentiality clause against revealing the contents of the RFP to a third party.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared the RFP at a meeting here on June 29 chaired by defence minister A K Antony.

Barring 18 of the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), which will be purchased in a flyaway condition, the remaining 108 will be manufactured in the country under a transfer of technology agreement with the chosen supplier.

Now that the RFP has been despatched, it can still take another five to six years before the new age fighter jets start arriving in this country. The IAF requires fighter aircraft to replace MiG-21 fighters.

Sources said while the RFP pertained to the acquisition of 126 fighter aircraft, it could go up by another 70-80 aircraft to replace those expected to be phased out in the period before the new fighter jets start arriving.

The RFP also contained a selection model involving an exhaustive evaluation process as detailed in the DPP-2006, defence ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar informed mediapersons.

Under this process, there would technical evaluation of the proposals received to check for compliance with the IAF's operational requirements and other RFP conditions. Following this, there will be extensive field trials to evaluate the performance of different aircraft. Finally, the commercial proposal of the vendors shortlisted after technical and field evaluations will be examined and compared.

Thereafter, the Defence Ministry's Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) would hold discussions with the vendors before identifying the manufacturer who would be awarded the IAF order.

The CNC will submit its report to the minister, who will forward it to the finance minister. After the file returns to the Defence Ministry, it will be sent for the final approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). This process will take close to three years.

"Since the aircraft are likely to be in service for over 40 years, the vendors have to provide lifetime support and performance-based warranty for them," Kar pointed out.

It is expected that the technology transfer and offset clauses will provide a technological and economic boost to the indigenous defence industries in the public sector. The floating of the tender is the culimination of a process that began in 2001 when the IAF sent out its request for information for 126 jets.

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Children-in-distress tie Patil in bond of love
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
This year the festival of Rakshabandhan was somewhat unique at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

So far, India's male Presidents have had rakhis presented to them. But for the first time, it was Madam President who celebrated the festival with her special Rakshabandhan guests. For the children, who were invited to Rashtrapati Bhavan, the day became an unforgettable experience.

Among the 100 children who met President Pratibha Devisingh Patil at Rashtrapati Bhavan this morning and forged the bond of love, were those from militancy-affected areas of Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast.

The group included children who had lost their parents in communal riots or while serving in the armed forces and the police, HIV positive and special children and those suffering from thalassaemia.

Tying rakhis to the President became a therapeutic experience for these children, robbed of their natural childhood, courtesy man-made and natural disasters. Having endured terrible tragedies, many of these children were celebrating their first Rakshabandhan.

The event was organised by mediapersons and social activist Manoj Rastogi with chairperson of the Children Film Society of India Nafisa Ali and Spice Jet. The children are all under the care of NGOs and social institutions.

They belong to different regions, communities and religions, but all have a common history of pain and suffering. Among them was 14-year-old Ishfaq, whose father died in 1993, Naseer Wani, whose father was abducted and killed by unidentified armed persons in the same year, and Shoib whose father was killed by militants in 1998 when he was just two months old.

The group also included 11-year-old Lukrom Thoi Devi from the Northeast whose parents died of HIV-related complications and three children from the tsunami-hit district of Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu. Tahir had lost family members in the Gujarat riots.

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Reliance Retail pulls out of WB
Tribune News service

Kolkata, August 28
Reliance Retail suddenly backed out from its ongoing retail-outlet inauguration programme in West Bengal in the face of large-scale violence and resistance by the opposition parties and also two other major partners of the Left Front, the Forward Bloc (FB) and the RSP.

Reliance had decided to initially invest about Rs 4,000 crore in the state for its retail business and other allied trades. The group had already opened four outlets at Rajarhat and Sodepore and at Swabhumi and Nanda Kumar Road in Kolkata. The company was planning to start six more outlets in the districts for which 600 acres of land (six plots of 100 acres each) had been acquired.

But in the wake of a series of attacks, mob violence and vandalism targeting Reliance outlets, the group has now decided to suspend its retail business programme in Bengal. Reliance Retail chief executive, Raghu Pillai, conveyed this decision to the Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, making clear that unless "they were safe and secure, it would not be possible for the company to run the retail trade (outlets) in the state."

This can be termed as an embarrassment for the state government. Bhattaharya refused to talk to mediapersons on the issue. But before leaving for Asansol to attend a public meeting, he said he was aware of the decision taken by Reliance Retail.

The CM was upset as he felt that the Reliance outlets would have helped the farmers of the state.

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Hyderabad Blasts
Two who planted bombs identified

New Delhi, August 28
Security agencies and the police have been able to identify at least two men who are suspected to have planted the bombs that went off in Hyderabad on Saturday last.

Raids were taking place in various parts of Hyderabad to nab the duo who could have planted the bombs that were believed to have been assembled by Mohammad Sharifuddin, a Bangladeshi, official sources said.

While the Andhra Pradesh police is tight-lipped about the developments, sources here said the role of HUJI was almost certain after Sharifuddin's name cropped up during the investigations.

Sharifuddin had extended support to HUJI and other Pakistan-based militant groups for monetary gains,the sources said.

Sharifuddin is believed to have undertaken the task as per the order of HUJI commander Abdul Sahil Mohammed.

Throughout July and early August, Mohammad left dozens of Internet-chat messages for his Hyderabad operative, asking them to go ahead with the plans he had earlier authorised.

In a related development, senior home ministry officials tonight took stock of the security situation and the investigations.

Sources said a serious view was taken about the preparedness of the police despite repeated intelligence warnings about an impending terror attack.

Guwahati: Investigators have found a trail of the twin Hyderabad blasts in Assam as they picked up an Assamese native Mohammad Abdullah today in this connection amidst apprehension that ‘jehadi’ elements were using the state as a transit corridor.

According to official reports from Hyderabad, Mohammad Abdullah was today arrested by the police there in connection with the attacks from the Bowenpalli neighbourhood in Secunderabad and were questioning him whether he had any links with the worst-ever terror attacks in the Andhra capital.

Assam DGP R.N. Mathur, however, expressed ignorance. “Hopefully they will contact us soon and we are very keen on knowing the roots of these elements,” he said.

A resident of Nagaon district here, Abdullah was among the four people detained in connection with the terror strikes in Hyderabad. His movements and links were being ascertained. — Agencies

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Tackling Terror
AP to set up special force
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 28
The Andhra Pradesh government will set up a special police force to exclusively deal with terrorist activities on the lines of Maharashtra model.

The elite force will be given training on par with international standards and its personnel will be paid higher salaries and given modern weapons. The proposal was mooted at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy here today to review the law and order situation in the wake of the twin blasts that shook the city.

The proposed wing will function on the lines of anti-Naxalite squad “Greyhounds”. A committee of senior police officials will be constituted to work out the modalities of the proposed special force. The committee has been asked to submit its report within a week.

“We are keen to develop a special intelligence structure that is comparable to the best in the world,” the CM said.

Reddy has already blamed the terrorist groups based in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the blasts. The move comes against the backdrop of the deadly bombings at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat Bhandar in the city.

The Congress government has come under opposition attack for “intelligence failure” leading to the terror strike, three months after the Mecca Masjid blast.

The police stepped up efforts to find clues and questioned about 50 people, including 20 Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals overstaying in the city.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the blasts mounted to 43 with one of the injured Srinivas Rao, a native of Visakhapatnam, succumbing to his wounds at a private hospital. He was standing near Gokul Chat, to protect himself from the rain, when the bomb went off.

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DMK spat over quarrying with PMK
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 28
Quarrying has now become one of the bones of contention between the ruling DMK and its main ally PMK.

Being situated on the southern coastline of India, sand quarrying is a major activity in Tamil Nadu and the PMK has threatened to move court to stop illegal sand mining which, it alleged, was depriving the state of more than Rs 1,000 crore and alleged “exploitation by the contractors”.

However, Tamil Nadu PWD minister Duraimurugan rubbished the PMK’s claim and said today, “The charge is only to divert the people's attention.”

Throwing a challenge to PMK founder Dr S. Ramadoss’ charge, he said if there were efforts to prevent sand quarrying, the government would not remain a silent spectator and said the total income from sand quarrying never exceeded Rs. 133 crore.

Three PMK legislators have displayed photographs and video clips showing reported illegal quarrying of sand.

The minister retorted by saying that the state government would never allow illegal sand quarrying but, at the same time, not be a mute spectator to obstruction of legal quarrying apprehending that the PMK might mobilise its workers in southern Tamil Nadu and stop it.

After demanding total prohibition on the lines of Gujarat, opposing entry of corporates into retail trade, demanding land reforms as was done in neighbouring Kerala, the PMK even went to the extent of asking people in the suburbs of the city to forcibly take over land which they had given to the state housing board and received compensation.

Following such a call by Ramadoss, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi reacted strongly and there were hints that he would dump his main ally, which has been criticising his government for the past eight months.

Along with the opposition AIADMK and the MDMK, the PMK too is opposing the Rs 2,500 crore titanium dioxide of Tata Steel in southern Tamil Nadu.

The acrimony between the DMK and the PMK reached its climax with Ramadoss attacking Karunanidhi, but the octogenarian Chief Minister is not closing the issue by getting rid of the “belligerent” ally probably keeping in mind the possibility of a mid-term Lok Sabha election.

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RSP questions relevance of proposed panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
As major Left parties expressed willingness to consider the government’s proposal to form a committee to resolve differences over the nuclear deal, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), an ally in the Left front, today struck a discordant note by questing the use of such a committee.

“What is the need for forming a committee when we are opposed to the deal. Differences may persist even after it is formed,” RSP leader Abani Roy said after a 30-minute meeting with top Congress leaders, including external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Roy, however, said he would discuss the matter with his party leadership and convey the decision to them. The RSP central committee would have a three-day meeting here from September 2.

“Besides the nuclear issue, we are opposed to the government on its performance in the domestic front too,” he added.

He said, “We are not satisfied with government’s performance on the economic front, particularly on issues like price rise, employment generation, education and healthcare. On top of it, now we have the nuclear deal.”

Asked about withdrawal of support to the UPA government, he said the Left parties have to review the matter on all these counts. “The Prime Minister’s statement has triggered the differences,” he added.

Earlier, Forward Bloc general secretary Debabrata Biswas, who separately met the Congress leadership including A.K. Antony and Ahmed Patel, said his party would “definitely” join such a committee as the perceptions on the Indo-US nuclear deal were “political” and had to be resolved politically.

Biswas said no dates have yet been fixed for a meeting between the ruling UPA coalition and Left leaders on the matter.

Three Congress leaders had held discussions with top leaders of the CPM and the CPI yesterday in an effort to resolve the crisis triggered by Left parties’ demand that the government should not operationalise the deal.

Biswas, accompanied by his party leader G. Devarajan, favoured a solution to the issue, saying it should be “settled politically.”

He said the Congress leaders would first discuss the issues raised by the Left within their party and then with the UPA, before a Left-UPA meeting could be held.

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‘Jhappi’ cop reinstated
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 28
Rajendra Kalekar, a police constable posted at Pune's Yerwada jail who was suspended for hugging actor Sanjay Dutt last week, has been ordered back on the job by Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.

Kalekar should thank Maharashtra's BJP leaders for getting his suspension withdrawn. Deputy chief minister R.R. Patil had ordered the suspension of Kalekar and called for an inquiry against his colleagues for shaking hands with the actor.

The BJP had demanded the sacking of Maharashtra's minister of state for civil supplies Baba Siddiqui on similar grounds. Siddiqui, an old friend of the Dutt family, was among those who were at Sanjay Dutt's residence in suburban Bandra to welcome the actor on his temporary release from Yerwada jail.

Even as the BJP's clamour grew louder, an angry Siddiqui even refused to consider an apology for being openly seen with the convicted actor. "Sanjay Dutt is an old family friend and I went visit him," Siddiqui, an old Congress party hand, insisted.

Shortly afterwards, Maharashtra's Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh intervened and revoked the suspension of police constable Rajendra Kalekar. The inquiry against his colleagues too has been dropped on the grounds that the action initiated by deputy chief minister R.R. Patil seemed excessive.

Meanwhile, the superintendent of Yerwada Central Jail Rajendra Dhamne said Kalekar would be allowed to report for duty.

However, the Chief Minister's action is seen as a public rebuke to his deputy who hails from the Nationalist Congress Party. Relations between the two have been frosty though both make public appearances together regularly.

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Police ‘helps’ mob beat up snatcher

Patna, August 28
A day after the top brass of the police looked helpless before Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for their failure to know the whereabouts of DAV School student Akash Pandey, the police helped a mob beat a suspected thief in front of a television camera with one policeman tying the victim to his motorbike and dragging him mercilessly.

The incident where a chain-snatcher became a victim of mob fury with policemen just looking on took place in Bhagalpur today.

Identified as Salim, the mob accused the victim of snatching a woman’s gold chain.

Television pictures showed men tied the shirtless Salim hands behind his back and were viciously kicking and punching him as he writhed on the ground, soaked in sweat and mud, begging for mercy.

When the police turned up, one constable tied Salim’s legs to a police motorbike and dragged him along the road on his stomach and chest.

Home secretary Afzal Amanulah also admitted to mediapersons here that the thief was dragged for some time and the police constable stopped his bike only when he lost consciousness.

While one policeman was already suspended, the victim was arrested for robbery and taken to a prison hospital with serious injuries. — TNS

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Dasmunshi walks out of party meeting
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, August 28
Union information minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi was heckled today during the Chhatra Parisad’s foundation day function here when he had to quit the stage without making any speech.

Former Kolkata mayor Subrata Mukherjee was seen accompanying him while coming out of the hall and boarding his vehicle.

Though there was no protest as such against Dasmunshi but the odd behaviour of a group of Somen Mitra’s supporters invariably was the cause of Dasmunshi’s anger and insult that forced him to stop his speech and leave the place.

The incident once again revealed the persisting squabbles between the two groups in the state Congress led by Dasmunshi and Mitra.

After the incident, Mitra and Manash Bhuiya, party chief whip in the Assembly, denied that Dasmunshi was heckled.

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Assam minister has a close shave
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 28
Kharsing Ingti, hill areas development minister of Assam, had a close shave as militants triggered an explosion in his residential compound at Howraghat in violence-affected Karbi Anglong hill district in the pre-dawn hours today.

A police source in Diphu, the headquarters of the hill district, informed that suspected militants belonging to Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF) triggered the explosion at 2.10 am today. No one was injured in the blast. N.N. Goswami, additional superintendent of police, Karbi Anglong district, said that it was a powerful improvised explosive device triggered with the help of manually operated detonator.

The IED was fitted to the boundary wall located at a distance of 20 metres from the minister's residence. The explosion caused damage to the boundary wall besides causing damage to some window panes. The police recovered 47 metres of flexible wires, batteries and plastic containers used as detonators from the site of the blast. It was detonated from a nearby house by the ultras.

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Ghosh remanded in judicial custody

Kolkata, August 28
A court here today remanded Amarendra Nath Ghosh, who was extradited from Germany for allegedly cheating several Indian banks to the tune of Rs 27.69 crore, to judicial custody for 14 days.

Ghosh was produced before Alipore First Special Court Judge Indrajit Chatterjee, who sent him to judicial remand. The judge also directed jail doctors to examine Ghosh and submit a report as he had reportedly swallowed a knife to prevent his extradition.

Specialty treatment would be considered on the basis of the report, the court said.

Ghosh will be produced again on September 11. He was extradited from Germany after a near three-year legal battle and was brought to Delhi from Munich by a CBI team yesterday. — PTI

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US marines in Mizoram for guerilla training

Aizawl/Shillong, August 28
As many as 60 American marines arrived at the Counter-Insurgency Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) at Vairengte in Mizoram today for joint exercises with elite Indian soldiers.

The visiting US marines would be trained on unconventional warfare or low-intensity conflict, besides simulated anti-insurgency operations, Commandant of CIJW School Brigadier Rakesh Mohan Painuly said. The training will go on till September 16.

The US troops, which arrived yesterday, belong to the US Army's special force.

This is the fourth such exercise in counter-insurgency between the two countries. The earlier exercises were held in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Besides the US troops, soldiers from 20 other countries have so far undergone training at the school to learn to fight guerrillas. — UNI

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Dinakaran removed from AIADMK

Chennai, August 28
In a major revamp in the party's organisational structure, AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa has removed her party treasurer T.T.V Dinakaran from his post.

The ouster of Dinakaran, nephew of Jayalalithaa's close confidante Sasikala, came as no surpise as he was said to have fallen out of her favour and had been sidelined in the party for quite some time.

Former chief minister and deputy leader of opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, O Panneerselvam, will be the party's new treasurer, according to a party release.

Former union minister M. Thambidurai has bounced back to prominence in the party on being appointed as propaganda secretary in place of Edapadi K Palanisamy. — PTI

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