SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

41 cement firms guilty of ‘cartelisation’: MRTPC
New Delhi, December 20
The MRTP Commission today found almost all major cement companies of the country indulging in ‘cartelisation’ to jack up the prices artificially forcing consumers to pay more than the actual rates and issued a stern warning to them not to resort to such unfair trade practice in future.

Systemic failure cause of nation’s ills: Dua
New Delhi, December 20
Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune H.K. Dua today attributed the appalling state of affairs in the country even after 60 years of independence to the systematic failure of politics, bureaucracy and the judiciary. H.K. Dua, Editor-in-chief, The Tribune, Dilip Cherian from Perfect Relations, Dr Chandan Mitra from Pioneer and Rajat Sharma from India TV at a journalists' conclave on media governance during the 102 annual session of the PHD Chamber in New Delhi on Thursday.
(From left) H.K. Dua, Editor-in-chief, The Tribune, Dilip Cherian from Perfect Relations, Dr Chandan Mitra from Pioneer and Rajat Sharma from India TV at a journalists' conclave on media governance during the 102 annual session of the PHD Chamber in New Delhi on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal





EARLIER STORIES




Kiran Bedi to go on ‘long leave’ from Dec 24
New Delhi, December 20
Kiran Bedi has decided to go on “long leave” from December 24 (Monday), apparently to put pressure on the government to take a decision on her application for voluntary retirement made a month ago.

Prez, PM greet nation on Id-ul-Zuha
New Delhi, December 20
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted fellow citizens on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha, which is being celebrated tomorrow.

Dharampuri Massacre
AIADMK men to be executed on Jan 10
Salem, December 20
Three AIADMK functionaries, convicted in the sensational Dharmapuri Bus Burning case, will be sent to the gallows on January 10.

Police Modernisation
Badal seeks 100 pc Central grant
New Delhi, December 20
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said Punjab should be given 100 per cent grant by the Centre under police modernisation scheme, keeping in view the strategic location of the state and history of militancy.

CBI Report ‘Leak’
Buddha to meet PM
New Delhi, December 20
Unhappy over “leak” of the CBI report concerning the March 14 Nandigram violence, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today indicated that the issue would taken up the with the Centre.

LTTE air attacks force India to rethink
New Delhi, December 20
Threat perception to India having increased following numerous coordinated ground and air attacks carried out by the LTTE on Sri Lankan forces, the country’s armed forces are all set to undertake a series of joint exercises early next year in the southern peninsula.

Foreign secretary leaves for China
New Delhi, December 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit China in second week of january, while as part of a sustained engagement between India and China, Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon today left for China to hold third round of strategic dialogue with his Chinese counterpart vice-foreign minister Wu Dawei. Enhanced cooperation in global issues like terrorism, trilateral talks involving India, China and Russia and topics like trade and climate change will come up for discussion. Menon will also call on foreign minister Yang Jiechi.

Army job racket busted in Bihar
Patna, December 20
The otherwise routine arrest of a petty thief yesterday and the recovery of a stolen cell phone from him surprised and helped the Gaya police bust an Army job racket allegedly involving Army personnel.

Samba spy case convicts’ plea rejected
New Delhi, December 20
The Delhi High Court today dismissed the plea of the Army officials convicted in the controversial Samba spy case of 1978, asking the court to restore their dignity by hearing their case afresh in the wake of new evidence in their favour.

Kumaraswamy undergoes open heart surgery
Bangalore, December 20
Former Karntaka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy today successfully underwent an open heart surgery at a super-speciality hospital here to replace a calcified aortic valve.

Elephant Corridors
A boon for wildlife in Karnataka, Kerala
Bangalore, December 20
More than five thousand wild elephants earned the right of safe passage between wild life reserves in Karnataka and Kerala today with the opening of two ‘elephant corridors’ aimed at removing restrictions in the movement of elephants and other wildlife in the region.

Mosque withdraws complaint against Sania
Hyderabad, December 20
In a relief to tennis star Sania Mirza, authorities of the Mecca Masjid here have decided to withdraw the complaint against her for shooting a commercial in the mosque premises, six days after she tendered an “unqualified apology” for hurting religious sentiments.

Javed condemns intolerance towards Taslima
New Delhi, December 20
The recipient of this year’s National Minority Rights Award, Javed Anand, has condemned the intolerance shown by a section of Muslims towards Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

3 CRPF men killed in encounter
Patna, December 20
Three security personnel, including an assistant commandant of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and a Naxalite were killed following a fierce encounter under Rajepur police station near Motihari in East Champaran district,bordering Nepal late last night.

Passport Adalat on Dec 24
New Delhi, December 20
A Passport Adalat will be held here on December 24, the Ministry of External Affairs said today.

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41 cement firms guilty of ‘cartelisation’: MRTPC
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 20
The MRTP Commission today found almost all major cement companies of the country indulging in ‘cartelisation’ to jack up the prices artificially forcing consumers to pay more than the actual rates and issued a stern warning to them not to resort to such unfair trade practice in future.

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) also gave freedom to the director-general investigation registration (DGIR), which had filed a complaint against them, to investigate against any company if found indulging in such practice.

As a custodian of public interest, the DGIR might have been updating itself with the international information relating to manuals on ‘investigation of cartels’ brought by the global agencies, the MRTPC said, “Such initiatives would enable the DG to go through the investigations in a systematic manner and pre-arrange to include necessary material which becomes relevant in such inquiries.”

Finding 41 companies companies out of 44 named as respondents in a complaint by the DGIR, as guilty of joining hands to form a “cartel” to jack up cement prices between February and August 1990 when there was an acute cement shortage, a three-member Bench of Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practice Commission (MRTPC), headed by its chairman O P Dwivedi said they had violated the relevant provisions of the MRTP Act.

“We have come to the conclusion that all the respondents, except a few, have been indulging in restrictive trade practices and have been acting concertedly, exposing themselves to ‘cease and desist’ order from restrictive trade practice,” the Commission said, fully agreeing with senior advocate O P Dua’s detailed arguments to prove how these companies had violated the relevant provisions of the Act.

The 41 companies found indulged in “cartelisation” include cement majors ACC, Andhra Cement, Birla, Dalmia, Ambuja, JK, Jaypee, Lakshmi, Larsen and Toubro, Madras Cement, Modi and Narmada.

Though the complaint was filed in October 1990, when the cement prices had shot up suddenly by about 30 per cent between February and August, it took almost 17 years for the MRTPC to come out with a verdict as the case had lingered on due to a large number of cement companies, 44 in all named as respondents, besides, the CMA.

The MRTPC said the DGIR in its complaint had clearly stated that the cement companies ‘collectively jacked’ the prices from Rs 70 per bag in November 1989 to Rs 78 in March 1990 and from Rs 85 to Rs 90 thereafter till September when the case was filed.

Though the MRTPC had passed an interim order on September 14, 1990, restraining the companies from hiking the prices further, it lifted the ban on January 28, 1991, on DGIR’s submission that no further evidence came across against manufacturers about resorting to unfair trade practice during the pendency of the case. The prices afterwards had increased gradually and at present varied between Rs 240 and Rs 260 per bag for average quality.

However, the Commission exonerated three manufacturers - Jainpur Udyog, Rohtas Industries of Bihar and Texmaco Ltd - out of the 44 companies, holding that no evidence had been found against them.

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Systemic failure cause of nation’s ills: Dua
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune H.K. Dua today attributed the appalling state of affairs in the country even after 60 years of independence to the systematic failure of politics, bureaucracy and the judiciary.

Those in governance had not been able to deal with the basic problems of the people encompassing unemployment, illiteracy and caste system and because of which the media had the important role of a watchdog to play, he said.

Dua did not think that achieving a nine-10 per cent economic growth was sufficient in dealing with the increasing unrest in the country.

“Economic growth has to be coupled with social, political and judicial effectiveness for complete progress,” he observed. “Moreover, nine to 10 per cent sustained rate of growth rate would take time to trickle down to millions in the country and the frustration of unemployment was discernible in forms like Naxalism.”

Speaking at the 102nd annual session of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on media governance, Dua said when the media criticised those who governed the country it was branded as biased and mischievous.

“The media’s role is that of a watchdog. It had to become more belligerent and alert than it was earlier because of the indifferent attitude of those responsible for governance and consistent decline in their values.”

“We have not been governed properly by politicians and bureaucrats. Judiciary has ceased to become the last resort of the people. It is a matter of shame that even after 60 years of independence there are people who are illiterate. How can you build India on ignorance? There are no jobs, no schools, no toilets. Even in a prosperous state like Punjab lakhs of people are unemployed. Where there are schools, there are no teachers as they do not get salaries. It is not the system that is responsible but the people who man the system?”

Dua, however, lamented that the media was not using the RTI Act effectively to deal with issues related to corruption.

Besides Dua, others who took part in the deliberations on media governance were Pioneer Editor and Managing Director Chandan Mitra, India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma while Perfect Relation’s Dilip Cherian moderated the discussions.

Mitra talked about the media’s role as a major stakeholder in the political and social process. “Good governance means participative governance and the media has a role in informing people about the problems of society and making people in power accountable. But in the process the media should also be prepared to be accountable,” he said.

He said the media had become more accessible to rural areas and the poor. He added that competition had played a major role in its deeper reach. “The upside has been that its penetration has become deeper and deeper giving people an easy access to it. But the downside of the competition has been that in the pursuit of commerce and TRPs, there has been a tendency to sensationalise and the media has also erred.”

Sharma talked about the much-in news aspects like who should govern the media, regulations on TV news, self-regulating code in the light of some sting operations having gone horribly wrong and the proposed Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill that is being viewed as the government’s attempt to control the media. He admitted that some TV channels that were in hands of young inexperienced journalists had resorted to some “experimentation” but added that the case of government-mandated body needed a revisit.

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Kiran Bedi to go on ‘long leave’ from Dec 24

New Delhi, December 20
Kiran Bedi has decided to go on “long leave” from December 24 (Monday), apparently to put pressure on the government to take a decision on her application for voluntary retirement made a month ago.

Sulking after being ignored for the Delhi Police Commissioner’s post earlier this year, Bedi has made it clear that she is not willing to work “for the government” anymore and that the decision to go on leave is to ensure that her successor is appointed at the earliest.

“I have sought long leave from Monday till the day of the expiry of the notice period, which is February 15. The long leave asked for is to help expedite the appointment of my successor,” Bedi, Director General of Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), told PTI.

“The request for leave is already with the government. I am awaiting sanction for leave or acceptance of my application for VRS whatever comes first,” she said.

The 58-year-old Magsaysay Awardee wrote to the government on November 15 seeking VRS, apparently disappointed with the government, especially in the backdrop of denial of the top police job in Delhi in July.

In her application to the union home ministry, the 1972-batch officer has said she wanted to quit the service because of her “strong academic and social interest”.

The government yesterday indicated that it would continue to avail of the services of Bedi, without clearly stating what it intended to do with her VRS application. — PTI

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Prez, PM greet nation on Id-ul-Zuha
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted fellow citizens on the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha, which is being celebrated tomorrow.

In her message the President said: “On the occasion of Id-ul-Zuha, I extend my greetings and good wishes to all my fellow countrymen. Let us remind ourselves of the spirit of service and sacrifice associated with this festival and motivate ourselves to work towards progress and prosperity of the nation.”

In his message, the Prime Minister said the festival commemorates the spirit of supreme sacrifice of Hazrat Ibrahim.

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Dharampuri Massacre
AIADMK men to be executed on Jan 10

Salem, December 20
Three AIADMK functionaries, convicted in the sensational Dharmapuri Bus Burning case, will be sent to the gallows on January 10.

Salem first Additional District and Sessions Judge Manickam passed the orders to this effect today, directing the Coimbatore Prison authorities, where the accused were lodged, to execute the death sentence at 6 am on that day.

Today’s order came 15 days after the Madras High Court had upheld the death sentence awarded by this court in the case where three girl students of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University were burnt to death in February 2000.

Dismissing the appeals filed by the accused, the high court had on December 6 upheld the February 16 order of the Salem First Additional District and Sessions court convicting and sentencing Nedu alias Nedunchezhiyan, the then Dharmpuri town secretary of AIADMK, Madhi alias Ravichandran, MGR forum functionary, and P Muniappan, former Panchayat president, to death.

The Madras High Court had observed that killing innocent victims was a diabolical and revolting crime that warranted no lesser punishment, “Nothing else would meet the ends of justice”, the court had noted.

The high court had also upheld the lower court order convicting and sentencing 25 other accused to seven years Rigorous Imprisonment (RI) in the case. — UNI

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Police Modernisation
Badal seeks 100 pc Central grant
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said Punjab should be given 100 per cent grant by the Centre under police modernisation scheme, keeping in view the strategic location of the state and history of militancy.

Speaking at the Chief Ministers’ conference on internal security, he said while the state government had been increasing the budgetary allocation every year, the Centre had reduced overall support under the Modernization of State Police Forces from Rs 64.20 crore in 2001-2002 to Rs 20 crore during 2006-2007 with marginal increase during the current and the next financial year to Rs 24 crore.

Badal urged the Centre for revamping intelligence network in states by giving a special one-time grant and suggested reactivating the inter-state coordination committee, which, he said, was active during the eighties and the nineties.

Warning against grave threat to peace and law and order from poverty, social inequalities and unemployment in the country, Badal said the country was facing unrest in some areas.

Emphasising the need for removing conditions that bred lawlessness, militancy and extremism, Badal said the tendency to use police as the only instrument to ensure peace and stability was fundamentally flawed.

He said police was often asked to fight crisis created by failures to address the basic issues of poverty and unemployment.

“The way to enduring peace lies through pre-emptive steps to stop a law and order problem from arising rather than forcing the brave police force to deal with crises,” he said.

Asserting that the absence of social justice and economic equality could threaten the very fabric of peace and stability in the country, the Chief Minister said development, justice and prosperity were also prerequisites to peace.

Speaking on militancy and extremism on the basis the Punjab experience, he said the two were socio-economic problems but were often treated as law and order issues.

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CBI Report ‘Leak’
Buddha to meet PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Unhappy over “leak” of the CBI report concerning the March 14 Nandigram violence, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today indicated that the issue would taken up the with the Centre.

Bhattacharjee, who is here to attend the CPM central committee meeting which began today, told mediapersons in response to their queries that the state government would take up the issue of report leakage with the Centre. Party leader Sitaram Yechury also expressed anguish at the ‘selective leakage’.

Reports in a section of the media had cited status report of the CBI, presented to the Calcutta High Court, to say that the CPM cadres had joined cops in firing and had beaten up witnesses.

Sources said Bhattacharjee, who briefly raised the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the meeting on internal security, has sought an appointment with him.

The central committee today discussed the draft political resolution, which will be finalised and adopted at the in-party congress to be held in March-April next year.

During the three day meeting, the party will discuss economic, foreign and other policy issues.

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LTTE air attacks force India to rethink
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Threat perception to India having increased following numerous coordinated ground and air attacks carried out by the LTTE on Sri Lankan forces, the country’s armed forces are all set to undertake a series of joint exercises early next year in the southern peninsula.

Threats from across the borders with China and Pakistan had been the main focus of the armed forces top brass for strategic planning so far. But with the LTTE carrying out a series of air attacks in the past nine months it had become imperative to be prepared for the threat emanating to the country’s security from its vast southern coastline and sea-borne intrusions, officials in the ministry of defence (MoD) said.

It will be for the first time that the country’s military planners would be focusing on threats to the country from the southern peninsula, officials said.

The LTTE carried out its first and the most surprising air attack on the Sri Lankan forces earlier in March this year. Since then there have been series of air and ground attacks on the armed forces stationed in and around Jaffna peninsula.

India has been concerned but has chosen to play down the developments in Sri Lanka with defence minister A.K. Antony also saying that the situation was being monitored closely. But this series of exercises has been specially planned to cope with any such attacks in southern peninsula, reports said.

Although it has been known for years that the LTTE possessed a limited air wing, its successful ability to carry out a bombing mission using two small planes involving some 400 km of flying distance and that too at night has actually had alarm bells ringing in the Indian establishment.

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Foreign secretary leaves for China
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit China in second week of january, while as part of a sustained engagement between India and China, Indian foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon today left for China to hold third round of strategic dialogue with his Chinese counterpart vice-foreign minister Wu Dawei. Enhanced cooperation in global issues like terrorism, trilateral talks involving India, China and Russia and topics like trade and climate change will come up for discussion. Menon will also call on foreign minister Yang Jiechi.

During Manmohan Singh’s China visit, the two sides are going to have a focus on all aspects of bilateral relations, particularly the boundary dispute. Though no dates of the visit have been officially announced, it is understood that he will be holding talks with the top Chinese leadership in Beijing on January 12-13.

India’s growing proximity with the USA and the Indo-US nuclear deal will also come up for discussion, particularly China’s stand on the deal as and when the subject comes up before the 45-nation nuclear suppliers group, of which China is a member. Besides, the two sides are going to discuss regional situation in the context of spurt in terrorist activities.

Manmohan Singh’s forthcoming China visit has been preceded by the first-ever Sino-Indian joint military exercises in Kunming, capital of China’s Yunnan province. The joint exercises are an important confidence building measure (CBM) between the two Asian giants. The exercises, from December 21-25, should be seen against the backdrop of this as the CBM has been timed to raise trust quotient between the two neighbours, sources said today. As part of the military exercises, an Indian military plane landed in China yesterday for first time since the 1962 war.

While India and China have been synergising their positions in various world fora and achieved concrete results on global climate change, the two countries have had an uneasy relationship due to the boundary dispute. Indian government has been under a lot of pressure from within as well as the Opposition on the issue of incursions from Chinese troops.

China has of late beefed up its troop deployment close to the India-Bhutan-China tri-junction and has been carrying on with infrastructure building activities. These activities are “solid defensive” at present, though the possibility of this infrastructure being used offensively in future cannot be ruled out.

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Army job racket busted in Bihar
Ambarish Dutta
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 20
The otherwise routine arrest of a petty thief yesterday and the recovery of a stolen cell phone from him surprised and helped the Gaya police bust an Army job racket allegedly involving Army personnel.

The development came at a time when the Army was about to begin its recruitment rally shortly at the ASC Centre (North) here.

Following the revelation, the police arrested three persons, including two from the Army, allegedly on the charges of duping youths in the name of job in the Army. The police also recovered around 50 certificates, tape and uniforms, besides Rs 1.45 lakh from a suspected broker.

The arrested Army personnel, both residents of Bihar, were reportedly identified as Ravi Ranjan Upadhyay, posted at the 533 Army Service Corps(ASC) battalion, Hisar, and Preaveen Kumar Yadav, posted at 56 Srinagar 5131 (ASC) battalion. The broker was identiifed as Devendra Kumar.

The police said the petty thief, Pankaj, stole the cell phone from two Army men staying at a hotel in Gaya on Tuesday night. Subsequently, Pankaj was arrested near Rampur in Gaya during his third theft attempt yesterday. After recovering the stolen cell phone from him, Rampur police station SHO Prabhat Kumar Sharma received some calls inquiring about the recruitments in the Army.

The police then laid a trap asking the callers to arrive at a specific destination and arrested the suspected broker, Devendra Kumar, with Rs 1.45 lakh.

During interrogation the broker was reported to have admitted that Rs 60,000 each was demanded for recruitment from each aspirant. They also revealed the names of the two arrested Army personnel. The police were now probing into the case.

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Samba spy case convicts’ plea rejected

New Delhi, December 20
The Delhi High Court today dismissed the plea of the Army officials convicted in the controversial Samba spy case of 1978, asking the court to restore their dignity by hearing their case afresh in the wake of new evidence in their favour.

A bench comprising justices Vikramjeet Sen and S L Bhayana dismissed the plea of Capt Ashok Kumar Rana and Captain Ranbir Singh Rathore, stating that the case had already been concluded by the apex court and the accused have also faced sentence of 14 years imprisonment.

The army officers, Rana and Rathore, who were held guilty in the sensational ‘samba spy case’ told the court that the whole case claimed to be unearthed by the Intelligence Wing of the Army in 1978, was perpetuated on them and all the persons held accused in the case, were wrongly roped in the case.

Army officers had arrested 27 officers, including Rana and Rathore and 12 JCOs and NCOs and 11 civilians, for allegedly spying for Pakistan during their posting in the Samba sector in Jammu and Kashmir.

Arrests were based on the statements made by Capt Rana and Capt Rathore.

They were court martialled and sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment and their sentence was upheld by the apex court. — UNI

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Kumaraswamy undergoes open heart surgery
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 20
Former Karntaka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy today successfully underwent an open heart surgery at a super-speciality hospital here to replace a calcified aortic valve.

The surgery was conducted this morning by a team of five surgeons headed by Dr Vivek Jawali at the Wockhardt hospital here. Kumaraswamy was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital after the surgery, which concluded in the afternoon. He is expected to be kept in the hospital for another two days.

Hospital CEO Dr Vishal Bali disclosed that the surgery had been conducted because Kumaraswamy was suffering from severe calcified aortic valve stenosis and that a blocked valve was replaced. He said the surgery had been completed successfully and all health parameters of the former Chief Minister were normal.

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Elephant Corridors
A boon for wildlife in Karnataka, Kerala
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, December 20
More than five thousand wild elephants earned the right of safe passage between wild life reserves in Karnataka and Kerala today with the opening of two ‘elephant corridors’ aimed at removing restrictions in the movement of elephants and other wildlife in the region.

The corridors, which are essentially narrow stretches of land, had been severely eroded due to various settlements and agricultural practises. They have now been broadened and restored for the use of elephants through the first ever private acquisition of land by a wildlife organisation.

The land for both corridors, which was acquired directly from tribals and farmers by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) in league with the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), was formally transferred to the State Forest Departments of Karnataka and Kerala today during an elephant conservation workshop here. While the Edayargalli-Doddasamige corridor connects the BRT Wildlife sanctuary and the Kollegal forest reserve, the Tirunelli - Kudrakote corridor connects the Brahmagiri Hills north of Karnataka to the Coorg plateau through the Wayanad region of Kerala.

The Edayargalli- Doddasamige corridor is a narrow strip of land which is 2 km long and half a km wide and links two forested areas cut off from each other. IFAW bought 26 acres of land to widen the corridor to half a km. With the handing over of the title deeds of this parcel of land to the Karnataka Wildlife Department, this corridor becomes part of the BRT Wildlife sancturary and improves the ability of forest guards to protect the strip of land more effectively.

In case of the Tirunelli- Kudrakote corridor, the IFAW rehabilitated six tribal settlements situated in the corridor route besides purchasing land from a rich land owner. This parcel of land has now been added to the Wayanad sanctuary.

Wildlife Trust of India’s executive director Vivek Menon said WTI had identified 88 corridors in the country and had succeeded in securing two of them by roping in the IFAW. He said work was presently going on to secure three more corridors in Uttarakhand, Assam and Meghalaya by acquiring land directly from villagers through direct payment or by providing suitable alternative land and houses along with rehabilitation packages.

WTI chairman M K Ranjitsinh said securing and effectively managing corridors linking wildlife research was important not only to resolve the man-elephant conflict but also improve the gene pool of various species. He said isolation in virtual islands was making elephants and other wildlife more susceptible to diseases.

Elephant expert Prof S Sukumar noted that India had the largest global population of Asian elephants 25,000 wild elephants, as many as 8,000 odd frequented the jungles of Karnataka and Kerala. He said the population of wild elephants of these two states alone was more than that of Sri Lanka and Burma and that it was coming under severe pressure due to fragmentation of habitat. 

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Mosque withdraws complaint against Sania

Hyderabad, December 20
In a relief to tennis star Sania Mirza, authorities of the Mecca Masjid here have decided to withdraw the complaint against her for shooting a commercial in the mosque premises, six days after she tendered an “unqualified apology” for hurting religious sentiments.

B. Reddenna, ACP (Charminar division), declined to divulge the clarifactions sought by the police.

Sania landed in trouble when she appeared in the shooting for a commercial on December 10, said to be commissioned by a media house, in the premises of the 17th century mosque “without permission”. The Minority Welfare Department of Andhra Pradesh had filed a complaint with the police that the crew did not take permission for the shoot. — PTI

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Javed condemns intolerance towards Taslima
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
The recipient of this year’s National Minority Rights Award, Javed Anand, has condemned the intolerance shown by a section of Muslims towards Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen.

After receiving the award here from Vice-President Mohd Hamid Ansari, he said there was no justification for the violent reaction to views of the Bangladeshi writer.

A minority rights activist, Anand said, “Taslima Nasreen’s decision to delete the ‘offending’ passages from her book ‘Dwikhandito’ is surrender to the feminist cause made under pressure.”

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3 CRPF men killed in encounter
Tribune News Service

Patna, December 20
Three security personnel, including an assistant commandant of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), and a Naxalite were killed following a fierce encounter under Rajepur police station near Motihari in East Champaran district,bordering Nepal late last night.

The encounter took place hours before the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressed the chief ministers` conference on internal security in Delhi today where he admitted the Left wing extremism was the single big internal security challenge for the country.

The encounter was the fourth incident of Naxal violence in the state in the past 10 days.

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Passport Adalat on Dec 24
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
A Passport Adalat will be held here on December 24, the Ministry of External Affairs said today.

The Passport Adalat will be held at RPO, Delhi, Hudco Trikoot-III, Bhikaji Cama Place, R.K. Puram, from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm. All pending applications for the period upto 20.10.2007 of passport applications of Delhi and 8 districts of Haryana (Faridabad, Gurgaon, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Rewari, Mohindergarh, Rohtak and Mewat at Nuhn) falling under the jurisdiction of the RPO, Delhi have been advised to visit his office. They may also visit the ministry’s website at <http://passport.gov.in> to check whether their application is still pending in this office before participating in the adalat, the MEA said.

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