SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Global Moratorium on Executions
Amnesty launches signature campaign

New Delhi, September 23

Amnesty International India has launched a nationwide signature campaign and online voting on a death penalty petition to garner support for a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions.

4 ULFA men held with rocket launchers, IED
Guwahati, September 23
Four ULFA militants armed with rocket launchers and an improvised explosive device (IED), were arrested by a police-Army search party on last night from Anthgaon under Kamalpur police station in Kamrup district of Assam following a fierce gun battle.

Heavy rain lashes Kolkata, 7 killed
Kolkata, September 23
At least seven persons were killed as torrential rains lashed the metropolis and adjoining districts today, with the weatherman-forecasting heavy showers till tomorrow. All districts of gangetic West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand will experience heavy rainfall till tomorrow.
A rickshaw-puller transports passengers through a flooded street in Kolkata A rickshaw-puller transports passengers through a flooded street in Kolkata on Sunday.
— Reuters photo



EARLIER STORIES


Flood-hit Assam
AGP, AASU vent ire on Gogoi, PM
Guwahati, September 23
The Congress-led coalition government headed by Tarun Gogoi in Assam has been put in the dock by the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) over the “plight” of lakhs of flood-hit people and the “dismal” relief and rehabilitation operations.

Dasmunsi to lead Indian delegation at CPA
New Delhi, September 23
Union parliamentary affairs minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi will head the Indian delegation at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference here. The CPA deliberations will conclude on September 28.


Actor John Abraham obliges fans in New Delhi on Sunday after playing a football match as part of promotion of his soon-to-be-released film ‘Goal’
Actor John Abraham obliges fans in New Delhi on Sunday after playing a football match as part of promotion of his soon-to-be-released film ‘Goal’. — PTI

Activists of BJP Yuva Morcha stage protest in Patna on Sunday against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK leader M.Karunanidhi for making derogatory remarks about Lord Ram
Activists of BJP Yuva Morcha stage protest in Patna on Sunday against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK leader M.Karunanidhi for making derogatory remarks about Lord Ram.
— PTI

Govt to introduce medical devices regulation Bill
New Delhi, September 23
The Department of Science and Technology proposes to bring in a new legislation to enforce uniform and effective standards of medical devices throughout the country.

Corporates willing to help farmers diversify
New Delhi, September 23
Farmers in the green revolution states of Punjab and Haryana, who are planning to diversify, now have help in hand with the corporate sector keen to impart knowledge and and become partners in growth.

Dairy board to plan roadmap for investing 700 cr
Patna, September 23
In what seemed to be a major boost to the effort by Nitish government to promote economic development in the state, the National Dairy Development Board has agreed to help it to work out the roadmap for investing close to Rs.700 crore in next few years for the development of dairy industry in the state.

Eurocopter Fennec to replace Chetak, Cheetah
New Delhi, September 23
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will buy a large number of Eurocopter Fennec AS 550 C3 helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of Chetak and Cheetah helicopters. This was indicated by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major in an interview here with India Strategic. 

Small Countries Conference
Ansari: Tap global community for sustained growth
New Delhi, September 23
Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari today suggested to small nations to take advantage of the positive dimension of the global agenda to achieve sustainable development, which includes evolving strategies for reducing import dependence.

Saffron brigade behind attacks: Kumaraswamy
Bangalore, September 23
The Janata Dal (Secular) is likely to impose ‘conditions’ before handing over power to the BJP in the state before October 3 and the attacks on a Tamil Nadu bus and the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi’s daughter, Selvi, have only strengthened this stand.

Andhra to strengthen police force
Hyderabad, September 23
Rattled by a series of terror strikes, the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to significantly increase the strength of the police force in a phased manner to effectively deal with the growing menace of terrorism.

Maha Dalit panel formed in Bihar
Patna, September 23
In a move apparently aiming to expand its social base in Bihar,the Nitish Kumar led NDA finally formed the much talked about Maha Dalit Commission in the state.

‘India can’t look east overlooking Myanmar’
Guwahati, September 23
The All- Burma Students League (ABSL), a pro-democracy students’ organisation in Myanmar, is of the view that the success of India’s Look East Policy is very much dependent on restoration of peace in conflict-ridden Myanmar.

Fast track courts for SCs, STs
Lucknow, September 23
To bring immediate justice to violence-hit scheduled castes and schedules tribe the state government has announced the setting up of fast track courts in 56 districts. These courts will hear cases under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 1989.

Ultras abduct 3 govt employees
Guwahati, September 23
Tribal militants from remote Umrangshu areas in North Cachar Hill district of Assam abducted three Assam government employees last night, according to a delayed report received here.

Prashant is new Indian Idol
New Delhi, September 23
Prashant Tamang, a constable with the West Bengal police, was tonight crowned Indian Idol after vanquishing his rival Amit Paul in a grand finale of the over-two month long talent hunt. Tamang, 24, who hails from Darjeeling, has undergone a journey from being a member of the police band in Kolkata to becoming the heart throb of millions of TV viewers all over the country.
Prashant Tamang

Prashant Tamang

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Global Moratorium on Executions
Amnesty launches signature campaign
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 23
Amnesty International India has launched a nationwide signature campaign and online voting on a death penalty petition to garner support for a resolution calling for a global moratorium on executions. The resolution, moved by the European Union, will be placed for vote next month during the 62nd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The petition addressed to the Prime Minister says that vote on the resolution affords India the opportunity to support the eventual abolition of death penalty at the international level and strengthen world opinion against the capital punishment. The petition says, “We oppose the death penalty in all cases and without exception believing it to be a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.”

A momentum is gathering to end capital punishment in all countries. As many as 130 countries, from all regions of the world, have already abolished the death penalty in law or practice and only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006.”

Presenting convincing arguments to prospective voters to sign the death penalty petition and “tell the Prime Minister that you oppose death penalty, Amnesty International India has said, “Voting in favour of the resolution will give India the opportunity to establish that it will only adopt civilised methods of punishing.”

Enumerating reasons for opposing death penalty, Amnesty has said, “Death penalty has never been shown to deter crimes more effectively than other punishments. Death penalty is discriminatory and is often used disproportionately against the poor, the mentally ill, minorities and members of racial, ethnic and religious communities.”

The international human rights watchdog has contended that international law favours universal abolition and encourages states to abolish death penalty. More than 50 countries have abolished death penalty for all crimes since 1990. They include countries in Africa (recent examples include Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Rwanda), the Americas (Canada, Paraguay, Mexico), Asia and the Pacific (Bhutan, Philippines, Samoa) and Europe and Central Asia (Albania, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey).

Sources in Amnesty International India told TNS here today that more than 500 persons have so far signed the petition. The online petition campaign is being supported by the World Campaign against Death Penalty.

Apart from this, Amnesty activists are collecting signatures on the petition in 18 states. Joe Athialy, Campaigns and Communication Coordinator, Amnesty International India, told TNS here today, “Our target is to collect 30,000 signatures. A resolution on death penalty is being moved at the UN General Assembly after 10 years.

Through this exercise, we are appealing to the Indian government to recognise the global trend towards abolishing death penalty. A country that is known for its principles of non-violence (ahimsa) should have abolished death penalty long back.

Unfortunately, debate on death penalty takes place in our country only when we are confronted with cases of execution as in the case of Dhananjoy Chatterjee or Afzal Guru. Another grave concern is the secrecy on data around death penalty.

It is significant in this context to remember the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s position on death penalty. Speaking at a press conference at the UN headquarters in January, he said, “I recognise the growing trend in international law and in national practice towards a phasing out of death penalty. I encourage that trend.”

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4 ULFA men held with rocket launchers, IED
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 23
Four ULFA militants armed with rocket launchers and an improvised explosive device (IED), were arrested by a police-Army search party on last night from Anthgaon under Kamalpur police station in Kamrup district of Assam following a fierce gun battle.

According to Kamrup district superintendent of police (SP), D Hazarika, the four arrested militants were hiding in the house of a villager after they had killed Ratan Deka from Boragog village under Kamalpur police station , a class 3 employee at Handique Girls College in Guwahati, on the Friday night.

the police said, the college employee was killed by the proscribed militant group after calling him out of his residence, for his suo motu effort to persuade the villagers in the area against giving shelter to ULFA militants in their houses.

This enraged the militant group which chose to kill Deka to send a message to villagers showing increasing aversion to shelter ULFA ultras in their homes. The killed person was a brother-in-law of Govinda Deka of Borka Panitema village in whose residence the abducted executive director of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) was killed in a crossfire between ULFA militants and police on July 11 night.

The police and the Army have been keeping a close vigil and frequent raids were conducted in areas under Kamalpur Police Station in the look out for ULFA militants taking shelter in the area.

The arrested militants have been identified as Harekrishna Deka, alias Chiraz, Tapan Kalita, alias, Utpal, Bikash Media, alias, Abbas Ali and Diganta Kalita.

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Heavy rain lashes Kolkata, 7 killed

Kolkata, September 23
At least seven persons were killed as torrential rains lashed the metropolis and adjoining districts today, with the weatherman-forecasting heavy showers till tomorrow.

All districts of gangetic West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand will experience heavy rainfall till tomorrow because of a depression formed over the Bay of Bengal along the Orissa coast, Regional Meteorological Director G C Debnath said.

Rainfall would be comparatively higher in the coastal districts of West Bengal, he said.

Two cyclists were electrocuted by an overhead wire lying on the road at Sonarpur, two were killed at Usthi and Taldi and a woman at Itali village, all in South 24 Parganas district adjoining Kolkata, the police said.

An embankment of Durgadoani River in the district developed a 50-metre crack.

The Met office advised fishermen not to venture out to the sea because of squally weather with wind speeds reaching 55 km per hour. — PTI

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Flood-hit Assam
AGP, AASU vent ire on Gogoi, PM
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 23
The Congress-led coalition government headed by Tarun Gogoi in Assam has been put in the dock by the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) over the “plight” of lakhs of flood-hit people and the “dismal” relief and rehabilitation operations.

The AASU today announced a national highways blockade programme on September 28 demanding food security for flood-hit people and in protest against the “inaction” on part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in respect of providing much-needed relief to lakhs of flood-hit people in Assam, his adopted state.

The AGP president Brindadon Goswami today demanded a disaster management and flood relief package from the central government.

“What has happened to the much trumpeted North East Water resources management committee as announced by the Prime Minister Singh a few years ago? The central government must declare the perennial flood and erosion problem in Assam as a national problem,” the AGP chief said.

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Govt to introduce medical devices regulation Bill
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 23
The Department of Science and Technology proposes to bring in a new legislation to enforce uniform and effective standards of medical devices throughout the country. This will ensure that substandard devices are not exported, especially to developing countries that do not have medical devices regulation in place.

The government has also proposed to create a regulatory authority which will establish and maintain a national system of certification relating to quality, safety, efficacy and availability of medical devices. At present, medical device regulation is managed by the application of quality systems in design, development and manufacture and conformity with various standards.

“Medical Device Regulations have become non-tariff barriers in international trade. Hence promotion and growth of medical devices industry in the country requires effective and prudent regulation incorporating the current accepted principles of global harmonising task force (GHTF),” Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal told mediapersons.

Even within the country, the Central Government is responsible for pre-market approval whereas post market surveillance is the responsibility of state government. This was not applicable to medical devices, since they would require uniform quality throughout the country, he added.

A very wide and diverse range of medical devices are in use today, ranging from very simple devices with low risks like steel implants to very sophisticated devices like heart valves with significant risks.

The devices use a variety of technologies and are manufactured from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to multinationals. Their duration of use also vary from a few minutes to permanent nature.While most devices have to be sterile, some are for single use and others reusable.

But the failure of medical devices could be fatal. Complex implantable devices can be handled only by a professionally qualified multidisciplinary team.

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Corporates willing to help farmers diversify
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 23
Farmers in the green revolution states of Punjab and Haryana, who are planning to diversify, now have help in hand with the corporate sector keen to impart knowledge and and become partners in growth.

From soil testing to crop management will all come under the attention of the corporate sector, which will help the farmers in deciding which kind of crop to go in for to increase his yield and the quantum of fertiliser to use.

The CII-Young Indians-Aries Agro Limited National Farmers Network has been launched for providing specialised agri technology to the peasants. The network will be engaging 10,000 progressive young farmers across the nation within a period of three years in a wide range of knowledge dissemination activities.

Its activities will involve study tours, soil health assessment, demonstrations and trials, seminars and conferences, advisory services, among others. Rural to urban knowledge sharing in key areas will also be a part of the network’s objectives.

“The idea is to shock the farmers by exposing them to success stories and best practices,” Rahul Mirchandani, chairman of the CII group and executive director of Aries Agro Limited, told The Tribune.

He said, “There are islands of prosperity in Indian agriculture. However, we need to showcase best practices to create world-class agri productivity levels across all areas. The farmers’ network will have spreading awareness as its primary objective. We will bridge productivity gulfs using knowledge as a catalyst.”

Mirchandani said farmers in Punjab and Haryana had generally been sticking to their traditional crop pattern. But those who have shifted had succeeded remarkably.

He said an analysis of the farmers’ decision making pattern depended on the crop management. It is toward this end that the corporate sector could infuse knowledge and be partners in growth.

Mirchandani said Aries Agro, which has registered 40 per cent growth every year, would focus on Punjab in particular as it was the fourth largest market segment of the company.

The company had been providing plant nutrition solutions with a comprehensive range of micronutrients.

When pointed that the farmers’ per acre yield, especially in Punjab, had reduced due to persistent use of fertilisers, he said the improper and mad use of such chemicals had resulted in this state of affairs.

He said Aries Agro, which pioneered the concept of agricultural chelates, would help the farmers in ascertaining the soil quality and help farmers in the decision making process.

Mirchandani said the Punjab farmers had been heavily using zinc sulphate. However, if they switched to chelates of zinc it would not only reduce the cost on fertiliser, but also result in the yield increase.

He said chelates were the most environmentally sensitive, cost effective and efficient method of applying micronutrients. Nutrient elements like nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K) were required in large quantities and they were well recognised as major nutrients. While calcium, magnesium and sulphur were considered as secondary nutrients, several other nutrients called micronutrients; though required in smaller quantities, were equally important for the good growth and development of plants.

Chelated micronutrients would help correct deficiencies by allowing the essential metal to move to the root zone for rapid and efficient plant absorption, he added.

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Dairy board to plan roadmap for investing 700 cr
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 23
In what seemed to be a major boost to the effort by Nitish government to promote economic development in the state, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) has agreed to help it to work out the roadmap for investing close to Rs.700 crore in next few years for the development of dairy industry in the state.

The official sources disclosed that the development followed the recent meeting between the NDDB chairperson Amrita Patel and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. The meeting was attended by the Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi too.

It was reportedly decided upon at the meeting that NDDB would assist Bihar to chalk out the strategy for investing this huge amount from state exchequer to enhance animal productivity and increase co-operative milk procurement, processing and marketing from a current level of 6 lakh kg to 40 lakh kg per day by 2021-22.

The sources said that NDDB would play a more pro-active role in strengthening dairying and making it a more meaningful and sustainable occupation for millions of milk producers in the State.

“This is a dream project of Nitish Kumar targeting unemployment problem in the state”, the sources said.

Going by the arrangements reportedly worked out in the meeting,NDDB would provide assistance, including technical and managerial support to existing dairy co-operatives in Bihar so as to enable them to better serve their members and by promoting a plurality of new producer institutions that remain true to cooperative values.

Besides, NDDB would also assist Bihar State Co-operative Milk Producers Federation (COMFED) and milk unions in Bihar to improve efficiency in operation so as to be able to cope up with competition from private players.

The NDDB also agreed to recommend changes in the state Cooperative Act so as to enable co-operatives enjoy the required business autonomy and have level playing field with the competing private firms as resuscitate by Nitish Kumar.

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Eurocopter Fennec to replace Chetak, Cheetah

New Delhi, September 23
The Indian Air Force (IAF) will buy a large number of Eurocopter Fennec AS 550 C3 helicopters to replace its ageing fleet of Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.

This was indicated by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major in an interview here with India Strategic. He did not name the make of the helicopter, but as the Indian Army had already chosen the Eurocopter over Bell 407 this year it was apparently going to be the same machine for the IAF as well as the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard.

It may be noted that former defence secretary Shekhar Dutt, who introduced the offsets concept in defence procurement, had also ensured that the three services and the Coast Guard go in for the same system if their required specifications were the same or nearly the same.

Earlier, each service could buy a system from the same manufacturer individually under different contracts. Now, the overall requirement is negotiated and options are kept.

The Air Chief said the IAF was working on acquiring various types of helicopters for different roles, from combat to light to medium and heavy lift machines, and that it would take about 10 years to complete their acquisition programme.

Like the combat jets, most of the helicopters with the IAF are also nearly 20 or more than 20 years old, and need upgrading or replacement.

“The IAF’s requirement of helicopters will be met by the induction of additional helicopters for various roles in a phased manner during the next two five-year plan periods. This will offset the force-depletion due to phase-outs,” he said.

Air Chief Marshal Major indicated that the request for proposals or tender for the heavy lift machines would be floated in the next fiscal year beginning April to “who ever makes them”.

There is an initial, and immediate, requirement of about a dozen heavy lift helicopters and the machines should be inducted after thorough technical trials and examination of financial details as per the DPP 2006, possibly within three years after that.

Boeing's Chinook CH 47 is the only 20-tonne helicopter available today. The US company had displayed this massive twin-rotor machine at the Aero India 2007 at Bangalore to demonstrate its capabilities. A formal presentation was also made recently at the Air Headquarters, which does periodic exercises to update its international information base as a matter of routine.

The IAF also needs combat helicopters to replace and augment its fleet of MI 25s and the Air Chief said due attention was being given to this aspect also.

The IAF was keen to acquire helicopters with high-altitude (25,000 feet-plus) capability but they were not available in the global market. — IANS

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Small Countries Conference
Ansari: Tap global community for sustained growth
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 23
Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari today suggested to small nations to take advantage of the positive dimension of the global agenda to achieve sustainable development, which includes evolving strategies for reducing import dependence.

The global agenda, mercifully, is not all preventive and has many positive dimensions. These relate to sustainable development which, in the context of small countries, necessarily involves multi-pronged strategies that include international assistance in terms of human and material resources, Ansari said while inaugurating the 27th small countries conference here.

He stressed that such strategies must focus on economic resilience that call for capacity building, economic diversification and expanding the trade basket to reduce dependence on imported goods.

The small countries conference is part of the 53rd Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, which would be inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil on Tuesday.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) William P. Shija also addressed the gathering at the inauguration of the small countries conference.

The small countries grouping in the commonwealth comprise nations having a population of less than 4,00,000.

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Saffron brigade behind attacks: Kumaraswamy
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, September 23
The Janata Dal (Secular) is likely to impose ‘conditions’ before handing over power to the BJP in the state before October 3 and the attacks on a Tamil Nadu bus and the residence of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Karunanidhi’s daughter, Selvi, have only strengthened this stand.

Immediately after the two incidents, which happened within two hours of each other on October 18, the sangh parivar as well as the BJP denied any of its members had anything to do with the incidents. However, the subsequent arrest of 11 persons has proved that sangh parivar activists were behind the attacks.

State Chief Minister H.D. Kumarswamy yesterday said police investigations had proved that sangh parivar members were behind the attacks. This was in sharp contrast to senior BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa’s comments that the saffron brigade was not involved in the attacks.

Kumaraswamy said such attacks had made him apprehensive about handing over power to the BJP. Explaining his position, he said the Ram Setu issue did not concern the state and there was no need to protest statements made by Karunanidhi in such a brutal manner. He, however, said since he had made a commitment to the BJP, he would stick to it and hand over power according to the agreement before October 3.
However, the JD(S) is likely to pressurise the BJP to give an undertaking that such incidents would not recur. With the BJP not taking responsibility for any of the two incidents, it remains to be seen how they respond to this demand.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda has also said the police investigation into the two cases clearly indicated the hand of the saffron brigade. ‘They may not be RSS cadres but they are members of Hindu extremist organisations”, he said, adding the government was committed to take strict action against them. Speaking about the transfer of power, he said he had already stated that he would be talking to senior BJP leaders in Delhi soon and that all issues would be resolved following talks with them.

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Andhra to strengthen police force
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 23
Rattled by a series of terror strikes, the Andhra Pradesh government is planning to significantly increase the strength of the police force in a phased manner to effectively deal with the growing menace of terrorism.

At present, there are 90,000 policemen in the state. The strength will go up by 30 per cent in the next five years.

The decision to strengthen the police was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy to review the law and order situation here yesterday.

The focus will be more on improving the functioning of the intelligence wing to keep a watch on the activities of terrorist organisations.The meeting also decided to identify the sensitive areas requiring additional police stations.

Home minister K. Jana Reddy was asked to convene a meeting with the police top brass on September 24 to finalise the budgetary requirements and the strategies to modernise the force.

Later, the proposals will be put up for cabinet approval on September 28, officials said.

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Maha Dalit panel formed in Bihar
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 23
In a move apparently aiming to expand its social base in Bihar,the Nitish Kumar led NDA finally formed the much talked about Maha Dalit Commission in the state.

Considered to be a step linked to wider political ramifications,the development comes after the reservation of 50 percent seats for women and 17 percent seats for the extreme backward castes in panchayat and civic bodies early this year by Nitish Kumar.

Bihar is reportedly the first state in the country to constitute the Maha Dalit Commission which is expected to cover Dalit sub-castes which could not get much benefit from the reservation system and other welfare schemes.

The commission was formed on Thursday with Vishwanath Rishi as its chairman.

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‘India can’t look east overlooking Myanmar’
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 23
The All- Burma Students League (ABSL), a pro-democracy students’ organisation in Myanmar, is of the view that the success of India’s Look East Policy is very much dependent on restoration of peace in conflict-ridden Myanmar.

ABSL president Kyaw Than during an interaction with the media here said “India just can’t look east overlooking Myanmar. The Look East Policy of India will be a success provided peace returns to Myanmar as the way to the East is through Myanmar.”

A staunch supporter of Myanmar’s pro-democracy movement, Than who is in self-exile in India to escape the wrath of the military junta in his native land, aired apprehension that growing influence of China on the military junta in the neighbouring country would not augur well for India in future.

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Fast track courts for SCs, STs
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, September 23
To bring immediate justice to violence-hit scheduled castes and schedules tribe the state government has announced the setting up of fast track courts in 56 districts. These courts will hear cases under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 1989.

Briefing the press principal secretary law S.M.A Abdi said the notification for these fast track courts set up at the orders of the Allahabad High Court would soon be issued.

The setting up of the courts comes in the wake of the visit of Buta-Singh headed national commission for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes last week.

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Ultras abduct 3 govt employees
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 23
Tribal militants from remote Umrangshu areas in North Cachar Hill district of Assam abducted three Assam government employees last night, according to a delayed report received here.

The police said militants belonging to Black Widow group abducted block agriculture development officer, Benudhar Baruah, junior engineer, Anjan Phatila and gramsevak Dinesh Teron last night. The government employees went untraced after they had been dropped at Umrangshu by a government jeep. Later, militants from Black Widow group called up the senior official of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) informing about the abduction and demanded Rs 10 crore for safe release of the employees.

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Prashant is new Indian Idol

New Delhi, September 23
Prashant Tamang, a constable with the West Bengal police, was tonight crowned Indian Idol after vanquishing his rival Amit Paul in a grand finale of the over-two month long talent hunt.

Tamang, 24, who hails from Darjeeling, has undergone a journey from being a member of the police band in Kolkata to becoming the heart throb of millions of TV viewers all over the country. The grand finale was an all-Northeast affair as Tamang took on 24-year-old Paul, who hails from Shillong.

The results of the talent hunt were announced at a gala in New Delhi with the final witnessing a whopping seven crore people sending in their votes.

Tamang stole the centrestage with his rendition of the song ‘Yeh Kali Kali Ankhen’ from the Hindi film ‘Baazigar’.

As Bollywood actor John Abraham announced Tamang the winner, the constable thanked his mother in a voice choked with emotion.

The contest saw the entire Northeast coming together irrespective for their ethnic differences in support of the two singers.

Meghalaya, which has a history of violence between the tribal and settlers, especially Bengalis, rallied behind Paul, who is a Bengali. The state government has even been asked to declare Amit Paul state ambassador for peace and communal harmony. — PTI

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