SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Mumbai Attack
Time to take tangible action, Pranab to Pak

New Delhi, January 1
India today said the US has provided “strong evidence” to Pakistan about involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba in the Mumbai attacks and that Islamabad should now hand over the culprits for which no extradition treaty is required.

Govt committed to bring guilty to book: Sonia
New Delhi, January 1
Accusing the Pakistan-based organisations of being behind the Mumbai terror strikes, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has said the government would soon unveil steps to deal with the issue in a “resolute manner.”

India, Pak swap lists of nuclear installations
New Delhi, January 1
India and Pakistan today exchanged lists of nuclear installations and facilities under an agreement for avoiding attacks on such establishments in the two countries.

Mumbaikars usher in 2009 on sombre note
Mumbai, January 1
The terrorist attack in the month of November last year left its mark on the New Year's eve, as festivities remained subdued. Most clubs and gymkhanas had cancelled celebrations as a mark of mourning for the people killed in the attack.



EARLIER STORIES



Security personnel patrol at Rajpath in New Delhi on a foggy Thursday morning
Security personnel patrol at Rajpath in New Delhi on a foggy Thursday morning. — PTI

Members of Navnirman Sena, a group of regional visual artists, hold candles during the New Year celebrations in Ahmedabad
Members of Navnirman Sena, a group of regional visual artists, hold candles during the New Year celebrations in Ahmedabad on Thursday. The members paid homage to the victims of militant attacks across the country in 2008 and shouted anti-Pakistan slogans during the celebrations.
— Reuters

Seventeen acquitted in Hyderabad blasts case
Hyderabad, January 1
A local court in Hyderabad has acquitted 17 Muslim youth, who were arrested in connection with a string of bomb blasts in the city in 2007 and charged with criminal conspiracy.

Rajasthan Assembly: Bonhomie marks day one
Jaipur, January 1
The state Legislative Assembly began its first session on the first day of the new year with 200 MLAs elected from all over the state providing one of the most varied colours that any Assembly in the country could boast of.

BJP banks on LTTE issue in TN
Chennai, January 1
The BJP, left with no major partner in Tamil Nadu after a decade following AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa’s alliance with the Left parties, has taken up the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. The party hopes that it will break the DMK-Congress ties and trigger a political realignment before the Parliament election.

BJP postpones meet in Nagpur
New Delhi, January 1
The BJP began the New Year by announcing postponement of its national council and national executive meeting scheduled for January 23, 24 and 25 in Nagpur. The party has now rescheduled the dates to February 6, 7 and 8 at the same venue in Nagpur, Maharashtra, according to an official announcement made by the BJP here today.

Language row erupts again
Jaipur, January 1
The controversy over acceptance of Rajasthani language as one of the several languages spoken and used in official parlance in India erupted once again on the first day of the newly constituted 13th Vidhan Sabha of the state.

PC chairs first MAC meet
New Delhi, January 1
Home Minister P Chidambaram today chaired the first meeting of the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), which has been given the legal backing for exchanging intelligence inputs among all intelligence agencies including that of the states.

Chiranjeevi’s camp swelling by the day
Hyderabad, January 1
Political migrations to actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s camp are continuing in Andhra Pradesh. A senior Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former minister K Venkat Rao today quit from the party and Assembly membership and joined the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) floated by the megastar of Telugu cinema recently.

Gogoi admits lapses in security
Guwahati, January 1
Admitting security lapses, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today directed security forces to intensify operations against militants in the wake of three bomb blasts in the state capital.

Rajiv Mathur new IB director
New Delhi, January 1
Rajiv Mathur today took over as the new Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Mathur, a 1972 batch IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, who has served in the Intelligence Bureau for nearly three decades, which included 15 years in Washington.

Modern version of ‘Devdas’
New Delhi, January 1
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap is busy these days giving final touches to his latest venture 'Dev D' which is he feels is "a very contemporary version of Devdas." Very few novels have created the kind of curiosity among film-makers like Sarat Chandra's novel 'Devdas'.

Mumbai serial killer gets life term
Mumbai, January 1
Serial killer Ravindra Kantrole, also known as Beer Man for leaving behind empty beer cans by the side of his victims, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sewri Sessions Court today. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on him.





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Mumbai Attack
Time to take tangible action, Pranab to Pak

New Delhi, January 1
India today said the US has provided “strong evidence” to Pakistan about involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba in the Mumbai attacks and that Islamabad should now hand over the culprits for which no extradition treaty is required.

A day after US media reports said a key Lashkar operative had “confessed” to involvement in the Mumbai attacks, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said Pakistan is yet to demonstrate “tangible” action against the perpetrators though it is obliged to do so under international laws.

“We have been told that there is some strong evidence available with the FBI and they have shared it with Pakistan. We expect that Pakistan will act on them and hand over the perpetrators of terror attack in Mumbai to us,” he told NDTV.

The minister said it was expected of Pakistan to take action against the perpetrators of terror attacks in the wake of evidence provided to them and various international conventions to which Islamabad is a signatory.

Asked whether an extradition treaty was needed for Islamabad to hand over the attackers, he said, “Extradition treaty is not required to take action on these matters” as Pakistan is party to various international conventions and arrangements starting from SAARC to various international conventions against taking hostages, conventions against bombings.

On whether the US pressure on Pakistan was working, Mukherjee said “tangible” results about Pakistani cooperation on the Mumbai terror attack is “yet to be achieved”.

US media reports yesterday said top LeT commander Zarar Shah has confessed the group’s involvement and the US provided Islamabad with the tape of a conversation his associate Zakiur Rahman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind, had with the Mumbai attackers.

In the wake of the latest developments, Mukherjee asked Pakistan to act on the “advice” of the world community and as per the international conventions besides its own commitments.

“So far the desired results are concerned, taste of pudding is in the eating. What we are asking Pakistan to do, requesting them (is) to fulfil their own commitments which they have made to our Prime Minister twice” on January 6, 2004 and in September last year.

“Till now, we have not seen tangible and credible action taken by Pakistan.” To a question about war-hysteria having been created, the External Affairs Minister said, “At least we are not responsible. We have not created any war hysteria. In our utterances, in our action, there is no question of creating any war hysteria or war cry.” He, however, reiterated his statement that India will “keep all options open”.

“If we find that Pakistan is not responding to our suggestions and to our requests and not only our response, our requests but also to act as per the advice of the international community which has asked them to take action against terrorists,” Mukherjee said.

He said Pakistan is “obliged” to act as it is a party to various international conventions starting from SAARC 1987 convention against terrorism to the additional protocol of 2004.

“But they have not done anything to convince that they are serious about tackling the terrorist activities emanating from the land of Pakistan,” Mukherjee said.

Underlining that “the issue is not war” between India and Pakistan or Indo-Pak relationship, he said “The issue is how to tackle terrorism which is emanating from the soil of Pakistan. The issue is how to prevent the terrorists (from) using the land of Pakistan, territory of Pakistan, which they committed not once but twice as I mentioned.

“Therefore, let them address the issue instead of creating a war hysteria. We have not mobilised.” Referring to remarks by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi that India should de-escalate tension, Mukherjee said “We have not escalated the tension. So, where is the question of our de-escalation.” — PTI

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Govt committed to bring guilty to book: Sonia

New Delhi, January 1
Accusing the Pakistan-based organisations of being behind the Mumbai terror strikes, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has said the government would soon unveil steps to deal with the issue in a “resolute manner.”

Claiming that the government is firmly committed to bringing the guilty in the terror strikes to book, Sonia said: “These organisations must and will be dealt with in a resolute manner...Our government is firmly committed to bringing the guilty to book.”

In a message to partymen in the latest issue of the party mouthpiece “Congress Sandesh”, Sonia said, “it is abundantly clear that the perpetrators of these barbarous acts belong to organisations based in Pakistan.”

She said the government is taking steps to strengthen the country’s capacity and capability not only to anticipate and protect it from terror attacks, but also to deal with these terrorist organisations through political, diplomatic and “other means”.

She expressed confidence that over the next few weeks the measures being taken by the government will be unveiled in full measure. Calling for keeping “politics aside to combat the scourge of terrorism”, Gandhi said. — PTI

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India, Pak swap lists of nuclear installations
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 1
India and Pakistan today exchanged lists of nuclear installations and facilities under an agreement for avoiding attacks on such establishments in the two countries.

The exchange, which took place simultaneously here and in Islamabad through the diplomatic channel, is covered under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities between India and Pakistan, the foreign office said in a statement.

This agreement was signed on December 31, 1988 and came into force on January 27, 1991. Under the agreement, the two countries, on first January of every calendar year, are to inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered by the agreement. The first such exchange of lists took place on 1 January 1992. This is the 18th consecutive time that both countries have exchanged such a list.

The two sides also exchanged fresh lists of prisoners being held in each other’s jails, said official sources.

India and Pakistan had exchanged lists of prisoners being held in each other’s jail, but both sides had subsequently expressed reservations about these lists. During talks here between Home Secretaries of the two countries in November, they agreed to exchange fresh lists of prisoners.

Details about the number of prisoners being held in the two countries were not immediately available.

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Mumbaikars usher in 2009 on sombre note
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 1
The terrorist attack in the month of November last year left its mark on the New Year's eve, as festivities remained subdued. Most clubs and gymkhanas had cancelled celebrations as a mark of mourning for the people killed in the attack. According to the officials of the collectors' offices here, the number of applications by hotels to organise New Year celebrations were far lower this time. “There has been a 90 per cent drop in applications,” an official of the Mumbai city collectorate said. The Taj and Trident hotels, as well as the CST railway station, comes under the city collectorate.

The scene was slightly better in the suburbs with a few hotels applying to hold parties at the last minute. However, the turnout was muted as most people chose to usher in the New Year at home in the company of family and friends. According to police, tight security on the streets prevented most

revellers from venturing outdoors. “There was barely five to six hundred people at the Gateway of India,” a police official said. The monument is a stone’s throw away from the Taj Hotel that was targetted by the terrorists.

At the Taj and Trident hotels some of the restaurants that were hit by terrorists were reopened with special menus and these reported good business. The Taj made a brave attempt to recreate its famous Wasabi and Golden Dragon Al Fresco restaurants that bore the brunt of the terror attack. The two restaurants are housed in the heritage wing of the hotel which suffered maximum damage.

The hotel has recreated the two restaurants in the newer Taj Mahal tower wing's Shamina and Souk hotels. On the other hand, the Trident offered an enhanced menu at its Frangipani and India Jones restaurants that were hit by the terrorists. However, celebrations at the hotel were subdued and there were no parties, according to an official. Security was tight throughout the city with armed policemen at the ready in public places. Sandbags put up at strategic locations were a grim reminder of the tragedy barely weeks ago. However, across the city terrace parties went on into the wee hours as the police chose to turn a blind eye to people ignoring the 10 pm deadline to shutdown loudspeakers ordered by the Supreme Court. Police officials said they were acting only on complaints filed by people.

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Seventeen acquitted in Hyderabad blasts case
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 1
A local court in Hyderabad has acquitted 17 Muslim youth, who were arrested in connection with a string of bomb blasts in the city in 2007 and charged with criminal conspiracy.

The accused, in the age group of 21 to 28 years, were set free by the second additional metropolitan sessions court on the ground that the prosecution had failed to prove charges against them.

This is second time that the local court has acquitted the Muslim youth charged with waging a war against the state and possession of “Jihadi” literature. Earlier in November, some of the accused were let off for lack of evidence.

The acquittals came against the backdrop of allegations by civil rights and the Muslim organisations that the innocent minority youth were being targeted by the police in the name of fighting terror.

The city was rocked by a spate of bomb attacks in 2007. Nine persons were killed in the blast during Friday prayers at the 17th century mosque on May 18, while over 50 persons were killed in the near simultaneous blasts at Lumbini Park and Gokul Chat eatery on August 25.

The police had blamed terror groups based in Pakistan and Bangladesh for the blasts and had also picked up dozens of local youth for interrogation. About 30 of them were detained for their alleged involvement.

According to a report of the fact-finding team of the state Minorities Commission, some of the arrested men were allegedly tortured in the police custody.

The present case was registered in June 15, 2007. The police went on adding the names of the accused in the case based on the progress made in the investigation.

So far, the police included 64 persons in the case, originally registered in the Gopalapuram police station in the city.

Twentyone persons were arrested in the case till now. While chargesheet was filed against the 17 persons and the court found them not guilty for lack of evidence, trial is pending against the four remaining accused.

The police had invoked a string of the IPC Sections, including 120-B (criminal conspiracy- clause 1 and clause2), 124-A (sedition), 125 (waging war against the state) and 126 (committing depredation) against the accused.

While acquitting the accused, the judge said no incriminating evidence was found barring the confessional statements of the accused and evidence of the police officials.

“The court verdict once again proves that Muslim youths were being made scapegoats in the name of investigation into terrorism cases,” the Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) leader Amjedullah Khan said.

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Rajasthan Assembly: Bonhomie marks day one
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Shekhawat is Speaker

Sri Madhopur MLA Deependera Singh Shekhawat is all set to become the Speaker of the 13th Vidhan Sabha of the state with all parties nodding in his favour for the post. Shekhawat would be officially nominated as the Speaker tomorrow and he would assume charge on January 3, Assembly officials said.

Jaipur, January 1
The state Legislative Assembly began its first session on the first day of the new year with 200 MLAs elected from all over the state providing one of the most varied colours that any Assembly in the country could boast of. Bonhomie marked day one with members hugging each other and opposition MLAs and greeting them new year wishes.

From over 100 crorepati MLAs, including seasoned politicians, liquor barons, royal prince and princesses, magicians to CPI MLA like Pema Ram living below poverty line (BPL category) to illiterate ones like Ganga Devi and the most popular Golma Devi, all hues of a democratic society painted the Assembly house today to take oath of secrecy and loyalty to the country and the Constitution.

Golma Devi was clearly the cynosure of all eyes with her each movement and utterance under the scanner. She entered the house nervous, towing steps of her MLA husband and experienced player of state assembly Dr Kirori Lal Meena, clutching his left hand tightly.

Meena took Golma Devi, wearing traditional “ghagra- loongri”, to the seat earmarked for him, forgetting that she was not just his wife but a state minister who would sit on a seat closer to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.

All between the aisles, Golma Devi got a warm reception from MLAs, who tried to make her comfortable.

She sat behind seasoned politician and popular actress Bina Kak. Both women, a clear study in contrast with one who has remained within the confines of a home and another who has roamed all over the globe.

Golma Devi eventually floored every one with the manner in which she took oath. Though she could not read from the oath text, she spoke after Speaker Devi Singh Batti but took care of using the female gender wherever it was required.

She did not miss greeting BJP MLAs, especially former Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje. She evoked claps when she opted for pen than thumb pad to sign as elected representative in the Assembly.

Then, the colourful turbans adorned by MLAs from various communities and regions, made their own statement in the House. Ganga Devi from Pendaari, all decked with traditional jewellery, added music to the scene with ‘the ghoongru’ in her anklets making a resonating sound in the hall.

The first day was used primarily to administer ‘Oath of Loyality’ to the 200 MLAs. Out of those, 197 MLAs took oath today. The remaining would take oath tomorrow.

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BJP banks on LTTE issue in TN
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 1
The BJP, left with no major partner in Tamil Nadu after a decade following AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa’s alliance with the Left parties, has taken up the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.

The party hopes that it will break the DMK-Congress ties and trigger a political realignment before the Parliament election.

“DMK leader M Karunanidhi is pleading with the Centre to send External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to find a solution to the ethnic issue. But, the Centre is ignoring his pleas,” BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was here to attend the party’s state executive meeting, said on Sunday.

Sensing the public mood in the state and growing tension between the Congress and the DMK on the handling of the ethnic issue, he said the DMK had failed to tackle the problem due to the attitude of the Centre, and asked, “What action has the Centre taken to end the war and bring a ceasefire in Sri Lanka?”

This is the first time, the BJP central leadership is raising the issue, which has become an emotional issue in Tamil Nadu, after two Indian technocrats were injured during air raids by the LTTE on a Sri Lankan military base.

Since then the opposition in Tamil Nadu is charging that the Centre had sent military personnel to assist the island nation and was behind the ‘genocidal military offensive’ of the Sri Lankan government.

The BJP was fully supporting the Sri Lankan Tamils, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding that the party was expanding its base in southern states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, after its success in Karnataka.

State party leaders said the party would resolve problems of island Tamils within six months of coming to power and added that this promise would be added to the party’s election manifesto.

They said the party had not taken up the issue suddenly and that it was natural for it to support the Sri Lankan Tamils, since a majority of them were Hindus.

State functionaries are of the opinion that it is too early to say that the party will be left alone in the Lok Sabha elections. Anything could happen within a few months, they said, pointing to the growing strains in the DMK-Congress alliance.

If the DMK’s relationship with the Congress was severed, Left parties could switch towards the DMK front and the BJP could find a place in the AIADMK alliance, they hoped.

Even if the DMK held on to the Congress front, the BJP taking up the island Tamils issue would embarrass the DMK, which would find it hard to transfer its traditional votes to Congress candidates in the general election, reducing the number of seats for the BJP’s main rival, they opined.

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BJP postpones meet in Nagpur
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 1
The BJP began the New Year by announcing postponement of its national council and national executive meeting scheduled for January 23, 24 and 25 in Nagpur.

The party has now rescheduled the dates to February 6, 7 and 8 at the same venue in Nagpur, Maharashtra, according to an official announcement made by the BJP here today.

BJP president Rajnath Singh told newsmen that the meeting was being rescheduled keeping in mind the “Convenience of our chief ministers who will have to be present in their respective states on January 26, to preside over the Republic Day celebrations.” The three-day meet was planned too close to the Republic Day and “Many chief ministers may not have been able to make it back in time for the official ceremonies,” he said.

However, sources pointed out that most chief ministers had their state planes and after leaving Nagpur on January 25 afternoon, they could have easily reached back the same evening. Keeping their convenience in mind the meet was planned to conclude by January 25 noon.

On the other hand, the immediate source of discomfort for the BJP is the theft of Rs 2.6 crore worth of cash from its safe vault, which is causing immense embarrassment and bewilderment to the BJP.

In December 2005 the BJP had held its national executive meeting in Mumbai to mark its 25th anniversary. But the event was overshadowed by the supply of an objectionable CD showing the then BJP organising secretary Sanjay Joshi in a compromising position with a woman. The party wants to avoid a repetition of that situation, sources said.

The Nagpur session of the party is being billed as the last big show before the general elections and the party plans to use this as an opportunity to launch its election campaign from this meet. But if the controversy about the cash persists, which could overshadow the entire BJP effort, the party is giving some time gap to allow the curiosity about the missing cash to die down before it launches its election campaign from Nagpur.

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Language row erupts again
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, January 1
The controversy over acceptance of Rajasthani language as one of the several languages spoken and used in official parlance in India erupted once again on the first day of the newly constituted 13th Vidhan Sabha of the state.

More than 10 MLAs belonging to different parties sought permission to take oath in Rajasthani language or their regional language like Braj, Marwari or Shekhawati from the pro tem speaker Devi Singh Batti.

BJP MLA Ghan Shyam Tewari took the issue to a new level by taking oath in Sanskrit .

With the Centre yet to approve the language, the Speaker had no option but to turn down the request announcing the sentiments of the elected representatives have been duly recorded and would reach the desired platform.

Rajasthani language has not been recognised so far in the absence of a unanimous acceptance among the residents of the state.

The language, as demanded by some of the MLAs, is spoken mainly in Jodhpur and surrounding areas. People in other regions are not keen on recognition to this language.

The tribals, bheels, shekhawatis, marwaris and residents in Ganganagar speak different dialects. Due to the opposition among the different regions, no language has so far been able to become a common language of the state. Hence, the Centre has not been able to recognise any state language.

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PC chairs first MAC meet

New Delhi, January 1
Home Minister P Chidambaram today chaired the first meeting of the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), which has been given the legal backing for exchanging intelligence inputs among all intelligence agencies including that of the states. He discussed with the chiefs of IB, RAW and Military Intelligence (MI) and other senior officials the modalities of the MAC related to the functions, powers and duties, which the Centre, established in the Intelligence Bureau, will now take up.

The meeting comes a day after an executive order was issued, under which the MAC is obliged to share intelligence with all other intelligence agencies, including agencies of the state governments and the union territories.

Chidambaram had yesterday said there would be a “distinct improvement” in the gathering and sharing of intelligence relating to terrorism. “The MAC, as the nodal centre on all intelligence relating to terrorism, has not been able to fully achieve its objectives. Hence, it was decided that a legal colour be given to the order establishing MAC,” Chidambaram had said yesterday. — PTI

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Chiranjeevi’s camp swelling by the day
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 1
Political migrations to actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s camp are continuing in Andhra Pradesh. A senior Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former minister K Venkat Rao today quit from the party and Assembly membership and joined the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) floated by the megastar of Telugu cinema recently.

Rao, who was also general secretary of the TDP and deputy floor leader in the Assembly, held a meeting with his followers in Srikakulam district where the decision was announced. Along with Rao, who represents the Unukur Assembly constituency in the district, another TDP MLA Jogulu also joined the PRP.

Welcoming the two legislators into his party fold, Chiranjeevi, who spoke to them through teleconference from here, said Rao’s entry would strengthen the PRP in the north coastal region.

Rao has been associated with the TDP since its inception in 1982, held several key positions in the party and served as Home Minister in the late N T Rama Rao cabinet and a Rajya Sabha member. He is the second prominent leader from Srikakulam district after T Sitaram, also a former minister, to quit the TDP and join Chiranjeevi’s camp.

Earlier on December 21, a ruling Congress legislator from Vijayawada, V Radhakrishna, switched loyalties to the PRP.

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Gogoi admits lapses in security

Guwahati, January 1
Admitting security lapses, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today directed security forces to intensify operations against militants in the wake of three bomb blasts in the state capital.

Asked whether the blasts were the result of intelligence failure, he told reporters: “I do not say failure but lapses are there.” “No country can provide 100 per cent security and we don’t have the best intelligence,” Gogoi added.

“We need to improve and strengthen our police force apart from ensuring its modernisation,” he said. The Chief Minister said the needle of suspicion for the blasts pointed towards ULFA. He also briefed Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on the law and order situation in the state at a meeting at the Raj Bhawan.

The Chief Minister, who visited the blast sites, said he was shocked at the inhuman and cowardly act of militants on the New Year day.

“We have hoped to usher in peace in the New Year, but the blasts have forced us to intensify operations against the militants. I urge people to come forward and fight against these forces,” he said. Gogoi also directed the health authorities to provide all possible help to the injured undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the city. — PTI

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Rajiv Mathur new IB director

New Delhi, January 1
Rajiv Mathur today took over as the new Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Mathur, a 1972 batch IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, who has served in the Intelligence Bureau for nearly three decades, which included 15 years in Washington, took over at the helm of the IB from P C Haldar, who retired as its Director on December 31. The name of Mathur, who was earlier Special Director in the IB, was cleared by the Appointments’ Committee of Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in early December.

Considered an expert hand in dealing with northeast insurgencies, Mathur’s appointment comes at a time when intelligence agencies in the country have come under sharp criticism for its repeated failures to stop terror strikes from across the border. He is expected to streamline the reforms in the country’s intelligence machinery to meet the challenges due to the changed tactics of elements inimical to the country. Mathur (59) will be holding the post for two years or until fresh orders from the government. — PTI

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Modern version of ‘Devdas’

New Delhi, January 1
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap is busy these days giving final touches to his latest venture 'Dev D' which is he feels is "a very contemporary version of Devdas." Very few novels have created the kind of curiosity among film-makers like Sarat Chandra's novel 'Devdas'. The bitter-sweet love-saga has become a history with the story of Devdas being depicted on the celluloid umpteen number of times.

However, this is perhaps the first time that any film-maker has attempted to make a film on the modern version of 'Devdas'. Kashayap feels that Devdas has now gone way beyond than just being a novel.

"Devdas is not just a novel anymore, it is an adjective. Devdas is almost synonymous with love. It's a complete modern take on the book," says the film-maker. Kashyap insists that the youth will be able to identify with the modern 'Dev' as it is an all-out commercial venture. — PTI

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Mumbai serial killer gets life term
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 1
Serial killer Ravindra Kantrole, also known as Beer Man for leaving behind empty beer cans by the side of his victims, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sewri Sessions Court today. The court also imposed a fine of Rs 2,000 on him.

Kantrole was found guilty of murdering three vagrants sleeping on

Mumbai’s streets in 2006 and 2007. He was earlier acquitted in connection with two other murders where empty beer cans were found in the vicinity of the victims. In all there were seven such killings in the city.

Said to be in his early 30s, Kantrole was found guilty under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. The judge relied on the evidence produced by the Forensic Science Laboratory and statements by two eyewitnesses.

While convicting Kantrole, the court turned down a plea by the prosecution to award him the death penalty.

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