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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

City Centre Scam
Punjab moves SC against Capt bail

New Delhi, September 26
The Punjab government today moved the Supreme Court to get the bail to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in the Ludhiana City Centre scam cancelled, claiming his custodial interrogation by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) was necessary for getting into the root of the alleged multi-crore scandal.

LJP deciding factor in Bihar, claims Paswan
Patna, September 26
Union Steel and Fertiliser minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ramvilas Paswan today claimed that his party was the real deciding factor in Bihar, in case mid-term polls were held following the differences between the left and the Congress on civil nuclear deal issue.

Rahul meets PM, seeks extension of NREGA
New Delhi, September 26
A day after he assumed charge as an AICC general secretary, Rahul Gandhi today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with several other senior party leaders urging the government to extend the ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to the entire country.


EARLIER STORIES


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is watched by Congress President Sonia Gandhi as he shares a light moment with actor Dev Anand during the launch of Anand's autobiography in New Delhi
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is watched by Congress President Sonia Gandhi as he shares a light moment with actor Dev Anand during the launch of Anand's autobiography in New Delhi on Wednesday. — AFP
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Leaders greet PM on his birthday
New Delhi, September 26
President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Speaker of the Lok Sabha Somnath Chatterjee and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi greeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his birthday today.

Lalu lashes out at opponents
Patna, September 26
Union railways minister and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad charged his opponents with repeated attempts to implicate him in false cases.

Ram Setu BJP wants alignment right
New Delhi, September 26
The BJP has said it was in favour of the Sethusamudaram project if its “alignment” was corrected to save the Ram Setu. “The BJP’s concern is the alignment of the project and the safety of the Ram Setu. We are not opposed to the Sethusamudram project”, party’s senior leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said here yesterday.

Army for VDCs in Assam
Guwahati, September 26
The Army today advocated for arming villagers in remote parts of Assam on the line of village defence committees (VDCs) in Jammu and Kashmir to protect themselves against terrorists belonging to the banned ULFA and other outfits.

Gowdas launch own TV channel
Bangalore, September 26
Karnataka’s ruling family, the Deve Gowda clan, today became the first political family in the State to have a television channel of its own with the launch of a Kannada channel called Kasturi.

Former Miss India and actress-turned social worker Nafisa Ali (centre) meets child cancer patients during Rose Day celebrations at a fast food restaurant in New Delhi
Former Miss India and actress-turned social worker Nafisa Ali (centre) meets child cancer patients during Rose Day celebrations at a fast food restaurant in New Delhi on Wednesday.
— AFP

WB okays $200-m loan to Himachal
New Delhi, September 26
The World Bank has approved $200 million loan to Himachal Pradesh to support the implementation of critical structural, fiscal and administrative reforms needed to boost economic growth and inclusive development, while sustaining the environmental heritage of the state.

Rare, legendary jewels on display
New Delhi, September 26
World-renowned jewels like the 184.75-carat Jacob Diamond and one-of-its-kind-in-the-world seven-string pearl satlada haar is among the 173 fabulous and legendary pieces of exquisite jewels that go on display for public at the National Museum from tomorrow.

Ex-UP chief secy remanded in CBI custody
New Delhi, September 26
A special court today remanded former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Akhand Pratap Singh, who was arrested yesterday in connection with a disproportionate assets case, to 12 days CBI custody.

Amar Singh in dock
Lucknow, September 26
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh was in the dock after an official probe today recommended criminal action against him and 27 others, holding that the allotment of plots to them in a posh area here during Mulayam Singh Yadav government’s rule was “irregular and illegal.”

Now, birth certificate within 24 hrs
Chennai, September 26
For the first time in India, the Chennai City Corporation today launched a unique programme of issuing birth certificates within 24 hours of the birth of a baby. The hospital will be equipped with a computer.

8 schoolgirls ‘kidnapped’
Kurnool, September 26
Unknown persons have allegedly kidnapped eight schoolgirls from the Nandikotkur town of this district today. Superintendent of Police (SP) B Malla Reddy told UNI that based on a complaint from two students who claimed to have escaped from their captors.

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City Centre Scam
Punjab moves SC against Capt bail
S. S. Negi/Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 26
The Punjab government today moved the Supreme Court to get the bail to former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in the Ludhiana City Centre scam cancelled, claiming his custodial interrogation by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) was necessary for getting into the root of the alleged multi-crore scandal.

Capt Amarinder Singh was granted pre-arrest bail by Punjab and Haryana High Court on April 5 in an interim order after the bureau had registered the FIR and it was confirmed on July 30 by it.

In an interim application moved along with the special leave petition (SLP) against the High Court order, the Punjab government has sought ex parte stay on the final bail order of July 30.

Besides, raising various questions of law, the government claimed that by granting the pre-arrest bail to Capt Amarinder Singh, whose questioning in the case was important, investigation in the case had been “seriously prejudiced”, particularly in the circumstances it was passed.

“Custodial interrogation of the respondent 1 (Capt Amarinder Singh) is essential to get to the root of the scam and bring to the book all those persons who have been involved in embezzlement of funds worth crores of rupees,” the SLP said.

The government alleged that the High Court had granted pre-arrest bail to Capt Amarinder Singh without affording any opportunity to the bureau to place the relevant material on record and taking into account the gravity of the offence.

While reiterating the charges of detection of deposits worth Rs 20.12 crore in four bank accounts of Capt Amarinder Singh and his son Raninder Singh, made between April 25, 2005, and March 20, 2006, the SLP said the cancellation of the bail was required much because the investigation was at a crucial stage.

“The police is making all efforts to unearth the exact extent and scope of the ‘scam’ as well as the nature of involvement of public servants,” it said, accusing the former Chief Minister of not “cooperating” with the investigating agency.

“Given the circumstances of the case and the nature of allegations, custodial interrogation of the respondent is imperative for the investigation to be effective, in order to unearth the true nature and scope of various aspects of the ‘scam’ in question as also the extent of illegal and illicit financial dealings made during his tenure as Chief Minister,” it said.

An SLP of for cancellation of the bail to Raninder and Raminder Singh, a son-in-law of Amarinder Singh’s brother, is already pending before the apex court, which has yet to list it for hearing. The fresh SLP might be listed along with it.

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LJP deciding factor in Bihar, claims Paswan
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 26
Union Steel and Fertiliser minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief Ramvilas Paswan today claimed that his party was the real deciding factor in Bihar, in case mid-term polls were held following the differences between the left and the Congress on civil nuclear deal issue.

Talking to reporters here today, Ramvilas rubbished the respective claims by both Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad to romp home safely in case of mid-term polls. “The fortunes of any alliance in Bihar depends on the LJP only and not on others”, he claimed.

Incidentally, in 2005 assembly polls, which saw the grounding of Lalu Prasad by Nitish Kumar, despite the LJP’s failure to win more than 10 seats, the party was instrumental behind the defeat of the RJD in as many as 30-35 seats. The same Lalu Prasad did a miracle in 2004 Lok Sabha polls, when he had fought the elections based on seat sharing with the LJP.

Ramvilas, however, hoped that despite opposition to civil nuclear deal, the left parties were not in the mood to impose mid-terms polls on the country.

“The left parties said they were not in favour of mid-terms polls. I hope the issue will be resolved through discussions. But in any case, we are always ready”, he said.

He also pointed out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh already clarified that national security issue would not be compromised following the nuclear deal with the US, which was essential for future energy requirement of the country.

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Rahul meets PM, seeks extension of NREGA
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
A day after he assumed charge as an AICC general secretary, Rahul Gandhi today met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with several other senior party leaders urging the government to extend the ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to the entire country.

The meeting is being seen in the context of the efforts by the Congress to get electoral credit for the programme which has a large number of beneficiaries in some opposition ruled states.

“The NREGA fulfills a promise that was made to the people of India by the Congress Party’s election manifesto," the memorandum said.

The Act not only enhances the income of the poor in the short term by providing employment but by creating durable assets through the process of employment it generates the much needed productive infrastructure for poverty alleviation on a sustained basis,” added the memorandum.

A PMO spokesman said the Prime Minister assured the delegation that a decision on the matter would be taken shortly by the government.

The flagship programme, launched initially in 200 districts, is being implemented in 330 districts at present.

Sources informed that the Rural Development Ministry, which oversees the implementation of NREGA, has submitted its assessment of the requirements of funds to extend the programme to the entire country.

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Leaders greet PM on his birthday
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Speaker of the Lok Sabha Somnath Chatterjee and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi greeted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his birthday today. Chief Minister of West Bengal Budhadeb Bhattacharya also spoke to him over the phone and greeted him.

Sonia Gandhi spoke to the PM at his residence this morning. Several other senior Congress leaders, cabinet ministers and Chief Ministers sent flowers and greetings to the PM, who is convalescing after undergoing surgery at the AIIMS recently.

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Lalu lashes out at opponents
Ambarish Dutta/TNS

Patna, September 26
Union railways minister and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad charged his opponents with repeated attempts to implicate him in false cases.

Lalu was referring to the recent attempt by the Nitish government to implicate him in the disproportionate assets (DA) case by challenging his and his wife, Rabri Devi’s acquittal in the case by the special CBI judge Munilal Paswan in December last year.

The Nitish government had filed a petition in the Patna High Court challenging the acquittal in February this year following which in a judgment on September 20, the court had upheld the maintainability of the case.

Lalu has already decided to move the Supreme Court to challenge the High Court’s order.

Talking to the media here after inaugurating a new train from Motihari to Varanasi, Lalu claimed that despite repeated attempts by his opponents to implicate him in false cases, he survived every time as he always stood by the cause of poor people.

In replying to a different question, Lalu promised to offer an unprecedented and astonishing rail budget next year. “We want to further expand railways network in the country and reach such people who have not yet got the opportunity to use its service,” he asserted.

Accusing his predecessors in the Railways, both Nitish Kumar and Ramvilas Paswan, of ignoring Bihar in awarding rail projects, Lalu said 39 rail-road overbridges were being constructed in the state during his tenure as rail minister and the rail-cum-road bridge over river the Ganga between Digha and Sonepur, already declared a national project, would be completed by 2009.

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Ram Setu BJP wants alignment right
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
The BJP has said it was in favour of the Sethusamudaram project if its “alignment” was corrected to save the Ram Setu.

“The BJP’s concern is the alignment of the project and the safety of the Ram Setu. We are not opposed to the Sethusamudram project”, party’s senior leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said here yesterday.

Talking to mediapersons, Naidu said, “Why should anyone be opposed to the project. We are hurt with the kind of comments that have come from the Congress and its allies”.

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Army for VDCs in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, September 26
The Army today advocated for arming villagers in remote parts of Assam on the line of village defence committees (VDCs) in Jammu and Kashmir to protect themselves against terrorists belonging to the banned ULFA and other outfits.

Referring to recent killings of innocent villagers in Karbi Anglong hill district, the operational head of counter-insurgency operations under unified command in Assam, Lieut-Gen B.S. Jaswal, the GOC 4 Corps of the Army, said it was not a bad idea to arm villagers against insurgents given that the VDCs in J-K had been a successful move.

The General, who was decorated for his distinguished service in J-K, claimed that ULFA was under tremendous pressure and its striking power was on the wane after the Army had cut off all supply lines to the outfit’s bases inside and outside Assam and desperation drove the outfit to attack soft targets of late.

“A number of ULFA cadres holed up in camps in Myanmar and inside thick forests of Arunachal Pradesh were dying of acute malaria and facing hardship because of short supply of food and medicines,” the Army commander claimed.

“Not only the supply lines, the Army has blocked all routes making it virtually impossible for ULFA to bring in weapons and trained cadres from its training bases inside Myanmar and Bangladesh,” the General said, vowing to maintain constant pressure on the outfit.

He said terrorists had a life span and what happened to those in J-K and Punjab were classical examples of it. “The same will happen to terrorists in Assam too as the people have started showing revulsion to terrorism and recent lynching of six ultras by people in the state was a strong indication of it,” he said.

According to him, recent arrest of Prabal Neog, the commander of the ULFA’s 28th battalion, has bred frustration and disillusionment in ranks of the outfit.

He voiced against any ceasefire with ULFA unless the latter agreed to put up its cadres in designated camps sans weapon.

As many as 109 terrorists have been killed, 1295 arrested and 81 terrorists surrendered in Assam since the Army geared up operations against insurgents in January this year.

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Gowdas launch own TV channel
Jangveer Singh/Tribune News Service

Bangalore, September 26
Karnataka’s ruling family, the Deve Gowda clan, today became the first political family in the State to have a television channel of its own with the launch of a Kannada channel called Kasturi.

The television channel, which has been in planning for more than two years, came on the air today without any fanfare. A launch scheduled for August 17 earlier was cancelled because invited superstars Amitabh Bachhan and Chiranjeevi could not confirm their presence.

Sources said the channel promoters, the family of Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, decided to start airing feeds immediately rather than wait for a formal launch as the due date for transfer of power to the BJP is imminent before October three.

The Chief Minister’s wife Anitha Kumaraswamy, who is also a film producer and distributor, is the Managing Director of Kastruri TV. The channel is expected to have a healthy mix of entertainment and news. Anitha while discussing the channel informally claimed it would not be biased against anybody and would be run as a business enterprise. “My husband is in politics, I am not”, she said by way of explanation.

The channel will be going in for five news bulletins in a day and CNN-IBN will provide both national and international news content for these slots. Besides this the channel is banking on the Kannada film industry as well as its fledgling TV industry to provide the much-needed soap operas and other programmes. It is also expected to take serials from Smriti Irani to give more depth to the programme variety.

The Gowdas are projecting their channel as the first Kannada channel owned by a Kannada. Anitha said all the other channels were merely branches of Hindi, Tamil or Telegu channels. Though there are seven Kannada channels running in the State presently, the one which is doing the best is Udaya TV, the Kannada branch of Sun TV owned by the Maran family of Tamil Nadu.

The Deve Gowda family however is expected to have a clear advantage over its rivals because it owns Amogh Broadband Services, a cable TV company which holds sway over the cable television network in Bangalore and has in the last two years expanded into various districts of the State.

This is only the first take from the Gowda family. Anitha has promised to extend the portfolio further by launching two more 24-hour channels focusing only on music and news. That will be in the second phase with Kasturi channel starting telecast in 20 districts of the state this month and likely to cover the entire state in another month’s time. The channel is likely to concentrate on the Gowda home turf of Mandya-Mysore and Southern Karnataka in the first phase after which it will focus on North-Karnataka. This, observers say, is likely to help the Gowda clan in the event of a snap poll and even in case of the forthcoming elections.

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WB okays $200-m loan to Himachal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
The World Bank has approved $200 million loan to Himachal Pradesh to support the implementation of critical structural, fiscal and administrative reforms needed to boost economic growth and inclusive development, while sustaining the environmental heritage of the state.

The $135-million loan has been provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). It will have 20-year maturity and a five-year grace period. The $35-million credit is provided by the International Development Association (IDA), World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, and has 35 years to maturity and a 10-year grace period.

The loan is designed to create fiscal space to support the state’s development vision and promote environmentally sustainable development. It aims to enhance growth and employment, especially in the private sector, and improve governance and public administration.

“In spite of the challenges of remoteness of hilly areas, Himachal Pradesh is one of the states leading the way in gender equality and access to services,” said Isabel Guerrero, World Bank Country Director for India. “The state today faces new challenges, including effective management of its environmental resources, while investing in hydropower in an environmentally sound way. The operation supports this agenda.”

The major constraint facing the state is the need to enhance fiscal space to finance development, while improving fiscal sustainability.

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Rare, legendary jewels on display
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
World-renowned jewels like the 184.75-carat Jacob Diamond and one-of-its-kind-in-the-world seven-string pearl satlada haar is among the 173 fabulous and legendary pieces of exquisite jewels that go on display for public at the National Museum from tomorrow.

The exhibition of Nizams’ Jewellery is a rare opportunity for visitors to take a glimpse of the nearly 300 years of collection, estimated at a staggering Rs 10,000 crore, after a gap of six years in a completely new setting and ambiance. The last time the awesome collection went on display was in 2001.

Chairman Indian Council for Cultural Relations Karan Singh, who inaugurated the exhibition, narrated a lore associated with how the Jacob Diamond was discovered by a member of the Nizam family while wearing his slipper. Apparently, the uncut diamond pinched his feet and that is how one of the world’s biggest diamond was discovered.

Appears to be quite an anecdote as in its present shape the sparking diamond is almost double the size of Kohinoor Diamond. With brilliant cutting, clarity and colour, the Jacob Diamond, also known as the Imperial Diamond, is the most outstanding piece among this collection. It weighs 184.75 carats, which is a fabulous weight for any single gemstone. Its current market value is said to be about 400 crores in the international market

Karan Singh complemented the National Museum for this initiative, adding that museums should become more interactive for the benefit of the techno-savvy generation of today. Culture Minister Ambika Soni said the Expert Committee appointed by her ministry had already submitted a report, making suggestions for improvement of the museums in the country.

The collection on display comprises 173 jewels and jewellery items, each an exquisite workmanship, a trail of history associated with them, covering a period ranging from 18thcentury to the early 20th century.

While diamonds from celebrated mines of Golconda and Colombian emeralds predominate, Burmese rubies and spinels and pearls from Basra and the Gulf of Manar, off the east coast of India, are also part of the exhibition.

Besides the Jacob diamond another piece of workmanship is a collection of 22 unset emerald pieces. Also on view is an exceptionally large variety of cut emeralds, emerald drops, emerald beads, Taveez and many other shapes of Jewellery from Columbia and Russia.

Of the many rings with large diamonds of different colours, one set with a Alexandrite stone, perhaps from the famous Russian mines, is of unusually large size bearing testimony to the nature’s excellent gift - it changes it colours sparklingly when viewed under artificial light. Some excellent enameled works from Jaipur, Delhi, Awadh and Deccan form part of this collection, which is comparable to designs and details in the miniature paintings of these areas.

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Ex-UP chief secy remanded in CBI custody
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 26
A special court today remanded former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Akhand Pratap Singh, who was arrested yesterday in connection with a disproportionate assets case, to 12 days CBI custody.

Special judge I.K. Kochhar sent Singh to the CBI custody till October 8 as the investigating agency wanted his remand for interrogation and to take him to different states where he allegedly owned properties.

The CBI had sought 14 days custody, but the court allowed only 12 days.

According to the case filed in March 2005, Singh has been accused of amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income through corrupt means.

As many as 84 immovable properties worth several crores have been allegedly acquired by the accused.

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Amar Singh in dock

Lucknow, September 26
Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh was in the dock after an official probe today recommended criminal action against him and 27 others, holding that the allotment of plots to them in a posh area here during Mulayam Singh Yadav government’s rule was “irregular and illegal.”

The inquiry committee set up by the Mayawati government also recommended the cancellation of 28 plots allotted to politicians and bureaucrats and their relatives. The irregular allotment had caused a loss of Rs 2.30 crore to the state exchequer, it said.

The committee,headed by Lucknow divisional commissioner Vijay Shankar Pandey, suggested the registration of FIRs under the Anti- Corruption Act and criminal cases against all the 28 allottees and nine Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) officials. — PTI

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Now, birth certificate within 24 hrs

Chennai, September 26
For the first time in India, the Chennai City Corporation today launched a unique programme of issuing birth certificates within 24 hours of the birth of a baby.

The hospital will be equipped with a computer. The births will be immediately registered and certificates issued within 24 hours, he said.

Chennai mayor M. Subramaniam launched the programme at Government Children Hospital in Saidapet in the presence of Chennai district officials. — UNI

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8 schoolgirls ‘kidnapped’

Kurnool, September 26
Unknown persons have allegedly kidnapped eight schoolgirls from the Nandikotkur town of this district today.

Superintendent of Police (SP) B Malla Reddy told UNI that based on a complaint from two students who claimed to have escaped from their captors.

He said the two girls alleged fainted after abductors held a 'scented' handkerchief to their nose and later bundled them into a vehicles. — UNI

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