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 Heat
India shares proof with China

New Delhi, January 5
India today shared evidence with China about involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the Mumbai terror attacks and urged Beijing to use its influence with its ally Islamabad to cooperate on the issue.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee talks to Chinese Minister He Yafei during a meeting in New Delhi External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee talks to Chinese Minister He Yafei during a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.
— PTI

Antony reviews security situation
New Delhi, January 5
Defence minister AK Antony today asked the service chiefs to make a presentation on the current security scenario and the threat perceptions. Antony also discussed the preparedness of the armed forces in tackling them, officials added.



EARLIER STORIES



Kasab’s remand ends today
Mumbai, January 5
With the remand of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman aka Kasabending tomorrow, the police is yet to decide on the nature of custody they will seek to interrogate the lone terrorist caught in the November 26 terror attacks in connection with pending cases against him.

Storm in Assam Assembly over blasts
Oppn disrupts Governor’s address
Guwahati, January 5
The winter session of the Assam Assembly began on a stormy note with all opposition parties joining hands to disrupt the address of the Governor, Shiv Charan Mathur, in protest against the ‘utter failure’ of the state government in controlling insurgency effectively.

UPA going soft on terror: BJP
New Delhi, January 5
The BJP has accused the UPA government of trying to dilute the nation’s fight against terror. BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar took strong exception to Home Minister P Chidambram’s latest assertion that Islamabad will have to pay a heavy price if another terrorist attack is repeated from Pakistani soil.

Left to put up a united front in Bihar
Patna, January 5
In a significant political development, the main Left parties in Bihar have reached a consensus to contest the ensuing Lok Sabha polls as allies, thereby giving shape to a third front.

Oppn parties team up to defeat Cong in AP
Hyderabad, January 5
Inching towards a grand opposition alliance in Andhra Pradesh, ahead of Assembly elections, four parties — TDP, CPI, CPM and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) — today gave indications of forging a poll tie-up to defeat the ruling Congress.

Cops must get better weapons: Kavita Karkare
Mumbai, January 5
Breaking her silence over the Mumbai carnage, Kavita Karkare, wife of slain Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare, today said police personnel have to be given better weapons and training to tackle such terror attacks.

Govt plans dose by NRI docs for ailing rural India
New Delhi, January 5
The government is looking outward to milk India’s undernourished health sector, currently facing a shortage of six-lakh doctors and two-lakh dental surgeons. Under its consideration is a proposal to permit overseas physicians to practice in India. Till now, such permission is not granted, given licensing hassles.

Oil Officers’ Strike
Govt asks states to invoke NSA against protesters
New Delhi, January 5
Terming the proposed strike by the Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) from January 7 as illegal, the government on Monday asked the states to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and the National Security Act (NSA) wherever required to deal with the striking oil officers and any emergent situation arising out of it.

Assamese sound designer makes mark with ‘Ghajini’
Guwahati, January 5
Amrit Pritam Dutta from Upper Assam’s Jorhat has made a mark as a sound designer in Amir Khan starrer block buster ‘Ghajini’, whose overwhelming success at the box office seems to have banished fears of a recession in Bollywood.

SC notice to Centre on ceding Kachchativu to Sri Lanka
New Delhi, January 5
The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre on a petition by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, seeking declaration as null and void on India ceding Kachchativu to Sri Lanka in 1974 without Parliament’s approval.

Chavan holds talks with Rane
Mumbai, January 5
In a last-ditch effort to patch up, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan today held closed-door meeting with rebel Congress leader Narayan Rane who is set to announce his future plans tomorrow.

Chavan hints at reservation for Marathas
Beed, January 5
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan yesterday hinted that the state government had plans to give reservation to the Maratha community without disturbing the reservation for OBCs.

Lalu to feature in animation film
Patna, January 5
After having dolls, firecrackers, colours and even toffee named after him, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad will now feature in an animation film made by a cartoonist from Bihar.

Extradition Treaty
Congress flays Qureshi’s remarks
New Delhi, January 5
The Congress on Monday condemned Pakistan Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement that Pakistan could not hand over terrorists whose list had been given by India since no extradition treaty exited between the two countries.

Toe original line, RSS tells BJP
‘Include construction of Ram Mandir, scrapping of Article 370 in agenda’
New Delhi, January 5
The RSS has asked the BJP to return to its original agenda unmindful of its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). The suggestion came at a meeting between the BJP and Sangh leaders last week held at party’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani’s residence.

Hooch toll climbs to 25; 3 critical
Kolkata, January 5
The toll in the hooch tragedy in the city’ dock area shot up to 25 today with 12 more people succumbing in hospitals while the condition of three remained critical, police said. “So far, 25 people have died. Condition of three other victims, still battling for life, is critical,'' Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detective) Javed Shamim said.

AP to give pension to AIDS patients
Hyderabad, January 5
Andhra Pradesh has become the first state in the country to provide pension to AIDS patients. A meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy here today, approved a proposal to pay a monthly pension of Rs 200 to the poor AIDS patients undergoing anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

In times of recession, malls have gifts on offer
Bangalore, January 5
Come and make a purchase, for you may be the lucky one to win a designer car! This is the "way-out" technique mall operators in the IT city have adopted to beat the impact of global meltdown and dip in business. Their baskets of gifts also include gold coins, diamond necklaces and a workshop on Salsa, among others.

MoD to buy eight maritime aircraft from US
New Delhi, January 5
In an effort to bolster intelligence gathering capabilities of the Indian Navy, the Ministry of Defence has signed a deal to buy eight long maritime aircraft from US company Boeing.

80 pc polling in Nandigram
Kolkata, January 5
Polling to the Nandigram and Sujapur Assembly seats in West Bengal passed off peacefully today with both the segments registering a heavy turnout of voters at 80 and 78 per cent, respectively.

Maoists kill leader of anti-extremist outfit
Jamshedpur, January 5
A top leader of an anti-extremist outfit was today shot dead and two others were injured when suspected Maoists fired at them near his house at Musabani under Ghatsila sub-division of Jharkhand.

Govt mulls intake of NCC cadets into IMA
New Delhi, January 5
The government is considering a proposal to raise intake of cadets from the NCC into the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA) from 64 to 80, Lt Genl RK Karwal, Director-General, NCC, said here today. Alarmed over the shortfall of officers, the government is also likely to hike the intake of NCC ‘C’ certificate holders into the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, from 79 to 100, he added.

More Army institutes to be opened: Antony
New Delhi, January 5
Defence Minister AK Antony today said the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) had plans to open more institutes in the country near future. Speaking after formally inaugurating the Army College of Medical Sciences at Delhi Cantt, the Defence Minister lauded the role being played by the AWES in the field of education.

‘Kansa’ rules western Orissa during Dhanu Yatra festival
Bargarh (Orissa), January 5
A huge moustachoed figure wearing a crown and riding a caparisoned elephant, like someone straight out of the pages of mythology, emerges from the early morning mist on the NH-6 which runs on the edge of this district town. He waves at a loaded truck from Kolkata to stop.

Rs 2,500 crore research institute for Hyderabad
Hyderabad, January 5
Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the country’s premier research organisation, would set up its second campus in Hyderabad with an investment of Rs 2,500 crore.

‘MP riots pre-planned’
Bhopal, January 5
In what has come as an embarrassment for the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh, a probe by the MP Human Rights Commission into last year’s riots in Burhanpur has revealed that the unrest was instigated for polarising the electorate on communal lines with an eye on polls.

Randhawa new DG at Air Headquarters
New Delhi, January 5
Air Marshal TS Randhawa took over as Director-General (Inspection and Safety) at Air Headquarters here today. He was earlier posted as the Commandant of the National Defence Academy, Pune.

Another Tata research institute for Hyderabad
Hyderabad, January 5
Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the country’s premier research organisation, would set up its second campus in Hyderabad with an investment of Rs 2,500 crore.

WB govt slows down drive against polluting autos
Kolkata, January 5
Confronted by violent agitation by auto-rickshaw drivers and political pressure, the West Bengal government today said the drive against polluting two-stroke three-wheelers in the metropolis would be slowed down.





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Mumbai Heat
India shares proof with China

New Delhi, January 5
India today shared evidence with China about involvement of Pakistan-based elements in the Mumbai terror attacks and urged Beijing to use its influence with its ally Islamabad to cooperate on the issue.

Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon gave details of the Mumbai attacks to Chinese vice-foreign minister He Yafei, who has been sent here as a special envoy amid a chill in Indo-Pak ties in the aftermath of the November 26 terror strikes.

During the two-hour-long meeting, Menon apprised He Yafei about the evidence showing that 10 heavily armed terrorists were sent from Karachi to Mumbai to carry out attacks and that the three-day-long operation was guided from Pakistan.

India has compiled a dossier of evidence, which includes confession of Ajmal Amir Kasab satellite phone intercepts and record of logbooks recovered from a ship by which ten heavily armed terrorists came from Karachi to Mumbai on November 26.

Menon is understood to have urged the Chinese minister that his country should use its influence with Pakistan to ensure that the perpetrators of the attacks are brought to justice and that such strikes do not take place in the future. He Yafei, who arrived here last evening, suggested that India and Pakistan should hold dialogue to resolve the issue.

“We had very good talks with the foreign secretary... We got a full briefing from our (Indian) colleagues. We would study them of course... We would see,” He Yafei told mediapersons after his meeting with Menon when asked about evidence.

He noted that India had already shared the evidence with Pakistan. — PTI

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Antony reviews security situation
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
Defence minister AK Antony today asked the service chiefs to make a presentation on the current security scenario and the threat perceptions. Antony also discussed the preparedness of the armed forces in tackling them, officials added.

The meeting was attended by National Security Adviser (NSA) MK Narayanan. Services chiefs Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major and Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, apart from Defence Secretary Vijay Singh participated in the discussions, officials said.

“The Defence Minister held a meeting with the NSA and the three chiefs to review the security situation,” Defence Ministry officials said. The meeting lasted one hour.

The meeting gains significance as India Monday handed over to Pakistan the evidence linking Pakistan-based militants to the Mumbai carnage and ratcheted up international pressure on Islamabad to eliminate terror infrastructure from its territory.

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Kasab’s remand ends today

Mumbai, January 5
With the remand of Mohammed Ajmal Amir Iman aka Kasabending tomorrow, the police is yet to decide on the nature of custody they will seek to interrogate the lone terrorist caught in the November 26 terror attacks in connection with pending cases against him.

“We are yet to decide whether to take police custody or judicial custody of Ajmal. Previously, we sought his police custody in three cases registered in different police stations in the city. Nine cases are still pending,” said a senior official.

The police will either seek police custody or judicial custody in the fourth case. As many as 12 cases have been registered against Ajmal in connection with the terror attacks.

Meanwhile, the lone terrorist caught alive during November 26 terror attacks, is not aware that Pakistan has disowned him, a crime branch official said.

“He asked us about the status of his letter on legal help. We told him that it was in the process. However, he is not aware of any developments in Pakistan. He does not know that Pakistan has disowned him stating that evidence was not sufficient to prove Ajmal’s nationality,” said investigating officer.

“We will tell him about the status of his legal help at an appropriate time. This is also a part of our investigation strategy,” the officer added. — PTI

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Storm in Assam Assembly over blasts
Oppn disrupts Governor’s address

Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 5
The winter session of the Assam Assembly began on a stormy note with all opposition parties joining hands to disrupt the address of the Governor, Shiv Charan Mathur, in protest against the ‘utter failure’ of the state government in controlling insurgency effectively.

As soon as the Governor began reading out his speech, Leader of the Opposition and president of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Chandra Mohan Patowary said the Governor would not be allowed to complete his speech given the state government‘s failure in containing insurgents, who were triggering blasts at regular intervals, killing innocent lives.

Members of all opposition parties, including the AGP, the BJP, the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), the CPI and the CPM then began shouting slogans against the state government, creating a chaotic situation in the House forcing the Governor to drastically cut short his speech. Some of the opposition members brought placards to the House to denounce the ‘helplessness’ of the state government in the face of belligerent insurgents.

The Governor’s speech that was laid down in the House spoke of several decisions taken by the government to improve the functioning of the state police in the wake of serial blasts triggered by insurgents.

The government has decided to set up a specialised body on the lines of the National Security Guard (NSG) to build a force with experts who can handle explosive devices, besides taking on the terrorists head on.

A research and analysis wing will be set up in the state to keep a tab on and analyse the activities and psychology of the insurgents in order to anticipate their actions and intentions. The Governor said CCTVs would be set up in some vantage points in Guwahati city and other important towns in the state that were being targeted by insurgents to carry out blasts and other subversive activities.

Meanwhile, the government today introduced the Assam Preventive Detention (Amendment) Bill, 2009 in the House in order to make the Assam Preventive Act 1980 more effective. The amendment is aimed at increasing the maximum period of preventive detention under the Act from existing six months to two years. It is aimed at adding more teeth to laws dealing with anti-state actors, including insurgents.

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UPA going soft on terror: BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The BJP has accused the UPA government of trying to dilute the nation’s fight against terror. BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar took strong exception to Home Minister P Chidambram’s latest assertion that Islamabad will have to pay a heavy price if another terrorist attack is repeated from Pakistani soil.

“What does he mean by this? It looks like the Centre is backing off from its commitment to wage a war on terror, especially after 26/11,” said Javadekar.

He further said that after 26/11 the government had begun on a good note by aggressively demanding extradition of the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai mayhem. “That’s why the BJP supported the government. But now they are again going soft on terror,” claimed Javadekar, adding that government should not rest till Pakistan hands over the terrorists to India. “The Pakistani plea that there is no extradition treaty between the two countries can be easily ignored,” he added.

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Left to put up a united front in Bihar
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 5
In a significant political development, the main Left parties in Bihar have reached a consensus to contest the ensuing Lok Sabha polls as allies, thereby giving shape to a third front.

The parties — CPI, CPM and CPI-ML (Liberation) — have also decided to work towards broader Left unity and launch joint stir on public issues. All these decisions were taken unanimously in a crucial meeting of the three parties held at Ajay Bhawan (head office of CPI) here on Sunday. It was presided over by the senior most leftist leader of Bihar and state secretary of CPM Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi. Another meeting would be held on January 12 to finalise seat adjustments and work out a foolproof alliance.

It is for the first time that the CPI-ML had decided to form an electoral alliance with the CPI and CPM. Earlier, it used to maintain an equal distance from both these parties. The CPI and CPM have always had an electoral alliance with Lalu Prasad’s RJD for the last two decades. In the 243 seat Bihar Legislative Assembly, CPI-ML has five MLAs, CPI three and CPM just one. The three Left parties also agreed to chalk out an action plan for launching a joint statewide campaign against terrorism, communalism and increasing interference of USA in the internal affairs of India.

In the meeting, the CPI was represented by its two state secretaries - Badri Narayan Lal and Jalaluddin Ansari. The CPI-ML (Liberation) state secretaries Nand Kishor Prasad and Dhirendra Jha were also present in the meeting besides other senior leaders of CPM like Vijay Kant Thakur, Sarvoday Sharma and Subodh Rai.

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Oppn parties team up to defeat Cong in AP
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 5
Inching towards a grand opposition alliance in Andhra Pradesh, ahead of Assembly elections, four parties — TDP, CPI, CPM and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) — today gave indications of forging a poll tie-up to defeat the ruling Congress.

Ending a prolonged suspense over its poll strategy, the TRS, which is in the forefront of a movement for separate Telangana state, made it amply clear that it would join hands with the TDP-Left combine to fight the forthcoming elections. “We are already carrying out joint agitation programmes on public issues. We will soon announce a joint political programmes,” the TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao told reporters here tonight.

His announcement, made in the presence of TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu and the state secretaries of CPM and CPI BV Raghavulu and A Narayana, respectively, assumes significance against the backdrop of reports that TRS is still in a dilemma over whether to align with actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi or the TDP-Left combine.

The Telangana party has been holding parleys with both TDP and Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party for some time now on possible electoral alliance.

On a day of rapid political developments, the leaders of TDP, CPI, CPM and TRS met the President Pratibha Patil, who is on a southern sojourn here, and submitted a joint memorandum focusing on the alleged ‘rampant corruption in the Congress regime’.

Their joint visit to the Rashtrapati Nilayam here gave enough indications of the political re-alignment ahead of the elections.

Interestingly, the left parties and TRS had fought the 2004 elections in alliance with the Congress, which was then in the opposition, and defeated the TDP government headed by Chandrababu Naidu.

After submitting the memorandum to the President, the opposition leaders drove to Chandrasekhar Rao’s residence and held parleys over joint agitation programmes. Rao hosted dinner for the opposition leaders.

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Cops must get better weapons: Kavita Karkare

Mumbai, January 5
Breaking her silence over the Mumbai carnage, Kavita Karkare, wife of slain Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare, today said police personnel have to be given better weapons and training to tackle such terror attacks.

She also referred to the Malegaon blast case which was being probed by her husband and said the family had felt humiliated when he was criticised by various political parties on the issue.

In separate interviews to television channels, Kavita said, “Police have to be given better weapons and training. They also must be paid well.”

She said, “I feel proud about my husband's sacrifice but we have paid hard price for it. It is very painful because I am 50 plus and at this age I really needed my husband”.

The slain officer’s wife further added, “It was very difficult for the children. My elder daughter who is married, has a family to help her but my younger daughter, who is in London School of Economics, and my 17-year-old son are finding it difficult to cope up. The first month, we were in so much grief, at night they cry, then get angry. But I allow them to show their emotions so that they can calm down.”

Though calm, Kavita's eyes do give away the emotional turmoil inside her as she rues her husband's decision to join the ATS. “I strongly regret that. When he took up the ATS job, I knew from his nature and uprightness that he will go in front and fight. It is a very risky job. That time, I used to tell him to apply for a UN job,” Kavita said.

On the Malegaon probe issue, Kavita said her husband “wasn't under pressure from what I understood...because according to the Bhagwad Gita if you are fighting evil, even if your gurus are not doing the right thing, you must continue your fight...He was not confused, his ideas, his ideology was fixed... even the investigations were going smoothly, he had finished his work. He was criticised by various political parties, by people from every side, it was humiliating and sorrowful for us... but I know my husband was right. He had proof, so he was comfortable. He was a very strong person”. — PTI

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Govt plans dose by NRI docs for ailing rural India
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

UK count: 40,000

Half of the population of the UK is treated by the Indian doctors settled in England, Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin today said. There are 40,000 Indian physicians in the UK’s national health service and Indians constitute more than one third of all physicians in the UK. “We are keen to do our best for India and willing to volunteer time and expertise to make India a robust nation. We will partner with AAPI from next year in the rural healthcare mission projects in India,” he added.

New Delhi, January 5
The government is looking outward to milk India’s undernourished health sector, currently facing a shortage of six-lakh doctors and two-lakh dental surgeons. Under its consideration is a proposal to permit overseas physicians to practice in India. Till now, such permission is not granted, given licensing hassles.

Minister for overseas Indian Affairs Vyalar Ravi today said the government was about to initiate talks with the Medical Council of India and Indian Medical Association (IMA) to finalise the modalities for helping medical specialists to practice in India.

Addressing the second Indo-US healthcare summit organised by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) in the capital today, the minister also admitted to the serious gaps in healthcare delivery, especially in rural India, where dearth of physicians was proving dear for human lives. Ravi said licensing issues should not stand in the way of India using the knowledge of the NRI doctors for country’s gains.

“Many physicians, who have succeeded abroad, want to return to India. We should use their expertise and not let licensing problems bother us. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keen on setting up a knowledge bank to draw upon the expertise of people of Indian origin.

The NRI physicians can play a key role in this knowledge transfer,” Ravi said, admitting to the government’s awareness of the reigning shortage of physicians and the fact that doctors working in villages don’t have the latest diagnostic and treatment procedures.

“By allowing overseas Indian doctors to practice in India, we will not just get the best brains but also committed workforce that prefers service to money,” Ravi said.

India, ironically, is at the top among countries from where physicians have been migrating out to the UK and the US. A recent Planning Commission report says the Indian doctors, who have migrated to developed countries, comprise about 5 per cent of their medical workforce. At present, more than 60,000 Indian doctors are working in the US, the UK, Canada and Australia alone.

On the other hand, back home the patient doctor ratio back home is worrisome - for every 10,000 Indians, there is only one doctor; the corresponding number is 166 for UK; 548 for the US; 249 for Australia and 209 for Canada.

The Overseas Affairs Ministry plans to work closely with AAPI and IMA in different countries to assist NRI physicians to set up practice in India or serve the rural poor. The Indian doctors living abroad can assist especially in the HIV/AIDS sector, prevention of suicide, cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes.

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Oil Officers’ Strike
Govt asks states to invoke NSA against protesters
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
Terming the proposed strike by the Oil Sector Officers Association (OSOA) from January 7 as illegal, the government on Monday asked the states to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) and the National Security Act (NSA) wherever required to deal with the striking oil officers and any emergent situation arising out of it.

As regards arresting the situation, which could hamper movement of petrol and gas Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs), had drawn up contingency plans, including putting the Territorial Army on the alert, to deal with the situation, said petroleum and natural gas secretary R S Pandey.

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Murli Deora, said he had invited the agitating leaders for talks, but they had refused to come. “I once again appeal them to sit across the table as the matter is being considered by the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P Chidambaram. They should wait for the outcome of the inter-ministerial group report before taking such drastic action,” he added.

P Chidambaram, who heads a newly-formed four-member group, asked by the Prime Minister to look into the wage demands of the oil PSU executives, is likely to give its recommendations on the issue in a month.

Pandey said a number of high courts in the country had declared the strike illegal and the OMCs had already moved the concerned courts to initiate contempt of court proceedings against those going on strike.

Addressing a press conference here, Pandey, flanked by heads of Indian Oil Corporation, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL), warned that strong action, including suspensions, would be taken against those going on strike. It is unfortunate that some elements are trying to provoke the situation and create a crisis. We are fully prepared to deal with any kind of crisis.

P Chidambaram has already agreed to meet the OSOA delegation on January 7 and the final report will be out within 30-day time. There is no reason for them to go on strike. We have already asked the states to take necessary action, including invoking of the ESMA and the NSA, he remarked.

Interestingly, Pandey said after the recent revision of the pay scales of the oil sector executives, their salaries were even much higher than those of the Supreme Court and high court Judges.

The Delhi High Court had stayed a strike in any of the three oil-marketing companies - the IOC, the BPCL and the HPCL - while a similar stay is being sought by gas marketer GAIL and the ONGC.

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Assamese sound designer makes mark with ‘Ghajini’
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 5
Amrit Pritam Dutta from Upper Assam’s Jorhat has made a mark as a sound designer in Amir Khan starrer block buster ‘Ghajini’, whose overwhelming success at the box office seems to have banished fears of a recession in Bollywood.

Dutta, who graduated from the Jyoti Chitrabon Film Studio here in 2000, went to Mumbai in 2002, with financial assistance given by his three friends.

Before getting the opportunity to work for ‘Ghajini’, Dutta had worked with several other big names in Bollywood as sound editor. He has so far worked in over 24 films, but ‘Ghajini’ has turned out to be the biggest landmark of his career.

“It was a wonderful experience working in ‘Ghajini’, which we had to complete within a very short span of time. I had to spend 25 days in the film studio at a stretch towards the end of the project to meet the deadline,” he said here today.

He remembered with gratitude the financial help provided by his three roommates to help him to go to Mumbai to build a career in the film world“I was feeling suffocated in Assam after graduating as a sound artiste from the film studio here. One day I disclosed by intention to go to Bollywood and explore avenues there before my three friends and requested them to help me out as I didn’t want to bother my parents. They agreed readily and provided me Rs 15, 000,” he said.

Now, after having carved niche for himself in Bollywood, the young sound designer looks forward to work in some worthy ventures in Assamese film industry too.

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SC notice to Centre on ceding Kachchativu to Sri Lanka
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 5
The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre on a petition by former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, seeking declaration as null and void on India ceding Kachchativu to Sri Lanka in 1974 without Parliament’s approval.

A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and comprising Justices P Sathasivam and Markandey Katju issued the notice.

Citing an apex court ruling on the Indo-Pak agreement on Berubary Union and exchange of enclaves that any ceding of Indian territory to another country must be endorsed by Parliament as mandated under Article 368, Jayalalithaa said no approval was obtained by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Nor any subsequent governments, including that of Dr Manmohan Singh, had done so.

The ceding of the islet had resulted in Indian fishermen getting killed or injured at the hands of Sri Lankan Navy personnel at the Palk Bay, she said.

While India was still honouring the transfer of the islet to Sri Lanka, the island nation had gone back on the 1987 accord between then President J Jayawardene and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and reversed, on a Supreme Court order, the merger of the northern and eastern provinces.

“If Sri Lanka could unilaterally revoke an international treaty like the India-Sri Lanka agreement with impunity, why can’t India retrieve the ceded islet and save the lives and livelihood of Tamil Nadu fishermen who are being wantonly shot dead or wounded by the Sri Lankan Navy for allegedly entering into their ill-defined territorial waters while fishing in the narrow Palk Bay,” the petitioner has questioned.

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Chavan holds talks with Rane

Mumbai, January 5
In a last-ditch effort to patch up, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan today held closed-door meeting with rebel Congress leader Narayan Rane who is set to announce his future plans tomorrow.

Rane drove to 'Sagar', Chavan's official residence this morning for the meeting. However, sources claimed that the meeting was held at the behest of Chavan.

Rane is keeping his cards close to his chest and even his aides did not have any inkling about the outcome of the meeting.

"Only he (Rane) can say if he is satisfied with the talks he held with Chavan.

But, according to us, he is in no mood to yield to the patch-up efforts of the Congress," sources close to the rebel leader told here.

"The AICC leadership asked the state leaders to initiate the patch-up effort in a bid to stop Rane from leaving the party," the sources said, adding that joining NCP was not an option for him.

"There is a huge response from supporters for setting up his own political outfit," the sources added.

Asked if there was a possibility for Rane to go back to Shiv Sena, they said, "99 per cent of the Shiv Sainiks want him back." — PTI

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Chavan hints at reservation for Marathas

Beed, January 5
Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan yesterday hinted that the state government had plans to give reservation to the Maratha community without disturbing the reservation for OBCs.

“But the process will take some time,” he said.

Chavan made this disclosure after inaugurating the Vikas Janjagran Yatra of the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee here yesterday.

MPCC president Manikrao Thakare, Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president Kripashankar Singh and former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh were also present on the occasion. — UNI

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Lalu to feature in animation film

Patna, January 5
After having dolls, firecrackers, colours and even toffee named after him, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad will now feature in an animation film made by a cartoonist from Bihar.

Pawan Kumar, who has made sketches on child rights for UNICEF and published over 7,000 cartoons in almost all national dailies, plans to make 16 animated film clips of two minutes duration each.

The films would depict the childhood and student life of Prasad, his buffalo rides, skipping school, joining student politics and the JP movement, and his political rise thereafter, Kumar told PTI here.

“I am confident that the character will surpass all cartoon characters in the world,” he claimed. — PTI

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Extradition Treaty
Congress flays Qureshi’s remarks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The Congress on Monday condemned Pakistan Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi’s statement that Pakistan could not hand over terrorists whose list had been given by India since no extradition treaty exited between the two countries.

Striking down the observation made by Qureshi, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said as per a convention signed by member-countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) three years ago, even if two countries did not have an extradition treaty they were duty-bound to hand over terrorists to root out terrorism. “This convention can be treated as an extradition treaty as Pakistan is also a signatory to the document,” he said.

The party in power at the Centre also raised serious doubts over Pakistan’s ‘neeti’ and ‘neeyat’ (policies and intentions), saying that Islamabad had handed over some accused to the US after 9/11, whereas, as far as India was concerned, it continued to adopt double standards.

He said the way Pakistan had conducted itself in the past one month proved that what happened in Mumbai was not just the handiwork of non-state actors but the establishment there was equally involved. “The Pakistan government is in the dock. If the establishment had no role in the Mumbai terror attacks, it should hand over the accused to India,” he added.

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Toe original line, RSS tells BJP
‘Include construction of Ram Mandir, scrapping of Article 370 in agenda’
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The RSS has asked the BJP to return to its original agenda unmindful of its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The suggestion came at a meeting between the BJP and Sangh leaders last week held at party’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani’s residence. BJP president Rajnath Singh and almost all the general secretaries of the party attended were present at the meeting.

Initially, the BJP had avoided commenting on the meeting with even Rajnath Singh dismissing it as a “routine interaction on national, international affairs”.

However, Rajnath’s detractors within the party leaked the information to the media.

They said the Sangh leaders assigned the position of pre-eminence to Advani, thereby clearing ambiguity as to who was the real boss in the BJP.

An embarrassed Advani was quick to deny yesterday any differences between him and Rajnath.

Today, BJP reacted formally for the first time to the controversy and party spokesman Prakash Javadekar said, “The meeting did take place but the media reports are a good example of innovation and experimentation…It’s the BJP that is leading the NDA and in realisation of this, the whole Sangh parivar is working at uniting all the forces against the UPA.”

However, the Sangh leaders, say sources, told the BJP bosses to return to their original agenda of constructing Ram Mandir on the site of the demolished Babri Masjid, scrapping Article 370 of the Constitution and enforcement of Uniform Civil Code.

The BJP leaders expressed apprehension that this could force their remaining partners in the NDA to distance themselves from it (BJP).

The Sangh leaders countered this by reminding the BJP that it grew from two to 182 in the Lok Sabha only on the strength of its original agenda and was reduced from 182 to 138 after abandoning the agenda, BJP sources added.

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Hooch toll climbs to 25; 3 critical

Kolkata, January 5
The toll in the hooch tragedy in the city’ dock area shot up to 25 today with 12 more people succumbing in hospitals while the condition of three remained critical, police said. “So far, 25 people have died. Condition of three other victims, still battling for life, is critical,'' Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detective) Javed Shamim said.

He said altogether six people, including three women, who were allegedly involved in brewing of illicit liquor, had been arrested in connection with the incident that took place in the Kidderpore area under the city's West Port police station. Meawhile, finance minister Asim Dasgupta said the state government served showcause notices on two excise officials and a police officer in connection with the incident.

A large number of labourers, who consumed poisonous illicit liquor last Saturday night, fell ill in Bibir halt, Hooghly basti and Sonai basti areas of Kidderpore. While three of them died on Saturday night, the rest succumbed yesterday and today, Shamim said.

The local people and police dismantled several dens of illicit liquor brewers while drive was still on against all such brewing centres. Meanwhile, the government ordered an investigation into the tragedy. The official concerned has been asked to submit a report in three days.

“We have raided the shops and collected liquor samples to assess the exact nature of poison. An investigation has started and hunt is on to track down the other culprits involved in the illegal business,” Shamim said.

Talking to mediapersons at the Secretariat, Dasgupta said both the excise department and the home department had been asked to find out the illicit liquor channel. — UNI

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AP to give pension to AIDS patients
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 5
Andhra Pradesh has become the first state in the country to provide pension to AIDS patients. A meeting of the state cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy here today, approved a proposal to pay a monthly pension of Rs 200 to the poor AIDS patients undergoing anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

“The pension scheme is applicable to all the families living Below Poverty Line (BPL) and there is no limit on the number of beneficiaries in a given family,” Information Minister A Ramanarayan Reddy told reporters.

According to official estimates, there are over 50,000 AIDS patients in the state and a majority of those receiving ART medicines are from BPL families. Orders have been issued to implement the pension scheme.

“The poor AIDS patients are unable to make a living in view of the social stigma, discrimination and dwindling incomes. The government has decided to provide them financial assistance,” the minister said. The pensions will be sanctioned by respective district collectors on the basis of recommendations by the local revenue officer. Health Minister S Chandrasekhar said the decision to provide pension was aimed at boosting the morale of AIDS patients who are facing social stigma.

Plans are on to provide “Sahara” identity cards to AIDS patients under the ART medication to help them access various benefits like concessions for travel and priority in housing schemes.

The state has taken a lead in anti-AIDS initiatives and as a result the HIV incidence has come down from 1.78 to 0.8 per cent. The government had recently launched AIDS awareness programme “Mee Nestam” (Your Friend) focusing on HIV/AIDS as a social problem.

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In times of recession, malls have gifts on offer

Bangalore, January 5
Come and make a purchase, for you may be the lucky one to win a designer car! This is the "way-out" technique mall operators in the IT city have adopted to beat the impact of global meltdown and dip in business. Their baskets of gifts also include gold coins, diamond necklaces and a workshop on Salsa, among others.

Shopping malls, which witnessed a dip in profits after the global recession, are now back to wooing "elusive" customers. Garuda Mall manager Vinod says, "We have been offering a gold coin every day to one of our lucky customers who fill in a form after the purchases." Also on offer are cars for the luckiest.

"We have seen a dip in footfalls by 20 to 30 per cent in the last six months," says Anjani Kumar, marketing manager, Sigma Mall, a premier shopping complex located on the busy Cunningham Road. The mall, which sees a visitor count of 8,000 to 11,000 every day and 15,000 to 20,000 on weekends and 20,000 to 25,000 on festival days, has been affected by recession, admits Kumar. The terror attacks only compounded their woes.

In Sigma, the IT shoppers comprised 60 per cent of the crowd. However, following the meltdown there has been a decline of 20 per cent in this customer segment. — PTI

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MoD to buy eight maritime aircraft from US
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
In an effort to bolster intelligence gathering capabilities of the Indian Navy, the Ministry of Defence has signed a deal to buy eight long maritime aircraft from US company Boeing.

The aircraft is armed with torpedoes, depth bombs and harpoon anti-ship missiles and is capable of anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare. All aimed at deterring terrorist and pirates.

It is expected to help in plugging the existing gaps in navy’s maritime reconnaissance capabilities, the aircraft has an operating range of over 600 nautical miles. It is based on the Boeing 737 commercial airliner platform

The deal will be for $2 billion and the company will supply eight of its Boeing P-8i long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

The government had approved the deal in some time in December. An end-user verification agreement between India and the US for these defence products were still pending, sources said.

The Navy will get its first aircraft under the deal by 2012-13 and the rest of the aircraft would be delivered in phases.

The Indian navy also IL-38sds and Dorniers for surveillance in the Indian ocean region.

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80 pc polling in Nandigram
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, January 5
Polling to the Nandigram and Sujapur Assembly seats in West Bengal passed off peacefully today with both the segments registering a heavy turnout of voters at 80 and 78 per cent, respectively.

About 10,000 security personnel of the BSF and CRPF, apart from the election staff, had been deputed to ensure smooth polling.

While the Nandigram seat fell vacant following the “forced” resignation of CPI MLA Md Elias on alleged corruption charges, polls were necessitated at Malda due to the death of Congress MLA Rubi Noor.

The bypolls were taken as a prestige issue both by the Left and the Congress-Trinamool alliance. While the CPI had fielded Paramananda Bharati against Trinamool’s Firoza Bibi from Nandigram, at Sujapur it was a contest between Congress’ Mausam Benajur Noor, the daughter of the late MLA, and CPI (M) candidate Hazi Ketabuddin.

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Maoists kill leader of anti-extremist outfit

Jamshedpur, January 5
A top leader of an anti-extremist outfit was today shot dead and two others were injured when suspected Maoists fired at them near his house at Musabani under Ghatsila sub-division of Jharkhand.

Following the incident, one person was lynched by the villagers at Telta village on the suspicion of being a Maoist, police said.

Dhanai Kisku, who was East Singhbhum district president of Jharkhand Vikash Morcha's (JVM) ST/SC cell, received five bullet shots on his stomach and face when three Maoists fired at him. The victim had come to a tea stall near his house at Copper Township this morning. Kisku succumbed to his injuries at Tata Main hospital here, Deputy Superintendent of police Madhusudan Bari said.The bodyguards provided to Kisku by the district administration were not with him when the incident took place, he said. A worker of the roadside tea shop and one of Kisku’s supporters also sustained bullet injury in the incident..

Kisku was on the hit list of Maoists ever since Nagarik Suraksha Samity (NSS), an anti-extremist organisation floated by the villagers with the tacit support of the district police a few years ago, spearheaded a movement against the ultras and lynched 11 Maoists in Ghatsila sub-division of East Singhhum district four years ago. — PTI

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Govt mulls intake of NCC cadets into IMA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
The government is considering a proposal to raise intake of cadets from the NCC into the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA) from 64 to 80, Lt Genl RK Karwal, Director-General, NCC, said here today. Alarmed over the shortfall of officers, the government is also likely to hike the intake of NCC ‘C’ certificate holders into the Officers Training Academy, Chennai, from 79 to 100, he added.

Addressing a news conference coinciding with the NCC Republic Day Camp, 2009, General Karwal said since 2007 the NCC was working on a programme to raise the enrolment of cadets, a majority of them would be girls. The strength of the NCC would go up from the present 13 lakh to 15 lakh in five years, he added.

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More Army institutes to be opened: Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
Defence Minister AK Antony today said the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) had plans to open more institutes in the country near future. Speaking after formally inaugurating the Army College of Medical Sciences at Delhi Cantt, the Defence Minister lauded the role being played by the AWES in the field of education.

Affiliated to Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, Delhi, and approved by the Medical Council of India, the college started functioning from the current academic session (2008-09). The annual intake of the college is 100 students and admission is purely on merit. Notably, ACMS and other affiliated colleges of the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) have no quota of any kind and no reservation on any basis.

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‘Kansa’ rules western Orissa during Dhanu Yatra festival

Bargarh (Orissa), January 5
A huge moustachoed figure wearing a crown and riding a caparisoned elephant, like someone straight out of the pages of mythology, emerges from the early morning mist on the NH-6 which runs on the edge of this district town. He waves at a loaded truck from Kolkata to stop.

As the puzzled driver cranes his neck out and looks at him in bewilderment, he shouts "How could you enter my kingdom without permission?" He is fined 1 lakh "swarna mudras" (gold coins) on the spot. As the driver recovers, the crowd asks him to pay Rs 100 and drive off. He obliges and speeds away without asking for a receipt. The man on the elephant marches on.

Though it looks a bit weird to others, for the people of Bargarh it is all fun. They are in the midst of the 11-day 'Dhanu Yatra' festival, one of the biggest in western Orissa, which began on Friday.

It is the time when 'King Kansa' virtually rules the town which transforms itself into a sprawling open-air theatre. The money collected through fines imposed goes into the Dhanu Yatra Mahotsav Committee Fund. The theme of the festival is based on 'Krishna leela' in which King Kansa invites his nephews, Krishna and Balaram, to witness a yatra with the intent of killing both. But Krishna turns the table on the tyrant king killing him and freeing the people of the 'kingdom' from his rule. But none of the 'subjects' mind the 'tyranny' they are made to go through during the festival.

The town is taken to be Mathura, the seat of Kansa, and the nearby flowing Jeera river, the Yamuna. The Ambapalli village, across the river, is considered 'Gopapura', where Krishna grows up. In fact, the organisers have demanded that the 11-day festival should be included in the Guinness Book of World Records as it can be considered the world's largest open-air theatre. — PTI

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Rs 2,500 crore research institute for Hyderabad
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 5
Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the country’s premier research organisation, would set up its second campus in Hyderabad with an investment of Rs 2,500 crore.

The Andhra Pradesh cabinet today approved allotment of 210 acres of land to TIFR at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) here.

TIFR director Prof Mustansir Barma had recently written to Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy about the proposal to establish the second campus in Hyderabad as part of plans for expansion of research, educational and related activities.

“The TIFR plans to invest Rs 2,500 crore over a period of 12 years,” Information Minister A Ramanarayan Reddy said at a post-cabinet media briefing.

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‘MP riots pre-planned’
Amrish Herdenia
Tribune News Service

Bhopal, January 5
In what has come as an embarrassment for the ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh, a probe by the MP Human Rights Commission into last year’s riots in Burhanpur has revealed that the unrest was instigated for polarising the electorate on communal lines with an eye on polls.

The riots that took place in Burhanpur, a town of weavers in Khandwa district of the state, on October 10-11 last had left 10 persons dead and over 100 were injured. Trouble began after a provocative song was played during a religious procession, which resulted in arson, and imposition of curfew.

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Randhawa new DG at Air Headquarters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 5
Air Marshal TS Randhawa took over as Director-General (Inspection and Safety) at Air Headquarters here today. He was earlier posted as the Commandant of the National Defence Academy, Pune.

The Air Marshal has over 3,000 hours of flying to his credit. He was the leader of the ‘Thunderbolts’, the IAF aerobatic team of the 1980s.

In the past he has been the chief operations officer at a frontline Air Force base and also commanded a premier flying station of the IAF. He was in charge of all fighter operations in South western Air Command from 2002-2004.

He is the commodore commandant of the Pune-based Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter squadron.

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Another Tata research institute for Hyderabad
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 5
Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), the country’s premier research organisation, would set up its second campus in Hyderabad with an investment of Rs 2,500 crore.

The Andhra Pradesh cabinet today approved allotment of 210 acres of land to TIFR at the Hyderabad Central University (HCU) here.

TIFR director Prof Mustansir Barma had recently written to Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy about the proposal to establish the second campus in Hyderabad as part of plans for expansion of research, educational and related activities.

“The TIFR plans to invest Rs 2,500 crore over a period of 12 years,” Information Minister A Ramanarayan Reddy said at a post-cabinet media briefing.

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WB govt slows down drive against polluting autos

Kolkata, January 5
Confronted by violent agitation by auto-rickshaw drivers and political pressure, the West Bengal government today said the drive against polluting two-stroke three-wheelers in the metropolis would be slowed down.

The government also decided to move the Calcutta High Court seeking extension of time by three to four months to implement its order on banning the two-stroke three-wheelers.

The application would be filed within a day or two and was likely to be taken up by the court later this week, junior standing counsel of the government Subrata Mukhopadhyay said.

Sen said about licenced 25,000 auto-rickshaws ran in the metropolis and stopping them without alternative arrangement, would lead to hardship for commuters. He said a scheme for conversion to four-stroke LPG autos from the current two- stroke ones would be ready within January 9.

Late last month, auto operators took to streets in Kolkata protesting the government’s move to act on the high court directive to clamp down on polluting auto-rickshaws. — PTI

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