SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Panel moots civil service option after Class XII
New Delhi, January 18
If recommendations of a government panel are accepted, you can join the civil services after completion of Class XII and need not wait for graduation results.

Pak law allows fugitives to be handed over to India
New Delhi, January 18
Pakistan, which is claiming it has no legal arrangement with India for handing over terror suspects following the Mumbai attacks, is forgetting one of its own Acts which provides for transfer of such people to a country with which it has not signed an extradition treaty.

Lanka Conflict
Shoot on sight order after irate youth vandalise buses
Chennai, January 18
Despite appeals by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol Thirumavalavan, whose indefinite fast, seeking ceasefire in Sri Lanka, entered the fourth day, more than 20 buses were vandalised all over Tamil Nadu by angry youths.



EARLIER STORIES



A labourer carries a sandbag near the India-China trade route at Nathu-La, 55 km north of Gangtok
A labourer carries a sandbag near the India-China trade route at Nathu-La, 55 km north of Gangtok, on Saturday. The Nathu-La mountain pass, known as the old silk route, lies at an altitude of 14,200 feet bordering between India and China and is covered with snow throughout the year. — Reuters

Lankan Tamils are suffering due to LTTE: Jayalalithaa
Chennai, January 18
Opposing pleas by the DMK and its allies for the Centre's intervention in Sri Lankan conflict, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa yesterday said the island Tamils were suffering due to the LTTE, which was "using them as a shield".

Rift in AIADMK front over Tigers
Chennai, January 18
Slamming AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa for her charges against the Tigers, CPI state secretary D Pandian today asked her to prove allegation that the LTTE was using Tamils as their shield.

Terror of cyber crooks
New Delhi, January 18
After the massive terrorist attacks in Mumbai (November 26-29), India has been advised to be cautious about ‘cyber Islamic terrorists and spies.’ America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned India and other nations, which are facing a massive terrorism problem, to be on a high alert about cyber security, a breach of which can be more damaging than a Mumbai-type terrorist attack.

Swat valley turns into terror den: Reports
New Delhi, January 18
Adding to the list of areas going out of bounds for the Pakistani authorities, the picturesque Swat valley has turned into a hotbed of terrorists and religious extremists, according to media reports.

Cong shifts to poll gear in Assam
Guwahati, January 18
The ruling Congress in Assam has got into the election gear to prepare the party workers and leaders for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections even as the opposition parties in the state are still trying to finalise poll alliances.

Karate students take out a rally while campaigning for water conservation in Bhopal
Karate students take out a rally while campaigning for water conservation in Bhopal on Sunday. — PTI

4 crore Indians carry genetic risk of cardiac arrest: Study
New Delhi, January 18
Every 25th Indian carries a mutant gene which makes the person vulnerable to an “almost guaranteed” risk of sudden cardiac arrest, results of a study published today suggest.

Reddy meets Cong leaders over Telangana
New Delhi , January 18
With almost all the parties in Andhra Pradesh virtually agreeing to the creation of separate state of Telangana, the Congress high command also seems to have suddenly woken up to the Telangana issue on the eve of general elections.

Advani’s blog shines with Modi’s ‘vibrancy’
New Delhi, January 18
A day after Narendra Modi backed LK Advani as BJP’s prime ministerial face, the latter has showered praises on the Gujarat Chief Minister for consistently steering the state towards vibrancy.

Kerala to showcase Pooram in R-Day parade
New Delhi, January 18
Kerala will present one of its most colourful festivals - the Pooram - at the Republic Day parade, showcasing the vibrancy of the post-summer harvest celebrations.

XEN Killing
Property of BSP MLA’s wife attached
Lucknow, January 18
The police today attached the property of absconding Vibha Tiwari, wife of BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari, main accused in the murder of PWD engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta in Aurraiya last month.

PM visits RTO to get licence renewed
New Delhi, January 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today chose to go to a regional transport office (RTO) here to get his driving licence renewed. His wife Gursharan Kaur, who accompanied him, also got her licence renewed.

Vision-corrected aspirants now stand a chance in IAF
New Delhi, January 18
Aspiring to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a pilot but have vision probl ems? Don't lose heart for you may be eligible to commander the force's helicopters or transport planes.

Catholic arm to invest in good governance
Bangalore, January 18
Caritas India, the development arm of the catholic church in the country, is launching a nationwide programme for good governance.

Cops hope to seize more ULFA arms trove
Guwahati, January 18
High in the spirit in the wake of yesterday’s recovery of huge cache of arms and ammunition belonging to the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) from Sadiya in Tinsukia district, the Assam police hopes for more such recovery in near future.

SC to check damage of property during stirs
New Delhi, January 18
Agitation leaders, rather than their supporters, should be held responsible for the damage or destruction of property, while the electronic media should have self-regulation for covering events like strike, according to two Supreme Court committees.

‘Work of art with Indian heart, soul’
Mumbai, January 18
“Slumdog Millionaire” does not focus on the poverty in Mumbai alone or "talks down" to anyone but is a brilliantly-crafted story with an "Indian soul", according to one of the producers of the Golden Globe winner which has drawn some flak for its depiction of slum life.

Rs 19.75 lakh seized from passenger
Chennai, January 18
Air customs has seized Rs 19.75 lakh and 650 Singapore dollars from a Singapore-bound passenger at the international airport here.

4 live bombs found in Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad, January 18
Four country-made live bombs were found by the Gujarat police today in Karanj area here, police sources said. "We have recovered four live bombs which are being defused," a police official of Karanj area told.

Close shave for Chatterjee, others as flight aborts landing
New Delhi, January 18
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and other passengers onboard a Jet Airways flight had a narrow escape this evening when their plane had to abort landing and take a "go-around" after the pilot spotted another aircraft on the runway.





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Panel moots civil service option after Class XII

New Delhi, January 18
If recommendations of a government panel are accepted, you can join the civil services after completion of Class XII and need not wait for graduation results.

The second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), headed by Veerappa Moily, has suggested that students on completion of Class XII should be selected for a three-year special designed course, tailored to meet the essential requirements of the modern and responsive civil service.

“The purpose is that if the school pass-outs are selected for a career in civil services, they will come with more commitment and right attitude to serve,” Moily said.

In its report on ‘Refurbishing of personnel administration’, the ARC said students would be selected for the course through an all-India test on the lines of the National Defence Academy. Those who qualify the test will have to pursue a three-year course to be provided by the National Institute of Public Administrations (NIPA).

“The commitment and attitude of the students for the profession can be known during the course. Those who do not want to pursue a career in civil services will be permitted to exit and pursue their interest elsewhere,” Moily said.

Assessment test would be conducted every year during the course period. All candidates who pass the final test would be awarded graduation degrees.

Candidates desirous of pursuing career in civil services would be given service allotments on completion of the course and would undergo a two-year service-specific course in designated national academies/institutes, Moily said.

The entrance examination after Class XII will be conducted by the Union Public Service Commission. The existing age criteria will be accordingly lowered.

This system will enable the government to tap into a much bigger resource pool of talent than the present system of recruitment. — PTI

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Pak law allows fugitives to be handed over to India

New Delhi, January 18
Pakistan, which is claiming it has no legal arrangement with India for handing over terror suspects following the Mumbai attacks, is forgetting one of its own Acts which provides for transfer of such people to a country with which it has not signed an extradition treaty.

The Extradition Act, 1972 of Pakistan clearly specifies that Islamabad can hand over anyone accused of terrorism or any other criminal act in a foreign country to that government even if there is no Extradition Treaty. The Act underlines that a suspect, sought for any offence by a country with which Pakistan has no extradition treaty, should be “surrendered” irrespective of whether a court in Pakistan has jurisdiction to try that offence.

“Where the Federal government considers it expedient that the persons who, being accused or convicted of offences at places within, or within the jurisdiction of, a foreign state, are or are suspected to be in Pakistan should be returned to the State (country), notwithstanding that there is no extradition treaty with that State,” says Section 49(1) of the Act.

The law, enacted on September 24, 1972, says that under the Act, the suspects can be handed over to a country with which there is no extradition treaty exactly like it is done in the case of a country with which Pakistan has such inked such an accord.

The Act makes it clear that “every fugitive offender shall be liable to be apprehended and surrendered in the manner provided in this Act, whether the offence in respect of which his surrender is sought was committed before or after the commencement of this Act and whether or not a court in Pakistan has jurisdiction to try that offence.”

India has been pressing Pakistan to hand over about 40 fugitives of Indian law, including Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed, who are wanted in serious crimes of terrorism here.

Pakistan, however, has been claiming that since it has no extradition treaty with India, it would not be able to hand over any of the Pakistani nationals.

Commenting on the Extradition Act of Pakistan, official sources here wondered why Islamabad is claiming it cannot hand over anybody if such a law exists in that country. “This raises questions over Pakistan’s sincerity,” the sources said, adding the world should take note of it.

The Act says that a requisition for the “surrender of a fugitive offender” shall be made to Federal government of Pakistan by a diplomatic representative in Pakistan of a country asking for the surrender, or by the government of a country asking for the surrender through the diplomatic representative of Pakistan in that country.

The requisition can also be made in any other manner “as may have been settled by arrangement between the Federal government (of Pakistan) and the government of the State asking for the surrender,” the Pakistani Act says.

The sources pointed out that India has already made requisitions to Pakistan government in the format prescribed in that country’s law but still it is not acting. “This, in fact, amounts to violation by the Pakistan government of its own law,” they said.

The law also makes it clear that a fugitive may be extradited even if an offence has been committed on board any vessel on the high seas or any aircraft in the air outside Pakistan or the Pakistan territorial waters and such vessel or aircraft comes into any port or aerodrome of Pakistan with the fugitive offender on board. — PTI

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Lanka Conflict
Shoot on sight order after irate youth vandalise buses
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 18
Despite appeals by Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) leader Thol Thirumavalavan, whose indefinite fast, seeking ceasefire in Sri Lanka, entered the fourth day, more than 20 buses were vandalised all over Tamil Nadu by angry youths.

Even appeals by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and leaders of MDMK, PMK, Left and BJP fell on deaf ears, as the Dalit leader continued his hunger strike, resulting in tense situations in many northern districts. Police authorities have issued orders to shoot anyone trying to damage or burn government buses.

A bus was reportedly burnt near the Koyambedu junction in Chennai last night while stones were hurled at many. In Villupuram district, four state-owned public carriers were reportedly set ablaze. Following this, buses were operated with police protection even as investigations were on to nab the culprits.

Similar stone- hurling incidents were reported from Chidambaram and Puducherry also. A bus was set afire at Malapatti near Alanganallur.

Police picketing has been strengthened at all the vulnerable places and highway patrolling intensified. The police arrested two cadres of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi for allegedly damaging government bus.

Commenting on Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon’s visit to Colombo, he said instead of urging ceasefire, he had visited Colombo to further strengthen bilateral relationship between two countries, thus leading to big disappointment for Tamils.

“Instead of demanding ceasefire, Menon has arranged for supplying food materials to Colombo and spoken on further deepening the bilateral relationship which had hurt the Tamil sentiments,” he said.

He made a fervent call for all Tamil parties to come under single banner to prevent the ‘treacherous activity’ of the Indian government against the Eelam Tamils. Flaying Jayalalithaa for her stand on the Sri Lankan issue, he called upon her partners MDMK and Communist parties to snap ties with the AIADMK in interest of Lankan Tamils. Both the Congress and the AIADMK have to be isolated in the interest of Eelam Tamils and those parties sharing ethnic brotherhood with suffering people in Eelam should join hands for a common political front, he said.

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Lankan Tamils are suffering due to LTTE: Jayalalithaa
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 18
Opposing pleas by the DMK and its allies for the Centre's intervention in Sri Lankan conflict, AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa yesterday said the island Tamils were suffering due to the LTTE, which was "using them as a shield".

Daring to take on the growing public opinion in Tamil Nadu for the Centre's intervention in the conflict, she said, "No country can interfere in the internal affairs of another country. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, Tamils should have equal rights and dignified life. They should have as much as freedom as the Sinhalese".

When asked about the civilian deaths in Sri Lanka, she said, "When there is war, innocent people get killed. In Sri Lanka, innocent people are being killed as the LTTE is using them as a shield. If the LTTE stops this, then innocent people will be protected," she said.

Lambasting the Tigers, she said, "The LTTE is a terrorist organisation. There cannot be two opinions on this. Many countries have banned the outfit, including India," she said.

Asked about the open support extended by her ally and MDMK leader Vaiko to the LTTE and the demand for ceasefire by the Left parties, she said, "Every party has its own policies. The AIADMK does not believe that the LTTE is the only representative of Sri Lankan Tamils." Rejecting the idea of `Tamil Eelam' (a separate nation for Tamils), she said, "There is no such country as Eelam. Tamils in the island nation should be called as Sri Lankan Tamils and not as Eelam Tamils."

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Rift in AIADMK front over Tigers
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 18
Slamming AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa for her charges against the Tigers, CPI state secretary D Pandian today asked her to prove allegation that the LTTE was using Tamils as their shield.

“Let anyone who is injured in the ongoing conflict in the island nation or any Sri Lankan Tamil, who has no nexus with the Sri Lankan government, confirm Jayalalithaa's charges. We are ready to oppose the Tigers,” Pandian, who took the initiative to form an alliance with the AIADMK, said. He urged the Centre to send a team of neutral observers to check whether the allegations against the Tigers were true.

The CPI leader also came down heavily on Jayalalithaa's observations that the Sri Lankan government was not killing Tamil civilians deliberately and described them as “totally false”.

Pandian also strongly criticised Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for his inaction. Referring to Karunanidhi's statement that he had moved a resolution to save the island Tamils 50 years ago, Pandian said the DMK leader should accept that he was not able to solve the issue.

“Karunanidhi should explain what is preventing him from acting on the issue now. He is repeatedly saying he was ready for any sacrifice for the island Tamils. If he openly said what kind of sacrifice he was planning, the Left parties, too, are ready to do similar sacrifices,” he said.

Commenting on Foreign Affairs Secretary Shivshankan Menon’s visit, he said: “Menon had never asked for a ceasefire. So, it is clear that the purpose of his visit was not to ask for one, but only strengthen bilateral ties. Menon had also hailed Sri Lankan military general Sarath Fonseka, who launched the military offensive.”

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Terror of cyber crooks
Man Mohan/Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, January 18
After the massive terrorist attacks in Mumbai (November 26-29), India has been advised to be cautious about ‘cyber Islamic terrorists and spies.’

America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned India and other nations, which are facing a massive terrorism problem, to be on a high alert about cyber security, a breach of which can be more damaging than a Mumbai-type terrorist attack.

Fears have also been expressed by the Central Bureau of Investigation that a new breed of terrorists is emerging which can damage telecommunications or rail links, disrupt power supplies and harm other important parts of India's infrastructure using cyber tools.

When contacted by The Tribune, the FBI’s cyber crime division’s experts said that besides fuelling an underground criminal economy, “the Internet is increasingly being exploited by terrorists and spies!” And India, they said, has become their major target.

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been found to be visiting websites of many sensitive Indian organisations associated with defence, atomic energy and space to hack it with a view to stealing information.

The FBI has been making independent investigations in the Pakistani terrorist attacks in Mumbai. The FBI operates in India through its counterpart, the CBI. Experts from the FBI have visited India to train CBI officers in dealing with cyber offences.

FBI sorces told this correspondent that Shawn Henry, head of its cyber division, informed a just-concluded three-day first international conference on cyber security in New York that “the sophistication of cyber crooks is growing.” About 400 experts from 37 countries, including India, attended this conference.

Ankit Faida, globally recognised as a computer security guru and cyber terrorism expert, says that “The next biggest security threat could not be serial bomb blasts but cyber terrorism. Terrorists can attack their enemy without stepping out of their home or country…they need not come to our soil.”

Fadia was recently contacted by the Mumbai police to trace e-mails of the Mumbai attackers which were sent through proxy servers in Saudi Arabia, Russia and finally traced to Pakistan.

Besides cyber terrorism in India, according to the CBI, cyber crime has assumed serious proportions. Cyber crimes like hacking, e-mail fraud and other information security breaches linked to computers are turning out to be serious problems. Computer crimes involve illegal access, data alteration and destruction and theft of intellectual property.

At the FBI global conference on cyber security, the delegates were told that cyber crooks had become so organised that they used online forums to advertise illegal wares, buy and sell computer viruses, and traffic in stolen identities - all for huge profits.

For about $30, according to the FBI, cyber crooks anywhere in the world can buy a blank credit card, complete with the holographic security markings used by legitimate credit card companies.

They can buy equipment to encode someone’s stolen identity information onto the card. And they can buy software to verify that the unsuspecting victim’s credit is good, so that anyone using the phony card will not raise suspicions at the checkout counter.

At the conference, the FBI presented an example of international 24/7 network of cyber investigators. The network, established among the G8 nations in 1997, has since grown to 55 member countries, all of which have dedicated cyber crime investigators who can respond to fast-moving cases at a moment’s notice - often with the ability to “fast freeze” e-mail traffic and other stored electronic data, which can preserve a crook or a terrorist’s otherwise fleeting digital footprint.

A top FBI cyber division officer said that the timely global cooperation needs to go hand in hand with consistent laws for cyber crimes and adoption of uniform penalties otherwise savvy cyber crooks will simply base their operations in countries with the most lax cyber laws…the bad guys need to know there is no free ride!”

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Swat valley turns into terror den: Reports

New Delhi, January 18
Adding to the list of areas going out of bounds for the Pakistani authorities, the picturesque Swat valley has turned into a hotbed of terrorists and religious extremists, according to media reports.

The valley, once a popular tourist destination, recently witnessed blasts on power grids, bridges, gas pipelines, schools and hotels triggered by the terrorists. These militants also own radio frequencies, reports in 'The Herald', 'The Dawn' and 'The News' said.

Almost daily, four to five headless bodies are found on the streets of Mingora, the only major town of Swat, the reports said. Even as the government plans to make changes in deployment of the four army brigades stationed in Swat, including one from Rawalpindi overseen by a GOC, the local people have started "doubting the state's motive and the real aims of the (army) operations".

The reports claimed that the army operations not only killed civilians but also left major infrastructure like power stations and bridges unguarded for the militants to attack at will. While no credible data is available to estimate the number of civilian casualties in the seven-month-old military operation, the police, which has generally been absent in most militant-controlled areas, said the figure ran into hundreds. An unnamed Pakistani home department official told 'The Herald' that more than 400 policemen have given up their jobs in Swat. "Civic bosses have either performed a vanishing act or are ineffective," 'The Herald' said, adding that the morale of the police force was at its lowest.

Recently, at Mingora, the Missionary Girls High School and the Excelsior College were blown up by Tehreek-e-Taliban. The number of schools blown up or torched now stands at 181 - the highest in any insurgency anywhere in the world. — PTI

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Cong shifts to poll gear in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 18
The ruling Congress in Assam has got into the election gear to prepare the party workers and leaders for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections even as the opposition parties in the state are still trying to finalise poll alliances.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) leader Veerappa Moily and Union Minister Santosh Mohan Deb today attended a meeting of the executive committee of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) to discuss issues related to preparation of forthcoming elections.

APCC spokesman Mehdi Alam Bora said the poll- related meeting decided not to have any alliance with Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF), the conglomerate of over a dozen minority political groups in the state.

Coming out of the meeting, Kirip Chaliha, senior Congress MP, told the media that the meeting of the party leaders did not focus on issues related to possible poll alliance with the AUDF.

Meanwhile, opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had earlier decided to have poll alliance, are yet to finalise the arrangement for sharing of seats as differences continued to persist over candidature for certain constituencies.However, AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary and his BJP counterpart in the state Ramen Deka asserted that both the parties would finalise the poll alliance by February 15.

The AUDF, led by perfume mogul Badaruddin Ajmal, has taken the initiative to float a third front with Left parties and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) before the election in tune with its vow to keep equidistance from both the Congress and the BJP.

However, nothing concrete has emerged out of the few joint sessions so far held by leaders of these political parties. The AUDF and the Left parties were apparently warming up to the AGP till the regional party opted for an alliance with the BJP.

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4 crore Indians carry genetic risk of cardiac arrest: Study

New Delhi, January 18
Every 25th Indian carries a mutant gene which makes the person vulnerable to an “almost guaranteed” risk of sudden cardiac arrest, results of a study published today suggest.

The mutated gene is carried by six crore people around the globe of which more than four crores are Indians, researchers said.

"...carries a mutation almost guaranteed to lead to heart problems...," the study said, the findings of which were published in latest edition of the journal 'Nature Genetics'.

"We can confidently say that four per cent of the Indian population is at risk of a sudden cardiac arrest as they carry this mutant gene," Kumarasamy Thangaraj of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, who led the study, told PTI.

The CCMB is a government lab functioning under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

India has a burgeoning population of heart patients and according to a previous study the country will constitute 60 per cent of global heart patient by 2010. The new findings shed light on the genetic pre-disposition that increases risk of heart disease in Indians.

People having this mutation have 25 letters of genetic code deleted from a gene MYBPC3- responsible for production of heart muscle protein. The altered form produces an abnormal protein which disturbs the structure of heart muscle fibre. “Those having the altered form of gene have seven folds higher chances of getting a cardiac arrest than normal people. Besides, these people have no warning about the danger which makes it worse,” Thangaraj said.

“Young people degrade the altered protein, hence they don't generally show symptoms. But with age, the degradation becomes less effective, making a mutant protein build up and symptoms develop,” said Chris Tyler-Smith, a researcher from Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK, in an e-mail interview.

“From our data, around 90 per cent of people carrying this form of gene, who live to old age will develop symptoms of heart disease,” Chris said.

The mutation was discovered five years ago in two Indian families but its significance became apparent only after the study of about 1,500 people from different parts of country.

The study involving 25 scientists from four countries shows that gene has a slightly higher prevalence in South Indians than in the north but affects all groups and religions, he added.

“We think that the mutation arose around 30,000 years ago in India, and has been able to spread because its effects usually develop only after people have had their children. A case of chance genetic drift: simply terribly bad luck for the carriers,” said Perundurai S Dhandapany from Madurai Kamraj University, one of the researchers.

“If this mutation is present in both copies of chromosomes (one from father and another from mother), chances of getting a heart attack are even higher than the person who has got the mutant gene from only one of the parents,” Thangaraj said.

Researchers are of the view that this finding will help in identifying potential heart patients at young age by genetic screening and adopt a healthier lifestyle to prevent the further complications at an advanced age. — PTI

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Reddy meets Cong leaders over Telangana
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi , January 18
With almost all the parties in Andhra Pradesh virtually agreeing to the creation of separate state of Telangana, the Congress high command also seems to have suddenly woken up to the Telangana issue on the eve of general elections.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, a known opponent to the creation of Telangana had two rounds of discussions separately with senior Congress leaders here today and last minute postponed his departure back to Hyderabad late this evening amidst speculations in Congress circles that the party is likely to make some important announcement relating to Telangana in a day or two.

Rajasekhara Reddy, who arrived here from Hyderabad last night, met Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee during the day. Congress sources however refused to comment on this.

During the last general elections the Congress party aligned with the TRS, led by its chief K Chandrasekhar Rao, and reaped an electoral bonanza in Andhra Pradesh. A couple of months after assuming power, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh constituted a three-member GoM under Pranab Mukherjee to study the TRS demand for separate Telangana and its acceptability among various constituents of the UPA as well as other political groups. The panel, however, remained largely defunct and made tardy progress. In 2006, Chandrasekhar Rao and his other ministerial colleague A Narendra left the government over the refusal of the UPA Government to heed their request.

Since then the issue has been lying in cold storage. But now with the general elections round the corner, Rao along with his allies the TDP, earlier opposed to Telangana, is expected to raise the pitch for separate Telangana state.

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Advani’s blog shines with Modi’s ‘vibrancy’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 18
A day after Narendra Modi backed LK Advani as BJP’s prime ministerial face, the latter has showered praises on the Gujarat Chief Minister for consistently steering the state towards vibrancy.

“What accounts for Narendrabhai’s success?” Advani asks in his blog, adding: “He exemplifies the BJP’s commitment to good governance, development and security.” Advani further rubbishes any conflict of interest between himself and Modi, recently endorsed as India’s future Prime Minister by corporate giants like Anil Ambani and Sunil Mittal.

“It is amusing to find ….some sections labouring hard to discern even in the Vibrant Gujarat event evidence of differences in the BJP,” Advani says. Interesting, however, is the timing of the BJP stalwart’s comments in his blog, with political observers asking why the comments were not made on the day the Advani-Modi issue snowballed.

But Advani seems to have all the answers, says his blog. He begins with an emotional recall of his “Makar Sankranti” days in Gujarat which he represents in Parliament. Soon after, he goes on to compare the vibrancy of kite flying during Sankranti to the vibrancy of Gujarat.

He describes all the data on Modi’s Vibrant Gujarat, explaining how since 2003, vibrancy has become synonymous with the state. “The two-day Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit 2009 attracted promised investments of over Rs 12 lakh crore. More than 8,500 MoUs were signed. These have the potential to create over 25 lakh additional employment opportunities…,” mentions Advani, hailing Gujarat as corruption free and progressive.

The BJP stalwart makes it a point to mention UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s infamous remark of “maut ka saudagar” targeted against Modi: “The outcome of Gujarat polls showed how a leader with integrity, courage and competence could count on people’s support to beat back a personalised campaign of vilification. I can’t think of any other leader in Indian politics in the past 60 years who was as viciously, consistently and persistently maligned, both nationally and internationally, as Modi had been since 2002. Sonia Gandhi even called him “merchant of death”. I am happy that the people of Gujarat have given a fitting reply to the practitioners of this kind of toxic politics.”

For a sign off, he has a very warm message for Narendra Modi and his competence: “It often happens in a family that a younger member records an achievement which no one else has made earlier. This only makes the whole family proud. The family never feels diminished on that account.”

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Kerala to showcase Pooram in R-Day parade

New Delhi, January 18
Kerala will present one of its most colourful festivals - the Pooram - at the Republic Day parade, showcasing the vibrancy of the post-summer harvest celebrations.

Its tableau will have life-size figures of 11 ornately decorated elephants in the backdrop of a temple while frenzied percussions will provide the background for the festive atmosphere.

In its ground element, Kerala will have a combination of Theyyam - a ritual art form, and Velakali - a martial dance form. In Velakali, performers will be in the traditional attire of soldiers bearing colourful shields and swords dancing with war-like steps in perfect orchestration.

Pooram is a colourful temple festival held soon after the summer harvest, mainly in central Kerala. Its main attractions are caparisoned elephants moving in a procession and its frenzied percussion.

Kerala, which won the award for best tableau and best background music last year, had submitted ten designs before the expert committee which selected the tableaux for the national event, out of which Pooram was selected by the panel.

"We had given ten designs, including that of Vishu and handicrafts of Kerala. The panel selected Pooram," E Sajeev, Kerala's Information Officer in Delhi, told. — PTI

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XEN Killing
Property of BSP MLA’s wife attached
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 18
The police today attached the property of absconding Vibha Tiwari, wife of BSP MLA Shekhar Tiwari, main accused in the murder of PWD engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta in Aurraiya last month.

The police resorted to this move a fortnight after ADG (law and order) Brijlal disclosed that they were searching for the MLA's wife.

The ADG had said Vibha was allegedly involved in destroying evidence at the scene of the crime. The MLA's wife is believed to have visited the slain engineer's GAIL Vihar Colony residence in the early hours of December 24 soon after her husband had dumped seriously injured Gupta at the Dibiapur police station. Her movable and immovable property was finally attached today following her refusal to make herself available to the police for investigation and interrogation.

Meanwhile, Vibha Tiwari has moved the Allahabad HC, seeking a stay on her arrest. According to sources, her petition is likely to come up for hearing next week.

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PM visits RTO to get licence renewed

New Delhi, January 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today chose to go to a regional transport office (RTO) here to get his driving licence renewed.

His wife Gursharan Kaur, who accompanied him, also got her licence renewed.

The 76-year-old Prime Minister, whose licence expired about 45 days ago, drove to the RTO in Indraprashtha and completed formalities like getting himself photographed and fingerprinted.

The Prime Minister had got the license from the same RTO in the 1990s, when he was the Finance Minister in the PV Narasimha Rao government. Earlier, he got it renewed in 2003 when he was the leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha. — PTI

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Vision-corrected aspirants now stand a chance in IAF

New Delhi, January 18
Aspiring to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a pilot but have vision probl ems? Don't lose heart for you may be eligible to commander the force's helicopters or transport planes.

From this year, the IAF has relaxed selection rules after which candidates with poor vision acuity can fly helicopters and transport planes after undergoing corrective surgery like LASIK and radial keratotomy. The only condition is that the vision-corrected candidates have to meet basic post-surgery requirements set up by the IAF.

“From this year onwards, we have relaxed the physical requirement regarding vision for all service officers in the graduate entry level. If they have undergone an eye correction surgery but meet the basic post surgery requirements set up by us, they stand a chance,” Lt-Gen Yogendra Singh, Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services and senior Colonel Commandant of the force, said.

The IAF's condition comprises completion of one year of the vision-correction surgery at the time of application, post-surgery eyeball length of not more than 25.5 mm and cornea thickness of not less than 450 microns.

This relaxation is applicable for “pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters and all officers in the technical field, aeronautical engineers, basic air staff, non-technical staff, ground duties officers, security officers and meteorology officers and officers in the medical field of the IAF,” Air Marshal P Madhusoodanan, DGMS (AIR) said.

However, he made it clear that “the relaxation will not be applicable at the entry level at National Defence Academy.”

This relaxation was first attempted with the Army in 2004. — PTI

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Catholic arm to invest in good governance
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 18
Caritas India, the development arm of the catholic church in the country, is launching a nationwide programme for good governance.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Varghese Mattamana, executive director, Caritas India, said his organisation would invest Rs 100 crore for the programme over the next five years.

“This will be the highest ever non-governmental intervention for good governance in India”, he said.

He said the programme would be an assortment of individual programmes that would look at improving people’s participation in local governance, bringing in wider secular networks to promote social and gender equality and create awareness about RTI and other tools to improve accountability.

The programme would also cover the issue of climate change.

Two years back, Caritas India had launched “Save Farmers Campaign” to improve the plight of debt-stricken farmers in Vidarbha in Maharastra, Telengana in Andhra Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala. The programme contributed in lowering suicide rate in these regions.

At present, his organisation was running a total of 400 programmes across the country.

He also announced that over the next two days they would be holding a conference here with 160 participants and discuss issues such as strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions and building alliances for good governance.

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Cops hope to seize more ULFA arms trove
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 18
High in the spirit in the wake of yesterday’s recovery of huge cache of arms and ammunition belonging to the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) from Sadiya in Tinsukia district, the Assam police hopes for more such recovery in near future.

GM Srivastava, director general of police (DGP), today said the banned outfit, most likely, had hidden more such arms and ammunition in several locations in the state and that the police would soon zero in on those as specific investigation was on for it.

He said cache of arms and ammunition were kept hidden for use by ULFA cadres who had returned after training in the bases in neighbouring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh. “It is difficult for ULFA cadres to sneak into the country from their training camps outside the country. So the outfit keeps the arms and ammunition ready within the state for their use,” the DGP said.

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SC to check damage of property during stirs
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 18
Agitation leaders, rather than their supporters, should be held responsible for the damage or destruction of property, while the electronic media should have self-regulation for covering events like strike, according to two Supreme Court committees.

The apex court had appointed Justice KT Thomas and Advocate Fali S Nariman committees to go into the need for effective laws to prevent vandalism and damage to public property during strikes and political rallies. The committees submitted their detailed reports to a Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat for providing more teeth to the Prevention of Damage to Public Properties Act, 1984, and making the leaders accountable for acts of vandalism during agitation. The committees had been formed after the agitation by Gujjars in 2007.

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‘Work of art with Indian heart, soul’

Mumbai, January 18
“Slumdog Millionaire” does not focus on the poverty in Mumbai alone or "talks down" to anyone but is a brilliantly-crafted story with an "Indian soul", according to one of the producers of the Golden Globe winner which has drawn some flak for its depiction of slum life.

"There is no need to be over-sensitive and see the film from the perspective that it projects poverty. Its heart and soul is Indian and it does not talks you down," Anita Basu, director of Synergy Adlabs, said.

"The film does not highlight poverty in Mumbai all along. It does show the other side as well," Basu, whose company also produced the game show 'Kaun Banega Crorepati' (KBC), told.

Anil Kapoor, who plays the game show host in the film, rehearsed with popular game show host Siddharth Basu before the film was shot. — PTI

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Rs 19.75 lakh seized from passenger

Chennai, January 18
Air customs has seized Rs 19.75 lakh and 650 Singapore dollars from a Singapore-bound passenger at the international airport here.

The passenger was intercepted on suspicion yesterday by customs officers and his baggage was examined. Currency in Rs 500 denominations totalling to Rs 19.75 lakh and 650 Singapore dollars were recovered, Chennai Customs Air Intelligence Department said. The currencies were kept in the cavity between the top and bottom layers of nine aluminium bowls. These bowls had been kept among onions, it said. — PTI

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4 live bombs found in Ahmedabad

Ahmedabad, January 18
Four country-made live bombs were found by the Gujarat police today in Karanj area here, police sources said. "We have recovered four live bombs which are being defused," a police official of Karanj area told.

He added that the police had received a call by a person who claimed to have spotted a "bomb-like material" in a container opposite General Post Office (GPO).

"On inspection, we spotted four bombs and the bomb disposal squad was rushed to the spot to defuse them," he added. — PTI

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Close shave for Chatterjee, others as flight aborts landing

New Delhi, January 18
Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and other passengers onboard a Jet Airways flight had a narrow escape this evening when their plane had to abort landing and take a "go-around" after the pilot spotted another aircraft on the runway.

"Jet Airways flight (9W-913), which had Speaker Chatterjee also in it, took off from Kolkata this evening and arrived at Delhi airport at around 7.45 pm. As the aircraft was descending to land, after getting clearance from the ATC, the Jet Airways pilot spotted another plane on the runway," sources said. It was not immediately known how many passengers were in the aircraft.

The Southern China Airlines was on the ground and was taxiing for take off on runway 29.

The aircraft came onto the runway due to some apparent communication gap. On seeing another plane on the runway, the pilot aborted the landing and took a "go-around".

Chatterjee's plane had to hover for about 15 minutes over the airspace before it finally landed safely, the sources said. The Speaker complimented the pilot and the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) for his presence of mind and averting an accident, sources close to Chatterjee said.

The passengers were not informed about the aborted landing that very moment but were briefed after the aircraft landed safely, the sources said. — PTI

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