SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Living in huts, they’re flat owners in DDA record
Poor Rajasthan residents unassuming victims of Capital scandal
Nawalgarh (Jaipur), January 11
The dreary eyes of impoverished Rameshawar, living in a thatched hut in Togadkalan vllage of Jhunjhunun district, do not sparkle with joy when he’s told that he has become the owner of a flat allotted by the Delhi Development Authority through draw of lots in December this year.

Clamour grows to scrap draw
New Delhi, January 11
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) found itself in cleft stick today. It faced a volley of accusations by not only the successful allottees but also the unsuccessful allottees to the lottery draw for houses.

Illegal Immigration
PC hints at stricter steps to check Bangladeshis
New Delhi, January 11
Indicating stricter measures to check illegal immigration from Bangladesh, Home Minister P Chidambaram has said nationals from that country have “no business” to be in India without permission and that there is “no reason” why a large number of visas are being issued to them every month.



EARLIER STORIES



People look at derailed wagons of a goods train near Habeebganj railway station in Bhopal
OFF THE TRACK:
People look at derailed wagons of a goods train near Habeebganj railway station in Bhopal on Sunday. — PTI

A kite-flying enthusiast flies a kite on the second day of the 19th International Kite festival in Ahmedabad
A kite-flying enthusiast flies a kite on the second day of the 19th International Kite festival in Ahmedabad on Sunday. Over 160 kite-flying enthusiasts from 36 countries are competing in the five-day-long festival. — Reuters

No special facilities for Raju brothers in jail
Hyderabad, January 11
For high-profile, globe-trotting business tycoon B Ramalinga Raju, descent into the world of crime has been swift as he spent his first night in jail as an ordinary prisoner. Raju, the disgraced founder-chairman of Satyam Computers, had to share his barrack at the Chanchalguda central jail along with 26 other prisoners.

Reddy not averse to CBI probe
Hyderabad, January 11
Asserting that the government was not averse to a CBI probe into the Satyam scandal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy today denied the opposition charge of irregularities in awarding contracts to companies owned by family members of disgraced former chairman of the IT Company B Ramalinga Raju.

Lok Sabha Elections
It could be Vajpayee vs Dutts in Lucknow
Lucknow, January 11
The Bhartiya Janata Party today declared that the 84-year-old former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee might spring up a surprise by deciding to contest the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat for the record sixth time. Interestingly, the Samajwadi Party has already decided to field Sanjay Dutt or his wife Manyata from the UP capital.

Shotgun keen to contest from Patna Sahib
Patna, January 11
The two constituents of NDA in Bihar-the BJP and the JD(U) may not have resolved the issue of seat sharing in the coming Lok Sabha elections as yet, but Cine Actor and Senior BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha has suo-motu staked his claim to contest the next Lok Sabha polls from the Patna Sahib constituency.

SP releases CD on ‘fund raising’ for Maya’s birthday
New Delhi, January 11
Stepping up ante against UP Chief Minister Mayawati, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Amar Singh today released CDs of a sting, depicting how BSP leaders had been “extorting money” from various government officials for her birthday celebrations.

SP to decide on alliance at Jan 14 meet
New Delhi, January 11
Stating that the Samajwadi Party was still “clueless” about whether the Congress considered it as a friend or foe, party general secretaty Amar Singh today said it was only up to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to salvage the alliance.

Assam’s bid to dodge fury of Brahmaputra
Guwahati, January 11
Majuli, the famed river island also known for the havoc that Brahmaputra almost annually wreaks there, is in for a flood management plan by the Assam government. The state regime has turned the clock back regarding construction of government buildings there and has adopted the traditional tribal model of ‘chang ghar’ (house constructed on raised platform) with modification for construction of new structures in the river island.

Naxals make money from opium trade
New Delhi, January 11
Ever wondered how the naxals get the money to procure latest arms and sustain their growing cadre? The answer lies in the obscure world of illegal cultivation of narcotic substances.

Terror major challenge for Assam: Cong
Guwahati, January 11
The ruling Congress in Assam has termed terrorism the biggest challenge before the state and vowed to maintain its “zero tolerance” principle against the terror while focusing on development activities.

Power Pangs
In Bhopal, you’ll pay for pilferage by your neighbour
Bhopal, January 11
“Discriminatory” is the label that has been stuck by the NGOs and several other organisations on a scheme subjecting “dishonest” areas of the city to erratic and unscheduled power cuts, while maintaining round-the-clock supply in “honest areas”.

Beware, ‘secure’ websites may be phished
New Delhi, January 11
Here's some news that may not be music to the ears - information that netizens share even through secure websites and email servers are susceptible to hacking.

Dowry Death
SC: No need to prove any agreement
New Delhi, January 11
The Supreme Court has held that in case of dowry death, prosecution need not to prove that there was an agreement for dowry between the families of the bride and the bridegroom as making such a demand is an offence.

Dawood’s sister can’t be given passport: Centre to HC
New Delhi, January 11
The Centre has justified its move to deny a passport to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's sister, Haseena Ibrahim Parker, by claiming before the Delhi High Court that she cannot be allowed to go abroad in view of extortion charges against her.

Amar Singh has lost his mental balance: BSP
Lucknow, January 11
Stating that Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh has lost his mental balance, Bahujan Samaj Party today reacted very strongly to the extortion charges levelled against the party by the SP leader.

Bollywood finds space in NCERT textbooks
New Delhi, January 11
With Bollywood going places, even the academics is not immune to its charms with the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) using it from this session to teach political science in a more lively manner.

24 militants surrender
Agartala, January 11
As many as 24 ultras of two outlawed outfits in Tripura have fled from their base camps in Bangladesh and surrendered before security forces in the west Tripura district, the police said today.

Two suspended for Tricolour’s auction
Jaipur, January 11
Two State Agro Marketing Board, Rajasthan, employees have been placed under suspension in connection with the auction of the National Flag, along with scrap and waste material, in the board’s Bharatpur office.

Varun Gandhi’s convoy hits bikers
Lucknow, January 11
BJP leader Varun Gandhi's convoy hit two persons in Pilibhit today, leaving one of them critically injured. Gandhi's Scorpio hit a motorbike near Khamariyapatti, seriously injuring 55-year-old Fauja Singh.

Karzai in Delhi
New Delhi, January 11
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai arrived here today in the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks with discussion on international terrorism on top of the agenda.





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Living in huts, they’re flat owners in DDA record
Poor Rajasthan residents unassuming victims of Capital scandal

Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Allottee found dead

Hira Singh of Bayana, one of the allottees, was found dead under mysterious condition outside his house last night even as the Delhi police is learnt to have nabbed key accused Laxmi Narayan Meena from Jhunjhunun last night. He has reportedly told the police he filled forms of about 300 persons.

Hira Singh had a wound on his head. His wife found his body when she went out looking for him.

Nawalgarh (Jaipur), January 11
The dreary eyes of impoverished Rameshawar, living in a thatched hut in Togadkalan vllage of Jhunjhunun district, do not sparkle with joy when he’s told that he has become the owner of a flat allotted by the Delhi Development Authority through draw of lots in December this year.

Instead, he narrows his sunken eyes more and says worriedly with folded hands, “But I don’t have a flat. I never applied for it. In fact, if I had some money, I wouldn’t be living in these most poor conditions under a thatched roof and in a boundary wall of dry tree branches.

Rameshawar is one of the about 300 such bewildered state residents whose name figures in the long list of allotters of DDA flats in New Delhi. The trouble is that they do not know who applied on their name and none of them was informed that they got a flat in draw of lots. Some smart agents had impersonated them to get the flats meant for reserved categories in the national capital.

They are the unassuming faces of the shocking scandal involving the allotment of about 5,000 flats in Delhi. Over 5.60 lakh persons had applied for the 500 flats. Soon after the draw on December 19, the Delhi police initiated an inquiry into the allotment which was state managed and where allegedly persons had applied in the name of fake persons or using their addresses and identity.

Ramehswar could only recall a man called Laxmi Narayan Meena who had come last year and taken their signatures, thumb impressions on a form saying they would get a house, “We thought it was some state policy for poor people like us. He never returned and we don’t know we were allotters of the flats.”

Then there is the interesting account of seven persons of Byaana and Udaipur Vati villages. The flat allotment papers said Hari Singh, Dharam Singh and Roshanlal and four others had the same mobile number, which actually did not belong to any of them. Police officials were surprised that how seven applicants with one mobile number passed the scrutiny before the draw of lots.

Hari Singh of Udaipur Vati was both bemused and scared at the news, “If I had Rs 1.50 lakh to apply for the flat, I would be living under below poverty line with few clothes on to bat the chilling winter. I wonder if we would be booked by the police now as only poor are made scapegoats” he said.

Besides seven relatives of Rameshawar, there were over 30 persons in Bayana, Koliapara, Koliyan and other villages in Bharatpur districts who were shocked at their names figuring in the list of allottees. In Jhunjhunun district, there were another 15 persons in Singhana, Ajaari Kala, Udaipur Vati and Manaksas villages.

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Clamour grows to scrap draw

New Delhi, January 11
The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) found itself in cleft stick today. It faced a volley of accusations by not only the successful allottees but also the unsuccessful allottees to the lottery draw for houses.

Rallying under a banner of ‘DDA Housing Scheme 2008 Allottees Association’ the successful allottees pressed for early possession of their flats and justice to the genuine candidates. They are also going to stage a protest at DDA headquarters tomorrow.

It assumes significance in view of the DDA mulling further delay in allowing possession of the flats. The DDA is in thick of controversy raging over irregularities. Union Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Makan's reportedly stated that the whole draw might be scrapped if large-scale irregularities were found. The media had blown the whistle a few days ago prompting arrest and raid of an alleged scamster from Rajasthan.

The association members argued they had applied through genuine papers. They appealed to that the Union Urban Development Ministry not to ‘penalise’ them for the acts of others who may have indulged in fraudulent activities. On the other hand, ‘DDA Flat Applicants Association’, a body representing the unsuccessful candidates, reiterated demand for immediate cancellation of the draw and winding up of the DDA, which they alleged has become ‘synonymous to corruption’.

The miffed applicants have also demanded that the housing agency should return the interest of the money it had collected by selling lakhs of application forms under the scheme. The DDA had collected Rs 1.5 lakh along with each application form which was refundable. Over six lakh people had applied for about 5,000 flats, for which a draw of lots was conducted on December 16. — PTI

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Illegal Immigration
PC hints at stricter steps to check Bangladeshis

New Delhi, January 11
Indicating stricter measures to check illegal immigration from Bangladesh, Home Minister P Chidambaram has said nationals from that country have “no business” to be in India without permission and that there is “no reason” why a large number of visas are being issued to them every month.

Chidambaram, who has been taking a close look at the security set up in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, voiced concern over the “very ineffective” monitoring system to check whether a Bangladeshi coming to India has returned to his country after expiry of his visa or stayed on.

Noting that illegal immigration was causing “unexpected” demographic changes in Assam and West Bengal, he said, “I don’t regard a Bangladeshi as a Muslim or a non-Muslim. He is a Bangladeshi. He has no business to come to India unless he has a visa. He has no business to live here unless he has a residence permit.”

“He has no business to work here unless he has a work permit. He is a Bangladeshi. His religion is completely irrelevant,” he said.

To a question on steps to end illegal immigration, the Home Minister said, “I am now looking into what is happening on our borders, passport control points...I think we issue a very large number of visas to Bangladeshis every month. “There is no reason to issue so many visas. And there is very ineffective monitoring system (to check) whether the guy has gone back to Bangladesh or remained here,” Chidambaram said. — PTI

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No special facilities for Raju brothers in jail
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 11
For high-profile, globe-trotting business tycoon B Ramalinga Raju, descent into the world of crime has been swift as he spent his first night in jail as an ordinary prisoner.

Raju, the disgraced founder-chairman of Satyam Computers, had to share his barrack at the Chanchalguda central jail along with 26 other prisoners.

Raju and his brother - former managing director of Satyam - Rama Raju were sent to jail yesterday after a local court remanded them to a two-week judicial custody. They are the prime accused in the Rs 7,100-crore fraud in the country’s fourth largest IT company.

“They will be treated like any other remand prisoner. There is no question of special facilities for them,” a senior jail official said. Raju, who resigned as chairman of Satyam Computers on January 7 after admitting to fudging figures and inflating profits of the software giant, had surrendered before Andhra Pradesh director-general of police SSP Yadav on January 9.

Raju and his brother were arrested by the CID and cases were filed against them for cheating, forgery, falsification of documents and criminal breach of trust.

The fallen IT icon slept on the floor after refusing jail dinner. No homemade food would be allowed for them and only jail food will be served thrice a day, officials said.

The Rajus are likely to be shifted to another barrack on Monday after the court decides on their bail petition. However, they will be segregated from those accused in violent offences like murders, dacoity and robberies.

Based on the request of Ramalinga Raju’s lawyer S Bharat Kumar, the sixth metropolitan magistrate had yesterday directed the jail authorities to closely monitor his health. “His blood pressure is fluctuating and he needs medical treatment,” the lawyer said.

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Reddy not averse to CBI probe

Hyderabad, January 11
Asserting that the government was not averse to a CBI probe into the Satyam scandal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy today denied the opposition charge of irregularities in awarding contracts to companies owned by family members of disgraced former chairman of the IT Company B Ramalinga Raju.

He said nothing should prevent the CBI from inquiring into the scandal. As the biggest fraud in the country’s corporate history has raised doubts over the projects being implemented by the Maytas Infra, owned by Raju’s family members, the Chief Minister assured that the government would review all projects handed over to the company. — TNS

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Lok Sabha Elections
It could be Vajpayee vs Dutts in Lucknow
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 11
The Bhartiya Janata Party today declared that the 84-year-old former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee might spring up a surprise by deciding to contest the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat for the record sixth time. Interestingly, the Samajwadi Party has already decided to field Sanjay Dutt or his wife Manyata from the UP capital.

“His health is improving and we are praying that he decides to contest the Lucknow seat. Don't be surprised if he enters the political fray at the last moment,” said a senior BJP leader, Lalji Tandon, here today. Talking to the mediapersons, Tondon, ho is also a close aide of the former prime minister, confided that the final decision regarding Vajpayee’s successor had not been taken as yet. Describing Vajpayee as a father figure for the party, Tandon said, in case he did not wish to contest the forthcoming polls, he would surely decide his successor.

Criticising both the BSP and SP for their choice of candidates from Lucknow, Akhilesh Das and Sunjay Dutt, respectively, Tandon said it clearly proves political bankruptcy of opposition parties.

“One party's choice is a convicted criminal, while the other has selected an economic criminal. It appears that the prestigious Lucknow election would be fought in the shadows of AK-47,” said Tondon.

According to the BJP leader, the SP and the BSP were intentionally putting up notorious candidates to divert the people’s attention from key issues like development.

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Shotgun keen to contest from Patna Sahib
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 11
The two constituents of NDA in Bihar-the BJP and the JD(U) may not have resolved the issue of seat sharing in the coming Lok Sabha elections as yet, but Cine Actor and Senior BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha has suo-motu staked his claim to contest the next Lok Sabha polls from the Patna Sahib constituency.

The former Union Minister not only declared his candidature publicly at a meeting organised by his supporters at Sampatchak, on the outskirts of Patna, on Saturday, but also claimed full support of top party leaders like L.K.Advani and Rajnath Singh for it.

“The party leadership had given me the freedom to select any constituency in Delhi, Maharashtra or Bihar. But after a serious thought on this issue, I decided to contest from Patna Sahib as I was born and educated in Patna and had been a member of the Rajya Sabha twice from Bihar. It is because of my love for my motherland, people started calling me ‘Bihari Babu’,” Shotgun told the audience at the meeting.

Making his stand further clear, he said “ I have already conveyed my decision to the party leadership that my first preference is Patna, second preference is Patna and the last preference is also Patna”. He said that the party would soon announce his candidature formally.

Visibly elated over the public response to his announcement and thunderous applause to his film-like dialogue delivery, Shatru said he had come to Sapatchak on an emotional visit but next time he would come to meet the people there as an official candidate of the BJP. ‘Patna Saheb’ is a new Lok Sabha constituency carved out of old Patna seat after the delimitation process. The BJP voters are predominant here and therefore it is being considered as one of the safest Lok Sabha seats for the NDA, particularly the BJP.

Dr CP Thakur had won the seat a couple of times but he lost the last Lok Sabha polls from here to RJD’s Ramkripal Yadav. Since Thakur has already been elected to the Rajya Sabha recently, Shatrughan Sinha has been making efforts to be declared the BJP nominee from here.

However, there are some other serious contenders for the seat and they will leave no stone unturned to get the party symbol from this safe seat. They are BJP Spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad and R.K.Sinha, a senior party functionary and close confidante of Murli Manohar Joshi.

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SP releases CD on ‘fund raising’ for Maya’s birthday

New Delhi, January 11
Stepping up ante against UP Chief Minister Mayawati, Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Amar Singh today released CDs of a sting, depicting how BSP leaders had been “extorting money” from various government officials for her birthday celebrations.

The CD contained alleged tele-conversations of various BSP leaders admitting getting money from the BSP national party office to convert it into white money through drafts of small denomination in the name of Mayawati, he alleged.

In letters to Chief Election Commissioner Gopalswamy, President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the SP leader demanded that stringent action be taken against Mayawati and her party, the BSP, be derecognised.

“Can a recognised national party extort money from the common public and government officials in the name of birthday celebrations of its party president,” he said, while releasing copies of the letter at a press conference here.

“The modus operandi of the entire scam as exposed by the sting is that all BSP MLAs, MPs and other functionaries are ordered to collect funds on the occasion of Mayawati’s birthday on January 15 from government officials as well as common public,” he said.

Adding he said: “These funds are collected in cash and then sent to the party’s national office. Then the money is distributed among party leaders who are asked to make drafts in the name of Mayawati.” — UNI

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SP to decide on alliance at Jan 14 meet

New Delhi, January 11
Stating that the Samajwadi Party was still “clueless” about whether the Congress considered it as a friend or foe, party general secretaty Amar Singh today said it was only up to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to salvage the alliance.

“Till date, we have only received high-handed behaviour from the Congress leaders in return for our support,” he said and quickly clarified that his party had no problems with Sonia Gnadhi, Rahul or Manmohan Singh.

Dismissing allegations that SP was flip-flopping on giving its support to the UPA government, Singh said, “Many issues are still to be sorted out. Not one of our requests have been honoured by the UPA government.” His party will discuss the issue of allying with the Congress at its National Executive meet on January 14 and will call for a meeting of the SP-Congress coordination committee to put the matter for discussion, he told reporters here. — UNI

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Assam’s bid to dodge fury of Brahmaputra
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 11
Majuli, the famed river island also known for the havoc that Brahmaputra almost annually wreaks there, is in for a flood management plan by the Assam government.

The state regime has turned the clock back regarding construction of government buildings there and has adopted the traditional tribal model of ‘chang ghar’ (house constructed on raised platform) with modification for construction of new structures in the river island.

Last summer, the island was under floodwaters for three months throwing functioning of government offices in all the areas out of gear. Almost all government offices, including police stations, were under water.

However, traditional ‘chang ghars’, built at a height of seven to 10 feet from the ground on a chang (platform), helped the Mising tribe community to survive the flood staying within the confines of their own houses while their counterparts from other communities were forced to take shelter on refugee camps set up on river embankments and other highlands.

Taking cue from the construction model of Mising tribe, Assam government instructed its departments concerned to explore construction of government establishments on raised RCC platforms. Accordingly, a new circuit house at Garmur, the headquarter of the island sub-division and a police station building at Garmur have already been constructed on ‘chang ghar’ model on raised RCC platforms.

According to Majuli SDO PC Deka, the new circuit house constructed on tribal model cost Rs 30 lakh to the Assam Public Works Department and the fund was made available from the 12th Finance Commission Award to the state. The new police station on a raised platform was constructed by Assam Police Housing Corporation at a cost of Rs 25 lakh.

These two new government buildings have set a trend of new construction model that is expected to change the face of the picturesque river island, considered the pivot of neo-Vaishnavite religious and social movement in Assam. The island, spread over about 650 sq km area, is home to about two lakh people from different ethnic communities with Mising being the dominant ethnic group.

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Naxals make money from opium trade

New Delhi, January 11
Ever wondered how the naxals get the money to procure latest arms and sustain their growing cadre? The answer lies in the obscure world of illegal cultivation of narcotic substances.

Sources in the country's anti-narcotic agencies say large-scale illegal cultivation of opium and ganja takes place in naxal-affected areas, especially in states such as Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

At places where the naxals do not directly get involved in the illegal cultivation, they charge money for providing protection to those involved in the practice.

"Illegal cultivation does take place especially in those areas where the local administration is not strong enough. Three main states where it takes place as per the inputs that we receive are Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal," a senior official of Narcotics Control Bureau said.

He said the other states where such cultivation takes place include Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Chhattisgarh besides some states from south India.

"The naxals and certain insurgent groups in North East thrive on the money earned from illegal cultivation other than that earned through extortion, kidnapping and other criminal activities," the official said. — PTI

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Terror major challenge for Assam: Cong
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 11
The ruling Congress in Assam has termed terrorism the biggest challenge before the state and vowed to maintain its “zero tolerance” principle against the terror while focusing on development activities.

Dr Himanta Bishwa Sharma, Health Minister and a spokesman of the Assam government, stated in the state Assembly that the government would not be cowed down by the act of dastardly terror like October 30 serial blasts that was triggered by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) and the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), in connivance with a “third force” in Bangladesh.

“We are not going to allow development works to suffer because of terrorism since terrorists strike with the sole intention to stall the process of development and growth in the state. It is the overall development that will deprive the terrorists of their recruitment base among the vulnerable unemployed youths in the state. The prime accused in Guwahati serial blasts of January 1, Pranjal Deka, alias Biju Sarania, who was killed by the police and Army, was hired by ULFA at Rs 2,000 per month,” he said.

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Power Pangs
In Bhopal, you’ll pay for pilferage by your neighbour
Tribune News Service

Bhopal, January 11
“Discriminatory” is the label that has been stuck by the NGOs and several other organisations on a scheme subjecting “dishonest” areas of the city to erratic and unscheduled power cuts, while maintaining round-the-clock supply in “honest areas”. However, the MP central region power distribution company — responsible for running the power distribution network in Bhopal — prefers to call the scheme as “differential load-shedding”. It has divided the 164, 11 KV power feeders in the city into four categories: Power theft less than 25 per cent, between 25-40 per cent, 40-60 per cent and more than 60 per cent.

There are 50 feeders in the first category. The areas falling under them are given uninterrupted supply. The 31 feeders in the second category go powerless for four hours every day, while the 40 feeders in the third category have to do without power for six hours. The 43 feeders in the fourth category, where the power pilferage is more than 60 per cent, the supply is snapped for eight or more hours. “Less the supply, less the theft”, is the logic.

Though the company was resorting to this stratagem for long, it conceded the existence of the scheme officially only recently. And that has kicked up a big row. It is being criticised not only for penalising even the “honest” consumer living in “dishonest” areas but also for being “brazenly profit-oriented” with no commitment towards the “poor and the vulnerable” of the society. Most of the “dishonest feeders” cover slum settlements.

Facing the flak, the company has now announced that it would try to separate the “dishonest” from the “honest” at a more micro level.

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Beware, ‘secure’ websites may be phished

New Delhi, January 11
Here's some news that may not be music to the ears - information that netizens share even through secure websites and email servers are susceptible to hacking.

Internet security researchers have found a weakness in digital infrastructure so that hackers can impersonate secure websites, email servers and perform virtually undetectable phishing attacks.

Independent security researchers in California, Switzerland and Netherlands have found a bug in the Internet digital certificate infrastructure that allows attackers to forge certificates that are fully trusted by all commonly used web browsers.

"The major browsers and Internet players - such as Mozilla and Microsoft - have been contacted to inform them of our discovery and some have already taken action to better protect their users," says Arjen Lenstra, head of EPFL's Laboratory for Cryptologic Algorithms.

The system works in a very simple manner, on a visit to any website whose URL starts with "http", a small padlock symbol appears in the browser window. This indicates that the website is secured using a digital certificate issued by trusted authorities.

To ensure that the digital certificate is legitimate, the browser verifies its signature using standard cryptographic algorithms. The team of researchers has discovered that one of these algorithms, known as MD5, can be misused.

"To prevent any damage, the certificate we created had a validity of only one month - August 2004 - which expired over four years ago. The only objective of our research was to stimulate better Internet security with adequate protocols that provide the necessary security," he says.

The researchers from California, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in the Netherlands, EPFL in Switzerland, and Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have now discovered that it is possible to create a rogue certification authority that is trusted by all major web browsers.

They have thus managed to demonstrate that a critical part of the Internet's infrastructure is not safe. For example, without being aware of it, users could be redirected to malicious sites that appear exactly the same as the trusted banking or e-commerce websites they believe to be visiting. The web browser could then receive a forged certificate and users' passwords and other private data can be stolen. Besides secure websites and email servers, the weakness also affects other commonly used software. — PTI

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Dowry Death
SC: No need to prove any agreement

New Delhi, January 11
The Supreme Court has held that in case of dowry death, prosecution need not to prove that there was an agreement for dowry between the families of the bride and the bridegroom as making such a demand is an offence.

Interpreting Section 304-B IPC, the apex court said if courts are to insist on such agreements, then virtually no offender could be booked or convicted.

"Demand neither conceives nor would conceive of any agreement. If for convicting any offender, some agreement were to be proved, hardly any offenders would come under the clutches of law. When Section 304-B refers to 'demand of dowry', it refers to the demand of property or valuable security as referred," the apex court observed.

A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Mukundakam Sharma passed the observation while dismissing the arguments of the defence in the case of Prem Kanwar, who was convicted by the Rajasthan High Court for causing the death of her daughter-in-law over dowry demands.

The accused claimed that there was no evidence to prove that there was any agreement for dowry and also submitted that the victim had committed suicide by setting herself ablaze.

Though the Sessions Court acquitted the accused, the High Court reversed the acquittal and convicted the accused for murdering her daughter-in-law over dowry. It, however, confirmed the acquittal of the victim's husband and another relative. Aggrieved by the conviction, Kanwar filed an appeal in the apex court.

Rejecting the defence argument, the apex court said the offence alleged against the accused is under Section 304-B IPC which makes "demand of dowry" itself punishable.

"The argument that there was no demand of dowry, in the present case, has no force. In cases of dowry deaths and suicides, circumstantial evidence plays an important role and inferences can be drawn on the basis of such evidence. That could be either direct or indirect," the apex court said.

According to the apex court, Section 4 of the Act (Dowry Prohibition) was also amended by means of Act 63 of 1984, under which it is an offence to demand dowry directly or indirectly from the parents or other relatives or guardian of a bride.

The apex court said it was evident from postmortem report that the victim was beaten up badly resulting in the fracture of her skull bone after which she was set on fire to make it look like a case of suicide.

"In the case of burning, the fracture of skull is not a necessary corollary but in the present case the skull bones were broken. Therefore, the fact remains that she was killed before death. Therefore, the High Court was justified in holding that the Sessions Judge erroneously concluded that it was a case of suicide," the apex court observed, upholding the conviction. — PTI

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Dawood’s sister can’t be given passport: Centre to HC

New Delhi, January 11
The Centre has justified its move to deny a passport to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's sister, Haseena Ibrahim Parker, by claiming before the Delhi High Court that she cannot be allowed to go abroad in view of extortion charges against her.

"She cannot be issued a passport as she is being tried for criminal offences in Mumbai. We have got a detailed report from the Mumbai police and we would file our response on her plea," advocate Sanjeev Kumar Dubey, appearing for the Centre, contended before Justice S Ravinder Bhat of Delhi High Court, while seeking time to file its response.

The government's response came on a petition filed by Haseena Ibrahim, seeking the court's direction to get her a passport issued.

She had applied for a passport but the regional passport office in December 2006 refused her plea on the ground that she might not come back to India if she travels abroad using a passport.

Haseena, who has been booked by the Mumbai police on extortion charges, contended in her petition that it was her fundamental right to get a passport and travel abroad.

The Mumbai police had registered an FIR against Haseena on April 21, 2007 on the complaint of a real estate agent alleging that she had kept for herself one crore rupees which was given by him for slum rehabilitation.

The trial court later granted bail to Haseena and her associate in May 2007. — PTI

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Amar Singh has lost his mental balance: BSP

Lucknow, January 11
Stating that Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh has lost his mental balance, Bahujan Samaj Party today reacted very strongly to the extortion charges levelled against the party by the SP leader.

Addressing a joint press conference, BSP state president and UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya and another minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to order an inquiry into donations allegedly made by Amar Singh to the US-based Clinton Foundation.

The two senior BSP leaders also countered SP leader’s demand for a CBI probe into the party’s fund collection during Chief Minister Mayawati’s birthday. “Amar Singh should consult a psychiatrist for his mental imbalance. We pray for his speedy recovery,” they said. The ministers alleged that Amar Singh is adept in manipulating facts. The BSP leaders claimed their party does not accept donations form capitalists. — TNS

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Bollywood finds space in NCERT textbooks

New Delhi, January 11
With Bollywood going places, even the academics is not immune to its charms with the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) using it from this session to teach political science in a more lively manner.

As many as eight prominent movies have been introduced as reference material, sources in the council said.

For example, 'Garam Hawa' (1973), which is based on partition, has been introduced under the chapter "Challenges of nation building". Likewise, the 1973 hit 'Zanzeer', that portrays the erosion of moral values in the system and how a young police officer is framed under false charges, has been incorporated as a reference material under the chapter "Challenges of restoration of the Congress system".

A couple of regional movies that still echo in the mind have also found their way into the textbook. "This attempt makes a departure from the legacy of bookish learning which continues to shape our system and thus causes a gap between the school, home and community," the sources said.

The book titled "Politics in India Since Independence" has Satyajit Ray's masterpiece 'Pather Panchali' as a reference source. — PTI

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24 militants surrender

Agartala, January 11
As many as 24 ultras of two outlawed outfits in Tripura have fled from their base camps in Bangladesh and surrendered before security forces in the west Tripura district, the police said today.

Among the militants, who surrendered yesterday, were 22 ultras of National Liberation Front Of Tripura (NLFT) and two hardcore militants of the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), the police said.

"Many more insurgents are waiting for an opportunity to escape from the camps and join the mainstream," they said, quoting the militants.

While the NLFT militants surrendered to the commandant of 15th battalion of Assam Rifles at Hrangkhalpara, the ATTF ultras surrendered to the sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Khowai subdivision.

The insurgents surrendered mainly because food crisis in the Bangladesh camps and non-payment by the leaders of the militant outfits to the rank and file. — PTI

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Two suspended for Tricolour’s auction

Jaipur, January 11
Two State Agro Marketing Board, Rajasthan, employees have been placed under suspension in connection with the auction of the National Flag, along with scrap and waste material, in the board’s Bharatpur office.

According to official sources, a National Flag and 33 other items were auctioned in the board’s office on July 4 last year and these items were purchased by a scrap trader of Agra for Rs 4,360. On report of the incident in the media two days ago, the board administration had ordered suspension of executive engineer Devendrapal Singh and storekeeper Dau Dayal Bansal and instituted a high-level probe into the incident, the sources said. — UNI

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Varun Gandhi’s convoy hits bikers

Lucknow, January 11
BJP leader Varun Gandhi's convoy hit two persons in Pilibhit today, leaving one of them critically injured.

Gandhi's Scorpio hit a motorbike near Khamariyapatti, seriously injuring 55-year-old Fauja Singh.

The young leader was heading towards Pilibhit where he was scheduled to address a rally. The vehicle was being driven by his driver.

Varun and his driver took the injured to nearby Sharda hospital. No FIR was registered till late in the evening as the victim's families did not approach the police. — TNS

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Karzai in Delhi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai arrived here today in the backdrop of the Mumbai attacks with discussion on international terrorism on top of the agenda.

Karzai, who is on his second visit here in five months, will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow on the latest developments related to the Mumbai attacks.

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