SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Top ULFA commander held
Guwahati, September 17
The most wanted ULFA commander, Prabal Neog, who has been giving the Army and the police a tough time for the past one decade, was arrested by the police in a smooth operation at Mission Chariali in Tezpur town of North Assam this noon.

Legal Reforms on Women’s Rights
SC for govt, NCW coordination
New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today advised the government and the National Commission for Women (NCW) to work in close coordination to remove lacunae in laws relating to prevention of child marriage, rights of women and children rather than taking a confrontationist course.

Schools can’t compel students to disclose caste: SC
New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today said that schools in the country cannot compel students to disclose their caste status at the time of admission.

SC to be moved on Adam’s Bridge
New Delhi, September 17
The Shipping Ministry today said it was planning to approach the Supreme Court to obtain orders so that work in Adam's Bridge continues.




EARLIER STORIES




Sania Mirza along with 5-year-old leukaemia patient Jonathan during her special visit at AMRI Hospital in Kolkata on Monday.
LOVE ALL: Sania Mirza along with 5-year-old leukaemia patient Jonathan during her special visit at AMRI Hospital in Kolkata on Monday. — PTI

Affidavit Row
Stop making discordant comments, Cong to leaders
New Delhi, September 17
Faced with the unpleasant spectacle of some of its leaders publicly airing their views on culture minister Ambika Soni's handling of the controversy on Sethusamudram issue, the Congress today sought to put the raging controversy at rest by asking its leaders to desist from making discordant noises as the issue had ended with the government withdrawing the controversial affidavit.

Delhi-Gurgaon Road Links
Centre approves setting up of panel

New Delhi, September 17
The Centre today approved the setting up of a high-level committee to coordinate the development of new road links between Delhi and Gurgaon.

PM to be discharged from AIIMS today
New Delhi, September 17
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is feeling well and is expected to be discharged tomorrow after he was admitted for a prostrate gland surgery on Saturday.

NRI medicos allowed admission this time
New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today permitted admission of six NRI quota students for the postgraduate medical courses in different colleges in Punjab in spite of the state government striking down the reservation for them at the last moment this year apprehending contempt of court action by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

India unhappy over Pak comments on Siachen
New Delhi, September 17
India is not too pleased over Pakistan today upping its ante on press reports of alleged Indian plans to open Siachen glacier to adventure tourism.

Nomads want CBI probe into Bihar lynching
Patna, September 17
The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government seems to be on a sticky wicket on the issue of the brutal lynching of 10 suspected thieves at Dhelpurwa vilage of Vaishali district on Thursday as the victims were Kueris, a sub-group of the backward nomadic tribe called Nat.

Graft charges: Ex-vigilance chief has ulterior motives, says Reddy
Hyderabad, September 17
Former Andhra Pradesh vigilance commissioner R.C. Samal’s sensational graft charges against a wide spectrum of bureaucrats and politicians continued to send shock waves in the state.

Pranab for building Asian economic community
New Delhi, September 17
India today mooted an Asian emergency response system to tackle natural disasters of the scale of the 2004 tsunami.

Pak prisoners’ deportation
SC seeks full scrutiny of list
New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today sought complete scrutiny of the list of 52 Pakistan prisoners lodged in different jails in the country to know their status before passing any order for their deportation.

Jayalalithaa postpones meeting with Advani
New Delhi, September 17
AIADMK supremo and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa has postponed her meeting with BJP leader L.K.Advani, scheduled to be held at Chennai on September 20.

Hearing on Ram Setu pilgrimage plea deferred
Lucknow, September 17
The Allahabad High Court today fixed September 24 for further hearing of a petition seeking a direction to the Centre to give subsidies to pilgrims wanting to visit Ram Setu off the Ramashweram coast in Tamil Nadu.

Recognise Sikhism as separate religion: Sarna
New Delhi, September 17
Irked by the unnecessary dragging of the Sikhism in the “Ram Setu” controversy, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) today demanded the UPA government to recognise Sikhism as a separate religion.

Data centre on urban poverty soon
New Delhi, September 17
As part of its aim of freeing cities of slums that constitute nearly one fourth of the urban population, the government has decided to set up a national data centre and management information system on urban poverty.

GE Brinjal Field Trials
Greenpeace questions ICAR
New Delhi, September 17
Highlighting the possible threat of genetically engineered food crops to India's food chain, environment agency Greenpeace today decried the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for collaborating in the large-scale field trials of GE brinjal.

Maoists decide not to use mobile phones
Patna, September 17
In a recent directive issued to its cadres, the Bihar and Jharkhand Special Area Committee of the banned Maoists has asked them to refrain from using mobile phones as a tool of communication.

Videos
IMA cadets' on multi-safari expedition.
(56k)
Health policy for IT
(56k)
Mr India quits smoking

(56k)
Salman gets back with Main Yuvraaj
(56k)
Abhay Deol sets a ‘new’ record.
(56k)
Honey may prevent ageing.
(56k)

 

Top









 

Top ULFA commander held
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 17
The most wanted ULFA commander, Prabal Neog, who has been giving the Army and the police a tough time for the past one decade, was arrested by the police in a smooth operation at Mission Chariali in Tezpur town of North Assam this noon.

Neog, alias Benudhar Bora, alias Amar Moran, was the commander of the insurgents group’s biggest and most active 28th battalion. Inspector-general of police (special branch) Khagen Sharma termed the arrest a lethal blow to the outfit’s operations, especially in eastern and central Assam districts.

The police official said the ULFA battalion leader, now in his late forties, was travelling with his wife and a minor son when he walked into a trap laid by the Assam police at Tezpur. He was carrying about Rs 2.8 lakh in cash but neither any arms nor any incriminating document at the time of his arrest.

The apprehended ULFA battalion commander was the main planner and the key executor of the ULFA’s dastardly design to eliminate Hindi-speaking settlers in eastern Assam districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Jorhat and central Assam’s Karbi Anglong. He was in Karbi Anglong district when the ULFA was killing Hindi-speaking people in the hill district in August this year.

“Besides planning the carnage of Hindi-speaking people, the apprehended ULFA leader was involved in a large number of bomb blasts and almost all major extortion operations in the state. His arrest will be a big blow to the ULFA,” the police said.

The apprehended ULFA leader had joined the outfit in 1984 and was well trained in guerrilla operations in Myanmar, erstwhile Bhutan bases of the banned outfit. Before joining the ULFA he was the vice-president of Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad Tinsukia district unit.

He hails from Lesenga village at Makum in Tinsukia district. His wife Bonti Lahan who hails from Moran in Dibrugarh district, and six-year-old son were with him at the time of arrest. The police said his wife was an ULFA cadre too.

The apprehended commander was on warpath with the top brass of the ULFA of late after he had issued an issuing statement against suspected illegal Bangladeshi settlers in and around Kaziranga National Park (KNP) in Assam. It went against the alleged ‘soft’ stand of the ULFA top brass, now stay put in Bangladesh, towards the illegal Bangladeshi settlers in Assam.

Top

 

Legal Reforms on Women’s Rights
SC for govt, NCW coordination
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today advised the government and the National Commission for Women (NCW) to work in close coordination to remove lacunae in laws relating to prevention of child marriage, rights of women and children rather than taking a confrontationist course.

“The NCW and government have to work hand-in-hand… the efforts should be to prevent the institution of child marriages,” a Bench of Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and D.K. Jain said.

The court was hearing the NCW’s petition seeking direction to the Centre for reform in various laws relating to prevention of child marriage, making sexual relation with a woman below 18 years a penal offence and amendment in the definition of rape in the Indian Penal Code, which even permits sex with a wife below 16 years.

NCW counsel Aparna Bhatt said there were sharp conflicts between various laws relating to the sexual relation with a young woman and her marriageable age despite it being recognised as 18 years under the Hindu Marriage Act. The lacunae needed to be corrected by recognising a common age, she said.

Additional Solicitor-General Amarendra Sharan said the government was making efforts to remove the legal disparity and had already notified the Child Marriage Prevention Act in January last, under which a provision of two years imprisonment has been made for performing child marriage. Besides, a provision of Rs 1 lakh fine had been made.

To protect the right of the child born out of child marriage if they were still performed, the new Act recognised their legitimacy and other rights against the parents, especially the father, he said.

But Bhatt said though the Act had been notified by the Centre which has to be adopted by the states, the union and state governments have not yet framed any rules for its implementation. In view of the implementation of the Act, the court adjourned the hearing with a direction that if the Centre wanted to make a further statement on the demand of the NCW to bring the uniformity in the related laws, it could do so.

Top

 

Schools can’t compel students to disclose caste: SC

New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today said that schools in the country cannot compel students to disclose their caste status at the time of admission.

Any such disclosure shall be optional, or in other words, it should be left to the discretion of the student to divulge his/her caste identity, a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.

The bench, however, dismissed a PIL filed by an 81-year-old freedom fighter, Salemvelu Gandhi, alias Velu, from Tamil Nadu who sought a complete ban on "caste disclosure" forms circulated by schools to students during admissions.

The apex court, while appreciating the "laudable objective" of the petitioner, said it could not pass any direction on the issue as it would create problems for those who wanted to avail free scholarships and other benefits.

The bench said the school-leaving certificate formed the basis for SCs, STs and BCs pursuing higher education or seeking jobs, as otherwise such beneficiaries would not be able to get the benefits. — PTI

Top

 

SC to be moved on Adam’s Bridge
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
The Shipping Ministry today said it was planning to approach the Supreme Court to obtain orders so that work in Adam's Bridge continues.

Sources said it was following a high-level meeting with Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, the Sethusamudram project chairman and officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forests that Shipping Minister T.R. Baalu issued a statement announcing this.

The announcement assumes significance in view of DMK stringent stand on the issue and its continued support for the continuation of the Setrhusamudrama project. The alignment of the project has sparked a major religious and political controversy with Janata Party leader Subramaniam Swamy and others moving the court on this issue.

Pursuant to the orders passed by the Apex court on August 31 and September 14, work in the Adam's Bridge portion of the project had only been stopped. It added that the government would soon approach the Supreme Court and obtain appropriate orders to continue working in this region and was confident of completing the project at the earliest.

Citing a judgement in the Narmada bachao case, he said theSC had observed that when such projects are undertaken and crores of public money spent, any individual organisations in the garb of PIL cannot be permitted to challenge the decision taken after sometime.

Top

 

Affidavit Row
Stop making discordant comments, Cong to leaders
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
Faced with the unpleasant spectacle of some of its leaders publicly airing their views on culture minister Ambika Soni's handling of the controversy on Sethusamudram issue, the Congress today sought to put the raging controversy at rest by asking its leaders to desist from making discordant noises as the issue had ended with the government withdrawing the controversial affidavit.

The inner-party controversy, which began after minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh indicated on Saturday that Soni should have resigned, got a new twist today with senior party leader R.K Dhawan making a seemingly double-barrelled attack. While he said Soni should have resigned on moral grounds pending completion of an inquiry, he also took a dig at Jairam Ramesh, saying the minister should not have gone public with his views.

Replying to queries, Dhawan said the resignation by Soni would have checked the BJP in its tracks and not given the opposition party an opportunity to demand apology from Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the erroneous ASI affidavit that raised questions on the existence of Lord Rama.

He also added that instead of publicly airing his views, Jairam Ramesh should have written to the Prime Minister on Soni’s resignation. “If Jairam’s views were not accepted by the Prime Minister, he should have resigned,” the AICC leader said.

Dhawan, who is a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee and in charge of Himachal Pradesh, said his views were personal and he had spoken because he felt strongly about “collective responsibility” of the Cabinet which had been a principle of the Congress governments at the Centre.

He, however, did not comment on the role of law ministry in the controversial affidavit. Soni had said on Saturday that the affidavit had been prepared by the Assistant Solicitor General before it came to the ASI.

Even as Dhawan’s comments created a stir in the Congress circles, senior party leader Salman Khursheed said Soni was more than clear of any responsibility in the matter as she had vetted the affidavit and asked for the deletion of the controversial paragraph on Lord Ram. Party general secretary Digvijay Singh had expressed similar views on Saturday.

Uneasy over the fallout of Sethusamudram issue, which has led to bickering within the party and provided constant fodder to the BJP, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today conveyed her views to the party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.

“As the affidavit has been withdrawn and the main issue settled, there is no occasion to speak on this issue,” Singhvi said in words that seemed directed more at the party leaders.

He sought to soften the blow of discordant statements of some party leaders by emphasising that these were “personal” remarks and that a large democratic party like the Congress had several shades of opinion.

“Congress is a large democratic party unlike many others. The spectrum of shades of personal opinion are not at all surprising in the culture of a democratic party,” he said.

Singhvi said main issue had been settled speedily as the government had withdrawn the affidavit.

Replying to a query, he said an administrative inquiry was being conducted and indicated that the process of fixing responsibility was not over yet.

However, he did not answer a query related to demand for Soni’s resignation. “I have nothing to say on this,” he said.

Sources said Jairam Ramesh today spoke to Soni, who was upset over his remarks. He is also learnt to have spoken to Congress President to clarify his position.

Soni has already submitted all documents related to the controversial affidavit, including her noting, to the PMO. 

Top

 

Delhi-Gurgaon Road Links
Centre approves setting up of panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
The Centre today approved the setting up of a high-level committee to coordinate the development of new road links between Delhi and Gurgaon.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the setting up of the committee. It will be chaired by member secretary of the Planning Commission, an official statement said.

Other members of the committee were secretary, department of road transport and highways; secretary, ministry of finance, chief secretary, government of NCT Delhi, and chief secretary, government of Haryana.

The committee will facilitate development and establishment of new road links between Delhi and Gurgaon. It will be free to co-opt other secretaries as and when necessary.

Two 90-metre-wide link roads have been planned. One is from Vasant Kunj to Mehrauli Road and Gurgaon, the other between Andheria Mor and Faridabad road through Mandi and Gwal Pahari.

Another 150-metre-wide link road has been proposed from Dwarka to Palam Vihar. An additional corridor along the 150-metre northern link to Delhi extending from Dwarka has been proposed in the final development plan 2021 while a similar MRTS will come up along the Mehrauli road up to the proposed inter-state bus terminal at Kherki Dhaula.

This will be extended to Manesar. A 150-metre road would be constructed along the NH 8, or Delhi-Jaipur highway, which will ensure that traffic entering Gurgaon flows smoothly.

To cater to a projected population of 37 lakh, 14,930 hectares have been marked for residential purposes. Some 8,000 hectares have already been developed by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and private developers and this is expected to accommodate some 20 lakh people.

Top

 

PM to be discharged from AIIMS today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is feeling well and is expected to be discharged tomorrow after he was admitted for a prostrate gland surgery on Saturday.

Chairman of the medical expert panel Prof K Srinath Reddy overseeing the treatment of the Prime Minister said Dr Singh was convalescing after his surgery and was doing well.

“After completing post-surgical tests the Prime Minister will be discharged from AIIMS on Tuesday and will return home,” the statement added.

On Saturday morning, a team of doctors led by N P Gupta, head of the department of urology at AIIMS, conducted the operation to treat a benign enlargement of the prostrate. “This growth is only age related and non-cancerous,” said a senior doctor at AIIMS. Dr Singh was recovering well and was also having food at regular intervals.

Top

 

NRI medicos allowed admission this time
S. S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today permitted admission of six NRI quota students for the postgraduate medical courses in different colleges in Punjab in spite of the state government striking down the reservation for them at the last moment this year apprehending contempt of court action by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R. V. Raveendran and D K Jain permitted their admission in view of Baba Farid University in its prospectus making a provision for admission under the NRI quota but the Punjab government on July 25 withdrawing the quota provision by a notification soon after the university had fixed a date for counselling.

The Court said the admission was only being permitted for this year for the reasons that the university had advertised it but it would not be treated as a precedent for the future.

The Court also issued notice to the Himachal government on denial of admission to an NRI quota student in the PG course by the state almost in identical circumstances, asking it to submit its reply by September 28.

Senior advocate J L Gupta, appearing for an NRI quota student in Punjab, told the Court that the state government had withdrawn the provision for admission for them on July 25 after the university had announced counselling date on July 24. The state had done it fearing initiation of contempt action by the high court, Gupta claimed.

Though acknowledging that the state has the prerogative to make changes in the admission procedure as per the law, Gupta said it could not do so in the middle of the ongoing admission process. The NRI students had pledged to pay the requisite fee of Rs 30 lakh each and also fulfil the other requirements set out in the prospectus, he said.

The Punjab government had withdrawn the NRI quota as the admissions under it were sought to be done without competitive examination, which was challenged in the high court on the same ground. But Gupta cited the provision laid down in the Inamdar case judgement by the Supreme Court for 15 per cent quota for NRI students who by paying a high capitation fee could contribute to the financial heath of medical and other professional institutions.

The Bench also took into account the provision of the Inamdar case verdict to provide one-time relief to the NRI quota students in Punjab permitting their admission only in the current academic year.

Top

 

India unhappy over Pak comments on Siachen
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
India is not too pleased over Pakistan today upping its ante on press reports of alleged Indian plans to open Siachen glacier to adventure tourism.

Pakistan’s sharp reaction, which observers here feel was avoidable, came on a day when three crucial Indo-Pak meetings were announced for next month, all to take place in New Delhi. The following meetings were announced today: Conventional Confidence Building Measures on October 18; Nuclear Confidence Building Measures on October 19; second round of Indo-Pak Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism on October 22

A considered opinion here is that the unusually harsh Pakistani reaction on Siachen was timed and intended to downplay the importance of the most crucial of the three meetings, the one on anti-terrorism mechanism.

New Delhi is rather amused by the Pakistani demarche delivered to Indian High Commissioner Manpreet Vohra in Islamabad today over Siachen and even shocked by the use of aggressive language that the Siachen issue could adversely affect the ongoing peace process and turn the whole process on its head. Observers here feel that Pakistan has been using this kind of language at the drop of a hat.

Last, but not the least, the bemusement in South Block over Pakistan’s Siachen remarks emanates from the fact that Islamabad is going ballistic at a time when it requires Indian government’s support most. A beleaguered President Pervez Musharraf can ill afford to open another front at this time with India.

New Delhi has been sympathetic to General Musharraf’s problems at the hands of Pakistani Chief Justice, political opponents, regrouping of Al-Qaida and Taliban cadres in Pakistani territory and increasing pressure from Washington. The Manmohan Singh government has displayed remarkable restraint and refrained from commenting on Pakistan’s political situation.

Observers here feel that Pakistan should not have come out with such a knee jerk reaction on Siachen, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wants to see as a Mountain of Peace.

Top

 

Nomads want CBI probe into Bihar lynching
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 17
The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government seems to be on a sticky wicket on the issue of the brutal lynching of 10 suspected thieves at Dhelpurwa vilage of Vaishali district on Thursday as the victims were Kueris, a sub-group of the backward nomadic tribe called Nat.

The horror-struck nomads today have demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the gory incident.They have also questioned the silence of human rights bodies.

State president of the Akhil Bharatiya Nat Vikash Sangh Lal Babu Kafila told the reporters here that the organisation has no faith in the Bihar police and the state administration. “The truth will never come out if a state agency is given the task of carrying out a probe”, he said.

Nats have further threatened to launch a state-wide protest if the state government failed to order a CBI probe. Besides, the organisation would also approach national and international human rights bodies for justice.

The community was also deeply hurt by the treatment meted to the victims. The half-burnt dog-eaten bodies of half of the 10 victims were recovered from Konharaghat on the banks of the Ganga yesterday, though police earlier claimed they had cremated all bodies last week.

The police had reportedly thrown the half-burnt bodies of the victims into the river rather than carry out a full cremation.

Taking a serious view of the lapse in disposal of the bodies, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar transferred district magistrate Lalan Singh and superintendent of police Anupama Nilekar and suspended two other officials yesterday.

The bodies were seen eaten by dogs after they surfaced in the river water near Konharaghat where their mass funeral was performed.

Meanwhile, a team of the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes has begun a probe into the lynching of 10 alleged thieves by a mob in Vaishali.

The Bihar government has already asked for a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) probe into the incident.

Nitish Kumar today said the CID would also try to find out the veracity of the report that all those 10 victims came at the village.

Top

 

Graft charges: Ex-vigilance chief has ulterior motives, says Reddy
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 17
Former Andhra Pradesh vigilance commissioner R.C. Samal’s sensational graft charges against a wide spectrum of bureaucrats and politicians continued to send shock waves in the state.

In a strong reaction, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy charged the retired IAS officer with “ulterior motives” in levelling allegations against several IAS, IPS and IFS officials.

“His hasty and sweeping remarks against constitutional bodies, bureaucrats and politicians prima facie prove that he got some ulterior motive in making such statements soon after retirement.” The Chief Minister told a press conference here.

Adding a new dimension to the controversy, Reddy said he suspected the involvement of opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu in the episode to defame the Congress government.

“Three days after retirement, this official goes to his office, which in itself is an irregularity, and addresses a press conference where he distributes the copies of his statement. He ought to have brought the issue of corruption to my notice in the past three years,” Reddy said.

Samal, a 1969 batch IAS officer, had last week triggered a political storm when he submitted a 55-page stinging note to chief secretary J. Harinarayana naming 18 IAS officers for indulging in corrupt practices and accusing officials of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) and home minister K. Jana Reddy of “harbouring and shielding corrupt elements.”

He also accused the government of clipping the wings of the vigilance department while several key departments like irrigation, agriculture, rural development, transport, roads and buildings had become “cesspools of corruption.”

Stung by the serious charges, the Chief Minister today announced the constitution of a three-member committee headed by chief secretary J. Harinarayana with the directors of the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Vigilance and the Enforcement Department as members to examine the issues raised by Samal.

Dismissing the retired vigilance chief’s allegations as “hasty and baseless,” Reddy wondered why he had failed to bring to his notice the serious charges of corruption.

Reddy stoutly defended two senior CMO officials - Jannat Hussain and Bhanu, who were targeted by Samal, and said they had “impeccable track record”. He dubbed as “uncharitable” the former vigilance chief’s outbursts against the home minister.

Top

 

Pranab for building Asian economic community
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
India today mooted an Asian emergency response system to tackle natural disasters of the scale of the 2004 tsunami.

This proposal was made by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee in his address at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, Republic of Korea, on “India’s Look East Policy”.

In his address, Mukherjee made two more significant points. He talked of the strategic and global partnership between India and Japan. In his address, the full text of which was made available by the ministry of external affairs here, Mukherjee pointed out how recent studies had revealed a compelling case for a broader Asian economic community built in a phased manner. This community comprising half of the world’s population would be larger than the EU in terms of output, having trade higher than North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and foreign exchange reserves greater than those of European Union (EU) and NAFTA put together.

The proposed Asian economic community can generate billions of dollars of additional output. The vision of Asian economic integration by coalescing the FTAs among member Asian countries into an Asian RTA is the pivotal step towards the integration of Asia into a common unit.

As Asia has journeyed from a colonised continent to being the world’s economic power-house, Mukherjee clarified that the launch of India’s “Look East Policy” in 1991 was not merely the outcome of economics, but was a strategic shift in India’s vision of the world in the 21st century.

He also sought to allay Beijing’s apprehensions in wake of recent regional and international developments (read Indo-US nuclear deal and the Malabar military exercises in Bay of Bengal by the navies of USA, Japan, Australia, Singapore and India), by declaring how much India values its improving ties with China.

Second, Mukherjee pitched for the integration of Asia as a continent without artificial geographical sub-divisions.

He said the 2004 tsunami was a wake-up call for closer cooperation among Asian countries in the Indian Ocean. “Can we look to establishing an Asian emergency response system? I do not know the answer to this question, but it is one that we will all have to ponder over. The impact of another natural calamity on the scale of the 2004 tsunami could have serious consequences not only for those directly affected but for all other Asian economies that are linked by trade and investment to the affected economies.”

Mukherjee explained how Indian engagement with China was broad and multi-faceted and trade and investment the great drivers of the new relationship. 

Top

 

Pak prisoners’ deportation
SC seeks full scrutiny of list
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 17
The Supreme Court today sought complete scrutiny of the list of 52 Pakistan prisoners lodged in different jails in the country to know their status before passing any order for their deportation.

The information about the case status was sought by a Bench of Justices B N Agrawal and P P Naolekar after a list of 52 Pak parisoners, sought to be deported in a PIL, was placed before it.

The PIL was filed by Panthers Party president Bhim Singh alleging that many Pakistani prisoners who had even served the sentence awarded to them, were still being detained in Indian jails. He demanded their immediate deportation.

The Court handed over the list to Bhim Singh asking him to get it verified at his own level from the jail authorities to know the status of the prisoners and come with the details by Septemebr 28.

He was asked to specifically state how many of the prisoners had completed their punishment, how may had yet to complete it and how many were still facing the trial.

The deportation order could only be issued after knowing the correct status of each and every prisoner, the Court told Bhim Singh.

Top

 

Jayalalithaa postpones meeting with Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
AIADMK supremo and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa has postponed her meeting with BJP leader L.K.Advani, scheduled to be held at Chennai on September 20.

The meeting between the two leaders had been fixed two weeks ago when BJP national spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad, in charge of Tamil Nadu, met Jayalalithaa.

Jayalalithaa had responded positively to Prasad's suggestion that she should meet Advani so that a closer understanding could be evolved between the BJP and AIADMK, and accordingly September 20 was fixed for the two to meet when the former deputy prime minister was going to be in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday and Thursday to attend the convention of the state unit at Thirunavelli.

It was decided that Advani would meet Jayalalithaa on his way back from Thirunavelli at her Poes Garden residence.

When asked, Prasad said that the meeting could now take place after September 25, as she said that she would be free after that date.

The BJP appears to be in a fix on the Ram Setu issue, as it is still to decide on the course of action that the national leadership wants to suggest the party's Tamil Nadu state unit.

Asked about the possibility of the Ram Setu issue coming up in the proposed Thirunavelli convention, Prasad was evasive, saying "let's see". 

Top

 

Hearing on Ram Setu pilgrimage plea deferred

Lucknow, September 17
The Allahabad High Court today fixed September 24 for further hearing of a petition seeking a direction to the Centre to give subsidies to pilgrims wanting to visit Ram Setu off the Ramashweram coast in Tamil Nadu.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice H. L Gokhale and Justice S. S Chauhan deferred the matter till September 24 after hearing the petitioner, Hindu Personal Law Board president Ashok Pandey.

The petition, quoting extensively from the ‘Ramcharitmanas,’ has pleaded that Lord Ram himself had asked his disciples to visit the Setu.

The petitioner, therefore, wants that a visit to the Setu be arranged for all those interested. — PTI

Top

 

Recognise Sikhism as separate religion: Sarna
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
Irked by the unnecessary dragging of the Sikhism in the “Ram Setu” controversy, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) today demanded the UPA government to recognise Sikhism as a separate religion.

Addressing newspersons here, DSGMC member and former president of the committee Harvinder Singh Sarna said the repeated failures of the governments at the Centre had given impetus to organisations like the RSS to question the identify of the Sikh religion.

Sarna was reacting to the editorial in the RSS mouthpiece Organiser which stated that “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a confirmed religious Sikh, should have known better, for the holy Guru Granth Sahib, holy Gurbani of revered Guru Gobind Singh are known for their salutations to Sri Ram.”

Sarna said the word “Ram is used in gospels of Guru Granth Sahib is for the almighty God and not for Shri Ram Chander, who is son of Dashrath. Therefore, it is a wrong interpretation of the RSS with repect to Guru Granth Sahib.”

Top

 

Data centre on urban poverty soon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
As part of its aim of freeing cities of slums that constitute nearly one fourth of the urban population, the government has decided to set up a national data centre and management information system on urban poverty.

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja today inaugurated national consultation on database and Management Information System on urban poverty, slums, housing, construction and other urbanisation related statistics. It is aimed at effective policy making, planning, project formulation, implementation and monitoring.

Citing National Sample Survey of India figures, she said urban poor constitute about 70 million, many of whom live in subhuman conditions. "Unemployment rates among urban women, especially in slums and small medium towns, are unacceptably high."

Top

 

GE Brinjal Field Trials
Greenpeace questions ICAR
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 17
Highlighting the possible threat of genetically engineered food crops to India's food chain, environment agency Greenpeace today decried the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for collaborating in the large-scale field trials of GE brinjal.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) recently approved large-scale field trials of Bt Brinjal. The expert committee that allowed these trials had recommended these trials to be done under the control of the ICAR. The responsibility of trials is vested with the Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR), an ICAR institute.

The NGO called for immediate halt of all field trials till the bio-safety data generated so far is made public to enable independent assessment, adding that “bureaucrats and their political bosses had thrown all cautions to the wind by allowing large-scale field trials of GE food crops”.

To press their point, Greenpeace activists, dressed like politicians, were force-feeding genetically engineered brinjal to common men at Krishi Bhawan.

“People are largely unaware about dangerous implications of genetically modified food. We are here to demand immediate halt of all field trials till the bio-safety data generated so far is made public to enable independent assessment. So far, safety studies on all GE crops are shrouded in secrecy that has really hindered the public to analyse the data and raise a debate on the issue. With emerging evidences of companies hiding critical bio-safety data that could prove negative side-effects of GE crops on health, an independent assessment is indispensable, Greenpeace campaigner Jai Krishna said.

He said Bt brinjal has never been allowed an independent assessment because the safety data has never been disclosed, adding that "Greenpeace efforts in the past 16 months through the Right to Information Act have been unsuccessful, as the authorities have not complied with the Central Information Commission's order on this issue".

Top

 

Maoists decide not to use mobile phones
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 17
In a recent directive issued to its cadres, the Bihar and Jharkhand Special Area Committee of the banned Maoists has asked them to refrain from using mobile phones as a tool of communication.

The move was reportedly linked to the rise in the number of arrests of Maoist leaders in the recent past from different parts of Bihar and Jharkhand.

Sources disclosed that the mobile phone records helped the police find out the number of Maoist leaders in the area. It also revealed the calls made to non-members from various walks of life.

The directive thus clearly asked the Maoist cadres to evolve alternative methods of passing messages to leaders and members, including the use of couriers. “The use of mobile phones is working against our interests”,the directive read.

According to a senior intelligence official, of late the police developed a system to intercept the mobile calls of Maoist rebels, which helped them arrest many leaders of this extremist outfit. “We were successful in arresting leaders such as Nathuni Mistry and Madan Ji in the recent past”, the official said.

Nearly 950 persons, including 284 security personnel, were killed in the past six years of the Maoist violence. Maoist rebels at present are active in 23 out of the 38 districts of Bihar and 16 of 22 districts in Jharkhand. 

Top

 

 

 

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |