SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Blasts: Suspected ISI agent arrested
Hyderabad, August 31
The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the blasts that rocked the city on August 25, has arrested a suspected ISI agent.


Madarsa searches spark row

Agra: Friday prayers peaceful
Agra, August 31
Friday prayers passed off peacefully in the hundreds of mosques across the curfew-bound city, making the district administration heave a sign of relief.

AGP Leadership Crisis
Goswami retained with clipped wings
Guwahati, August 31
The regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the main opposition party in Assam, today decided to retain Brindabon Goswami as its president but with reduced power as he will have to share power with a working president from now onwards.

No N-deal with Pakistan: China
New Delhi, August 31
China is yet to articulate its official position on the Indo-US nuclear deal though it views the agreement primarily as a bilateral issue between Washington and New Delhi which is not targeted against Beijing or any other country.





EARLIER STORIES




Fresh talks on Tulbul, Wullar on cards
New Delhi, August 31
Water secretaries of India and Pakistan have decided to hold another round of talks on the Tulbul Navigation Project and Wullar Barrage.

Railways offers job to Hameed’s grandson
New Delhi, August 31
The ministry of railways has offered a job to Jamil Alam, grandson of martyr Abdul Hameed, one of the heroes in the 1965 India-Pakistan war. Hawaldar Abdul Hameed was posthumously awarded Param Vir Chakra for his valour in the war.




Rasulan Bibi, widow of martyr Abdul Hameed, blesses railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav after receiving the appointment letter of her grandson Jamil Alam (centre) from him in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI
Rasulan Bibi, widow of martyr Abdul Hameed, blesses railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav after receiving the appointment letter of her grandson Jamil Alam (centre) from him in New Delhi on Friday.

‘1857’ on wheels
New Delhi, August 31
A special exhibition train on 1857, the first war of Independence, is likely to be flagged off on September 28 to coincide with the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

K.C. Jena rly board head
New Delhi, August 31 K.C. Jena, an officer of the 1971 batch of the Indian Railway Traffic Service, has taken over as the new chairman of the Railway Board.

JD(U) dissidents elect parallel president
Patna, August 31
Twenty-one months after capturing power in Bihar with the BJP, the ruling JD(U) suffered a setback with dissidents in the party electing suspended principal general secretary Upendra Kushwaha as parallel president of the state unit against the official president and trusted lieutenant of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Lalan Singh.

IT industry plans security setup
Hyderabad, August 31
The information technology industry in the city is planning to have a coordinated security setup to ensure the safety of its employees and facilities.

Helmets for two-wheeler riders must: Madras HC
Chennai, August 31
The Madras High Court today ruled that except for Sikhs, wearing of helmets was mandatory for all two-wheeler riders and the relevant section of the central Motor Vehicles Act is binding on all states in the country.

Expressway: K’taka cabinet revokes clauses
Bangalore, August 31
Despite strictures already passed against it for not releasing land to the Nandi infrastructure corridor enterprise (NICE) for the Bangalore-Mysore infrastructure corridor (BMIC) project, the Karnataka government today decided to revoke clauses facilitating the transfer of land to the project promoter.

Minor alleges rape by BJP leader’s son
Bhopal, August 31
A minor girl has alleged that she was raped by two persons, one of them a BJP leader’s son, in Karrakhedi village in Vidisha, home district of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, nearly seven months ago following which she has delivered a premature child.

Four held for container theft
Navi Mumbai, August 31
Four persons were arrested in connection with theft four containers from the high security Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) port even as the stolen cargo worth Rs 47 lakh has been recovered, the police said today.

‘Indian Idol’ unites North-East, all root for Amit Paul
Shillong, August 31
From politicians to actors, people from all streams of life in the northeast are rooting for Shillong singing sensation Amit Paul to make him the next “Indian Idol” in a much-watched reality television contest.

Traffic disrupted as rail line caves in
Kolkata, August 31
The railway tracks at Rajchandrapore, near Belutmath, on the eastern railways Sealdah-Dankuni section subsided today, disrupting train services on the line. Five light posts, carrying the overhead electric traction lines, were also uprooted due to the subsidence.

An avid reader at three
Rourkela, August 31
A three-year-old child prodigy in the steel city has taken everybody by surprise as he is able to read newspapers and text books even though he is yet to start schooling.

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Blasts: Suspected ISI agent arrested

Hyderabad, August 31
The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the blasts that rocked the city on August 25, has arrested a suspected ISI agent.

Police sources said SIT had arrested Shadab from his house at the Malakpet area last night. SIT is grilling the agent to get vital clues.

The sources said Shadab had links with Shahed, alias Bilal, the most-wanted Bangladeshi terrorist who resorted to violent acts in the country by triggering blasts. Shadab also contacted Shahed over telephone several times.

ISI agent Abdul Sattar, who was arrested in the city recently, also confessed that Shadab had links with the ISI and other terrorist outfits. Three more persons, who were picked up from several places in the city, are also being interrogated. — UNI

Madarsa searches spark row

Police searched three madrasas in Hyderabad as part of investigations into recent bombings that killed at least 43 people, prompting Muslim leaders to complain of discrimination on Friday.

Investigators visited Darul Uloom Hyderabad, a prominent madarsas, in the early hours of Thursday in search of a student named Mujeeb Abdul Rahman, said police official C. H. Srinivas. No student of that name is enrolled there, the school’s secretary Raheemuddin Ansar said, adding that the officers also asked if the school has any foreign students.

“Where was the need for the police to come to the madarsa late in the night when all the students were asleep?’’ Ansar said. “It created unnecessary panic and fear among the residents.”

Police have not released any information about Rahman or any other suspects in the two blasts, which exploded minutes apart in crowded areas in Hyderabad on August 25, killing at least 43 people and injuring dozens more.

Police have blamed Islamic militants based in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the bombs, saying the insurgents hope to create communal tensions.

Investigators visited two other madarsas on Thursday, including one school for girls, to ask about the establishments’ finances and the number of students enrolled, according to Mufti Merajuddin Abrar and Moulana Maqbool Hashimi, officials at the schools. — AP

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Agra: Friday prayers peaceful
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Agra, August 31
Friday prayers passed off peacefully in the hundreds of mosques across the curfew-bound city, making the district administration heave a sign of relief.

Today, for the first time since violence erupted on Wednesday morning, curfew had been lifted in all the six police station areas to enable the believers to pray.

At the historical Jama Masjid, near the sensitive Mantola area, where curfew had not been relaxed for a minute since Wednesday morning, thousands of youths, dressed in crisp kurta-pyjama and skullcaps, came out on the streets to march to the mosque.

Tension was palpable in the area. But heavy deployment of RAF and local police along with the personal presence of IG S.P. Singh, DIG Kamal Saxena and ADM Rajiv Rautela kept things in check.

SSP H.R. Sharma and DM Mukesh Meshram were not present at this sensitive spot as they were taking a 15 km walk in city’s Nai ki Mandi and Mantola area when the curfew was temporarily relaxed.

“We literally cajoled hesitant shopkeepers to open the shops and start selling goods it was causing a lot of inconvenience to the people”, revealed the DM.

Ten more persons were arrested and criminal charges framed against them for violence. Mesharam declared that the district administration was following a gradual strategy for withdrawal of curfew, keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the area. “It was completely lifted from Sadar and Tajganj areas today. It would hopefully be completely lifted from Loha Mandi and Rakabganj by tomorrow. According to the DM, educational institutions would remain closed till Monday.

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AGP Leadership Crisis
Goswami retained with clipped wings
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 31
The regional Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), the main opposition party in Assam, today decided to retain Brindabon Goswami as its president but with reduced power as he will have to share power with a working president from now onwards.

The marathon two-day general conference of the party that was held in the party's headquarter here, worked out a compromise formula to avoid election to the party's president's post as demanded by anti-Goswami camp.

The AGP spokesman Apurba Kumar Bhattacharya informed that 'a compromise formula' was worked out during discussions in the party forum last couple of days and that was accepted by both the pro and anti Goswami groups. He said the party finally decided to give more time to the incumbent president Goswami with a fresh core team of leaders.

"As per the compromise formula Goswami continues to be the president while his bete noir Phani Bhusan Choudhury has been made the working president. Goswami has agreed to step down as the leader of the party's legislative party and the new legislature party leader will be selected by September 7 next," the party spokesman informed.

Senior party legislature Chandra Mohan Patowary who was a strong contender for the position of the party president, is being tipped as the new AGP legislature party leader.

The regional party leadership wanted to avoid election to the party's president post after Goswami had made it clear that he was game for contest to retain his post while Chaudhury was well prepared for a showdown.

The party leadership, however, was apprehensive that holding of election to the post of president at this hour may lead to further split in the party. The party and formed a seven-member crisis management team comprising senior party leaders including twp party MPs to engineer a compromise between pro and anti-Goswmai groups.

In view of growing demand for change of leadership within the regional party, the incumbent party chief Goswami last month sought time till August 30 from the party's general house to reconstitute all the 52 district committees of the party before took up the leadership issue.

The party spokesman informed that Mr Goswami managed to reconstitute 51 out of the total 52 district committees of the party during the past 30 days.

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No N-deal with Pakistan: China
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
China is yet to articulate its official position on the Indo-US nuclear deal though it views the agreement primarily as a bilateral issue between Washington and New Delhi which is not targeted against Beijing or any other country.

Clarifying his country’s position in an interaction with journalists today, Chinese ambassador Sun Yuxi indicated that Beijing had adopted a cautious approach on the matter. At the same time, he said, it was closely following the debate on the agreement in India and the US.

Sun did not give credence to reports that Pakistan and China were moving together with the NSG to seek the same exemptions for Islamabad for the supply of nuclear fuel as those being suggested for India. “We have nothing to say if Pakistan wants a nuclear deal with the US,” Sun said, adding that there was nothing on the table with regard to any nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and China.

Sun was non-committal about the position Beijing would adopt when the matter was brought before the NSG. “India is not there yet,” he remarked.

Sun said reports in the Chinese media, including the state-run People’s Daily, on the deal did not necessarily reflect the official position though they might point to concerns in certain sections.

“We are concerned with the effectiveness of the non-proliferation regime...we don’t want the regime to be weakened,” he said, adding that China would have no problems with the deal if it strengthened this regime as they had been repeatedly assured by Indian officials.

Taking a generous view of the deepening relations between India and the US, he said since America was the only superpower in the world today, it was only natural that each country, including China, should want to improve its ties with Washingon.

In fact, he said, relations between China and the US were far ahead than those between the US and India.

“Our trade with the US is 10 times more than India...we have more Mcdonalds, more people wearing blue jeans and more people listening to rock music and visiting discotheques,” he remarked.

Speaking warmly about Sino-India relations, he said China regarded New Delhi as a strategic partner and wanted the two countries to work together since they had common concerns on a variety of issues. “India and China constitute half the world, if one is out, the other is incomplete,” the ambassador said, adding that China had a lot to learn from India in the education, finance, legal and IT sectors.

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Fresh talks on Tulbul, Wullar on cards
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
Water secretaries of India and Pakistan have decided to hold another round of talks on the Tulbul Navigation Project and Wullar Barrage.

Delegations of two sides have met here for days as part of the composite dialogue between the two countries.

The Indian delegation was led by Gauri Chatterji, secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, and the Pakistan delegation by Muhammad Ismail Qureshi, secretary, Ministry of Water and Power.

An official spokesman said the talks were held in a cordial atmosphere. "The two sides further discussed their positions on the project and had a better appreciation of each other's views. They reaffirmed their commitment to the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960," he said.

The two sides emphasised the need for an early and amicable resolution of the issue in accordance with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 for the socio-economic development of the peoples of the two countries.

"Both sides looked forward to the next round of talks under the Composite Dialogue with a view to resolving the issue at an early date,".

The Pakistan delegation also met water resources minister Saiffudin Soz.

Sources said during the talks India conveyed its position that Wullar barrage was a navigation project aimed at regularising the flow of water into the Jhelum and beneficial to both countries.

Though there was expectation of talks moving to political level after the present meeting, the stalemate has led to the two sides agreeing to another round of discussion.

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Railways offers job to Hameed’s grandson
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
The ministry of railways has offered a job to Jamil Alam, grandson of martyr Abdul Hameed, one of the heroes in the 1965 India-Pakistan war. Hawaldar Abdul Hameed was posthumously awarded Param Vir Chakra for his valour in the war.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad today handed over the appointment letter to Jamil Alam for the post of electric signal maintainer (ESM), a group ‘C’ post in Northern Railways. Also present at the function at the Rail Bhaan were Rasoolan Bi, wife of the late Abdul Hameed and Minister for Corporate Affairs, Prem Chand Gupta.

Speaking at the function, Lalu Prasad promised to do his best to families of persons who laid down their lives during the freedom struggle.

Six years ago, the Railways had given a job to Abdul Hameed’s son, Juned Alam.

Last month, the Ministry of Railways had offered jobs to two unemployed daughters of Vinayak Rao Tope, the descendent of Tantya Tope, the hero of India’s first war of independence (1857).

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‘1857’ on wheels

New Delhi, August 31
A special exhibition train on 1857, the first war of Independence, is likely to be flagged off on September 28 to coincide with the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

As per the original plan, the train was to be flagged off from the Safdarjung railway station on August 15. Now the train is likely to leave on September 28 from the same station. It would return to the same station after running for nine months through 60 cities.

The train has 12 coaches with exhibition materials, a pantry car, an AC coach for volunteers and staff and two guard cabins. The exhibition materials include portraits of freedom fighters and their actions during the freedom struggle. — PTI

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K.C. Jena rly board head
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
K.C. Jena, an officer of the 1971 batch of the Indian Railway Traffic Service, has taken over as the new chairman of the Railway Board.

Jena has been holding the post of member (staff) in the Railway Board since July 31 last year.

He has held key operational management assignments on the South Eastern Railways including that of the chief freight traffic manager. He has also served as the chief commercial manager (passenger services) and subsequently chief operating manager, Western Railway. Jena was elevated to the post of additional general manager of Central Railway.

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JD(U) dissidents elect parallel president
Tribune News Service

Patna, August 31
Twenty-one months after capturing power in Bihar with the BJP, the ruling JD(U) suffered a setback with dissidents in the party electing suspended principal general secretary Upendra Kushwaha as parallel president of the state unit against the official president and trusted lieutenant of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Lalan Singh.

The only solace for Nitish and national president Sharad Yadav was that the day-long meeting yesterday was conspicuous by the absence of its prominent dissident faces.

The meeting was convened by state party general secretary Lalan Paswan, MLA from Chenari and the only legislator to attend it.

The meeting was attended among others by former Lok Sabha member Arun Kumar, a close aide of NDA convener George Fernandes, who had fought the recent Nalanda Lok Sabha poll as Independent candidate being backed by the RJD against the official JD(U) candidate.

Kushwaha was dismissed from the post of party’s principal general secretary and his primary membership suspended for six years by JD(U) president Sharad Yadav on August 21 for his sustained diatribe against Nitish and Lalan.

Kushwaha represents the major component of “Lav-Kush” (Kurmi-Kairi) caste in Bihar who formed the major strength of JD(U) in its battle against the RJD in 2005 assembly poll. Nitish himself is a Kurmi. By caste strength, “Lalv-Kush” is regarded just after the Yadav.

Kushwaha had charged Nitish with being in the grip of upper caste feudal and opportunist forces at the cost of genuine party workers who had championed the cause of the backwards.

His target of attack was state JD(U) president Lalan Singh, and defected RJD leader and now national spokesperson for JD(U) Shivanand Tiwary.

Among the absentees were party’s Rajya Sabha member Vashisht Narayan Singh, who had specially flown in for a dissidents’ gathering here on August 22, suspended JD(U) MLA from Mohania and frontline dissident leader Chedi Paswan and Fernandes camp follower Manoj Kumar Singh.

State council member Nageshwar Rai moved a resolution electing Kushwaha as president.

It was seconded by Zulfikar Ali Bharavi, former vice-president of the state party’s minority cell. It was adopted unanimously by a show of hands.

The meeting also passed another resolution asking Sharad Yadav to revoke the suspension of Kushwaha.

Paswan described Lalan Singh’s continuance as state JD(U) chief “illegal”, as, according to party constitution, a nominated president had to obtain the endorsement of his presidency by the state council within six months of his getting nominated, which the incumbent state chief had not done.

Singh was nominated to head the state unit by Nitish after he was authorised to do so by the state council at its meeting on April 2, 2006. “Since Singh has not obtained the endorsement of the state council, mandatory under the party constitution, his continuance is illegal,” Paswan asserted.

On his part, Nitish has already ruled out any threat to the JD(U) following dissident activities. “We are in knowledge of everything. We know from which quarters such actions are being encouraged,” he told mediapersons here.

Nitish’s bête noire, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, had earlier predicted the fall of NDA government here after October 28.

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IT industry plans security setup
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 31
The information technology industry in the city is planning to have a coordinated security setup to ensure the safety of its employees and facilities.

An integrated command centre, connected to various police check posts would be put in place for a more effective monitoring.

Hyderabad has emerged as one of the fastest growing IT destinations in the country and is home to several leading multinational companies.

Over 1,500 software, product development and business process outsourcing companies have their operations in the city. Huge Indian IT firms such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys also have large operations here.

Keeping in view the heightened threat perception, security is being stepped up at Madhapur and Gachibowli areas which form the hub of the IT industry.

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Helmets for two-wheeler riders must: Madras HC
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 31
The Madras High Court today ruled that except for Sikhs, wearing of helmets was mandatory for all two-wheeler riders and the relevant section of the central Motor Vehicles Act is binding on all states in the country.

Upholding the Tamil Nadu government order making wearing of helmets for two-wheeler riders as well as those sitting pillion, a Division Bench comprising Justice S.J. Mukhopadhyay and Justice K. Suguna rejected a batch of petitions challenging the government order and said the relevant section of the Motor Vehicles Act was mandatory.

The bench ruled, “All state governments are bound to give effect to it.”

The Tamil Nadu government on February 22 had issued an order making wearing of helmets mandatory following a sharp increase in two-wheeler accidents in which victims succumbed to head injuries.

The Chennai city police had immediately cracked down on two-wheeler riders driving without helmets but had to call of their operations as Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had said the people should not be harassed in the name of implementing the order.

The petitioners had contended that the rule making wearing of helmets mandatory was violative of Art 19 and 21 of the Constitution relating to freedom of movement and protection of life and personal liberty.

However, the Bench held that no person could claim any fundamental right to move in any manner in a vehicle regardless of the restrictions imposed by the Motor Vehicles Act.

The judges stated: “For example, a person cannot drive a motor vehicle without a licence. Public health being the concern of the state, it is always open to a welfare state to enact provisions for the safety of the drivers and pillion riders.”

The Bench also observed that in case of accidents, the insurance company “is liable to pay compensation and therefore, it cannot be said the state has no role to play for the safety of the drivers and pillion riders”.

The High Court said, “We are not inclined to interfere with the government order” and said it should be implemented in letter and in spirit except for those who are exempted.

After the rules came into effect, the government has exempted women and children on pillion and followers of the Meivazhi Salai, a Hindu cult, who wear turbans, from its purview. The central law has exempted Sikhs from the rule. 

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Expressway: K’taka cabinet revokes clauses
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 31
Despite strictures already passed against it for not releasing land to the Nandi infrastructure corridor enterprise (NICE) for the Bangalore-Mysore infrastructure corridor (BMIC) project, the Karnataka government today decided to revoke clauses facilitating the transfer of land to the project promoter.

The Janata Dal (Secular)-BJP government and particularly the family of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda whose son H.D. Kumaraswamy is the Chief Minister, are reneging on an agreement reached with NICE for the construction of the expressway between Bangalore-Mysore and other facilities, including building of townships.

Today’s decision by the state Cabinet is in line with the government’s affidavit filed in the Supreme Court claiming that a new consortium has filed a proposal to take over the Rs 2,250-crore project from NICE and implement it on an “as-is-where-is” basis, returning the land acquired for the project and providing more facilities like a monorail link. The affidavit was filed in connection with a contempt petition moved by NICE against the state government for stalling the project despite legal clearances.

The Cabinet has decided to annul certain clauses of the agreement signed between it and NICE in 2002 which provides for alienation of land through absolute deed.

It was because of this clause that the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board had approved and enabled the transfer of 600 acres adjoining Bangalore in favour of NICE two weeks ago. The government had promptly suspended the officer who had appealed against it in court.

The Cabinet has now decided to seek the Supreme Court's permission to enter into an agreement with the Global Infrastructure Consortium which has come forward to execute the BMIC project using only 21,193 acres, minister for primary and secondary education Basavaraj Horatti told the media after the meeting. 

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Minor alleges rape by BJP leader’s son

Bhopal, August 31
A minor girl has alleged that she was raped by two persons, one of them a BJP leader’s son, in Karrakhedi village in Vidisha, home district of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, nearly seven months ago following which she has delivered a premature child.

The 13-year-old victim has demanded action against the accused and submitted a memorandum to Governor Balram Jakhar.

The memorandum was submitted by a Madhya Pradesh women’s Congress delegation led by its president Shobha Ojha along with the victim yesterday.

The girl has named two persons in her complaint - Sunil Kurmi and Pravesh Singh, son of BJP leader Bhairon Singh, who is also chairman of the Krishi Upaj Mandi at Sironj town in Vidisha.

The victim alleged while the police has arrested Sunil, they had failed to apprehend Pravesh who is threatening her and exerting pressure to withdraw the complaint.

The girl claimed in her statement to the police that she has not disclosed the incident to her parents because of fear.

Meanwhile, a court in Lateri town in the district has ordered the police to make Pravesh an accused in the case and arrest him. — PTI

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Four held for container theft

Navi Mumbai, August 31
Four persons were arrested in connection with theft four containers from the high security Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) port even as the stolen cargo worth Rs 47 lakh has been recovered, the police said today.

“Four people were arrested from the JNPT township yesterday and containers were recovered from Dahisar-Mori near Mumbra,” deputy commissioner police (crime) Amar Jadhav told reporters here.

He said prima facie it appears to be a simple theft case but the police is not taking chances as it concerns national security.

“We are consulting forensic experts to confirm that explosives were not smuggled-in by the gang,” he said.

Three containers which had arrived from China and one from Dubai went missing from JNPT on August 19 and a complaint of theft was registered by the authorities on August 24.

The police has recovered all goods as per the import documents.

The stolen goods include float glass sheets, spare parts of water purifications systems, a chemical methyl nitroinidazone used for medical purposes imported by Unichem Laboratories and some knitted fabrics, Jadhav said.

The arrested persons Tushar Bhoir (23), Appukumar Kuberroy (25), Riyaz Shaikh (24) and Feroze Mukri (38) took advantage of lapses in JNPT security to enter the premises preparing fake documents and fake registration plates of trucks used to transport these containers to port premises, he added. — PTI

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‘Indian Idol’ unites North-East, all root for Amit Paul

Shillong, August 31
From politicians to actors, people from all streams of life in the northeast are rooting for Shillong singing sensation Amit Paul to make him the next “Indian Idol” in a much-watched reality television contest.

The 24-year-old singer is now in the top five of the highly-rated “Indian Idol” musical show on Sony TV where one contestant is eliminated based on the least number of votes received on SMS or through phone calls.

Leading the bandwagon for supporting Amit is Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang.

“We have conferred him the honorary title of Meghalaya’s ‘Brand Ambassador’ to foster peace, communal harmony, and excellence,” the Chief Minister told IANS.

Lapang on Wednesday participated at a function here, organised by music lovers and several socio cultural groups, to drum up support for Amit.

“We are all proud of Amit for the success and fame he has attained so far. His achievements have helped people from all walks of life and communities to come together, and this aspect clearly reflects that music has no cultural barriers,” the Chief Minister said.

Giant hoardings and posters with Amit’s photographs have sprung up across Meghalaya asking people to vote for him.

“There is a frenzy all over the place with the catchword now being Amit and only Amit. Some members of his fan club have opened a free telephone booth for people to vote for him, while an Internet café has also been set up exclusively to vote for Amit,” said K. Mawlong, a local singer.

Amit fever is also catching up in adjoining Assam with at least a dozen of the state’s leading actors and singers organising a street campaign to garner votes for the Shillong youth.

“Amit is the pride of the northeast and we should all rise to the occasion and vote for him,” said Munin Baruah, a noted Assamese filmmaker.

Amit has been into singing since his childhood and had quit studies to pursue a career in singing — he can sing in six languages making him the darling of the “Indian Idol” judges. — IANS

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Traffic disrupted as rail line caves in
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, August 31
The railway tracks at Rajchandrapore, near Belutmath, on the eastern railways Sealdah-Dankuni section subsided today, disrupting train services on the line. Five light posts, carrying the overhead electric traction lines, were also uprooted due to the subsidence.

But fortunately, timely detection of the subsidence by the driver of Dankuni-bound train, Gopal Mondal, saved a major accident that could have killed over a hundred passengers traveling in the train.

Mondal suddenly stopped the train by pulling the emergency break as he found the train was slipping out of track and approaching the adjoining road underneath the Bally bridge. The bridge was already damaged at several places due to improper maintenance by the state PWD.

Immediately after the train was suddenly stopped with a big bang, many panic-stricken passengers jumped out onto the lines. Later, however, most of the passengers, stranded inside the compartments, were rescued.

After the accident, Sealdah DRM, Swapan Mondal, and other senior railway officers reached the spot and repair works were immediately started.

However, only the adjoining single line was put into operation for running a few special trains for the convenience of the daily commuters to Sealdah. But the affected line could not be repaired immediately.

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An avid reader at three

Rourkela, August 31
A three-year-old child prodigy in the steel city has taken everybody by surprise as he is able to read newspapers and text books even though he is yet to start schooling.

Arjya Niskam took everybody by surprise when he read the newspapers and books with clear pronunciation yesterday in the presence of Additional District Magistrate, Niteen Bhanudas Jawale.

Born on May 14, 2004, Arjya started reading newspaper headlines and Oriya signboards written in bold letters at the age of two years and seven months, said his father, Amarendra Behera, an employee of Rourkela Steel Plant.

The child prodigy surprised everybody by reading panchayat election posters mostly printed in Oriya and slogans of mass education movement (Sarba Sikhya Abhiyan) written in village school building when the proud parents along with him had visited their village in Kendrapara district in coastal Orissa during last panchayat elections in February.

Arjya, the wonder boy, received a standing ovation from sports lovers when he read an Oriya book given to him on the occasion of national sports day celebrated at the Panposh hockey stadium here last evening.

A similar wonder girl from neighbouring Keonjhar district has astonished the residents of Keonjhar town by reciting mantras and slokas of different Hindu religious texts.

The girl, Preeti Pratikhya Nanda, who was said to be three-year-old, recited Oriya and Sanskrit slokas of Guru Mantra, Tulsi Mantra, Gayatri Mantras and Gayatri Slokas and Veer Hanuman Chalisa slokas at this age, said the proud grandfather, Panchanan Nanda. — PTI

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