SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Crack down on militants: Karuna
Chennai, November 28
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has sat up following the AICC resolution on the LTTE and his elegy in praise of slain LTTE leader S.P. Thamilselvam, directing the police to crack down on militants.

RS passes AIIMS amendment bill
New Delhi, November 28
The Congress-led UPA government today forced its way and got the AIIMS Bill, which indirectly seeks to remove AIIMS director Dr P. Venugopal, passed in the Rajya Sabha amid pandemonium and strong protest from the opposition.

Separated wife entitled to maintenance: SC
New Delhi, November 28
In an important judgement protecting the right of married women, the Supreme Court has held that a separated wife, even if having her own income, is entitled to maintenance to enable her to attain the same standard of living that she enjoyed in husband’s house before separation.


EARLIER STORIES


Vietnam deputy minister of defence General Nguven Huy (L) and India’s defence secretary Vijay Singh (R) at the ‘Third Dialogue’ meeting in New Delhi
Vietnam deputy minister of defence General Nguven Huy (L) and India’s defence secretary Vijay Singh (R) at the ‘Third Dialogue’ meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI

Bhakra Headworks Case
SC defers hearing on Punjab appeal
New Delhi, November 28
The Supreme Court today deferred hearing on the Punjab government’s petition challenging the Rajasthan High Court order directing the Punjab government to hand over the control of three major headworks of Bhakra-Beas irrigation network to the BBMB, a central agency.

Freedom in sight for Dutt
Mumbai, November 28
Actor Sanjay Dutt is all set to walk free from jail after Judge Pramod Kode of the special court set up under the Terrorism And Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) today signed his release orders.

Serial Blasts
Maya blames Centre for negligence
Lucknow, November 28
Reacting to Governor T.V. Rajeswar’s remarks about the “coordinated and concerted efforts” in which terrorists carried out serial blasts in three cities last week, Chief Minister Mayawati once again came out to quickly blame the Centre for increasing incidents of terrorism in the state.

Prakash attracts 12 JD(S) legislators
Bangalore, November 28
The countdown for a split in the Janata Dal (Secular) and realignment of forces in the Janata parivar in Karnataka has begun with veteran party leader M.P. Prakash today attracting 12 JD(S) legislators and four others, including two belonging to Janata Dal (United), to a “parallel” meeting of the party, which has put off any definite action for eight days.

Modi declares assets; has no car
Ahmedabad, November 28
A 57-year-old bachelor, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has assets worth Rs 40 lakh, does not own any vehicle and has no cases against him, according to an affidavit he filed before the Election Commission.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi flaunts a sword as mark of victory before filing nomination papers from Maninagar constituency for the assembly election in Ahmedabad on Wednesday. — PTI photo
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi flaunts a sword as mark of victory before filing nomination papers from Maninagar constituency for the assembly election in Ahmedabad

Mamta elopes with tusker
Uttarakhand wildlife dept in spot
Dehra Dun, November 28,
The elopement of Mamta, a female elephant at the Rajaji National Park, a case property in a pending case in the Delhi High Court, has sent the Uttarakhand wildlife authorities into a tizzy.

Presenting accused on camera weakens case: UP Governor
Lucknow, November 28
Governor T.V. Rajeswar today came down heavily on the state's police for its tendency to present alleged criminals and terrorists before the camera at the drop of a hat, virtually permitting a trial by media.

Tatkal passports the same day
Centre to set up facilitation centres
New Delhi, November 28
The government is striving to issue ‘tatkal’ passports the same day and ordinary passports within three days of police verification, minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed told the Lok Sabha today.

Development council for adivasis on card
Guwahati, November 28
Alarmed by the intensive upsurge of adivasis clamouring for scheduled tribe (ST) status, the Assam government has decided to publish a White Paper on what it has so far done to persuade the union government to accord ST status to the community.

Wonder plant jatropha leading to land grab?
New Delhi, November 28
Is the plantation of wonder plant jatropha, an alternative to fossil fuels and answer to climate change, leading to a problem of another kind--land grab--in the country? If a study on the social, economic and ecological impact of jatropha cultivation for bio iesel in India “Biofuel Hoax: Jatropha and Land Grab”can be beleived then jatropha plantation has started generating controversy by leading to land conflicts and rise in food prices.

Don’t mix alcohol, revelry this Christmas: Church
Kochi, November 28
Alarmed at the increasing incidence of liquor consumption in Kerala, the Catholic Church in the state has asked the community to abstain from taking alcoholic drinks on Christmas as part of a campaign against the  menace.

Mumbai all set for dedicated bus lanes
Mumbai, November 28
Mumbai will soon get its first bus rapid transit system. Inspired by a similar project in Colombia’s capital Bogota, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will kick off the BRTS project on the Eastern Express Highway on an experimental basis.

Centre defends Ahmedabad collector’s action
New Delhi, November 28
The Centre today defended Ahmedabad collector’s action of banning television channels from airing the Tehelka expose on 2002 Gujarat riots saying that he had acted as per law.

Iran gas pipeline
Pranab denies US pressure
New Delhi, November 28
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today denied that the USA had asked India not to move forward with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project. In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, the minister informed the House that the ministry of petroleum and natural gas was negotiating the pipeline project with Iran and Pakistan.

Khushboo in trouble again
Kumbakonam, November 28
Actress Khushboo, who was caught in a series of legal tangles for advocating sex education to girls at schools, appears to be in trouble again--this time for "wearing chappals" in front of idols of goddesses at a film muhurat in Chennai.

Curfew clamped on Assam town
Guwahati, November 28
Curfew has been clamped in Rangapara town of Sonitpur district in North Assam following clashes between Adivasis and local population dominated by Bengali-speaking people.

Terror Threat
Cops deployed at Puri mutt
Bhubaneswar, November 28
Policemen were deployed at Govardhan Mutt in Puri after the seminary received a postcard threatening to eliminate it and its Shankaracharya along with his disciples,the police said today.

NHRC seeks report from TN
‘Murder’ of woman having HIV
New Delhi, November 28
The National Human Rights Commission has asked the Tamil Nadu government to send within a month a factual report on the alleged murder of a woman living with HIV.

NHRC says its name unnecessarily dragged
New Delhi, November 28
The National Human Rights Commission today said its name is unnecessarily dragged in the case pertaining to conviction of a former employee.

2 NSCN-IM men shot dead
Guwahati, November 28
Suspected ULFA militants shot dead two senior cadres of the Naga rebel group, the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isaac-Muivah), following a shootout in Tizit subdivision in Nagaland’s Mon district.

Student kidnapped at gunpoint
Patna, November 28
A student was kidnapped at gunpoint in Bihar today, police officials said. Criminals kidnapped Manish Kumar, a student of DAV School in Siwan, about 150 km from here, while he was on his way to school.

LS to discuss Guwahati violence
New Delhi, November 28
The Lok Sabha will discuss violence in Guwahati during tribals’ demonstration on December 3, speaker Somnath Chatterjee informed today. BJP member Kiren Rijiju demanded a CBI probe into the Guwahati violence which left one dead and 242 injured.

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Crack down on militants: Karuna
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, November 28
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has sat up following the AICC resolution on the LTTE and his elegy in praise of slain LTTE leader S.P. Thamilselvam, directing the police to crack down on militants.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s statement during the recent AICC session that her party could not be taken for granted by alliance partners was also a signal for Karunanidhi that he was not indispensable to the Congress.

All these prompted the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu to display that it was not in favour of the LTTE and asked the state police to exhibit some action.

In a bid to curb activities of the banned LTTE ,the Tamil Nadu police has warned of stern action against those supporting banned outfits, while an LTTE explosive expert was nabbed and seven arms smugglers arrested at Rameswaram, the closest point in India to Sri Lanka.

Tamil Nadu director- general of police P. Rajendran stated that supporters of banned outfits would attract punishment under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.He warned: “Stern action would be taken against those who pasted posters, distributed handbills supporting the banned organisations and burnt effigies of leaders.”

The state police chief’s warning is significant in view of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi writing an elegy praising the slain LTTE political wing secretary S.P. Thamilselvam who was killed in a Sri Lankan Air Force strike on November 3 and which was released to the media through the state information department.

As such, the DGP did not specifically name or single out the LTTE to avoid any kind of embarrassment to the Chief Minister.

The Opposition AIADMK supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa described it as an “anti-national act amounting to treason” and demanded the dismissal of the DMK government.

Karunanidhi justified his action saying that he being a Tamil had mourned the death of another Tamil. However, when MDMK general secretary Vaiko and Tamil Nationalist Movement leader P. Nedumaran tried to bring out a rally to mourn the killing of Thamilselvam, they were arrested by the police under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and lodged in jail.

The Chief Minister wanted to send a signal to the Centre that he was indeed initiating action against LTTE supporters in the state.

The Tamil Nadu Congress kept quiet till the AICC on November 17 passed a resolution stating, “The LTTE, categorised internationally as a terrorist outfit, deliberately assassinated our beloved leader Rajiv Gandhi in a brutal manner,” and that any support to it would hurt the sentiments of Congressmen.

Later, state Congress leaders flayed Karunanidhi and on Sunday clashes took place between Congress and DMK workers in Erode district.

Sensing the mood of its big brother, the Congress in the ruling UPA at the Centre, Karunanidhi directed the state police to initiate action against public support in favour of the LTTE.

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RS passes AIIMS amendment bill
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Congress-led UPA government today forced its way and got the AIIMS Bill, which indirectly seeks to remove AIIMS director Dr P. Venugopal, passed in the Rajya Sabha amid pandemonium and strong protest from the opposition.

Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson K. Rahman Khan had to adjourn the House twice as vociferous opposition members trooped into the well of the House to prevent the bill from being passed.

The opposition members belonging to the BJP, AIADMK, TDP and the Trinamool Congress shouted that the government was trying to destroy the premier medical institution by pushing through such a bill.

However, when the House reassembled, Khan allowed union health minister Ambumani Ramodass to seek the passage of the bill through voice vote amid pandemonium and slogan shouting by opposition members.

The AIIMS and the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (Amendment) Bill, 2007 has now got the Parliament’s nod as the Lok Sabha has already passed it.

The bill, seeking to amend the AIIMS Act 1956 and the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh Act, 1966, was introduced in Parliament on August 17.

Justifying the bill, Ramadoss who made his statement amid persistent slogan shouting from the opposition members said the bill would streamline the functioning of AIIMS, New Delhi, and the PGI, Chandigarh.

Earlier as soon as the House reassembled at 3.10 p.m. after two adjournments, opposition members rose on their feet, raising slogans: “loktantra ki hatya band karo” (stop the killing of democracy), “sansad mein manmani nahi chalegi” (whims and fancies of government will not be allowed in parliament).

Amid din, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, regretted that the bill was introduced without consulting the committee.

“I am not opposed to the bill. I am only opposed to the manner, in which the bill has been introduced in the House,” he said, and sought the protection of the Chair to ensure that it did not turn into a precedent.

Even as Ramadoss continued his reply on the bill, BJP member from Orissa Rudranarayan Pani moved menacingly towards the health minister, forcing members of treasury benches to stop him. Some AIADMK members even tore off the copy of the bill.

Earlier, CPM member Brinda Karat, CPI MP D. raja and Mangani Lal Mandal of the RJD and V. Narayanasamy of the Congress spoke on the bill, but nothing could be heard in the din.

The bill seeks to fix the term of the director for five years or till he/she attains the age of 65, whichever is earlier.

Dr Venugopal turned 65 in July this year, and with the director and the health minister not having a cordial relationship amongst each other, the bill has become an utmost priority for Ramadoss.

Once this bill becomes law, it will also empower the central government to terminate the services of the director even before his term expires for the sake of public interest.

The bill was moved following a Delhi High Court ruling of March 29, 2007, which held that the appointment to the director’s post was a tenure appointment and could not be curtailed except for justifiable reason and with prior notice to the director.

The court had also directed the centre and the AIIMS’s governing body to formulate a policy covering the various facets and conditions of service of its employees, including the director, in accordance with law and to uniformly apply such policy in the future.

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Separated wife entitled to maintenance: SC
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 28
In an important judgement protecting the right of married women, the Supreme Court has held that a separated wife, even if having her own income, is entitled to maintenance to enable her to attain the same standard of living that she enjoyed in husband’s house before separation.

“Where the personal income of the wife is insufficient she can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC. The test is whether the wife is in a position to maintain herself in the way she was used to in the place of her husband,” a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Altaf Alam ruled, further tightening the law on wife’s right to claim maintenance.

Basing their verdict on various previous decisions on applicability of Section 125 provisions, which always had been generating controversies, the court said it was well settled by the apex court that the “wife should be in a position to maintain standard of living which is neither luxurious nor penurious but what is consistent with status of the family”.

The essence of the law laid down by the Supreme Court was that on separation the wife should not be reduced to “absolutely destitute” position before applying for maintenance under Section 125, CrPC, the Bench said: “Section 125 is a measure of social justice and is specially enacted to protect women and children.”

“The object of the maintenance proceedings is not to punish a person for his past neglect, but to prevent vagrancy by compelling those who can provide support to those who are unable to support themselves and who have a moral claim to support,” Justice Pasayat writing the judgement for the Bench said.

The court was of the view that in Indian society where a vast majority of women were entirely dependent on their husbands for financial support, such a protective cover given by the law was to achieve social justice.

“It provides a speedy remedy for the supply of food, clothing and shelter to the deserted wife. It gives effect to fundamental rights and natural duties of a man to maintain his wife, children and parents when they are unable to maintain themselves,” the court held.

The ruling came on an appeal of Chaturbhuj, a retired assistant director, Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Department, earning a monthly pension of Rs 8,000 and an equal amount of rent from his house at Ratlam, making his total monthly income as Rs 16,000. Besides, he had earnings from money landing.

But he was not even ready to pay the maintenance of Rs 1,500 awarded by the trial court to his separated wife. They were married 40 years ago but were separated 20 years ago and since then she had been fighting for maintenance from trial court to district judge, state high court and finally in the Supreme Court.

The husband had taken the stand that he had given a house to his ex-wife from which she was earning a monthly rent of Rs 3,000. But the trial court had ruled that it was not a sufficient amount for her to maintain herself and ordered him to pay her Rs 1,500 per month, which was upheld by the district judge and the high court.

The apex court also rejected Chaturbhuj’s appeal against the high court order, saying the conclusion arrived at by all courts below were based on material facts on his income, which is core to decide the maintenance issue.

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Bhakra Headworks Case
SC defers hearing on Punjab appeal
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, November 28
The Supreme Court today deferred hearing on the Punjab government’s petition challenging the Rajasthan High Court order directing the Punjab government to hand over the control of three major headworks of Bhakra-Beas irrigation network to the BBMB, a central agency.

The hearing was deferred by a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R. V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal on the request of Punjab government counsels Rajiv Dhawan and R.S. Suri.

They said till the Presidential reference on the Punjab Termination of Water Agreement Act, 2006, and state’s suit challenging the 1966 Punjab Reorganisation Act were decided, no purpose would be served in hearing of the present case.

The Punjab’s counsel said since issues raised in the other two cases would have direct bearing on the present case, therefore, they should be decided first.

Punjab had challenged the May 2, 2005, order of Rajasthan High Court directing it to hand over the Ropar, Ferozepur and Harike headworks to the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) within a month.

The Supreme Court, however, had stayed the HC order following an appeal by the Punjab government, which would continue till further hearing.

The Rajasthan High Court had passed the order on a PIL by D.M. Singhvi, a retired chief engineer. But the Punjab government had challenged it on the ground that it was passed without the state filing any reply.

In subsequent development arising out of apex court’s order on construction of controversial SYL canal, the Amarinder Singh government had passed the law on termination of water agreements with neighbouring states.

But the President had sent a four-point reference to the apex court for its opinion on the validity of the Punjab Act.

Meanwhile, the Badal government this year had filed another suit, challenging the validity of 1966 Punjab Reorganisation Act in term of water related provisions in it.

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Freedom in sight for Dutt
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 28
Actor Sanjay Dutt is all set to walk free from jail after Judge Pramod Kode of the special court set up under the Terrorism And Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) today signed his release orders.

Dutt is likely to walk out of jail on Wednesday evening or Thursday, according to officials. As per norms, prisoners are not released after sunset from jails in Maharashtra. However, exceptions may be made in rare cases, they say.

Along with Sanjay Dutt, release orders for 16 others have also been issued.

Sanjay Dutt is lodged in Pune’s Yerwada jail, where he returned on October 22 after the TADA court gave him the copy of the judgement sentencing him to six years’ rigorous imprisonment.

Dutt’s defence team were in the process of completing the formalities at the time of writing the report.

Judge Kode signed the release orders for Dutt and others after the Supreme Court sent an e-mail intimating him about the release of all of those convicted along with the actor.

Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan ordered the Supreme Court registrar to provide the information by e-mail thereby setting a precedent. The usual process of sending documents would have taken days.

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Serial Blasts
Maya blames Centre for negligence
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 28
Reacting to Governor T.V. Rajeswar’s remarks about the “coordinated and concerted efforts” in which terrorists carried out serial blasts in three cities last week, Chief Minister Mayawati once again came out to quickly blame the Centre for increasing incidents of terrorism in the state.

Earlier in the day, the Governor, while addressing the annual police parade, expressed concern at the effortless manner in which terrorists seemed to be getting away with one incident after another.

“There is no doubt that certain dormant cells coordinated to carry out these attacks. It is a challenge for the intelligence agencies and the police to unearth these elements, as terrorism is not only a national but a global threat,” he observed.

While appreciating the Governor’s concern at the growing threat of terrorism, Mayawati blamed it entirely on infiltration of terrorist through the extensive and porous international border, the vigil of which is the duty of the central government.

She said she had been closely reviewing the situation along with senior officers. She said that after studying the matter she had reached the conclusion that the root cause for the increasingly number of terrorist incidents in recent times was the illegal infiltration of ultras from across the international border, especially Nepal.

According to her, the highly trained terrorists slipped through the international border into the state due to the lax vigil and managed to mix with the local population even establishing new identities by acquiring ration cards, driving licences, etc.

“They have successfully spread an extensive and powerful network in the state which has deep roots. That is why they are so successful in carrying out terrorist operations,” she said.

Holding the central government responsible for such a state of affairs, the Chief Minister said it was their duty to guard the international borders.

Mayawati said today she had written an official letter to the government of India in this regard urging them to improve the system of guarding the international borders.

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Prakash attracts 12 JD(S) legislators
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, November 28
The countdown for a split in the Janata Dal (Secular) and realignment of forces in the Janata parivar in Karnataka has begun with veteran party leader M.P. Prakash today attracting 12 JD(S) legislators and four others, including two belonging to Janata Dal (United), to a “parallel” meeting of the party, which has put off any definite action for eight days.

The meeting was also attended by three JD(S) members of the Legislative Council indicating that the rebels are garnering support to challenge JD(S) president H D Deve Gowda and his son and former Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy.

The Prakash group has been able to make a dent in the support base of H D Kumaraswamy by attracting the group led by former minister N Cheluvaraya Swamy. Swamy had played a key role in the re-tie up with the BJP and had expressed feelings of having been betrayed by the Gowda family after the latter did not extend support to the trust vote moved by the saffron party.

Kumaraswamy had tried his best to mend fences with Cheluvaraya Swamy and other members of his group, including B C Patil and Amare Gowda Baiyapur, but has apparently failed in this exercise.

Talking to newsmen, Prakash indicated he was playing a bigger game to take control of the party by saying the “like-minded” group did not want to sever its links with the JD(S). He also claimed that his group would not move to get the party symbol frozen.

On being asked whether his move was aimed against the Gowda family, he said: “Though the party leadership has let us down, we are also to blame for the decision that was taken (withdrawing support to the BJP).” He said the group debated the recent developments and there was a feeling that party workers were feeling “frustrated” and “directionless” and that this issue needed to be addressed. He said the group decided not to participate in the executive committee of the party called for tomorrow.

The veteran leader also claimed that the group had decided to postpone any decision for eight days because the state assembly had still not been dissolved.

Speaking about the support being garnered by the group, Prakash said five more JD(S) legislators had spoken to him on the phone and extended their support to him.

Meanwhile, Prakash also had a meeting with JD(S) rebel faction leader Veerandra Kumar today. Speaking after the meeting, Veerandra Kumar said his group could associate with Prakash if he took a decision to disassociate with the Gowda family.

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Modi declares assets; has no car

Ahmedabad, November 28
A 57-year-old bachelor, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has assets worth Rs 40 lakh, does not own any vehicle and has no cases against him, according to an affidavit he filed before the Election Commission.

Modi, who submitted his nomination papers from city's Maninagar Assembly Constituency, has stated in the affidavit that he is a resident of Ranip in Ahmedabad and has no farm or commercial land.

However, he owned a house in Sector-I area of Gandhinagar built on an area measuring 326.22 square metres. It was bought for about Rs 1.30 lakh and its current market value was Rs 30 lakh.

The Chief Minister also declared that he did not own any vehicle but had Rs 8 lakh as bank deposits at SBI's Gandhinagar Sachivalaya branch. In the same branch, his savings bank account had an amount of Rs 55,000.

Modi declared that he possesses Rs 11,200 in cash and had three gold rings worth Rs 50,000.

He has not invested in bonds, shares or debentures of any companies and had not availed any bank loan either. He, however, held National Saving Certificates worth Rs 3.39 lakh.

Modi, a post-graduate in Political Science from Gujarat University, stated he has no court cases against him and has filed his income tax returns till 2007-08. — PTI

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Mamta elopes with tusker
Uttarakhand wildlife dept in spot

Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, November 28,
The elopement of Mamta, a female elephant at the Rajaji National Park, a case property in a pending case in the Delhi High Court, has sent the Uttarakhand wildlife authorities into a tizzy.

A massive combing operation has been launched to retrieve her from the ‘custody’ of a wild tusker, which lured her away into the deep woods. Confirming this, the chief wildlife warden, Uttarakhand, Shrikant Chandola, told The Tribune that it may take some time to locate her. But the officials’ worry due to her legal requirement is quite palpable.

It so happened that Mamta along with two female companions Rangeeli and Radha had forayed deep inside the Chilla range of the park on Tuesday in search of fodder. Though both companions ran for safety on seeing the lone tusker who ‘caught’ her. She was under training at the park to carry tourists after the tragic death of Arundhati last month.

Before that Mamta was kept in the Delhi zoo after being freed from the custody of someone by the wildlife officials in the national Capital. Notably, Arundhati too had eloped five years ago with a invading tusker from Nepal. But she returned to the Park.

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Presenting accused on camera weakens case: UP Governor
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, November 28
Governor T.V. Rajeswar today came down heavily on the state's police for its tendency to present alleged criminals and terrorists before the camera at the drop of a hat, virtually permitting a trial by media.

Speaking on the occasion of the Annual Police Parade at the police lines today, Rajeswar, a former IB officer, said such a trend, increasingly visible, should be avoided as "it weakens the case in the court of law and diminishes the value of evidence".

It was an obvious reference to the arrest of three JeM men on the outskirts of the state capital around 5 am on November 16 and their presentation before the media at a hurriedly convened press conference at the DGP's office six hours later.

It was during the press conference the electronic media started a speculative story that the VVIP these terrorists had come to kidnap, in exchange of the release of 42-dreaded terrorist, was none other than the AICC general secretary and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi.

Criticising this tendency the Governor said, "Evidence should be recorded only before a competent magistrate". He urged the government and senior police officers to seriously look into this matter.

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Tatkal passports the same day
Centre to set up facilitation centres

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The government is striving to issue ‘tatkal’ passports the same day and ordinary passports within three days of police verification, minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed told the Lok Sabha today.

The government proposes to have 68 passport facilitation centres all over the country as part of its efforts to deliver passport-related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent and more accessible manner. “Non-sovereign functions” involved in the passport issuance process, such as the initial scrutiny of application forms, acceptance of fee, scanning of documents, taking photos, etc. will be done by the service provider to be selected through an open bidding process.”

The government staff at the passport facilitation centres will verify the documents and decide on granting the passport. The other activities such as printing and dispatch will also be done by the government staff. Police verification will be expedited through electronic linkage of the passport facilitation centres with the police authorities in state capitals. The government has fixed a time frame of 19 months for the implementation of the ‘Passport Seva Project’.

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Development council for adivasis on card
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 28
Alarmed by the intensive upsurge of adivasis clamouring for scheduled tribe (ST) status, the Assam government has decided to publish a White Paper on what it has so far done to persuade the union government to accord ST status to the community.

The state government has also decided to set up a cabinet committee to explore ways for setting up of a separate development council for the adivasis in the state to facilitate speedy development of the backward community.

Disclosing these decisions in a meeting with the mediapersons here today, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the government would also send an all-party political delegation and an apolitical delegation to urge the central government for granting ST status to the adivasis.

He said the state government would extend help in case the adivasis and five other ethnic groups wanted to form an expert committee on their own to present their case before the central government.

Gogoi exhorted the media to show restraint in covering the developments in the aftermath of Saturday’s violence that unfolded on the streets of Guwahati and work for cementing the age-old bond between different communities in the state.

He promise that the government would not spare anyone found involved in conspiracy that led to Saturday’s voilence. He also announced that those, who had safeguarded the fleeing adivasis under attack during the riots, would be rewarded by the government.

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Wonder plant jatropha leading to land grab?
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Is the plantation of wonder plant jatropha, an alternative to fossil fuels and answer to climate change, leading to a problem of another kind--land grab--in the country?

If a study on the social, economic and ecological impact of jatropha cultivation for bio iesel in India “Biofuel Hoax: Jatropha and Land Grab”can be beleived then jatropha plantation has started generating controversy by leading to land conflicts and rise in food prices.

The study is based on fieldwork in Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan and authored by environmentalists Vandana Shiva and Manu Sankar.

Across the world biofuels or agro fuels are being promoted as an alternative to fossil fuels and an answer to climate change. Jatropha curcus is a drought-resistant perennial that grows well in marginal/poor soil. It is easy to establish, grows quickly and produces seeds with oil content of around 37 per cent.

The oil can be combusted as fuel without being refined and used as bio-diesel for any diesel engine without modification It burns with clear smoke-free flame and its by-products are press cake a good organic fertiliser. The oil also contains insecticide.

The wonder plant is rugged in nature and can survive with minimum inputs and India plans to cultivate jatropha in 11 million hectares.

Shiva, however, claims that in a land-starved country the diversion of land for Jatropha plantation was leading to serious consequences for rural livelihoods and rural eco systems.

The study, giving names of big names involved in "gold rush of jatropha", claims that in Chhattisgarh, a predominantly tribal belt, agricultural crops of tribals have been destroyed to plant jatropha.

“To promote jatropha plantations, tribals are being denied their inherent right to make decisions about land use for which the local community (gram sabha) is the highest competent authority. This is a violation of the legal recognition of the Collective Rights and Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996,” says Shiva

The study has details of the villages in Chhattisgarh that have faced land conflicts because of people having opposed the cultivation of Jatropha plantations. She says Chhattisgarh is the centre of diversity of rice and planting Jatropha monocultures in place of the indigenous diversity of tribal crop lands is not just a destruction of the food security and livelihood of the tribals but also a threat to India’s biodiversity.

Jatropha is not just leading to land grab, but also leading to biopiracy. Citing examples of Vidharbha in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Shiva claims destruction of village commons and grazing lands by Jatropha plantations.

"The mad rush for jatropha plantations is a recipe for ecological, economic and social disaster. Industrial biofuel policy is not a solution to the climate crisis or an answer to peak oil. The massive infrastructure of fossil fuel based production and transportation systems cannot be maintained by converting food to fuel, and plants to oil for cars. The heavy infrastructure of automobiles and power generation needs to be adapted to limits of the planet. The planet should not be further plundered and the poor should not be further burdened to uphold a non-sustainable system for a few years more," Shiva says.

The study has made recommendations, saying that to protect rural livelihoods and food and energy security of the rural poor, agriculture policy must shift from chemical/industrial/corporate farming to biodiversity ecological farming.

There are ways to secure food and energy for rural communities through biodiverse, decentralised, ecological systems integrating crops, agro-forestry and livestock as an adaption strategy to deal with climate change, it adds.

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Don’t mix alcohol, revelry this Christmas: Church

Kochi, November 28
Alarmed at the increasing incidence of liquor consumption in Kerala, the Catholic Church in the state has asked the community to abstain from taking alcoholic drinks on Christmas as part of a campaign against the 
menace.

With New Year and Christmas season round the corner, the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church and Ernakulam -Angamaly Archidocese, Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithayathil has appealed to the community to desist from holding liquor parties during family get-togethers.

"We want to celebrate this Christmas free from the use of liquor as a symbolic act by all Christian families of the diocese," the Cardinal told reporters here.

The diocese had already declared 2007 as 'anti-liquor year'. As part of the effort, the community has been asked to keep away from liquor or wine during Christmas and other celebrations.

With the help of posters, banners and rallies, a campaign would be launched during the days of 'advent', starting December 1, on the harmful effects of liquor, he said.

He has personally written to each of the one-lakh families in the diocese about the evil effects of liquor, asking them not to consume it this Christmas. Children as young as 14 years were also consuming liquor in the state, he said.

Asked if the Church would press for total prohibition, the Cardinal said there were pros and cons of the issue.

The government was not keen for it as it earns huge revenue from the sale of liquor. But strong drinks should not be made available to youngsters, he said. — PTI

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Mumbai all set for dedicated bus lanes
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 28
Mumbai will soon get its first bus rapid transit system (BRTS). Inspired by a similar project in Colombia’s capital Bogota, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation will kick off the BRTS project on the Eastern Express Highway on an experimental basis.

One lane on each side of the road, connecting Thane to Sion in Mumbai, will be dedicated to BEST buses. Barricading work on the 26-km route will begin on December 2, according to officials.

Concrete dividers will be placed to segregate the lanes so that other vehicles do not ply on them, say senior BMC officials. “It will take us one month to complete the work,” says Milind Mhaskar, joint municipal commissioner, BMC.

The authorities are also mulling a change in traffic rules so that other vehicles, that encroach on the bus lanes, are fined.

Critics say the narrow six-lane Eastern Express Highway will be reduced to four lanes for private vehicles. “There are long traffic jams at a number of places because of which it takes more than an hour to drive from Thane to Sion,” Anand Kotwal, a resident of Thane, said.

However, civic officials feel that residents will abandon their private vehicles and take to these buses and thus help decongest the roads.

The civic-run BEST has already imported special buses from China that promise a luxury ride to passengers riding on the BRTS. The 20 air-conditioned King Long buses were brought in December when the BRTS project was first mooted. However, it was stuck in red-tape for nearly a year.

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Centre defends Ahmedabad collector’s action
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Centre today defended Ahmedabad collector’s action of banning television channels from airing the Tehelka expose on 2002 Gujarat riots saying that he had acted as per law.

Replying to supplementaries during the question hour in the Rajya Sabha, information and broadcasting minister P.R. Dasmunsi said the collector of Ahmedabad had acted under a law passed by the Parliament in banning the telecast of Tehelka expose.

Responding to the protests from the Left members who said that truth was not allowed to be presented, the minister said the UPA government was not against highlighting the incidents of 2002 Gujarat riots but the timing of the broadcast on the eve of the Assembly election smacked of a deeper conspiracy of polarising voters along communal lines to benefit some parties. Dasmunsi said an investigation has been launched into the possibility of connivance between certain people in Delhi and Gujarat to flare up communal passions in the run up to the Assembly poll.

The minister said a company that used OB vans and various fibre optic networks to downlink signals of the channel Vande Gujarat from the internet and broadcast it during the prime time may also be involved. He said the company has misused its DoT licence to block the prime time programmes of regular television channels to air Vande Gujarat.

He said the channels, whose telecast was suspended were asked to give its complaint against the ban in writing, but they had not done so.

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Iran gas pipeline
Pranab denies US pressure
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee today denied that the USA had asked India not to move forward with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, the minister informed the House that the ministry of petroleum and natural gas was negotiating the pipeline project with Iran and Pakistan. The sixth meeting of the tripartite joint working group was held in Delhi on June 28-29 last. Three meetings of the India-Pakistan joint working group and five meetings of the India-Iran special joint working group had been held so far. Several key issues, including pricing formula, transit fee and transportation tariff, were under discussion.

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Khushboo in trouble again

Kumbakonam, November 28
Actress Khushboo, who was caught in a series of legal tangles for advocating sex education to girls at schools, appears to be in trouble again--this time for "wearing chappals" in front of idols of goddesses at a film muhurat in Chennai.

Gurumurthy, a Hindu Munnani activist, lodged a complaint before a civil court here today, alleging that Khushboo was seen sitting with her chappals in front of idols of goddeses Lakshmi, Saraswathy and Parvathy, during pooja for the muhurat at Chennai on November 22.

The photograph was published in a Tamil weekly recently and her action had hurt the sentiments of the Hindus, Gurumurthy said in his complaint.

He wanted the court to take action against herfor hurting religious sentiments. — PTI

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Curfew clamped on Assam town
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 28
Curfew has been clamped in Rangapara town of Sonitpur district in North Assam following clashes between Adivasis and local population dominated by Bengali-speaking people.

The police said at least four persons were injured when the police had to resort to lathi charge at Rangapara where thousands of Adivasis from neighbouring tea estate dominated areas had gathered with intention to create trouble.

The problem started in the morning hours where the small railway township in North Assam, which is inhabited by a sizeable population of Bengali and Hindi speaking people, defied a bandh called by the All-Assam Santhal Students Union to protest Saturday’s attacks on Adivasi agitators in Guwahati.

A large group of activists of the union then ran riot in the town damaging business establishments and shops etc even as they tried to enforce bandh in the area.

In retaliation, miscreants gathered under the banner of the Bengali Unnayan Parishad set fire to one ambulance and two vehicles of neighbouring Naharani Tea Estate.

Thousands of Adivasis armed with bows and arrows then gathered at the railway field in the town creating panic in the area.

The police then resorted to blank fire and baton charge top disperse Adivasis who were crying war. Four persons were injured in the police action and curfew was clamped in the area at around 6 pm.

The 24-hour statewide bandh called by the Santhal Students Union affected normal life in certain Adivasis dominated pockets all over the state.

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Terror Threat
Cops deployed at Puri mutt

Bhubaneswar, November 28
Policemen were deployed at Govardhan Mutt in Puri after the seminary received a postcard threatening to eliminate it and its Shankaracharya along with his disciples,the police said today.

The mutt, about 56 km from here, reportedly received a postcard that asked the Shankarachaya and his disciples to accept Islam or they would be destroyed.

The sender signed himself as Al- Qaida.

"The mutt officials reported the matter to the police today. I have gone through it and it could be a fake threat, because the writing has several spelling errors," district police chief Asit Panigrahi told IANS.

"However, we are not taking any chances. We have deployed five armed men at the mutt and tightened security around it. We are inquiring into the genuineness of the letter." Nischilananda Saraswati, Puri's Shankaracharya, is currently at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh. Panigrahi said that the police had also informed its counterparts in Madhya Pradesh. — IANS

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NHRC seeks report from TN
‘Murder’ of woman having HIV

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Tamil Nadu government to send within a month a factual report on the alleged murder of a woman living with HIV.

The Commission took suo motu cognisance of a recent news report in a national daily which said that a woman living with HIV was found dead in a pool of blood in Karupur in Salem disrtrict in Tamil Nadu by her two stepchildren when they returned home from school. The police suspected that the woman whose husband died of HIV/AIDS six months ago, may have been hacked to death.

The Commission has said that if the contents of the report are true, they raise a serious issue of human rights violation of the victim. It directed that a copy of the news report be forwarded to the Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu and the Superintendent of Police, Salem for a factual report.

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NHRC says its name unnecessarily dragged
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today said its name is unnecessarily dragged in the case pertaining to conviction of a former employee.

Reacting to news reports about two-year rigorous imprisonment given to Rama Kant Sharma, for attempting to bribe a Special Protection Group (SPG) office posted at Central Secretariat, the NHRC has clarified that Sharma's conviction did not pertain to any duty arising in connection with its work.

A Press release issued by NHRC here today said, “As soon as the Commission came to know about Sharma's involvement in the above case and registration of FIR against him, his service was terminated.”

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2 NSCN-IM men shot dead
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, November 28
Suspected ULFA militants shot dead two senior cadres of the Naga rebel group, the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isaac-Muivah), following a shootout in Tizit subdivision in Nagaland’s Mon district.

The police said the identity of the group that attacked the rebels was not yet ascertained.

The NSCN-IM that has been in truce with the government of India since 1997 as part of the on-going peace process has been fighting occasional gun battles with the rival NSCN group led by S.S. Khaplang and the ULFA.

The police said the victims were identified as Ashan Tangkhul and Huketo Sema.

The possibility of the involvement of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has not been ruled out.

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Student kidnapped at gunpoint

Patna, November 28
A student was kidnapped at gunpoint in Bihar today, police officials said. Criminals kidnapped Manish Kumar, a student of DAV School in Siwan, about 150 km from here, while he was on his way to school. The police suspects the boy was kidnapped for ransom. As soon as the news of the kidnapping spread, angry residents blocked roads to protest the crime.Fear of abduction continues to haunt people in Bihar with kidnapping cases being reported regularly. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar last week claimed that the number of kidnappings had come down. — IANS

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LS to discuss Guwahati violence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Lok Sabha will discuss violence in Guwahati during tribals’ demonstration on December 3, speaker Somnath Chatterjee informed today.

BJP member Kiren Rijiju demanded a CBI probe into the Guwahati violence which left one dead and 242 injured.

He lamented that no central leader had visited Guwahati despite the gravity of the situation and it only proved the Centre’s indifference to the north-eastern region.

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