SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

N-Programme
Dispel doubt, India to Iran

New Delhi, September 7
Affirming Teheran’s right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, India told the special envoy of Iran President and deputy foreign minister, Mehdi Safari, here today that Iran should fulfil all its international commitments and obligations.

Says govt can’t dictate content code
Broadcast Bill not acceptable: Guild
Chandigarh, September 7
The Editors Guild of India yesterday said it did not accept the proposed broadcast services regulation Bill in its present form, as it would give enormous control over news and current affairs channels to the government.

Mumbai Blasts: Interim bail for Memons
New Delhi, September 7
The Supreme Court today granted interim bail to four members of the Memon family convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.


EARLIER STORIES



Remembering fallen comrades: Former Indian soldiers remember their fallen comrades as they carry an urn carrying the remains of 114 soldiers after a ceremony at India Gate in New Delhi on Friday. The soldiers were honouring those of 'C' Company of the 13th Battalion Kumaon Regiment, who were killed at the Rezangla Post in the Chushul sector of Ladakh during the 1962 war with China. 'C' company was renamed 'Rezangla Company' in the honour of these 114 men out of a total of 124 who lost their lives.
Remembering fallen comrades: Former Indian soldiers remember their fallen comrades as they carry an urn carrying the remains of 114 soldiers after a ceremony at India Gate in New Delhi on Friday. The soldiers were honouring those of 'C' Company of the 13th Battalion Kumaon Regiment, who were killed at the Rezangla Post in the Chushul sector of Ladakh during the 1962 war with China. 'C' company was renamed 'Rezangla Company' in the honour of these 114 men out of a total of 124 who lost their lives. — AFP

Govt-Gujjar talks fail; stir threatened
Jaipur, September 7
A fresh round of discussions between the Rajasthan government and a Gujjar delegation on the issue of extending the term of Justice Jasraj Chopra Committee, which is looking into the demand of Scheduled Tribe status to the community, failed today as both the sides remained firm on their respective claims.

Assam floods worsen, 5 dead
Guwahati, September 7
Even as lakhs of people in Assam are yet to recover from the devastation caused by the previous wave of floods, the third wave triggered by incessant rain in surrounding hills has hit the Assam valley hard, killing five persons and affecting around 50 lakh persons in several districts during the past 72 hours.

Andhra Pradesh to have anti-terror force
Hyderabad, September 7
In the backdrop of recent serial bomb blasts and the growing terror network, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to set up an elite police force to deal with terrorism on the lines of Maharashtra model.

JPC echoes in House
New Delhi, September 7
Proceedings in both houses were stalled for the third consecutive day today by the NDA and the Third Front, demanding joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to go into the Indo-US nuclear deal.

HC permits Salman to go abroad
Jodhpur, September 7
The Rajasthan High Court today allowed film star Salman Khan, who is out on bail after his conviction in a chinkara poaching case, to go to Austria and the Czech Republic for the shooting of film "Yuvraj".

Alliance Blues
Thackerays bank on Advani, Vajpayee
Mumbai, September 7
Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and his heir apparent Uddhav are quietly working on senior leaders of the BJP like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani to save the alliance between the two parties, according to sources.

Liberhan panel counsel lashes out at judge
New Delhi, September 7
Differences within the one-man Commission going into the Ayodhya demolition have come out in the open with its counsel attacking Justice Liberhan of "buckling under pressure from the establishment" to tone down the questioning of BJP leader L.K. Advani when he was the home minister.

UGC panel to review dons’ salary
New Delhi, September 7
The UGC has appointed a committee to review the pay scales of teachers in universities and colleges across the country.

Hit & Run
HC rejects Pereira’s bail plea
Mumbai, September 7
The Bombay High Court today rejected the bail application of 21-year-old businessman Alistair Pereira, a day after it upped his jail term from six months to three years for mowing down seven persons in a hit-and-run accident last year.

Fear of ghosts shouldn’t dither us: PM
New Delhi, September 7
Amidst the raging controversy over the Indo-US nuke deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the country should not dither because of “fear of some ghosts in our mind”, lamenting that the polity was far too obsessed with the past and ignorant about the future.

Dress code upsets Bihari babus
Patna, September 7
Officials of the Bihar government are in up arms against the new dress code after one of their colleagues faced flak from his seniors for sporting a ‘tilak’. Deputy director in the state agriculture ministry Lakshman Mishra has been referred for suspension for reporting on duty wearing a tilak.

Sting operation: Reporter held
New Delhi, September 7
In a turn of events that have brought TV sting operations under the scanner, Delhi Police today arrested the reporter who carried out an 'expose' of a sex racket allegedly involving a woman teacher as the High Court got into action following reports that the undercover operation was fake and distorted.

UP bans student union poll
Lucknow, September 7
Violent protests by students were witnessed after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mawayati today ordered a ban on holding of elections of student unions in state universities and affiliated colleges with immediate effect.

Baba held for stampede
Jabalpur, September 7
A religious guru was arrested today in connection with the stampede at a healing camp, that left 11 people dead and 20 others injured, in a village here.

CPM letter to MPs seeking support
New Delhi, September 7
The CPM, after agreeing to be a party to the committee headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee on examining the concerns of the Communists on the nuclear deal, has written an open letter to all members of parliament seeking their support on the issue.

PM has ideas to end Kerala-TN stand-off
New Delhi, September 7
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh believes he has some ideas to resolve the problem between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the bifurcation of the Palakkad rail division.

AIIMS Bill leaves Amar Singh fuming
New Delhi, September 7
Rajya Sabha MP and Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh today expressed annoyance over the introduction of the AIIMS Bill in the Lok Sabha without requisite reference to the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare.

NDA firm on JPC demand
New Delhi, September 7
The impasse in parliament over Indo-US nuclear deal is likely to continue with the BJP-led opposition NDA sticking to its stand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the issue.

Mamata still with us, says BJP
New Delhi, September 7
The BJP today claimed that its ties with the Trinamool Congress were intact, a day after party chief Mamata Banerjee's reported remarks that she was not with the NDA.

Apprentices Bill amended to provide OBC quota
New Delhi, September 7
The Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2007 seeking to provide reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in apprenticeship training, today received Parliamentary approval with the Lok Sabha passing it by a voice vote amid pandemonium.

Explosives seized
Lucknow, September 7
The police have arrested three people from Shankargarh area of Allahabad district and seized 250 kg of explosives and 3,000 ft of fuse wire from their possession.

Heroin worth Rs 1 crore seized
Krishnagar, September 7
Customs officials today seized heroin worth Rs 1 crore 25 lakh from a Kolkata-bound Burhampur bus at Ranaghat on NH-34.



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N-Programme
Dispel doubt, India to Iran
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Affirming Teheran’s right to develop peaceful uses of nuclear energy, India told the special envoy of Iran President and deputy foreign minister, Mehdi Safari, here today that Iran should fulfil all its international commitments and obligations.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee conveyed to Safari that there should be active and transparent cooperation between Iran and the IAEA through dialogue for removing any doubts.

Mukherjee was keen that Iran clear any lingering doubts or suspicions in the West about the nature of its nuclear programme.

During discussions with Mukherjee, Safari briefed him about Iran’s negotiations with the IAEA. The visiting minister also met national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and had discussions with foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon.

The Safari-Menon parleys encompassed bilateral issues, including the multi-billion dollar Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline for transporting gas.

Safari is expected to meet union petroleum minister Murli Deora to exchange views about the pipeline project which is believed to be in the final stages of negotiations.

The Iran deputy oil minister, Reza Zadeh, had recently observed that the technical aspects of transporting gas to India and Pakistan were being studied.

The timing of Safari's visit to India assumes significance when the UPA government has been facing flak from its Left allies over the nuclear deal and point to India's vote against Iran's nuclear programme to argue that the government has compromised the independence of the country's foreign policy.

The government might use this opportunity to underline the independence of its foreign policy.

Safari's visit is expected to be watched by Washington which is using its clout to isolate Iran over its suspected nuclear weapons programme.

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Says govt can’t dictate content code
Broadcast Bill not acceptable: Guild

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The Editors Guild of India yesterday said it did not accept the proposed broadcast services regulation Bill in its present form, as it would give enormous control over news and current affairs channels to the government.

Under the proposed law, the government gets enormous powers to shift the goalposts as and when it likes, both on content and non-content issues. The sections relating to non-content aspects of the electronic media can also be misused by the government of the day to reward or punish a channel whose content pleases or displeases the government. Thus, the Bill does not stand the test of safeguarding the freedom of expression, the guild said.

It wants a wide-ranging national debate on the issue of such regulation by involving all stakeholders.

Similarly, media organisations like the News Broadcasters Association and the guild should discuss at length the issues involved in the broadcast regulation and present the consensual findings to the government and civil society, it felt.

The guild added that the proposed broadcast regulatory authority of India, under the draft law, was nothing but a governmental body as the government had the right to nominate and withdraw all officials on its board. The government-controlled authority even had powers to suspend and cancel licences of channels.

The guild said the best model for BRAI would be the Press Council of India, a majority of whose members were elected by media organisations and were from the civil society.

It said it did not accept the argument that the content code should be prepared by the government, though it accepted there should be a content code in view of the tremendous impact of the electronic media.

It said the code should be prepared by the News Broadcasters Association of India and the guild with inputs from civil society representatives.

The government, too, could give inputs. It added that the code should be self-regulatory and each channel must appoint an independent ombudsman.

For hearing complaints against or from the electronic media, setting up an independent body like the Press Council of India should be considered by all stakeholders.

The guild also rejected the idea of the Public Service Broadcast Council.

The guild and the News Broadcasters Association would soon set up a committee to frame the content code. The guild has already authorised Q.W. Naqvi and secretary-general to discuss the subject with the association and form the committee.

The draft of the content code would be considered at the annual general body meeting in November.

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Mumbai Blasts: Interim bail for Memons
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
The Supreme Court today granted interim bail to four members of the Memon family convicted in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

In the wake of the precedent set by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan in granting bail to actor Sanjay Dutt in the case, a bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and P. Sathasivam granted bail to Yusuf Abdul Razak Memon, and Essa, alias, Anjum Abdul Razak Memon, both brothers of Tiger Memon, the fugitive mastermind behind the blasts.

The bench also granted bail to Tiger Memon’s sister-in-law Rubina Suleiman Memon and his foster sister Mubina, alias Baya Moosa Bhiwandiwala. While Rubina has been sentenced to a life term, Mubina has been sentenced to five years in jail.

The four had sought bail on the ground that the detailed and reasoned judgements of P.D. Kode, the special judge of the anti-terror TADA court in Mumbai, were yet to be delivered to them. Dutt was granted bail on the same grounds last month.

The bench ordered the four Memons to surrender before the court when they received the copies of Kode’s order on their conviction. The TADA court has indicated that the copies of the judgement will be supplied to the convicts on September 27.

Arms licence case

The apex court on Friday issued notices to the centre and all states on a petition seeking an independent investigation into the scandal of arms licences being issued without following rules as well as into the allegations of alleged sale of personal arms by Army men, including senior officials, to arms dealers for monetary gains.

Petitioner Arvind Kumar Sharma, pleading before the bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice R.V. Raveendran, contended that even officials of the licensing department were involved in the scandal and licences were being issued without even application being filed and without any verification about the antecedents of the person to whom the licences were issued. Sharma had submitted a list of 40 Army men, which include senior officers of the rank of Major General and Brigadier, who were facing allegations of selling their service arms. — UNI

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Govt-Gujjar talks fail; stir threatened

Jaipur, September 7
A fresh round of discussions between the Rajasthan government and a Gujjar delegation on the issue of extending the term of Justice Jasraj Chopra Committee, which is looking into the demand of Scheduled Tribe status to the community, failed today as both the sides remained firm on their respective claims. Meanwhile, the Gujjar Reservation Action Committee announced its plan to launch the next phase of agitation to press the demand for ST status to the community.

As the government justified and defended the Chopra Committee's request for extending its term, which will expire on September 9, for three months, the 19-member Gujjar delegation said that they would not accept it.

The delegation refused to give extension even for a single day to the Chopra Committee since the government on June 4 had assured them to bring out the committee's report within three months, Rajasthan home minister G.C. Kataria, who chaired the meeting, said.

Gujjar leaders reiterated their Jhalarapatan resolution and warning to launch a nationwide agitation from September 13, if the Vasundhara Raje government did not come up with the Chopra Committee's report and a covering letter addressing the Centre by September 12, Kataria said.

The course of agitation would be finalised in Gujjar Mahasabha's next 'mahapanchayat' at Dholpur on September 13, he said quoting the delegation's submission.

"The extension of term of the committee will be decided by Chief Minister Raje, who asked me to hold talks with the Gujjar Mahasabha," Kataria said.

K.S. Bhainsala, the convenor of the mahasabha and signatory to the agreement, Roop Singh, the co-convenor, and two BJP rebel MLAs - Prahalad Gunjal, Atar Singh Bhandana - did not turn up for the meeting. — PTI/UNI

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Assam floods worsen, 5 dead
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 7
Even as lakhs of people in Assam are yet to recover from the devastation caused by the previous wave of floods, the third wave triggered by incessant rain in surrounding hills has hit the Assam valley hard, killing five persons and affecting around 50 lakh persons in several districts during the past 72 hours.

After being fed by heavy rainfall, measuring 10 cm in the past 24 hours in the surrounding hilly regions, water levels of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries are on the rise in the valley.

The Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger level at Dibrugarh (above 1.26 m) and Neamatighat at Jorhat (.99 m). Similarly, tributaries Burhidihing (.81 m at Khowang), Dekhow (1.15 m at Sivasagar), Dhansiri-North (0.53 m at Golaghat and 1.78 m at Numaligarh), Jiabharali (.20 m at Road Crossing), Puthimari (0.12 m at road crossing) have swelled up, according to a source in the central water commission.

The worse-hit districts are Sivasagar in upper Assam and Baska in lower Assam.

In Sivsagar district, swollen tributaries have flooded vast areas in plains, while Baska district has experienced nearly 20 cm of rainfall in the past 48 hours.

In Sivsagar at Naglamaraghat, the Desang has crossed the previous highest water level and turned out to be the wrecker-in-chief.

The other rivers, including Dhansiri at Badatighat and Subansiri in north Lakhimpur, have also assumed an alarming proportion.

According to sources in the regional meteorology centre (RMC), more rain is expected in the region in the next two-three days, creating fear for inundation of more areas in the state.

Flood waters have already inundated three big ranges at Kohora, Bagori and Agartoli in the sprawling Kaziranga National Park, the rhino abode, in Golaghat and Nagaon districts. The National Highway 31, the lifeline for the North East, was submerged at several places in Barpeta district of lower Assam.

The water was flowing over the highway at a place between Bhawanipur and Howli towns.

Many other parts of Barpeta and Baksa districts also remained under water following downpour.

The flood has caused extensive damage to the National Highway 37, the arterial route to upper Assam’s tea, oil and industrial belt from the rest of the country through the south bank of the Brahmaputra.

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Andhra Pradesh to have anti-terror force
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 7
In the backdrop of recent serial bomb blasts and the growing terror network, the Andhra Pradesh government has decided to set up an elite police force to deal with terrorism on the lines of Maharashtra model.

A dedicated state-level anti-terrorist unit with 13,000 personnel is set to be raised at a cost of Rs250 crore with special training facilities on a par with international standards.

Christened as “OCTOPUS” (Organisation to Counter Terrorist Operations), the specialised counter-terrorist organisation will have several wings like intelligence and analysis, research and analysis, data interpretation, surveillance, interceptions, assault teams, bomb disposal squads and rescue teams.

The members of the force, to be headed by an officer of the rank of additional director-general of police, will be paid higher salaries.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy had with the police top brass here today to review the law and order situation.

Kaleem gave RDX for Mecca blasts

UNI Adds: Meanwhile, the special investigation team, probing the August 25 twin blasts that rocked the city, said the police had arrested three of Shaik Abdul Kaleem’s friends, who confessed that he supplied RDX to the Mecca Masjid bombers, which claimed six lives.

The police arrested Syed Imran, Mohammed Fasiuddin and Mohammed Sujaduddin.

“The RDX packet was given to Kaleem by his elder brother Shaik Abdul Khadar, alias Shafi, in the first week of May. Khadar is believed to be living in Dubai,” the sources said.

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JPC echoes in House
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Proceedings in both houses were stalled for the third consecutive day today by the NDA and the Third Front, demanding joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to go into the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Although the government managed to pass two bills - one each in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha - in record time amid the din, none of the important debates listed in the day’s business took place.

While shipping and transport minister T.R. Baalu secured the passage of the Carriage by Road Bill in the Rajya Sabha, Lok Sabha passed the Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2007 even as opposition BJP MPs trooped to the well shouting slogans against the UPA government. Both houses were adjourned for an hour, minutes after assembling for the day.

Similar scenes were witnessed when the two houses reassembled at noon but Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan rushed through laying of papers and passage of important bills in the din.

A bill to declare the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology as an institution of national importance was also introduced by petroleum minister Murli Deora.

In the Lok Sabha, a motion for extending the time limit for presentation of the joint committee to go into the office of profit issue was also passed. The time limit has been extended till the last day of the winter session.

As the opposition uproar continued, Somnath Chatterjee tried to pacify them by pointing out that the debate on the nuclear deal had been listed for Monday.

Deputy leader of the opposition V.K. Malhotra questioned why the JPC was not being formed despite the NDA pressing for it for so many days.

The government also rejected the opposition’s demand for dismantling the 15-member UPA-Left committee formed to look into the concerns over the deal expressed by the communist allies of the government. The NDA members then rushed into the well of the house, chanting slogans.

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HC permits Salman to go abroad

Jodhpur, September 7
The Rajasthan High Court today allowed film star Salman Khan, who is out on bail after his conviction in a chinkara poaching case, to go to Austria and the Czech Republic for the shooting of film "Yuvraj".

Justice H R Panwar, while considering the application filed on behalf of Salman, has granted him the permission to visit Austria from September 13 to 30 and the Czech Republic from October 1 to 15 for the shoot of Mukta Arts' upcoming movie, said H M Saraswat, counsel for Salman.

Additional advocate-general Kantilal Thakur opposed the actor's plea contending that documents, submitted along with the application, seeking permission for foreign visits are not supported by any affidavit.

The high court, after hearing both sides, granted permission to the film star to go abroad for the shoot, Saraswat added.

A Sessions Court had upheld on August 24 a trial court verdict sentencing Khan to five years' imprisonment for killing a chinkara at Ghoda Farm in 1998 during the shoot of the film "Hum Saath Saath Hain". The actor was arrested the following day on his arrival here from Mumbai. — PTI

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Alliance Blues
Thackerays bank on Advani, Vajpayee
Shiv Kumar

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 7
Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray and his heir apparent Uddhav are quietly working on senior leaders of the BJP like former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani to save the alliance between the two parties, according to sources.

Senior Shiv Sena leaders say Uddhav is slated to meet with the two senior BJP leaders in New Delhi next month. Incidentally, Thackeray’s itinerary also consists of a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ostensibly to protest the union government’s decision to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Commission.

“We are sure that the alliance between the Shiv Sena and the BJP will remain strong,” a Sena leader told The Tribune. Attempting a rapprochement between the two parties is senior Shiv Sena leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi who enjoys good rapport with the BJP leadership.

The BJP is pissed off that the Shiv Sena chose to back UPA candidate Pratibha Patil instead of its own front-man Bhairon Singh Shekawat in the presidential election. Despite the BJP’s threats to break off their two-decade-long relationship, the Thackerays chose to go their own way.

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Liberhan panel counsel lashes out at judge

New Delhi, September 7
Differences within the one-man Commission going into the Ayodhya demolition have come out in the open with its counsel attacking Justice Liberhan of "buckling under pressure from the establishment" to tone down the questioning of BJP leader L.K. Advani when he was the home minister.

Commission's counsel Anupam Gupta told "Outlook" magazine that he has not been consulted in the last eight months and would like to disassociate himself from the final report of the Commission.

"I am out of sync with the judge," he said adding he had differences with the judge over addressing Advani's role and responsibility for the Babri Masjid demolition, a press release issued by the magazine said.

The Commission, set up in the wake of the demolition in 1992, was recently given two months extension to give its final report. This was the 41st extension.

"My relations with Justice Liberhan had come under strain midway during my examination of Advani when he was the home minister. On June 13, 2001, a major confrontation took place between Advani and myself in the open court on the issue of Nehru's attitude to the renovation of the Somnath temple. — PTI

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UGC panel to review dons’ salary

New Delhi, September 7
The UGC has appointed a committee to review the pay scales of teachers in universities and colleges across the country.

The committee is headed by Prof G.K. Chadha, member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. The committee will examine the present structure of emoluments and conditions of service of university and college teachers, librarians, physical education teachers and other academic staff, sources said.

It will suggest revision in the structure, taking into account the minimum qualifications, career advancement opportunities and the total packet of benefits available to them, such as superannuation benefits, medical and housing facilities, the sources said.

The other members include Prof Atul Sharma, former VC, Rajiv Gandhi University, Itanagar, Prof G. Padmanaban, former director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Sudeep Banerjee, chancellor, National University for Educational Planning and Administration. — PTI

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Hit & Run
HC rejects Pereira’s bail plea

Mumbai, September 7
The Bombay High Court today rejected the bail application of 21-year-old businessman Alistair Pereira, a day after it upped his jail term from six months to three years for mowing down seven persons in a hit-and-run accident last year.

Chief Justice Swantanter Kumar had taken a stern view of a lower court handing a six-month sentence to Pereira and sentenced him to three-year rigorous imprisonment.

Holding him guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, the Chief Justice had said: “Pereira deserves no uncalled for sympathy.”

Pereira has been in the high security Arthur Road Jail since last evening and is likely to move the Supreme Court for bail, his lawyers said. — IANS

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Fear of ghosts shouldn’t dither us: PM

New Delhi, September 7
Amidst the raging controversy over the Indo-US nuke deal, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the country should not dither because of “fear of some ghosts in our mind”, lamenting that the polity was far too obsessed with the past and ignorant about the future.

“The world is looking at India with renewed hope, as it did in the first decade after Independence. This is our moment, let us not dither, let us not shy away in fear of some ghosts in our mind so that India may truly make its tryst with destiny,” Singh said felicitating Madhya Pradesh Governor Balram Jakhar on his 85th birth anniversary here.

Observing that the country needed people of courage and conviction in public life, the Prime Minister said far too much of political life was focussed on the here and now and far too much of political discourse was obsessed with the past and ignorant about the future. — PTI

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Dress code upsets Bihari babus
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 7
Officials of the Bihar government are in up arms against the new dress code after one of their colleagues faced flak from his seniors for sporting a ‘tilak’. Deputy director in the state agriculture ministry Lakshman Mishra has been referred for suspension for reporting on duty wearing a tilak.

Going by the mood of the agitating officials of the agriculture department who lodged protest against the decision today, the issue has all materials to take religious turn as sporting tilak is considered auspicious by Hindu custom.

The government in August has imposed a dress code for all state bureaucrats advising them to stay away from bright colours, T-shirts and denims. They have been asked to stick to sober colours, preferably khadi. For women, the government has prescribed sari with a blouse of “adequate” length or salwar-kameez. But, not everyone is happy as is evident from Mishra’s case. “I can commit suicide”, threatened Mishra before the media after facing humiliation at the hands of his seniors for sporting tilak which he has been sporting while on duty for the past 20 years.

State home secretary Afzal Amanullah clarified the government’s stand today again stating if anyone was not dressed well, then action would taken against him. “It is considered misconduct”, he asserted. Despite the clarification by Amanullah, there are many unanswered questions in view of Mishra’s case who otherwise reportedly used to wear sober dresses.

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Colleagues express solidarity

Patna, September 7
In a novel protest against the alleged harassment of a senior officer for sporting a tilak, employees of the agriculture department today came to office sporting vermilion marks on their foreheads.

The employees were protesting against the alleged harassment of deputy director (monitoring) Lakshman Mishra by special secretary C. K. Anil for sporting tilak while on duty.

“The dress code will not be violated if a person wore a tilak or grew beard as a matter of religious faith. Tirhut range DIG Gupteshwar Pandey often sports a tilak and personnel secretary Amir Subhani has a flowing beard,” general secretary of the Bihar Agricultural Service Association Baidyanath Yadav said.

Agriculture production commissioner N. S. Madhavan denied there was any move to suspend Mishra, saying sporting a tilak did not violate the dress code. PTI

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Sting operation: Reporter held

New Delhi, September 7
In a turn of events that have brought TV sting operations under the scanner, Delhi Police today arrested the reporter who carried out an 'expose' of a sex racket allegedly involving a woman teacher as the High Court got into action following reports that the undercover operation was fake and distorted.

Prakash Singh, a reporter of the channel Live India that aired the sting operation last week, was arrested after it reportedly turned out that the girl who appeared in it making allegations against Uma Khurana, the teacher, was not a student but an aspiring journalist.

Delhi Police, which arrested Khurana shortly after the sting was aired last week resulting in violence outside her school in Old Delhi, was not forthcoming on reports that it had found no evidence against her that she pushed her students into prostitution as claimed by the channel.

The TV channel, however, said it believed the story to be true but had issued a show-cause notice to the reporter even as political parties that have mostly been at the receiving end of sting operations said there should be some kind of regulations on the media in this regard.

The Delhi High Court issued notices to the city government and police after taking suo motu cognisance of media reports that the sting operation was fake and distorted.

The TV sting had resulted in large-scale violence outside a school in Old Delhi where Khurana worked. — PTI

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UP bans student union poll

Lucknow, September 7
Violent protests by students were witnessed after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mawayati today ordered a ban on holding of elections of student unions in state universities and affiliated colleges with immediate effect.

The ban was imposed by the state government to improve the education curriculum and environment in the state. However, the ban would not be enforced in three central universities of Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad University and Aligarh Muslim University.

Principal secretary to Chief Minister Shailesh Krishna said here that the ban would only be enforced in the state universities and their affiliated colleges till further order.

According to a government release here, the Chief Minister said the step was taken to regularise the academic session of the universities and colleges. “These elections create severe law and order problem besides the educational activities of the students get affected,” she added.

The student union elections also create disturbances in the campus areas, she added.

Meanwhile, in Varanasi, students damaged two buses and burnt effigy of the state government.

The police had to resort to mild lathicharge to disperse the agitating students of Kashi Vidyapeth and Harishchandra College who were sitting on the streets and blocking the GT Road.

Nominations for student union elections were to start at Kashi Vidyapeth from tomorrow.

Meanwhile, students of Gorakhpur called a bandh for tomorrow. A peaceful protest was held in Lucknow University. — UNI

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Baba held for stampede

Jabalpur, September 7
A religious guru was arrested today in connection with the stampede at a healing camp, that left 11 people dead and 20 others injured, in a village here.

Police arrested Ishwaridas, alias Sarota baba, who had organised the healing camp in Katangi area of Bharra village yesterday, claiming to help people get rid of various ailments.

The baba was arrested under Section 304(a) of the IPC (causing death due to rash and negligent act), Jabalpur collector, Sanjay Dube said.

The magisterial probe into the incident has already begun with the additional collector and ministers visiting the spot this morning, Dube said.

An ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 had been provided to the kin of the deceased, while Rs 10,000 was being given to the seriously injured and Rs 5,000 to those with minor injuries, he said. — PTI

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CPM letter to MPs seeking support
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
The CPM, after agreeing to be a party to the committee headed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee on examining the concerns of the Communists on the nuclear deal, has written an open letter to all members of parliament seeking their support on the issue.

The letter by the central committee of the CPM, the highest decision-making body, has urged the MPs to seriously consider the objections raised by the Left parties, as the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation will seriously affect the country’s future.

The Left has also simultaneously launched a campaign against the joint naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal and has highlighted their perspective on the nuclear deal. The letter is another attempt to win over MPs with their point of view, even though several parties are opposed to the deal.

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PM has ideas to end Kerala-TN stand-off
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh believes he has some ideas to resolve the problem between Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the bifurcation of the Palakkad rail division.

Singh conveyed this to a delegation of MPs from Kerala and senior CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechury who met him here today, seeking his intervention in resolving the stand-off along with, demanding the sanction of a new railway zone for the southern state.

“He told us he has some ideas to resolve the issue,” observed CPI (M) MP, P Karunakaran.

The Prime Minister has already directed railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, to convene a meeting of the Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, to resolve the issue. The problem arose following a move to bifurcate Palakkad for the creation of a new rail division to be headquartered in Salem.

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AIIMS Bill leaves Amar Singh fuming
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
Rajya Sabha MP and Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh today expressed annoyance over the introduction of the AIIMS Bill in the Lok Sabha without requisite reference to the parliamentary standing committee on health and family welfare.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Amar Singh, who is the chairperson of the committee, said, “It is very strange and shocking that the AIIMS Bill which pertains to the nation's premier medical institute should be introduced in a despotic manner in the Lok Sabha without being referred to the standing committee.”

He asked parliamentary affairs minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi to scrap the committee if it had lost its relevance. “I've raised this issue with the Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, L.K. Advani, has also raised the question. In the Rajya Sabha, Left leaders have raised this issue.

Parliamentary norms and traditions should be respected and the Bill should be referred to the standing committee,” he said.

The Bill seeks to amend the Acts under which the two premier institutes were set up in 1956 and 1966, respectively, to fix the term of the director for five years from the day he/she assumes office or until he/she attains the age of 65 years, which ever is earlier.

The Bill also gives the government the right to terminate the office of the director at any time before the expiry of his/her term by giving him/her a notice of three months with salary and allowances.

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NDA firm on JPC demand
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 7
The impasse in parliament over Indo-US nuclear deal is likely to continue with the BJP-led opposition NDA sticking to its stand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) on the issue.

“Our position remains the same. We have received no proposals from the government with respect to our demand for a JPC as well as on conducting debate on the Indo-US nuclear issue under rule 184, entailing voting,” BJP deputy leader in Lok Sabha V.K. Malhotra told mediapersons after a meeting of the NDA leaders this morning.

Kolkata: CPM leader Jyoti Basu today rubbished a suggestion that Left parties have softened their stand on the nuclear deal issue. “It is out of question,” Basu said. He said he could not predict the outcome of the UPA-Left committee on the deal. — PTI

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Mamata still with us, says BJP

New Delhi, September 7
The BJP today claimed that its ties with the Trinamool Congress were intact, a day after party chief Mamata Banerjee's reported remarks that she was not with the NDA.

BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra told reporters that Mamata’s party colleague Dinesh Trivedi had denied the news report attributed to the Trinamool chief.

“He has conveyed to us that that the news report is incorrect,” Malhotra said, adding that the Trinamool Congress remained a constituent of the NDA.

In July, Mamata had, however, rejected the BJP’s call for support to NDA-backed presidential candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

The Shiv Sena also broke ranks with the BJP, its oldest ideological ally, and instead voted for UPA-Left candidate Pratibha Patil. — PTI

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Apprentices Bill amended to provide OBC quota

New Delhi, September 7
The Apprentices (Amendment) Bill, 2007 seeking to provide reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in apprenticeship training, today received Parliamentary approval with the Lok Sabha passing it by a voice vote amid pandemonium.

The Bill, passed by the Rajya Sabha last week, seeks to provide flexibility up to 50 per cent in engagement of apprentices in a trade provided the overall quota fixed for the establishment remains the same.

The Bill, moved by labour minister Oscar Fernandes, amends the original Act of 1961 providing reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes only. — UNI

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Explosives seized

Lucknow, September 7
The police have arrested three people from Shankargarh area of Allahabad district and seized 250 kg of explosives and 3,000 ft of fuse wire from their possession.

Special secretary (Home) RP Mishra said during checking of vehicles, Anil Kumar from Madhya Pradesh and Allahabad residents Kushal Singh and Ranu alias Ajay were nabbed when 250 kg of explosives and 3,000 ft of fuse wire were recovered from their jeep. — UNI

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Heroin worth Rs 1 crore seized

Krishnagar, September 7
Customs officials today seized heroin worth Rs 1 crore 25 lakh from a Kolkata-bound Burhampur bus at Ranaghat on NH-34.

The seized contraband, weighs 1 kg 250 gms and, is valued at Rs 1 crore 25 lakh in the international market, said Ranaghat Customs superintendent Santanu Kaur.

Acting on a tip-off, raids were conducted on the national highway. — UNI

 

 

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