SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Stop advising on troop movement, Pak told
New Delhi, January 2
Within days of his cabinet colleagues, Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram lashing out at Pakistan, Defence Minister AK Antony today asked the neighbouring country to stop advising on movements of Indian troops and de-escalation. He went on to add: “Our forces are in state of full preparedness”.

Renaming JuD
Act against outfit in any form,
asserts Pranab
New Delhi, January 2
India today squarely put on the Pakistan government the onus of acting against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa even if the terror outfit had assumed a new name after it was banned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack.

Judges’ salaries
Govt takes ordinance route
New Delhi, January 2
Unable to get the bill seeking to raise the salaries of the Chief Justice of India, judges of the Supreme Court and chief justices and judges of High Courts passed in Parliament in the last session, the Central government has decided to bring in an ordinance for the purpose.

BSP men at it again: Fisheries dept chief faces rape charges
Lucknow, January 2
Spelling fresh trouble for the Mayawati regime, the Aligarh police today arrested State Fisheries Development Corporation chairman Ram Mohan Garg for alleged sexual exploitation of a 30-year-old woman. Notably, Garg enjoyed the rank of a Minister of State and resided in a minister’s bungalows at Gomti Nagar.


A relative of one of the blast victims mourns in Guwahati on Friday.
In Grief: A relative of one of the blast victims mourns in Guwahati on Friday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

Home Minister P Chidambaram looks at Sunaina Khatoon, one of those injured in the bomb blasts, as a relative holds her at a hospital in Guwahati on Friday
Healing Touch: Home Minister P Chidambaram looks at Sunaina Khatoon, one of those injured in the bomb blasts, as a relative holds her at a hospital in Guwahati on Friday —Reuters

PM meets blast victims at hospital
Guwahati, January 2
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh tonight visited Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) here to take stock of the health condition of those injured in the serial blasts in the city yesterday.

Ulfa denies role in blasts
Guwahati, January 2
The banned Ulfa today denied its involvement in yesterday’s serial explosions which claimed six lives and left more than 50 injured here.

Centre to study Bodo’s truce demand
Guwahati, January 2
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today informed that parleys with representatives of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was on regarding further extension of the ceasefire agreement with the outfit and a decision was likely to be taken after a couple of days or so.

Tripura sounds red alert, security up in Meghalaya
Agartala/Shillong, January 2
The Tripura government has sounded an alert throughout the state and security has been beefed up along the 856 km long Indo-Bangla border following the serial blasts in Guwahati yesterday.

Deers graze near a fire lit by zoo officials to keep them warm at a zoo in Lucknow on Friday
Deers graze near a fire lit by zoo officials to keep them warm at a zoo in Lucknow on Friday — Reuters

‘Royal Rajasthan’ to chug off on Jan 11
Jaipur, January 2
Move over Palace on Wheels. Look forward to the super-luxury train, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW), with spas and wi-fi system among other attractions. It would chug off for the first time from the Safdarjang railway station on January 11. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot would flag it off.

Maharashtra domestic workers to get PF, leave
Mumbai, January 2
Domestic workers in Maharashtra would henceforth be entitled to weekly offs, paid leave, provident fund, gratuity and other benefits available to the organised labour. As per a legislation passed by the Maharashtra legislative assembly, provisions of the Domestic Workers Welfare Board Act would be enforced by the Domestic Workers’ Welfare Board to be set up by the state government.

Rajnath completes 3 yrs as BJP chief
New Delhi, January 2
Critics of Rajnath Singh within the party may dub him the “weakest head” since its inception in 1980 but Rajnath Singh has managed to complete three years in office on December 31, a record only beaten by the illustrious Atal-Advani duo.

Sainik Samachar is 100
New Delhi, January 2
Mahatma Gandhi in army attire, letters from the trial of the members of the Indian National Army formed by Subhash Chandra Bose, rows upon rows of captured Pakistani tanks at Khem Karan near Amritsar, Indira Gandhi donating her jewellery during the Chinese aggression in 1962, Indian troops inside Lahore and bombing of Ambala in 1965 include among the photos and material made public today from the archives of the Defence ministry.

News Analysis
Pay panel leaves forces in cold again
New Delhi, January 2
Notwithstanding the hype about having a separate pay commission for the armed forces, the government has, in real terms, left their demands relating to pay and status in the middle of nowhere - un-sorted and half-baked.





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Stop advising on troop movement, Pak told
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Within days of his cabinet colleagues, Pranab Mukherjee and P Chidambaram lashing out at Pakistan, Defence Minister AK Antony today asked the neighbouring country to stop advising on movements of Indian troops and de-escalation. He went on to add: “Our forces are in state of full preparedness”.

Antony said there was no noticeable change in the attitude of Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks and the Indian forces will have to remain on alert.

Antony was talking to reporters on the sidelines of function to release a book “Soldering on” to mark the 100 years of Sainik Samachar, a fortnightly magazine published by the Ministry of Defence.

Pakistan’s has no right to give any suggestion on de-activating forward bases and movement of troops, he said while replying to a question on Pakistan’s suggestion that India should withdraw ground troops and de-activate forward air bases.

“I do not think there is any noticeable change in the attitude of Pakistan. Statements are not important. Actions are important. They have to prove by their action, Antony said. He pointed out that more than 30 terror outfits are still active in that country.

He said India has done no escalation and the armed forces were only doing their duty. On Indian forces, Antony said they were not doing any power projection. They are doing their duty. They have to be fully prepared to meet any challenge from any quarter, any threat from any quarter.

There is no unusual troop movement on our side. Whatever is taking place, the exercise and others, is normal only, Antony said. However, there was no time limit that India had given Pakistan to act. There is no time limit they have to act, Antony said.

To a question on forming a new coastal command, the Defence Minister said the proposal would come up before the Cabinet Committee on Security anytime now for approval.

A formal coastal command is in the process of being set up. Already, we have entrusted major responsibilities to the coast guard.

Criticising the manner in which the electronic news channels covered the recent Mumbai terror attacks, Antony asked the media to be a “little careful” while reporting events. “During the recent Mumbai terror attacks, the armed forces had to work under extreme pressure. On such occasions, it will be of help if the media performs its role without endangering national security and is a little careful while reporting the events.”

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Renaming JuD
Act against outfit in any form, asserts Pranab
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
India today squarely put on the Pakistan government the onus of acting against the Jamaat-ud-Dawa even if the terror outfit had assumed a new name after it was banned by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack.

There is a growing sense of frustration in official circles here that Islamabad is once again trying to shield the militant groups operating on its soil by remaining in a denial mode. It is being felt that Pakistan is buying time to cover up the Mumbai terrorist attack trail that leads to the neighbouring country.

Some officials argue that Pakistan may use its own investigation into the Mumbai strikes to argue that terrorists were acting on their own and not under any direction from the notorious spy agency, ISI.

New Delhi’s growing impatience with Islamabad was once again articulated by External Affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee here today when he told reporters that it was the responsibility of the Pakistan government to stop the activities of banned organisations.

His statement came amid reports that the JuD might have started operating under the name of ‘Tehreek-e-Hurmat-e-Rasool’ to avoid restrictions which Islamabad might be forced to impose on it following the UNSC ban.

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shanker Menon had yesterday said in an interview that the JuD was operating with a new name.

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Judges’ salaries
Govt takes ordinance route
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Unable to get the bill seeking to raise the salaries of the Chief Justice of India, judges of the Supreme Court and chief justices and judges of High Courts passed in Parliament in the last session, the Central government has decided to bring in an ordinance for the purpose.

The decision to promulgate an ordinance was taken here today at a meeting of the cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

As per the ordinance, the government is seeking to hike the salaries of the judges by threefold.

The revised salary of the Chief Justice of India would be Rs 1 lakh per month and it would be Rs 90,000 per month for the judges of the apex court.

Chief Justices of High Courts would draw monthly salary of Rs 90,000 while the judges of these courts would receive Rs 80,000 per month.

Briefing mediapersons after the cabinet meeting, Union Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Kapil Sibal said the government had decided to take the ordinance route as the bill in this regard could not be passed in the just-concluded session of Parliament.

The hike in the salaries is proposed to be effective from January 1, 2006. Bills proposing over threefold hike in the salaries of judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court were introduced in the Lok Sabha earlier last month.

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BSP men at it again: Fisheries dept chief
faces rape charges

Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 2
Spelling fresh trouble for the Mayawati regime, the Aligarh police today arrested State Fisheries Development Corporation chairman Ram Mohan Garg for alleged sexual exploitation of a 30-year-old woman. Notably, Garg enjoyed the rank of a Minister of State and resided in a minister’s bungalows at Gomti Nagar. ADG (Law and Order) Brijlal said Garg had been taken on police remand on an FIR.

In her complaint, the woman, a resident of Aligarh, has accused Garg of allegedly subjecting her to sexual exploitation for the past five years.

Charging Garg with “clandestinely making an obscene CD to exploit her”, the victim has attached the CD showing her undressed along with Garg. An audiotape with recordings of shocking conversations between the two has also been attached as evidence.

As the news of the FIR spread, Garg was quickly arrested in Lucknow last evening. The ruling BSP was equally quick to officially disown him. An official spokesperson of the party, in a release, said: "Garg has nothing to do with the government or the party, as he had resigned from the chairman's post last year."

Countering the allegations, Garg told reporters soon after his arrest at the Gomti Nagar police station late last night that “he had tendered his resignation only yesterday, though he was made to sign a letter dated December 31".

Interestingly, a local Hindi daily today published a photograph of Garg with BSP Minister Jaiveer Singh. The photograph was taken on April 24, 2008, in Aligarh when Garg was formally inducted into the BSP in the presence of the minister.

The report claims that investigations into the antecedents of the accused show that he, as a lawyer, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court in November 2007, seeking transfer of the Taj Corridor case to a court outside Uttar Pradesh.

In his petition, Garg had raised doubts about the impartiality of the judge hearing the case. He had suspicion about the impartiality of judgment as he pointed out that the judge was closely related to BSP leader Satish Chandra Misrha.

Later, however, the UP Governor declined to give permission for prosecution of Mayawati in the Taj Corridor case and the matter was closed.

Party insiders admitted that some leaders in the BSP had brokered peace with the petitioner, Ram Mohan Garg, and as an incentive for not pressing his petition he had been appointed as chairman of the UP Fisheries Development Corporation, after being made to join the BSP.

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PM meets blast victims at hospital
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 2
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh tonight visited Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) here to take stock of the health condition of those injured in the serial blasts in the city yesterday.

Dr Singh, who is also a Rajya Sabha Member from Assam, rushed to the hospital immediately after his arrival at the Guwahati airport at around 7.35 pm. He was accompanied by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office announced an ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh each to the next of kin of those killed in yesterday’s blasts and Rs 1 lakh each to the seriously injured from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

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Ulfa denies role in blasts

Guwahati, January 2
The banned Ulfa today denied its involvement in yesterday’s serial explosions which claimed six lives and left more than 50 injured here.

A statement issued by the outfit claimed that the Ulfa was in no way involved in the blasts that rocked Guwahati on the first day of the New Year and it appeared “to have been carried out by the enemies of the Assamese people”.

“In the October 30 blasts too, the Ulfa A was initially blamed but later it was found that another outfit was behind the explosions. In yesterday's case also, the truth will soon come out,” the statement said.

Expressing condolences to the family members of those killed in the blasts, the outfit accused the authorities presenting it as a terrorist outfit. — PTI

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Centre to study Bodo’s truce demand
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 2
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today informed that parleys with representatives of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) was on regarding further extension of the ceasefire agreement with the outfit and a decision was likely to be taken after a couple of days or so.

The truce with the Bodo tribe militant outfit which has been in ceasefire since October 2005, expired on December 31 last but the Centre is yet to extend it given that the Assam government has aired its opposition for the involvement of a section of the NDFB in October 30 serial blasts in the state. Some of the cadres of the outfit were arrested in connection with the serial blasts. The outfit also faces other charges of violation of ceasefire.

“Representatives of the NDFB are in New Delhi for extension of ceasefire. Ground rules of suspension of operation must be adhered to letter and spirit by them. They have made a positive statement in New Delhi today. A decision on ceasefire will be taken after parleys that may last two more days or so,” Chidambaram said.

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Tripura sounds red alert, security up in Meghalaya

Agartala/Shillong, January 2
The Tripura government has sounded an alert throughout the state and security has been beefed up along the 856 km long Indo-Bangla border following the serial blasts in Guwahati yesterday.

The security situation in the state was reviewed by Director General of Police Pranay Sahaya last night.

Paramilitary forces were ordered to enhance vigilance at the entry points of the state and check vehicles entering the state capital, the police said.

Security has also been enhanced at vital installations like, civil secretariat and Raj Bhavan.

The state police had alerted all the police stations and paramilitary forces to keep a close vigil on the situation, said DIG (police control) Nepal Das.

Meanwhile, the Meghalaya government has put in place foolproof security ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit tomorrow to inaugurate the 96th session of the Indian Science Congress here.

“Security had been fully beefed up. We are leaving nothing to chance. We have collected all forces at our disposal and deployed them at appropriate places,” Chief Secretary Ranjan Chatterjee said today.

The North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) campus, where the function will take place, has turned into a fortress, with heavy deployment of securitymen and erection of barricades. — PTI

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‘Royal Rajasthan’ to chug off on Jan 11
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, January 2
Move over Palace on Wheels. Look forward to the super-luxury train, Royal Rajasthan on Wheels (RROW), with spas and wi-fi system among other attractions. It would chug off for the first time from the Safdarjang railway station on January 11. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot would flag it off.

Bina Kak, Minister for Toursim, told The Tribune that RROW would be the epitome of luxury and in no way less than other super luxury trains in the world like the Orient Express (Europe) and the Blue Train (South Africa).

An amount of Rs 12.51 crore has been the share of the Indian Railways while Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC) has made an investment of Rs 27.49 crore on the fabrication of the coaches through the Integral Coach Factory.

The likely tariff for super deluxe is $2000 per suite, per person per night; deluxe $800 per person per night on twin sharing basis and deluxe $1,200 per person per night on single supplement basis. The service tax is extra. However, a discount of $101 is applicable on deluxe twin sharing and single supplements till April 2009.

With a capacity of 82 persons, the train will have 13 deluxe saloons and one super deluxe saloon, four service cars and two resto bars. A top class spa and wi-fi are also in the offing. The choicest of Indian, Chinese, continental and Rajasthani cuisines will be served. There will be a pantry with every coach and an attendant will be on duty at all times.

The itinerary of the RROW will be the same as the Palace on Wheels. It will leave Delhi at 6.30 pm and touch on its week-long sojourn cities such as Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Bharatpur, Agra and finally windup at Delhi.

Owing to technical difficulties, the train will not go to Bikaner. According to sources in the railways, Bikaner will only be added to the itinerary after detailed examination whether stations on the route are equipped to handle broad gauge rakes of the type required.

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Maharashtra domestic workers to get PF, leave
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 2
Domestic workers in Maharashtra would henceforth be entitled to weekly offs, paid leave, provident fund, gratuity and other benefits available to the organised labour. As per a legislation passed by the Maharashtra legislative assembly, provisions of the Domestic Workers Welfare Board Act would be enforced by the Domestic Workers’ Welfare Board to be set up by the state government.

As per the provisions of the new law, the board would have representatives of domestic workers, employers and the government. Every district will have a separate board to ensure that the law is applied as per local requirements, according to state government sources.

The law, which aims to provide for the long-term security of domestic workers, will make it mandatory for domestic workers to join a pension fund. Contributions for the pension fund will be made by the worker, employer and the government.

The boards will also have grievance cells to address complaints from domestic workers and employers, according to sources.

The law is the brainchild of the Gharkam Molkarin Sanghatana, which has been agitating for the rights of domestic workers across the state.

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Rajnath completes 3 yrs as BJP chief
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Critics of Rajnath Singh within the party may dub him the “weakest head” since its inception in 1980 but Rajnath Singh has managed to complete three years in office on December 31, a record only beaten by the illustrious Atal-Advani duo. On the New Year day, Rajnath Singh camp followers sent out “Singh is King” SMSs, underlining the achievement of their leader by surviving in the office for an unusually long period.

Considering the fact that general elections were set to be held somewhere in April-May, the next round of elections in the BJP may not take place before the formation of the next government at the Centre. At the earliest, this could be in the later part of 2009. Thus, it seems Rajnath Singh is destined to complete virtually four years in office and create a record of sorts.

But, Rajnath Singh’s detractors in the party credit this achievement to his tendency of being subservient to the Sangh on the one hand and carefully projecting Advani as party’s “super president” on the other.

In the run-up to the general elections and the pre-election national council and national meet of the BJP — scheduled for early next month in Nagpur — the RSS sought a meeting with the BJP office-bearers, held at Advani’s residence here today.

The meeting with RSS leaders later in the day was aimed at involving the Sangh with the party’s election campaign but in fact, said party sources, it amounted to informally seeking approval of the Sangh to BJP’s election plans.

The critics of Rajnath within the party point out that ever since Rajnath assumed the office, he has been playing second fiddle to Sangh. A case in point is the prospective appointment of Swadeshi Jagran Manch convenor Murlidhar Rao as Rajnath’s political secretary. Rao is an important and assertive Sangh man whose joining BJP would make the party even more amenable to Sangh’s political line on all controversial issues.

Singh critics also refer to the recent arrest of Pragya Singh Thakur and other Sangh men in connection with the Malegaon blasts. They recall how Rajnath Singh went and addressed a rally in Panipat to declare that no Hindu could be a terrorist, a statement consistent with the Sangh/VHP line.

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Sainik Samachar is 100
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Mahatma Gandhi in army attire, letters from the trial of the members of the Indian National Army formed by Subhash Chandra Bose, rows upon rows of captured Pakistani tanks at Khem Karan near Amritsar, Indira Gandhi donating her jewellery during the Chinese aggression in 1962, Indian troops inside Lahore and bombing of Ambala in 1965 include among the photos and material made public today from the archives of the Defence ministry. These form part of a coffee table book, “Soldering on”, released by Defence Minister AK Antony to commemorate the centenary of the “Sainik Samachar”, a fortnightly newsletter published to disseminate news about the forces.

Before Independence, the magazine was known as the “Fauji Akhbaar” and was started as a 16-page Urdu weekly on January 2, 1909.

Priced at Rs 1,500, the 250-page book covers among other things the participation of Indian troops in World War I, World War II, wars with Pakistan and China and other internationals operations.

Rare photographs of the heroics of the Indian armed forces, memorable documents and articles, including those written by former Editor-in-Chief of Tribune Prem Bhatia, Khushwant Singh, Mulk Raj Anand, and Vikram A Sarabhai are the hallmarks of the coffee table book.

During its chequered history, Fauji Akhbar has travelled from Shimla - where its office was originally located and was then published from Allahabad - to Lahore, back to Shimla and finally to Delhi.

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News Analysis
Pay panel leaves forces in cold again
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Notwithstanding the hype about having a separate pay commission for the armed forces, the government has, in real terms, left their demands relating to pay and status in the middle of nowhere - un-sorted and half-baked.

The developments in the past few days following the Prime Ministers Office’s note to the Ministry of Defence only indicate at more confusion in the days to come.

Serving and retired officers feel that the forces have again been left out by the bureaucracy-dependent political class. The PM could have just cleared the four core demands without causing any ripples. By holding back two demands and clearing one, and that too with several riders, was not expected - especially as the matter had been hanging fire for six months.

The clarity is missing from the PMO note. The promised separate pay commission would be coming 10 years down the line. It will not help now. Creating this will also hinge upon the political masters of that time.

The armed forces had raised four core demands after the Sixth Pay Commission lowered their status. The PM had set-up a high-powered committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee. The forces wanted that lieutenant generals should be at par with DGPs in the states in the “higher administrative grade plus”, the grade pay of all officers from captains to brigadiers be equal to officers on the civilian side, lieutenant colonels be in pay band 4 and not pay band 3 and lastly, jawans should get 70 per cent pensionary weightage. The PMO note was silent on the issue of lieutenant generals and also on equal grade pay for all officers. The issue of jawans has been expected.

For the officers, the only grace is that lieutenant colonels and the officers in equal ranks in the Navy and the IAF would be pay band 4. However, the series of conditions that have been listed in the PMO’s note are baffling. It says pay band 4 will be given to only those officers in “combat” or “ready-for-combat” roles.

With no such glossary of posts, the officers do not know what to expect. Also, the new instructions say that lieutenant colonels who are on deputation will not be placed in pay band 4. Now, the Indian Army is on deputation to the Rashtriya Rifles that is in frontline in the Kashmir valley, the Assam rifles in the north-east and the National Security Guards (NSG). Are these deputation posts? So will an officer posted in these bodies get lower wages than an officer posted in regiments of the Indian Army?

Since the placement in pay band 4 will result in a hike of more than Rs 10,000, will the officers opt for deputation? And adding to the confusion is the creation of another high-powered committee to look into issues of status, command and control of the forces. Will this committee, headed by the Defence Secretary, be more powerful than the committee of ministers that looked into the matter earlier? Well, all these questions have been left unanswered.

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