SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Policy to protect overseas Indian workers
New Delhi, September 10
The government is working on a policy framework for safeguarding the interests of overseas Indian workers and Indian missions abroad will get to play a statutory role once amendments to the Emigration Act - 1983 come into effect.

Andhra Congress chief resigns
Son charged with murder
Hyderabad, September 10
Andhra Pradesh Congress president K. Kesava Rao has quit the post, a day after his son was charged with killing his business partner.

Bangladeshi blast suspect brought to Vellore
Her papers were found in order
Chennai, September 10
Bangladeshi student Shahi Rafsanjani, who was arrested by the Hyderabad police for her alleged role in the twin blasts that rocked the city on August 25, was today brought to Vellore, where she studies, for investigation.

SC no to apex court Bench demand
New Delhi, September 10
The Supreme Court has turned down the proposal of the government for setting up a Bench of the court outside Delhi, Rajya Sabha was informed today.






EARLIER STORIES




The Chief of Army Staff, Gen J.J. Singh, with the chief of the South African army, Lt-Gen Solly Zacharia Shoke, in New Delhi on Monday.
The Chief of Army Staff, Gen J.J. Singh, with the chief of the South African army, Lt-Gen Solly Zacharia Shoke, in New Delhi on Monday. The latter is on a week-long visit to India. — Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Disruption of Houses: Dasmunsi blames Oppn
New Delhi, September 10
Terming as “unfortunate”, the continued disruption of Parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal by the BJP-led opposition, parliamentary affairs minister P R Dasmunsi today said such disruption had resulted in undermining the dignity of Parliament and sending and “a negative message to the country.”

N-deal: CPM flays BJP for preventing discussion
New Delhi, September 10
The CPM today condemned the BJP for preventing a discussion on the nuclear deal and other major issues in Parliament by indulging in continuous disruption of the proceedings.

Parliament adjourned sine die
New Delhi, September 10
Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned sine die this evening, four days ahead of its scheduled closure, as the stalemate between the government and the BJP-led Opposition on Indo-US nuclear deal showed no sign of ending.

Action plan to tackle cyber crimes on anvil
New Delhi, September 10
The government will shortly set up a high-powered committee to develop a comprehensive action plan to enable it to deal effectively with possible threats arising out of cyber crimes.

3 reporters held for sting operation
New Delhi, September 10
Taking the sheen out of sting operations and coming close on the heels of school teacher Uma Khurana case, three men were today arrested in the capital for allegedly blackmailing MPs after conducting "exposes".

US suggested India blow up Chinese installations in Tibet: Book
New Delhi, September 10
The United States had asked India to threaten China with military action in 1964 if it did not remove defence installations from Tibet, a new book has revealed. The suggestion was made during discussions the then US Ambassador to India Chester Bowles had in 1964 with the political leadership, including Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, said a book - India & the United States: Politics of the Sixties, authored by senior journalist Kalyani Shankar.

ULFA ultras kill 2
Guwahati, September 10
Suspected militants of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) shot dead a non-Assamese trader and his driver at Talap in Tinsukia district of Assam at around 7 p.m. today.

Protests over ‘killing’ of ultra’s mother
Guwahati, September 10
Protests are rife in Assam over the death of a 60-year-old woman, mother of a ULFA militant, after she was allegedly beaten up by a search party of the police and CRPF personnel at her residence at Namati in Nalbari district.

‘Returning officers found no case against Jaya’
New Delhi, September 10
The Election Commission today informed the Supreme Court that no case of alleged malpractices was made out against AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa during the 2001 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. “In the present case, the returning officers after having considered the matter, had decided that no case for action under Section 177 (furnishing false information to public servant) was made out,” it said.

Flyover collapse: 3 suspended
Hyderabad, September 10
Taking serious note of the incident in which scaffolding of a flyover under construction at the arterial Panjagutta junction caved in last night, the Andhra Pradesh government today suspended three engineering staff and appointed a five-member technical inquiry committee to probe the disaster.

Army moves in flood-hit areas in Assam
Guwahati, September 10
Army troops have moved into the worse affected areas in Assam where the year’s third wave of flood has claimed nine lives besides inundating 2240 villages in 17 districts affecting a population of 28 lakhs.

Bhagwadgita is national ‘dharma shastra’: HC
Allahabad, September 10
In an important judgement, Allahabad High Court has said 'Bhagwadgita' is a 'Dharma Shastra' of India and it was the duty of the state to recognise the text as 'rashtriya dharma,’ which inspired our national struggle for freedom and all walks of life.

Vidarbha farmers’ body blasts Vaghela
Mumbai, September 10
Union textiles minister Shankarsinh Vaghela’s statement that cotton farmers in Vidarbha were lazy and hence were forced to commit suicide has drawn flak from representatives of farmers in the region.

Boy’s abduction: Nitish pulls up police
Patna, September 10
The higher-ups in the Bihar police today had an altogether different experience with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar holding a closed door meeting to pull them up in the presence of the parents of an abducted boy, who was missing for past one month.

Tehri Reservoir Flooding
Uttarakhand seeks relief package
Dehra Dun, September 10
Receiving a number of new applications from people displaced by the expanding reservoir of the Tehri Dam due to the unprecedented rains in the ongoing monsoon season, the Uttarakhand government is set to approach the Union government for a fresh package of Rs 250 crore for the rehabilitation of the affected people.

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Policy to protect overseas Indian workers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
The government is working on a policy framework for safeguarding the interests of overseas Indian workers and Indian missions abroad will get to play a statutory role once amendments to the Emigration Act - 1983 come into effect.

“It is imperative that we develop a policy framework and have an institutional arrangement that will best serve the overseas Indian workers over the medium to long term,” minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi observed while inaugurating the second annual meeting of the heads of Indian missions in six Gulf Cooperation Council countries along with Malaysia, Jordan, Yemen and Libya here today.

Acknowledging that overseas Indian workers faced difficult working and living conditions, Ravi said the effort of his ministry had been focused on achieving a minimum level of policy coherence and defining minimum standards of living and working conditions that must be applied across all countries having a significant strength of Indian workers.

He stressed that the policy framework must include some non-negotiable terms of work contract. It must also include an effective outreach programme for grievance redressal and a strong legislative framework to deal with intermediaries involved in the exploitation of the workers.

Ravi disclosed that the amendments to the Emigration Act had been finalised in consultation with the missions and “are expected to be in place shortly”.

Among the important changes, the proposed amendments will seek to give the Indian missions a statutory role in the protection and welfare of workers coupled with providing for stringent action against those indulging in human trafficking.

He said the emigration process was being revamped to make it simple, efficient and transparent to eliminate intermediaries.

Ravi also said that a host of measures had been finalised for the protection of women emigrants.

“Women emigrant workers, particularly those in the household service sector, should be at the centre of all our policy initiatives. They are the most vulnerable. They suffer gender bias, economic bias and do not have the protection of labour laws.”

The minister urged the envoys attending the two-day meet to take the initiative in signing bilateral labour welfare pacts between India and the different countries on the lines of the ones signed with the UAE and Kuwait.

In this context he said that an MoU with Malaysia had been initiated along with an additional protocol with Qatar. The minister was confident of concluding these at the earliest. India has proposed similar MoUs with Bahrain, Oman and Yemen.

Ravi said the government was working closely with th International Organisation for Migration to set up an Overseas Indian Resource Centre in the UAE. He suggested that this option must be explored with other countries having a large Indian workforce. These centres would provide a wide range of services, including information dissemination, legal assistance, temporary shelters and healthcare.

The government proposed establishing a Council for Promotion for Overseas Employment to serve as a think tank to devise strategies to help emigrant workers benefit from the labour supply gaps in the overseas employment market.

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Andhra Congress chief resigns
Son charged with murder
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 10
Andhra Pradesh Congress president K. Kesava Rao has quit the post, a day after his son was charged with killing his business partner.

Rao, who is also a member of the Rajya Sabha, faxed his resignation letter to party president Sonia Gandhi saying his decision was to facilitate a “fair, free and impartial inquiry” into the incident, which occurred at the residence of his son K. Venkat here last evening.

“My conscience is clear. I want to step down to avoid any possible criticism that my post will exert undue pressure on the investigation,” Rao, a backward class leader from Telangana region said.

He told reporters before leaving for Delhi that he had spoken to Gandhi and AICC general secretary in charge of Andhra Pradesh Digvijay Singh and conveyed his feelings.

The party high command, which has taken a serious view of the incident, is expected to accept his resignation and look for a suitable replacement.

A city-based realtor B. Prashanth Reddy died after being shot at a close range, allegedly by Venkat at the latter’s house in the upmarket Prashasan Nagar area.

An altercation over a property dispute was understood to have taken an ugly turn leading to the firing.

The APCC chief had initially claimed that it was a case of suicide but as the pressure from the family of the deceased and the Opposition mounted he offered to resign.

The Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, is understood to have suggested to him to step down in the interest of the party’s image.

“It is a case of pre-planned and cold-blooded murder. We demand a CBI probe to bring out the truth,” Reddy’s wife Vilasini said. She accused the Congress leader of trying to cover-up the case to shield his wayward son.

Based on a complaint filed by the victim’s family members, the Jubilee Hills police registered a case of murder under Section 302, IPC, against Venkat who got himself admitted to Apollo Hospital.

Venkat had a brush with controversies in the past as well. He was involved in a fight with another business partner and former international volleyball player Ravikanth Reddy a few months ago. 

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Bangladeshi blast suspect brought to Vellore
Her papers were found in order
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 10
Bangladeshi student Shahi Rafsanjani, who was arrested by the Hyderabad police for her alleged role in the twin blasts that rocked the city on August 25, was today brought to Vellore, where she studies, for investigation.

The 23-year-old woman is a student of English literature at Auxillium College at Katpadi, on the outskirts of Vellore, 120 km from here. She was staying at a rented house near the Gandhi Road mosque in Vellore with some of her relatives.

Shahi, the sister of Rizwan Gazhi, one of the prime suspects in the blasts case, had gone to Hyderabad on September 27 and was picked up by the police on September 1 for not possessing valid documents.

However, she told the police that she had left her documents at her home in Vellore and that she possessed a valid student visa till 2008.

The police said the Hyderabad police team brought her to Vellore today and went to the rented house where she was staying and examined her passport and registration documents related to her stay as a foreign national.

The police had nabbed her from a house that was rented by Gazhi in the Kishan Bagh area in the old city of Hyderabad. The police suspects that she had carried the RDX explosives to Hyderabad that was used in the explosions.

A police officer in Vellore said, “A team from Charminar police station in Hyderabad came here and also visited Auxillium College and enquired about the days she had been on leave since May. They examined her passport and found it to be in order.”

He said since all her papers were in order there could not be any case against her under the Foreigner’s Act.

The Hyderabad police has released sketches of four suspects, all Bangladeshi nationals suspected to be involved in the twin blasts. Among them are Shahi’s two brothers - Rizwan and 12-year-old Irfan. The other two are Hussaien, 18, and Masliuddin, 24.

After Shahi’s arrest in Hyderabad, the Tamil Nadu police began its own investigation and found that she had enrolled her name in the foreigner’s register maintained by the Vellore district superintendent’s office.

The Vellore police was also investigating her absence from the college on leave between May and August. While the twin explosions took place on August 25, the Mecca Masjid blast in Hyderabad occurred on May 18.

The college principal had told the police that during the summer vacation in May, Shahi had gone home to Bangladesh and in July had taken two days of leave. She had sought leave for five days from August 28. She had reached Hyderabad two days after the blasts.

The Hyderabad police team also found out that her father Jainal Abedin Gazhi had stayed with her for sometime as he underwent treatment at the Christian Medical College Hospital in Vellore.

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SC no to apex court Bench demand

New Delhi, September 10
The Supreme Court has turned down the proposal of the government for setting up a Bench of the court outside Delhi, Rajya Sabha was informed today.

In a written reply, the minister of law and justice H.R. Bhardwaj said the matter of setting up a Bench of the apex court in other parts of the country was taken up with the Supreme Court for its reconsideration.

The Supreme Court informed that after reconsideration of the matter, the full court, in its meeting held on August 7 last, found no justification for deviating from its earlier solution on the subject and did not favour setting up of benches outside Delhi.

The minister also clarified that the government does not propose to bring an amendment to the Constitution for setting up of apex court benches.

To another question, the minister replied the government was considering a proposal to increase the retirement age of the high court judges from 62 to 65 years. — PTI

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Disruption of Houses: Dasmunsi blames Oppn
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
Terming as “unfortunate”, the continued disruption of Parliament on the Indo-US nuclear deal by the BJP-led opposition, parliamentary affairs minister P R Dasmunsi today said such disruption had resulted in undermining the dignity of Parliament and sending and “a negative message to the country.” Talking to mediapersons after the two Houses were adjourned sine die four days ahead of schedule of the monsoon session, Dasmunsi took repeated digs at the opposition saying it had disrupted Prime Minister’s statement on 123 Agreement.

The minister said while Lok Sabha lost 40 per cent of its time in disruptions, Rajya Sabha lost 49 per cent of its time. He said 11 bills had been passed by both Houses of Parliament during the monsoon session. Asserting that the government had kept Parliament informed of the progress on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the minister charged the NDA government of not informing Parliament about their talks with the USA.

Justifying the decision to form a UPA-Left committee on Indo-US nuclear deal, he said it was a political mechanism among the allies and supporting parties of the ruling coalition. “The Left parties had expressed serious concern on the nuclear deal and it was UPA’s duty address their concerns at political level,” he said. “It appears the BJP wanted to avoid any debate in the House for the fear of their own exposure as to what they did with the USA during the NDA’s tenure,” he said.

The minister said never in the past, either by convention or with mandate of Constitution, had any agreement been referred to a joint parliamentary committee.

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N-deal: CPM flays BJP for preventing discussion
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
The CPM today condemned the BJP for preventing a discussion on the nuclear deal and other major issues in Parliament by indulging in continuous disruption of the proceedings.

“We strongly condemn the tactics of the principal opposition party for not allowing a discussion on the nuclear deal. The business advisory committees of both Houses had accepted the demand for a structured debate. The dates were finalised and the government agreed to reply to the debate. But due to the BJP’s obdurate position, the House is being adjourned sine die, CPM leader Sitaram Yechury told newspersons here.

The CPM leader charged that the BJP did not want to take a categorical position of opposing the nuclear deal and that is why its members ensured that the debate did not take place.

A debate on the nuclear issue in Parliament would have shown the world and the country that a majority was opposed to the deal, Yechury said.

Claiming that the BJP’s mask stands exposed, Yechury said the principal opposition party had earlier accepted the rulings of the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman that the deal was beyond the competence of parliament.

However, later the BJP backtracked and started demanding a JPC on the issue, which was unacceptable, he added.

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Parliament adjourned sine die
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned sine die this evening, four days ahead of its scheduled closure, as the stalemate between the government and the BJP-led Opposition on Indo-US nuclear deal showed no sign of ending. Lok Sabha alone lost over 42 hours of time due to interruptions and forced adjournments in the abruptly concluded monsoon session.

Neither the Lok Sabha nor the Rajya Sabha could take up a discussion on the nuclear deal that has raised a major political controversy as the BJP-led Opposition and the Third Front remained adamant on their demand of constitution of a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to vet the 123 agreement.

The government pushed through several Bills in both Houses amid din and got them passed without debate. These included the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2006, in the Lok Sabha and Social Security to Unorganised Workers in the Rajya Sabha, though it was not listed.

When the Lok Sabha met at 5 pm after three adjournments, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he was compelled to draw curtains on the monsoon session because on an issue like the nuclear deal he had no control. Chatterjee gave a detailed account of the highlights of the monsoon session for about 10 minutes in his valedictory reference where he referred to loss of 42 hours due to interruptions and forced adjournments. He also said it was "extremely disturbing that the highest public forum in this country has almost come to a standstill which has raised questions about the utility of our system of Parliamentary democracy and about its future."

Noting that 42 hours of business were lost due to interruptions and forced adjournments, he appealed to the Prime Minister, the Leader of the House, the Leader of the Opposition and others concerned for their cooperation.

This triggered off a wordy duel between the Opposition and the treasury benches. An angry Speaker once again let off his steam by remarking that the unruly members were insulting the Chair and that, “It has become a disease that even when the Speaker speaks, you speak.

During the session, the House passed 10 Bills, including the Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2007, the State Bank of India (Amendment) Bill, 2007, the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill, 2007. The House passed four Bills without discussion due to interruptions.

A similar sorry state of affairs prevailed in the Rajya Sabha as well. The Elders’ House, too, witnessed repeated adjournments over the JPC stand-off and finally the chairman adjourned the House sine die in the evening.

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Action plan to tackle cyber crimes on anvil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
The government will shortly set up a high-powered committee to develop a comprehensive action plan to enable it to deal effectively with possible threats arising out of cyber crimes.

Stating this at ASSOCHAM organised “International Conference on Cyber crimes” here today, minister of state for home affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal said “the committee would be set up under the private-public partnership model in which officials from law-enforcing agencies and IT industry would be drawn in it to visualise threats from cyber crimes and suggest actionable solution to the government”.

Without announcing the detailed framework for the committee, the minister said it would also recommend other ways to curtail the effects of cyber crimes within a time bound period so that cyber crimes were effectively dealt with. He also announced that the Parliamentary Standing Committee concerned had informed the home ministry that it had cleared the new Cyber Crime Bill.

“Though the government is making all efforts to check cyber crime, active participation of the people is also required to curb this menace”, Jaiswal said adding it was in this context that the high-powered committee was being set up to suggest foolproof measures to tackle threats arising out of cyber crimes.

He, however, added that the ministry of home affairs would curb lurking threats on national security by all means as the computer technology would ultimately become a facilitator for India’s growth rather than affecting it adversely. 

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3 reporters held for sting operation

New Delhi, September 10
Taking the sheen out of sting operations and coming close on the heels of school teacher Uma Khurana case, three men were today arrested in the capital for allegedly blackmailing MPs after conducting "exposes".

The arrested persons were identified as Ratanjit Gupta, Pankaj Gupta and Rajiv Patil, all residents of Vasundhara Enclave who were running an office in Mayur Vihar, Delhi Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said.

The alleged kingpin of the gang, Sanjay Tiwari, who approached three MPs Rameshwar Oraon, Sushila Kerketta (both Cong) and Eklal Mahto (JMM), posing as secretary of Tribal Affairs Minister P R Kyndiah, is absconding, he said.

Tiwari had earlier done sting operations for the Aaj Tak channel, Bhagat said.

The arrests came after complaints from three MPs at the Parliament Street police station, stating that Tiwari, who was posing as the secretary, told them that he could arrange a Rs 18 crore project for their constituencies.

Tiwari allegedly told the MPs separately that he would give 5 per cent to the lawmakers for which they have to give him Rs 5,000 initially and Rs 5 lakh later, a senior police official said.

Karketa had allegedly paid Rs 5,000 to Tiwari, the official said. Attempts to contact Karketa provided futile.

Oraon, a former additional director general of police, first received a call from Tiwari on September 6 about the deal. Finding it suspicious, he contacted the minister who denied that there was any such project or official attached with him. — PTI

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US suggested India blow up Chinese installations in Tibet: Book

New Delhi, September 10
The United States had asked India to threaten China with military action in 1964 if it did not remove defence installations from Tibet, a new book has revealed. The suggestion was made during discussions the then US Ambassador to India Chester Bowles had in 1964 with the political leadership, including Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, said a book - India & the United States: Politics of the Sixties, authored by senior journalist Kalyani Shankar.

Bowles had said the ominous development of the Chinese nuclear weapons can be made to serve "our political purposes here in India".

The envoy said during his discussions with Shastri, T.T Krishnamachari, Y.B Chavan and Morarji Desai had referred vaguely to information about a testing installation in West China which they had received from other sources.

“India could take a position similar to that which we took in Cuba - an ultimatum to the Chinese to remove such installations from Tibet or to see them blown up by the Indian Air Force,” Bowles said. According to him, the other options before India, if the Chinese fully developed nuclear weapons, were to go for its own deterrent capability or reach an understanding with the US for a nuclear umbrella similar to the those provided to Japan, the Scandinavian countries and other nations. — PTI

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ULFA ultras kill 2
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 10
Suspected militants of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) shot dead a non-Assamese trader and his driver at Talap in Tinsukia district of Assam at around 7 p.m. today.

Tinsukia district superintendent of Police (SP) P.K. Saikia informed that a group of ULFA militants in a Maruti car opened fire at Tapan Kundu, owner of Lucky Sweets at Talap market.

Kundu and his driver Ramvilas Sah were seriously injured in the shoot-out and succumbed to their injuries at the nearby Doom Dooma government health centre about 45 minutes later.

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Protests over ‘killing’ of ultra’s mother
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 10
Protests are rife in Assam over the death of a 60-year-old woman, mother of a ULFA militant, after she was allegedly beaten up by a search party of the police and CRPF personnel at her residence at Namati in Nalbari district.

The public outcry over the ‘unfortunate death’ of the old woman, Sabitri Rajbongshi, prompted the district administration in Nalbari to order a magisterial probe into the incident even as the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) in a statement e-mailed to the media alleged that a surrendered militant of the outfit, Mrinal Goswami, was with the team of the police and the CRPF which ‘took life’ of the old woman.

A team of the police and paramilitary force personnel on Friday evening laid a siege to Namati ancestral residence of ULFA member Bhaskar Rajbongshi before barging into the house in search of the militant who was not present there.

The police-CRPF team then took along with them the wife of the militant, Bobita Rajbonghsi. The militant’s brother Arabinda Rajbongshi and mother Sabitri Rajbonghshi tried to prevent the police team from taking away the daughter-in-law. In the process a jawan allegedly hit the old woman with the rifle butt causing her death. The police later let off Bobita.

The death of the woman sparked spontaneous public reaction in the area and the agitated villagers took her body to the residence of the Deputy Commissioner in protest. Some of the protestors pelted stones at the Deputy Commissioner’s residence forcing the police to resort to a lathi charge to disperse the mob.

The police initially denied to have killed the mother of the ULFA militant and maintained that she might have died of cardiac arrest as she was behaving in a very agitated way with the raiding party. However, relenting to public protest the district administration later ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident.

Meanwhile, ULFA spokesman Raju Baruah alleged the involvement of surrendered ULFA man Mrinal Goswami in the operation along with the police and the CRPF and warned against such atrocities committed on innocent people in the name of operation against ULFA militants.

The commandant of ULFA’s 709 battalion, Hira Sarania in a statement issued warning to target members of the ruling Congress in retaliation to the killing of innocent people like the old mother of the ULFA militant Bhaskar Rajbongshi.

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‘Returning officers found no case against Jaya’

New Delhi, September 10
The Election Commission today informed the Supreme Court that no case of alleged malpractices was made out against AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa during the 2001 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections. “In the present case, the returning officers after having considered the matter, had decided that no case for action under Section 177 (furnishing false information to public servant) was made out,” it said.

The Election Commission stated this in an affidavit to an appeal filed by the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister challenging the Madras High Court's June 13 direction on registration of case against her for allegedly providing false information in the nomination paper or connected documents.

The High Court had also said "the Election Commission had not acted in the manner required by law".

Responding to this, the commission said the returning officer being the statutory authority to receive nomination and to scrutinise the same decides the question of any false information in the nomination paper or connected document.

“In view of the aforesaid position, the EC, verily believes that it is for the returning officer to take necessary action under Section 177 of IPC read with Section 195 (prosecution for offence relating to documents given in evidence) of Code of Criminal Procedure since the nomination papers are filed before returning officer, who acts as quasi-judicial authority while scrutinising the same,” it said.

“In view of the provisions of Section 195 CrPC, the returning officers are the appropriate authority to decide whether a false declaration has been made before them and whether action is necessitated under section 177 IPC,” the EC said. — PTI

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Flyover collapse: 3 suspended

Hyderabad, September 10
Taking serious note of the incident in which scaffolding of a flyover under construction at the arterial Panjagutta junction caved in last night, the Andhra Pradesh government today suspended three engineering staff and appointed a five-member technical inquiry committee to probe the disaster.

After a review by Chief Minister Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy, Backward Classes Minister Mukesh Goud told reporters here that an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh will be paid to the families of the two deceased. He also announced a compensation of Rs 20,000 for the injured.

A report had been sought from Superintending Engineer R Sridhar on the incident, he added.

An experts Committee, headed by the Roads and Buildings Department Engineering Chief with experts drawn from the National Academy of Construction, Indian Institute of Technology -Madras, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University and Osmania University, had been asked to submit its report in three days. — UNI

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Army moves in flood-hit areas in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 10
Army troops have moved into the worse affected areas in Assam where the year’s third wave of flood has claimed nine lives besides inundating 2240 villages in 17 districts affecting a population of 28 lakhs.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said number of lives lost due to floods this year was 51 including 42 deaths in the second wave of flood in July.

He said the state witnessed one of the worse flood-affected year given that over one crore out of the state’s total population of about 2.3 crore had been affected by floods.

He informed that the Army was pressed into action yesterday in worse affected areas to rescue marooned people. The situation is worse in districts of Lakhimpur, Barpeta, Morigaon, Dhubri and Barak Valley.

The intensity of the flood this year has forced the state government to take a decision to form a State Flood and Erosion Commission that will go into different aspects of the flood problem to draw the blue print of long-term measures for mitigation of the fury of the perennial natural disaster.

A senior IAS officer, Bhaskar Barua will head the commission.

Meanwhile, Assam government announced that it would pay Rs one lakh to next of the kin of each of those killed in floods. In addition, a sum of Rs 25,000 would be paid as compensation against each of the concrete houses and Rs 10,000 against each of mud houses damaged in flood. Flood-hit farmers would be paid Rs 6000 against per hectare of silted agriculture land.

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Bhagwadgita is national ‘dharma shastra’: HC

Allahabad, September 10
In an important judgement, Allahabad High Court has said 'Bhagwadgita' is a 'Dharma Shastra' of India and it was the duty of the state to recognise the text as 'rashtriya dharma,’ which inspired our national struggle for freedom and all walks of life.

It is the duty of every Indian citizen under article 51-A of the constitution to follow dharma propounded by ‘Bhagwadgita’, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, the ruling said.

Giving the ruling on a writ petition of S.R Mukherjee, Justice S.N Srivastava said as India has recognised national flag, national bird, national anthem and national flower, the holy text may also be considered as national ‘dharma shastra’.

The court passed this order on a writ petition filed by Gopal Thakur Mandir of Varanasi, who had moved the court challenging the sale of properties of the temple.

Allowing the writ petition, the court directed the state government not to permit any alienation of any property attached with the temple and other religious institutions without prior permission of the district judge concerned.

The copy of the order has been sent to the Uttar Pradesh chief secretary for necessary action.

The court in its judgement observed that “anti-social and commercial elements were still continuing attacks on Hindu temples and religious places.”

The court said it was the responsibility of the state to take effective steps to maintain public order by enacting a legislation or executive order to protect all the temples and the rights to profess, practice and propagate Hinduism under article 25 and 26 of the constitution. — UNI

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Vidarbha farmers’ body blasts Vaghela
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, September 10
Union textiles minister Shankarsinh Vaghela’s statement that cotton farmers in Vidarbha were lazy and hence were forced to commit suicide has drawn flak from representatives of farmers in the region.

The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), which has been tracking farmers’ suicides and detailing the agrarian crisis here, has hit out at the minister for being insensitive to the plight of the farmers.

Kishore Tiwari, president of the VJAS, said the farmers were forced to commit suicide because of the policies of the state and central governments.

“The farmers are victims of the free trade policies of the government which have resulted in the introduction of high cost BT cotton in the region,” Tiwari said.

“We urge the Maharashtra government to protect the three million cotton farmers of Vidarbha by providing them with proper credit and cost protection,” Tiwari added.

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Boy’s abduction: Nitish pulls up police
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 10
The higher-ups in the Bihar police today had an altogether different experience with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar holding a closed door meeting to pull them up in the presence of the parents of an abducted boy, who was missing for past one month.

Class VII student of DAV school in Patna, Akash Pandey, was kidnapped in broad daylight on August 10 and since then the police had failed to recover him. Akash’s father Jogendra Pandey and mother Anju Devi today met Nitish at his weekly “janata durbar” at his official residence at Aney Marg to plead for their son’s recovery.

Immediately Nitish called the DGP, the IG and other senior police officials for a closed door meeting to express his displeasure over the delay in recovering Akash in the presence of his parents. Later, Nitish told the media that the police was working on some clues and expecting a breakthrough soon.

Besides the abduction case of Akash, Nitish also put the entire police machinery, from state capital down to districts, on alert to make them attentive toward public grievances and complaints against them. “I am committed to establish the rule of law in the state”, an angry Nitish reportedly told the police officials.

He said focused monitoring of each case with special care for abduction related cases for which Bihar had earned a bad name during the previous regime. The entire exercise was in view of the growing complaints received against the police at his janata durbar for the past few months.

There are, however, reasons which worry Nitish. The Patna High Court already had directed the Bihar government to furnish a report by October 1 on the status of the trial of kidnapping cases registered in the past five years.

A division Bench comprising Chief Justice J.N. Bhatt and Justice Mihir Kumar Jha passed the order while hearing a PIL recently.

Going by the updated status report filed before the court by the state government between 2001 and June 23, 2007, 2,068 children were kidnapped in the state.

Of these, 74 were killed by their kidnappers while 304 were still untraced.

Much to the discomfort of the ruling dispensation, Patna had the distinction of being the town where the largest number of 36 abducted children were murdered.

Patna was followed by Bhagalpur (16) and Muzaffarpur (13) in the number of children killed by their abductors.

Muzaffarpur on the other hand tops the list of Bihar towns from where the largest 726 chldren were abducted.

The only silver lining to an otherwise bleak string of statistics was the report’s conclusion that there had been a significant drop in the number of abductions for ransom in the past two years.

While the number of kidnapping cases for ransom stood at 411 in 2004 and at 251 in 2005, it came down to 194 in 2006.

Till June 23, 2007, only 48 cases of kidnapping for ransom had been reported.

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Tehri Reservoir Flooding
Uttarakhand seeks relief package
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, September 10
Receiving a number of new applications from people displaced by the expanding reservoir of the Tehri Dam due to the unprecedented rains in the ongoing monsoon season, the Uttarakhand government is set to approach the Union government for a fresh package of Rs 250 crore for the rehabilitation of the affected people.

District Magistrate Tehri and director (rehabilitation), Tehri Project, Girja Shanker Joshi told ‘The Tribune’ that they were mulling a proposal seeking the package from the Union government to compensate the oustees.

“The matter will be discussed with the chief secretary tomorrow and later taken up with the Union government after the approval of the Chief Minister,” he said.

The Tehri dam project is probably the costliest rehabilitation project in the country involving Rs 1,075 crore in the last two decades.

Due to rains in the past two months, the reservoir has already been filled up to more than 800 metres above the sea level submerging 10 villages and about a dozen bridges.

So far, around 1,500 affected persons have approached the special cell set up on the directions of the apex court. It is estimated that more areas might be submerged if the water level in the reservoir is raised to 820 metres as permitted by the government. “In that case the demand of rehabilitation package may increase by another Rs 25-30 crore,” added Joshi.

Funds are also needed to reconstruct bridges to connect the areas cut off by the rising water level of the reservoir. It is estimated that about 1 lakh people residing in nearby villages might be affected due to the expected submergence of the Chinyali Saur bridge in case the spells of rain persist.

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