SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Delimitation Panel’s Order
SC notice to Centre, EC
New Delhi, December 10
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and Election Commission seeking their replies why the notifications of Delimitation Commission should not be implemented before next round of Assembly elections and the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Cong flip-flop continues
Says Sonia remark was not about Modi
New Delhi, December 10
There appears to be no end to the confusion in the Congress over party president Sonia Gandhi’s description of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as “merchant of death” as it prepares to respond to the show cause notice issued by the Election Commission on this matter.

Modi Remarks
SC to test legal standing of pleas
New Delhi, December 10
Amid acrimonious arguments on two petitions against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his comments on the pending Sohrabuddin case, the Supreme Court today refused to issue notice to the BJP leader stating that it would first like to test the legal maintainability of the petitions.





EARLIER STORIES




Vaiko flays Indian Navy
Chennai, December 10
In his usual style MDMK general-secretary Vaiko today charged the Indian Navy with defending and supporting the Sri Lankan navy at the cost of Indian fishermen.

Left-UPA row over N-deal set to worsen
New Delhi, December 10
With the Gujarat elections set to end in a week, the Left is doing a flip-flop. It is stiffening its opposition to the India-US nuclear deal but stating publicly that it has no grouse against the government.

Karat’s N-deal remarks
Mulford meets Menon
New Delhi, December 10
United States Ambassador David C.Mulford met foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon today to express his country’s concern on the future of Indo-US nuclear deal in the wake of yet another hawkish statement from CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.

Govt keen on ending IAEA talks by Dec end
New Delhi, December 10
In a low key approach after the CPM had given the go ahead last month for negotiating an India specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UPA government appears keen on concluding the same by the end of this month despite hitting another roadblock.

Train jumps rail, 1 killed
Guwahati, December 10
One person was killed and 62 other passengers were injured as 14 bogies of the New Delhi bound Brahmaputra mail travelling from Tinsukia in eastern Assam jumped rails near Nijbari railway station, about 15 km away from New Jalpaiguri junction in North Bengal, at around 11pm on Sunday.
Rescue workers stand beside the wreckage of the derailed Brahmaputra Mail in Nijbari village, about 30 km from Siliguri, on Monday. — Reuters
In Video (56k)
Rescue workers stand beside the wreckage of the derailed Brahmaputra Mail in Nijbari village, about 30 km from Siliguri, on Monday.

11 militants arrested
Guwahati, December 10
The Assam police today arrested 11 militants including four ULFA ultras from different areas of the city and recovered incriminating documents and cash from them.

SC widens anti-ragging directives
New Delhi, December 10
Taking note of its anti-ragging order having little effect on professional colleges from where majority of the cases of fresh students’ physical and mental torture had come to light during the current academic year, the Supreme Court today brought all undergraduate institutions under the ambit of anti-ragging order.

Bangalore police has no evidence against Sabeel
Bangalore, December 10
The United Kingdom investigators’ quest to get help from the Bangalore police to nail Sabeel Ahmed, the brother of Glasgow bomber Kafeel Ahmed, may come to naught with the local police unable to collect any incriminating evidence against him.

Sanjay Dutt meets Sonia
New Delhi, December 10
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, released on bail by the Supreme Court on November 27, today met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi here, sources in the film trade said.

Govt to improve service conditions of armed forces
Dehra Dun, December 10
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured improvement in service conditions to attract the youth towards a career in the armed forces that are facing a shortage of officers.

Estranged wife of RJD MP for DNA test
Patna, December 10
The estranged wife of sitting RJD MP Rajesh Kumar Manjhi from Gaya, Pramila Manjhi, today challenged his husband to undergo DNA test after he disowned the fatherhood of one of her sons in his recent divorce petition filed against her.

Karat’s N-deal remarks
Nandigram MLA asked to leave House
Kolkata, December 10
CPI legislator from Nandigram Mohammad Illiyas, who was shown accepting bribe in a sting operation by a private TV channel to raise questions in the Assembly, was today asked by Speaker H.A. Halim not to attend the House before December 21 and to leave for the day.

New grave found in Nandigram
Nandigram, December 10
After the discovery of graves at Bidyapit village at Khejuri and Talpati canal, another grave was found today near the former Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee stronghold of Maheshpur in Nandigram, the police said.


Left MLAs protest CRPF atrocities

Kumaraswamy camp gets a boost
Bangalore, December 10
Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy today retrieved some lost ground by successfully poaching back three prominent legislators, including former minister Cheluvarayaswamy, from the dissident M.P. Prakash camp of the Janata Dal (Secular).

Karunakaran to return to Congress
Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi, December 10
Making his most open declaration yet, veteran Kerala politician and a four-time Chief Minister K. Karunakaran today announced that he was returning to the Congress after admitting it was a “mistake” to leave the party.

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Delimitation Panel’s Order
SC notice to Centre, EC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 10
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and Election Commission seeking their replies why the notifications of Delimitation Commission should not be implemented before next round of Assembly elections and the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.

Taking cognisance of a PIL by an NGO, Delhi Study Group (DSG), raising the issue of Centre’s alleged “inactive” approach towards the implementation of Delimitation Commission order, the government and poll panel are to file their affidavits within four weeks.

The DSG has sought a direction to the Centre to place the Delimitation panel’s notifications relating to the Lok Sabha constituencies and the 25 states before the President to issue order for demarcation of the Parliamentary and Assembly constituencies before the next round of Assembly polls in some states and the 2009 general elections.

The DSG said though the Commission had issued a notification about the Assembly constituencies in respect of 25 states on different dates between May 2005 and August 2008, but the government had “deliberately and intentionally abdicated from its constitutional duty” to notify the pane’s order, while it was mandatory under the law for the Centre to implement it as had been mandated by Parliament, which had by an Act set up the panel.

It was obligatory for the government to notify the Commission’s order under Article 82 and 170 of the Constitution in terms of the Lok Sabha and the Assembly seats, respectively, the petition said, pointing out that the boundaries of the constituencies had been drawn way back in 1971 on the basis of that year’s census and since then there had been lot of changes in the demography.

It gave the two extreme examples of New Delhi and Outer Delhi Lok Sabha seats in the Capital itself where the population is 4.5 lakh and 38 lakh, respectively as per the 2001 census making the proportion of popular franchise from the two constituencies quite irrational and managing of polls difficult, the petition said.

During the recently concluded session, the government had placed the Commission’s order before Parliament in respect of 25 states. The two states excluded from the Commission’s notification were Jammu and Kashmir, to which its order was not applicable due to the state’s special status and Assam, where there were some problems due to Bangladeshi migrants’ scrutiny.

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Cong flip-flop continues
Says Sonia remark was not about Modi
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
There appears to be no end to the confusion in the Congress over party president Sonia Gandhi’s description of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as “merchant of death” as it prepares to respond to the show cause notice issued by the Election Commission on this matter.

The party continued with its flip-flop on the issue. After its two senior leaders, Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, offered different interpretations on her statement, the Congress today sought to play down the direct reference to Narendra Modi. It suggested that Sonia Gandhi was referring to the entire state administration during her election speech which also includes the chief minister since he heads the government.

“The remarks were meant for the entire Gujarat establishment, people running the government and as head of the government, Modi cannot escape his responsibility,” Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed told reporters today, adding that the Congress president did not name anybody in her speech.

Ahmed’s remarks have only added to the confusion. First Singhvi had justified Sonia’s description of Modi as “merchant of death”. Sibal, however, said, she was referring to state functionaries and not the chief minister to which Singhvi said the party stood by its earlier stand and that the remarks were indeed meant for Modi. If this was not enough, both Sibal and Singhvi subsequently changed their respective stands and ended up adding to the confusion.

Stating emphatically that the Congress president had not violated any model code of conduct, Ahmed declared that it was outrageous to equate Gandhi’s statement with that of Modi when he virtually admitted that he had ordered the killing of Sohrabuddin Sheikh in a fake encounter. Sonia Gandhi, according to him, was highlighting the political failures of the state government while nobody, not even his own party, could justify Modi’s remarks.

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Modi Remarks
SC to test legal standing of pleas
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 10
Amid acrimonious arguments on two petitions against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his comments on the pending Sohrabuddin case, the Supreme Court today refused to issue notice to the BJP leader stating that it would first like to test the legal maintainability of the petitions.

The petitions were filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother Rubabuddin and noted Bollywood lyricist and screen play writer Javed Akhtar.

A Bench of Justices Tarun Chatterjee and Dalveer Bhandrai virtaully gave an indication that its proceedings would not be influenced by any kind of political acrimony between the leaders of the rival parties contesting the elections and posted arguments on their legal “maintainability” issue for December 12.

The court further said it would deal with the matter “independent” of already pending petition in the Sohrabuddin case filed by Sohrabuddin’s brother for probe into the alleged fake encounter.

Three senior IPS officers and eleven other accused, including some police personnel had been charge sheeted in the Sohrabuddin “fake encounter” only after the apex court had ordered investigation into the case by a special investigating team of the Gujarat Police.

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Vaiko flays Indian Navy
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, December 10
In his usual style MDMK general-secretary Vaiko today charged the Indian Navy with defending and supporting the Sri Lankan navy at the cost of Indian fishermen.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, he criticised Naval officer-in-charge of Tamil Nadu Commodore P. E. Vanhaltren for stating that Sri Lankan Navy had never deliberately fired at Indian fishermen in Palk Straits and wrote that it was “unwarranted and unjustified”.

He wrote, “I am pained to point out that there is a nefarious nexus between Indian and Lankan Navies.”

Vaiko claimed that since the 1970s, more than 900 Indian fishermen were shot dead in their boats and their fishing nets destroyed by the Sri Lankan Navy and Vanhaltren’s observation that Indian fishermen fell prey to the crossfire between the Lankan Navy and LTTE in the international waters was not correct.

He stated that the Indian government had admitted in the Parliament that Tamil fishermen were killed by Lankan Navy and it was also a proven fact that Lankan Navy frequently entered into Indian waters and attacked them.

He alleged that the Indian Navy had never made an attempt to protect Tamil Nadu fishermen from the attacks by the Lankan Navy.

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Left-UPA row over N-deal set to worsen

New Delhi, December 10
With the Gujarat elections set to end in a week, the Left is doing a flip-flop. It is stiffening its opposition to the India-US nuclear deal but stating publicly that it has no grouse against the government.

Sources in the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) say it has no intentions of going soft on the deal despite its okay to talks between the Indian government and the UN atomic watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“We cannot allow the government to sign the India-US nuclear agreement,” a senior CPI-M leader who did not want to be identified told IANS.

The leader made the comments two days after CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat reportedly warned the government to choose between the Left and the nuclear deal. But he later denied that he had such a comment.

Karat is said to have told a party meeting that the Left would ask the government not to go ahead with the deal after its talks with the IAEA. “If they go ahead, we will have to be prepared for mid-term polls.”

But the CPI-M officially denies this was said. “Reports about the ultimatum are not correct. We are waiting for the government to return to the (Left-UPA) nuclear committee,” CPI-M politburo member S Ramachandra Pillai told IANS.

The 15-member nuclear committee, formed to address the concerns raised by the Left over the agreement, had given its nod for the government-IAEA India-specific negotiations. But it insisted that the government should come back to the committee before initialising the safeguards agreement.

Left leaders privately say that the green signal for the talks was a political decision to buy time.

“Both of us - the government and the Left - wanted more time to settle things. The Congress was keen to focus on the Gujarat elections. We also did not want the government to be unstable before the Gujarat polls,” said the Left leader.

The Left wants the government to ensure fuel supplies to Indian nuclear reactors in perpetuity and also continuation of civilian nuclear cooperation as well as India-specific safeguards even if the Indo-US deal is terminated.

Senior Left leaders admit that this was an impossible task — and in the process, minus Communist support, the Indo-US nuclear agenda would derail.

According to Left leaders, the Communists cannot support Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government if it signs the nuclear agreement with Washington.

“The government can go ahead if it is prepared for the elections. But our sense is that they are not prepared for the polls now,” said another Left leader. — PTI

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Karat’s N-deal remarks
Mulford meets Menon
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
United States Ambassador David C.Mulford met foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon today to express his country’s concern on the future of Indo-US nuclear deal in the wake of yet another hawkish statement from CPM general secretary Prakash Karat.

The meeting in Menon’s office lasted half an hour. US embassy’s spokeswoman Elizabeth confirmed the meeting and said Mulford and Menon discussed bilateral issues of importance, but declined to give any details.

Sources said Mulford reminded Menon of a thin timeline available to the two governments to operationalise the nuclear deal. Karat’s threat has come at a time when the Indian expert delegation is already in Vienna for negotiations with the IAEA for signing an India-specific safeguards agreement.

Political sources here, however, are downplaying Karat’s threat and believe that Karat made this remark at an internal meeting of the Delhi unit of CPM on December 8. Karat’s remark was meant only for CPM cadres and not supposed to be a policy statement. Karat was quoted as telling cadres of the CPM’s Delhi unit that “When they (Indian officials) come back from talks with IAEA, we will tell them (government) there is no need to go ahead with the deal. The issue must be resolved by end of December. If they still go ahead, then we will have to be prepared for Lok Sabha mid-term polls.”

The UPA government’s sense is that it is going ahead with formal negotiations with the IAEA only after taking approval from the Left parties at the UPA-Left panel meeting. The government’s position is that after negotiations with the IAEA, the government will go back to the UPA-Left panel for consultations.

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Govt keen on ending IAEA talks by Dec end
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 10
In a low key approach after the CPM had given the go ahead last month for negotiating an India specific safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UPA government appears keen on concluding the same by the end of this month despite hitting another roadblock.

After concluding the draft safeguards pact, the government will put it up for the Left’s scrutiny as agreed to at the last UPA-Left meeting.

Left leaders insist that there is no question of going through with the nuclear deal, which will make India a satellite of the US.

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Train jumps rail, 1 killed
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 10
One person was killed and 62 other passengers were injured as 14 bogies of the New Delhi bound Brahmaputra mail travelling from Tinsukia in eastern Assam jumped rails near Nijbari railway station, about 15 km away from New Jalpaiguri junction in North Bengal, at around 11pm on Sunday.

Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) chief public relations officer (CPRO) Trikalagya Rabha informed that Mohammed Imroz from the AC pantry car of the train died in the mishap.

Rescue teams from the local police and the Army were rushed to the site. The injured were taken to the nearby North Bengal Medical College and a hospital at Siliguri. Four North Bengal State Transport Corporation were engaged for ferrying the stranded passengers.

The police has launched investigation to ascertain the cause of the accident.

“An inquiry has been ordered by the NFR and only after the report is available, we shall be able to find out the exact reason behind the incident,” said the NFR official.

The NFR has announced following helpline numbers to facilitate enquiry by the families of the passengers: 0353-2691800/ 2691808/ 2691555/2691766.

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11 militants arrested
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 10
The Assam police today arrested 11 militants including four ULFA ultras from different areas of the city and recovered incriminating documents and cash from them.

The rest of the arrested militants are from All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA). The police claimed that the militants of the two outfits had sneaked into the city to carry out subversions.

The police carried out raids in different hideouts of the militants in the city acting on the basis of ransom notes served to different city residents.

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SC widens anti-ragging directives
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 10
Taking note of its anti-ragging order having little effect on professional colleges from where majority of the cases of fresh students’ physical and mental torture had come to light during the current academic year, the Supreme Court today brought all undergraduate institutions under the ambit of anti-ragging order.

Since the order was issued by the apex court on the recommendations of R.K. Raghvan committee, a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Aftab Alam said the norms laid down by the panel to check the menace of ragging will apply to all medical, dental, engineering, nursing and agriculture colleges as well as the polytechnic colleges also.

The court directed the Medical Council of India, Dental Council of India, Nursing Council and Agriculture Ministry, supervising agriculture colleges and the state governments running polytechnic institutions to implement the Raghvan committee report in letter and spirit.

It further said that all these institutions in their prospectus like other universities and colleges would specifically insert a clause warning students against ragging.

The clause will clearly state that if any student was found indulged in ragging and on inquiry and his explanation, the inquiry committee was not satisfied, he would stand automatically expelled from the institute.

The court further tightened the anti-ragging measures in the wake of a status report filed by additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, acing as amicus curie to assist the court in the case, which listed at least 100 cases of worst kind of physical and mental torture of fresh students, mostly in professional colleges across the country.

After examining the report, the court expressed shock over these incidents saying that even handicapped students were subjected to inhuman torture.

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Bangalore police has no evidence against Sabeel
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 10
The United Kingdom investigators’ quest to get help from the Bangalore police to nail Sabeel Ahmed, the brother of Glasgow bomber Kafeel Ahmed, may come to naught with the local police unable to collect any incriminating evidence against him.

The Bangalore police have achieved some leads which proved that Kafeel Ahmed was a hardliner but it has been unable to collect any evidence against Sabeel, a doctor who has been held in the UK on charges of concealing evidence regarding the terror plot.

The only real time evidence, the Bangalore police has, were the two hard disks recovered from the computer of Kafeel Ahmed from the home of the Ahmed’s in the city. The hard disks have been examined by the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory in Hyderabad and sources said they reveal Kafeel’s extremist tendencies.

The hard disks reveal Kafeel’s penchant for collecting ‘jihadi’ literature besides videos of the jihad movement in different parts of the world. Speeches of Osama bin Laden are also part of the disks.

Sources said it was also revealed during questioning of Kafeel’s parents and family that he had told them before the Glasgow bomb attack that they would not be able to contact him on the phone as he was preparing for an important project. He is also said to have told them at the penultimate time that they should pray for the success of this task, besides, instructing them to do away with the hard disks indicating he did not want them to come under the ambit of the law once he was no more.

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Sanjay Dutt meets Sonia

New Delhi, December 10
Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, released on bail by the Supreme Court on November 27, today met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi here, sources in the film trade said.

Dutt, who arrived here last night on a short visit to the Capital, had a brief “personal meeting” with the Congress president at her 10, Janpath residence, the sources said.

Dutt is said to have arrived here from Goa, where he was on a nearly two-week holiday after his release from Yerawada jail in Pune on orders of the Supreme Court.

The actor is likely to fly back tonight or tomorrow to Mumbai, where he is to begin shooting for a film, which also features Bollywood actor Urmila Matondkar. — UNI

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Govt to improve service conditions of armed forces
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, December 10
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured improvement in service conditions to attract the youth towards a career in the armed forces that are facing a shortage of officers.

Addressing the gathering after reviewing the passing-out parade at Indian Military Academy (IMA) here on the occasion of its platinum jubilee, the Prime Minister said his government would make efforts to improve the service conditions of the armed forces. He became the second Prime Minister after Indira Gandhi to review the parade at the IMA.

He reiterated his government’s commitment to technological modernisation of the armed forces.

“While the government will find the required resources, the leadership of the forces must focus on judicious expenditure,” he said in the presence of the Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, and his Nepalese and Bhutanese counterparts, among others. A total of 606 pass-outs included 11 guest-cadets from Bhutan, Kazakhstan and Lesotho.

He also put a challenge of becoming more efficient and modern before the cadets and officers as the Army in the modern world was a knowledge-based force. He drew their attention towards the application of science and technology and information technology as the integral part of defence preparedness and warfare. He lauded the role of the armed forces and the Army in particular for being the shining examples of national integration, secularism, apolitical outlook and professionalism.

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Estranged wife of RJD MP for DNA test
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 10
The estranged wife of sitting RJD MP Rajesh Kumar Manjhi from Gaya, Pramila Manjhi, today challenged his husband to undergo DNA test after he disowned the fatherhood of one of her sons in his recent divorce petition filed against her.

Manjhi filed a divorce petition in Gaya district civil court last week alleging that Pramila had been married before and one of her sons was from her previous marriage. “I challenge him to go for a DNA test along with my children to ascertain the truth” Pramila told the media today, claiming that only a DNA test could prove whether he was the father of her children.

Earlier, a parliamentary committee was set up after Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had received a complaint in December last year from Pramila alleging the misuse of the railway pass issued in her name. She then had alleged that another woman was availing of medical facilities meant for her as spouse of Manjhi.

Subsequently, a few months ago the committee had recommended the MP’s suspension for three months from Parliament.

While admitting that she was married before, Pramila asserted that Rajesh was the father of her sons.

She charged her politican husband with lying all along to get rid of her since she had raised objection to his extra-marital relationship.

Pramila now works as an anganbari sevika (daycare centre volunteer) in Bodh Gaya after Manjhi deserted her.

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Cash-for-Query Scam
Nandigram MLA asked to leave House

Kolkata, December 10
CPI legislator from Nandigram Mohammad Illiyas, who was shown accepting bribe in a sting operation by a private TV channel to raise questions in the Assembly, was today asked by Speaker H.A. Halim not to attend the House before December 21 and to leave for the day.

The Speaker did not allow Illiyas to read a statement even though the latter denied having accepted bribe from an NGO on December 5.

The Speaker asked him not to attend the House before December 21 when an eight-member committee, formed by him, would go into the allegations of bribery and submit a report.

The House committee includes the leader of the opposition Partha Chattopadhyay, Gyan Singh Sohanpal (Congress), Mustafa Bin Qasim and Robin Mondal (CPM), Debaprasad Sarkara (SUCI), Tapan Hore (RSP) and Brahmamoy Nanda (DSP). A privilege motion was admitted by the House against Illiyas on December 6 after the CPI MLA was caught on camera allegedly accepting bribe for raising questions in the Assembly by reporters of a private TV channel posing as representatives of an NGO, intending to start a children's welfare project in Nandigram.

Illyias alleged he was a victim of a planned conspiracy at a time when peace was gradually returning to embattled Nandigram. The CPI member claimed he signed a paper innocently after those posing as members of the NGO sought his approval to work for a child development project.

Opposition Trinamool Congress members branded Illyias a thief and asked him to leave the House as ordered by the Speaker. The Speaker said he had received two notices from Illyias’s lawyer after the member filed two cases in Contai court and one at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court on criminal conspiracy and contempt against the TV channel. — PTI

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New grave found in Nandigram

Nandigram, December 10
After the discovery of graves at Bidyapit village at Khejuri and Talpati canal, another grave was found today near the former Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee stronghold of Maheshpur in Nandigram, the police said.

“We found a new grave at Parulbari village near Maheshpur today. The police and the CRPF have cordoned off the area,” SP, Midnapore (East), Satyeswar Panda said. “This is a freshly dug grave. We cannot dig it unless we get court orders,” Panda said.

On December 5, the CRPF had found five graves from Bidyapith village in the CPM stronghold of Khejuri from where charred human bones and skulls were dug out the next day. The remains were sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory for examination.

Left MLAs protest CRPF atrocities

Kolkata: Alleging CRPF atrocities in troubled Nandigram, five Left Front MLAs today met West Bengal chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb to voice their protest. The legislators, Amiya Kumar Sahoo, Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, Brahmomoy Nanda, Rampada Samanta and Bula Chowdhury, alleged that the CRPF under DIG Alok Raj was inflicting atrocities on the common people there. — PTI

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Kumaraswamy camp gets a boost
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 10
Former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy today retrieved some lost ground by successfully poaching back three prominent legislators, including former minister Cheluvarayaswamy, from the dissident M.P. Prakash camp of the Janata Dal (Secular).

Cheluvarayaswamy, former legislator MLA Balakrishna and Legislative Council member Puttana today rejoined Kumaraswamy’s camp after calling upon him at his guest house in the city. Cheluvarayaswamy, who was most vocal against the politics of the Gowda family, today said he was persuaded to return to the Kumaraswamy camp due to the “love and affection” showered upon him by the latter.

Cheluvarayaswamy also announced that he and his supporters would not attend the meeting called by Prakash on December 12. Prakash has called a meeting of like minded leaders to decide on his next course of action and is presently being wooed by the Janata Dal (United) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Kumaraswamy while reacting to the developments said Cheluvarayaswamy and his group had never left the JD (S). “There were minor differences and misunderstandings which have been cleared”, he said adding the party was still waiting for Prakash to have a change of heart and return to the party fold. “As far as I am concerned I am waiting for him as Shabari waited for Lord Krishna”, he said.

Kumaraswamy today also made a last ditch effort to woo back Prakash through Cheluvarayaswamy and others who have been urging Prakash to return back to the party fold saying joining the JD (U) or the BSP were not practical alternatives as the state is already set to see triangular contests between the JD (S), BJP and JD (S) in most constituencies. Kumaraswamy, meanwhile, said the party needed the intellectual insight of Prakash to guide it in the ensuing Assembly elections and hoped the senior leader would “have a change of heart’.

Meanwhile, despite last ditch efforts by the Kumaraswamy group, its Mysore leader and former Minister G.T. Devegowda is set to formally join the BJP in the presence of party President Rajnath Singh. The BJP is making the event a big show with senior leaders, including Yashwant Sinha , set to descend on Mysore on December 13.

Besides G.T. Devegowda, other JD (S) leaders, including about 10 corporators of the Mysore city corporation, are also likely to join the BJP on December 13. The event will also see the rejoining of former legislator Maruthi Rao Pawar who had defected to the JD(S) earlier.

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Karunakaran to return to Congress

Thiruvananthapuram/New Delhi, December 10
Making his most open declaration yet, veteran Kerala politician and a four-time Chief Minister K. Karunakaran today announced that he was returning to the Congress after admitting it was a “mistake” to leave the party.

Karunakaran (89), who broke ranks with the Congress three years back following differences, said he was willing to admit his “mistake” even standing atop the Himalayas.

“I am returning to my political home as the Congress alone could take the country forward taking all people together. From now on my energy would be channelised in that direction,” Karunakaran said at the convention of his Democratic Indira Congress-Karunakaran (DIC-K) party at Thiruvananthapuram.

“I had differences with the Congress leadership. But now I realise it was a mistake on my part to have quit the Congress. I have no difficulty in admitting even standing on the top of Himalayas, that it was a mistake,” he said.

On his son K. Muraleedharan’s refusal to toe his father’s political line, Karunakaran expressed confidence he would follow suit as no well-meaning person could think otherwise in the prevailing political circumstances.

But Muraleedharan, who is NCP’s Kerala unit president, declined to follow his father saying his move was “unilateral” and he was not a party to it.

Senior Congress leader and defence minister A.K. Antony said the question of re-admitting Karunakaran is before the party high command and it is expected to take a decision at the “right time”.

Antony was for long considered Karunakaran’s arch rival in the faction-rived Congress in Kerala.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said party president Sonia Gandhi would take a final admission on Karunakaran’s re-admission as he was its “senior leader”. — PTI

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