SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Notice to Himachal government, Bali
TV channel challenges validity of Garg panel
New Delhi, November 12
In a new twist to the Justice O.P. Garg probe into the former Himachal Pradesh minister G.S. Bali’s birthday bash episode, the Supreme Court today issued notices to the Himachal government and Bali on a petition by Star TV channel, challenging the validity of the state high court order to this effect.

Congress failed to represent the poor,
says Rahul
Lucknow, November 12
“The main opposition that the Congress faces in Uttar Pradesh is its inability to represent or connect with the poor,” said All-India Congress Committee’s month-old general secretary Rahul Gandhi soon after the maiden meeting of the UP Congress coordination committee.
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi adjusts his cap in Lucknow on Monday. — PTI photo
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi adjusts his cap in Lucknow



EARLIER STORIES


UP Cong plans to revitalise party
Lucknow, November 12
For the Uttar Pradesh Congress, Rahul Gandhi is expected to work like a charm. In political wilderness for the past 18 years, his clarion call to the Congress leaders to connect with the people and insistence on ‘fixing accountability’ is a clear shift in paradigm.

Mayawati all set to park her blue elephant in Mumbai
Mumbai, November 12
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is all set to storm Maharashtra with a series of public rallies in the state later this month. Mayawati will kick off the BSP’s Sarva Samaj Bhaichaara Banao Rally at the city’s Shivaji Park on November 25.

Yeddyurappa, 4 BJP ministers sworn in
Bangalore, November 12
The nation’s IT capital turned into a sea of saffron today to mark the installation of B.S. Yeddyurappa as the BJP’s first Chief Minister in South India amidst a multitude of party workers and leaders. Yeddyurappa took the oath in the name of God and millions of farmers of the state along with four other BJP leaders, all of whom were sworn in on the portals of the Vidhana Soudha in the heart of the city by Governor Rameshwar Thakur.

Newly elected Chief Minister of Karnataka B.S. Yeddyurappa touches the feet of Lal Krishna Advani as BJP national president Rajnath Singh looks on before taking the oath as the 25th Chief Minister of the state in Bangalore on Monday. — AFP photo

Newly elected Chief Minister of Karnataka B.S. Yeddyurappa touches the feet of Lal Krishna Advani as BJP national president Rajnath Singh looks on before taking the oath as the 25th Chief Minister of the state in Bangalore

Return of supporters will lead to normalcy: CPM

New Delhi, November 12
Even as it faced flak from its own allies and some prominent social activists over the recent violence in Nandigram, the CPM today defended the action of its workers and supporters to return to their homes in the area, saying it would pave the way for normalcy. The party’s politburo, which met here over the past two days, discussed the developments in Nandigram in detail and put the blame for the unrest in the area on the Trinamool Congress and the Maoists.

An arrested activist from the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) shout anti-West Bengal government slogans from a police van during a protest against the attacks in Nandigram in New Delhi on Monday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

An arrested activist from the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) shout anti-West Bengal government slogans from a police van during a protest against the attacks in Nandigram in New Delhi

Nandigram may overtake N-deal in Parliament
New Delhi, November 12
The Nandigram violence looks set to overshadow the debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal in the winter session of Parliament that commences on November 15. The UPA government and the Left parties are keen that the N-deal be discussed at the beginning of the session, preferably November 15 or 16.

NDA team heads for Nandigram today
New Delhi, November 12
Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani will lead an NDA delegation to Nandigram in West Bengal tomorrow to assess the situation there in the wake of the recent violence. The nine-member delegation would leave for Kolkata tomorrow morning and would then proceed for Nandigram by road, a release signed by BJP chief whip in the Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia said here.

Convicted ex-MP on hunger strike
Patna, November 12
Former MP and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Anand Mohan Singh, sentenced to death last month for the murder of Gopalganj district magistrate G. Krishnaiah in 1994, has been on a hunger strike for the past nine days demanding better facilities in jail.

Dinner parties as bribe
SC dismisses petition against Sonia
New Delhi, November 12
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, alleging that her actions, by throwing dinner parties to MPs prior to the presidential and vice-presidential elections, amounted to bribing them to seek their support.

Disproportionate Assets
No immediate relief for Lalu from SC
New Delhi, November 12
In a setback to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court today refused to issue any direction for staying the proceedings on Bihar government’s appeal against his acquittal in the disproportionate assets case against him and his wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi.                                         
Lalu Prasad
Lalu Prasad

Rivals reject Bainsla’s stand
Jaipur, November 12
The rival Prahlad Gunjal faction of the Gujjar action committee today reiterated its resolve to continue the agitation till the Rajasthan government forwarded the state cabinet’s recommendation to the Centre in favour of the ST status for the community.

Manipur MLAs warned against links with militants
Imphal, November 12
The Manipur Government has warned of stern action against lawmakers if they were found hobnobbing with militants, officials said on Sunday. The warning follows a series of police raids on official residences of state legislators in the capital city of Imphal in recent months and arrests of hardcore militants sheltered by politicians.

Fertiliser crisis: Nitish blames Centre
Patna, November 12
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today expressed concern over the fertiliser scarcity in the state and blamed the UPA Government at the Centre for this situation. Mr Kumar told newspersons in the weekly janta durbar that revising its earlier policy, the Centre had advised the states to select their own agencies for importing the required fertlisers from abroad.

Balbir Singh from Punjab, who is on a bicyle tour of holy places in India, at Howrah Bridge during the West Bengal bandh called by Opposition parties on the Nandigram issue in Kolkata
Balbir Singh from Punjab, who is on a bicyle tour of holy places in India, at Howrah Bridge during the West Bengal bandh called by Opposition parties on the Nandigram issue in Kolkata on Monday. — PTI

Vaiko held for holding pro-LTTE rally
Chennai, November 12
MDMK general secretary Vaiko and Tamil National Movement president P. Nedumaran were arrested here today by the police and remanded to custody as they tried to hold a rally to mourn the killing of LTTE political chief S.P. Thamilselvan by Sri Lankan Air Force on November 2.

‘40.9 m Indians diabetic’
Mumbai, November 12
Due to stressful lifestyle and changing food habits 240 million people worldwide are living with diabetes of which nearly 40.9 million alone are Indians and this number is expected to grow to 380 million by next 20 years, according to Dr Vipul Patel of Metropolis Health Services.

Prasad’s son accused of assault
Chennai, November 12
Congress MLA M.K. Vishnu Prasad, who is also Tamil Nadu Congress president’s son and has been charged with instigating yesterday’s attack at the party headquarters here, today launched a counter attack on union minister G.K. Vasan accusing him of “organising a murderous attack on him”.

Three held in Orissa marksheet scandal
Cuttack, November 12
Three former officials of the Board of Secondary Education (BSE), Orissa, were arrested yesterday by the state crime branch for their alleged role in the matriculation examination mark-sheet scandal involving the son of a former cabinet minister.

Burglar escapes as cops watch cricket
Hyderabad, November 12
A burglar looking for an opportunity to escape from the police custody found the right one during an India-Pakistan cricket match that kept the cops here so engrossed that they did not notice his departure.

Police salary scam probe on track: Gogoi
Guwahati, November 12
The ongoing probe into the police salary scam that had rocked Assam last year was making good progress, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told the state Assembly today. The CID investigating the salary scam in the 3rd and 10th battalion has so far arrested 14 persons including an IPS officer.

Army steps up vigil along Pak border
New Delhi, November 12
With the Pakistan government tightening the screws on terrorist organisations having a base in their country, following the imposition of emergency, the Indian Army has stepped up vigil along the Line of Control (LoC) in a bid to prevent infiltration of the subversives fleeing the country.

Pak withdraws 28,000 troops from LoC to fight Taliban
New Delhi, November 12
Pakistan has withdrawn 28,000 troops from the Indian border for operations against Taliban and Al Qaida cadres in Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas, sources said today. This Pakistani move is being viewed in strategic circles here as an affirmation of India-Pakistan bonhomie that has permeated through to the two armies as well.

Car that hit cops carried Salman
Mumbai, November 12
Actor Salman Khan got involved in a controversy early yesterday morning when a car he was driving in crashed into two policemen who were riding a motorcycle, the police said here today. The car was being driven by Canadian model Brooke Clarke and Khan was in the passenger seat, the police said.

Man marries dog
Madurai, November 12
A 33-year-old man in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu has married a dog in a bid to ward off the curse of a canine couple he had killed 15 years ago. Selva Kumar tied a 'mangal sutra' to the pet named Selvi, at a Ganesh temple in Manamadurai, about 50 km from here, yesterday.

Curfew in MP town
Indore, November 12
Curfew was imposed in Sanver town of western Madhya Pradesh following communal tension and escalating mob violence. One person was shot at and admitted in the hospital with head injuries, the police said.

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Notice to Himachal government, Bali
TV channel challenges validity of Garg panel
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 12
In a new twist to the Justice O.P. Garg probe into the former Himachal Pradesh minister G.S. Bali’s birthday bash episode, the Supreme Court today issued notices to the Himachal government and Bali on a petition by Star TV channel, challenging the validity of the state high court order to this effect.

The notice was issued by a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and P. Sathasivam to Vijay Kumar, who had filed a PIL in the high court, seeking investigation into the allegations of Star News channel in its sting operation showing Bali allegedly dancing with “call girls”.

Justice Garg on October 15 submitted his report to the state government and the Cabinet accepted it on October 16. But it is yet to be made public, while its contents as published in the media stated that Bali has been given “clean chit” against the alleged public misconduct as a minister.

The media reports on committee’s findings further suggested that the panel had not found “anything objectionable or indecent” against the minister, while it had “indicted” the TV channel for airing “doctored” video clips selectively on its purported claim that Bali had danced with “call girls”.

Former attorney general Ashok Desai, appearing for Media Content and Communications Ltd, which owns the Star News TV channel, along with its lawyer Sudhir Nandrajog, also requested the court to issue a direction to the state government to place on record the report of the Garg panel.

Desai said if the media reports relating to clean chit to Bali were correct, then it was a matter of surprise as the inquiry committee had not examined any representative from the channel.

However, the apex court was not inclined to issue any such direction at this stage and observed that let the respondents first file their replies.

The channel challenged the high court order mainly on the grounds that it has no power to appoint an inquiry committee or commission to go into a case like this as the duty is entirely cast upon the executive under the Commission of Inquiry Act and hence any probe into the Bali episode should have been ordered only by the state government.

The channel also said the high court had not issued any notice to it before ordering the inquiry even when its order directly “affected its interests”. The channel was entitled to notice to respond to the PIL before the high court, Desai said, adding that even on merits “there exists no grounds for appointing the inquiry commission... at the instance of a busy body (who filed the PIL) and had no personal interest in the matter”.

He said the high court at the most could have appointed a fact-finding committee in the course of hearing the PIL but by appointing the inquiry committee it had “exceeded” its jurisdiction.

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Congress failed to represent the poor, says Rahul
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 12
“The main opposition that the Congress faces in Uttar Pradesh is its inability to represent or connect with the poor,” said All-India Congress Committee’s month-old general secretary Rahul Gandhi soon after the maiden meeting of the UP Congress coordination committee.

After a four-hour-long meeting of the 31-member coordination committee for which he had turned up at the UPCC headquarters for the first time, Rahul Gandhi did some plain speaking with the media and promised to come more frequently.

Responding to a question on the BSP taking away the traditional vote bank of the Congress, he categorically stated that he did not believe in vote bank politics.

“Political parties represent people and we have failed to represent the poorest of the poor,” he said.

Refusing to comment on the infighting in the state unit and the need for a state-level coordination committee, he said for him the one fundamental was how was the party connecting with the people.

“Every talented youth having the ability should have access to enter politics and be accountable to the system.”

While he spoke of connecting with the youth, hundreds of young men waving Youth Congress flags stood at the main gate of Nehru Bhawan, demanding entry to meet their leader. Additional police force was summoned to control the crowds surrounding the venue.

Speaking to The Tribune, UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi admitted that the coordination meeting was over but they were not allowed to disperse for lunch on the advise of security personnel that a large number of unauthorised people were trying to break down gates and enter the campus.

Commenting on the culture of sycophancy in the party, Rahul Gandhi said for him accountability was what mattered and not sycophancy.

“Accountability should be fixed those who want to show off should be kept away”.

Clarifying the recent controversy over his reported statement on khadi, abstinence from alcohol and land ceiling, he said that he had been misquoted. He made it clear that he had not made any statement regarding not insisting on the wearing of khadi or abstinence as pre-requisites for joining the organisation.

“I wear khadi everyday. I feel comfortable wearing it. I never said khadi should not be used. I only raised the issue of land ceiling, as it is already a law. This is the only issue I had raised,” he explained.

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UP Cong plans to revitalise party
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 12
For the Uttar Pradesh Congress, Rahul Gandhi is expected to work like a charm. In political wilderness for the past 18 years, his clarion call to the Congress leaders to connect with the people and insistence on ‘fixing accountability’ is a clear shift in paradigm.

Rahul accepting to be part of the UP Congress Coordination Committee along with taking charge of general secretary of the All-India Congress Committee had sent a wave of hope in the state unit of the party.

At the inaugural meeting of the coordination committee today, the new team of AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, now UP in charge, and UPCC president Rita Bahuguna-Joshi managed to successfully galvanise this enthusiasm into an ongoing state-level agenda to revitalise the party.

Briefing the media abut the decisions taken at the meeting, Bahuguna-Joshi said it was decided to hold a two-day divisional-level meeting at Kanpur at the end of December or early January, 2008, that would be attended by Rahul. A public meeting to be addressed by party president Sonia Gandhi would follow.

Four such divisional meetings followed by massive public rallies have been planned, said the UPCC president who said the next meeting of the coordination committee has been fixed for January 19 at Jhansi.

Giving an indication of what fixing accountability would mean in actual terms, Bahuguan-Joshi said during the Vidhan Sabha polls there were widespread reports of certain party leaders working against their own candidates.

“A disciplinary committee has investigated the matter thoroughly and a detailed report has been prepared. Those found guilty would soon be thrown out of the party”, she said.

Similarly, those district and city committee presidents who had managed party tickets but had could not poll even 5000 votes would also be divested of their posts and expected to work as an ordinary party member, revealed the UPCC president.

Declaring to play the part of a “constructive opposition” in the state, she said the Congress would take up issues of public interest, especially non-implementation of central schemes, with the government inside the Assembly and even on streets.

“Today’s meeting has decided to take up the issue of sugarcane farmers on a priority basis”, said Bahuguna-Joshi. A team of Congress leaders would also be visiting Bundlekhand to prepare a report on this drought-hit region that would be forwarded to president Sonia Gandhi.

Another issue that the Congress has decided to take up in a big way is the insult to Mahatma Gandhi reportedly by the chairperson of the UP Khadi Board at a meeting in Shikohabad on November 3.

According to the UPCC president, the Khadi Board chief made objectionable comments regarding the Mahatma and refused to sit on the dais till the portrait of the Father of the Nation was removed.

“We have been pursuing the matter with the DM and SP but till November 8 no FIR had been registered against him. If no FIR is registered till November 15, all senior leaders, including Digvijya Singh, would go to Shikohabad to lodge their protest and demand the arrest of the Khadi Board chairperson”, she said.

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Mayawati all set to park her blue elephant in Mumbai
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 12
Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati is all set to storm Maharashtra with a series of public rallies in the state later this month.

Mayawati will kick off the BSP’s Sarva Samaj Bhaichaara Banao Rally at the city’s Shivaji Park on November 25. “The rally will see Maharashtra’s Brahmins and Dalits coming together on one platform,” a local BSP leader told The Tribune. Mayawati’s strategists hope that the Brahmin-Dalit combination will provide the BSP a winning ticket to combat Maharashtra’s powerful Maratha lobby.

For the past two years, Mayawati’s points men in Maharashtra have been active among the state’s Brahmins in a bid to woo them into the BSP’s fold. The BSP has managed to woo several Brahmin leaders from Nashik where the Kumbh Mela is held.

Among the prominent Brahmins in the BSP fold include Mahant Sudhirdas Pujari, the 27th descendant of priests in charge of the town’s 213-year-old Kalaram Temple. The priest hit the headlines recently when he apologised for his ancestors’ conduct of not allowing Dalits to worship at the shrine. The temple was thrown open to the Dalits in 1930 after Babasaheb Ambedkar undertook satyagraha to enable their entry.

The BSP in recent times pulled out several schemes from the books of the saffron parties and appointed pracharaks in areas with a large concentration of Brahmins and Dalits. “We expect to mobilise thousands of people thanks to these pracharaks for behenji’s rally,” says the BSP’s office bearer.

Apart from the Mumbai rally, a Brahmin conclave has been planned in Pune, where the upper-caste community traditionally dominated.

Mayawati’s Shivaji Park rally will be her first such rally in Mumbai. Most parties, barring the Shiv Sena and its allies, have shied away from holding regular rallies at this venue fearful of failure in filling up the massive grounds. The Congress party holds rallies here only during election time when its top central leaders are sure of addressing the gathering. Even then, the party has had to mobilise people from Sindhudurg and other areas in the Konkan.

BSP leaders in Mumbai feel that Mayawati’s success in the UP elections had acted as a catalyst with the Brahmins in Maharashtra gravitating towards the party. The community had been reduced to being marginal players in the political process due to the domination of the Marathas.

The BSP had identified Lok Sabha seats in Pune, Nashik, Thane, Ratnagiri and Nagpur where the Brahmins could play a major role.

Already, Mayawati’s success in UP is changing political equations in Maharashtra, where the Dalit movement first began. Though the Republican Party of India founded by Ambedkar is in tatters, Dalit leaders are moving towards consolidating on caste lines.

The Nationalist Congress Party leader Chaggan Bhujbal and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gopinath Munde, who have been virtually sidelined by their mother parties, have come together on public platforms several times in recent weeks. Speculation is that both leaders may join hands to form their own political grouping that could pose a stiff challenge to the secular and the saffron parties.

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Yeddyurappa, 4 BJP ministers sworn in
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Deve Gowda’s sons fight over Dy CM’s post

The JD(S) could not decide on its nominee for the deputy chief minister’s post due to infighting between the two brothers - former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and H.D. Revanna.

According to party sources, a meeting of senior leaders called by Deve Gowda last night to decide on the issue could not arrive at any conclusion.

This, sources said, was because the wives of both brothers had dug in their heels and are insisting that their respective husbands be given the new responsibility.

Deve Gowda chose the easier way out by going to Uttar Pradesh today morning.

Bangalore, November 12
The nation’s IT capital turned into a sea of saffron today to mark the installation of B.S. Yeddyurappa as the BJP’s first Chief Minister in South India amidst a multitude of party workers and leaders.

Yeddyurappa took the oath in the name of God and millions of farmers of the state along with four other BJP leaders, all of whom were sworn in on the portals of the Vidhana Soudha in the heart of the city by Governor Rameshwar Thakur.

Yeddyurappa was forced to take in four colleagues with him today so that he could hold the customary Cabinet meeting as his Janata Dal (Secular) coalition partner could not furnish a deputy to be sworn in along with him as per the original plan.

The swearing-in ceremony became an exclusive show of the BJP even though former Chief Minister and JD(S) legislature party leader H.D. Kumaraswamy was present on the occasion.

However, many JD(S) legislators as well as its national president H.D. Deve Gowda did not attend the ceremony. The JD(S) announced that all 18 vacancies in its quota under the power sharing agreement would be filled on November 19 or 21.

The area around the state secretariat was festooned with buntings and BJP party flags. Huge cardboard cutouts of Yeddyurappa and senior leaders like L.K. Advani, Rajnath Singh and Venkaiah Naidu, all of whom were present there, were put up on the road leading to the Vidhana Soudha.

Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, Yeddyurappa held a meeting of his Cabinet and announced that the new coalition government would seek a floor test on November 23. A request in this regard seeking that a one-day special session of the Assembly be convened on November 23 has been made to the Governor.

The new Chief Minister also announced that the coalition government would complete 19 months. He said his top priority would be to create and maintain infrastructure and that the government would provide result oriented and responsive governance in an atmosphere of communal harmony.

BJP national president Rajnath Singh also claimed that the coalition government, which had “unconditional” support from the JD(S) would complete its tenure. He parried questions on the recent assertion of the JD(S) that the saffron party would have to abide by the conditions imposed by Deve Gowda and that the JD(S) was delaying joining the ministry due to this reason.

“Gowda has told me that he will hold discussions after the swearing-in,” he said even as Yeddyurappa also claimed that he would be meeting Deve Gowda in Delhi today evening.

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Return of supporters will lead to normalcy: CPM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12
Even as it faced flak from its own allies and some prominent social activists over the recent violence in Nandigram, the CPM today defended the action of its workers and supporters to return to their homes in the area, saying it would pave the way for normalcy.

The party’s politburo, which met here over the past two days, discussed the developments in Nandigram in detail and put the blame for the unrest in the area on the Trinamool Congress and the Maoists.

Talking to reporters after the politburo meeting, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said an abnormal situation had developed since January 2007 with an alliance of forces, led by the Trinamool Congress, driving out workers and supporters of the Left Front including elected panchayat members.

He said that the police and the administration have not been allowed to function in the area since then and those evicted had not been able to go back to their homes or cultivate their fields.

Karat said the state government had announced in February that there was no question of land acquisition for a chemical hub.

Rebuffing the attempts to portray the developments in Nandigram as an outcome of “red terror”, Karat said there has been no issue of land acquisition in Nandigram since February 2007 but the whole area was under siege on the spurious pretext of protection of land.

He said political forces opposed to the Left, operating in the guise of a Bhumi Ucchhed Pratirodh Samity, had virtually set up a parallel ‘raj’ in the area and were utilising the assistance of Maoist armed squads who had come from outside.

Maintaining that 27 CPM workers had been in the past 11 months, he said 3,500 party workers had been evicted from the area, forcing them to live in tents.

“After a prolonged struggle, the determined efforts made by the people to return to their homes have succeeded and this should pave the way for normalcy to return,” he said.

He said the national security adviser M.K. Narayanan had confirmed the presence of Maoist forces in the area who had also built bunkers.

Karat said the Left Front has declared that they want peace to be restored and all sections of people, irrespective of political affiliations, be allowed to return.

He said the CRPF has been deployed in the area and the Left Front government should make all efforts for resumption of development work.

Asked about the Left Front partners blaming the CPM for the latest violence in Nandigram, he said his party stood for maintaining and strengthening the unity of the Left Front. “If there is any problem from our side, we will make a serious effort to sort it out,” he said, adding that other parties should also be conscious of strengthening the unity.

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Nandigram may overtake N-deal in Parliament
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12
The Nandigram violence looks set to overshadow the debate on the Indo-US nuclear deal in the winter session of Parliament that commences on November 15.

The UPA government and the Left parties are keen that the N-deal be discussed at the beginning of the session, preferably November 15 or 16.

However, with Nandigram on the boil and the CPM on the defensive, it is highly unlikely that the BJP will pass up the opportunity to embarrass the Marxists. In the event that the debate on the deal cannot be held on the first two days of the session, it will be deferred till after November 25 as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to travel to Singapore and Uganda for the ASEAN and Commonwealth summits.

The BJP has already come down heavily on the West Bengal government for its handling of the situation.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said the entire NDA would raise this issue and demand a discussion on Nandigram on the opening day of Parliament.

Though the Congress cannot openly join the opposition in criticising the CPM on Nandigram due to compulsions of coalition politics, it is under pressure from its West Bengal unit to step up its attack against the state government as it fears it will be giving up its opposition space in the state to the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.

Senior West Bengal Congress leaders fear that any ambivalence on its part could push its workers to the Trinamool Congress fold and even the Maoists.

Consequently, it will be difficult for the Congress to take a neutral position if Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee does allow a debate on the issue. The Speaker is to meet all party leaders on November 14 to discuss the schedule for the winter session.

Parliamentary affairs minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi will be meeting the chief whips of all political parties on the same day to ascertain their views on the functioning of the two Houses.

Like his party, Dasmunsi has to play a dual role. In his capacity as a Central minister he has to ensure that he does not say or do anything that could create problems for the UPA government at the Centre. But, as an MP from West Bengal, who is fighting the Left parties in the state, he cannot afford to remain a mute spectator to the Nandigram violence.

While Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi did not name the CPM while deploring the “cult of violence” in Nandigram, Dasmunsi did not hesitate to do so while expressing his shock at the CPM-led state-sponsored massacre. He slammed the irresponsible statements made by senior CPM leaders and accused the Chief Minister of reviving the “Stalinist cult” in West Bengal.

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NDA team heads for Nandigram today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12
Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani will lead an NDA delegation to Nandigram in West Bengal tomorrow to assess the situation there in the wake of the recent violence. The nine-member delegation would leave for Kolkata tomorrow morning and would then proceed for Nandigram by road, a release signed by BJP chief whip in the Rajya Sabha S.S. Ahluwalia said here.

The team would also visit hospitals at Tamluk where the injured are receiving medical treatment, the release said and added that the delegation was scheduled to return to the Capital tomorrow evening.

Apart from Advani and Ahluwalia, other members of the delegation are deputy leader of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yadav, BJP leader in the Lok Sabha B.K. Tripathi, Shiv Sena leader Anant Dudhe, SAD leader Sukhbir Badal and Rajya Sabha MPs Chandan Mitra and Sharad Anant Rao Joshi.

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Convicted ex-MP on hunger strike

Patna, November 12
Former MP and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Anand Mohan Singh, sentenced to death last month for the murder of Gopalganj district magistrate G. Krishnaiah in 1994, has been on a hunger strike for the past nine days demanding better facilities in jail.

The former MP’s condition, reportedly, deteriorated in the last 48 hours to Monday afternoon, but authorities of Bhagalpur jail, where he is lodged, are in no mood to concede to his demands.

Jail officials said as per the jail manuals, a prisoner on death row has to sleep on the ground with only two blankets and has to be provided simple food.

"We cannot go against jail manuals," an official said.

Jail doctor Satyendra Kumar said Anand Singh had become weak and his blood pressure had shot up.

"He is on a hunger strike for the past nine days demanding facilities meant for special class prisoners as a former MP. But his protest was ignored by the jail authorities," said Anand Singh's wife Lovely Anand, a former MP herself who was also jailed for life for the same crime and later granted bail by the Patna High Court.

Jail officials in Bhagalpur, about 180 km from here, said Anand Singh went on hunger strike soon after he was shifted from Patna's Beur jail to high-security Bhagalpur jail.

Along with Anand Singh, Bihar minister Akhlaq Ahmad, now a leader of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), and former legislator Arun Kumar, both sentenced to death in the same case, were also shifted from Beur jail to Bhagalpur jail under heavy security.

After meeting Anand Singh in jail, Lovely Anand alleged Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and state home secretary Afzal Amanullah were trying to settle personal scores with her husband.

"Afzal Amanullah is hatching a conspiracy to eliminate my husband in jail," she said.

Anand Singh's mother Geeta Devi said she would undertake a fast-unto-death in protest soon against the "inhuman treatment" meted out to her son in jail.

Last month, Patna additional district and sessions judge Ramshreshta Rai awarded the death sentence to Anand Singh, founder of the Bihar People's Party (BPP) who later joined Bihar's ruling JD-U, as well as Akhlaq Ahmad and Arun Kumar, formerly with BPP, for the murder of Krishnaiah on December 5, 1994. — IANS

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Dinner parties as bribe
SC dismisses petition against Sonia
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 12
The Supreme Court today dismissed a petition against UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, alleging that her actions, by throwing dinner parties to MPs prior to the presidential and vice-presidential elections, amounted to bribing them to seek their support.

A petition by advocate Ravinder Kumar alleged the dinner party was a “treat” to the MPs which was nothing but bribing them to seek their support for the UPA candidates Pratibha Patil and Mohammed Hamid Ansari, who were the alliance nominees for the post of President and Vice-President, respectively.

After an hour-long argument on various questions relating to the relevant provisions of Representation of People Act and Code of Criminal Procedure dealing with entertaining complaints by a magistrate on such issues, a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and D.K. Jain dismissed the petition, holding that no “specific allegation” had been made out.

The court said whatever had been stated in the petition was based on “newspaper reports” and it was not inclined to go into them to take cognisance of the matter.

The court would not act unless there were specific allegations, which established that the alleged “treat” was in fact a bribe offered to the MPs.

“You must allege that the offence is made in the complaint (to the magistrate). It is not there to show if an offence is made out. How can it be said that a person by a word of mouth has established that the treat is a bribe,” the court observed, while responding to senior advocate P.N. Lekhi’s argument on the writ petition by Kumar, challenging the Delhi High Court order dismissing his petition earlier.

Kumar had filed a criminal complaint against Sonia Gandhi with a local magistrate on alleged bribe under the provisions of Section 171-E of the RPA and Section 200 of CrPC.

But the magistrate had rejected it on the ground that the main allegation was based on newspaper reports on the said dinner parties and it was beyond his jurisdiction to take cognisance of the same as only the High Court was competent to hear such cases.

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Disproportionate Assets
No immediate relief for Lalu from SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 12
In a setback to Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, the Supreme Court today refused to issue any direction for staying the proceedings on Bihar government’s appeal against his acquittal in the disproportionate assets case against him and his wife and former Chief Minister Rabri Devi.

He had challenged the Bihar government’s right to appeal in the case against the acquittal order by a special court at Patna, as his counsel Ram Jethmalani claimed that only the CBI, which was prosecuting agency in the case, was competent to appeal.

But interestingly the CBI had not preferred any appeal against the acquittal order and when Lalu Prasad filed a special leave petition against Patna High Court order, taking cognizance of state’s appeal, the agency moved the apex court virtually supporting the Railway Minister.

A Bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Jutices R V Raveendran and D K Jain said since the High Court has only issued notice and has not yet admitted the appeal of Bihar Government “let us see what happens there and till then the matter is adjourned.”

Jethmalani said three main questions arise for consideration of the apex court - the jurisdiction of state government to file appeal when it is not a prosecuting agency, high court taking cognizance of it and maintainability of the appeal - and give its findings.

And till then the proceedings before the High Court should be stayed, he said but the apex court declined his plea and adjourned the hearing till the High Court has taken a final view on it.

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Rivals reject Bainsla’s stand

Jaipur, November 12
The rival Prahlad Gunjal faction of the Gujjar action committee today reiterated its resolve to continue the agitation till the Rajasthan government forwarded the state cabinet’s recommendation to the Centre in favour of the ST status for the community. It also condemned the committee convener Col Kirodi Singh Bainsla and the state government for having stuck an “unfair deal” on withdrawal of cases against the Gujjar activists.

Addressing mediapersons here, rival faction’s leader suspended BJP MLA Attar Singh Bhadana and former MLA Gopi Chand Gujjar criticised Col Bainsla and his supporters for consenting to withdraw merely 42 cases against 263 people and said by agreeing with the state government for the above step on November 9, Col Bainsla had once again betrayed the Gujjar community.

Bhadana said the Gujjars, led by the new Joint Gujjar Reservation Action Committee (Gunjal faction), would hold a dharna here on December 17, if Chief Minister failed to forward to the Centre her cabinet’s recommendation for ST status to Gujjars till the expiry of the deadline on December 15. Prior to this, two more congregations would be held in Jodhpuria village in Niwai region of Tonk district on November 14 and in Kaimri in Karauli district on November 25 to review the situation. — UNI

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Manipur MLAs warned against links with militants

Imphal, November 12
The Manipur Government has warned of stern action against lawmakers if they were found hobnobbing with militants, officials said on Sunday.

The warning follows a series of police raids on official residences of state legislators in the capital city of Imphal in recent months and arrests of hardcore militants sheltered by politicians.

"The government would immediately withdraw personal security guards from the house of any MLA found providing shelter to militants. Legal action would also be initiated against anybody found aiding or abetting militancy," a senior government official said.

The decision was taken earlier this week at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

Commandos of the Special Manipur police last week raided the official residence of Borajao, a sitting CPI MLA, in Imphal and arrested a hardcore militant of the outlawed People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak).

Similarly, on Aug 11, the police raided the official residences of Congress party MLAs Brajabidhu Singh, Bijoy Koijam and K. Meghachandra and apprehended 12 militants, mostly of the Kanglei Yawoi Kanna Lup (KYKL) group and seized from them a huge cache of arms and ammunitions.

The politician-militant nexus in Manipur is not new. The state has been home to about 19-odd rebel armies whose demands range from secession to greater autonomy to the right to self-determination.

As usual, the politicians deny the charges when questioned by the police.

"They were all construction workers from my constituency brought to Imphal for renovation of my official residence," Brajabidhu Singh told the police when asked how the KYKL rebels entered his residence.

Bijoy Koijam had a similar excuse. "The militant arrested from my residence is my driver and he had since long joined the mainstream after shunning insurgency," Koijam was reported to have told the investigators. — IANS

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Fertiliser crisis: Nitish blames Centre

Patna, November 12
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today expressed concern over the fertiliser scarcity in the state and blamed the UPA Government at the Centre for this situation.

Mr Kumar told newspersons in the weekly janta durbar that revising its earlier policy, the Centre had advised the states to select their own agencies for importing the required fertlisers from abroad.

He said the state government had selected the Indian Potash Limited (IPL), a public undertaking of the central government for the purpose.

He, however, said import of the fertilisers were related to the foreign trade and should have been handled by the Centre which should have realised the requisite funds from the states for the purpose.

Mr Kumar said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was scheduled to visit the state few months ago but his programme was postponed in last moment, adding agriculture was on top of his agenda.’’During my recent meeting with Prime Minister, I have urged him to visit the state soon to explore the possibilities of exploiting the agriculture potential of Bihar,’’ he informed. — UNI

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Vaiko held for holding pro-LTTE rally
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 12
MDMK general secretary Vaiko and Tamil National Movement president P. Nedumaran were arrested here today by the police and remanded to custody as they tried to hold a rally to mourn the killing of LTTE political chief S.P. Thamilselvan by Sri Lankan Air Force on November 2.

Both pro-LTTE leaders flayed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for his “double standards” as they defied prohibitory orders and tried to bring out the rally, which was denied permission by the city police.

They were whisked away by the police the moment they arrived at the venue but not before Vaiko could deliver a short speech.

While being taken into custody, Vaiko, known to be a staunch LTTE supporter, shouted slogans expressing his support for the LTTE.

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‘40.9 m Indians diabetic’

Mumbai, November 12
Due to stressful lifestyle and changing food habits 240 million people worldwide are living with diabetes of which nearly 40.9 million alone are Indians and this number is expected to grow to 380 million by next 20 years, according to Dr Vipul Patel of Metropolis Health Services.

Speaking to reporters today about the dangers of diabetes, ahead of World Diabetes Day on November 14, Dr Patel said, “What is surprising is that almost 50 per cent of the people are unaware of their condition.” He informed that “Type 1 diabetes is growing by 3 per cent per year in children and adolescents, and at an alarming 5 per cent per year among pre-school children. It is estimated that 70,000 children, who are under 15 years, develop type 1 diabetes each year (almost 200 children a day). The impact of diabetes can interfere with the normal developmental tasks, even for a child, which includes succeeding in school and his transition to adulthood.” On gestational diabetes, Dr Patel said, “It is the disorder that affects women during their pregnancy and it usually gets resolved with delivery of the baby and is characterised by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that are first recognised during pregnancy. This condition occurs in approximately four per cent of all pregnancies. Usually, the later part of a woman’s pregnancy (the third trimester), places her at risk of gestational diabetes.”

“Gestational diabetes affects the development of the child during pregnancy. There is always an increased rate of miscarriage due to this. Sometimes it may lead to complications like defects in brain and heart, the excess growth of the baby that increases the risk of trauma to the mother and a rapid drop in the child’s blood glucose after birth. Gestational diabetes can cause malformation in the baby eight times more than normal, making it essential to monitor blood sugar levels every two weeks during the pregnancy,” he said.

“Contrary to popular belief, diabetes is not just a condition, it is a disease that needs to be detected, treated and monitored. Positive thinking, healthy attitude and an active lifestyle accompanied by regular self monitoring of your blood glucose levels will help in effective management of blood sugar levels,” Dr Patel added. — UNI

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Prasad’s son accused of assault
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 12
Congress MLA M.K. Vishnu Prasad, who is also Tamil Nadu Congress president’s son and has been charged with instigating yesterday’s attack at the party headquarters here, today launched a counter attack on union minister G.K. Vasan accusing him of “organising a murderous attack on him”.

Prasad was named by the police as the main accused for attack on Youth Congress chief Mayura S. Jayakumar and two other party workers, who sustained stab injuries at the Sathyamurthy Bhavan yesterday.

Prasad was attending a meeting of the Congress legislature party at the party headquarters in the same building when the attack took place. The meeting was discussing the assault on his father and TNCC president M. Krishnaswamy on October 29 at Ramanathapuram district when he was stabbed in abdomen with a spear.

Prasad today complained to Chennai police commissioner Nanjil P. Kumaran that Vasan was the “root cause of Sunday’s incident and he had directed his followers to attack” him.

He alleged, “Fortunately, a police inspector got into my car and escorted me to the road outside the Sathyamurthy Bhavan, otherwise, I would have been killed. Those who have sense should realise I will never involve myself in such an incident when a meeting of Congress MLAs was discussing the recent attack on my father.” Prasad has also moved court and applied for anticipatory bail.

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Three held in Orissa marksheet scandal

Cuttack, November 12
Three former officials of the Board of Secondary Education (BSE), Orissa, were arrested yesterday by the state crime branch for their alleged role in the matriculation examination mark-sheet scandal involving the son of a former cabinet minister.

The arrested persons were former BSE secretary Minaketan Pani, former examination controller Manmohan Swain and a section officer Nityananda Suttar, the police said here.

They were summoned to the crime branch office in the afternoon for interrogation and were arrested immediately. B K Sharma, 19 crime branch, said the arrests were made as there were sufficient documentary evidence against them showing their involvement in the manipulation of mark foils, change in marks and forgery.

Sharma indicated there could be more arrests as the investigation was still in progress. “We are now looking into the beneficiaries in the case and if possible the minister’s son will also come into the purview of the investigation,” he said. The scandal had rocked the state in August — PTI

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Burglar escapes as cops watch cricket

Hyderabad, November 12
A burglar looking for an opportunity to escape from the police custody found the right one during an India-Pakistan cricket match that kept the cops here so engrossed that they did not notice his departure.

G. Kishan, 40, escaped from the Uppal police station here when the constables were watching the third One-Day International at Kanpur on Sunday.

When the constables last saw him, he was handcuffed and sitting outside the lockup with the chain of the handcuff tied to the lockup bars.

A senior police official said he somehow managed to remove the handcuff and escaped. The police has ordered an inquiry.

The Rajasthan police is looking for Kishan in connection with some burglaries committed in Jodhpur and Ajmer.

He was nabbed by a team of Rajasthan police with the help of the local police from his rented house in Bharatnagar on Saturday night. He reportedly attacked the police party with a sword, injuring three policemen before he was overpowered and arrested. — IANS

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Police salary scam probe on track: Gogoi

Guwahati, November 12
The ongoing probe into the police salary scam that had rocked Assam last year was making good progress, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told the state Assembly today.

The CID investigating the salary scam in the 3rd and 10th battalion has so far arrested 14 persons including an IPS officer. Gogoi said that Rs 58 crore were taken out fraudulently from the state treasury last year.

Many top officials of the police department were being quizzed and some of them were arrested after detection of the scam where salaries of policemen were being defrauded for many years.

The sleuths of the CID also interrogated IGP Jeevan Singh and DIG Paresh Neog.

The CID has so far arrested superintendent of police Indra Gogoi and ASP Binoy Ranjan Das while another IPS Krishna Das was evading arrest for the past three weeks.

Investigations by the Titabor police revealed several instances of payments being made to people, who were never members of the battalions. — UNI

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Army steps up vigil along Pak border
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12
With the Pakistan government tightening the screws on terrorist organisations having a base in their country, following the imposition of emergency, the Indian Army has stepped up vigil along the Line of Control (LoC) in a bid to prevent infiltration of the subversives fleeing the country.

Vice-Chief of the Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Milan Lalitkumar Naidu said this, while talking to the media after addressing a press conference on the Defence Ministry's participation at the India International Trade Fair-2007 (IITF-2007), beginning here on Wednesday.

He said the Army was monitoring the situation closely, specially with the view of “dormant cells” trying to divert the attention of the security forces posted in the disturbed state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with the idea of abetting infiltration.

He said the Army was worried over the increase in terrorist activities in J&K and other parts of the country as it pointed to a “trend” of Pakistan-backed “sleeper cells” in India being activated to draw attention away from the tumultuous situation in the western neighbour.

“We are reading the situation (in Pakistan) very closely and we are taking steps to ensure we are not surprised (by a sudden infiltration of militants)”. Referring to the increase in terrorist activities, particularly in Kashmir and also elsewhere in India, Lt. Gen Naidu said it was a “cause to worry about”.

“It shows a trend of sleeper cells being activated. The NSA (National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan) has already spoken of such sleeper cells being responsible for the blasts in Ajmer and Hyderabad. We are keeping abreast of the situation,” he said. This year the MoD is focusing on showcasing the efforts being put in by the Kolkata-based Eastern Command's effort to counter militancy in India's northeast and bring the region into the national mainstream. This year’s theme has been named as “Defenders of the Dawn”.

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Pak withdraws 28,000 troops from LoC to fight Taliban
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 12
Pakistan has withdrawn 28,000 troops from the Indian border for operations against Taliban and Al Qaida cadres in Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas, sources said today.

This Pakistani move is being viewed in strategic circles here as an affirmation of India-Pakistan bonhomie that has permeated through to the two armies as well.

The current level of Pakistani troop deployment is at its lowest ever. It is understood that the move has a quiet assent from New Delhi (as well as Washington). It is in India’s interest that the Pakistan army declares a no-holds-barred war on Al Qaida and Taliban militants in Waziristan. This is because the recent history has shown that during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan (1996-2001), militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India had peaked.

The armed forces of India and Pakistan have been honouring a ceasefire for the past nearly four years all along the international border, line of control and actual ground position line with minor violations.

India is keeping a close watch on the rapid fire developments in Pakistan on the political as well as security front. New Delhi does not want any instability in Pakistan as it can lead to anarchy there, which in turn, may have disastrous consequences for India. The worst security nightmare for India as well as the world is that Pakistani nuclear weapons may fall in the hands of jihadi elements.

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Car that hit cops carried Salman
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 12
Actor Salman Khan got involved in a controversy early yesterday morning when a car he was driving in crashed into two policemen who were riding a motorcycle, the police said here today.

The car was being driven by Canadian model Brooke Clarke and Khan was in the passenger seat, the police said.

The mishap occurred in Mumbai's Worli area when the two were said to be returning from a party. Though the police did not reveal the name of Khan in its daily report on Sunday, the actor's name propped up after an eyewitnesses clicked a picture on his mobile of Khan in the middle of the commotion. The picture was published by a city tabloid today.

The newspaper quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the actor was driving the car when it hit the two policemen. However today, joint commissioner of police (law and order) K.L. Prasad said Brooke was the driver and that she had been booked for rash and negligent driving.

"The policemen involved in the accident said Salman Khan was not driving the car," Prasad said today.

He however added that the police asked Khan to leave the area as the crowd was getting restive.

Meanwhile, Khan's lawyer Dipesh Mehta said neither Salman Khan nor his vehicle were involved in the accident. The car was owned by an agency which brought the model to India for performing at some shows, according to the police.

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Man marries dog

Madurai, November 12
A 33-year-old man in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu has married a dog in a bid to ward off the curse of a canine couple he had killed 15 years ago.

Selva Kumar tied a 'mangal sutra' to the pet named Selvi, at a Ganesh temple in Manamadurai, about 50 km from here, yesterday.

The 10-year-old saree-clad "bride" was brought to the temple in a grand bridal procession.

According to Kumar, when he was 18-years-old, he had clubbed to death a dog-couple when they were mating and hung them on a tree.

After the incident, he could not move his left arm and legs and turned deaf. He now walks with the help of a stick.

Kumar claimed that an astrologer had suggested him that he had the curse of dogs. — PTI

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Curfew in MP town

Indore, November 12
Curfew was imposed in Sanver town of western Madhya Pradesh following communal tension and escalating mob violence. One person was shot at and admitted in the hospital with head injuries, the police said.

“The youth was brought here for treatment,” IG Rajendra Kumar said. The police used mild force and lobbed tear gas shells to disperse agitated people belonging to two communities.

Tension spiralled following an altercation over a trivial issue after a cycle collided with a person. Earlier in the day, stone-pelting was also reported. — UNI

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