SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Congress sweeps MP byelections
Bhopal, December 15
Giving a severe drubbing to the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, the Congress wrested the Khargone Lok Sabha and Sanver Assembly seats defeating the BJP in the December 12 byelections the results of which were announced today.

Indo-China Border Row
Settlement package in process: MEA
Itanagar, December 15
The special representatives on the boundary questions were proceeding from the political perspective of overall bilateral relations towards a final package settlement that covered all sectors of the India-China boundary, an External Affairs Ministry official said.

Change of guard ceremony thrown open to public
New Delhi, December 15
The traditional weekly change of guard ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan was today thrown open to the public with President Pratibha Patil not only wanting it to convert into a tourist attraction but make the closed precincts of President House accessible to the masses.





EARLIER STORIES




Polling officers check the equipment given to them at Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Polling officers check the equipment given to them at Ahmedabad on Saturday. — PTI

Sisodia Case
SC no to transfer from Shimla to Panchkula
New Delhi, December 15
The Supreme Court has found no reason for the transfer of a high profile Sisodia case from Shimla to Panchkula, which in April 2003 had hit the headlines for virtually turning into a cause of confrontation between the police of Himachal Pardesh and Haryana.

Key ISI operative held in Assam
Guwahati, December 15
The Assam police arrested a hardcore operative of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in a special operation carried out in a city locality last night.

Custodial Death
M’rashtra to compensate victim’s mother
Mumbai, December 15
The Maharashtra government is planning to provide compensation to Aasiya Begum, mother of a software engineer Syed Khwaja Yunus who was allegedly killed in police custody. Yunus, a software engineer based in Saudi Arabia, was on holiday in his hometown in Aurangabad in 2002 when he was picked up by the Mumbai police.

LSA voluntary pact, not binding: US
New Delhi, December 15
Seeking to allay apprehensions over the logistics support agreement (LSA) it has offered to India, the US has said the pact is not binding on the country and transactions under it would be voluntary and on a reciprocal basis.

India sets up deep space network
Bangalore, December 15
India has established a deep space network (DSN) near here which besides providing tracking and command for the country’s unmanned moon mission planned for April 9, will also serve as a base station for future planetary explorations.

ISRO: No INSAT-4CR disappearance
Bangalore, December 15
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today refuted reports alleging that its INSAT-4CR satellite had ‘disappeared’ for a while in space and later ‘brought back’, reducing its ten-year life span by half.

Lights switched off in Mumbai to save Earth
Mumbai, December 15
In a first of its kind initiative in the country, thousands of Mumbaikars turned off all electrical appliances for an hour this evening as part of a campaign to spread awareness about global warming and climate change.

Mahajan case verdict likely on Monday
Mumbai, December 15
The sessions court is likely to deliver its judgement in the Pramod Mahajan murder trial on December 17.

Tejeshwar Singh dead
New Delhi, December 15
Tejeshwar Singh, publisher, theatre actor and television news reader, whose deep baritone demanded compelling attention from the viewer, died in Mussoorie on Friday night of a sudden heart attack.

Charges framed against Taslimuddin
Araria (Bihar), December 15
A local court today framed charges against union minister Taslimuddin and two others in connection with an over two-decade old case relating to the arrest of a quack from his residence.

Lifting emergency welcome decision: Pranab
Raipur, December 15
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee welcomed Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to lift the emergency in that country.

Majority in Parliament opposed to N-deal: Bardhan
New Delhi, December 15
CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan affirmed yesterday that the CPI was opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal. He stated categorically, “We do not want the deal to be operationalised.” Bardhan insisted that the majority in Parliament was against the Indo-US deal and asked the government to take the “sense of the House” into account and scrap the agreement.

Lakshmi discharged from hospital
Bangalalore, December 15
Two-year-old Lakshmi Tatma, who underwent a successful complicated surgery to separate her from a conjoined parasitic twin at a superspeciality hospital about 10 weeks ago, was discharged today.

Telugu comedy king makes it to Guinness
Hyderabad, December 15
The comedy king of the Telugu cinema, Brahmanandam, has laughed his way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Spoof on Gowda’s family
Bangalore, December 15
Before electioneering to the forthcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka begins in right earnest, the Janata Dal (Secular) supremo and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda wants to put a lid on the shooting of a Kannada film.

5 Haj pilgrims killed in Mecca bus mishap
New Delhi, December 15
Five Haj pilgrims from India, including three women, were killed and 19 others injured when their bus met with an accident near Mecca in Saudi Arabia today.

Zoo lion dies of pneumonia
Junagadh, December 15
A lion died last morning from pneumonia at the veterinary hospital in Sakarbaug zoo.

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Congress sweeps MP byelections

Bhopal, December 15
Giving a severe drubbing to the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, the Congress wrested the Khargone Lok Sabha and Sanver Assembly seats defeating the BJP in the December 12 byelections the results of which were announced today.

Congress candidate Arun Yadav, son of MPCC chief Subhash Yadav, was elected to the Lok Sabha from Khargone, defeating his nearest rival, BJP’s Krishna Murari Moghe by 1,18,638 votes.

Yadav polled a total of 3,92,092 votes while Moghe got 2,73,454 votes. The Uma Bharti-led Bharatiya Janshakti candidate Sanjay Jhanwar came a distant third polling only 30,215 votes.

The byelection in Khargone was necessitated due to disqualification of Moghe on the office of profit issue.

In Indore district’s Sanver Assembly constituency, where 11 candidates were in the fray, Tulsiram Silawat of the Congress defeated his BJP’s Santosh Malaviya by 9,292 votes. The seat was earlier held by the BJP.

Bharatiya Janshakti candidate Ranjit Sonkar fared a poor third, polling only 3,671 votes. Other eight candidates were independents. The Sanver seat fell vacant following the death of state BJP minister Prakash Sonkar. — UNI

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Indo-China Border Row
Settlement package in process: MEA

Itanagar, December 15
The special representatives on the boundary questions were proceeding from the political perspective of overall bilateral relations towards a final package settlement that covered all sectors of the India-China boundary, an External Affairs Ministry official said.

Under secretary (China) of the ministry V.K. Jacob informed this in a communication to BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh with reference to a recent notice by him in the Lok Sabha.

In reaching the boundary settlement, both sides shall safeguard the due interest of their settled populations in border areas, it said.

India and China, it said, had agreed in April 2005 to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution to the boundary question through peaceful and friendly consultations.

The ministry also referred to a media report quoting former Chinese ambassador to India Zhou Gang that as the Chinese would never accept the McMohan line, India must make substantial adjustment in the eastern sector including returning the Buddhist enclave of Tawang as it was the birthplace of the sixth Dalai Lama.

The ministry said the official position of the Government of India was that Arunachal Pradesh was an integral part of India was well known to the Chinese side. "This position is reiterated whenever necessary." — PTI

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Change of guard ceremony thrown open to public
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 15
The traditional weekly change of guard ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhawan was today thrown open to the public with President Pratibha Patil not only wanting it to convert into a tourist attraction but make the closed precincts of President House accessible to the masses.

The general public had the first feel of the attractive military ritual amidst the trotting of horses and soul-lifting tune played by Army band as from today onwards the ceremony having its roots to the British era, was given a total revamp.

The 40-minute ceremony, involving Army Guards from infantry and the President’s bodyguards, is held every Saturday at the front grounds of the majestic Rashtrapati Bhawan.

From today onwards, the main gates of the Rashtrapati Bhawan from north and south block side will be thrown open to the public and tourists to watch the ceremony from 10 a.m. in winter and 8 a.m. in summer every Saturday to make it a popular spectacle like the Buckingham Palace ceremony in London.

In today’s ceremony, public for the first time enjoyed a splendid march by smartly dressed infantry guards with the President’s bodyguards in the spectacular red uniform riding on their horses while changing the guard with melodious music by the army band.

The ceremony includes the inspection of the new guard, nomination of sentries, a march to take post and an exchange of compliments by the guards.

But for the public, the superb ceremonial drill by 36-horse-riding President’s bodyguards with heavily embroidered saddle clothes, bridles and bits which lend a regal dignity, was the main attraction.

To mark the first public ceremony, the roads leading to the south and north block were decorated with Tricolours and with the flags of President’s bbodyguard and of the Assam Regiment, which is the ceremonial Army guard battalion at present of the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

“The ceremony is being thrown open to the public so as to make the Rashtrapati Bhawan come closer to them. People should be aware of what happens inside the bhawan and not think that the place is closed for them,” Christi Fernandes, secretary to the President said.

Besides this, the Rashtrapati Bhawan wanted to promote it as a tourist attraction and hoped that people would come in large number to take part in this glorious tradition of the history, he said.

To make it a grand ceremony, the number of soldiers and horses to take part in it had been increased. From now 150 foot soldiers and 36 riding the horses would take part in the ceremony every Saturday, officials said.

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Sisodia Case
SC no to transfer from Shimla to Panchkula
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 15
The Supreme Court has found no reason for the transfer of a high profile Sisodia case from Shimla to Panchkula, which in April 2003 had hit the headlines for virtually turning into a cause of confrontation between the police of Himachal Pardesh and Haryana.

Pinjore-based Madhuresh Kumar Sisodia, who claimed to be “falsely” implicated in an Arms Act case allegedly at the behest of HP INTUC leader Amarjeet Singh Bawa, sought the transfer of the case to Panhckula.

The confrontation between the police of the two states also had resulted in the registration of a case by the Haryana Police against some officials of the Himachal Police at Kalka on April 6, 2003, for getting released Bawa from their custody.

The HP police had allegedly acted at the behest of the highest level of the state leadership to get Bawa released from the custody of the Haryana Police on April 4, 2003, when he was being taken to Panchkula for production before the trial court in connection with a pending assault case.

According to the Haryana Police FIR, the HP police officials had used extra-judicial methods to get Bawa, released form their custody, when he was arrested to be produced before the trial court at Panchkula in a case arising out of a dispute between him and Sisodia.

Sisodia, who was charged under the Arms Act provisions in a case registered by the HP Police, had moved the Supreme Court along with some other accused for the transfer of the case from the court of Judicial Magistrate, Shimla, to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Panchkula.

However, a Bench of Justices S.B. Sinha and H.S. Bedi rejected the transfer the petition following a statement made by Himachal Pradesh’s additional advocate general J.S. Attri that adequate security had already been provided to Sisodia.

Attri said Himachal Pradesh was a peaceful state and there was no threat as such or no reason for any apprehension on the part of the accused that he would not get fair trial there.

Sisodia and other accused had sought transfer on the grounds that Bawa with his “high political” connections would not only would try to “influence” witnesses, but posed a threat to him.

Sisodia had alleged that during his stay in Shimla in August 2003 Bawa had got him attacked by his henchmen. But the apex court was not convinced after a categorical statement by Attrai that the Himachal government would provide adequate security to the accused, who is on bail.

The action of the HP Police getting Bawa released forcefully from the custody of the Haryana Police near Dharmapur had hit the headlines on front pages of all newspapers in the region, conveying a message how the police of a state could act under the “political influence” rather than cooperating with the police force of the other state in the investigation of a criminal case.

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Key ISI operative held in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 15
The Assam police arrested a hardcore operative of the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in a special operation carried out in a city locality last night.

The superintendent of police (Special Operation Unit), Bonya Gogoi today informed the arrested ISI operative was identified as S M Alam alias Mujibullah Alam alias Asif Alam. He hails from Ajampur under Uttara Police Station in Dhaka.

“The ISI operative has been active in Assam and north-east since 2006 and used to look after all operational matters of the ISI in Assam and north-east. He has been under surveillance for sometime. He is being interrogated by the special branch of Assam police here,” the police official said.

The arrested ISI operative was a member of Jamati Islami and Chatra Sibir in Bangladesh and joined Pakistan-based Harkat-ul-Mujahideen in 1993. He then underwent training in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The police official further informed that S M Alam then joined Jamat-ul-Mujahideen in Bangladesh in the year 2005 and has been working for the ISI in Assam and north-east since last year. The police and the Army have been claiming that the ISI has been instrumental in aiding and abetting militancy in Assam and other parts of the north-east. The top militant group, the banned ULFA is also alleged to have close links with the ISI.

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Custodial Death
M’rashtra to compensate victim’s mother
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, December 15
The Maharashtra government is planning to provide compensation to Aasiya Begum, mother of a software engineer Syed Khwaja Yunus who was allegedly killed in police custody. Yunus, a software engineer based in Saudi Arabia, was on holiday in his hometown in Aurangabad in 2002 when he was picked up by the Mumbai police.

The incident happened days after a bomb ripped off a BEST bus in Mumbai in December 2002 killing several people. According to Abdul Mateen, one of the prisoners lodged in the Arthur Road Jail, the frail Yunus was punched and kicked by assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze due to which he is suspected to have suffered internal bleeding. Shortly after Yunus was taken from jail, Vaze and other policemen spread the word that he had escaped from police custody as the jeep in which they were travelling had met with an accident.

The policemen said they were all rendered unconscious following the accident due to which Yunus escaped. Human rights activists, who took up Yunus’s case, managed to establish that he could have died as a result of torture in jail. Since then the Maharashtra government has suspended eight police officials involved in the case. Subsequently, four of them were given a clean chit while assistant police inspector Sachin Vaze and constables Rajendra Tiwari, Rajaram Nikam and Sunil Desai are to face a trial for allegedly murdering Yunus.

Vaze, who has a reputation of being an encounter specialist, had applied for voluntary retirement from the police force, but his request has been rejected by the government. The Maharashtra government last week told the Bombay High Court that it would pay compensation to Yunus’s mother Aasiya Begum. But the family’s lawyers are insisting top police officials, under whose custody Yunus was allegedly tortured, be prosecuted as well.

The family has criticised the government for not prosecuting investigation officer assistant commissioner Ambadas Pote and police inspectors Arun Borude and Rajendra Joshi.

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LSA voluntary pact, not binding: US

New Delhi, December 15
Seeking to allay apprehensions over the logistics support agreement (LSA) it has offered to India, the US has said the pact is not binding on the country and transactions under it would be voluntary and on a reciprocal basis.

A senior US official also pointed out that the LSA would facilitate interaction between the armed forces of the two “friendly nations” by reducing the red tape.

Citing as a case in point, he referred to the recent evacuation of Indians in Lebanon, wherein the Indian Navy had to purchase fuel for its ships used for the operation.

“We replenished your vessels with fuel and other supplies for which you paid huge amounts. With an LSA, this would have been on a reciprocal basis,” the official said.

The LSA would take care of such situations, he said, adding “you provide us with similar facilities when our (defence) aircraft land at Indian airports or our (naval) ships call at your ports”.

“It’s a valuable method of reducing friction and red tape,” another US official said.

The Left parties have objected to India entering into such an agreement with the US. The government had told Parliament that it was actively considering signing the pact.

The official said that the pact would even help the Indian Air Force in taking part in the Red Flag exercises to be held in Nevada in June.

“We will host you on the reciprocal understanding that you host us when we come to India for a similar exercise,” he said. — PTI

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India sets up deep space network
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 15
India has established a deep space network (DSN) near here which besides providing tracking and command for the country’s unmanned moon mission planned for April 9, will also serve as a base station for future planetary explorations.

The DSN, which has been established at a 120 acre campus at Byalalu around 45 km from here at a cost of Rs 100 crore, was projected as an “investment for the future” by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) during a visit to the facility.

ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) director S.K. Shivakumar told mediapersons that the indigenously built network had a 32-metre antenna which has a 180 degree panel reflector. Besides this, it also has another 18 metre dish antenna. The antennas will be used to send and receive telemetry signals to and from the spacecraft which will orbit around the moon.

The DSN also has a spacecraft control centre, a ground station and a space science data centre. Shivakumar said presently all systems were being checked to ensure the smooth monitoring of the lunar mission once it takes off from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota. He said presently the space agency was confident it would be able to launch the lunar mission on April 9, the tentative date fixed for the flight.

The moon mission includes the launch of a satellite and a moon impact probe which will crash land on the surface of the moon and study its mineralogical content. Besides five experiment instruments from India, the lunar mission will also carry two instruments from the United States, three from the European Space Agency and one from Bulgaria.

Images of up to five metres resolution are expected to be received at the DSN near here, Shivakumar said adding the antenna was powerful enough to handle missions to Mars and even beyond. 

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ISRO: No INSAT-4CR disappearance

Bangalore, December 15
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today refuted reports alleging that its INSAT-4CR satellite had ‘disappeared’ for a while in space and later ‘brought back’, reducing its ten-year life span by half.

“It’s totally false and baseless. We totally deny it,” ISRO spokesperson S Satish said here.

Satish said the satellite, launched on September two this year, had been put in the designated orbit after manoeuvres and declared operational in October. — PTI

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Lights switched off in Mumbai to save Earth

Mumbai, December 15
In a first of its kind initiative in the country, thousands of Mumbaikars turned off all electrical appliances for an hour this evening as part of a campaign to spread awareness about global warming and climate change.

The campaign, a brainchild of six professionals, was inspired by a similar campaign carried out in Sydney in March this year.

The lights of buildings on the famous Marine Drive were on as usual until 7:30 pm when they all went off giving city residents the unique sight of the famous promenade. Only the street lights were on.

Parts of south Mumbai, the civic body's main office, residential buildings and hotels along the picturesque Marine Drive and Worli Sea Face, and buildings in many suburbs turned off their lights and unplugged all electrical devices between 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm as part of the initiative.

The movement received support from state agencies, corporates, NGOs, resident associations and educational institutions across the city.

Mayor Shubha Raul was among those who took up the initiative by participating in the movement.

"All BMC office lights were switched off in the evening. We also switched off lights at BMC quarters and had an awareness campaign there today," she said. — PTI

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Mahajan case verdict likely on Monday

Mumbai, December 15
The sessions court is likely to deliver its judgement in the Pramod Mahajan murder trial on December 17.

An Additional Sessions Judge tried Mahajan’s younger brother Pravin for allegedly firing bullets at the BJP leader on April 22, 2006, at the late BJP leader’s Worli residence. Pravin Mahajan has been charged under Section 302 (murder) and 449 (house trespass).

Pramod Mahajan, who was hospitalised on April 22, 2006, succumbed to his injuries 12 days later.

The police filed a 650-page chargesheet before a metropolitan court on July 14 last year. A list of 58 witnesses was given by the prosecution before the trial began.

The prosecution, however, examined 32 witnesses, including Pramod’s widow Rekha, daughter Poonam, sister Pradnya and brother-in-law Gopinath Munde while, the defence examined Pravin, as a witness on oath, before the court apart from his wife Sarangi and a computer expert.

Judge Davare began dictating the judgement from December six and is likely to pronounce the judgement on Monday. — PTI

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Tejeshwar Singh dead

New Delhi, December 15
Tejeshwar Singh, publisher, theatre actor and television news reader, whose deep baritone demanded compelling attention from the viewer, died in Mussoorie on Friday night of a sudden heart attack.

He was in his early sixties. Singh founded the Sage Publications (India) in 1981 and nurtured it into a prominent publishing house within a decade.

Son of distinguished diplomat Gurbachan Singh, he was also a famous television newsreader on Doordarshan in the 1980s and early 90s. His voice left a lasting imprint on television viewers of an earlier generation. He was also associated with theatre and cinema.

Sage Publications sources told IANS that Singh had a heart attack while watching television. Sage gave other established names in the publishing world a run for their money. Singh did this by grabbing the outsourced work from Europe and the US. He also developed a niche distributor network and with this weaned away many authors and academics from other reputed publishers. — IANS

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Charges framed against Taslimuddin

Araria (Bihar), December 15
A local court today framed charges against union minister Taslimuddin and two others in connection with an over two-decade old case relating to the arrest of a quack from his residence.

First Class Judicial Magistrate S.N. Jha framed charges against Taslimuddin, union minister of state for agriculture and consumer affairs, under Sections 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will etc), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 120(b) (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The case relates to the arrest of a quack Raghunath Mishra from the residence of Taslimuddin at Jokihat from where he was an MLA in 1986.

Mishra was arrested with fake medical certificates and spurious drugs from the residence of Taslimuddin when he was not present.

Taslimuddin and two of the accused Munna Sengupta and Mohm Yasin pleaded not guilty while Mishra and also another accused Mohd Azhar did not turn up. — PTI

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Lifting emergency welcome decision: Pranab

Raipur, December 15
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee welcomed Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to lift the emergency in that country.

“It is a welcome decision by the President (of Pakistan),” Mukherjee told reporters here.

“But this is an internal matter of Pakistan and India’s stand is not to comment on others’ internal matters,” he said.

Replying to a question on marginalisation of ethnic Indians in Malaysia, he said the matter had been taken up with the Malaysian government.

On Left parties’ threat to withdraw support on the Indo-US nuclear deal issue, Mukherjee said it is a “media creation”.

“I spoke to (CPM general secretary) Prakash Karat today and he denied what had been published in the newspaper,” he said.

India will negotiate with the IAEA on India-specific safeguards agreement and that will be put before the UPA-Left committee on the deal, Mukherjee added. — PTI

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Majority in Parliament opposed to N-deal: Bardhan
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 15
CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan affirmed yesterday that the CPI was opposed to the Indo-US nuclear deal. He stated categorically, “We do not want the deal to be operationalised.” Bardhan insisted that the majority in Parliament was against the Indo-US deal and asked the government to take the “sense of the House” into account and scrap the agreement.

“We do not want the deal to be operationalised. There is no doubt about it. Arithmetically, the sense of House (Parliament) is that the majority of the members are opposed to the deal,” Bardhan said, suggesting that the “honourable way for the government would be to take the sense of the House into account”.

He said the government could go to the IAEA and hold talks on the “so-called India-specific safeguards, but bring the text as it had been initiated before the joint UPA-Left committee,” adding that “we had failed to convince the government and the government failed to convince us even after a number of meetings in the past four months”.

Launching the website of the 20th congress of the CPI, scheduled at Hyderabad from March 23 to 27, another point that he specifically stressed upon was that they would like the “Modi regime to be defeated”. Bardhan said though the presence of the Left parties in Gujarat was minuscule, they would not like incumbent Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the helm of affairs for the third consecutive term.

He said they were strictly against any military alliance with the US. Commenting on the reports that the US defence secretary would be in India for talks which could also include firming up plans to purchase arms, he said the CPI was against any proposed military alliance with the US.

“I do not think very highly of the visit.... I am for friendly relationship but such a military alliance is not good. Mere purchase of arms is not objectionable but if America expects us to have military alliance, it would be unacceptable," he added.

He also made it clear that the party would stoutly oppose any proposed increase in petroleum and diesel and said the government should think of measures like reduction in the excise duty.

Regarding nuclear deal in specific, Bardhan parried a question on the statement by his CPM counterpart Prakash Karat that they would ask the government to scrap the deal by December-end, saying that he did not wish to make any comment on another party’s statement. However, when asked why the Left parties were prolonging the withdrawal of support in the wake of opposition to the deal, Bardhan said issues of national and international importance could not be disposed of like that way.

“We would come to you and inform you what decision we had taken,” he said when asked whether the Left parties would withdraw support if the government goes ahead with the deal ignoring them. 

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Lakshmi discharged from hospital

Bangalalore, December 15
Two-year-old Lakshmi Tatma, who underwent a successful complicated surgery to separate her from a conjoined parasitic twin at a superspeciality hospital about 10 weeks ago, was discharged today.

“Lakshmi has recovered adequately with no significant problem during her process of recovery. Her parents are keen to take her home and medically she can do so,” Dr Sharan Patil who headed the team that performed the rare surgery on Lakshmi on November 6, announced at a news conference.

“We are very pleased with the progress Lakshmi has made since her 27-hour operation. All her organ functions assessed by the clinical, haematological and biochemical parameters are within normal limits. Her haemoglobin, in fact, is 10.6 which is good,” he said.

Her wounds have healed completely and she has undergone physiotherapy to strengthen her legs. Splints have been applied following the removal of plaster casts, Dr Sharan, also the chairman of Sparsh Hospital, said.

Additional reconstructive surgery is not immediately necessary. “We, however, plan to do this at a mutually convenient date after Holi,” he said.

“Functionally, she is alright, physically, her feet are still turned in. At the moment, they require a lot of stretching and the parents have been trained how to go about it,” Dr Sharan said. — PTI

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Telugu comedy king makes it to Guinness
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, December 15
The comedy king of the Telugu cinema, Brahmanandam, has laughed his way into the Guinness Book of World Records.

Fifty-one-year-old lecturer-turned-actor found the pride of place in the Guinness Book for appearing in the highest number of films in a single language. He has so far acted in 754 Telugu films in a career spanning over two decades.

“I have no words to describe my feelings over this unique recognition. I have just got a confirmation letter from the Guinness authorities,” an elated actor said. Brahmanandam lights up the silver screen with his terrific sense of timing and expressions that never cross the borders of decency.

Starting his career as a Telugu lecturer in Attili town in West Godavari district, he made his debut in “Aha Naa Pellanta”, a runaway hit by veteran director late Jandhyala, who was widely acclaimed for hilarious comedies. In recognition of his contributions to the film field, Brahmanandam was awarded an honorary doctorate by Nagarjuna University. He is also the recipient of Allu Memorial Award 2005, instituted in the memory of veteran comedian Allu Ramalingaiah. 

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Spoof on Gowda’s family
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 15
Before electioneering to the forthcoming Assembly elections in Karnataka begins in right earnest, the Janata Dal (Secular) supremo and former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda wants to put a lid on the shooting of a Kannada film. The JD(S) supremo has filed a suit for damages of Rs 10 crore against tabloid journalist Ravi Belagere, who is the producer of a film which is being touted as a spoof on Deve Gowda’s family.

The suit, which was filed in the court of the principal civil judge here, urges the court to restrain the film maker from making derogatory references to the family of the former Prime Minister.

The film titled “Mukhyamantri I love you” is said to be a film on the life of a Chief Minister who is in love with a starlet. It also has a family patriarch by the name of Tantra Gowda and a scheming brother and also features the wives of both brothers who are at loggerheads to ensure power remains with their own spouses only.

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5 Haj pilgrims killed in Mecca bus mishap

New Delhi, December 15
Five Haj pilgrims from India, including three women, were killed and 19 others injured when their bus met with an accident near Mecca in Saudi Arabia today.

The bus, carrying 48 Hajis from Kerala, met with the mishap at Al Rabieh, about 15 km from Mecca, Indian officials told PTI.

The Hajis were on their way from Medina to Mecca, they said. The injured have been admitted to various hospitals in the area. — PTI

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Zoo lion dies of pneumonia

Junagadh, December 15
A lion died last morning from pneumonia at the veterinary hospital in Sakarbaug zoo.

DFO V. M Rana said the 11-year-old lion was shifted from Jasadar Gir forest recently, when it was diagnosed with pneumonia. —UNI

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