SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Shillong-Dhaka bus service soon
CellOne expanded to Dawki
Dawki (Meghalaya), September 24
The Land Customs Station (LCS) at Dawki along the India-Bangladesh border in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya today became the first border trade point in the country to get hooked into the BSNL’s CellOne network.

3 held for rape of Japanese tourists
Special police station to be set up for foreign tourists
Lucknow, September 24
Acting promptly on the FIR filed by two Japanese women at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the Agra police today arrested three alleged rapists. This information was given by principal secretary (Home) J.N Chamber today.

Book Row
George flays CBI raids
New Delhi, September 24
The NDA convener and former defence minister George Fernandes today condemned the CBI raids on the house of Major-Gen V.K. Singh (retd) and Manas Publications.

Disproportionate Assets Case
Court breather for Lalu-Rabri
Patna, September 24
The Patna High Court today adjourned till October 31 the hearing on the Nitish government’s appeal challenging the acquittal of railways minister Lalu Prasad and wife Rabri Devi in the disproportionate assets case, an offshoot of the muli-crore fodder scam.






EARLIER STORIES




Delegates look at the model of the Indian Missile Prithvi at the International Space Expo set-up as a part of the 58th International Astronautical Congress 2007 in Hyderabad on Monday.
Delegates look at the model of the Indian Missile Prithvi at the International Space Expo set-up as a part of the 58th International Astronautical Congress 2007 in Hyderabad on Monday. — PTI

CPI national council from October 29
New Delhi, September 24
As the committee of UPA-Left parties is busy working out a face-saving formula on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the two main communist parties have called a meeting of their highest decision making bodies to take the final call before the informal October-end deadline for New Delhi to take the next step.

Quota for Muslims in AP
SC to see notification before granting stay
New Delhi, September 24
The Supreme Court, which initially indicated issuing an interim stay order today against the implementation of the Andhra Pradesh Government Act, providing 4 per cent reservation to Muslims under the backward class category, deferred the decision, as it sought to first see if any notification had been issued by the state to enforce the law by keeping creamy layer out of its ambit.

Children participate in a programme during the celebration of World Girl Child Day in Bhopal on Monday
Children participate in a programme during the celebration of World Girl Child Day in Bhopal on Monday. — PTI

7 Punjab quota docs allowed admission against open seats
New Delhi, September 24
To ensure better use of government resources in the specialised medical education, the Supreme Court today permitted seven in-service doctors of Punjab from the reserved categories to be admitted for pursuing PG courses against the vacant seats of general categories.

Unnatural Deaths on Campus
IIT accused of suppressing information
Kanpur, September 24
The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Kanpur, is hushing up some dark secrets. It is allegedly suppressing information about unnatural deaths of at least two daily wagers and another child on the campus.

AICC Reshuffle
Jairam emerges clear winner
New Delhi, September 24
Beleagured culture minister Ambika Soni was shown the thumbs down when junior minister Jairam Ramesh, who created a stir recently by calling for Soni’s resignation in connection with the Ram Setu controversy, was rewarded with plum assignments in the today’s organisational reshuffle undertaken by party president Sonia Gandhi.

Rahul’s appointment sign of dynastic rule: BJP
New Delhi, September 24
The BJP today called the appointment of Rahul Gandhi as Congress general secretary a sign of dynastic rule saying that it was least bothered.

Reddy to set new educational standards
Hyderabad, September 24
In a novel experiment to raise educational standards in rural areas, Andhra Pradesh government has joined hands with corporate sector to set up residential public schools with modern infrastructure and other facilities, each costing Rs 12 crores.

DMK claims tacit support from Sonia
Chennai, September 24
The DMK today claimed that it has the tacit support of Congress President Sonia Gandhi who following the reported ‘fatwa’ issued against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said all should unite to face threats from religious fundamentalists and not be cowed down.

BJP demands DMK govt’s dismissal
Chennai, September 24
The BJP today demanded immediate dismissal of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and a CBI inquiry into the attack on its state headquarters here yesterday by armed DMK workers.

Environment
India to attend global meet
New Delhi, September 24
An Indian delegation is leaving for the US to take part in a conference on reducing emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Badal seeks NOCs for 3 airports
New Delhi, September 24
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called on union defence minister A.K Antony to seek no objection certificate (NOC) for three airports coming up in Punjab at Mohali, Sahnewal (Ludhiana) and Bhisiana (Bathinda).

Power Pangs
Nitish to meet PM

Patna, September 24
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will meet the Prime Minister in the first week of October in Delhi over the state’s power problems.

Flood victims loot fodder
Begusarai, September 24
Flood-hit victims at Salauna railway station in Bihar’s Begusarai district allegedly looted a wagon laden with fodder, police sources said.

Punj is in charge of Punjab BJP
New Delhi, September 24
BJP president Rajnath Singh today appointed former Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj as the in charge of the Punjab state unit.

‘92 riot victims have lost faith in admn’
New Delhi, September 24
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM), on its visit to Mumbai, has found that the 1992 riot victims and their relatives have lost faith in the administration.

Youth undergoes weight reduction surgery to win heart of girl
Chennai, September 24
A youth, weighing 150 kg, has undergone a risky weight reduction surgery in order to win the heart of a girl whom he has never met but continued romancing over phone.

3 militants nabbed in Manipur
Imphal, September 24
Assam Rifles (AR) troops have apprehended three militants of three different outfits in separate incidents in Manipur.

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Shillong-Dhaka bus service soon
CellOne expanded to Dawki
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Dawki (Meghalaya), September 24
The Land Customs Station (LCS) at Dawki along the India-Bangladesh border in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya today became the first border trade point in the country to get hooked into the BSNL’s CellOne network.

Switching to the BSNL mobile service at Dawki today, union minister of state for commerce Jairam Ramesh said it might be construed to be a prelude to the Government of India’s plan to start a bus service between Meghalaya capital Shillong, and Dhaka via Dawki ‘hopefully by the end of 2008’ for revival of the British era surface communication route between the two places.

He said Dawki, one of the most important border trade points with Bangladesh, had been brought under the BSNL mobile phone network as part of the Central government’s plan to improve connectivity and infrastructure in land border trade points in the country.

Ramesh said all border trade points in the country would soon be brought under the BSNL mobile phone service network, thanks to the Central government’s decision to allow expansion of mobile phone network till 500 km of the country’s international border. However, three months back, no mobile phone network was allowed till 10 km distance from the international border.

The Government of India had earmarked Rs 900 crore to be spent in the next three to four years for creating modern infrastructure like state of the art trading facilities, connectivity, fast banking and foreign exchange facilities in 14 Land Customs Stations (LCS) in the country, including Wagah on India-Pakistan border, Nathula on India-China border, Moreh on India-Myanmar border, and four trade point on India-Nepal border, including Raxol, seven on India-Bangladesh border at Dawki, Sutarkhandi, Agartala, Kawarpuchaih (Mizoram) and three others on West Bengal-Bangladesh border, including Petropole.

Out of the total amount earmarked for the LCS development project, Rs 350 crore will be spent in the first phase in improving facilities at the border trade points at Wagah, Moreh, Raxol and Petropole.

The country’s volume of bilateral trade with Bangladesh was Rs 6800 crore in the last financial year, and out of this, 80 per cent was confined to the border trade points on West Bengal-Bangladesh border. Meghalaya with eight LCS happens to be the second most important area for India-Bangladesh trade.

Three top most border trade points in Meghalaya are at Borchora, Ghasuapara and Dawki. The trade volume of bi-lateral trade through Dawki point amounted to Rs 48 crore last year as against Rs 100 crore through Borchora and Rs 50 crore through Ghasuapara. The trade bilateral through Dawki basically confined to the export of coal to Bangladesh.

The minister announced that an electronic weigh bridge would be constructed at Dawki within the next nine months by the Central Warehousing Corporation with Rs 10 crore to be provided by the Government of India.

The construction of weigh bridge would help Meghalaya government to earn at least Rs 10 crore more per year. The state government is currently losing Rs 3 lakh a day in terms of revenue as coal trucks are carrying overloads, taking advantage of absence of a weigh bridge.

He laid stress on diversification of bi-lateral trade besides trading in coal through Dawki to increase the volume of trade for mutual benefits of people on both sides of the border. He assured that more funds would be provided for development of infrastructure at Dawki, including construction of a higher capacity bridge on Umngot or Piang river, before Shillong-Dhaka bus service is started.

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3 held for rape of Japanese tourists
Special police station to be set up for foreign tourists
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, September 24
Acting promptly on the FIR filed by two Japanese women at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, the Agra police today arrested three alleged rapists. This information was given by principal secretary (Home) J.N Chamber today.

Briefing mediapersons he said case no 552/2007 under Section 376 and 506 of the IPC was lodged at the Tajganj police station today.

The three nabbed by the Agra police are Rajan Thakur of Nai ki Mandi, Raees of Sadar Bazaar and Deepak, alias Sunny of Nehru Enclave Sadar Bazaar in Agra.

Taking a cue from the shocking incident and to rebuild the confidence of the foreign tourist at the beginning of the tourist season in the country the state government today also ordered the setting up of a special police station for foreign tourists in a prominent area of the city informed the principal secretary.

DGP Vikram Singh and DG Tourism Parthasarthi Sen Sharma are scheduled to visit Agra on Tuesday to inaugurate the first of its kind police station in the state. This special police station is on the pattern of a similar one for foreign tourists already functioning in Goa.

Chamber said special care would be taken to appoint both male and female police personnel who are well educated, can converse in English and have proper etiquettes to cater to the large number of foreign tourists visiting the historic city. “If needed staff would be given training in additional foreign languages like Spanish, French and German”, assured the principal secretary.

Besides having computer and Internet facilities to help the tourists this special police station will also have a tourist desk where the department of tourism officials will be available to guide the tourists.

The police department is now planning to carry out an extensive publicity campaign to inform the foreign tourists of this new facility in Agra so that the shocking incidents of crime can be prevented.

If the response to the new venture is positive then a similar police station may be opened in Varanasi the other city that sees a large number of foreign tourists, informed Chamber.

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Book Row
George flays CBI raids
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
The NDA convener and former defence minister George Fernandes today condemned the CBI raids on the house of Major-Gen V.K. Singh (retd) and Manas Publications.

The raids follow the publication of his book ‘India’s External Intelligence, Secrets of Research and Analysis’.

In a statement issued here today, Fernandes said the raids on Manas Publication and the house of Major-Gen V.K. Singh “who served the country well as a RAW officer must be condemned by every person.

“All that it displays is that those in the government have no use for truth and also want to hide its corruption and acts of malfeasance.”

The CBI conducted raids on the house on the former RAW officer’s Palam Vihar residence in Gurgaon on Friday and claimed that it recovered some incriminating documents.

The CBI registered a case against him under Section 5 of the Official Secrets Act, which pertains to wrongful communication. 

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Disproportionate Assets Case
Court breather for Lalu-Rabri
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 24
The Patna High Court today adjourned till October 31 the hearing on the Nitish government’s appeal challenging the acquittal of railways minister Lalu Prasad and wife Rabri Devi in the disproportionate assets case, an offshoot of the muli-crore fodder scam.

In a big jolt to Lalu-Rabri, the Patna High Court had on Thursday held the petition filed by the state government as maintainable and posted the matter for admission today, which amounted to a legal victory for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

Justice Ramesh Kumar Datta adjourned the hearing on it, as Chittranjan Sinha, appearing on behalf of Lalu-Rabri, today sought a week’s time to move the Supreme Court against the order.

Sinha said he was seeking a week’s time because his clients decided to go in appeal in the apex court against the high court’s order holding the petition challenging their acquittal maintainable. Sinha’s plea was accepted by the court, which deferred the hearing.

Lalu-Rabri had contested the Bihar government’s appeal, saying it was not competent to do so, as the disproportionate assets case and all other fodder scam cases were investigated by the CBI.

Special CBI judge Muni Lal Paswan on December 18 last year had acquitted the duo in the case, charging the railways minister with having amassed assets worth Rs 46 lakh beyond his known sources of income when he was Chief Minister between 1990 and 1997. Rabri Devi was made a co-accused in the case.

The state government had decided to appeal against the CBI court verdict after the central agency, which had probed the disproportionate assets case, decided not to challenge the acquittal.

The Patna High Court verdict on Thursday by upholding the Nitish’s government appeal against the acquittal as maintainable was also being viewed as a humiliation for the CBI, too,which was already charged with shielding Lalu-Rabri in the fodder scam and disproportionate assets-related corruption cases.

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CPI national council from October 29
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
As the committee of UPA-Left parties is busy working out a face-saving formula on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the two main communist parties have called a meeting of their highest decision making bodies to take the final call before the informal October-end deadline for New Delhi to take the next step.

The CPI said today that it had convened a special meeting of its highest decision making body’s national council for three days in October to take stock of the fast emerging political situation over the Indo-US nuclear deal.

The meeting would follow the CPM politburo and central committee, which are to be held in Kolkata this month end to take stock of the political situation.

The CPI said the “special meetings” of its national executive and the national council had been called from October 29 to 31here.

Party’s national secretary D. Raja told reporters that the situation was fast evolving. So we had to call the meetings of these bodies of our party to take stock of the emerging political situation and be ready for anything.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government faces an informal October-end deadline to start working on the next steps needed to clinch the deal, and if the row with the Left parties is not resolved by then early polls may be called.

Besides the safeguards agreement with the IAEA, India also needs the approval of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group that governs global nuclear trade before the pact can seek the backing of the US Congress. The deal also needs to wait for 90 business days in the Congress before legislators can vote on it.

The national council will discuss the talks between the UPA and the Left parties on the nuclear deal as well as other issues like spiralling prices, the government’s “failure” to revive and streamline the public distribution system, the “refusal” to pay remunerative prices to farmers while importing wheat at “astronomical” prices and allowing FDI and corporate houses in retail trade.

These issues, the CPI felt, were “jeopardising the livelihood of crores of people” leading to “growing discontent” among various sections.

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Quota for Muslims in AP
SC to see notification before granting stay
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 24
The Supreme Court, which initially indicated issuing an interim stay order today against the implementation of the Andhra Pradesh Government Act, providing 4 per cent reservation to Muslims under the backward class category, deferred the decision, as it sought to first see if any notification had been issued by the state to enforce the law by keeping creamy layer out of its ambit.

A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and V.S.Sirpurkar, while hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of the law, refrained from passing the interim order after the state’s counsel promised to place the notification before it by September 28.

The court had indicated that it would grant an interim stay on the Act, but would make the admission of backward Muslim students made under the 4 per cent quota in various education institutions subject to final judgement in the case.

The court wanted to see the notification to clarify its doubts whether the principle to keep the “creamy layer” had been kept away from the quota ambit if it was aimed at only affirmative action for uplifting the backwards among Muslims and the reservation.

If the requirement relating to the creamy layer is met, it will apparently mean that the reservation was not across the board for all Muslims and could not be termed as the one being given purely on religious lines.

But this was opposed by state government counsel Indira Jaisingh, who besides promising to place on record the state’s notification said, the Bill relating to 4 per cent quota to backward Muslims had been passed after the recommendations of a commission set up to identify the eligible groups among Muslims. The court directed that the state government should file detailed reply by September 28 as the case needed to be heard on priority because it involved the issue of students’ admission.

Senior advocate Arun Jaitley and K.Ramkrishna, appearing for petitioners challenging the validity law, sought the stay of the Act, terming it as illegal on the grounds that reservation on religious lines is not contemplated in the Constitution.

AP counsel claimed that it was not a special reservation to Muslims, but only to the backwards in the community, as out of 34 groups of Muslims, 10 who did not fall in the category of backwards had been kept out of its ambit, she claimed. The AP Government had got the Act passed to replace an ordinance issued by it in 2005, which was stayed by the state high court in November the same year. The apex court had also upheld the interim stay.

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7 Punjab quota docs allowed admission against
open seats

Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 24
To ensure better use of government resources in the specialised medical education, the Supreme Court today permitted seven in-service doctors of Punjab from the reserved categories to be admitted for pursuing PG courses against the vacant seats of general categories.

The admission to them against the open seats was permitted by a Bench of Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan and Justices R.V.Raveendran and V.S.Sirpurkar because they had secured more than 50 per cent marks in the entrance examination, required for eligibility for the general category.

While allowing their admission to fill vacant seats in various disciplines, the court also took into account the stand of the state having no objection to it.

Their counsel P.S.Patwalia said the state government was ready to concede their request for admission against the general category vacant seats considering the fact that they had secured marks above 50 per cent, which was the eligibility criteria laid down under the admission rule for filling up open seats.

Advocate Anupam Gupta, appearing for Baba Frid University, which controls all medical institutions in the state, said that they could be eligible only if seats were really lying vacant and the admission should be done on the basis of roaster.

But the apex court refused to impose the condition of roaster and directed the university to admit them as per the claim made by them.

As per the rules laid down by the Punjab Government for admission in PG courses, 60 per cent seats are reserved for in-service doctors and 40 per cent for fresh MBBS students with reservation to be applied as per the rules.

For the reserved category students, qualifying marks are fixed at 40 per cent and for general category, it is 50 per cent, the court was informed. 

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Unnatural Deaths on Campus
IIT accused of suppressing information
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Kanpur, September 24
The prestigious Indian Institute of Technology(IIT), Kanpur, is hushing up some dark secrets. It is allegedly suppressing information about unnatural deaths of at least two daily wagers and another child on the campus.

On August 26, Rohit (12) was bit either by a snake or scorpio and died after he was refused treatment by the IIT Medical Centre on the pretext that he was not an employee’s son.

This was followed by the death of 24-year-old Udayvir Yadav on August 30 by an electric shock from his own welding machine.

Now the confirmation of the third death rumoured for some time has finally come.

Like Rohit, Mohammad Rustam died in the early hours of July 26 due to snake or scorpion bite. He worked at the Core Lab construction site near Wind Tunnel and SIDBI Centre on the campus, revealed Magsaysay award winner and former student and faculty of IIT- K Sandeep Pandey.

According to Pandey, Rustam’s body was shipped silently out of the campus in a tractor-trailer and buried in a graveyard near a mosque in Naramau. The headman of this village was summoned and the matter was “settled”, he alleged.

He was a resident of Malda in West Bengal.

“There is a clear nexus between the IIT administration and contractors who are trying to summarily dispose of these cases so that neither is liable for the deaths,” charges Pandey, who is also the national convener of the National Alliance of People’s Movements.

No word about the deaths has come out officially.

Pandey charges the IIT director of strangling the right of expression by placing a ban on anybody from the IIT officially approaching the media.

Strangely, even some professors are indignant that the stories of the deaths have been revealed to the outside world. “They are not so much concerned about the families of the dead or the poor working conditions of the workers who have made it possible for them to enjoy world-class material facilities on the campus,” charges Pandey.

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AICC Reshuffle
Jairam emerges clear winner
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
Beleagured culture minister Ambika Soni was shown the thumbs down when junior minister Jairam Ramesh, who created a stir recently by calling for Soni’s resignation in connection with the Ram Setu controversy, was rewarded with plum assignments in the today’s organisational reshuffle undertaken by party president Sonia Gandhi.

Far from being rapped for his display of “indiscipline”, Ramesh emerged a clear winner for not only has he been retained as AICC secretary but he has also been included in important party panels. Ramesh is member of the Department of Policy Planning and Coordination (DEPCO), mandated to conduct research on key policy issues, the publicity and manifesto committees and will be the convenor of the newly-created group to look into future challenges.

Party insiders said this group, which includes Rahul Gandhi, would devise political strategy on non-economic issues like Ram Setu controversy and the Indo-US nuke deal. Since the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is a large unwieldy body and cannot meet at short notice, the party leadership found it necesssary to to set up such a group which will provide political direction on emergent issues. This body will also help Rahul Gandhi to build his own team and put his stamp on party policies.

Besides Jairam Ramesh, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Prithviraj Chavan and Lok Sabha MP Kishore Chandra Deo are among the other major gainers, having found a place on the party’s apex decision-making body, the (CWC), following their appointment as party general secretaries. While Chavan has been put incharge of important states like Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir, Deo will look after Bihar and programme coordination.

Former Karnataka chief minister Veerappa Moily continues to be in favour, having been given charge of the prestigious media department along with Congress-ruled states of Andhra Pradesh and Assam which were earlier being handled by former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh. Singh has, instead, been given the responsibility of reviving the Congress in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

Mohsina Kidwai, who was out in the cold, has staged a come-back and will now take charge of Kerala and Tripura along with Mahila Congress. Margaret Alva, who was incharge of these two states, continues to be incharge of Maharashtra. In addition, she will look after Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and several north east states.

Ajay Maken, minister of state for urban development and an MP from Delhi, has been inducted into the AICC and given charge of Orissa and Jharkhand, while incumbents Noor Bano and M.M.Jacob have been dropped while Janarada Dwivedi’s, who was media department chairman, finds his workload substantially reduced. Arun Kumar, an mp from Andhra Pradesh, was earlier AICC secretary has been upgraded and given charge of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

The new team of 35 AICC secretaries includes at least ten new faces like Alka Lamba, Kodikunnil Suresh and Meenakshi Natarajan besides having a fair representation of scheduled caste members including Jai Kishan,K,Jaykumar, K.B.Krishnamurthy and Praveen Rashtrapal.

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Rahul’s appointment sign of dynastic rule: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
The BJP today called the appointment of Rahul Gandhi as Congress general secretary a sign of dynastic rule saying that it was least bothered.

After all it is their (Congress) dynasty. Congress is known for dynastic rule. They feel proud of it, senior BJP leader M.Venkaiah Naidu told mediapersons here.

Asked to comment at a BJP press conference on Rahul’s appointment, Naidu retorted “what is so great about it? ...We are least bothered. It makes no difference to us”.

In another development, the BJP sought the Centre's intervention in ensuring the safety of its offices in Tamil Naidu that have been allegedly attacked by DMK workers angry over remarks made by a former BJP MP against the state Chief Minister.

Party president Rajnath Singh spoke to union home minister Shivraj Patil and apprised him of the attacks by DMK cadres on its district headquarters, party spokesman Ravi Shanker Prasad said.

The BJP president asked the home minister to intervene and ask the state administration to check the violent protests against its offices in the state. Meanwhile, the BJP has appealed its workers to show restraint and not to react, he said.

In Chennai, the state unit of BJP has petitioned Governor Surjit Singh Barnala seeking dismissal of Karunanidhi government as they termed the attack on its state headquarters a premeditated act of violence allegedly involving DMK ministers.

The offices and residence of BJP leaders in the state were attacked allegedly by DMK workers in protest against Vedanti fatwa controversy.

Leader of the Opposition and a BJP leader L.K Advani had also spoken to the home minister yesterday and asked him to ensure the protection of BJP offices in the state.

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Reddy to set new educational standards
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 24
In a novel experiment to raise educational standards in rural areas, Andhra Pradesh government has joined hands with corporate sector to set up residential public schools with modern infrastructure and other facilities, each costing Rs 12 crores.

Under the project, being taken up under public private partnership model, over 200 such rural residential schools, offering education in central syllabus with english as the medium of instruction from Classes VI to XII, will be set up.

“We are planning to start these schools from the next academic year. Our objective is to provide top-of-the-grade corporate-type secondary school education in rural areas,”Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy said after holding an interactive meeting with the representatives of the industry, NGO’s and social organisations evincing interest in becoming partners in the experiment.

On its part, the government would allot 30 to 50 acres of land free of cost on 99-year lease for each school. The private managements are required to spend up to Rs 12 crore in a phased manner on infrastructure.

The Government will also bear 50 per cent of the recurring expenditure while the balance would be collected as fee from 25 per cent of students admitted under management quota.

Seventy-five per cent of students would get free education as their fee will be reimbursed by the government through scholarships.

A merit list at the district-level will be drawn to fill the seats. The schools, which will admit students only from rural and semi-urban areas, will provide 50 per cent reservation to the backward classes while 25 per cent of the seats will be filled in the open category.

“We are keen that the teachers would be recruited by December this year and given would be six-month training in English before the commencement of the schools,” Reddy said.

The public schools, which will be run by the private managements and will have not more than 40 students in each class, will be set up in every assembly constituency that has rural pockets.

The government will depute one or two members to the board of governors and will shortly prescribe uniform quality parameters for the schools.

Admissions will be done for class VI through a State-level common entrance test and the children could continue up to class XII under Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) or Indian Council of Secondary Education (ICSE) syllabus.

This will help the rural students excel in national level entrance examinations. At present, students from corporate schools have a distinct advantage in this area. 

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DMK claims tacit support from Sonia
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 24
The DMK today claimed that it has the tacit support of Congress President Sonia Gandhi who following the reported ‘fatwa’ issued against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said all should unite to face threats from religious fundamentalists and not be cowed down.

Gandhi reportedly told union shipping minister and DMK leader T.R. Baalu over the telephone, “We will not be cowed down by threats and continue to work for the people.”

Gandhi also asked him to convey her regards to Karunanidhi, Baalu said here today.

Baalu has written letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as Gandhi demanding stern action against former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti for saying that he would weigh a person in gold if he “beheaded Karunanidhi”.

DMK president quoted the author of Ramayana, Valmiki, who had described Ram as a “drunkard” and questioned Ram’s existence and said, “Which engineering college did he attend to know construction of a bridge?”, which is being referred as Ram Setu by the BJP and Sangh parivar.

Karunanidhi’s remarks against Ram in support of the Sethusamudram ship canal project led to the BJP and the Sangh parivar condemning him and demanding to withdrew such remarks.

An undaunted Karunanidhi made more disparaging remarks and challenged BJP leader L. K. Advani, during his visit here, to debate over Ramayana on the same platform.

The ruling DMK here is unwilling to soften its stand, despite Vedanti claiming that media twisted his remarks .

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BJP demands DMK govt’s dismissal
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 24
The BJP today demanded immediate dismissal of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu and a CBI inquiry into the attack on its state headquarters here yesterday by armed DMK workers.

A BJP delegation led by Tamil Nadu unit president L. Ganesan and party national secretary and MP S. Thirunavukarasar submitted a memorandum to Governor Surjit Singh Barnala, asking him to recommend President’s rule in the state.

Addressing the media, Ganesan said his party would organise demonstrations throughout Tamil Nadu in protest against the attack.

Top-rung leaders of the BJP state unit this morning held a meeting at the state headquarters, which was attacked by a mob of 300 DMK workers who broke into the office and smashed furniture, glass doors and window panes in anger over former BJP MP Ram Vilas Vedanti’s “fatwa” demanding beheading of Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for the latter’s remarks on Ram.

Ganesan said the BJP would move court and demand a CBI inquiry into the pre-planned attack by the ruling party.

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Environment
India to attend global meet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
An Indian delegation is leaving for the US to take part in a conference on reducing emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The meeting, called by the Bush administration, follows series of reports by the Inter- Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that warned of global temperatures rising, leading to catastrophic events like rise in the sea levels, droughts and other extreme weather events if the emission of greenhouse gases was not brought down.

There is increasing pressure on countries like India and China to agree to cuts in emissions. But India’s stand has been that mandatory cuts in carbon emissions that are directly related to its energy use would affect the country’s development.

MOEF officials say the Indian delegation will put forth its position that the country cannot accept any mandatory cuts in its carbon emissions that are directly related to its energy use.

Developing countries’ point of view is that it is the developed countries who have been responsible for emission of greenhouse gases and the present-day situation. Therefore they should be the ones to accept the mandate first and allow developing countries some more time to reach a certain level of development as well.

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Badal seeks NOCs for 3 airports
Tribune New Service

New Delhi, September 24
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today called on union defence minister A.K Antony to seek no objection certificate (NOC) for three airports coming up in Punjab at Mohali, Sahnewal (Ludhiana) and Bhisiana (Bathinda).

Badal said the upgradation and extension of the existing airports at Mohali and Sahnewal would further boost the process of modernising infrastructure in the state.

The Chief Minister said Ludhiana was the industrial hub of Punjab and required an airport. He said Mohali needed an international airport as it was close to neighbouring states and was being developed as an IT hub.

Badal extended an invitation to Antony to join the celebrations in connection with 100th birth anniversary of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh at Amritsar on September 28.

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Power Pangs
Nitish to meet PM
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 24
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar will meet the Prime Minister in the first week of October in Delhi over the state’s power problems.

Nitish,who chaired a high level meeting here to review the power scenario in the state, said that besides his meeting with the PM,the state chief secretary A.K.Choudhary would meet the Union Power Secretary Anil Razdan on September 28.

Currently faced with the worst power scenario in the state,Nitish government has already warned to scrap the joint ventures with NTPC and BHEL if the two central agencies failed to complete the renovation and maintenance work of the Barauni and Kanti thermal power plants in the state on time.

State energy minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav,who left for Delhi to meet Union energy minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today,was expected to have detailed discussion on Bihar’s power scenario and press for state’s greater share in the central sector.

Themeeting held yesterday was attended by state energy minister Bijendra Prasad Yadav, deputy chairman of the State Planning Board N K Singh, BSEB chairman Swapan Mukherjee and state energy secretary Rajesh Gupta.

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Flood victims loot fodder

Begusarai, September 24
Flood-hit victims at Salauna railway station in Bihar’s Begusarai district allegedly looted a wagon laden with fodder, police sources said.

The fooder for cattle was dispatched by the state government for the flood-hit Begusarai district.

As the fodder-laden wagon reached the railway station, flood-hit victims last night rushed and took the fodder for feeding cattle away, the sources said.

An FIR was lodged with Government Railway Police (GRP) at Begusarai railway station against unknown persons, they said. — PTI

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Punj is in charge of Punjab BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
BJP president Rajnath Singh today appointed former Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Punj as the in charge of the Punjab state unit.

Punj, a former journalist, has been taking active interest in Punjab affairs and was till now coordinating the intellectual cell of the party.

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‘92 riot victims have lost faith in admn’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 24
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM), on its visit to Mumbai, has found that the 1992 riot victims and their relatives have lost faith in the administration.

The commission visited Mumbai to persuade the Maharashtra government to implement the Srikrishna report on the riots in which several policemen and local political figures had been indicted.

“We found that the administration has not only been apathetic but antagonistic to those who approached it for justice. Women told us that when they visited police stations after the riots in search of their brothers, husbands and sons, they were turned away by policemen and obscene language was used against them.” NCM chairperson Mohammad Shafi Qureshi said.

The commission was told that the police did not tell women the whereabouts of their arrested relatives. As a result they had to run from pillar to post to know in which jails they had been thrown in.

“The non-implementation of the Srikrishna report had led to great discontent in the community, but I think the Maharashtra government, by deciding to open cases against the guilty named in the report, has taken welcome steps to restore the faith of the minority community in the administration,’’ said Qureshi.

He said the commission held public hearings to know first hand what the people have suffered. “It is only after our direct interaction with the police that we met the Chief Minister and other senior officers of the government. That had a desired effect.”

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Youth undergoes weight reduction surgery to win heart of girl

Chennai, September 24
A youth, weighing 150 kg, has undergone a risky weight reduction surgery in order to win the heart of a girl whom he has never met but continued romancing over phone.

In a love story that might inspire Kollywood directors, Viswa (27), hailing from Tiruchirappali, approached a city hospital seeking consultation for his morbid obesity.

Despite being explained about the risks involved, he insisted on undergoing bariatric surgery to reduce the “sleeves” of his stomach. And the reason he gave for his determined step left the doctors flabbergasted.

Viswa said he wanted to present himself slim and handsome before his girl friend with whom he had fallen in love after hearing her voice over phone. — PTI

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3 militants nabbed in Manipur

Imphal, September 24
Assam Rifles (AR) troops have apprehended three militants of three different outfits in separate incidents in Manipur.

Sources said here today the troops of 4 AR launched anti-insurgency operations at Imphal East and captured a Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) activist yesterday.

In a seperate incident, troops of 21 AR nabbed a United National Liberation Front (UNLF) cadre at Thoubal district.

In another incident,troops of 10 AR apprehended a People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) ultra at Ukhrul, the sources said. — UNI

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