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N A T I O N

UP Blasts
Ex gratia hiked to Rs 5 lakh

Lucknow, November 24
Not ruling out that lawyers were the target of the terrorist attacks at the three civil courts in the state yesterday, the Mayawati government has strengthened the security of all courts across the state.

Well-trained terrorist outfit suspected
Lucknow, November 24
Friday’s serial blasts in the civil courts of Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow in which 13 people were killed and more than 60 injured was the handiwork of a well- trained terrorist outfit, revealed investigators probing the blasts.

Forensic experts sent to UP
New Delhi, November 24
Even as the Centre dispatched forensic experts to Uttar Pradesh, it is concerned over the spurt in terrorist crimes in several districts of Uttar Pradesh in the past few months.

UP reinstates 23 suspended IPS officers
Lucknow, November 24
Reversing its earlier decision the Mayawati government today decided to reinstate all 25 IPS officer suspended for committing irregularities in the selection of police constables leading to the revoking of approximately 20,000 constables appointed during the Mulayam Singh regime.

Maya to hold Mumbai rally
Mumbai, November 24
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati will address her planned rally at Mumbai's Shivaji Park on Sunday despite Friday's serial bomb blasts in her home state. Top leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party are already camping in Mumbai to ensure a huge turnout.

MHA taking appropriate action on e-mail threats
New Delhi, November 24
The union home ministry is taking “appropriate action” on reports of fresh e-mail threatening a series of explosions, including an attack on the visiting Pakistani cricket team.


Ishmeet Singh
Ishmeet wins Voice of India contest
Mumbai, November 24
Ishmeet Singh of Ludhiana won the Voice of India contest held here tonight. He defeated the other finalist Harshit Saxena.


EARLIER STORIES


A police officer looks on as injured protesters lie on a road in Guwahati after activists of the All-Adivasi Student’s Association of Assam (AASAA) clashed with local residents
A police officer looks on as injured protesters lie on a road in Guwahati after activists of the All-Adivasi Student’s Association of Assam (AASAA) clashed with local residents on Saturday. — AFP

Goa Governor survives bid on life in Nagaland
Guwahati, November 24
The Governor of Goa and former Nagaland Chief Minister S.C. Jamir survived an attempt on life by unidentified underground rebels in his home district Mokokchung in Nagaland early this morning.

Lalu roughs up cop
Kolkata, November 24
The railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav misbehaved with a police officer on VIP duty and assaulted him at the Netaji Subhas Intenational Airport last night during his visit to Kolkata.

Economic disparities breed lawlessness: Patil
New Delhi, November 24
President Pratibha Patil today sought to link the growing threat to the rule of law to economic disparities and said in order to eliminate extremism and terrorism the establishment of just and equitable global economic order was necessary.

CAT: No regularisation of casual labourers
New Delhi, November 24
The Central Administrative Tribunal has declined to grant regularisation of service to casual labourers employed by the central government holding that they were not regularly appointed.

Guj chief secy to seek time for EC reply
Gandhinagar, November 24
Gujarat chief secretary Manjula Subramaniam, who has been summoned by the Election Commission in connection with the non-compliance of its order, is likely to seek a few days time for presenting herself before it.

Almonds can contribute to weight management
New Delhi, November 24
The good old almonds can serve as an effective remedy for obese people desperately wanting to shed weight. A study carried out by Purdue University in West Lafayette Indiana, USA, has challenged the assumption of most nutritionists and doctors that daily intake of almonds can contribute to weight gain.

Sale of Guru Nanak Dev’s Idols
NCM takes cognizance of complaints
New Delhi, November 24
The National Commission for Minorities has taken serious cognizance of complaints by Sikhs about sale of idols of Guru Nanak Dev in India and may recommend a ban on their import.

NCM team to leave for Nandigram
New Delhi, November 24
The National Commission for Minorities will send a two-member team of Harcharan Singh Josh and Rev Lama Zotpa on a three-day fact finding mission to Kolkata and Nandigram on Monday.

Sibal to head delegation at peace conference
New Delhi, November 24
Science and technology minister Kapil Sibal will lead the Indian delegation to the USA for the global conference in Annapolis on promoting peace in West Asia.

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UP Blasts
Ex gratia hiked to Rs 5 lakh
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 24
Not ruling out that lawyers were the target of the terrorist attacks at the three civil courts in the state yesterday, the Mayawati government has strengthened the security of all courts across the state.

Addressing a press conference, principal secretary home J.N. Chamber admitted that this angle of the blast was being investigated by the STF.

He said that it was surely not a coincidence that the blasts had taken place in the lawyers sheds of the civil courts of only those district where in recent times the lawyers had either refused to plead for alleged terrorists or openly clashed with them when they were presented before the court.

Last week some Lucknow lawyers had brutally beaten up the three reported JeM terrorists arrested by the STF. Before that lawyers had refused to plead for the alleged terrorist arrested for the serial bombing of Sankatmochan Temple and Cantonment railway station at Varanasi on 7 March 2006.

When the main accused of the March 7 serial blast was presented in the Varanasi court on 20 April 2006, the lawyers had not only refused to plead on his behalf but also manhandled him in the court premises.

A similar incident had occurred in the Faizabad civil court when the lawyers clashed with the reported terrorist arrested for being the mastermind behind the terrorist attack on the makeshift temple in Ayodhya on 5 July 2005.

As the Faizabad lawyers remained adamant at their decision not to plead for the terrorist the case had to be sifted to Allahabad.

Confirming these incidents Chamber said that keeping all this in mind security was stepped up not only in these court but all the courts.

Meanwhile, following Chief Minister Mayawati’s visit to all three blast sites and hospitals to meet the injured the amount of ex gratia payment to the deceased victims has been raised from Rs 2 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

The seriously injured will now get Rs 1 lakh and those with minor injuries will receive Rs 50, 000, announced the Chief Minister.

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Well-trained terrorist outfit suspected
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 24
Friday’s serial blasts in the civil courts of Varanasi, Faizabad and Lucknow in which 13 people were killed and more than 60 injured was the handiwork of a well- trained terrorist outfit, revealed investigators probing the blasts.

Highly placed sources in the investigation team said the explosive devices used pointed a finger at well-trained terrorists behind the incident. “Only an expert in making and planting such devices will know when and where to plant such bomb,” claimed a senior officer.

While the bombs were of low intensity it required specialised knowledge to select the right places to plant it so as to ensure a large number of casualties, officials claimed.

Virtually ruling out the role of groups like Al-Hind Mujahideens, which had owned responsibility for the blasts through an email sent to electronic channels, investigators claimed that prima facie the role of such novices had to be ruled out.

Sources in state police said all blasts were similar in nature. “The possible use of ammonium nitrate to trigger the blast and an electronic timer device indicates that an old hand was involved,” informed an official.

Late Friday night the police issued sketches of suspects who had planted bombs in Lucknow and Faizabad. While two sketches were released in Lucknow, another two were released in Faizabad. Two cycle dealers in the chowk area of Faizabad - Pappu cycles and Vakil Sahib cycles - have admitted that two of the three cycles used in the blast had been bought from their store on November 21.

According to DIG Faizabad S Shrivastava, after buying the cycles they had been kept at the cycle stand at Faizabad railway station and were taken away only on Friday.

The sketch released in Faizabad is of the person who bought the cycle and the other is of the person who took it away from the railway station cycle stand.

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Forensic experts sent to UP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
Even as the Centre dispatched forensic experts to Uttar Pradesh, it is concerned over the spurt in terrorist crimes in several districts of Uttar Pradesh in the past few months.

Forensic experts appear to be certain that the explosive used in the triple strike yesterday in UP was ammonium nitrate packed with steel pellets akin to the low intensity explosion witnessed in Gorakhpur in May this year.

Clearly, no one is taking lightly the threats of more attacks in the future with the Indian police being singled out for special treatment.

Union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal, who visited Varanasi for an the spot assessment of the situation, returned to the Capital today. He said appropriate action is being taken on the reports of fresh threats through e-mails.

The ministry of home affairs has appealed to the media not to carry reports which may spread panic.

Even as union home minister Shivraj Patil strongly condemned the bomb blasts in Uttar Pradesh, the states have been advised to step up vigilance.

Just before the current bomb blasts in UP, railway police personnel had recovered about 10 kg of explosives and 20 kg of ammonium nitrate during a routine search from the second class waiting room at the Faizabad railway station.

It is widely believed that huge quantities of explosives are being pumped into the state and with the banned Students Islamic Movement of India active in many districts of UP, a close watch will have to be kept to avoid any major strike in the near future.

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UP reinstates 23 suspended IPS officers
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 24
Reversing its earlier decision the Mayawati government today decided to reinstate all 25 IPS officer suspended for committing irregularities in the selection of police constables leading to the revoking of approximately 20,000 constables appointed during the Mulayam Singh regime.

According to secretary home Mahesh Kumar Gupta, orders for the reinstatement of 23 officers had already been issued while the Central government had been requisitioned for the reinstatement of the two officers presently on Central deputation.

This decision, had been taken after a probe panel headed by an IG-rank officer Shailjakant Mishra found grave irregularities in the selection process.

Incidentally, the government today also decided to divest Mishra from his post as IG STF and Inter State Border Police (ISBP) to a relatively insignificant post.

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Maya to hold Mumbai rally
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 24
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati will address her planned rally at Mumbai's Shivaji Park on Sunday despite Friday's serial bomb blasts in her home state.

Top leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party are already camping in Mumbai to ensure a huge turnout. Veer Singh, national secretary of the BSP, said Mayawati called him to confirm her presence at the rally shortly after news of the blasts made it to national headlines.

People mobilised by BSP activists from across Maharashtra have already begun to arrive at the venue where they are camping in the open. Party activists sporting blue badges with pictures of an elephant, Mayawati's election symbol, have been spotted at major train terminus to guide the visitors. The police said residents of buildings near Shivaji Park have filed complaints about people using the area as a public lavatory. "It happens every time there is a rally. We cannot do much about this," a police officer at the police station nearby said.

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MHA taking appropriate action on e-mail threats

New Delhi, November 24
The union home ministry is taking “appropriate action” on reports of fresh e-mail threatening a series of explosions, including an attack on the visiting Pakistani cricket team.

“Appropriate action is being taken on reports of fresh email threat,” a home ministry spokesman today said.

The e-mail threat received by a television channel came close on the heels of yesterday’s blasts in Uttar Pradesh.

The home ministry appealed to the media not to carry reports in a manner which might spread panic.

Today’s e-mail threatened blasts in various places in Chennai, Ghaziabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Islamabad. Various television channels had received an e-mail yesterday also which landed minutes after the first blast rocked the holy town of Varanasi.

Meanwhile, union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal, who visited Varanasi in the wake of the blasts, returned this morning after collecting first hand information. — PTI

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Goa Governor survives bid on life in Nagaland
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 24
The Governor of Goa and former Nagaland Chief Minister S.C. Jamir survived an attempt on life by unidentified underground rebels in his home district Mokokchung in Nagaland early this morning.

Additional superintendent of police R. Jamir said over phone from Mokokchung district that unidentified rebels fired mortar shells on the convoy of Jamir near Changki village, while he was travelling from his ancestral residence in Mokokchung town to Dimapur at around 6.30am.

The six vehicles of Jamir’s convoy, who is on a holiday in his home state, came under mortar shelling by rebels near a bridge on a hilly road connecting Mokokchung with the Assam valley. A couple of security personnel received minor injuries in the attack while Jamir escaped unhurt.

The police said Jamir later reached his residence safely in Dimapur at around 10.20 am.

An Army spokesman Nirupam Bhargava said that the attack on Jamir was carried out by rebels belonging to the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Issac-Muivah), which is engaged in a prolonged peace process with the Government of India since 1997.

This was the fourth attempt on the life of the veteran Congress leader from Nagaland. Earlier, the Naga rebel group NSCN-IM, which is now having a truce with the security forces, had made three abortive attempts on his life.

The NSCN-IM in a recent statement had banned Jamir from coming to his home state (Nagaland) accusing him of being anti-Nagas.

The NSCN-IM is apparently apprehensive of Jamir, which it thinks, is trying to make a come back in the state politics by contesting the forthcoming Assembly election on a Congress ticket. Jamir had maintained a strong stand against continuing insurgency in Nagaland, while he was the Chief Minister of the state.

After it had signed the ceasefire pact with Central Government to engage in peace negotiation, the NSCN-IM had apparently ensured that Jamir was kept out of the entire process.

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Lalu roughs up cop
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, November 24
The railway minister Lalu Prasad Yadav misbehaved with a police officer on VIP duty and assaulted him at the Netaji Subhas Intenational Airport last night during his visit to Kolkata.

The minister caught a police officer in plain clothes by neck and dashed him out to the utter surprise of the senior railway officers, the airport staff and several passengers, who were present in the exit lounge at that time.

Lalu had come to the city to attend two functions organised by the Eastern Railway at Krishnanagar in Nadia and Kolkata: the inauguration of the electrification of the Krishnanagar-Lalgola section and the laying of a foundation of the new railway line there. He also flagged off the newly introduced Kolaghat-Balurghat express and Swatantrata Sangram Express at Kolkata station.

When the minister arrived at the airport, a large number of RJD

members and his friends and well-wishers were there to welcome him. His enthusiastic followers soon surrounded him and raised slogans to welcome him. The minister passed through the jostling crowd acknowledging the greetings of his followers in his characteristic style.

But worried over the minister’s security, the RPF personnel and

other policemen tried to protect Lalu by separating him from the crowd. A police officer on duty in plain clothes was encircling the minister when his right hand suddenly touched the minister's back. This enraged Lalu who hit the policeman and dragged him to the front. The officer initially got perplexed and felt insulted. But no one present there protested over Lalu's misbehaviour.

In these two functions, Lalu praised the Railway's performance both in raising the traffic revenue and offering better amenities to the passengers. However, today around 12 noon when the minister was publicly boasting about his achievements as the railway minister, the Howrah bound Rajdhani Express was involved in an accident at Jamtara station on the West Bengal-Jhargram border.

The engine of the 18-coach AC train suddenly detached at a level crossing near Jamtara. The train halted with a heavy jerk and the detached engine finally stopped about 50 metres ahead. A major accident was thus averted, by chance.

However, some passengers travelling in the rear coaches of the train sustained injuries. The train, which was to arrive at Howrah station at 11.40 a.m, ultimately reached there at 4 p.m.

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Economic disparities breed lawlessness: Patil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
President Pratibha Patil today sought to link the growing threat to the rule of law to economic disparities and said in order to eliminate extremism and terrorism the establishment of just and equitable global economic order was necessary.

Challenges to the rule of law were emanating from international terrorism, inequitable economic order, inadequate representation in the global financial institutions, weapons of mass destruction, cross-border crimes, drugs and human trafficking and money laundering, she said.

The President made these observations while inaugurating an international conference of jurists on the rule of law at Vigyan Bhawan here. The conference has been organised jointly by the International Council of Jurists, All-India Bar Association and Indian Council of Jurists.

The essence of democracy “is to establish the rule of law that advocates the absence of the arbitrary use of power, equality before the law and protection of individual’s liberty,” Patil said.

The conference was attended by Chief Justice of India K.G Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Phillips and union law minister H.R Bhardwaj and minister of state K.Venkatapathy.

Justice Balakrishnan said the three wings of democracy have to play their role effectively to establish the rule of law in the true sense and it could not be done by any single institution.

He felt the need for redrawing “protective strategies” to deal with the menace of fundamentalism, terrorism and extremism, which pose a grave threat to the country and had gravely affected the lives of people in some parts.

The President also presented the international jurists award-2007 to Lord Justice Phillips, International Court of Justice president Rosalyn Higgins, Bhardwaj and International Bar Association president Fernando Pombo on the occasion.

She also presented the Law Day, 2007 awards to Additional Solicitor General P.P Malhotra, Punjab Advocate General H.S Mattewal, Bar Council of India chairman S.G Nair and All-India Bar Association vice-chairman.

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CAT: No regularisation of casual labourers

New Delhi, November 24
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has declined to grant regularisation of service to casual labourers employed by the central government holding that they were not regularly appointed.

A bench of the Tribunal consisting vice-chairman Justice M. Ramachandran and member Chitra Chopra said “since they were not regularly appointed but only casually engaged and as they had thus been so accommodated without conferment of any legal rights, it could not have been possible for them to urge a contention that they are required to be regularised.”

“Taking notice of the work that was to be discharged with transparency, a method has been evolved whereby the contractor has to supply the required labour,” the Bench observed. This cannot be considered as offensive or surreptitious method, as it is well settled that an employer has a right to decide in what manner his work has to be arranged, said the tribunal.

Dismissing the petition filed by Krishan Kumar Rajput and Gajendra Pratap Pal engaged as casual labourers by the ministry of environment and forests though a contractor, the tribunal said that there may not be regular work available. — PTI

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Guj chief secy to seek time for EC reply

Gandhinagar, November 24
Gujarat chief secretary Manjula Subramaniam, who has been summoned by the Election Commission in connection with the non-compliance of its order, is likely to seek a few days time for presenting herself before it.

She is indisposed and is likely to seek a new date to explain the state government’s stand on the delay in transferring an IPS officer, official sources said.

The EC has summoned Manjula to Delhi to know the reasons behind the delay by the state government in appointing Satish Sharma as the joint commissioner of police (Sector I) in the city instead of P. K. Jha.

The EC had recently transferred three IPS officials, including Jha. Earlier, the commission had ordered transfer of six IAS and IPS officers, including director general of police P. C. Pande and Ahmedabad police commissioner J. Mahapatra, ahead of the Assembly elections. — PTI

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Almonds can contribute to weight management
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
The good old almonds can serve as an effective remedy for obese people desperately wanting to shed weight.

A study carried out by Purdue University in West Lafayette Indiana, USA, has challenged the assumption of most nutritionists and doctors that daily intake of almonds can contribute to weight gain.

The study published in a recent issue of the British Journal of Nutrition highlights the ability of almonds to contribute to weight management.

The study titled ‘Effect of chronic almond consumption on body weight of healthy humans’ was aimed at finding out if the inclusion of a 344 calorie serving of almonds in the daily diet results in positive energy balance and body composition change.

The research team inferred that a daily serving of 56 grams of almonds may be included in the diet without leading to weight gain. At the same time, it may help increase intake of unsaturated fats and essential nutrients, including vitamin E, magnesium and copper.

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Sale of Guru Nanak Dev’s Idols
NCM takes cognizance of complaints
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has taken serious cognizance of complaints by Sikhs about sale of idols of Guru Nanak Dev in India and may recommend a ban on their import.

NCM’s Harcharan Singh Josh said: “Senior Akali leader Manjit Singh has sent a representation to us. We understand that the issue is of grave concern for the entire Sikh community as idol worship is prohibited in the faith. The commission will discuss the issue urgently and take action.”

In his complaint, Manjit Singh, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, said Guru Nanak’s idols are being imported from China. He said he will approach the Chinese government through its embassy in New Delhi to seek a ban on making idols of Sikh Guru.

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NCM team to leave for Nandigram
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
The National Commission for Minorities will send a two-member team of Harcharan Singh Josh and Rev Lama Zotpa on a three-day fact finding mission to Kolkata and Nandigram on Monday.The NCM has been worried about the incidents of violence and complaints that some members of a particular community had been targeted.

Josh led a delegation that met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and presented her a portrait of and a book about the history and teachings of Guru Nanak Dev on the occasion of Gurpurb today.

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Sibal to head delegation at peace conference
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 24
Science and technology minister Kapil Sibal will lead the Indian delegation to the USA for the global conference in Annapolis on promoting peace in West Asia.

As a signal of elevating India’s standing in the world politics, it has been invited along with nearly 50 other countries to attend the three-day US-convened conference, beginning Monday, at the US Naval Academy campus in Annapolis.

Sibal will be accompanied by Prime Minister's special envoy to West Asia C.R. Gharekhan. The invitation recognises the crucial role that Indian can play in bringing about peace in the region.

Underlining India's unique status as a fully functioning democracy and a successful multicultural society, Gharekhan had said that India could be a model for societies in the region.

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