SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Nandigram
SC no for stay on HC order
But, restrains CBI from registering cases against cops
New Delhi, December 13
Finding nothing unusual in the Calcutta High Court declaring the West Bengal government action and police firing in Nandigram as “unconstitutional”, the Supreme Court today refused to stay High Court’s order in toto, but restrained the CBI from straightaway registering cases against police officials after inquiry.

Affidavit on Setu Samudram
ASI finds 2 officials guilty
New Delhi, December 13
An inquiry by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found two of its officials prima facie guilty of not carrying out government instructions in the filing of the controversial affidavit on the Setu Samudram issue in the Supreme Court.

House pays homage to Dec 13 victims
New Delhi, December 13
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues and leaders of both Houses of Parliament paid homage to the security personnel killed in the attack on Parliament six years ago with the BJP lashing out at the government for delaying the execution of Mohammad Afzal.

IN VIDEO
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The widow of slain policeman shouts as she gestures towards Home Minister Shivraj Patil (right) during a ceremony at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday on the anniversary of a militant attack on Parliament.
The widow of slain policeman shouts as she gestures towards Home Minister Shivraj Patil (right) during a ceremony at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday on the anniversary of a militant attack on Parliament. — AFP photo







EARLIER STORIES




Modi raises the pitch on Afzal Guru
Ahmedabad, December 13
After Sohrabuddin, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi played the Afzal card targeting the UPA government and the Congress president Sonia Gandhi for what he called their dithering over the execution of the Parliament attack convict.

Children Ploughing Fields
Notice to Bihar
New Delhi, December 13
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to the chief secretary, Bihar, and the district collector, Vaishali, following media reports that said that 10-year-old children had been deployed to drag a wooden roller in place of oxen in fields of Raghuraj Prasad Singh at Shahpur village in Vaishali district.

N-capable Akash missile test-fired
Orissa, December 13
On the heels of conducting trials of interceptor missiles, India today revived its surface-to-air nuclear-capable Akash missile programme by carrying out its fresh test firing near here.

Oscar asks corporates to play proactive role
New Delhi, December 13
The centre has received requests from worker as well as employer organisations for further discussion on labour hired on contract.

POSCO project unconstitutional, says Medha
Bhubaneswar, December 13
Rebuffed by villagers at the proposed POSCO steel project site in her efforts to drum up support against it, social activist Medha Patkar today termed the South Korean steel major’s venture as ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ and demanded its cancellation.

Cabinet clears 746 cr for Afghanistan road
New Delhi, December 13
Giving a further boost to the reconstruction activity undertaken by the Indian government in Afghanistan following the overthrowing of the Taliban regime, the Union Cabinet today gave its approval for spending over Rs 746 crore for the upgradation of a road there.

Cop mimics Karuna, LTTE chief
Chennai, December 13
Apolice constable has shot to fame overnight for his ability to mimic but for the wrong reason and is now facing disciplinary action.

Maximum train bombings during Lalu’s tenure: JD(S)
Patna, December 13
The ruling JD(U) in Bihar today referred to the chronology of some major train bombings in the country between 2004 and 2007 targeting the RJD supremo Lalu Prasad for failing to ensure safety and security of railway passengers during his tenure as railway minister.

Court allows Chandraswami to go abroad
New Delhi, December 13
A court here today allowed controversial tantrik Chandraswami, who is facing trial in as many as 11 FERA violation cases here, to go abroad.

PM meets Haj goodwill delegation
New Delhi, December 13
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today interacted with the Haj Goodwill Delegation, conveying his best wishes for a very successful Haj pilgrimage. Congratulating the pilgrims undertaking the sacred pilgrimage, he said “May the purpose for which you are performing this sacred pilgrimage be successful”.

Infiltration into J-K continues: Army chief
New Delhi, December 13
The Army today said infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir has been continuing even as it feared attempts by jehadis, who are facing crackdown in Pakistan, to sneak into the state in the coming days in the wake of the political turmoil in the neighbouring country.

Jaya: Karunanidhi supporting LTTE
Chennai, December 13
Contrary to the belief of India’s defence forces, AIADMK supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa feels Tamil nadu is a safe haven for the LTTE and accused Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi of directly supporting the banned outfit and urged stern action against him by the centre.

Rajdhani derails in Rajasthan
Jaipur, December 13
Eleven bogies of an Ahmedabad-bound Rajdhani Express today derailed between Sirohi and Banas station near the border with Gujarat, causing minor injuries to five passengers.

Sania booked for trespass, apologises
Hyderabad, December 13
The police today filed a case of trespass against tennis star Sania Mirza for shooting a commercial on the premises of the historic Mecca Masjid here.

STF to combat Maoists
Patna, December 13
The Madhu Koda led UPA government in Jharkhand has decided to raise a special task force to combat the unabated Maoist activities in the state.

Man bites mad dog
Kollam (Kerala), December 13
‘Man biting dog’, the proverbial basic lesson of all journalism manuals defining what a “news” is, has literally happened in a village near here when a man, in a fit of anger, bit a rabid dog for attacking his duck and ended up in hospital.

India expanding strategic base: Menon
New Delhi, December 13
Foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon today coined a new phrase to describe India’s political status in the international community - “general un-alignment”. He also said India has been expanding its strategic space since independence, a conscious effort which is now yielding dividend.

New turn to Bangalore rape story
Bangalore, December 13
The case of a 23-year-old woman “tourist”, who has claimed she had been gang-raped for five days in the city, has turned more intriguing with the police claiming that the woman had levelled the rape charges against the suspects after an altercation with the man who had accompanied her to the party venue.

23 fodder scam convicts sentenced
Ranchi, December 12
A special CBI court today awarded prison terms ranging from three years to six years to 23 accused in the fodder scam, including three senior Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) officials, in the case pertaining to withdrawal of Rs 27.32 crore from Ranchi treasury. Judge J.K.N.Tiwari awarded six years’ jail term to former regional Director (AHD) J. Bhengraj, former AHD officials U.K.Yadav and B.B.Prasad and 14 suppliers.



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Nandigram
SC no for stay on HC order
But, restrains CBI from registering cases against cops
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 13
Finding nothing unusual in the Calcutta High Court declaring the West Bengal government action and police firing in Nandigram as “unconstitutional”, the Supreme Court today refused to stay High Court’s order in toto, but restrained the CBI from straightaway registering cases against police officials after inquiry.

The apex court also chided the Left Front government for raising objection to the High Court order awarding Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the family of each of the 14 persons killed in the police firing on March 14.

“After all the High Court has only asked for payment of Rs 5 lakh… Rs 70 lakh is not a big amount for the government. Should you make an issue out of it. Don’t you want to bring peace in the area,” the Bench asked senior advocate K. K. Venugopal, appearing for the state of West Bengal.

As Venugopal sought stay on most of the High Court’s directions, asserting that the state government was “hurt” with the harsh observations in the November 26 order, a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal said “whatever may be the hurt, the idea is to bring normalcy in the area.”

The court, however, admitted the West Bengal appeal against the High Court order and issued notice to the CBI, seeking its reply, while fixing the case for further hearing on January 28.

In the four-point order, the High Court had declared the West Bengal Police regulations on police firing as “unconstitutional”, government action and firing in Nandigram as illegal, Rs 5 lakh compensation to the kin of each of the 14 dead and some amount to the injured persons as per the injuries and the CBI to register the cases against police officers and other personnel found guilty after the probe.

Since the Left Front government had accepted the High Court order for CBI probe earlier, it had no objection to the agency probe but Venugopal said the state wanted to quash the direction regarding registering of the cases against the police officials on completion of the investigation and on the compensation part.

The apex court issued a limited stay only confining it to the direction for registering of the cases against the police officials after solicitor-general of India G.E. Vahnvati, appearing for the CBI, stated that the agency would not register the cases on its own and would submit its report to the High Court on the completion of the investigation for further direction.

But, the Bench declined to grant stay on any of the other directions of the High Court and observed that it was an admitted fact that 14 persons had died in the police firing and 126 were injured. “Are you still justifying the firing,” the Bench asked.

But, Venugopal insisted that there were several “contradictions” in the High Court order and the observation that the police firing was “unconstitutional” was “unwarranted”.

But, the Bench was not impressed and said: “Apparently these findings (of the HC) are to justify the award of compensation. If the firing is justifiable then where is the question of payment of compensation.”

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Affidavit on Setu Samudram
ASI finds 2 officials guilty

New Delhi, December 13
An inquiry by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found two of its officials prima facie guilty of not carrying out government instructions in the filing of the controversial affidavit on the Setu Samudram issue in the Supreme Court.

A report of the internal inquiry into the issue conducted by ASI director-general Anshu Vaish was recently submitted to the secretary, culture, a senior official of the culture ministry said.

He said a formal departmental inquiry would now be carried out, covering the entire case and not just the role of the two officials, director (administration) Chandrasekhar and assistant director (monuments) V. Bakshi, who were earlier suspended following a preliminary probe by the ASI DG.

A chargesheet will be issued to the two officials and they will be asked to submit their explanation in the matter, the official said.

The suspension of the two ASI officials, meanwhile, was revoked yesterday and they were asked to resume duties with immediate effect.

“The ASI officials have been reinstated as it is a procedural requirement. You cannot keep someone suspended for more than three months,” the official said.

The two ASI officers were put under suspension on the orders of culture minister Ambika Soni on September 14, shortly after the controversy over the affidavit broke out.

The ASI DG was asked to submit a report on the matter, including an explanation on her own role in the fiasco.

Vaish submitted her report to the secretary, culture, last week, based on which a decision was taken that a formal departmental inquiry would be launched into the matter.

The ASI affidavit submitted in the court, which was later withdrawn, had triggered a major political storm by stating that there was no historical or scientific evidence to prove the existence of Lord Rama. — PTI

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House pays homage to Dec 13 victims
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet colleagues and leaders of both Houses of Parliament paid homage to the security personnel killed in the attack on Parliament six years ago with the BJP lashing out at the government for delaying the execution of Mohammad Afzal, who was convincted of conspiracy in the attack.

At the function in Parliament House today Dr Singh and other leaders paid floral tributes to the eight policemen and a gardener killed in the 2001 attack which stunned the nation.

In a poignant appeal, Vimla Devi, the widow of ASI Nanak Chand killed in the terror attack on Parliament, told the Prime Minister and other leaders that she was helpless and steeped in poverty. Sobbing uncontrollably, she said she had been invited to the function and had the right to speak. Pleading with the leaders to listen to her woes she said the government had not fulfilled its promise of land for a petrol pump that had been alloted to her as part of the compensation.

Both the Prime Minister and union home minister Shivraj Patil listened to her. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was also seen listening to Vimla Devi and tried to pacify her. Patil assured that the promises made to the victims’ families will be fulfilled soon. Last year, the families of the security personnel killed in the attack returned the gallantry medals to then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam protesting the delay in executing Afzal for his role in the terror strike.

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Modi raises the pitch on Afzal Guru

Ahmedabad, December 13
After Sohrabuddin, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi played the Afzal card targeting the UPA government and the Congress president Sonia Gandhi for what he called their dithering over the execution of the Parliament attack convict.

Making Afzal Guru a poll issue coinciding with the sixth anniversary of the attack on Parliament, the BJP today brought out advertisements in local newspapers with a photograph of Modi just three days before the final phase of assembly polls.

The advertisments while accusing the Congress of keeping the conspirator “alive for consideration of votes”, asked people to recall the Parliament attack.

The advertisements in Hindi say all terrorists who took part in the attack were killed and the conspirators booked under anti-terror law POTA.

The accused were sentenced within three years and the death sentence (on one of the convicts) was confirmed by the Supreme Court. However, for consideration of votes, the conspirator was still alive, it says, and asks for how long will compromises be made on terrorism.

At a rally here late yesterday, Modi said “the main conspirator in the Parliament attack case Afzal Guru was convicted and his death sentence confirmed by the Supreme court. It is almost a year since the Supreme Court had given its order in the case but (Congress chief) Soniaben is not hanging him.” — PTI 

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Children Ploughing Fields
Notice to Bihar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sent a notice to the chief secretary, Bihar, and the district collector, Vaishali, following media reports that said that 10-year-old children had been deployed to drag a wooden roller in place of oxen in fields of Raghuraj Prasad Singh at Shahpur village in Vaishali district.

Raghuraj Prasad is the younger brother of Cabinet minister for rural development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, an NHRC press release issued today said, adding that “Reports said father of one of the victims had informed reporters that neither tractor nor oxen could be used in that field and only children were deployed under the yoke to plough fields”.

“The report also said an FIR had been filed in this matter by the Labour Department under the directions of the district administration,” the commission said.

It added that after going through the media reports it raised serious issue of human rights violation of children, directing the press reports to be forwarded to authorities concerned for a factual report within four weeks.

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N-capable Akash missile test-fired

Orissa, December 13
On the heels of conducting trials of interceptor missiles, India today revived its surface-to-air nuclear-capable Akash missile programme by carrying out its fresh test firing near here.

The multi-target missile, with a strike range of 25 km and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead of 50 kg, was test fired from a mobile launcher, defence sources said.

The missile targeted a flying object using Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) “Lakshya” as support system, they said, adding the PTA was flown at 11.36 am and “Akash” missile test-fired at around 11.55 am from the ITR. — PTI 

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Oscar asks corporates to play proactive role
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
The centre has received requests from worker as well as employer organisations for further discussion on labour hired on contract.

Referring to the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, minister of labour Oscar Fernandes today said while trade unions had demanded that the Act be amended to provide for automatic absorption of contract labour, employers’ organisations were vehemently opposing it on ground that such a step would lead to capital-intensive measures like mechanisation, automation and result in fall in employment.

“We have received requests from both worker and employer organisations for further discussion on this issue,” Fernandes said while presiding over the 42nd meeting of the Standing Labour Committee (SLC).

He urged the corporate India to be a partner in making a more humane and just society, adding that the country needs a new partnership for inclusive growth and the industry must be pro-active in offering employment to the less privileged at all levels of the job ladder.

“It must consider investing in people and their skills and offer scholarships to promising young people,” he said, adding that the government did not believe in an adversarial relationship with industry but in a genuine partnership and social responsibility had to be an integrated process implemented by the government and corporate in close association.

The SLC session is being attended by state labour ministers, representatives of central trade unions, representative of employers, and delegates from state governments and central ministries and departments

Referring to the spirit of unity, Fernandes said the government, workers and employers had developed a sense of responsibility and responsiveness towards one another, exhibited respect to the views of one another and agreed to work in mutual interest.

The minister said the directorate-general of employment and training had taken up various new schemes for qualitative and quantitative enhancement of vocational training. 

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POSCO project unconstitutional, says Medha

Bhubaneswar, December 13
Rebuffed by villagers at the proposed POSCO steel project site in her efforts to drum up support against it, social activist Medha Patkar today termed the South Korean steel major’s venture as ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ and demanded its cancellation.

“The state government has violated all laws and human rights norms to get the POSCO project implemented near Paradip,” Patkar, who was cold shouldered by the villagers of the site in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district during the past two days, told newsmen here.

Accusing the Orissa government of ‘imposing’ industry in a ‘criminal way’ by suppressing the voice of the masses, she extended the support of her National Alliance of People Movement to POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Referring to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s claim that the POSCO project would generate a lot of revenue and employment, Patekar said the village communities would lose their source of livelihood, age old agriculture and pisiculture. “The entire chunk of 4,004 acre identified for the plant was cultivable or covered with good number of trees.”

“Gram Sabha must be consulted for equitable and sustainable development. Alternative plans with agriculture, pisiculture and labour intensive industrialisation should come up in the area with public-private-partnership mode,” she said. — PTI

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Cabinet clears 746 cr for Afghanistan road
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
Giving a further boost to the reconstruction activity undertaken by the Indian government in Afghanistan following the overthrowing of the Taliban regime, the Union Cabinet today gave its approval for spending over Rs 746 crore for the upgradation of a road there.

The Union Cabinet at its meeting here, which was chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gave its approval for involving an expenditure of Rs 746.79 crores for upgradation and construction of road from Zaranj to Delaram in Afghanistan. The project would be executed by the Border Roads Organisation. The construction of the road from Delaram to Zaranj would help Afghanistan to provide communication facility in remote part of the country.

Strategically, it would give India an improved access into Afghanistan and central Asia. This would also open an alternate route for Afghanistan to an Iranian seaport and India’s presence, in general, would further strengthen our interests in that country.

In another decision of international importance the Cabinet approved the signing of the agreement with government of the Republic of Senegal for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

This agreement, when it enters into force, will stimulate the flow of investment, technology and services from India to Senegal and vice versa. It will provide tax stability to the residents of India and Senegal and facilitate mutual economic cooperation.

In a significant decision, the Cabinet gave its approval for the extension of coverage of ex-servicemen contributory health scheme to the Uniformed Coast Guard pensioners and retired personnel Defence Security Corps (DSC), who left the Army service pre-maturely without earning any pension, but joined

DSC later and are in receipt of pension by virtue of their service in DSC.

Both these categories were peresently not covered under the ECHS scheme.

In another decision, approval was also given for further pursuing the Gram Nyayalayas Bill, 2007 in Parliament and to move Official Amendments in Rajya Sabha. This legislation would reduce considerable number of pending cases in subordinate judiciary.

This would establish a system of judiciary which will be less expensive, free from protracted procedural wrangles, quick and available at the grass-roots level, accessible to the common man and render justice to him as enshrined in article 39A of the constitution.

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Cop mimics Karuna, LTTE chief
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, December 13
Apolice constable has shot to fame overnight for his ability to mimic but for the wrong reason and is now facing disciplinary action.

Shyam Sundar, a constable posted in Titunelveli police control room, imitated LTTE supremo V. Prabhakaran and made his seniors go haywire threatening disturbance of the DMK’s youth wing conference scheduled to begin here on Saturday.

For three days, he used a walkie talkie and carried on his prank, disturbing senior police officials, who had come to the town for the conference.

Sundar later also mimicked Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi saying he had been camping at the town for the last one week but police officials had failed to identify him.

The ruling party’s youth conference has assumed considerable importance as political observers are speculating that Karunanidhi might announce M.K. Stalin, minister for rural development, and his third son, as his political heir during the two-day meet.

Police officials finally traced the wireless messages and nabbed Sundar, who was said to be of unsound mind. They said Sundar was under medication.

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Maximum train bombings during Lalu’s tenure: JD(S)
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 13
The ruling JD(U) in Bihar today referred to the chronology of some major train bombings in the country between 2004 and 2007 targeting the RJD supremo Lalu Prasad for failing to ensure safety and security of railway passengers during his tenure as railway minister.

About 321 passengers reportedly had lost their lives and over hundred were injured in five major explosions on trains that took place during Lalu’s tenure till date.

The sharp reaction from the JD(U) came after a powerful explosion in the Rajdhani express today in Assam that killed five passangers, besides injuring many, in the backdrop of ‘railways shining’ campaign by Lalu.

Based on the chronology of explosions on trains in last three years,the JD(U)’s national spokesman Shivanand Tiwary today charged Lalu with making false promises to prevent terror acts on trains at the cost of passengers. To substantiate his allegations, Tiwary quoted figures provided by the railway sources. To begin with, the terror attack on Delhi-Attari Samjhuta Express on February 18, 2007, had killed at least 67 people and injured many more.

Tiwary pointed out that this was preceded by a series of seven bomb blasts on July 11, 2006, in Mumbai trains that had killed over 200 commuters and left hundreds injured. Much to the dismay of its passengers the railways had experienced another twin bombings at a cantonment train station in Varanasi in eastern UP on March 7, 2006, killing at least 20 people. The spell of explosions on trains across India had continued in 2005 too.

Seven people were killed and several injured when a powerful blast triggered by Maoist ripped through the Ranchi-Asansol Holi Special at Gourinathdham station under Adra division in West Bengal on March 27,2005.

This was followed by another blast on the Delhi-Patna Shramjeevi express on July 28, 2005, that had killed 12 people and injured over 50.

Last but not the least, around 35 people were killed in separate bombing incidents at the train station and nearby market at Dimapur in Nagaland on October 2, 2004. In context of the repeated incidents of explosions on trains threatening the safety of passangers, Tiwary wondered the veracity of the claims on the turnaround of railways made by Lalu. “All that giltters is not gold”, Tiwari claimed, wondering whether railways under Lalu was seriously initiating measures to stop such terror acts.

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Court allows Chandraswami to go abroad

New Delhi, December 13
A court here today allowed controversial tantrik Chandraswami, who is facing trial in as many as 11 FERA violation cases here, to go abroad.

Additional chief metropolitan magistrate A K Kuhar at Patiala House court here asked the tantrik to submit security bonds before leaving the country.

The court, however, made it clear that he could remain out of the country for 30 days only and he will have to attend the proceedings in the FERA violation cases, in which he allegedly owed over Rs 9.65 crore as penalty to the Enforcement Directorate.

The security amount, to be deposited by Chandraswami as a pre-condition, was not known, his counsel K K Manan said. The order came a few days after a Tis Hazari court, hearing a Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) case against the tantrik, had granted him permission to go abroad to perform ‘puja’ for his new offices and to meet his disciples. — PTI

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PM meets Haj goodwill delegation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today interacted with the Haj Goodwill Delegation, conveying his best wishes for a very successful Haj pilgrimage. Congratulating the pilgrims undertaking the sacred pilgrimage, he said “May the purpose for which you are performing this sacred pilgrimage be successful”.

“In Islam, performance of Haj is considered a rare privilege and blessed are those who have this opportunity. So I congratulate you for undertaking this sacred pilgrimage and my prayer and the prayers of all the people of India are that all those pilgrims who will go for the performance of Haj will pray for the peace, amity and prevalence of harmony in our country,” the Prime Minister said.

“The message of Islam is the message of peace and brotherhood. Islam is a part of our civilisational heritage and therefore this message of peace, harmony, amity must go forth from this land and you are the real ambassadors. Each one of you is the ambassador of our country. So, when you are in the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia, please convey the people of India’s and the Government of India’s greetings to all the high dignitaries of the Royal Kingdom,” he added.

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Infiltration into J-K continues: Army chief

New Delhi, December 13
The Army today said infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir has been continuing even as it feared attempts by jehadis, who are facing crackdown in Pakistan, to sneak into the state in the coming days in the wake of the political turmoil in the neighbouring country.

“The possibility of jehadis and fundamentalists (from Pakistan) coming into this side is not ruled out,” Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor said here today. He said the infiltration has not stopped and it is continuing in Jammu and Kashmir. Though it becomes difficult to cross over during winters due to snow, General Kapoor said the militants use routes south of Pir Panjal to sneak in.

“Till the time passes have been opened in Jammu and Kashmir, infiltration has been on. And now that passes are closing down due to snow, there is a possibility that influx bids are shifted to areas south of Pir Panjal, where there is not much snow,” he said.

Kapoor, who was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar here, said security forces had mounted a strong vigil along the Line of Control to check any spurt in rebel activities.

General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Command Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj had yesterday said in Chennai that Islamabad may turn its “jehadis” on India “to divert attention from its internal crisis”.

“While jehadis (Islamic militant groups) in Pakistan are now fighting the army in Balochistan, Swat and North Western Frontier Province, they may be brainwashed and made to infiltrate in India,” Thamburaj said. This could be a tactic by Pakistan to “divert attention from its internal crisis,” he said.

On the upcoming military exercise between Indian and Chinese armies, Kapoor said it would basically focus on counter-terror operations. “The threat of terrorism is increasing. We all are facing it. The exercise will basically focus on counter-terrorism operations,” he said.

Troops of the Indian and Chinese armies troops will carry out their first joint military exercise in the mountains of Kunming in Yunnan province from December 19.

Army officials had said 88 troops and officers from India and an equal number of personnel from the China would take part in the exercise for nine days in the highlands. Asked about Nepalese Army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal’s visit to India, Kapoor said both the armies have very cordial relations. — PTI

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Jaya: Karunanidhi supporting LTTE
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, December 13
Contrary to the belief of India’s defence forces, AIADMK supremo Jayaram Jayalalithaa feels Tamil nadu is a safe haven for the LTTE and accused Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi of directly supporting the banned outfit and urged stern action against him by the centre.

Narrating various incidents over the last few months, she alleged, “Karunanidhi is directly offering support to the LTTE” and thereby posing a grave threat to the nation’s security. However, the GOC-in-C southern command of the Indian Army Lt-Gen Noble Thamburaj yesterday said the LTTE no more posed a threat to the country and the state government, along with the security agencies, had stepped up surveillance to curb militant activities.

However, Jayalalithaa felt that the law and order in Tamil Nadu would never improve as long as the DMK was in power and recent arrests of LTTE cadres have vindicated her charge that Tamil militants from Sri Lanka were operating in the state.

She alleged, “The confessions of the arrested LTTE cadres that they secretly functioned from the state have shocked the country. One LTTE cadre has claimed that he stayed at a house of a policeman for eight months. When I talked about the infiltration of terrorist elements and deterioration of law and order, Karunanidhi and his family ridiculed me. But now I stand vindicated.” Jayalalithaa pointed out that during interrogation after his arrest, a Sea Tiger, Gowri Shankar, confessed that Vanniyarasu, a leader of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (Dalit Panthers of India) was helping the LTTE to smuggle boats.

She said in October Vanniyarasu was arrested by the “Q” branch of the Tamil Nadu police for receiving a consignment from Norway containing various spare parts for mechanized boats. However, he was released on bail as DPI leader Thol Thirumavalavan met Chief Minister on the same day.

“Since the minority DMK government is depending on the Viduthalai Chiruthaikal for support, the Chief Minister ensured Vanniyarasu’s release. The incident clearly demonstrates that Karunanidhi is directly offering support to the LTTE,” she alleged. Jayalalithaa lamented, “when I pointed out the nexus between the politicians and the LTTE, I was labelled as an anti-Tamil.”

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Rajdhani derails in Rajasthan

Jaipur, December 13
Eleven bogies of an Ahmedabad-bound Rajdhani Express today derailed between Sirohi and Banas station near the border with Gujarat, causing minor injuries to five passengers.

The accident happened around 5.55 am, SP, Sirohi, Rani Mittal said. Only the engine and guard coaches did not go off the track.

The derailment may have occurred due to a broken track, officials said. The injured were administered first aid at the accident site.

The train was going at top speed when the driver felt two heavy jerks, after which he applied the brakes, they said.

Around 400 passengers were transported from the accident site to the Banas railway station from where they left by a special train for Ahmedabad at 9.15 am.

Because of the restoration work at the New Delhi-Ahemdabad route from Sirohi-Banas stations, four trains have been diverted and eight trains have been cancelled. — PTI 

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Sania booked for trespass, apologises
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, December 13
The police today filed a case of trespass against tennis star Sania Mirza for shooting a commercial on the premises of the historic Mecca Masjid here.

Sania expressed regrets over what happened at Mecca Masjid. In an email to the Hyderabad Commissioner of Police, Sania apologised for shooting a commercial at the Mecca mosque. She said she was under the impression that prior permission had been obtained for the shoot and expressed ‘deep sense of remorse’ for causing hurt to the sentiments of the community.

“I would like to apologise to all my brothers and sisters and respected elders who are anguished by my unwittingly entering a portion of the land belonging to Mecca Masjid,” Sania said in the letter, which was also sent to the Imam of the Masjid. Sania claimed that the commercial was aimed at promoting the heritage monument of Charminar which is a symbol of Hyderabad.

Earlier, following a complaint from the state minorities welfare department and protests by Muslim organisations, the city police registered a case of trespass against Sania and the ad agency for filming a commercial without obtaining permission from the authorities.

“We have filed the case and the investigation is on. The charge against Sania and the advertising agency is that they entered the Mosque premises without permission,” the assistant commissioner of police (Charminar) B Reddanna said.

Clad in blue jeans and a red t-shirt, Sania appeared in the commercial shot in the premises of the 17th century monument with the historic Charminar as the backdrop. The commercial, said to be commissioned by a media house, was shot on December 10.

The shooting evoked strong protests from Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM), a Muslim political party having considerable influence in the old city, and some local people who contended that it hurt their religious sentiments.

It was said the crew of the ad film had informed the police about the shooting but failed to take permission from the minorities welfare department which is mandatory.

Khaja Nayeemuddin, superintendent of the mosque, said he had no information about the film shooting. He pointed out that shooting of films and commercials was not permitted in the mosque premises.

“This amounts to attacking the sanctity of the mosque. It has hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims,” the MIM legislator representing Charminar Ahmed Pasha Khadri said. The mosque, located in the heart of the city, is a major tourist centre.

The Hyderabad district minority welfare officer Shaikh Kareemullah lodged a complaint with the Hussaini Alam police station against Sania and the ad agency. Meanwhile, the minorities welfare minister Mohammad Ali Shabbir sought a report from the department about the matter.

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STF to combat Maoists
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 13
The Madhu Koda led UPA government in Jharkhand has decided to raise a special task force to combat the unabated Maoist activities in the state.

Reports reaching here said the Jharkhand cabinet has already decided to sanction Rs 104.09 crore to raise the STF on the lines of ‘Greyhound’ in Maoist infested Andhra Pradesh.

Chief Minister Madhu Koda was said to be convinced of the success of the ‘Greyhound’ in dealing with the extremists in Andhra Pradesh.

Sources disclosed that Madhu Koda has already apprised the task force of the union home ministry about his decision to raise STF to firm up measures related to operations against the Maoists.

The cabinet approval came in the background of the killing of Jharkhand Mukti Morch (JMM) MP Sunil Mahato in March this year, besides the gunning down of 18 villagers, including former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi’s son, Anup Maranbdi in Giridh on October 26.

It may be noted that Jharkhand has seen worst Naxal attacks on politicians and civilians in last one year of Madhu Koda’s rule.

This even prompted the congress, supporting the Madhu Koda government from outside, to recently set January 16 as the deadline for the Jharkhand Chief Minister to come out with concrete measures to deal with the Maoists.

Recently, senior congress leader and union minister Ajay Maken had met the Jharkhand Governnor Syed Sibte Razi in Ranchi to express the congress’ concerns on the lack of proper development measures in the state under Madhu Koda. The growing Maoist activities reportedly also had figured during the talks.

18 of 24 districts of Jharkhand were already under Maoist influence.

It was learnt that while a police officer in the rank of IG would command 1,989 personnel proposed STF, a deputy inspector, two SPs and 22 DSPs would assist him in the battle to crush Maoists in the state. The police personnel in the STF would also be provided with automatic weapons and other gadgets.

Besides, the union home ministry recently informed the Madhu Koda government about the centre’s decision to give special attention to 33 districts in Naxal affected states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh.

The sources said the decision by the union home ministry followed after the recent admission by none other than the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, descrbing the Maoist problem as the biggest threat to internal security of the country now.

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Man bites mad dog

Kollam (Kerala), December 13
‘Man biting dog’, the proverbial basic lesson of all journalism manuals defining what a “news” is, has literally happened in a village near here when a man, in a fit of anger, bit a rabid dog for attacking his duck and ended up in hospital.

Sixtyfive-year-old Pappan bit the dog so hard in its throat that it bled profusley. However, it was later beaten to death by the irate villagers. The rabid dog had been frightening the residents of Pakakkadavu village in Kollam district for the past few weeks.

Yesterday, the dog strayed into Pappan’s compound and took away his duck. An angry Pappan sprang on the dog and the duo started a fight in a slushy ditch. — PTI 

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India expanding strategic base: Menon
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 13
Foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon today coined a new phrase to describe India’s political status in the international community - “general un-alignment”. He also said India has been expanding its strategic space since independence, a conscious effort which is now yielding dividend.

Menon made several important points in his inaugural address today on foreign policy dialogue here with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London. Today’s one-day dialogue focused on three subjects: strategic shape of the world, international terrorism and energy security.

Menon said cold war concepts like containment had very little relevance in today’s world. The interdependence brought about by globalisation puts limits beyond which tensions among the major powers cannot escalate.

Foreign secretary said what was happening in the world today was that major powers were coming together to form coalitions to deal with issues where they had a convergence of interests, despite differences in broader approach.

Menon noted that India saw the evolving situation as one in which there was an opportunity for the nation. As a developing country, the consistent objective of Indian foreign policy has been and remains poverty eradication and rapid and inclusive economic development. “If we are to eradicate mass poverty by 2020, we need to keep growing our economy at 8-10 per cent each year. This requires a peaceful and supportive global environment in general and a peaceful periphery in particular.”

As a result of twenty five years of 6 per cent growth and economic reforms since 1991, India today is in a position to engage with the world in an unprecedented manner, Menon said. India’s engagement with the global economy is growing rapidly, with trade in goods and services now exceeding $330 billion.

Significantly, the foreign secretary also talked of India’s attempt to build a peaceful periphery within which the country’s transformation can take place. In this context, he pointed out that the country faced major threats from from non-state actors and from trans-boundary effects of the collapse of the state system.

In a thinly-veiled reference to the robust presence of Al Qaida and Taliban cadres in Pakistan-Afghanistan border areas, Menon said: “Large areas abutting India to the west have seen the collapse of state structures and the absence of governance or the writ of the state, with the emergence of multiple centres of power. The results, in the form of terrorism, extremism and radicalism are felt by us in India.”

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New turn to Bangalore rape story
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 13
The case of a 23-year-old woman “tourist”, who has claimed she had been gang-raped for five days in the city, has turned more intriguing with the police claiming that the woman had levelled the rape charges against the suspects after an altercation with the man who had accompanied her to the party venue.

The local police had registered a case on a complaint of the woman late last night. She had claimed that a taxi driver took her to a service apartment when she failed to find a room in a hotel. When she woke up the next day, she realised she had been drugged. She was repeatedly raped by the taxi driver and four of his friends. One of the “customers”, brought to the apartment by the rapists, got her released from their clutches.

The woman had approached the Police Commissioner’s office with her complaint on December 10 and the case was entrusted to the DCP (Crime).

The DCP had given the mobile number of one of the “tormentors” mentioned by the woman to a woman television journalist whose crew managed to locate the culprit, who was detained last night along with his accomplices.

According to police sources, no taxi driver was involved in the alleged rape as claimed by the woman. The police sources disclosed that the woman had come to the city to attend a bachelor’s party preceding a marriage of a rich businessman in the city and had also gone to the venue. She had accompanied Sandeep, who had picked her from the airport in a Toyota Corolla car to an apartment. According to the police the subsequent people who had visited the apartment had claimed on questioning that they had consensual sex with the woman in lieu of money.

The police claimed that there was an altercation between the woman and Sandeep over the money to be shared between them following which she approached the police with a rape complaint.

Preliminary verification has revealed that the woman is residing in a rented accommodation in Delhi worth Rs 40,000 per month even though she does not have any work and claims to be an amateur photographer. Sandeep, who had received her at the airport, has gone to Mumbai.

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23 fodder scam convicts sentenced

Ranchi, December 12
A special CBI court today awarded prison terms ranging from three years to six years to 23 accused in the fodder scam, including three senior Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) officials, in the case pertaining to withdrawal of Rs 27.32 crore from Ranchi treasury. Judge J.K.N.Tiwari awarded six years’ jail term to former regional Director (AHD) J. Bhengraj, former AHD officials U.K.Yadav and B.B.Prasad and 14 suppliers.

The court also imposed a fine ranging between Rs 1.35-1.8 lakh on them. On default of payment of fine, they would have to undergo imprisonment for another six months. — PTI

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