SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Day 2: Govt talks tough; truckers say there’s no going back
New Delhi, January 6
Truckers today claimed the strike called by them to press for their demands was total even as the government again said that strong action would be taken against the agitating transporters if they failed to resume the supply of commodities.


A driver rests on top of a parked truck on the second day of a nationwide truck strike, in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. Baalu invites truckers for talks



A driver rests on top of a parked truck on the second day of a nationwide truck strike, in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. — Reuters

Batla House Encounter
Tell probe status in six weeks, NHRC to
Delhi police

New Delhi, January 6
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today asked the Delhi police to inform it within six weeks the status of the magisterial enquiry into the September 19 Batla House shootout. The issue pertaining to a magisterial probe into the infamous encounter was earlier referred to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.






EARLIER STORIES

Commander of the United Arab Emirates Navy, Rear Admiral Ahmed Mohammed al-Sabab al-Tenaji, inspects a guard of honour during his ceremonial reception amid dense fog in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Commander of the United Arab Emirates Navy, Rear Admiral Ahmed Mohammed al-Sabab al-Tenaji, inspects a guard of honour during his ceremonial reception amid dense fog in New Delhi on Tuesday. Ahmed is on a four-day official visit to India. — Reuters

Pune doc held for links with terror group
Mumbai, January 6
A Pune-based doctor has been arrested for his alleged association with terror group Indian Mujahideen (IM) and aiding them by obtaining two apartments for the outfit, a senior police official said today.

B’lore cos seek better security
Bangalore, January 6
Long queue of cars on the road going by the Windsor Manor Hotel in Bangalore, a well-known landmark of the city, is a telltale mark of the fear psychosis that has gripped the Karnataka capital.

PM’s global advisory council constituted
New Delhi, January 6
The government has constituted the Prime Minister’s global advisory council in pursuance of the announcement made by Manmohan Singh on the occasion of the Parvasi Bharatiya Divas in January last year.

NIA open to fine-tuning: Chidambaram
New Delhi, January 6
Hemmed in by states wanting some kind of role to play in the National Investigative Agency (NIA), or challenging its very establishment, Home Minister P. Chidambaram today said that he would be writing to the states to remove all doubts and convey its true sense and context.

All intelligence produced is actionable: PM
New Delhi, January 6
Snubbing officials, who have been claiming that intelligence was “not actionable”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said, “All intelligence produced is actionable, though it may not always be specific”. Complaints are often heard that the intelligence provided by the agencies is not actionable, the Prime Minister said it depended on the capability and ingenuity of those who assessed the information to further develop and converted the fragmentary pieces of intelligence into a complete whole and for those who had to act on it to possibly pursue each and every lead.

Six held for Guwahati blasts
Guwahati, January 6
Continuing their crack down on those behind the New Year’s day serial blasts here that claimed six lives, the police has so far arrested six persons, including ULFA men.

Oppn seeks deadline to seal Indo-Bangla border
Guwahati, January 6
The opposition in the Congress-ruled Assam today demanded a deadline to seal the Indo-Bangladesh border in the state to prevent cross-border movement of anti-social elements that are out to destabilise the country.

Kargil scam: SC seeks report from CBI
New Delhi, January 6
The Supreme Court today directed the CBI to submit its status report within four weeks in connection with the alleged bungling in the purchase of over Rs 2,000 crore arms and other necessary equipment for the Army during the Kargil war.

Shekhawat’s ‘reverse gear’ leaves BJP red-faced
New Delhi, January 6
The BJP is visibly embarrassed by the unexpected desire of former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to jump into the electoral fray once again in the forthcoming general elections and possibly contest from the Jaipur Lok Sabha seat.

Chavan woos Rane with Cabinet berth
Mumbai, January 6
Deft moves by Maharashtra’s new Chief Minister Ashok Chavan brought about a virtual last minute rapproachment with Shiv Sainik-turned-Congressman Narayan Rane who was all set to announce his breaking away from the party today.

Student gang-raped in Noida, 5 arrested
Noida, January 6
An MBA student of Noida’s prestigious institution and resident of Delhi was gang-raped in Sector 71 here on Monday. Five persons have been arrested in this connection.

XEN’s Killing
BSP leader surrenders
Lucknow, January 6
Former Aurraiya BSP district president Yogendra Dohrey alias Bhatia, an accused in the murder of PWD engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta today surrendered in a district court in Aurraiya.

Handcuffing of Editor
Editors Guild expresses shock

Chandigarh, January 6
The Editors Guild of India has expressed shock over the manner in which the Editor-in-Chief of the Karavali Ale Group, B V Seetaram, was handcuffed and paraded by the Karnataka police when he was being produced before a court in Udupi in connection with a defamation case.

Mulayam’s Assets
SC grills CBI for U-turn
New Delhi, January 6
The CBI today had a taste of its own drill, with the Supreme Court grilling it for its U-turn in the disproportionate assets case against former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family.

Teachers burn textbooks to fend off cold
Gaya, January 6
To escape the biting cold, teachers of a government school at Paraiya block in Bihar’s Gaya district set ablaze two bags of textbooks meant for free distribution among students of flood ravaged Kosi region, official sources said.





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Day 2: Govt talks tough; truckers say
there’s no going back

Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
Truckers today claimed the strike called by them to press for their demands was total even as the government again said that strong action would be taken against the agitating transporters if they failed to resume the supply of commodities.

As the strike by the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), seeking a reduction of diesel prices by Rs 10 per litre besides other demands, entered the second day, reports also suggested that the agitation could collapse over the next few days as it had failed to win support from most drivers. An indication to this has also come from the fact that Asia’s largest wholesale vegetables market, Azadpur Mandi, is witnessing arrival of around 95 trucks everyday as against the normal figure of 110-120.

Reports suggested that the prices of essentials such as vegetables had not gone up as yet, but could surge if the strike continues as there were signs of panic buying.

Government has threatened to invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act if the strike is not called off soon and cancel permits granted to truckers.

Transport ministry officials have asked the state governments to implement available laws to ensure that there was no shortage of commodities. It also asked the states to draw a plan to ensure regular supply of essential commodities to the general public.

However, the transporters are adamant. “We are on nationwide strike and it would continue until our demands are met,” AIMTC president Charan Singh Lohara said. Incidentally, the government yesterday fully exempted service tax from certain taxable services provided to a goods transport agency (GTA) by their sub-contractors. These services include cargo handling, storage and warehousing, packaging activities and supply of tangible goods.

Meanwhile, the Indian Foundation of Transport Research & Training on Tuesday claimed that the strike may fizzle out in the next few days since many truckers are not participating in it. SP Singh, a senior official at the road transport research organisation, said, “Traffic on the highways was normal yesterday night. It's business as usual.”

Department of road transport and highways secretary Brahm Dutt on Monday said most of the truckers' demands were ‘unreasonable.’ There has been no impact of transporters’ stir in Northeastern states, Kerala and Bihar, Dutt said, adding that Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and the northern provinces of Haryana and Punjab have experienced limit effects.

Baalu invites truckers for talks

Chennai: Union Shipping and Transport Minister TR Baalu today appealed to the truck owners to call off their indefinite strike on diesel price issue and come for talks with the Government.

He said at a time when the Centre was facing various issues in the wake of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, this was not the right time for the truckers to launch an agitation.

Observing that the prices of diesel could not be brought down overnight, he said some formalities had to be completed and it was for the Petroleum and Finance Ministries to deal with the issue.

He also referred to the losses incurred by the oil companies to the tune of Rs 1,05,000 crore over the last few years and said they had to be compensated for it. “It cannot be done in few days. It takes time,” he added. — UNI

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Batla House Encounter
Tell probe status in six weeks, NHRC to Delhi police
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today asked the Delhi police to inform it within six weeks the status of the magisterial enquiry into the September 19 Batla House shootout. The issue pertaining to a magisterial probe into the infamous encounter was earlier referred to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

ACP (Vigilance, Delhi) made this admission before the NHRC, which has been enquiring into the sequence of events that led to the Batla House shootout. The commission had taken cognisance of the case on September 23, following a complaint in this regard by NGO Real Cause. The NGO had approached the NHRC on September 21, raising doubts about the Delhi police version.

The commission has now asked the Delhi police to apprise it of what happened to the magisterial probe issue referred to the Lt Governor of Delhi. The commission wrote afresh to the Delhi police after the latter submitted an interim report on the issue on November 19. The commission has, however, asked for specific details and said the submitted report was sketchy.

The ACP in the interim report told the commission that an FIR is this case was registered at the police station, Jamia Nagar. He said the case was initially investigated by the local police and on October 1, it was transferred to the Crime Branch which was a specialised agency. The report further mentions that on the request of the Crime Branch, a team of the CSFL inspected the scene of occurrence on October 13. The ACP further communicated to the NHRC that “the issue regarding the magisterial probe in the events relating to the incident was referred to the Lt Governor, Delhi”.

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Pune doc held for links with terror group

Mumbai, January 6
A Pune-based doctor has been arrested for his alleged association with terror group Indian Mujahideen (IM) and aiding them by obtaining two apartments for the outfit, a senior police official said today.

Anwar Ali Bagwaan, a MBBS graduate who was practising in Hyderabad, also allegedly trained the IM members how to administer sedatives on persons they were planning to kidnap, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said here. “Bagwaan had taken two apartments in Pune on rent in his name and had given it to members of the Indian Mujahideen for their use,” he said.

The rent and cash deposit for the apartments were provided by IM founder Riyaz Bhatkal and his brother, both of whom are still absconding, he said. The doctor, who graduated from Pune’s B J Medical College in 2005, was allegedly working in the same city but fled to Hyderabad where he began a private practise after 20 members of the terror group were arrested in September last.

“We had called him for questioning from Hyderabad after which he was arrested yesterday,” Maria said.

Bagwaan was produced before a special Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) Court which remanded him to police custody till January 16, he said.

The police have alleged members of the IM were responsible for blasts in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore last year and other terror attacks since 2005.

The doctor had provided members of the outfit training on how to administer sedatives to immoblise people and kidnap them, the police said. — PTI

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B’lore cos seek better security
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 6
Long queue of cars on the road going by the Windsor Manor Hotel in Bangalore, a well-known landmark of the city, is a telltale mark of the fear psychosis that has gripped the Karnataka capital.

Ever since the terrorist strike in Mumbai’s Taj Hotel, the Windsor Manor has closed its gate to the visitors’ cars. Hotels, which are still allowing cars to be parked in their parking area, are doing so only after subjecting the vehicles to thorough checks.

Though, real terror incident has not taken place in Bangalore for a while, phone calls and e-mails have kept the city on tenterhooks. The IT sector in Bangalore, which has earned for the city the nickname of Silicon Valley of India, has been the major target area in these threats. Five major IT companies, including Infosys, Wipro, Accenture, had recently received e-mail threats.

Besides e-mails, threats were also issued to IT companies through phone calls. However, most of these threats later turned out to be hoaxes originating from various cyber cafes and PCOs in the city. Among the terror mails received by the IT companies, one mail is said to be “authentic”. The hoax calls, incidentally, had created problems in Bangalore on an earlier occasion also. Pranksters had a field day after serial bomb blasts rocked the city on July 25. They set off false alarms in schools, business establishments, including IT firms, police control room and even the royal palace in Mysore.

Yeddyurappa has been repeatedly asking the Centre for stationing of an NSG commando unit in Bangalore. It is believed that the presence of NSG unit in the city will go a long way in restoring the confidence of people engaged in business and industrial activities in the city and elsewhere in the state.

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PM’s global advisory council constituted
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
The government has constituted the Prime Minister’s global advisory council in pursuance of the announcement made by Manmohan Singh on the occasion of the Parvasi Bharatiya Divas in January last year.

The council is based on the idea that highly skilled overseas Indian community represents a vast untapped resource that can be harnessed as an input into national development processes in India. The council will be chaired by the Prime Minister. Its members will include External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, senior officials from the Government of India prominent overseas Indians. Some of the prominent people in the council include LN Mittal, Indra K Nooyi, Amartya Sen, Sam Pitroda and Shashi Tharoor.

The council will advise the government on how to facilitate a dynamic two-way engagement between stakeholders in India and the overseas Indian community. It will specifically focus on the promotion of business-to-business partnerships, creating appropriate institutional mechanisms that can leverage knowledge, skills and expertise possessed by the community for socio-economic development processes in the country.

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NIA open to fine-tuning: Chidambaram
Ashok Tuetja and Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
Hemmed in by states wanting some kind of role to play in the National Investigative Agency (NIA), or challenging its very establishment, Home Minister P. Chidambaram today said that he would be writing to the states to remove all doubts and convey its true sense and context.

Talking to reporters at the conclusion of the Chief Ministers’ Conference here, the Home Minister said he would write to the chief ministers to allay fears about the NIA and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. “If they are still not satisfied, I am prepared to re-visit the law. However, NIA will not be ruled out,” he clarified.

"These laws were cleared by MPs from all states," the Home Minister said. At the meeting, several chief ministers raised the issues that certain sections of the NAI were a total infringement upon the rights of the states.

Meanwhile, Chidambaram said intelligence sharing between states had improved, adding that there would be security audit for all religious, strategic and defence installations.

He said the flow of intelligence between states had started and many states would create a separate intelligence cadre.

Chidambaram emphasised that there would be a separate security plan for northeastern states while Maharashtra would have a separate industrial protection force. The nation was looking to thwart any attack before it was carried out.

He said the issue of having a separate coastal command would come up in the forthcoming meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security.

On handing over the control of the Delhi police to the Delhi government, the Home Minister said he had received a letter only today and was not in position to comment.

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All intelligence produced is actionable: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
Snubbing officials, who have been claiming that intelligence was “not actionable”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said, “All intelligence produced is actionable, though it may not always be specific”. Complaints are often heard that the intelligence provided by the agencies is not actionable, the Prime Minister said it depended on the capability and ingenuity of those who assessed the information to further develop and converted the fragmentary pieces of intelligence into a complete whole and for those who had to act on it to possibly pursue each and every lead.

He added that it was that we need better intelligence and perhaps, more importantly, sophisticated assessment and analysis of the intelligence that was available. Getting information early in time was vitally important and we needed to encourage the setting up of an elaborate information system at the village, the block and the district level to report on any and all untoward events and incidents. The information available from diverse sources thereafter needs to be properly channelised to reach a common point such as the recently revitalised Multi-Agency Centre in Delhi for collation and analysis.

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Six held for Guwahati blasts

Guwahati, January 6
Continuing their crack down on those behind the New Year’s day serial blasts here that claimed six lives, the police has so far arrested six persons, including ULFA men.

Sanjib Talukdar, Imran Choudhury, Hemanta Phukan, Ravinder Singh, Tarun Kalita and Ganesh Kumar have been arrested for their role in the blasts that also injured 50.

Talukdar said he had been acting as a carrier for ULFA for the past six months and had handed over the explosives to Deka at Adabari bus depot here.

He was arrested from Rangiya, near here, on Saturday and remanded to police custody by Kamrup chief judicial magistrate yesterday. — PTI

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Oppn seeks deadline to seal Indo-Bangla border
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 6
The opposition in the Congress-ruled Assam today demanded a deadline to seal the Indo-Bangladesh border in the state to prevent cross-border movement of anti-social elements that are out to destabilise the country.

The Assembly today witnessed a heated exchange between the members of the treasury bench and the Opposition, particularly from the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), after the government failed to give answer to the question about the deadline for completion of the border fencing.

The opposition lambasted the government for not setting up adequate number of river police posts and facilitate floating border outposts along the border. Leader of the Opposition and AGP president Chandra Mohan Partway also demanded a detail statement about the border fencing done so far.

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram have also commented during their visit to the region after January 1 serial blasts in Guwahati that the porous border with Bangladesh has been a problem in tackling terror,” he said.

Leader of the Assam United Democratic Front Badaruddin Ajmal said: “The government is committed as per the clauses of the Assam Accord of 1985 to fence the Indo-Bangladesh border. If needed, an all-party delegation should be sent to New Delhi to apprise the Prime Minister of the situation.” Earlier, Assam Accord Implementation Minister Bhumidhar Barman informed the House that border-fencing work had run into the wall because of dispute over land between the two countries.

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Kargil scam: SC seeks report from CBI

New Delhi, January 6
The Supreme Court today directed the CBI to submit its status report within four weeks in connection with the alleged bungling in the purchase of over Rs 2,000 crore arms and other necessary equipment for the Army during the Kargil war. A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam issued the directions when D K Garg, counsel for the petitioner, submitted before the court that the CBI was deliberately dragging its feet and during last seven years no progress has been made in the investigation.

The scandal came to light when Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its report suspected the involvement of senior defence and Army officers in it. A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court by one K G Dhananjay demanding a CBI investigation into the scam.

More than six senior officers are suspected to be involved in the scandal. — UNI

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Shekhawat’s ‘reverse gear’ leaves BJP red-faced
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 6
The BJP is visibly embarrassed by the unexpected desire of former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat to jump into the electoral fray once again in the forthcoming general elections and possibly contest from the Jaipur Lok Sabha seat.

Shekhawat had hinted yesterday in Kota that he was seriously considering contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. He had said that there was enormous pressure on him from the people for contesting the polls.

The former Vice-President may make history of sorts if he did that. So far no one who has held the office of the President or Vice-President has returned to the rough and tumble of the parliamentary or the Assembly polls. Shekhawat also mentioned other options saying, “If I opted for not contesting the Lok Sabha polls then I will launch countrywide campaign against corruption,” he said.

His reference to corruption, too, had a hidden message for his party.

The former state Chief Minister followed up his remark by saying “This reflected some lacunae in selection of the candidates.”

The former Vice-President’s desire to re-enter electoral arena has set tongues wagging in the BJP circles here. There are some in the party who think this is an attempt to have one other contender for the post of the Prime Minister besides LK Advani in case BJP/NDA is in a position to form the next government. They cite the fact that Shekhawat is known for his acceptability even among his political opponents. Publicly the BJP leaders avoided any comment on this except saying that he was a revered leader. But privately they admitted that this has come at the most inappropriate time for the party.

Already the party is struggling to dispel the controversy over the theft of Rs 2.6 crore cash from a safe vault in the party office. Then the RSS/BJP meeting held at Advani’s residence last week also developed into a major controversy with the media-reporting clash of personality between Advani and BJP president Rajnth Singh.

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Chavan woos Rane with Cabinet berth
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 6
Deft moves by Maharashtra’s new Chief Minister Ashok Chavan brought about a virtual last minute rapproachment with Shiv Sainik-turned-Congressman Narayan Rane who was all set to announce his breaking away from the party today.

Rane is likely to meet party president Sonia Gandhi in the next few days. He later told a Marathi news channel that Chavan had invited him to join the Cabinet. The Chief Minister himself remained tight lipped as to the one-to-one meeting the two had on Monday.

Party sources said Chavan had wooed back Rane and persuaded him not to quit. Apart from berth in the Cabinet and state government bodies for Rane and his supporters, the sulking leader has been promised a greater say in the distribution of ticket in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, according to sources.

Rane, who has been suspended from the party for hitting out at Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is expected to make amends. However, Rane even sounded conciliatory regarding his relationship with former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh. “I have nothing personal against anyone. I had only spoken in the interests of Maharashtra,” Rane maintained.

With all mainstream parties facing a tough battle in the coming elections following the Mumbai terror attacks and the economic downturn, no one wants to upset their political calculations by taking in Rane. And building his own political party from scratch even in his backyard of Konkan would have been a tough task for Rane despite his famed organisational skills.

In the event, Rane seems to have decided to be satisfied with whatever is being dished out by the Congress party. Sources here say the party may withdraw its suspension of Rane after his meeting with Sonia.

Meanwhile, Rane’s foes within the Congress party have also decided not to needle him, at least for the moment. Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief.

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Student gang-raped in Noida, 5 arrested
Tribune News Service

Noida, January 6
An MBA student of Noida’s prestigious institution and resident of Delhi was gang-raped in Sector 71 here on Monday. Five persons have been arrested in this connection.

Superintendent of Police (City) AK Tripathi said: “One Amit Pawar, an MBA student, had lodged a complaint on Monday night stating that while he was going to Delhi from Great India Place with his friend in car, some youths on motorcycles intercepted them. When they stopped the car, they overpowered them. One of them took control of the car’s steering and took them to Sector 71 where they gang-raped the victim.”

“The police launched a manhunt and arrested five persons from Ghari Chowkandi village. They have been identified as Pushpender, Srikant, Sanjay, Sudhir and Gautam. Five others are absconding. Two motorcycles have been recovered from them. They confessed to have committed the rape. The complainant, too, has identified the accused. The girl has been sent for medical examination and medical report is awaited,” said Tripathi.

Sanjay, one of the accused, confessed before the media that he and the other accused had raped the girl. He said they assaulted the boy and raped the girl one by one. The accused claimed that in all 10 boys had raped the victim.

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XEN’s Killing
BSP leader surrenders
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 6
Former Aurraiya BSP district president Yogendra Dohrey alias Bhatia, an accused in the murder of PWD engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta today surrendered in a district court in Aurraiya.

Dohrey was absconding after the murder of Gupta came to light. The state police had announced a reward of Rs 2,500 on Dohrey’s head on January 3.

He had been removed from his post as district president when BSP supremo Mayawati dissolved the local party unit a day after the murder.

Another accused in the murder, Hoshiyar Singh, the then SHO, Dibiapur police station, is still absconding. He also carries a reward of Rs 2,500 on his head.

The police have also interrogated the brother-in-law of BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari in Ghaziabad to find out the whereabouts of their sister Vibha Tiwari, who is the wife of the accused MLA. Wanted in the Gupta murder case, Vibha has gone underground after her husband’s arrest on the evening of December 24.

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Handcuffing of Editor
Editors Guild expresses shock
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
The Editors Guild of India has expressed shock over the manner in which the Editor-in-Chief of the Karavali Ale Group, B V Seetaram, was handcuffed and paraded by the Karnataka police when he was being produced before a court in Udupi in connection with a defamation case.

The Guild has also expressed surprise at the way several police vehicles chased Seetaram's car in Karkala at night and surrounded him, especially when he had been available in his Mangalore office, according to a statement issued here today.

Seetaram has conveyed to the Guild that he apprehended serious threat to his life inside jail and has demanded protection. The Press Council of India has already sought a report from the Karnataka government on the threats faced by Seetaram. The Guild has reiterated that it is the duty of the Karnataka police to ensure that he comes to no harm.

Regarding criminal defamation cases against the media, the Guild has always held that most of the time the provision is misused by influential persons and the police. It has reiterated that the provisions on criminal defamation have to be repealed as they have become instruments of harassment of journalists.

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Mulayam’s Assets
SC grills CBI for U-turn
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 6
The CBI today had a taste of its own drill, with the Supreme Court grilling it for its U-turn in the disproportionate assets case against former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family.

The apex court had on March 1, 2007, asked the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the alleged ill-gotten wealth of Mulayam Singh and his family members and submit a report to the Centre.

The CBI, however, filed an application on October 26, 2007, seeking modification of the court order to enable it to submit the investigation report directly to the apex court rather than the Centre. But the bureau took a U-turn in November last year, pleading for withdrawal of the 2007 application as it had no problem submitting the inquiry report to the Centre.

The petitioner opposed the CBI’s change of stand, stating it had been brought about by the new political equation at the Centre in the wake of Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party bailing out the UPA government in the July 22 confidence vote in the Lok Sabha.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, counsel for the CBI, said the investigation was at a different stage now as Mulayam and his family members had provided their income tax returns and other voluminous documents. The next hearing will take place on January 27.

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Teachers burn textbooks to fend off cold

Gaya, January 6
To escape the biting cold, teachers of a government school at Paraiya block in Bihar’s Gaya district set ablaze two bags of textbooks meant for free distribution among students of flood ravaged Kosi region, official sources said.

According to reports reaching the headquarters, the teachers sent back the students home on Saturday on the plea of a raging cold wave and later set the books on fire to keep themselves warm as the temperature dipped to 6°C.

An FIR against principal of the middle school Jai Prakash Narayan and 16 other teachers had been lodged with the local police on the complaint of Shyam Deo Gupta, sarpanch of Ajmatganj panchayat, the police said. — PTI

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