SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

CBI opposes convicts’ release on probation
Quantum of sentence in Uphaar case today
New Delhi, November 22
Ansal brothers convicted in the Uphaar fire disaster case for causing the death of 59 cine goers today came up with a new ground of their contribution to society as leading businessmen for releasing them on probation even as the CBI opposed their plea for invoking the Probation Act and demanded maximum punishment to all 12 convicts.

CHOGM
PM leaves for Uganda
New Delhi, November 22
Even as Pakistan’s expulsion from the Commonwealth will figure prominently at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala beginning tomorrow, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left here this afternoon for the Ugandan capital underlining that CHOGM had a rich agenda encompassing climate change, the millennium development goals, human rights and terrorism.

Poll only way out: Gowda
Bangalore, November 22
The inscrutable H. D Deve Gowda was at it again today denying he had written a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to seek the latter’s support to form a government in Karnataka and claimed that holding elections to the assembly was the only way out of the present political imbroglio in the state.



EARLIER STORIES


MPs from various parties shout slogans during a protest to demand reservation for women at Parliament House in New Delhi
MPs from various parties shout slogans during a protest to demand reservation for women at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday.
— Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

BSP readies for Mayawati’s mega rally
Mumbai, November 22
Maharashtra politicians are quaking with fear as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is all set to hold the biggest political rally ever held by a Dalit leader in Mumbai's Shivaji Park this Sunday.

Nandigram
CPM should own up mistake: Cong
New Delhi, November 22
Even as the CPM has termed the developments in Nandigram as unfortunate while also justifying its role in bringing the cadre back to their houses in the area, the Congress today called upon its outside ally at the Centre to own up the “mistake”, as it would help in the process of reconciliation in the troubled area.

Nandigram Issue
BJP demands Central rule in Bengal
New Delhi, November 22
The BJP , which faced the wrath of its rivals on Gujarat riots, today sought to corner the Centre as well as the Left on the Nandigram issue in the Rajya Sabha and demanded imposition of President’s Rule in West Bengal.

AIMF a fundamentalist force: CPM
New Delhi, November 22
Terming All-India Minority Front as a conglomeration of various Islamic fundamentalist forces, the CPM has said that the real reason for yesterday’s agitation in Kolkata was to raise the Nandigram issue and unleash a fresh wave of violence.

Freeing CPM man upsets CRPF
New Delhi, November 22
Taking exception to the action of Kolkata police, the CRPF has alleged that they released an influential CPM worker who was detained by the paramilitary force for threatening people in a village at Nandigram.

A man dressed like former President APJ Abdul Kalam views a model of GSLV in the ISRO pavilion at ‘Indian Science Expo’, organised as part of Indian Science Conference at Lal Parade ground in Bhopal
A man dressed like former President APJ Abdul Kalam views a model of GSLV in the ISRO pavilion at ‘Indian Science Expo’, organised as part of Indian Science Conference at Lal Parade ground in Bhopal on Thursday. — PTI

Ayodhya saint receives Al-Qaida threat
Ayodhya, November 22
An intensive probe has been launched following a threat letter from terrorist outfit Al-Qaida to Mahant Nritya Gopaldas. Police Superintendent (City) Gopesh Nath Khanna said ''the letter has been taken into custody and investigated by the intelligence department.''

Strengthen state channelising agencies, says minister
New Delhi, November 22
Union minister of social justice and empowerment Meira Kumar has asked all States to strengthen their Channelising Agencies (CAs) to meet the requirement of early loan disbursement to beneficiaries of schemes of the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation.

Militants wanted to garland Rahul with grenades
New Delhi, November 22
Garlanding of Rahul Gandhi with grenades before kidnapping him to put up their demands was the ‘plan’ of the three Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants nabbed in Uttar Pradesh last week, official sources said.

Official Secrets Act to stay, says Pachauri
New Delhi, November 22
The government today said the Administrative Reforms Commission in its report ‘Right to Information - master key to good governance’ has recommended that the Official Secrets Act, 1923, should be repealed and substituted by a chapter in the National Security Act, containing provisions relating to official secrets.

LS passes Bill on AIIMS, PGI directors’ tenure
New Delhi, November 22
The Lok Sabha today passed the Bill for amending the All- India Institute of Medical Sciences Act making changes in the fixed tenure of its and the PGI, Chandigarh’s Director and empowering the government to remove them with three months notice.

Ronen let off the hook
New Delhi, November 22
India’s ambassador to the USA Ronen Sen, who was in soup over his “headless chicken” remark, was today let off by the Lok Sabha Privileges Committee with an advice that a diplomat should be discreet and “discretion in speech is more important than eloquence”.

Security Exemptions at Airports
Refusal to services chiefs criticised
New Delhi, November 22
The Civil Aviation Ministry’s refusal to exempt the three services chiefs from security checks at airports has angered some former top military brass who said it is a "gratuitous insult" to the men in uniform and a "disgraceful lapse."

No security checks in Moscow: Pranab
New Delhi, November 22
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today denied that he had to undergo security checks at the Moscow airport during a recent official visit to Russia. Mukherjee made the denial in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. He was asked whether he had to pass through security checks at the ceremonial lounge recently in Moscow.

Govt to amend Persons with Disability Act
New Delhi, November 22
The government is in the process of amending the Persons with Disability Act, 1995, to make it more effective. Announcing the government’s plans at a joint workshop of her ministry and the World Bank, minister of social justice and empowerment Meira Kumar said her ministry was engaged in consultations with various stakeholders, representing disabled peoples’ organisations, non-government organisations, experts and members of civil society with regard to proposed changes in the Act.

Talking-book library on the cards
Guwahati, November 22
A talking-book library that will help visually challenged persons in Assam and other northeastern states is likely to become a reality provided the National Federation of Blind agrees to proposals of its regional officials here.

300-year-old Sikh weapons on way to Mumbai
Navi Mumbai, November 22
Three-hundred-year-old Sikh weapons, some of them belonging to Guru Gobind Singh, are on display at the Vashi Exhibition Grounds here. The weapons, brought from Nanded Gurudwara, where they were kept earlier, include kirpans, swords, spears and a long barrel gun.

School boy suspended for applying mehndi
Chennai, November 22
A seven-year-old boy here has been suspended and fined Rs 500 for going to school with mehndi on his hand. The mehndi was applied on his palms during a puja at his house. Kaushik Ram, son of lawyer parents, was also made to stand in the school playground for an hour as punishment.

College principal stabbed to death
Bulandshahar, November 22
A college principal was allegedly stabbed to death by an unidentified person here today, the police said. C.P.Gupta, principal of DAV Degree College, was allegedly stabbed several times by the assailant when he was taking a walk on the college premises.

Pravin’s wife says SMS tampered with
Mumbai, November 22
Sarangi, wife of Pravin Mahajan, today told the sessions court here that the SMS sent to Pramod Mahajan by her husband prior to the attack on the BJP leader last April had been "tampered" with.

Taslima flown to Rajasthan
Kolkata, November 22
Taslima Nasreen, in the evening today, took a flight to Jaipur. It was not known if she herself left the city in the face of the threat to her life or that the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had secretly arranged her shifting to avoid further crisis - both political and administrative - over her staying in Kolkata.

Basu falls, fractures rib
Kolkata, November 22
Ninety four-year-old CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu has cracked a rib after falling down at his residence. “This was detected in an X-ray on Basu today,” his personal assistant Joykrishna Ghosh told PTI.

40 hurt in train mishap
Khargpur, November 22
At least forty Railway employees traveling by Bharatdarsan Special train were seriously injured when the up TATA Passenger from Howrah rammed into it tonight near the Shyamchawk station.

Videos
Stage set for IFFI 2007
(56k)
Goal: A rip-off?
(56k)
Indian' Mona Lisa
(56k)
Internet in trouble
(56k)
Deccan shares go up
(56k)
 Kolkata returns to normalc
(56k)
London film and Bollywood sign agreement
(56k)





Top








 

CBI opposes convicts’ release on probation
Quantum of sentence in Uphaar case today
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 22
Ansal brothers convicted in the Uphaar fire disaster case for causing the death of 59 cine goers today came up with a new ground of their contribution to society as leading businessmen for releasing them on probation even as the CBI opposed their plea for invoking the Probation Act and demanded maximum punishment to all 12 convicts.

Additional sessions judge Mamta Sehgal, after the high pitched arguments from both the sides, reserved the verdict on sentence for tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Ansals’ counsel Prem Kumar, while describing the June 13, 1997, fire incident in their theatre as unfortunate, cited his client’s contribution to society as real estate developers worth Rs 3,000 crore and providing employment to about 10,000 people, to consider their plea for releasing them on probation.

If they were sent to jail, it would have an adverse affect not only on their business but also on the lives of thousands of their employees, their lawyer argued.

Besides, they sought to consider their social profile, background having no other criminal case ever registered against them, active involvement in various charitable activities and their ill health as the other main grounds for granting them benefit of Probation Act provisions.

However, CBI’s prosecutor Y.K. Saxena strongly opposed their plea for invoking the Probation Act provisions, saying “they be awarded the maximum punishment prescribed under the IPC provisions under which they have been found guilty and convicted.”

Since the court had found them guilty under Section 304-A of IPC and some other provisions of it, which carried the maximum sentence of only two years even if the prosecution argument was accepted by the trial judge.

Saxena said they had been found guilty of their “callous” attitude in addressing to the problems in the theatre leading to the death of 59 persons and causing injuries to over 100, making them liable for a worst kind of “criminal negligence” and deserved “deterrent” punishment.

He said none of the convicts deserved any mercy for causing deaths in such a large scale at a place essentially associated with a public activity and should be awarded the maximum sentence under the law.

The court on Tuesday had convicted the Ansal brothers, two MCD officials, a Delhi Fire Service officer under section 304-A . Three managers of the cinema hall, one of its gate-keeper and three Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) officials were convicted under a harsher section 304, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and maximum for life.

Top

 

CHOGM
PM leaves for Uganda
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Even as Pakistan’s expulsion from the Commonwealth will figure prominently at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kampala beginning tomorrow, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left here this afternoon for the Ugandan capital underlining that CHOGM had a rich agenda encompassing climate change, the millennium development goals, human rights and terrorism.

The special theme of CHOGM-2007 is “Transforming societies to achieve political, economic and human development.”

“India is strongly committed to the Commonwealth’s role of nurturing a sense of belonging to a shared past and a shared destiny based on common values,” Dr Singh observed in a departure statement.

He stressed that the Commonwealth was a forum that was uniquely placed to harness the strength and diversity of its membership in cooperating with each other and addressing the global challenges of trade, sustainable development and social advancement.

The Prime Minister said he looked forward to meeting a large number of leaders and having a constructive dialogue with them on both bilateral and international issues. “I will use the opportunity to highlight the major socio-economic transformation that is underway in India and the opportunities this provides for the emergence of a new world order.”

Observing that India has consistently played an active role in the Commonwealth, Dr Singh said there were several technical assistance and cooperation programmes in place particularly for the developing countries in Africa and the small states which New Delhi will seek to enhance.

The Prime Minister had returned from Singapore late last night after attending the India-Asean summit to specifically attend his Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha.

Even though a decision has to be taken by the 53-nation Commonwealth on its directive to Pakistan to repeal emergency imposed on November 3, restore the Constitution and step down as army chief or face suspension, opinion is divided in the nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).

Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan Mohammedmian Soomro has in a letter to the heads of government of the Commonwealth said the “political situation in Pakistan was returning to normal.”

While one view in the CMAG is that Pakistan should not be pushed to the wall by suspending it from the Commonwealth for the second time, the other side insists that there cannot be double standards on disciplining countries where the democratic processes have been subverted.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, already in Kampala for the foreign ministers meeting before the summit, made it clear that India will steer clear rather than getting involved in matters concerning Pakistan.

“India favours a stable and peaceful Pakistan as we want a peaceful periphery for our own interests,” foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said.

Top

 

Poll only way out: Gowda
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, November 22
The inscrutable H. D Deve Gowda was at it again today denying he had written a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi to seek the latter’s support to form a government in Karnataka and claimed that holding elections to the assembly was the only way out of the present political imbroglio in the state.

Gowda, who had rushed to Delhi to secure the support of the Congress immediately after the BJP government fell in Karnataka, said it would be “shameless” to seek the support of the Congress to form a government in the state.

The JD (S) supremo denied he had written a letter to Sonia Gandhi giving her two days to respond to an initiative to form a government with Congress support. “In fact, I have welcomed the move to dissolve the state assembly and in such a scenario there is no need for me to approach the Congress”, he added.

Gowda, however, declined to comment on the revival of attempts by senior JD (S) leader M. P Prakash to forge an alliance with the Congress for government formation.He said he had come to know about the development only through the newspapers.

What Gowda is up to is anybody’s guess because there is a general impression that he has directed Prakash to take the lead in holding negotiations with the Congress high command after he was rebuffed by the party during his recent Delhi visit.

Meanwhile, his son and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy is making allout attempts to ensure the party is not divided which could mean that the Gowda family could give its acquiescence to any move by JD (S) legislators to support the Congress at a later date.

Meanwhile, Prakash is continuing his efforts to reach out to the Congress. JD (S) sources said the veteran leader had spoken to AICC general secretary in-charge of Karnataka Prithviraj Chauhan and union home minister Shivaraj Patil last night and that the 'response was encouraging.' The sources said Prakash had also spoken to senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister N Dharam Singh and Leader of Opposition H K Patil last night. Three independent legislators led by Vatal Nagaraj also held a meeting with the two Congress leaders last night.

Dharam Singh while reacting to the developments admitted that some legislators had met him. He, however, said it was not possible in the present circumstances to form a government with the JD (S) and that such talks were a finished chapter.

Meanwhile, Deve Gowda’s elder son H D Revanna, who has always toed his father’s line in politics, today paid a visit to the Sringeri Mutt to hold discussions with a high profile astrologer. He echoed his father’s views after the visit saying “we have decided to go to the polls”.

Top

 

BSP readies for Mayawati’s mega rally
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 22
Maharashtra politicians are quaking with fear as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati is all set to hold the biggest political rally ever held by a Dalit leader in Mumbai's Shivaji Park this Sunday.

Leaders of all four major political parties in the state are keeping a wary eye as there are indications that a number of activists from the Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, the BJP and the Shiv Sena will join the BSP in a grand show of strength during Sunday's rally.

"People from other parties have been joining the BSP for the past several years now," said Maharashtra's BSP president Vilas Garud.

The party has already sent out feelers to disgruntled leaders across different political parties, according to sources.

Clearly threatened, the Congress-NCP led coalition in Maharashtra has begun to crack down on BSP's activities.

Earlier this week, officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation pulled down all banners and posters put up by the BSP ahead of the rally.

As word spread that train services to Mumbai may be disrupted in the guise of maintenance work, or mega-block in railway jargon, BSP leaders in Mumbai asked the party faithful to reach Mumbai from Friday itself. "We have booked all hotels from Andheri in the suburbs to house the rallyists," said a BSP leader.

Open grounds and community halls in the city have been hired by the party to accommodate the visitors. "People are coming from as far as Nagpur to attend the rally," said Garud.

Shivaji Park in Mumbai is one of the biggest open spaces and political parties vie with one another to fill it up. Bal Thackeray used to do this every year during his annual Dussehra rally, but crowds have now thinned out to match the declining power of the patriarch.

Mayawati's followers believe that the ‘behenji’ from Uttar Pradesh as the new inheritor of Babasaheb Ambedkar's mantle will fill up the grounds where the architect of the Indian Constitution embraced Buddhism more than half a century ago.

Maharashtra's Dalit parties like the Republican Party of India including one faction led by Ambedkar's grandson Prakash has failed to catch the imagination of this community.

With higher levels of education as compared to their counterparts in other parts of India, Maharashtra's Dalits may as well look up to Mayawati. At least, she has delivered what was the goal of the community since Ambedkar's days - political power.

Eager to stitch together a 'sarva dharma' coalition, leaders of the Brahmins will share space with Dalits during Mayawati's Shivaji Park rally.

A jumbo stage is almost ready even as BSP cadres paint Mumbai in a hue of blue. "We didn't know BSP has so many followers. Let us see how many of them become voters," said a leader of a national party dismissively.

There are dark hints that the BSP is pumping in money to woo the Dalits. The BSP's machinery is working like clock work. Car and bus rental agencies in different parts of the state have roped in thousands of people from even rural areas where BSP is aggressively putting up roots. "Our target is to bring in 10 lakh people to fill up Shivaji Park," said Garud.

BSP leaders hope that Sunday's crowds will match the huge Dalit gathering that arrive in Mumbai every year on December 6 to observe Dr Ambedkar's death anniversary. That would only be the first step for a school teacher turned politician to lay claim to the visionary leader's legacy.

Top

 

Nandigram
CPM should own up mistake: Cong
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Even as the CPM has termed the developments in Nandigram as unfortunate while also justifying its role in bringing the cadre back to their houses in the area, the Congress today called upon its outside ally at the Centre to own up the “mistake”, as it would help in the process of reconciliation in the troubled area.

Referring to the incidents in Nandigram, Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said the West Bengal government had failed to maintain law and order and cannot transfer its responsibility. Pointing to the state government calling Army after yestreday’s incidents in Kolkota, he said it had failed to show the same vigour in Nandigram. Raising questions on police firing in Nandigram, he said it had led to the killing of innocents.

“Dissent and disagreement are heart of democracy. It cannot be different in Delhi or Kolkota,” he said.However, the Congress sought to keep a distance from the controversy surrounding the extension of visa to Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen and put the ball in the court of the state government. Singhvi said a laid-out procedure was followed by MEA in such cases which were decided according to the norms and precedents. However, if the state government feels that a particular decision can create law and order problem, it can make a written, formal communication, Singhvi added.

Asked about the reported suggestion to Nasreen from some Left quarters to live outside West Bengal, he said it was expression of an opinion.

Top

 

Nandigram Issue
BJP demands Central rule in Bengal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
The BJP , which faced the wrath of its rivals on Gujarat riots, today sought to corner the Centre as well as the Left on the Nandigram issue in the Rajya Sabha and demanded imposition of President’s Rule in West Bengal.

The BJP also demanded visit of an all-party parliamentary delegation to Nandigram and adoption of a resolution condemning the large-scale violence there.

Initiating a short duration discussion on the proposal to set up a SEZ in Nandigram and consequent large-scale violence, senior BJP leader and deputy leader of the opposition Sushma Swaraj demanded imposition of President’s Rule in West Bengal saying directives to the state under Article 355 would not work.

Highlighting the plight of victims during the violence in January, March and November this year, Swaraj said no justice could be expected form the ruling CPM which was both “the accused and the Judge”.

Pitching for an all party parliamentary delegation to Nandigram, BJP leader S S Ahluwalia, who spoke in Bengali, said both the Congress and the Left parties were vocal on Gujarat riots issue and this very House had adopted a unanimous resolution. “Now why you are shying away on Nandigram issue?” he asked.

CPM leader Sitaram Yechury defended the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government, stating that Maoists were responsible for violence in Nandigram as they had launched a war against the state and an unholy alliance of Islamic fundamentalists, RSS, TMC and foreign-funded NGOs, who are supporting them for petty political gains.

Top

 

AIMF a fundamentalist force: CPM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Terming All-India Minority Front (AIMF) as a conglomeration of various Islamic fundamentalist forces, the CPM has said that the real reason for yesterday’s agitation in Kolkata was to raise the Nandigram issue and unleash a fresh wave of violence.

The party’s reaction to yesterday’s developments in Kolkata, contained in the editorial of the latest issue of People’s Democracy, said attempts by a “grand alliance” to try and destabilise the democratically-elected government through violent means in West Bengal shall fail as had happened earlier.

It said the AIMF had announced a protest ostensibly to demand that Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasreen must not be allowed to continue to stay in Kolkata.

“The fundamentalist forces have been ranged against the author’s views for a long time now. Anybody who knows the Indian system knows that the permission granted to any foreign national to visit or stay in India is on the basis of a visa granted by the central government, which alone has the exclusive right to do so. Hence, it is meaningless to target any state government on this count. The real reason for the protest was obviously to highlight the Nandigram issues and unleash a fresh round of violence,” it said.

The editorial said as Parliament began a discussion on the Nandigram issue, a hastily formed AIMF unleashed disturbances in Kolkata warranting deployment of Army at the request of the state government.

It said that attempts to unleash violence had come in the midst of a 48-hour bandh call given by the Maoists on the Nandigram developments in the states of West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. It said a CPM local committee member, Sufal Mandi, was murdered in the Purulia district of West Bengal, as the incendiary bandh began.

Giving details of other incidents of violence during the bandh call, it said a unique convergence of reactionary anti-communist forces is unfolding over the disturbances in Nandigram.

The editorial said the CPM had declared its readiness to have a debate on the developments in Nandigram but not as a law and order issue as it was a matter of state list. It said the party had suggested that the Nandigram developments could be discussed in connection with the proposals concerning the establishment of special economic zones (SEZs) which came into being as a result of a central legislation.

Top

 

Freeing CPM man upsets CRPF

New Delhi, November 22
Taking exception to the action of Kolkata police, the CRPF has alleged that they released an influential CPM worker who was detained by the paramilitary force for threatening people in a village at Nandigram.

According to CRPF sources, the CRPF jawans picked up Anup Mondal, a hardcore CPM worker, from his house in the Sonachura area of Nandigram for allegedly threatening the people in his locality.

Mondal was handed over to the local police where they came to know that five cases were registered against him in Nandigram police station which included two pertaining to murder and the rest for serious rioting.

However, to the utter surprise of the CRPF, the Kolkata police merely informed them that Mondal had since been released without assigning any reason for the action leaving the paramilitary force fuming. The CRPF shot off a letter to the headquarters detailing the incident, the sources said.

Senior CRPF officials have been complaining that the police was not picking up or detaining any of the influential CPM workers who allegedly indulged in threatening the people around the area. — PTI

Top

 

Ayodhya saint receives Al-Qaida threat

Ayodhya, November 22
An intensive probe has been launched following a threat letter from terrorist outfit Al-Qaida to Mahant Nritya Gopaldas.

Police Superintendent (City) Gopesh Nath Khanna said ''the letter has been taken into custody and investigated by the intelligence department.''

The letter, with a postal stamp of Hardwar in Uttaranchal was received by the Ram Temple movement functionary this morning.

“Accept Islam along with your disciples or face the death,''the letter from Al-Qaida states. Security of the Hindu saint has been strengthened immediately and a probe into the matter was on.

Meanwhile, Mahant Gopaldas told UNI “the post-card, written with blue-ink, carry haridwar's potal stamp.''

“Saints never fear from such threats...We have taken birth for Lord Ram and can even die for them,'' the Mahant said.

“Nobody can stop the construction of Ram temple at the disputed site...Let's see what Al-Qaida can do,'' he added.

Few years back, unidentified men had hurled bomb at him, while he was on way for a bath in holy Sarryu river at ‘Ram ki Paidi’ here.

The then UP chief minister, presently BJP national president, Rajnath Singh had also met the Mahant after the attack. — UNI

Top

 

Strengthen state channelising agencies, says minister
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
Union minister of social justice and empowerment Meira Kumar has asked all States to strengthen their Channelising Agencies (CAs) to meet the requirement of early loan disbursement to beneficiaries of schemes of the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC).

Addressing the meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to her ministry last evening, Kumar said unless the State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) actively participate in the loan disbursement process, it would be difficult for the NBCFDC to expand its reach to the artisans and other small entrepreneurs belonging to the backward classes.

The minister informed the members that the corporation had achieved utilisation of released funds up to 94 per cent with the disbursement of Rs 1,282.82 crore through the SCAs to assist over eight lakh beneficiaries.

She said cumulative repayment from the SCAs was about 89 per cent at the end of the financial year 2006-07.

Kumar said the NBCFDC had streamlined the system of sanction of loan to the State Channelising Agencies and the funds were allocated to SCAs on the basis of the Annual Action Plan submitted by them at the beginning of the financial year.

She said this measure had decentralised the delivery system and accelerated the pace of implementation of NBCFDC schemes at the grass-root level.

Top

 

Militants wanted to garland Rahul with grenades

New Delhi, November 22
Garlanding of Rahul Gandhi with grenades before kidnapping him to put up their demands was the ‘plan’ of the three Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants nabbed in Uttar Pradesh last week, official sources said.

The detailed interrogation of Mohammed Abid, Yusuf and Mirza Rashid, arrested in Lucknow, by personnel of the central security agencies, revealed that they would have garlanded the young Gandhi with grenades before taking him hostage. They were planning to later put forward their demands of release of some of their men from Indian jails, including Mohammed Afzal, condemned prisoner in the 2001 Parliament attack, the sources said.

The arrest of the Jaish militants, under a well-executed operation of the central security agencies and the UP police, also brought to light that the JeM was concentrating only on hitting big targets rather than carrying out suicide attacks or triggering explosions, they said.

The JeM gained notoriety after hijacking the Indian Airlines plane IC-814 in 1999, carrying out Parliament attack, killing of Wall Street Journal Daniel Pearl and attack on Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly.

According to the plan, the three were shown videos of Rahul Gandhi during their stay in Sialkot (Pakistan) where they were also trained by Ibrahim Ather (one of the hijacker of the Indian Airlines plane) and Abdul Rauf, brother-in-law of Jaish chief Maulana Masood Azhar.

The task of the three militants was to recce the areas where Rahul Gandhi, MP from Amethi, used to visit and later chalk out a plan for taking him as hostage. — PTI

Top

 

Official Secrets Act to stay, says Pachauri
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
The government today said the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) in its report ‘Right to Information - master key to good governance’ has recommended that the Official Secrets Act (OSA), 1923, should be repealed and substituted by a chapter in the National Security Act, containing provisions relating to official secrets.

Minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions and parliamentary affairs Suresh Pachauri, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, said the ARC had also recommended that the existing Section 5 of the OSA might be reformulated on the lines recommended by the Shourie Committee.

However, he said the OSA was the only law on the statute book to deal with cases of espionage and wrongful possession and communication of sensitive information detrimental to the security of the state.

“The law has stood the test of time. Therefore, it is neither desirable nor necessary to repeal this law. However, the government has initiated action to consider the recommendation of the ARC to reformulate the existing Section 5 of OSA,” he said.

Answering a query on implementation of RTI Act, Pachauri said organisations like the Office of Secretary (Security), Cabinet Secretariat, the Special Protection Group, Central Vigilance Commission, Border Road Development Board, Financial Intelligence Unit, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Railway Protection Force, Directorate General of Income Tax (Investigation), Directorate General of Central Excise Intelligence, National Technical Research Organisation, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, Central Bureau of Investigation and Armed Forces (Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard) had sought exemption from implementing the Right to Information Act, 2005.

He said the Special Protection Group, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Border Road Development Board and the Financial Intelligence Unit had been included in the second schedule of the RTI Act due to nature of their activities.

Top

 

LS passes Bill on AIIMS, PGI directors’ tenure
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
The Lok Sabha today passed the Bill for amending the All- India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Act making changes in the fixed tenure of its and the PGI, Chandigarh’s Director and empowering the government to remove them with three months notice.

The Bill brought against the backdrop of Health Minister Ambumani Romdoss’ continued confrontation with AIIMS Director and renowned cardiologist P Venugopal, was bound to precipitate the issue further as it was passed when the matter was already pending before the court.

The AIIMS (Amendment) Bill, 2007 sets a limit of five years or the age of 65 years for AIIMS and PGI directors and it is bound to affect the tenure of Venugopal.

Under the existing provision of the Act, he can not be removed before the completion of his five- year fixed tenure.

The Bill was passed amid strong protest from the opposition led by the BJP, which said that it was brought with a sole aim to target Venugopal by Ramdoss, who wanted to hold his control over the premier health institution of the country and “destroy” its autonomy.

Ramadoss and Venugopal have been at loggerheads eversince AIIMS doctors and students started an agitation by doctors against the government’s OBC quota proposal in institutions of higher learning.

Ramdoss had issued orders for sacking of Venugopal but these were stayed by the Delhi High Court after the latter had challenged the minister’s move.

Earlier during the debate, the House witnessed angry exchanges between NDA and UPA coalition members with BJP’s Maneka Gandhi leading an attack on the Minister for his alleged “single point” agenda to oust Venugopal.

The Health Minister was in a hurry, Maneka Gandhi said adding that she had been watching Ramdoss trying to make forays into AIIMS through a direct executive action or by way of the Bill.

She said the government move was bound to affect the autonomy of country’s two premier health institutions, the AIIMS and the PGI, Chandigarh.

Denying the charge, Ramadoss, who piloted the Bill said he wanted to see AIIMS to be one of the best health institutions in the world.

Top

 

Ronen let off the hook
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
India’s ambassador to the USA Ronen Sen, who was in soup over his “headless chicken” remark, was today let off by the Lok Sabha Privileges Committee with an advice that a diplomat should be discreet and “discretion in speech is more important than eloquence”.

The committee had summoned Sen after his comments had sent shock waves in Parliament during its monsoon session. The committee recommended that “keeping in view the unconditional apologies tendered by Sen, the matter may be treated as closed”.

The committee is of the view that no breach of privilege or contempt of the House was involved in the matter, it observed in its report tabled in the Lok Sabha today.

At the same time, the committee believed that Sen had not covered himself with glory by such an indiscreet comment.

“This matter could well serve as an advisory on what ought not to be done by a diplomat,” it said.

The controversy arose following his remark characterising those opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal as “headless chicken” with MPs stalling Parliament and demanding action against him.

The committee, headed by V. Kishore Chandra Deo, reminded Sen that “discretion in speech is more important than eloquence”.

Maintaining that the phrase “headless chicken” was not used by Sen in respect of MPs or politicians, the committee felt it was directed against mediapersons.

Top

 

Security Exemptions at Airports
Refusal to services chiefs criticised

New Delhi, November 22
The Civil Aviation Ministry’s refusal to exempt the three services chiefs from security checks at airports has angered some former top military brass who said it is a "gratuitous insult" to the men in uniform and a "disgraceful lapse."

"It is a small symbolic gesture and the government should have gone ahead with exempting the three Service Chiefs as in the public eye, men in uniform are iconic figures," former Army Chief General S. Roychoudhary said from Kolkata. He said it is a "disgraceful lapse."

Defence minister A.K. Antony told Parliament yesterday that the Civil Aviation Ministry and Bureau of Civil Aviation Security had turned down his ministry's proposal to extend the privilege of exemption from frisking at the airports to the three Service Chiefs.

Other former Army Chiefs General V.P. Malik and General V.N. Sharma felt the government should be equally rigid in not giving such exemptions to politicians and others at a time when the country was faced with serious threat from terrorists.

Roychoudhary, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, said at a time when civilian authorities call in the Army at a drop of a hat, they were not getting the respect due to them.

General Sharma said Service Chiefs had no qualms in going through security checks as the staff was very polite.

"But whatever the security rules are, they should apply to all be it the Prime Minister, politicians or any private persons," he said.

"The same politicians and political big-wigs give themselves in meekly to security checks in places like US, but put up a different face back home,"he said. — PTI

Top

 

No security checks in Moscow: Pranab

New Delhi, November 22
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today denied that he had to undergo security checks at the Moscow airport during a recent official visit to Russia. Mukherjee made the denial in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. He was asked whether he had to pass through security checks at the ceremonial lounge recently in Moscow.

Talking about China’s refusal to recognise the MacMohan Line as the border between India and China Mukherjee said there was no commonly delineated Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two nations.

“From time to time, on account of differences in the perception of the LAC, situations have arisen on the ground that could have been avoided if we had a common perception of the LAC,” he added.

Pranab also informed the House that special representatives of India and China, M K Narayanan and Dai Bingguo, respectively, held the 11th round of talks on the boundary question. The two held discussions on the framework for the settlement of the India-China boundary issue. — PTI

Top

 

Govt to amend Persons with Disability Act
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 22
The government is in the process of amending the Persons with Disability Act, 1995, to make it more effective.

Announcing the government’s plans at a joint workshop of her ministry and the World Bank, minister of social justice and empowerment Meira Kumar said her ministry was engaged in consultations with various stakeholders, representing disabled peoples’ organisations, non-government organisations, experts and members of civil society with regard to proposed changes in the Act.

Referring to the UN Convention on the rights of Persons With Disabilities (PWD), the minister said it had brought out several new concepts as alternative mode of communication, accessibility of information and communication technologies and reasonable accommodation to facilitate their equal participation in all spheres of activities. She said these concepts would be considered in due course and necessary changes in legislations, rules, policies and programs of the government would be made.

The minister told the participants that the objective of empowering persons with disabilities would be achieved only if persons living in remote, inaccessible and rural areas are empowered and special emphasis was laid on empowering women and children with disabilities.

Top

 

Talking-book library on the cards
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 22
A talking-book library that will help visually challenged persons in Assam and other northeastern states is likely to become a reality provided the National Federation of Blind (NFB) agrees to proposals of its regional officials here.

A talking-book library, equipped with CD recording studio, is one of the three projects identified by the NFB for making the learning process easier for visually challenged persons in the region as well as to provide skill-development training to them.

The newly elected vice-president (East zone) of the NFB Imran Ali and a senior member of the federation Ajoy Kumar Khatoniar said here that the fund required for the implementation of the project in the region was expected from the NBF.

Ali, a law graduate from Delhi University and presently working as a section officer in the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) office here, informed that the NFB would also impart computer training and other skill-development training to the visually challenged students of the region. The federation also plans to set up a computerised Braille press and Braille library and a hostel for college going students in Guwahati.

Top

 

300-year-old Sikh weapons on way to Mumbai

Navi Mumbai, November 22
Three-hundred-year-old Sikh weapons, some of them belonging to Guru Gobind Singh, are on display at the Vashi Exhibition Grounds here.

The weapons, brought from Nanded Gurudwara, where they were kept earlier, include kirpans, swords, spears and a long barrel gun. Also on display is handwritten holy book in gurmukhi script from the time of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th guru of Sikhs.

The procession, carrying the rare weapons in a specially-designed vehicle, reached Vashi last evening with rose petals showered on the path to the exhibition grounds.

Sikh horsemen, carrying swords, were part of the procession. Placards reading ‘300 saal guru ke naal (300 years with the guru)’ were also displayed prominently. Women devotees swept the streets and showered flowers.

The weapons are part of a nationwide awareness journey to commemorate 300 years of establishment of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Hundreds of devotees have followed the procession from Nanded. Tomorrow, the procession will travel to gurudwaras in Mumbai and later be taken to other parts of Maharashtra, Orissa, Chattisgarh and West Bengal, according to Jasbir Singh, coordinator of the awareness journey. — UNI

Top

 

School boy suspended for applying mehndi
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Servic
e

Chennai, November 22
A seven-year-old boy here has been suspended and fined Rs 500 for going to school with mehndi on his hand. The mehndi was applied on his palms during a puja at his house.

Kaushik Ram, son of lawyer parents, was also made to stand in the school playground for an hour as punishment.

The parents have removed Kaushik from the 150-year-old Doveton Corrie group of educational institutions and moved the Tamil Nadu Human rights Commission. They also complained to the state director of matriculation schools.

The parents alleged that when they reached the school to plead with principal Petal Theodre to revoke the 10-day suspension and the fine, they were verbally abused by her.

According to Kaushik, a student of class III,: “My class teacher saw the mehndi on my hands and took me to the principal. The principal made me stand in the playground for an hour and sent me home.”

The school management stated that coming with mehndi on hands was one of the things prohibited by the school to ensure discipline.

On behalf of the school management, H.E. Wilkins said: “The principal suspended him for one and a half days so that the mehndi could get washed off.”

Top

 

College principal stabbed to death

Bulandshahar, November 22
A college principal was allegedly stabbed to death by an unidentified person here today, the police said.

C.P.Gupta, principal of DAV Degree College, was allegedly stabbed several times by the assailant when he was taking a walk on the college premises.

Gupta was immediately rushed to a hospital where he was declared brought dead, the police said.

Later, students of the college blocked traffic on the Delhi highway, demanding the arrest of a BSP MLA, who had allegedly threatened Gupta with dire consequences if he failed to readmit some expelled students.

The police said the principal had recently expelled 12 students from the college on charges of vandalism on the campus. — PTI

Top

 

Pravin’s wife says SMS tampered with

Mumbai, November 22
Sarangi, wife of Pravin Mahajan, today told the sessions court here that the SMS sent to Pramod Mahajan by her husband prior to the attack on the BJP leader last April had been "tampered" with.

Sarangi was deposing as a defence witness in the Pramod Mahajan murder trial. Pravin, late BJP leader's younger brother, is accused of shooting the latter.

The prosecution had submitted in court that Pravin had sent the threatening SMS to Pramod.

However, during her deposition Sarangi denied the contention of the prosecution and said it was she who had sent an SMS at the behest of Pravin as he had asked for an appointment with Pramod.

She did not tell anybody about this SMS, she claimed. In another development, prosecution applied for getting Pramod's mobile handset examined by forensic laboratory at Hyderabad. Hearing of the case has been adjourned till November 28. — PTI

Top

 

Taslima flown to Rajasthan
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, November 22
Taslima Nasreen, in the evening today, took a flight to Jaipur.

It was not known if she herself left the city in the face of the threat to her life or that the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had secretly arranged her shifting to avoid further crisis - both political and administrative - over her staying in Kolkata.

It might be that the BJP had sponsored her shifting to get her a new safe life in the BJP-ruled state in Rajasthan as a strategy for taking on the CPM to counteract the Godra issue. But no official version was available on Taslima's sudden departure from the city.

Top

 

Basu falls, fractures rib

Kolkata, November 22
Ninety four-year-old CPM patriarch Jyoti Basu has cracked a rib after falling down at his residence.

“This was detected in an X-ray on Basu today,” his personal assistant Joykrishna Ghosh told PTI.

Ghosh said Basu, who slipped and fell in the bathroom yesterday at his Salt lake residence, Indira Bhavan here, has been advised complete rest for two to three weeks by doctors.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee said “Basu is alright now.” — PTI

Top

 

40 hurt in train mishap

Khargpur, November 22
At least forty Railway employees traveling by Bharatdarsan Special train were seriously injured when the up TATA Passenger from Howrah rammed into it tonight near the Shyamchawk station.

Two compartments were derailed due to the accident, Ranjan Tewari, DRM, Khargpur said. The Bharatdarsan Special was standing between Shyamchak and Jakpur stations due to a signal failure.

TATA passenger running on the same track from Howrah hit it from the back at about 8.30 pm. The injured employees were immediately sent to Kharagpur Railway Hospital, 15 km away from the spot.

A relief train led by divisional safety officer Debasis Chandra immediately rushed to the spot. All up and down train movement of the south-eastern Railway have been suspended following the accident, sources said. — UNI

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |