SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Accident Claims
SC: Consider all income loss to kin for relief
New Delhi, December 24
Deciding an important question relating to evaluating the total income of a bread earner of the family for determining the compensation in motor accident cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that efforts should always be to give a broader meaning of income keeping in sight the loss caused to the family.

Jehadis using Assam as transit camp: NGO
Guwahati, December 24
As many as 36 jehadi groups are active in Assam. These fundamentalist groups indulge in opium smuggling, arms trafficking, fake currency circulation besides using the state as a ‘transit camp’, to strike terror in other parts of the country.

Prez, PM greet people on Xmas
New Delhi, December 24
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted fellow citizens on the occasion of Christmas, which would be celebrated tomorrow.



EARLIER STORIES




Biggest sand sculpture of Christ
Children look at a sand sculpture of Jesus Christ made by internationally acclaimed sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik from Orissa at the Golden Beach in Puri on Monday.Puri, December 24
Orissa sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik has claimed that he and his students have created the world's biggest sand sculpture of Jesus Christ at a beach here. Patnaik told IANS that he used about 600 tonnes of sand to make the 22 feet- high sculpture.


Children look at a sand sculpture of Jesus Christ made by internationally acclaimed sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik from Orissa at the Golden Beach in Puri on Monday. — AFP

Sea Harrier crashes at Goa airport, pilot safe
Mumbai, December 24
A Sea Harrier belonging to the Indian Navy crashed on the runway of the Dabolim Naval Air Station in Goa early today, according to naval officials. The pilot, whose name has been given as Janak Bevli, managed to eject to safety.

Ships form a line during the programme, “Day at Sea”, organised by the Southern Naval Command in Kochi on Monday.
Ships form a line during the programme, “Day at Sea”, organised by the Southern Naval Command in Kochi on Monday. — PTI

Gujarat Poll
Paswan fires salvo at Congress
New Delhi, December 24
Still groping for answers for its unimpressive performance in Gujarat, the Congress today faced criticism from its ally Lok Janshati Party (LJP) over the way it had run its campaign in the “do-or-die” electoral battle.

After Gujarat, BJP eyes northeast
Shillong, December 24
Basking in its victory in the Gujarat elections, the BJP is eyeing to have a larger share of the political pie in the northeastern states, three of which go to the polls early next year.

BJP calls Gogoi ‘merchant of corruption’
Guwahati, December 24
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today called Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi a ‘merchant of corruption’ just a week ahead of the forthcoming panchayat election in the state.

Dimasa insurgents threaten to end truce
Guwahati, December 24
Frustrated over “absolutely no progress” in peace process with the government of India, a Dimasa tribe insurgent group, Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), has threatened to pull out of the truce and going back to jungle.

Karnal Boy’s Death
Child rights panel unhappy with school reply
New Delhi, December 24
Unsatisfied with the response given by the school authorities on the death of Karnal schoolboy Arvinder Singh, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) today asked the Karnal administrative and the police department to conduct a detailed enquiry into the incident and give their report within 20 days.

Kuki ultras hold 28 passengers hostage
Imphal, December 24
Armed militants of Kuki National Front-President (KNF-P) took 28 Meitei tribals, including students, hostage for some hours before releasing them in Senapati district of Manipur following a feud with another rebel group, official sources said today.

Tender to import wheat scrapped
New Delhi, December 24
The government today scrapped a tender to import wheat citing high prices and said it would not undertake more purchases of the grain from overseas market this season as the current buffer stock is comfortable.

A marathon run for safe water
Bangalore, December 24
More than 6,000 people die every day due to lack of safe drinking water and over one billion people lack access to potable water.

129-yr-old dispute over Jain shrine settled
Shajapur (MP), December 24
A local court has settled a 129-year-old dispute between the Digambar and Shvetambar Jain communities, over a roughly six centuries-old Jain shrine at this district’s Maksi, by making representatives of both sides arrive at a consensus.

Gujarat Polls
Luck sided with 2 Cong MLAs
Gandhinagar, December 24
Luck seems to have favoured at least two Congress candidates, who won despite the landslide victory of the BJP under Narendra Modi in the state Assembly elections.

More women enter Gujarat assembly
New Delhi, December 24
As many as 16 women, 15 of them from the BJP, entered the Gujarat assembly this time against 12 in the previous election in 2002.

Modi elected leader of BJP Gujarat cadre
Gandhinagar, December 24
Narendra Modi, who led the BJP to a resounding victory in the Gujarat Assembly elections, was elected leader of the BJP state legislature party today.

Nitish congratulates Modi
Patna, December 24
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today congratulated Narendra Modi on his victory in the assembly elections in Gujarat.

Dress code for Jharkhand MLAs
Patna, December 24
Jharkhand may soon be the first state in the country to experience an official dress code for its MLAs in the assembly.

Dying to Die
Man survives thrice from ‘wild claws’
Patna, December 24
A man who jumped into an enclosure for the big cats at the Patna zoo, surprisingly made it back from the jaws of death for a third time with some injuries but was booked for attempted suicide.

Sharad demands special package for minorities’ uplift
Saharsa, December 24
JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav today expressed concern over the condition of minorities in the country and demanded a special package from the Centre for overall uplift of the community.

UNPA will play decisive role in 2009 elections: TDP
Hyderabad, December 24
The United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), would emerge as a formidable force and play a decisive role in the formation of the next government at the Centre, its constituent TDP said today.

Shahabuddin granted bail
Siwan, December 24
A local court today granted bail to incarcerated RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin in connection with the manhandling of inmates of the Siwan divisional jail.

Videos
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Accident Claims
SC: Consider all income loss to kin for relief
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, December 24
Deciding an important question relating to evaluating the total income of a bread earner of the family for determining the compensation in motor accident cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that efforts should always be to give a broader meaning of income keeping in sight the loss caused to the family.

Defining the meaning of word “just compensation” used in Section 168 of the Motor Vehicle Act, under which the accident claims tribunal determines the income of the deceased, a Bench of justices S.B. Sinha and H.S. Bedi said his total monthly income had to be computed and if he was a salaried employee, his entire last pay packet had to be taken into account.

“The basis for considering the entire pay packet is what the dependents have lost due to death of the deceased. It is the nature of compensation for future loss towards the family income,” the court said.

Though no straightjacketed formula could be laid down, the court said the expression “just” in Section 168 “must be given its logical meaning. Whereas it cannot be a bonanza or a source of profit but in considering as to what would be just and equitable, all facts and circumstances must be taken into consideration.”

The court said the emphasis for determining the just compensation must be on the “loss caused to the family due to the death of a near and dear, which hardly can be compensated.”

Referring to the changing work culture scenario, particularly the new job conditions laid down by the private sector, which does not pay pension but was giving high pay packets, contributory provident funds and other perks to attract efficient professionals, the apex court said, “What could be the just compensation must be determined having regard to facts and circumstances of each case.”

The amount, therefore, required to be considered for computing his monthly income would be his monthly contribution to the family as “contra-distinguished” to the ones that were for his benefit, the court said. But in doing so, the claims tribunals have to deduct statutory amount of tax payable on his monthly income.

The court laid down the guidelines while rejecting an appeal of National Insurance Company for the grant of compensation to the wife of an employee of Gabriel India Ltd. He died in an accident in Lucknow in 2001, at the age of 45 and the tribunal had assessed his monthly income as Rs 20,364 applying the multiplier of 13 and fixed the compensation at Rs 20 lakh.

However, the Allahabad High Court recalculated it to reduced slightly to fix at Rs 19.53 lakh with 9 per cent interest. The insurance company challenged it on the ground that the parameters applied by the tribunal and the high court for calculating the monthly income of the deceased was not proper.

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Jehadis using Assam as transit camp: NGO
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 24
As many as 36 jehadi groups are active in Assam. These fundamentalist groups indulge in opium smuggling, arms trafficking, fake currency circulation besides using the state as a ‘transit camp’, to strike terror in other parts of the country.

Abhijit Sarma, president of Assam Public Works (APW), an NGO engaged in anti-terrorism campaign with covert support from the Assam police and other security agencies, today claimed that the threat posed by these jehadi groups was much higher than that of the indigenous militant groups including the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

The allegations came just a few days after Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had raised an alarm over the growing activities of fundamentalist forces in Assam in an inter-security review meeting in New Delhi.

The APW official said, “The ULFA has some 220 armed cadres left. But these 36 jehadi groups have thousands of cadres and they are busy recruiting Assamese youth in exchange of a huge amount of money.”

The list of jehadi groups in the state as compiled by the APW on the basis of media and police reports includes such outfits as the MULTA, HUJI, SIMI, ISI and LET.

He alleged that the jehadi militants were not Indian nationals and had infiltrated into the state from across the international boundary. The APW flayed the government for not being very prompt in tackling the threat posed by jehadis. The APW president said it would be suicidal if the government continued to remain lukewarm to the threat posed by jehadis.

“The security forces and the police are very good at killing ULFA militants in encounters even though some of the ultras could have been arrested. But till date, not a single jehadi militant has been killed in any encounter in the state. As on date, about 25 jehadi militants are serving terms in Assam jails,” he added.

He said, “Many politicians had earlier patronised illegal Bangladeshis migrants for their votes. These politicians are now unable to act against these infiltrators who have now set up their terror network in the state.”

The APW alleged that the jehadi groups were using Assam as a ‘transit camp’, through which they enter the country, procure Indian citizenship documents and then move to other parts of the country. “The involvement of Assamese people in Hyderabad blasts has proved this point,” Sarma said.

The organisation also claimed that jehadis operating in Assam were involved in large scale opium cultivation in the tiny inhabited isle of the Brahmaputra with support from suspected Bangladeshis living in those areas that are cut off from the mainstream of the state.

The opium produced is exchanged for arms. Sarma said, “They sell the opium in Myanmar and Bangladesh and get arms in return. They also sell the opium to Assamese youth to bring them to their side.”

The APW also presented video footage before the media here showing opium cultivation on vast tracts of land, hidden by brinjal, coconut and banana plantations in Barpeta district of the state.

They also claimed that the jehadis were bringing in large amounts of fake currency through Bangladesh to break the very back bone of the economy. The APW demanded army operations against the jehadi groups before the problem becomes too deep rooted and called for political will on part of both the state and Central government to deal with these forces with an iron fist.

The APW recently faced flak from the banned ULFA for organising a signature campaign in several districts of Assam against the ULFA’s main demand for restoration of sovereignty of Assam. The ULFA termed the APW a front of the intelligence wing of the Assam police and the RAW.

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Prez, PM greet people on Xmas
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 24
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted fellow citizens on the occasion of Christmas, which would be celebrated tomorrow.

In a message, the President said, “On the occasion of Christmas, I extend my greetings to all my fellow citizens. Christ’s message of love, compassion and forgiveness is a message of universal and timeless relevance. I wish this Christmas fills our heart with joy, happiness and hope.”

In his greetings, the Vice-President said Jesus Christ showed to mankind the path of compassion, tolerance, love and righteousness. “His teachings have the power to save mankind from ignorance, turmoil and moral decay. Together, they could help realise the vision of a peaceful, compassionate and harmonious world.”

In a message, Manmohan Singh said Christmas was an occasion to celebrate and imbibe Lord Christ’s message of brotherhood, compassion and forgiveness. “May the winter festival fill the hearts of people all over the world with warmth, love and goodwill towards fellow beings,” the Prime Minister added. 

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Biggest sand sculpture of Christ

Puri, December 24
Orissa sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik has claimed that he and his students have created the world's biggest sand sculpture of Jesus Christ at a beach here.

Patnaik told IANS that he used about 600 tonnes of sand to make the 22 feet- high sculpture. It took around 25 hours to complete the image of Jesus in Puri, about 56 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

"I have also used coloured sand to create the images of Santa and Mother Mary holding baby Jesus. Santa is shown sitting in front of Jesus Christ and wishing people 'Happy Christmas'," he said today. About 15 students of the Golden Sand Art Institute run by Patnaik assisted him in making the sculpture.

"I had informed the officials of the Limca Book of Records to record this creation as the world's biggest sand sculpture of Jesus. Its editor has said they would include it in the 2008 edition of the book," he said.

Sudarsan has participated in more than 34 international sand sculpture championships across the globe and has won many awards.Last year, he had created the world's biggest sand Santa Claus at the same beach.— IANS

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Sea Harrier crashes at Goa airport, pilot safe
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, December 24
A Sea Harrier belonging to the Indian Navy crashed on the runway of the Dabolim Naval Air Station in Goa early today, according to naval officials. The pilot, whose name has been given as Janak Bevli, managed to eject to safety.

However, the airport was closed till late afternoon as the runway was rendered unserviceable.

Today's mishap was the fourth accident in the past year involving the Sea Harrier.

With today's mishap, 17 of the 31 Sea Harriers bought by the Indian Navy in the late 1980s have been lost in accidents. With no replacements coming in for the lost aircraft, the Indian Navy will have to make do with the existing fleet.

The aircraft are being upgraded with support from its manufacturers British Aerospace, which has stopped production. Incidentally, none of these aircraft have been deployed in battle operations. All losses have occurred during routine sorties.

The Sea Harrier is deployed on board aircraft carriers like INS Vikrant earlier and INS Viraat at present. The aircraft does not need a long runway which makes it ideal of deployment on board aircraft carriers like the ones deployed by the Indian Navy. The aircraft are deployed in Goa.

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Gujarat Poll
Paswan fires salvo at Congress
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 24
Still groping for answers for its unimpressive performance in Gujarat, the Congress today faced criticism from its ally Lok Janshati Party (LJP) over the way it had run its campaign in the “do-or-die” electoral battle.

LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan, who had resigned as a union minister from the NDA government in 2002 over post-Godhra communal violence in Gujarat, faulted the Congress over its election strategy. Unhappy over the way Congress state chief Bharatsinh Solanki had put up a candidate at Dariapur-Kazipur, which was the only seat that the LJP contested, Paswan said there was clear lack of coordination among central leaders of the Congress and its state leaders.

He said his party was keen on contesting 35 seats but decided to put up only one candidate after the Congress urged him to join the UPA alliance to attain the overriding goal of defeating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

Paswan said Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in their speeches, sought votes for the LJP candidate from Dariapur but the PCC chief continued to defy them and gave party’s election symbol to one of his supporters.

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After Gujarat, BJP eyes northeast

Shillong, December 24
Basking in its victory in the Gujarat elections, the BJP is eyeing to have a larger share of the political pie in the northeastern states, three of which go to the polls early next year.

“ The Gujarat verdict has implications to the future political scene in the country and no doubt it is an indicator to the prospects of the party in the coming assembly elections in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura,” said BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh Kiren Rijiju.

Stating that the party was making efforts to strengthen its bases in northeast, Rijiju, who is also party in charge for Meghalaya, said, “Elections in the tribal-dominated states of the northeast usually tend to be personality-oriented rather than ideologically driven.”

The BJP would be looking to bring politics, ideology and development to the fore as opposed to the personality-cult.

“We have received applications from contenders and we are scrutinising it,” Rijiju said, adding that the criteria for the allotment of ticket would be the candidates’ ‘winnability’, acceptance among the voters and adherence to the party ideology.

Foreseeing that “no single party can rule Meghalaya”, the MP said, “Results will definitely be fragmented and any party with around 5-10 seats in the 60-member House could play a vital role in forming the government”.

Despite the propaganda branding the BJP as communal, the party had been able to taste success in places where Hindus were a minority.

“Even in my constituency 50 per cent of the voters are Christians,” the MP said before flying to New Delhi where the list of candidates for Meghalaya was likely to be finalised. — PTI

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BJP calls Gogoi ‘merchant of corruption’
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, December 24
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today called Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi a ‘merchant of corruption’ just a week ahead of the forthcoming panchayat election in the state.

“Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s six-year-long rule has turned Assam into the most corrupt state in the country. There is corruption all around the state, in every sphere. At this juncture all we can say about Chief Minister is that he is a merchant of corruption,” Ramen Deka, president of the BJP’s state unit said.

The BJP leader specially mentioned about the corruption that has struck deep roots in the Police Department which is under the state home ministry held by the Chief Minister. “The home portfolio is with the Chief Minister Gogoi, and the Assam Police is today neck-deep in corruption. At least two IPS officers have been arrested for being involved in multi-crore salary scandal in Assam police,” Deka said.

The state BJP president also pointed at the large-scale corruption unearthed by a local NGO in rural development and public distribution system in Golaghat district and alleged that corruption had percolated down to the panchayat level under the incumbent Congress government.

The BJP has picked up corruption as the main plank against the Congress in the current panchayat election, voting for which takes place in three phases on December 31, and January 4 and 9.

“It is not just that several crore of rupees have been swindled. Rice, wheat, sugar, salt and kerosene meant for people living below the poverty line have found way to private traders in Jorhat, the Chief Minister’s home district,” Deka said.

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Dimasa insurgents threaten to end truce

Guwahati, December 24
Frustrated over “absolutely no progress” in peace process with the government of India, a Dimasa tribe insurgent group, Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), has threatened to pull out of the truce and going back to jungle.

The DHD, Dilip Nunisa faction, which had been in ceasefire with the government since January 2003, is growing impatient with the “non-progress” of peace talks. The current phase of ceasefire between the DHD and the central government comes up for review on December 31. The outfit has raised doubts over the sincerity of the government in addressing to its demands.

DHD publicity secretary R.S. Dimasa said in a statement here that DHD (Nunisa faction) leaders and cadres were not in favour of extending the ceasefire for another term and had appealed to its chief Dilip Nunisa to renege the agreement with the government of India.

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Karnal Boy’s Death
Child rights panel unhappy with school reply
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 24
Unsatisfied with the response given by the school authorities on the death of Karnal schoolboy Arvinder Singh, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) today asked the Karnal administrative and the police department to conduct a detailed enquiry into the incident and give their report within 20 days.

Talking to The Tribune from Karnal, NCPCR member Sandhya Bajaj said she specifically expressed her dissatisfaction in her meeting with the Karnal’s administrative head over the way the school authorities had hastily submitted their report on the unfortunate incident of December 20 that led to the death of the student of the Government Senior Secondary School.

“The NCPCR is not satisfied with the school’s reply. They have tried to finish the enquiry within a day. We have now asked the Karnal DC and SP to submit a detailed report on the death of the boy within 15 to 20 days,” she said.

Last Thursday, Arvinder died in his school after he was allegedly made to run despite the fact that he suffered from a heart problem. The boy’s parents alleged that the authorities at the government-run school knew of his condition, though the school Principal claimed otherwise in the enquiry report.

Reports suggest that Arvinder was asked to run along with others after the morning prayers and he collapsed after running some distance.

According to Bajaj, the school principal in her report specifically stated that school was completely unaware of the Class IX- boy’s condition. In fact, the school’s initial version was that Arvinder was getting late and he was running hard to make it to the morning prayers. But the boy’s parents and his friends alleged that the Arvinder was punished for coming late that morning.

The boy’s parents accused the school authorities of ignoring their request of not engaging Arvinder in “such physical activities, as he was a heart patient”.

“Boy’s father Gurmail Singh alleged that Arvinder was a heart patient and had been shown to doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He has been maintaining that he had apprised the school authorities in writing of Arvinder’s heart condition, in spite of which he was made to run. But the school authorities, in their report submitted to the DEO on the very day of the incident -December 20- say that they were completely unaware of Arvinder’s condition, ” says Bajaj.

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Kuki ultras hold 28 passengers hostage

Imphal, December 24
Armed militants of Kuki National Front-President (KNF-P) took 28 Meitei tribals, including students, hostage for some hours before releasing them in Senapati district of Manipur following a feud with another rebel group, official sources said today.

Sources said the militants abducted the passengers from two Guwahati-bound buses at Kangpokpi area, about 25 km north of here on National Highway 39, yesterday, and took them to an isolated place.

The incident occurred after a gunfight between KNF-P and banned People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the wee hours of yesterday in Thoubal district, in which two PLA insurgents were killed, the sources said.— PTI

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Tender to import wheat scrapped

New Delhi, December 24
The government today scrapped a tender to import wheat citing high prices and said it would not undertake more purchases of the grain from overseas market this season as the current buffer stock is comfortable.

“We have scrapped the tender. Prices were high,” commerce secretary G.K. Pillai said.

The State Trading Corporation, which is importing wheat on behalf of the government, on December 10 floated a tender to import wheat. The corporation received three bids from global suppliers in the range of $459.9-579.6 per ton for supply of about 3.15 lakh tonnes.

Swiss firm Glencore, US trading company Cargill and Germany’s Toepfer submitted bids in a range of $459.9 to a record of $579.6 per ton for the supply of about 3.15 lakh tonnes, trade sources had said.

When asked whether the government plans to float more tenders to import five lakh quantity left out of the planned 10 lakh tonnes, Pillai said: “We will not import more wheat this year. We have reasonable amount of buffer stock of wheat now.”

The stock position of wheat with the Food Corporation of India as on today stands at 76.64 lakh tonnes, while the buffer norms stipulate a stock of 82 lakh tonnes as on January 1, 2008.

The Commerce Ministry had earlier this month allowed PEC Ltd to import 1.5 lakh tonnes of wheat at $396.9 dollars per tonne.

On November 23, MMTC Ltd decided to buy 3.425 lakh tonnes at an average price of $400.19 a tonne.

Australia-based J.K. International would supply wheat to PEC, while Cargill and Glencore would supply to MMTC.

The government has decided to import 23 lakh tonnes of the grain during 2007-08. Before this STC tender, orders had been placed for import of 17.985 lakh tonnes by STC, MMTC and PEC. — PTI

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A marathon run for safe water

Bangalore, December 24
More than 6,000 people die every day due to lack of safe drinking water and over one billion people lack access to potable water.

This had forced California-based Blue Planet Run Foundation to hold a 25,000-km marathon in June-September this year to draw global attention and launch a campaign.

But for Sunil Jayaraj, the only Indian runner to have participated in the 95-day non-stop run, the reason was different.

“A pot of unsafe water for Rs 4 in my home district of Kolar in Karnataka and the cry for water in flood-affected Bihar, Bangladesh and Nepal created a sort of thirst in me to find a way out to solve drinking water problem in India,” he told UNI.

He quit his lucrative job of quality engineer in a private firm to take up studies on water in Eastern Manchester University. “I was in search of ways to raise funds to achieve my goal. In the US, they run to raise funds.”

To a question, Sunil (29) said philanthropists, Dr Nagaraj and Dr Renuka Nagaraj, after getting to know his desire to run for a cause, sponsored him by providing $ 500 for every mile he ran and contributed Rs 10 lakh for participating in the marathon.

“And here came the opportunity knocking when Blue Planet Foundation aimed at a run for fashion and water resources management.”

Because of my interest to run for a cause I was called for interview in which I explained the prevailing condition in India and wanted to do something to solve the problem in my country and Karnataka in particular.

Sunil said it was an incredible experience to finish the 24,000-km with athletes who included Olympians.

“For me, my cause was very important. I went to different schools and talked to the children, told them about water crisis in India, Bangladesh and in Asia. It really conveyed the message of what the run was for.”

Sunil proposes to open a Water Management Centre wherein training can be imparted towards providing safe drinking water to all. — UNI

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129-yr-old dispute over Jain shrine settled

Shajapur (MP), December 24
A local court has settled a 129-year-old dispute between the Digambar and Shvetambar Jain communities, over a roughly six centuries-old Jain shrine at this district’s Maksi, by making representatives of both sides arrive at a consensus.

Civil judge Gangacharan Dubey’s ruling, delivered yesterday, directed both sides to respect the consensus whereby the temple land and idols would be under the control of the Shri Parshvanath shrine. The temple’s arrangements vis-ŕ-vis the well, garden, steps and holy footwear would be looked after by the Shvetambar community’s Pedi Trust.

The court maintained the 1902 system of the Scindia princely state whereby Digambars would offer ritual worship from 6 am-9 am. At other times, Digambars would be allowed to visit the shrine but not perform rituals. The sides agreed to wind up cases pending in other courts. — UNI

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Gujarat Polls
Luck sided with 2 Cong MLAs

Gandhinagar, December 24
Luck seems to have favoured at least two Congress candidates, who won despite the landslide victory of the BJP under Narendra Modi in the state Assembly elections.

These two Congress winners, Brijrajsinh Jadeja from Jamjodhpur constituency in Jamnagar district and Patel Hiralal from Lunawada constituency in Panchmahal district, were lucky, as their victory margins were of just two digits. Jadeja won by just 17 votes, while Patel had a victory margin of just 84 votes.

Jadeja told UNI that he never had a doubt of his victory though his rival BJP candidate and sitting MLA Chimanbhai Shapariya had been following him neck and neck right from the word go. — UNI

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More women enter Gujarat assembly

New Delhi, December 24
As many as 16 women, 15 of them from the BJP, entered the Gujarat assembly this time against 12 in the previous election in 2002.

The other victorious woman candidate belonged to the Congress which garnered 59 seats in the 182-member House in the just-concluded assembly poll.

The BJP, which romped home in 117 constituencies, fielded 22 women candidates.

In all, 88 women contested the Gujarat assembly poll this year against 37 in the previous election.

The number of SC and ST candidates who emerged triumphant this year stood at 13 and 28, respectively. — PTI

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Modi elected leader of BJP Gujarat cadre

Gandhinagar, December 24
Narendra Modi, who led the BJP to a resounding victory in the Gujarat Assembly elections, was elected leader of the BJP state legislature party today.

At a meeting of the newly-elected legislators at the Town Hall here, Modi's name was proposed by senior leader Vajubhai Vala and seconded by Fakir Vaghela and Mangubhai Patel, among others.

All legislators approved his name by raising their hands.

“Modi is the leader of the BJP legislature party,” announced central party observer M. Venkaiah Naidu.

Arun Jaitley and Om Mathur were the other central party observers at the meeting.

Modi will take oath of office tomorrow at 12.30 pm at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. — UNI

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Nitish congratulates Modi

Patna, December 24
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today congratulated Narendra Modi on his victory in the assembly elections in Gujarat.

Nitish,however,did not miss the opportunity to take a potshot at his bete noire and RJD supremo Lalu Prasad claiming that he must be happy over Modi`s victory as his importance in the UPA at the Centre would remain intact.

"He (Lalu)) is delighted.His importance in the UPA would remain intact due to Congress' defeat," a smiling Nitish quipped.

In a reply to Lalu`s remarks that the Congress lost because it gave ticket to candidates involved in communal riots, Nitish wondered why the railway minister did not campaign for its ally if he was so concerned about the UPA`s fortunes.

Describing Modi`s victory as a verdict by the people,Nitish refused to comment on the possible political fallout of the Gujrat poll in the BJP or within the NDA. — Agency

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Dress code for Jharkhand MLAs

Patna, December 24
Jharkhand may soon be the first state in the country to experience an official dress code for its MLAs in the assembly.

Reports reaching here said that the assembly speaker Aalamgir Aalam was now mulling implementing a dress code for the MLAs as he was perturbed by increasing instances of legislators and ministers turning up wearing jeans, coloured shirts and caps in the House.

The speaker reportedly was unhappy over such trendy dresses by some elected representatives against the established trend in the country where "netas" were more identified with Khadi.

Former speaker and independent legislator Inder Singh Namdhari was the first to raise the issue of dress code for the legislators.

It was learnt that the speaker Alamgir Alam was already in consultation with different parties to convene a meeting of leaders and legislators to try evole a consensus on the need for a dress code.

Former speaker Namdhari justified the move stating,"There should be a dress code for legislators and ministers.There are many ministers who come to the assembly improperly dressed,which gives a bad impression".

Rural development minister Enos Ekka,health minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi,science and technology minister Chandra Prakash Chaudhary and former home minister Sudesh Mahto were among others who were said to prefer wearing coloured shirts,caps and printed suits.

The young ministers,however,were believed to be not much happy with regard to the proposed move to impose a dress code on them.

As a young assembly bifurcated from Bihar in 2000,nearly 20 per cent of the 82-member assembly is now below the age of 45 which seemingly only indicated the preference of a section of young legislators for colourful and trendy dresses.

Incidentally,both chief minister Madhu Koda and former chief minister and leader of opposition Arjun Munda are also under 40.While Koda wears both trousers and shirts or kurta-pajama in the House,Munda reportedly prefers kurta-pajama. — Agency

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Dying to Die
Man survives thrice from ‘wild claws’

Patna, December 24
A man who jumped into an enclosure for the big cats at the Patna zoo, surprisingly made it back from the jaws of death for a third time with some injuries but was booked for attempted suicide.

Sudhir Yadav (25), clambered up the iron-mesh, crossed the dry moat and walked up to the white tigeress ‘Shwetwari’ yesterday, as benumbed visitors at the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park looked on.

Angry at the intrusion in its ‘den’, the tigress held Sudhir by his neck and began dragging him, it was then that the crowd raised an alarm. The animal keepers rescued Sudhir after firing water jets at the tigress, Park Director Rakesh Kumar told PTI today.

The police was called and Sudhir was rushed with deep gashes on his neck and back to Gardanibagh government hospital from where he was referred to Patna Medical College and Hospital, the director said.

Sudhir had entered the cage of a lion on December 31 last year and though mauled, escaped death by a whisker and had to spend several days at PMCH. In March this year, he had jumped into a tiger’s enclosure but was rescued for a second time.

He had recently set ablaze a police jeep at Fatuha police station, about 25 km from here.

Deputy superintendent of police (secretariat) Sridhar Mandal, said Sudhir was booked under Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide), but was released on bail today evening after being discharged from PMCH. — PTI

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Sharad demands special package for minorities’ uplift

Saharsa, December 24
JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav today expressed concern over the condition of minorities in the country and demanded a special package from the Centre for overall uplift of the community.

“The condition of Muslim minorities is deplorable in all walks of life and the community has been struggling for its uplift since Independence,” Yadav told UNI here.

He blamed the Centre for ignoring the development of the Muslims and alleged that the Congress always used the community as its vote bank.

“The community has been lagging far behind in the field of education and employment and the overall health of the women folk is also deplorable,” he said.

Yadav demanded the UPA government to evolve a special package for overall development of the Muslims and maintained that the community urgently needed special attention.

“Without uplift of the community, development of the nation as a whole would be a distant dream,” he added.

He lauded the efforts of the NDA government in Bihar, saying that the state government had launched ten-point programme for proper development of the section since it came to power and following the efforts of the Nitish Kumar government, the minorities had exuded confidence in the government. — UNI

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UNPA will play decisive role in 2009 elections: TDP

Hyderabad, December 24
The United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), would emerge as a formidable force and play a decisive role in the formation of the next government at the Centre, its constituent TDP said today.

“The era of domination of national parties is over. The future belongs to regional parties and they will decide the shape of the government at the Centre,” Telugu Desam parliamentary party leader K. Yerran Naidu told reporters here. “Without the support of the regional parties no government can be formed at the Centre in future,” he claimed.

Terming the outcome of the Gujarat polls as a “slap on the face of Congress”, he said it showed that the Congress was on the decline and it was already reduced to the level of a regional party.

“Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi campaigned extensively in Gujarat. The results have proved that they cannot get votes for the party. The Congress has failed to learn lessons from a string of debacles in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Punjab,” Naidu said.

While disagreeing with the assessment that the Congress decline would automatically mean the rise of BJP, he said the UNPA would occupy the space and win more seats than the two national parties.

Naidu firmly ruled out any alliance with BJP and claimed that TDP’s support to the NDA government in the past was based on a common minimum programme.

Downplaying the BJP’s victory in Gujarat, he attributed it to lack of alternative to the saffron party adding the UPA government’s failure to check price rise, unemployment and food scarcity led to BJP’s success, he said. — PTI

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Shahabuddin granted bail

Siwan, December 24
A local court today granted bail to incarcerated RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin in connection with the manhandling of inmates of the Siwan divisional jail.

Additional district and sessions judge I Gyaneshwar Srivastava granted bail to the controversial MP, lodged in the Siwan divisional jail. — UNI

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