SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Left against raising Nandigram in Parliament
New Delhi, November 15
With the BJP planning to raise Nandigram issue during the winter session, the Left parties today asserted that it cannot be raised in the Parliament as it was a state subject.

Lawyers boycott HC work in Kolkata
Kolkata, November 15
The people evicted in Nandigram, today braved inclement weather while the intellectuals in Kolkata welcomed the return of the people evicted earlier, who were camping at Khejuri, back to their homes in Nandigram.
People from different walks of life gather for a demonstration in Kolkata on Thursday demanding peace in Nandigram village. People from different walks of life gather for a demonstration in Kolkata on Thursday demanding peace in Nandigram village. — PTI





EARLIER STORIES




JD (S) demand for MoU puts BJP in a bind
Bangalore, November 15
The BJP is set to pay a heavy price for having its Chief Minister in South India with its coalition partner the Janata Dal (Secular) forcing it to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to reportedly ensure smooth running of the government. The signing of the MoU is significant considering it will be done on November 18, one day before the coalition has to prove its majority on the floor of the House.

Suspended DGP Mohanti declared absconder
Jaipur, November 15
Suspended Orissa DGP BB Mohanti, who is evading the police after he allegedly helped his son, convicted for raping a German tourist, escape was today declared as an absconder by a local court.

Amarmani sent to Varanasi jail
Gorakhpur, November 15
Former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathi, who was convicted in poetess Madhumita Shukla’s murder case, was sent to Varanasi Central Jail, officials said today.

Gujarat Polls
Congress not to make tehelka sting revelations an electoral issue
New Delhi, November 15
Nervous about its adverse fall out in the next month’s Gujarat Assembly polls, UPA ministers are working overtime to ensure that the recent expose on post Godhra riots is not debated in the winter session of the Parliament which opened today.

Virbhadra meets CEC
New Delhi, November 15
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today met the Chief Election Commssioner N Gopalaswamy on issues concerning conduct of elections in the state.

Cyclone fury: People in WB, Orissa coasts evacuated
Kolkata/Bhubaneswar, November 15
Authorities in West Bengal and Orissa raced today to evacuate tens of thousands of people from vulnerable coastal areas as powerful cyclone producing winds up to a speed of 280 km per hour closed in.


Centre discusses situation

Tsunami scare in TN
Chennai, November 15
Tidal waves rising up to 3 metres triggered panic among people, leading to a tsunami scare due to a cyclonic depression in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of West Bengal.

Remove restrictions on Pak media: SAMC
Chandigarh, November 15
The South Asia Media Commission (SAMC), a regional media watchdog, has condemned the scuttling of freedom of information and expression by the military government in Pakistan and demanded withdrawal of the measures and decrees clamped down on the media.

CENTEGRO challenges Sunita Narain’s claims
New Delhi, November 15
Mumbai-based Centre for Environment and Agrochemicals (CENTEGRO) today launched a direct attack on the director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Sunita Narian, asking her to “scientifically prove her claims regarding high-levels of pesticide (endosulfan) residue of 9.19 particles per million (PPM) as against its known water solubility of mere 0.32 PPM”.

IFS officer chargesheeted in dowry case
Darbhanga, November 15
An Indian Foreign Service officer and nine others, including his parents, were today chargesheeted for allegedly having demanded Rs 1 crore as dowry and breaking off the engagement as the bride’s father expressed his inability to meet it.

M’rashtra MPs to press Centre for farm loan waiver
Mumbai, November 15
With suicides by farmers in Vidarbha continuing unabated, politicians cutting across party lines are coming together to demand that the Central government introduce a loan waiver package for the state’s agriculture sector.

Houses adjourned after obituary references 
New Delhi, November 15
Both Houses of the Parliament were adjourned on the opening day of the winter session after paying tributes to two sitting and six former members who died recently.

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Left against raising Nandigram in Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
With the BJP planning to raise Nandigram issue during the winter session, the Left parties today asserted that it cannot be raised in the Parliament as it was a state subject.

CPM leaders Sitaram Yechury, Basudeb Acahria and CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta said at a press conference that Nandigram was a state law and order subject which could not be discussed in the Parliament as rules did not permit it.

Recalling the demand for debate by leader of the opposition L K Advani after police firing in Nandigram on March 14, they said that the Lok Sabha deputy speaker had then ruled that it could not be discussed as it was a state subject.

Attacking the BJP, the Left leaders said the opposition party always had issues to stall proceedings and there were indications that it would cause disruptions on on Monday. They said in the last session, the BJP had stalled proceedings over demand for a joint parliamentary committee on the Indo-US nuclear deal.

They said the Tehelka expose on 2002 Gujarat riots would be raised by them during the session. Asked if it was also a state subject like Nandigram, the Left leaders said it was a question of state patronage to a communal carnage. They said subjects like communalism, attack on minorities, Dalits and women could be taken up in the Parliament. They added that after the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992, all BJP-run state governments had been dismissed.

The Left leaders said price rise, problems in public distribution system and agrarian crisis and growing Maoist activities were among the issues to be raised by them. The Left parties would also raise issues of women’s reservation bill, implementation of Sachar committee report and problems regarding implementation of rural employment guarantee scheme.

Meanwhile, eight CPM activists were arrested today for roaming around on motorbikes for “area dominance” in Nandigram, as the CRPF fished out a large amount of arms and ammunition from a pond at Sonachura.

East Midnapur superintendent of police Satyeshwar Panda said the CPM supporters were arrested from Tekhali Bazar.

CRPF DIG Alok Raj said CRPF personnel recovered arms and ammunition, including 76 detonators, 25 kg of explosives, some explosive devices, 15 rounds of ammunition and 50 unfinished country-made guns from a pond at Sonachura area.

Three bullets of .315 bore guns, 42 used cartridges for .12 bore guns and 11 bullets for 9 mm pistol were also seized. — PTI

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Lawyers boycott HC work in Kolkata
Subhransgu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, November 15
The people evicted in Nandigram, today braved inclement weather while the intellectuals in Kolkata welcomed the return of the people evicted earlier, who were camping at Khejuri, back to their homes in Nandigram.

The journalists in Kolkata also took out a procession today, protesting against the Chief Minister’s misbehaviour with media persons and the CPM’s attacks on reporters and photographers covering the Nandigram problem.

Yesterday, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee not only misbehaved with the press but also singled out a reporter at the Writers Building representing a Bangla daily and insulted him publicly. The CM told him he had been writing falsely against him and the CPM.

He told the reporter he could stop the publication of the paper if he desired and did not want to waste his power by taking that action. The Nandigram issue was shifted today to the city from Purba Midnapore when several processions were taken out demanding the restoration of peace and normalcy.

In these processions, however, strong criticism was raised against the Chief Minister’s mishandling of the issue which had created unnecessary problems for the people of Nandigram.

A peace-procession organised by the CPM today was attended by actor Mithun Chakraborty, Soumitra Chatterjee, Shova Sen and director Mrinal Sen among others. Yesterday, another peace march organised by the Calcutta Civic Society was also taken out in the city comprising of several writers, poets, artists, teachers, students and people from various walks of lives.

The lawyers today decided to boycott the Chief Justice, S.S.Nirjar’s court from tomorrow, for an indefinite period, protesting the delay in delivering the Judgement of the CBI inquiry on Nandigram which was handed over to Nirjjar some time back.

Today, the lawyers boycotted the hearings in Calcutta High Court to protest the killings and the CPM’s vandalism in Nandigram.

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JD (S) demand for MoU puts BJP in a bind
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, November 15
The BJP is set to pay a heavy price for having its Chief Minister in South India with its coalition partner the Janata Dal (Secular) forcing it to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to reportedly ensure smooth running of the government. The signing of the MoU is significant considering it will be done on November 18, one day before the coalition has to prove its majority on the floor of the House.

There are indications that the JD (S) has taken a tough stand on the conditions laid down by its president H.D. Deve Gowda and the saffron party has no choice in the matter. CM B.S. Yeddyurappa is, however, trying to dilute the charter of demands and the JD (S) legislature party leader H.D. Kumaraswamy has agreed to drop two of them. These include the condition that the Assembly be dissolved in case there is a snap parliamentary poll and that Kumaraswamy head the coordination committee of the coalition government.

The BJP had earlier played tough by not replying to Gowda’s demands, which had been sent to party president Rajnath Singh. However, the JD (S) put pressure by not joining the government and then brought the government to a halt by claiming the all BJP Cabinet could not take any decision before the coalition sought the vote of confidence.

The MoU, which is being dictated by the JD (S), now has eight demands that are still to be fulfilled with the BJP accepting two others, including having a Deputy Chief Minister from the JD (S) and the right to pull out of the coalition by any of the two parties. The other demands include redress of complaints of ministers by the respective party heads, no airing of grievances against each other, making important postings and transfers in consultation with the JD (S), no alteration of Cabinet decisions on ongoing projects and providing protection to minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The MoU, if signed and implemented will hinder the authority of the Chief Minister, and ensure the Gowda family has the final say in running the affairs of the state. It will also ensure no effective power for the BJP despite having its own Chief Minister and the coveted Home Ministry, which was earlier held by the JD (S) in the earlier power sharing stint between the two.

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Suspended DGP Mohanti declared absconder

Jaipur, November 15
Suspended Orissa DGP BB Mohanti, who is evading the police after he allegedly helped his son, convicted for raping a German tourist, escape was today declared as an absconder by a local court.

The court also issued ‘standing’ warrants against Mohanti whereby he can be arrested any time and at any place.

Mohanti’s son Biti was also declared an absconder and faced similar warrants issued by Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Rajendra Bansal. The court ordered that details of property owned by BB Mohanti, who is reported missing since August, be provided as a possible precusor to attaching them.

The court took the action after N Satpati, an inspector of the cantonment police station, today appeared before it to say neither the cop nor his son could be found and arrested by the police. The Orissa police had already declared them absconders after warrants against them had remained unserved.

A case was registered by the Rajasthan police against B B Mohanty early this year for allegedly sheltering and concealing facts relating to his son, a rape convict, who had jumped parole. Bitti was given seven years jail sentence by an Alwar fast track court for raping a German lady last year. — PTI

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Amarmani sent to Varanasi jail

Gorakhpur, November 15
Former Uttar Pradesh minister Amarmani Tripathi, who was convicted in poetess Madhumita Shukla’s murder case, was sent to Varanasi Central Jail, officials said today.

Tripathi was brought here from Roshanabad Jail, in Uttarakhand, to appear at a local court in connection with the case of threatening people and thrashing government employees.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Radhey Shyam has set the date of next hearing on November 27. — PTI

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Gujarat Polls
Congress not to make tehelka sting revelations an electoral issue
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
Nervous about its adverse fall out in the next month’s Gujarat Assembly polls, UPA ministers are working overtime to ensure that the recent expose on post Godhra riots is not debated in the winter session of the Parliament which opened today.

The UPA ministers have got in touch with Left and Samajwadi Party leaders, who have been pressing for a debate on the tehelka sting revelations, to persuade them to drop their demand.

The Congress leadership is nervous that a debate on this issue will strengthen Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s position in the upcoming polls as it will result in Hindu consolidation in his favour. Instead of attacking Modi on his poor performance on the development front, the Congress will be pushed on the defensive.

“The Gujarat election is proving to be a very close fight.....We cannot allow the advantage to slip out of our hands,” said a senior Gujarat Congress leader. The Congress has taken a conscious decision not to make these fresh revelations an electoral issue, and is instead focusing on Modi’s unfulfilled promises and his anti-poor policies and approach.

Left leaders admitted that the Congress does not want a debate on the tehelka expose and have conveyed as much to them. Given the CPM’s close relations with the Samajwadi Party and the Telugu Desam Party, the Congess has asked the Communists to persuade them not to press for a debate.

But the Left parties may not be able to oblige the Congress. With the BJP insisting on a debate on Nandigram, the Communists want to counter it with a debate on the fresh revelations on the 2002 Gujarat riots. This matter came up today during the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee, convened by Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, when the BJP’s V. K. Malhotra and CPM’s chief whip Rupchand Pal reiterated their respective demands.

The BJP is planning to move an adjournment motion on Nandigram in the Lok Sabha on Monday, but a final decision on its admissibility will be taken by the Speaker. Whatever his decision is, the Nandigram violence is set to rock the Parliament as the main opposition party is gearing up to embarrass the Left parties on this issue. In such a situation, the Left is bound to retaliate by referring to the post Godhra riots.

The Congress is faced with a dilemma. Although its members from West Bengal are itching to take on the Left parties, they may be constrained from doing so in view of the recent rapprochement between the Congress and the Communists on the N-deal. Besides, it needs the cooperation of the Left if it wants to avoid a debate on Godhra.

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Virbhadra meets CEC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today met the Chief Election Commssioner N Gopalaswamy on issues concerning conduct of elections in the state.

Sources said the CM, who was accompanied by revenue minister Sat Mahajan, referred to reports in the media about his critical comments concerning the Election Commission which is sought to be made an issue by the opposition BJP.

The Chief Minister said he held the Election Commission in high esteem and had never meant any disrespect to the august institution and that several elections had been held in the state while he was heading the government.

The Chief Minister later said the meeting with EC was a courtesy call. Asked about his reply to the EC’s notice over violation of instructions concerning government vehicles, the Chief Minister said the reply had been sent by post. Sources said two other Election Commissioners were also present during the meeting.

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Cyclone fury: People in WB, Orissa coasts evacuated

Kolkata/Bhubaneswar, November 15
Authorities in West Bengal and Orissa raced today to evacuate tens of thousands of people from vulnerable coastal areas as powerful cyclone producing winds up to a speed of 280 km per hour closed in.

Finance minister Ashim Dasgupta said the West Bengal government had alerted the Army to remain on standby. The coastal areas in the two states are expected to be hit by 6 to 7 metre high tidal waves.

Dasgupta said at least 10 lakh people in West Bengal may have to be evacuated to safer places.

Cyclone ‘Sidr’, currently moving north over the Bay of Bengal and packing ferocious winds and torrential rains, is expected to hit land around midnight with six coastal districts in Orissa and five districts in West Bengal likely to face its fury. Kolkata city is also likely to be affected.

The first area to be lashed will be around the Sunderbans at the India-Bangladesh border.

Though the cyclone skipped Orissa and moved towards the West Bengal-Bangladesh region, the Cyclonic Warning Centre (CWC) in Bhubaneswar warned that the cyclone was set to unleash tidal waves of 5 to 6 metres in coastal areas of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts.

Pune and Ganjam districts are the other two districts which have been put on high alert.

The four coastal districts in West Bengal which are in the eye of the cyclone are south and north 24 Parganas and east and west Midnapur.

Large-scale damage to power and communication lines was also expected, Orissa CWC director Sarat Sahu said.

Fishermen have been alerted not to venture into the sea or rivers. Tourists at the sea resort of Digha in East Midnapur district have been asked to move to safer places.

The West Bengal government has allocated Rs 15 crore to meet all exigencies.

Port authorities have been asked to hoist danger signal No: 10, signalling higher danger levels.

The civic authorities have also set up a crisis management group, West Bengal Chief secretary P.R. Ray said, adding that alert had already been issued. — PTI

Centre discusses situation

New Delhi: The Cabinet here today discussed the impending cyclone condition over Orissa and West Bengal.

The Cabinet at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh took into account the various measures that have been undertaken for providing relief in the districts of Orissa and West Bengal, which are expected to be hit by a cyclone later tonight.

As an emergency measure, the cabinet took up the matter, where the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), informed that it has issued an advisory to the States and Union Territories of Andaman & Nicobar, Orissa and West Bengal with information to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh to keep a close watch on the emerging situation. — TNS

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Tsunami scare in TN
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Chennai, November 15
Tidal waves rising up to 3 metres triggered panic among people, leading to a tsunami scare due to a cyclonic depression in the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of West Bengal.

About 10 huts in Appar Nagar at Tiruvottiyur were washed away by surging waves, while sea water entered in about 200 houses, forcing residents to flee for safety. At least 20 villages in the city's north coast of Ennore, Tiruvottiyur, Kasimedu and Ernavur areas had been affected by the tidal waves. Reports of aggressive waves and high tides were also received from Kanniyakumari and Tiruchendur, besides some other coastal places of Tamil Nadu. However, there were no reports of major damages.

Meanwhile, panic also prevailed over Veerampatinam village in Puducherry as high tidal waves entered 20 metres into the village and dragged away boats and 10 fishing nets, which were later retreived.

Met office director S.R. Ramanan described the high tides as “swell waves”, which were caused due to strong distance disturbance, following cyclonic formation about 530 km south off Kolkata.

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Remove restrictions on Pak media: SAMC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15
The South Asia Media Commission (SAMC), a regional media watchdog, has condemned the scuttling of freedom of information and expression by the military government in Pakistan and demanded withdrawal of the measures and decrees clamped down on the media.

“We call on Pakistani authorities to stop intimidating the media, allow independent news channels’ broadcast and revoke the two media ordinances General Pervez Musharraf proclaimed while declaring the state of emergency in the country,” commission’s chairman N. Ram and secretary-general Najam Sethi said in a statement received here today.

“Pakistan’s media are in danger of losing any possibility of disseminating independent news as a result of the offensive,” they alleged.

“The government has stooped so low as to restrict the import of satellite dishes to prevent Pakistanis from receiving the broadcast of Pakistani and foreign television news stations banned within the country since November 3, the day the emergency was imposed,” said the statement issued by the commission’s coordinator for South Asia, Husain Naqi.

“We support the Pakistani media that are refusing to bow to the censorship imposed by General Musharraf,” the commission said calling the independence of media a great asset which must be defended.

Around 10 reporters and photographers were roughed up and arrested by the police in the south-western city of Quetta while covering an opposition demonstration on November 5.

Nazeeruddin Siddique, a photographer with English daily ‘The Nation’, was arrested by the police, the same day in Karachi. They were released later. Five photographers and cameramen were released in Karachi on November 6, while Imtiaz Alam, a newspaper journalist and the secretary-general of the South Asian Free Media Association, was released in Lahore after being held for 36 hours.

The statement also condemned the surveillance of 21 national dailies and 13 leading regional newspapers to see that they respect the censorship rules introduced in the new print media ordinance.

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CENTEGRO challenges Sunita Narain’s claims
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
Mumbai-based Centre for Environment and Agrochemicals (CENTEGRO) today launched a direct attack on the director of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Sunita Narian, asking her to “scientifically prove her claims regarding high-levels of pesticide (endosulfan) residue of 9.19 particles per million (PPM) as against its known water solubility of mere 0.32 PPM”.

In fact, CENTEGRO has also offered the celebrated environmentalist Rs 1 crore to prove her “mythical claims and demonstrate detection of 9.19 PPM of endosulfan in filtered water samples before experts”.

The group has also lodged a complaint, “Chemistry of scientific fraud”, with the HRD Ministry against the well-known environmental NGO, famous for taking Cola giants by the horns.

The allegation of scientific fraud has been denied by the CSE. Spokesperson for the CSE, Souparno Banerjee, told The Tribune that the CSE stood by everything it had said. “We do not even want to respond to such baseless allegations. Time and again it has been proven that we are right. CENTEGRO is the front organisation of the pesticide industry. They will go to any extent to save their interests, which is understandable,” he added.

According to Banerjee, the CSE had found that endosulphan used for cashew plantations in Kerala was entering the food chain, causing irreversible harm to people’s health. “Later many studies confirmed our findings,” he said.

While CENTEGRO alleges that the CSE made use of pesticide (endosulfan) residue analysis authored by principal research scientist of IIT Kanpur, Padma Vankar, which has no scientific base, on several occasions. CENTEGRO founder and chairman of United Phosphorus Ltd, Rajju Shroff, said the report that claimed to find residues of endosulfan exceeding 28 times its water solubility was a result of doctored samples of water, leaves, milk and blood.

“CENTEGRO is an organisation of farmers, scientists and manufacturers. Our main aim is to promote sound science and expose CSE’s activity that has caused losses of over Rs 200 crore to more than 60 endosulfan manufacturers and formulators. Contrary to Narain’s claims, endosulfan is a very safe, farmer’ friendly pesticide,” Shroff added.

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IFS officer chargesheeted in dowry case

Darbhanga, November 15
An Indian Foreign Service officer and nine others, including his parents, were today chargesheeted for allegedly having demanded Rs 1 crore as dowry and breaking off the engagement as the bride’s father expressed his inability to meet it.

The chargesheet was submitted against IFS officer Amit Mishra, his parents Dev Chandra and Narayani, brother Abhay and relatives Shravan Mishra, Ashok Kumar Thakur and Amarji Jha besides friends Satyen, Ashok and Harish in the court of Darbhanga Chief Judicial Magistrate, DSP Parvez Akhtar said.

The 10 have been chargesheeted under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 506 (criminal intimidation), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and provisions of the Anti-Dowry Act.

Rachna Kumari, daughter of Shanker Jha of Bengali tola had lodged an FIR at Lehariasarai police station against the IFS officer and his relatives on December 23 last year for allegedly demanding Rs 1 crore as dowry and then breaking off the engagement preceded by intimidation and teasing by Amit Mishra. — PTI

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M’rashtra MPs to press Centre for farm loan waiver
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 15
With suicides by farmers in Vidarbha continuing unabated, politicians cutting across party lines are coming together to demand that the Central government introduce a loan waiver package for the state’s agriculture sector.

The opposition Shiv Sena and the BJP have joined hands to organise a ‘give or go march’ to put pressure on the government. Joining Hindutva ideologues like Govindacharya were respected leaders like former Congress leader Mohan Dharia, who are demanding that the Centre step in.

“Farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha has crossed the 100 figure mark for October,” says Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan. From January to November 2007, the suicide toll in Vidarbha has been pegged at 998.

Reports from Vidarbha say even farmers in the paddy growing areas are also committing suicide. So far suicides were common among the cotton growing farmers.

A defensive Chief Minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, called a meeting of all the MPs from Maharashtra and demanded that they press the Centre for waiving loans in the forthcoming winter session of Parliament. Incidentally, farmers’ suicides in the state will be on the back burner when the state Assembly holds its winter session in Nagpur next month.

Much of the session will be devoted to the repeal of the state’s Urban Land Ceiling Act.

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Houses adjourned after obituary references 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 15
Both Houses of the Parliament were adjourned on the opening day of the winter session after paying tributes to two sitting and six former members who died recently.

In the Lok Sabha, speaker Somnath Chatterjee paid obituary references to Vijay Kumar Khandelwal, who was a sitting member, and former members Manjay Lal, Yashwant Borole, Lala Ram Ken and L M Singhvi.

Meanwhile, the Parliament will have a three-day break with both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha deciding to observe holiday tomorrow in view of Chhath Puja. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting today.

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