SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

IAEA chief to meet Pranab today
New Delhi, October 9
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammad El Baradei, who reached Mumbai yesterday on a three-day visit, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on October 11.

Maya gears up for LS poll
Launches Rs 10,000-cr schemes
Lucknow, October 9
Urging her party workers to be on their guard against the threat of money power, mafia, media and vested interests, BSP national president Mayawati declared that these four were not only keen to malign her but also even physically eliminate her.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP supremo Mayawati waves to party workers during the party's "Sawdhan Raho Aage Badho" rally at Ramabai Ambedkar rally ground in Lucknow on Tuesday. — PTI photo
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and BSP supremo Mayawati waves to party workers during the party's "Sawdhan Raho Aage Badho" rally at Ramabai Ambedkar rally ground in Lucknow on Tuesday

25 BSP workers hurt in mishaps
Lucknow, October 9
More than 25 people were injured and at least four of them were admitted to Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Hospital trauma centre in a critical condition following six accidents involving vehicles carrying BSP workers to the state capital from the adjoining districts.






EARLIER STORIES




Honour Killings
Apex court upholds life term to 3 Sikh men, 2 women
New Delhi, October 9
The Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence to three Sikh men and two women from Maharashtra for the brutal murder of the husband and three other members of the family of a young woman from their clan as “honour killing”. The woman had revolted and married a man of her choice but from an “inferior caste” in the community itself.

Rapist marries victim in jail
Kendrapara, October 9
A rapist lodged in Jajpur jail, today married the girl whom he had raped in April. The marriage was solemnised in the presence of the police, lawyers, social activists, women leaders and the parents of both bride and bridegroom in the jail.

Model code of conduct for SPSCs soon
Dehra Dun, October 9
A model code of conduct would soon be in place to strengthen credibility of the state public service commissions (SPSCs). Disclosing this during a national seminar on ‘Role and functions of public service commissions’ here today, chairman, standing committee, SPSCs and chairman, J&K public service commission M.S. Pandit said the committee has prepared a manual of best practices for the SPSCs. 

Karuna tries to play down remarks on Ram
Chennai, October 9
With the chances of the mid-term Lok Sabha poll looming large on the political horizon, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, in a bid to keep his Hindu vote bank intact, is trying to play down his remarks on Ram.

Political Mudslinging
Reddy challenges Naidu for probe into assets
Hyderabad, October 9
The political war of words has reached a feverish pitch in Andhra Pradesh with Chief Minister Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy challenging his bete noir and TDP chief N.Chandrababu Naidu for an inquiry into their assets.

ULFA militant killed
Guwahati, October 9
A senior leader of ULFA's 28th Battalion has perished and a senior woman cadre of the outfit arrested by a joint team of the Army and the Assam Police in Charaideo subdivision of Sivasagar district in Upper Assam.

Government fixes MSP for cereals, oilseeds and cane
New Delhi, October 9
The government today fixed the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 650 for barley as against the 2006-07 price of Rs 565 per quintal, while gram would command an MSP of Rs 1,600 per quintal as against Rs 1,445.

Action plan to combat trafficking on anvil
New Delhi, October 9
The government has taken up a number of initiatives to combat trafficking, which include proposed amendments to the Immoral Traffic Act, to target the traffickers and other perpetrators.

Panel for radical change in border management
New Delhi, October 9
With China concentrating on its road and other physical infrastructure in the critical border areas, a high-level committee constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has underlined the need for a radical change in the country’s border management and making the international border accessible to the people.

Leverage urban renewal funds: PM
New Delhi, October 9
Pointing to differential performance of states in implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the states should leverage funds provided by the Centre and raise more from the market by improving the quality of projects and fiscal health of urban local bodies.
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Warning on tobacco products revised
New Delhi, October 9
The government has revised the pictorial health warning for smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco. All tobacco product manufacturers have to ensure that the cigarette, gutka and bidi packs manufactured after December 1 this year carry the new pictorial health warnings. 

Lovely gets bail
Patna, October 9
The Patna High Court today granted bail to former MP Lovely Anand, who had been given life imprisonment on October 3 by a lower court for her role in lynching of G. Krishnaiah in 1994. While granting bail, a division bench, comprising of Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice S M Mahfooz Alam, also stayed fine of Rs 25,000 imposed on her.

Go and spare India,BJP tells UPA
New Delhi, October 9
The Bharatiya Janata Party today asked the ruling UPA to “go and spare India” as the nation was tired of the farce that the alliance had become.

SC refuses bail to Dara
New Delhi, October 9
The Supreme Court today refused to grant bail to Dara Singh, who has been sentenced to life in the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons in Orissa’s Keonjhar district eight years ago.

No move to send Army to Nepal: Foreign Secretary
New Delhi, October 9
There is no move to send the Indian army to Nepal, foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon said today.

21 pc children are sexually harassed: Report
New Delhi, October 9
Showing affection towards a child is normal behaviour, but if someone forcibly kisses a child then it is a form of sexual abuse that goes unreported in more than 95 per cent of the cases.

Kidney transplant racket busted
Mumbai, October 9
The city police today claimed to have busted an alleged kidney transplant racket operating from Chennai by arresting five people, including a qualified doctor, who is suspected to be the kingpin.



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IAEA chief to meet Pranab today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohammad El Baradei, who reached Mumbai yesterday on a three-day visit, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on October 11.

Baradei will meet external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee here on October 10 after which foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon will host dinner in honour of the dignitary.

The fact that Baradei is going to have meetings with three top Indian government functionaries conveys the importance the UPA government is attaching to the IAEA chief.

The Manmohan Singh government is going ahead with informal talks with world leaders and organisations on the Indo-US civilian nuclear cooperation deal despite repeated warnings of dire consequences from the Left. India has to sign an India-specific safeguards agreement with the IAEA and an additional protocol before the nuclear deal goes to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the US Congress takes it up for formal approval.

Negotiations with the IAEA are not too complicated because there is a prescribed format for additional safeguards. India needs just three days’ notice to put up additional safeguards issue on the IAEA’s agenda.

However, to put the 123 agreement on course for fruition, the negotiations on the draft text of the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA must get underway by next week. The NSG clearance is not a time-consuming process and can be completed in a matter of few days.

The time frame is urgent as the USA needs to know soonest when to call an emergency meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which they would prefer to hold sometime in November. If all goes well, the complete nuclear package should reach the US Congress by the middle of December for an up-down vote. Baradei’s current India visit should be seen against the backdrop of this stiff time frame.

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Maya gears up for LS poll
Launches Rs 10,000-cr schemes
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, October 9
Urging her party workers to be on their guard against the threat of money power, mafia, media and vested interests, BSP national president Mayawati declared that these four were not only keen to malign her but also even physically eliminate her. She also asked her party workers to be ready for mid-term polls.

Addressing a mammoth ‘Savdhan Raho, Aagey Badho’ rally on the occasion of the first death anniversary of BSP founder Kanshi Ram, her protégée and political successor, Mayawati formally unveiled the foundation stones of 12 projects in his memory.

The BSP chief arrived at the venue, Mata Ramabai Ambedkar Maidan in Sharda Nagar on the outskirts of the city, by helicopter. She was visibly overwhelmed to catch an aerial view of the massive crowds estimated to be close to 15 lakh filling the sprawling maidan.

The tenor of Mayawati’s 90-minute speech was to warn her party workers against the reportedly false propaganda against her and her government by the Opposition, mainly Samajwadi party and the media.

The UPA government at the Centre and the Congress in particular was the target of the BSP chief’s attack for refusing an economic package to the state. She also predicted a mid-term poll due to the Central government’s inability to evolve a political consensus over the US nuclear deal, mishandling of the Ram Sethu project and inflation.

In a bid to prepare her party workers for the last decisive battle to Delhi, Mayawati urged them to respond to the conspiracy of the opposing forces by further strengthening the party organisation before the forthcoming mid-term Lok Sabha polls.

The one concrete promise that she made if she occupied the seat of power in Delhi was to exchange the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme that “merely promises 100 man days of work at a paltry remuneration for real employment”.

Defending her government against the SP charge of indulging in the politics of vendetta, Mayawati said if this had been true Mulayam Singh Yadav had been behind the bars long ago.

She dismissed the charge of her acquiring government bungalows and land for her personal purposes as a propaganda to hit out at a Dalit Chief Minister, Mayawati declared to quit politics if anyone could prove that she had encroached upon an inch of government land.

She went to a great length to justify the plentiful of new projects estimated at over Rs 10,000 crore in the name of Kanshi Ram claiming that 98 per cent of these were for the benefit of the common people.

Explaining the reason behind the installing of her statue at various Kanshi Ram memorials along with her mentor, Mayawati said this was in respect of his will in which he had specifically wished for the statute of his political successors along with that of his to inspire the people from the weaker sections.

She also clarified charges against her relatives, specifically her brother, for not being in politics or being the beneficiaries of various BSP trusts while living with her.

She said her younger brother Anant had given her blood when her haemoglobin level dipped and had even looked after Kanshi Ram. In return she had given him some money from the amount gifted to her by the party so that he could start a business and be on his own.

Observing that she had her sympathy with dismissed police recruits, the Chief Minister assured that they would be considered for any future appointment in government services.

Taking the wind out of another agitation issue of the SP Mayawati declared that the ban of student union election was a temporary one.

Regarding the shelving of the appointment of 13,000 Urdu teachers by the High court, she assured a clapping audience that her government was intervening to get the High Court order reversed. 

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25 BSP workers hurt in mishaps
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, October 9
More than 25 people were injured and at least four of them were admitted to Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Hospital trauma centre in a critical condition following six accidents involving vehicles carrying BSP workers to the state capital from the adjoining districts.

Unlike the previous rallies, that left many dead in stampedes and freak accidents, today’s BSP rally passed off relatively free of any major accident causing deaths.

Five persons were injured in the Talkatora area of the city when a bus carrying them met with an accident. Another bus, ferrying participants from Allahabad, met with an accident near Unchahar in Rae Bareili leaving seven persons with injuries.

Reports of another freak bus accident came from Bachranwan in Rae Bareili .All injured were rushed to the trauma centre and four of them were stated to be critical.

A couple of mishaps also occurred at the rally venue. A Qualis rammed into a stationary water tanker. However, no one was seriously injured.

Another bus trying to look for a suitable parking space rammed into another bus leaving the driver with minor injuries.

Two other persons were admitted to the trauma centre later in the evening after they were injured in an accident while coming out of the rally venue. They were stated to be out of danger by late evening.

There were also reports of at least 11 BSP workers on their way to Lucknow to attend the rally being injured when their Marshal jeephit a tree on Ghatiya Ghat Road in district Farrukhabad late on Monday night. All injured were admitted to a local hospital.

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Honour Killings
Apex court upholds life term to 3 Sikh men, 2 women
S.S. Negi/Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 9
The Supreme Court has upheld the life sentence to three Sikh men and two women from Maharashtra for the brutal murder of the husband and three other members of the family of a young woman from their clan as “honour killing”. The woman had revolted and married a man of her choice but from an “inferior caste” in the community itself.

A Bench comprising Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice H.S. Bedi, himself a Sikh, while upholding the sentence to the convicts, including to Maya Kaur, the mother of revolting daughter, said such a brutal murder merely for the reason of caste was against the tenants of the Sikh religion.

“The case is a classing example of what we mean. Both parties are Sikhs, a religion which had its genesis in revolt against casteism with the belief that there was only one caste, humanity, imbued with one spirit, humanism, and thus promoted the brotherhood of men with the ethos that no one was good or bad as all had emanated from same “Noor” (light), Justice Bedi in a touching verdict held.

The three men awarded the punishment are Bhagwan Singh, Jagpal Singh and Bhaktawar Singh, all close relatives of revolting daughter Rajvinder of Baldev Singh and Maya Kaur from Panvel on the outskirts of Mumbai. Rajvinder’s maternal aunt Nirmal Kaur was also one of the convict.

But the apex court acquitted Kawaljit Singh, an outsider of the clan, for want of sufficient evidence to prove his involvement. The trial court had awarded death sentence to all the four men and life sentence to the two women, but the Bombay High Court had reduced it to life imprisonment for all.

Though Rajvinder was the youngest and most loved daughter of Baldev Singh and Maya Kaur among their four children - traditionally a Jat Sikhs family. But they did not approve of her love marriage with Ravinder Singh “on the premise that he belonged to an inferior caste and was financially weak,” the court in its 21-page verdict recorded.

The multiple murder took place on May 30, 1999, when the convicts, including

the mother, had gone to the house of Rajvinder with the men flock fully equipped with traditional weapons.

They had attacked Rajvinder shouting that she should not be spared but she managed to escape by jumping from the first floor of the house. But they felled down her husband Ravinder, his brother Harvinder, their parents Dalip Singh and Lakhwinder Kaur.

The court though rejected the Maharashtra government’s appeal for reviving the death sentence to the male members for reasons that they had already undergone the sentence up to eight years.

“The accused are Jat Sikhs - a proud and aggressive community that has produced some of India’s most valorous soldiers and helped fill India’s granaries - unwilling to accept the victims as equals - and in their garbled perception inferior n every way and unsuitable for their daughter,” the court observed.

“It has come in Rajvinder’s statement that she had been the favourite child of her parents but the events show that notwithstanding this deep filial attachment they were of the opinion that she was better dead then alive,” wrote Justice Bedi, giving vivid details how the multiple murders were planned and executed.

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Rapist marries victim in jail

Kendrapara, October 9
A rapist lodged in Jajpur jail, today married the girl whom he had raped in April. The marriage was solemnised in the presence of the police, lawyers, social activists, women leaders and the parents of both bride and bridegroom in the jail.

The police said Kahnu Mahanta (24) of Kiajhar village under the Tamaka police station of Jajpur district married Bhanumati (18) of the same village. Both Bhanumati and Mahanta agreed to marry after their parents persuaded them to tie a knot.

Jail superintendent Mandhar Mallick said Bhanumati and Mahanta were totally averse to the idea initially, but agreed after several rounds of counselling by the jail authorities, police officials, lawyers and social activists.

“The rape case against Mahanta will be dropped as he has married Bhanumati. We will produce their marriage certificate and video CD before the court soon,” police said. — UNI

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Model code of conduct for SPSCs soon
Raju William/TNS

Dehra Dun, October 9
A model code of conduct would soon be in place to strengthen credibility of the state public service commissions (SPSCs). Disclosing this during a national seminar on ‘Role and functions of public service commissions’ here today, chairman, standing committee, SPSCs and chairman, J&K public service commission M.S. Pandit said the committee has prepared a manual of best practices for the SPSCs. “It will soon come up with a model code of conduct for the members as well as chairpersons of all the SPSCs,” he informed.

The seminar is first of its kind to be organised by the standing committee and the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The members and chairpersons of 28 SPSCs demanded less political interference in their working. The participants also advocated autonomy and financial powers as given to the Election Commission.

Inaugurating the seminar, Uttarakhand Governor Sudarshan Agarwal observed that the SPSCs as well as UPSC must act as agents of change, good governance and effective administration.

He added that the commissions should also ensure that officers and staff of the commissions maintain the highest levels of probity and the desired levels of secrecy.

Chairman, UPSC, Subir Dutta said merit, impartiality and goal-orientation were essential features of any administration. Rules and observance of rules were important but credibility was also an important factor among issues of administration. 

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Karuna tries to play down remarks on Ram
Arup Chanda/Tribune News Service

Chennai, October 9
With the chances of the mid-term Lok Sabha poll looming large on the political horizon, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, in a bid to keep his Hindu vote bank intact, is trying to play down his remarks on Ram.

His remarks, questioning the existence of Ram and quoting Valmiki, the author of Ramayana, that the deity was a “drunkard”, created a furore all over the country. He had made the remarks in support of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP) to criticise those opposing it.

To prove that he was not against any religion, Karunanidhi in an article in the DMK’s mouthpiece “Murasoli” wrote: “Despite being a rationalist, I have not forgotten to remain impartial.”

Listing the religious achievements of his government, the DMK president said after coming to power last year, 1,493 temples in Tamil Nadu had been consecrated, 253 others were renovated with a cost of Rs.106 crore while golden chariots were made for 20 temples.

Realising the fact that despite decades of atheist politics preached by Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu, people followed religious practices with fervour, the octogenarian politician began a damage-control exercise to keep his Hindu vote bank intact.

He said the DMK did not believe in thrusting its rationalist principles and policies on those who followed religion, least to speak of causing distress.

Karunanidhi said his government had never attempted to ban any religious or traditional festival and pointed out that recently Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated all over the state in a grand manner. He said, “Even now, there are places like Rameswaram and Ramanathapuram named after Rama. There is even a Ramar Padam at Kodiyakkarai from where Rama was believed to have viewed Lanka. The government has not disturbed this structure.”

The Chief Minister said his party would have had no objection if the Adam’s Bridge, between India and Sri Lanka, would have been called “Ram Sethu” right from the beginning and the project was named “Ramar Shipping Canal”.

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Political Mudslinging
Reddy challenges Naidu for probe into assets
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, October 9
The political war of words has reached a feverish pitch in Andhra Pradesh with Chief Minister Y.S Rajasekhara Reddy challenging his bete noir and TDP chief N.Chandrababu Naidu for an inquiry into their assets.

“My government is ready to set up an inquiry commission to go into the assets being held by me and my family members. Is Chandrababu Naidu ready for a similar probe?” Reddy said at a press conference here.

He was responding to Naidu's allegation that Reddy had become an epitome of corruption "earning Rs one crore per hour" ever since he took over the reins of the state three-and-half years ago.

In a strident attack on his predecessor, Reddy said Naidu was the fountainhead of corruption and had amassed huge wealth during his nine-year tenure.

"If Naidu agrees, we will set up an inquiry commission to probe the assets of both the families acquired during the past three decades," Reddy said.

Reddy and Naidu had started their political careers together in Congress in mid-1970s and both hail from the faction-ridden Rayalseema region.

"My political life is like an open book. I have never concealed anything. My family had business interests even before his entry into politics and I was an Income Tax assessee since my high school days," Reddy said.

In contrast to this, Naidu himself had admitted that his family had owned a meager 2 acres of land when he entered politics and that he had pursued studies with the help of scholarships, the Chief Minister pointed out.

"After entering politics and later backstabbing his own father-in-law (late N T Rama Rao), Naidu went on to become the richest politician in India as per a survey done by a portal," Reddy said.

He charged Naidu with resorting to "cheap politics and spreading lies to discredit the government in the hope of coming back to power" and said his outbursts reflected his frustration over the growing popularity of the Congress government and the positive impact of its pro-poor schemes.

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ULFA militant killed
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, October 9
A senior leader of ULFA's 28th Battalion has perished and a senior woman cadre of the outfit arrested by a joint team of the Army and the Assam Police in Charaideo subdivision of Sivasagar district in Upper Assam.

The police informed that in a joint operation, the 66 Field Regiment of the Army and the Assam police killed a hardcore ULFA militant and apprehended a woman cadre following a gunbattle at Lakili village under Borhat police station in Charaideo near the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border.

The killed ULFA militant was identified as Rajib Saikia, a self-styled sergeant major of the outfit. His company, a woman cadre of the ULFA, Satyama Bailung alias Mumu, was apprehended by the security personnel.

One AK-56 rifle, two magazines, one grenade, a pistol and a mobile phone were recovered from the militants. The police cliamed that killed militant was a close aide of senior ULFA leader Sujit Mohan, commander of "B" company of the outfit’s 28th battalion. 

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Government fixes MSP for cereals, oilseeds and cane
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
The government today fixed the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 650 for barley as against the 2006-07 price of Rs 565 per quintal, while gram would command an MSP of Rs 1,600 per quintal as against Rs 1,445.

The MSP of rapeseed/mustard has been fixed at Rs 1,800 per quintal as against Rs 1,715, while the MSP for safflower has been fixed at Rs 1,650 per quintal as against Rs 1,565.

The prices of other oilseeds belonging to the rapeseed/mustard group will be fixed on the basis of their normal market price differentials with rapeseed/mustard.

In the case of cereals, FCI and other designated state agencies will continue to provide price support to the farmers, as in the past, an official press note issued after the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, mentioned.

The CCEA also decided on an eight-point relief measure for sugar factories.

The CCEA approved extension of the moratorium on outstanding term loans as on April 1, 2005, announced in September 2005 for cooperative sugar factories, from two to five years (reckoned from April 1, 2005) and including cooperative sugar mills not included in the earlier package.

It also approved conversion of outstanding loans on account of harvesting and transport charges and short margins on sugar stocks, as appearing in the books of the sugar mills on April 1, 2007, into term loans up to a maximum period of five years, without any reduction in the existing rate of interest.

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Action plan to combat trafficking on anvil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
The government has taken up a number of initiatives to combat trafficking, which include proposed amendments to the Immoral Traffic Act, to target the traffickers and other perpetrators.

While making amendments, the government has also proposed to withdraw those provisions which re-victimise victims of trafficking, minister for women and child development Renuka Chowdhury said on the eve of ‘South-Asia regional conference on human trafficking’.

Expressing concern over trafficking of women and children, Chowdhury said her ministry was launching a comprehensive scheme for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation, reintegration and repatriation of the victims, including cross-border victims.

The ministry had also set up a central advisory committee to combat trafficking, which include all concerned ministries, state ministries, enforcement agencies, international organisations and NGOs.

The minister said the government was also in the process of formulating a national plan for combating trafficking, with special focus on women and children, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Emphasising over early repatriation of cross-border victims, Chowdhury said the issue of cross-border trafficking had received considerable attention especially with regard to the safe, expeditious and humane repatriation of victims of trafficking.

Chowdhury said her ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs, was working on a joint plan of action and road map with Bangladesh counterparts for quick and safe repatriation of cross border trafficked victims of both countries. 

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Panel for radical change in border management
T.R. Ramachandran/Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
With China concentrating on its road and other physical infrastructure in the critical border areas, a high-level committee constituted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has underlined the need for a radical change in the country’s border management and making the international border accessible to the people.

The Task Force on Border Area Development programme, headed by Planning Commission member B.N. Yugandar, stressed that liberalisation of the economy has changed the perspective in which the border areas are currently perceived.

The panel desired that with India emerging as an economic power coupled with the necessity of vigorous trade and transit, the border should showcase the country’s development and the appearance of entry points must conform to India’s status.

In its report, the task force observed that after the Kargil War and subsequent confidence building measures, the extensive development on the other side of the country’s borders have led to a reversal in the strategic policy and planning on border management. Thus economic development, technological advancement and world class infrastructure and services in the border areas should be the key components of the border management policies and strategies.

“Border management has to serve the best interests of the country without being based merely on routine reactions arising out of reciprocity with neighbouring countries.”

Sources said the developments across the Line of Actual Control on the Chinese side is causing concern even though both New Delhi and Beijing have agreed not to allow the protracted and vexed border issue to come in the way of enlarging bilateral trade and commerce.

Just last week national security advisor M.K. Narayanan had visited China for another round of boundary talks with his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo with both sides reporting progress. What the government finds a trifle worrisome though it is not willing to delve on it is the input that the Chinese have amassed a division strength of the PLA in the Tawang region in Arunachal Pradesh. China considers Arunachal Pradesh as disputed territory and has been laying claim to the state.

Significantly, the report of the task force called for ending the outpost mentality and to strive in ensuring that the border areas have a high standard of living and served as a demographic buffer. It wanted priority to be accorded to the villages situated in the border areas. Acknowledging that the border areas required injection of massive investment to bring them on par with the other developed parts of the country, the task force suggested that the annual allocation for the Border Areas Development Programme should be increased to at least Rs 1000 crore to bridge the critical gaps in physical and social infrastructure besides generating livelihood opportunities.

The report said the norms of centrally sponsored schemes like Bharat Nirman should be relaxed so that smaller dispersed habitations in border areas can be covered. Priority should be accorded to plans prepared for each scheme for border blocks and villages while a state wise plan can be drawn up for roads, electricity and telecommunications which should be funded separately. The task force said steps should be taken to make life easier for the people in border areas by streamlining access to licences, land records, ration cards, photo identity cards and other documents.

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Leverage urban renewal funds: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
Pointing to differential performance of states in implementation of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the states should leverage funds provided by the Centre and raise more from the market by improving the quality of projects and fiscal health of urban local bodies.

Addressing a national conference on JNNURM here, Singh said private sector can be encouraged to invest in urban development through public-private partnerships.

“Urban infrastructure and services and low-cost housing offer huge potential for such partnerships. The state governments must provide the enabling environment for the private sector to participate and for public-private partnership to take roots in the country,” he said.

Emphasising that a systematic effort to improve cities has been long overdue, Singh said cities have become major growth engines of the economy. However, he said rapid urbanisation had created its own set of problems with a large proportion of urban population living in slums in unacceptable conditions. “Urban housing stock, especially housing for the poor, has not kept pace with the expanding demand ,” he said.

Hoping that the national urban renewal mission will help in realising the dream of making urbanisation in India ecologically sustainable, economically productive and socially equitable, he said 63 cities have already developed their ‘city development plans’ and were in the process of preparing detailed project reports to access funds.

Laying stress on developing inclusive cities, where every citizen has an entitlement to basic services, he said governance reform was the cornerstone of urban renewal.

Asserting that the government was committed to providing the requisite budgetary support to states and cities, Singh said further incentives may be offered to states and cities that implement reforms on a faster track.

Asking the Planning Commission to look into the feasibility of providing additional assistance to small and medium town, the Prime Minister said apart from addressing the needs of large mission cities the government must also focus on improving basic services in other non-mission cities and towns.

Pointing to the need of leveraging of JNNURM funds, Singh said the sum of Rs 50,000 crore was hardly adequate for meeting the infrastructure investment needs of JNNURM cities and towns. 

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Warning on tobacco products revised

New Delhi, October 9
The government has revised the pictorial health warning for smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco. All tobacco product manufacturers have to ensure that the cigarette, gutka and bidi packs manufactured after December 1 this year carry the new pictorial health warnings. 

While notifying the revised Packaging and Labelling Rules 2007, the government has specified two pictorial warnings each for smoking and smokeless forms of tobacco. Cigarette and bidi manufacturers are now required to carry the pictorial warnings captioned ‘Smoking Kills’. The pictorial health warnings for cigarette and bidis show a visual of oral cancer and a child with a nasal tube with the warning ‘Your smoking kills babies.’ — TNS

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Lovely gets bail
Ambarish Dutta/Tribune News Service

Patna, October 9
The Patna High Court today granted bail to former MP Lovely Anand, who had been given life imprisonment on October 3 by a lower court for her role in lynching of G. Krishnaiah in 1994. While granting bail, a division bench, comprising of Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice S M Mahfooz Alam, also stayed fine of Rs 25,000 imposed on her.

Anand had moved the high court on Friday challenging the verdict. Her lawyer, C.M. Jha, said his client was not guilty and pleaded that the ruling be quashed.

While granting bail, the high court reportedly accepted the argument of Lovely’s counsel that since she did not get down from the car at the time of the incident, there was no evidence of Lovely’s involvement in inciting the mob to lynch the DM.

The lower court had earlier held six others, including Lovely`s husband and former MP Anand Mohan, guilty in the case 13 years ago.

The court had awarded death sentence to Anand Mohan.

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Go and spare India,BJP tells UPA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
The Bharatiya Janata Party today asked the ruling UPA to “go and spare India” as the nation was tired of the farce that the alliance had become.

Commenting on the ongoing tussle between the Left and the UPA over the Indo-US nuclear deal, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said it was evident now that an alliance of mutually hostile and antagonistic elements like the Congress and the Left, based solely on their common hatred for the BJP, was inherently unstable.

Prasad was referring to the the Left's threat of withdrawal of support to the UPA government. He said these two "fractious, quarrelsome" partners had brought a paralysis in governance and vital decision making.

“Be it the issue of food security, compelling matters of national security or pressing problems of aam admi (common man) whose interest the UPA deceptively claimed to represent, all has been relegated to the background", he said and added that all major decisions on economic front too had been put in the cold storage.

Calling the UPA-Left spat as political brinkmanship at its worst, Prasad said "It is a surprise to see that the Left parties had failed to note that running a coalition government is not in the DNA of the Congress. The Congress has a dominant, arrogant character fuelled by the conviction that it has monopoly to decide what is in India's interest."

Attacking Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the BJP leader said her statement in Haryana on Sunday, that anyone opposing the Indo-US nuclear deal was opposing the nation's progress, reminded many of the slogans of the Emergency Rule of the 1970s that the "history of the Congress is the history of India" and "Indira is India".

"Let Mrs Gandhi note that the India of 2007 is not the India of 1975. The roots of democracy are much stronger in India", he pointed out.

Claiming that the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) alone can give a forward-looking, development oriented and stable coalition, Prasad said "A nation of more than a billion people is in a state of drift where governance is a casualty. Perhaps, it is time to say: for god's sake UPA please go and spare India."

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SC refuses bail to Dara

New Delhi, October 9
The Supreme Court today refused to grant bail to Dara Singh, who has been sentenced to life in the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons in Orissa’s Keonjhar district eight years ago.

Justice Arijit Pasayat said the grant of bail in the case would not serve any purpose as he was also awarded life sentence in Father Arul Doss murder case.

Ravindra Pal Singh, alias Dara Singh, had sought bail submitting that his old-mother was ailing and he was required to look after her. His counsel Sibo Shankar Mishra said Dara has already been in jail for seven years.

Dara along with Mahendra Hembrom was found guilty of burning to death Staines and his minor sons, Philip and Timothy, outside a church at Manoharpur village in Orissa on January 22, 1999.

Both accused have challenged their conviction and sentence, while the CBI has filed an appeal against the acquittal of 12 other accused in the case.

The Khurda sessions court in September 2003 had convicted all accused. While Dara and Hembrom were sentenced to death, others were awarded life imprisonment.

The Orissa High Court had later commuted the death sentences of the duo to life imprisonment and acquitted the rest. — PTI

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No move to send Army to Nepal: Foreign Secretary
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
There is no move to send the Indian army to Nepal, foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon said today.

The foreign secretary’s reaction came in the wake of a comment from Major General (retired) Ashok K Mehta on the BBC Nepal Radio yesterday that the Indian Army will soon be in Nepal for assisting the government. Menon said, “These remarks do not in any manner or shape reflect the government views.” He added that the retired General had spoken for himself. Prime Minister’s special envoy Shyam Saran will leave for Kathmandu tomorrow. He will meet a wide spectrum of the Nepalese political leadership and will apprise them of the Indian government’s viewpoint.

From the Indian government’s perspective, talks between the Nepal government and the Maoists have not broken down. The Interim Parliament of Nepal meets on October 11 to consider two major demands from the Maoists, declaration of Nepal as a Republic and proportional representation in Parliament.

The biggest long-term fear for New Delhi in context to Nepal is political instability there. New Delhi is convinced that the situation on the ground is not that bad and had not degenerated into chaos.

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21 pc children are sexually harassed: Report

New Delhi, October 9
Showing affection towards a child is normal behaviour, but if someone forcibly kisses a child then it is a form of sexual abuse that goes unreported in more than 95 per cent of the cases.

About 21 per cent children in the country are sexually harassed by being kissed forcibly by their loved ones, according to a report of the ministry of women and child development.

The report said in majority of the cases, the children were in the age group of 5-12 years.

“About 44.98 per cent of boys and 55.02 per cent of girls undergo the trauma of sexual harassment by being kissed without their will,” it said. Ironically, in 31.5 per cent of these cases, the assailants are either family members, neighbours or friends.

“Twenty-one per cent of these cases occur at home, while 18.50 per cent cases are reported from schools,” the report said.

The report found that the highest 56 per cent of cases of forcible kissing were reported from Bihar, followed by 53 per cent from Maharashtra and 50 per cent from Uttar Pradesh. — PTI

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Kidney transplant racket busted

Mumbai, October 9
The city police today claimed to have busted an alleged kidney transplant racket operating from Chennai by arresting five people, including a qualified doctor, who is suspected to be the kingpin.

Palani Ravichandran, an MD in nephrology, had appointed agents and sub-agents across the country and outside who used to get needy and uneducated donors from various Indian states as well as neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar, joint commissioner of police Rakesh Maria said.

He said the recipients were rich people from India and the Middle East and Malaysia.

Brijendra Bhisen (34) used to work directly under Ravichandran from Chennai and used to coordinate with all the agents and sub-agents across the country for getting donors and recipients.“They used to charge anywhere between Rs 15 to 20 lakh from the recipients and assured the donors Rs 3-4 lakh. But once the operation was over, the donors used to get only Rs 25,000 to Rs 60,000 and were threatened with removing the second,” he said.

Maria added that the gang has been in operation since 1996 and according to initial investigations, they used to handle 100 donors per year from Maharashtra itself. He said the police were successful in rescuing five prospective donors during the arrests.

Six such donors out of 12, who have been identified to hail from the city, have approached the police, one of whom is a complainant.

The police have registered it as a case of cheating and criminal intimidation and have approached the director of health services to book the accused under the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994. “Ravichandran used to make at least Rs 10 lakh per case,” he added.

Ravichandran, Quereshi, Mansuri, Bhisen and one Manoj Bopche have been arrested and remanded to police custody till October 16. — PTI

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