SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

IB warns of more terror strikes in Hyderabad
New Delhi, September 25
The Government of India has specific information that the Al Qaida-linked Bangladesh-based Islamist militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami is planning to stage more attacks in Hyderabad.

Disproportionate Assets
Ex-chief secy of UP arrested
New Delhi, September 25
The CBI today arrested former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Akhand Pratap Singh in connection with a case against him relating to the possession of huge assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Implementation of OBC Quota
Centre sticks to existing data
New Delhi, September 25
Centre today justified in the Supreme Court its move to implement the controversial OBC Reservation Act on the basis of available figures on OBC population, saying there was no need for collection of a fresh data as the existing one was recognised by the apex court in the Mandal Commission case verdict.


EARLIER STORIES




Devotees carry a statue of Lord Ganesha for immersion in the sea in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Devotees carry a statue of Lord Ganesha for immersion in the sea in Mumbai on Tuesday. — Reuters

SC moved for contempt charge against chief secys
New Delhi, September 25
The Supreme Court was moved today in a contempt petition against the chief secretaries of all the states for not implementing the apex court’s verdict on the appointment of judicial officers to fill the vacant posts in lower judiciary even after five years.

17 AMU students suspended
Aligarh, September 25
The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) vice-chancellor has suspended 17 students for their alleged involvement in violent protests, triggered by the murder of a student on Septemeber 16.

Priyanka’s dispute with ex- secy settled
Bhopal, September 25
The dispute between Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra and her former secretary Prakash Jaju over the payment of his commission has been amicably settled in the presence of a noted filmmaker.

BJP poser to DMK on bandh
New Delhi, September 25
The BJP today questioned the DMK about its rationale of holding a bandh in Tamil Nadu on the Ram Setu issue.

Nitish not to follow Mayawati style
Patna, September 25
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is not in the mood to follow the style of functioning of his counterpart in UP, Mayawati, even if the opposition here charged him with being a ‘soft administrator’.

Stone pelting marks T20 celebrations
Dehra Dun, September 25
Communal tension marked the celebrations over the victory of the Indian cricket team in Twenty20 World Cup in three towns of Udham Singh Nagar district. The situation turned violent in Gadarpur when the police tried to diffuse it.

Cong celebrates Rahul’s induction
New Delhi, September 25
While joining the rest of the country in celebrating the victory of its young cricket team in the T20 world cup tournament, Congress cadres had another reason to celebrate when Rahul Gandhi took charge as AICC general secretary this afternoon.

NASA plans to put man on Mars by 2037
Hyderabad, September 25
The United States is planning to put man on Mars by 2037, a top official of the American space agency said. “Our long-term game-plan is to put man on Mars by 2037, so that by 2057, when the International Aeronautical Congress (IAC) holds its centenary, we should be celebrating the 20th year of putting man on the red planet,” the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator Michael Griffin told the ongoing 58th International Astronautical Congress (IIAC) here.

Roses bloom in land of insurgents
Umsning, September 25
Rose, the queen of flowers, blooms a plenty in the bosom of troubled hills of the north-east while the fruit of love, Strawberry too is not lagging behind.

3 ULFA militants killed
Guwahati, September 25
Three militants of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) were killed in two separate encounters with the police and the Army today.

Heavy rain kills 20
Kolkata, September 25
The continuing heavy rain and thundershower, which lashed the city and the remaining parts in south Bengal during the past 72 hours, have taken at least 20 lives.

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IB warns of more terror strikes in Hyderabad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
The Government of India has specific information that the Al Qaida-linked Bangladesh-based Islamist militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-e-Islami is planning to stage more attacks in Hyderabad.

Intelligence Bureau (IB) has already sent several ‘crash’ messages to Hyderabad Police, warning of HUJI’s terror strikes in Hyderabad during the current festival season. Hyderabad is already on a high alert ever since the Centre sent a specific warning to Andhra Pradesh government last week.

The Centre’s messages to Hyderabad police acquired more urgency and credibility on September 22 when the state police received an anonymous letter warning of a terror strike by HUJI during the Ganesh festival, which concluded today. Besides, the Muslims’ holy month of Ramzan is already on. Given the long history of Hyderabad’s communal riots, HUJI hopes to achieve its objective by striking during the festival season.

HUJI has already conducted two terror attacks in Hyderabad this year, both aimed at sparking off Hindu-Muslim riots. HUJI is just one of the several militant Islamist groups operating in India whose goal is to destabilise the country by triggering off communal clashes. Hyderabad Police have already implicated Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami in the May 18 bombing of Hyderabad's Mecca Mosque, which killed at least five people and injured 27.

HUJI’s strategy nearly worked in the Mecca Masjid blast when a small riot broke out after police fired into an irate Muslim crowd. However, the violence was neither widespread not drawn out.

HUJI is also suspected of planting and detonating two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on August 25, one targeting a crowd watching a laser show at an outdoor amphitheater and another targeting a popular outdoor restaurant. The twin blasts, India's deadliest attack this year, killed at least 42 people and injured about 80. Two more IEDs failed to detonate, suggesting that the attacks were the handiwork of those who needed to do a lot to improve their tradecraft.

Unexploded devices of August 25 Hyderabad bombings threw up a minefield of leads for the investigators and helped them in profiling the outfit that carried out the twin blasts. This is because it is far quicker and easier to work with intact devices than to try to recover and piece together a device after it detonates.

Apart from the main charge, the unexploded devices contain detonators or booster charges that also are invariably marked with lot numbers or other traceable manufacturer markings. Other components used to construct the devices, such as the clocks used for the timers, the wires, the batteries and the containers, were also available to the investigators for reaching the bottom of the case.

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Disproportionate Assets
Ex-chief secy of UP arrested
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
The CBI today arrested former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Akhand Pratap Singh in connection with a case against him relating to the possession of huge assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

“The arrest was made in the wake of his not cooperating with investigations, tampering with evidence and influencing witnesses, large-scale forgeries of documents,” a CBI press note said here.

The CBI had registered a case on March 22, 2005, against the 1967-batch IAS officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre, who retired as the state chief secretary in December, 2003.

In the FIR, the CBI has accused him of laundering of his “ill-gotten earnings” into immovable assets, acquired in the names of members of his family, relatives, friends as well as some private limited companies.

The CBI said the investigation so far of the case had led to unearthing of 84 immovable properties in prime areas of New Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Lucknow, Behraich and Nainital.

“The declared value of these properties, many of which are highly undervalued, run into several crores of rupees. Over 100 bank accounts, having huge deposits, have also been unearthed besides large investments in shares, debentures and luxurious vehicles,” the CBI said.

The accused also allegedly indulged in large-scale forgeries in the process of acquisition of assets and their laundering into seemingly legitimate assets, it said, adding “for this, he even has committed large-scale forgeries of the signatures of his father.”

In one such instance, the accused opened a bank account in the name of his father by using forged signatures on the account opening forms and with the ill-gotten money deposited in this account acquired eight properties in prime areas of New Delhi and Lucknow, the CBI said.

Subsequently, the ownership of these properties was transferred in the names of the daughters by the accused on the strength of the forged wills of his father. The bank account, however, continued to be operated by the accused for a period of 18 months even after his father’s demise by forging his signatures and more than Rs 40 lakh was laundered during the period, the investigating agency alleged.

Investigation has also revealed that the accused constructed a palatial house in Lucknow, on three combined plots, one of which was acquired in the name of his father and another in the name of a friend, who was a professor in Delhi University (since expired).

A forged will was again used to transfer the plot in the friend’s name to the daughter of the accused. A bank account in the name of the friend was also used by the accused to make huge investments in shares of companies, the CBI said.

Investigations have also brought out the creation of certain private limited companies by the accused with members of his family, friends and associates being shown as promoters and directors. A large number of assests were acquired in the names of these promoters/ directors by forging their signatures, it said.

The benami properties so acquired were then pledged to raise funds/loans for these companies and thereafter used to purchase more immovable assets.

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Implementation of OBC Quota
Centre sticks to existing data
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 25
Centre today justified in the Supreme Court its move to implement the controversial OBC Reservation Act on the basis of available figures on OBC population, saying there was no need for collection of a fresh data as the existing one was recognised by the apex court in the Mandal Commission case verdict.

Opening arguments to defend the validity of the Act passed last year, Solicitor General (SG) G.E. Vahanvati said since the apex court in the Mandal judgment had also recognised the caste as the main factor for identifying the OBC beneficiaries, only the caste could be the starting point for determining their population.

Though the government’s intention to implement the quota without a clear data was questioned by the apex court while staying the implementation of the law on March 29, the Centre virtually stuck to its stand taken at that time.

Vahanvati said the Mandal Commission had accepted the lists of states on the OBCs’ figure the 13-judge constitution bench by a majority verdict had approved it in the Indira Swahny (Mandal) case judgment, therefore it could not be termed as ‘erroneous’.

“There is nothing wrong in the Centre adopting the states’ lists. if they are thrown away the whole Mandal judgment will go,” he contended, pointing out that the clear guideline had been laid in by the court for further identification and inclusion of castes in OBC list for the Minority and Backward Class Commission.

If the states’ lists had been recognised in a judgment in 1993, “it cannot be accepted after 14 years in 2007 that those are faulty,” the SG said, rebutting the claim of a battery of senior advocates for various petitioners that the caste could not be the deciding factor for identifying OBCs.

But the court put certain probing questions to SG on how backwards among religious communities other than the Hindus would be identified if castes are recognised as the base for identification.

Vahanvati said the fact that the Hindu society is predominantly a caste-based society, could not be overlooked, therefore, a different yardstick has to be applied for different religious communities.

“Identification of backwardness on the basis of castes could not be rejected as in the Indian context caste is in fact a class. Caste is primary index of social backwardness due to oppression of a large section of population on the basis of their caste,” he said.

He said Dr B.R. Ambedkar in his famous speech in Parliament as Law Minister after implementation of the Constitution had said “backward classes are nothing but a collection of castes.”

The status of a person in Hindu society even today is recognised more on the basis of the occupation pursued for centuries by the caste in which he was born irrespective of changing his profession and even making career progression in other field.

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SC moved for contempt charge against chief secys
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 25
The Supreme Court was moved today in a contempt petition against the chief secretaries of all the states for not implementing the apex court’s verdict on the appointment of judicial officers to fill the vacant posts in lower judiciary even after five years.

The continuous vacancies in lower judiciary ranging at the figure of about 3,000 since the verdict was passed on March 21, 2002, is seen as one of the reasons for delay in the disposal of cases.

The Court had given a year’s time till March 31, 2003 for filling all the vacant posts but till date the vacancies continue in almost all states, the petition said, pointing out that it amounted to contempt court.

As per the available data collected by the SC administration up till March 31 this year, a total of 2,768 posts of judicial officers are vacant all over the country. The sanctioned posts in the lower court judges is 14,719 while only 11,951 of them are in place.

Among the main defaulters were Bihar with 509 vacancies topped the list, followed by Uttar Pradesh (484), Karnataka (197), Uttrakhand (175), Maharashtra (174), Madhya Pradesh (163), West Bengal (147), Gujarat (132), Rajasthan (126) Andhra Pradesh (120), Delhi (100), Orissa (83), Tamil Nadu (78), Jharkhand (59), Haryana (58) and Punjab (48). The vacancies in smaller states were less, ranging between 5 and 10.

The contempt petition by Sanjiv Goel sought an initiation of contempt proceedings against the chief secretaries who were responsible for implementing the verdict and simultaneous fresh direction for filling the posts as early as possible.

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17 AMU students suspended

Aligarh, September 25
The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) vice-chancellor has suspended 17 students for their alleged involvement in violent protests, triggered by the murder of a student on Septemeber 16.

Professor P K Abdul Aziz ordered the suspension of the students with immediate effect following the incident in the VC’s lodge and other university offices were ransacked by students, an AMU release said. Mazhar Naeem, a BSc (II) year student, was murdered when he left his hostel for offering night prayers. The university was shut down sine die after the incident. — UNI

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Priyanka’s dispute with ex- secy settled

Bhopal, September 25
The dispute between Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra and her former secretary Prakash Jaju over the payment of his commission has been amicably settled in the presence of a noted filmmaker.

“We have amicably settled the dispute in the presence of noted filmmaker Sajid Nadiadwala,” Jaju said.

Nadiadwala negotiated the settlement in the presence of Jaju and Priyanka’s father Ashok Chopra.

“Differences cropped up between us because of a chartered accountant, but all issues were now settled amicably, in view of Priyanka’s father suffering from serious ailments”, he said.

Jaju had filed a case against the actress claiming that she owed him over Rs 1crore as fee, but he, however, did not disclose the amount he received after the settlement between them.

He had also complained that he had received threats from underworld don Chhota Shakeel on behalf of Priyanka and her father.

As part of the settlement, Jaju will withdraw all cases against Chopras.

Earlier, Jaju, a resident of Mhow, had filed cases against them in court in Indore and Mhow. — PTI

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BJP poser to DMK on bandh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
The BJP today questioned the DMK about its rationale of holding a bandh in Tamil Nadu on the Ram Setu issue.

Talking to newspersons, senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu posed a question to the DMK saying “what are they protesting for and whom they were protesting against? The issue is before the Supreme Court. Is the protest against the Supreme Court or against its own government?”

Taking strong exception to the DMK attacks on the offices of Hindu Munnani, RSS and BJP in Tamil Nadu, Naidu said the BJP had enough political strength to weather the onslaught. Naidu also asked the Congress to break its silence on the issue and speak out its mind on such matters. The Congress must tell whether agitators had violated law.

The ruling party in Tamil Nadu has called for a statewide bandh on October 1.

Meanwhile, the BJP office-bearers, who were to discuss the Tamil Nadu developments, postponed their meeting to September 27 in view of the death of former party president K. Jana Krishnamurthy this morning.

In another development, Naidu dubbed the organisational changes in the Congress as a family matter and said it was a clear indication that the ruling party also believed that mid-term elections were imminent.

Now, the Congress is revamping its organisation to face elections, which would be held in 2008 itself, he said.

Asked if his party would have any reservation if Rahul Gandhi, who was made the Congress general secretary yesterday, is described as a prime ministerial candidate, Naidu said there was no need for such description.

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Nitish not to follow Mayawati style
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 25
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is not in the mood to follow the style of functioning of his counterpart in UP, Mayawati, even if the opposition here charged him with being a ‘soft administrator’.

In the backdrop of the series of street justice, related incidents and other law and order related problems in the recent past, Nitish did not believe in suspending IPS officials in Mayawati style. This was despite the fact that there were whopping 1,600 complaints against the police machinery alone in his weekly janata durbar a week back.

On the contrary, Nitish believed in sensitising the administration and police machinery by making them accountable and restore the faith of the people in justice delivery system through speedy trials in fast track courts to punish the offenders.

Talking to the media here Nitish said one should exert pressure on the administration, which it could sustain, and rubbished the opposition’s charges that his government has lost control over the administration.

Replying to a question regarding the UP Chief Minister Mayawati`s decision to cancel the appointment of over 6,000 constables and suspend 12 IPS officials for committing irregularities in the recruitment process in one go recently, Nitish quipped saying that administration rather might collapse if too much pressure was exerted on it.

Nitish sought to defend his stand by rather blaming the system he inherited from his predecessor, including a depleted work force.

Claiming that even bureaucratic inheritance was in shambles, Nitish pointed out that all the departments were running at 50-60 per cent of their sanctioned strength, which badly hampered developmental work.

He wondered why there were no regular appointments during the RJD regime. "There was a shortage of even IAS and IPS officers as the cadre strength was not enhanced after the bifurcation of the state in November 2000 following the creation of Jharkhand", he added

Nitish said his government believed in handling all these shortcomings with a cool head and hoped that the initiatives already taken with the available resources would show results in three years time. 

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Stone pelting marks T20 celebrations
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, September 25
Communal tension marked the celebrations over the victory of the Indian cricket team in Twenty20 World Cup in three towns of Udham Singh Nagar district. The situation turned violent in Gadarpur when the police tried to diffuse it.

Several police vehicles, including that of SSP Dr. PVK Parsad who rushed to the spot, were damaged. Police resorted to lathicharge to restore order. District Magistrate L.M. Fenai along with heavy police force has been camping in the town to monitor the situation. Similar communal incidents were also reported from nearby Rudrapur and Kiccha towns of the district.

Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Gadarpur, M. Mohsin told The Tribune Over phone that a group of about 50 youths on motorcycles started raising objectionable slogans when they reached Idgah mosque. This apparently hurt the devotees inside saying special night Tarawi prayers during the Ramzan. The police tried to dissuade the revelers from doing so and also asked them to move away from the mosque.

Stone pelting followed soon after from both sides. This happened despite imposition of section 144 couple of days back in this town to diffuse the situation following communal clash over the playing of 'bhajans' during the Tarawi prayers.

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Cong celebrates Rahul’s induction
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
While joining the rest of the country in celebrating the victory of its young cricket team in the T20 world cup tournament, Congress cadres had another reason to celebrate when Rahul Gandhi took charge as AICC general secretary this afternoon.

The impromptu party, which began after Gandhi junior’s appointment was announced yesterday, spilled on to the second day today as the 37-year-old MP , accompanied by a beaming Congress president Sonia Gandhi, walked across from his mother’s adjoining 10, Janpath residence to the AICC office for a short interaction with other senior leaders and office bearers.

Slogan-shouting party cadres went into a virtual frenzy when Sonia Gandhi and the party’s heir-apparent were ushered into the AICC office. The party’s entire top brass, including Ahmed Patel, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, was present in full strength to welcome the Congress scion.

As the jostling crowds rushed ahead to get a word with their new leader, Rahul was quickly whisked inside and taken to the room, presently occupied by AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, which has now been allocated to him. After putting in a brief appearance in Sonia Gandhi’s room, Rahul was introduced to the other senior leaders in the AICC committee room over tea and hot gulab jamuns.

AICC general secretary Margaret Alva, who disclosed that she would now be working with the third generation of the Gandhi family, pointed to the happy coincidence that the young cricket team led by Dhoni had emerged victorious on the same day that a young team had come into the AICC.

There was all-round agreement on this though Sonia Gandhi confessed that she preferred football to cricket as it was a much faster game. As for the induction of several young faces in the party, she was quick to point out that “age and youth” have to work together.

While wishing Rahul a successful tenure at the AICC, senior leaders also commented that it would be good to see young faces in the party office. A host of other young party leaders, including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora, Jitin Prasad, Priya Dutt and Madhu Yakshi, have also been inducted into the party secretariat in an effort to give the Congress a youthful look in the run-up to the next Lok Sabha polls.

Rahul himself did not say much at the meeting except to thank others for their wishes. He did not meet the media and slipped out from the rear door since he had an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He had called on home minister Shivraj Patil earlier during the day.

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NASA plans to put man on Mars by 2037
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, September 25
The United States is planning to put man on Mars by 2037, a top official of the American space agency said. “Our long-term game-plan is to put man on Mars by 2037, so that by 2057, when the International Aeronautical Congress (IAC) holds its centenary, we should be celebrating the 20th year of putting man on the red planet,” the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) administrator Michael Griffin told the ongoing 58th International Astronautical Congress (IIAC) here.

Outlining the ambitious space programmes of NASA, he said “With manned mission to moon from 2020 onwards and Mars a decade later, we want to build a space civilization for tomorrow and beyond that.”

Participating in an interactive session with the heads of global space agencies and the 2,000-odd delegates,

Griffin said the International Space Station (ISS) would provide a “toehold in space” for NASA to look

further beyond and take up solar studies. ‘‘We are looking beyond moon and mars into the inter-planetary system, how to make best use of the ISS and how to use solar power to reduce its operational costs,” he said.

Calling for greater private investments in satellite and rocket launches for reducing the cost of space

transportation and making missions to moon and mars commercially viable, the NASA administrator said as of

now space tourism was the only way out to make space transportation economical. NASA, he said was helping US firms to build a business model for offering orbital transportation services, as cooperation with other space-faring nations may not be economically viable in future endeavours.

The IAC 2007 is being attended by over 2,000 space professionals, representatives of aerospace industry

and policy makers from 45 countries to deliberate upon a host of issues concerning space exploration and emerging business opportunities in satellite launch market and aerospace products and services. The five-day Congress, being held in India after a gap of 19 years, is focused on the theme “Touching humanity: space for improving quality of life”.

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Roses bloom in land of insurgents
Tribune News Service

Umsning, September 25
Rose, the queen of flowers, blooms a plenty in the bosom of troubled hills of the north-east while the fruit of love, Strawberry too is not lagging behind.

Roses produced by gardeners, mostly women, self-help groups (SHGs) in Meghalaya and Mizoram are making a big splash in both domestic and international markets, thanks to the Technology Mission for integrated development of horticulture.

Roses and anthuriums of different hues and sizes, grown in the tiny state of Mizoram, started hitting the markets within and outside the country after mass cultivation was initiated in November 2004. Besides marketing its floral produce within the country, Mizoram roses are making inroads into the market in the UAE.

Government-run Dewlieh horticulture farm at Umsning in Ri-Bhoi district of Meghalaya is making long strides in controlled rose production in coordination with about 70 local self-help groups (SHGs) and has captured markets in Kolkata, New Delhi, Guwahati, Shillong and many other places in the country. The nearest market at Shillong has a demand for at least 2000 roses every day.

“We started controlled and commercial cultivation of roses in coordination with SHGs in the year 2004 and the annual production volume now stands at two million roses. We are going to increase the production to 20 million roses a year in the next three years,” said B K Sohliya, the project leader in the horticulture farm while making a brief power-point presentation before union minister of state for commerce, Jairam Ramesh, at the farm premises today.

“Enthused by the good response in the market we are eyeing vibrant flower markets in Japan, Singapore and other South East Asian markets besides Australia and New Zealand. We hope the cold storage facility at the nearest international airport in Guwahati comes up fast. Our farm is also located only 150 km away from Sylhet international airport in Bangladesh,” said Sohliya.

Not only roses, the farm contributes substantially to the production of Strawberry in Meghalaya, the largest producer of the fruit in the Northeast, and the third largest in the country after Maharashtra and Haryana.

The strawberry produced in Meghalaya is organic by default and the state government is applying for certification so that it can capture markets abroad. When certified Meghalaya strawberry will be the first organic variety produced in the country.

“We started strawberry cultivation in Ri-Bhoi district with only four farmers two years back and today we are producing an average 300 kg of strawberry a day during the season (October to May) from 21 hectares of land within the Northeast as well in rest of the country with 300 farmers,” Sohliya added.

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3 ULFA militants killed
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 25
Three militants of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) were killed in two separate encounters with the police and the Army today.

The police informed that ULFA militants were killed following a gun battle with a police team at Tingkhong in Dibrugarh district of upper Assam at around 3 pm today.

The slain ULFA militants were identified as Nabin Dutta and Ram Gogoi. The police claimed to have seized some arms, ammunition and incriminating documents from their possession.

In another encounter with Army personnel from the 19 Kumaon Regiment, one ULFA militant was killed inside the Manabhum reserve forest of Arunachal Pradesh, about 100 km away from Tinsukia district of upper Assam, this morning.

The Army said the killed militant was yet to be identified and claimed to have seized a self-loading rifle (SLR) from his possession.

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Heavy rain kills 20
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, September 25
The continuing heavy rain and thundershower, which lashed the city and the remaining parts in south Bengal during the past 72 hours, have taken at least
20 lives.

The vast areas in Kolkata and several other districts were also flooded causing extensive damage to crops and other properties.

Of the 15 deaths, seven were reported from Kolkata and its adjoining areas in Jaynagar-Majilpur in south 24-parganas, and the remaining eight deaths took place in five other districts, including Burdwan, Hooghly, Howrah, Midnapore and 24-pargans.

In most of the cases, the death was due to house collapsing and the drowning in the turbulent Hooghly, Kangshabati and the Damador rivers.

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