SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

George stakes claim to Nalanda seat
Patna, January 30
Former NDA convener and senior JD(U) leader George Fernandes took everyone, including his party workers by surprise, as he staked his claim to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from Nalanda. George had represented the Nalanda Lok Sabha seat thrice earlier. At present, he is the Lok Sabha member from Muzaffarpur.

SP-Cong alliance coming apart
New Delhi, January 30
With the Congress Working Committee rejecting a national alliance with UPA allies, the Congress further hardened its position on seat-sharing with the Samjawadi Party in Uttar Pradesh here today and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh reasserted the distinct possibility of friendly fights with the SP.

Age shocker for Bihar youth Cong chief
Patna, January 30
It was indeed a “bolt from the blue” for the newly appointed Bihar Youth Congress President Chandan Yadav. Just a couple of hours before Yadav could take charge of his new assignment in the state capital here on Thursday, his appointment was cancelled by the Indian Youth Congress on charge of being overage.



EARLIER STORIES



President Prathiba Singh Patil pays homage to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi on the 61st anniversary of his martyrdom at Rajghat in New Delhi
President Prathiba Singh Patil pays homage to the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi on the 61st anniversary of his martyrdom at Rajghat in New Delhi on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Budayun MP in two minds
Weighs his options of joining either Cong or BSP
New Delhi, January 30
The four-time sitting Samajwadi Party MP from Budayun in Uttar Pradesh, Salim Sherwani, is currently weighing his options of joining the Congress or the BSP, depending upon whether the Congress will go alone or align with the SP in the forthcoming general elections.

Parties want celebrities to bat for them
Mumbai, January 30
The forthcoming Lok Sabha elections is likely to see a number of celebrity candidates fronting for different political parties in the Mumbai city and suburban seats.

Adivasis float party in Assam
Guwahati, January 30
Adivasis in Assam today launched a new political party, National People’s Party (NPP), following a crucial meeting of representatives of about 20 Adivasi organisations held here.

11 yrs after, Ohio doc’s fight for justice still on
Had lost wife to medical negligence; to sit on hunger strike in front of SC
New Delhi, January 30
In 1998, a US-based clinical psychologist died of alleged medical negligence during her Indian holiday; she was 36 when steroid overdose allegedly killed her. Anuradha Saha just had skin rash.

Pension of Generals increased by Rs 3,000
Chandigarh, January 30
The pension of Generals, who were granted pension lower to that of Colonels, following the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission has now been enhanced. Further, the new pension of Lieutenant Colonels, who retired prior to January 2006, is expected to be fixed at Rs 25,700 once the notification of their upgradation to pay band-IV comes through.

Now, Ramadoss condemns pub culture
New Delhi, January 30
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yedyurappa’s anti-pub campaign today found support in Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who said he was opposed to any culture that promoted alcohol consumption in any way.

Tackling Terror
Commando unit for rlys soon
Hyderabad, January 30
In the backdrop of Mumbai terror strikes, the Railways is gearing up to raise a special commando outfit, on the lines of National Security Guards, to repulse terrorist attacks at railway stations and its properties.

Tax Inspectors’ Exam
After 10 years, Punjab submits results to SC
New Delhi, January 30
The Punjab government today submitted in a sealed cover the results of the 1999 examinations held for recruiting 53 Inspectors in the Excise and Taxation Department that had been stalled in December 2001 due to the Assembly elections.

Prime Minister may be discharged today
New Delhi, January 30
On a speedy recovery post-heart bypass surgery, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to be discharged from AIIMS tomorrow. “If everything goes well, the PM would be allowed to go home tomorrow,” said AIIMS sources, adding that his discharge tomorrow was “very likely”.

Released sailors arrive in Mumbai
Mumbai, January 30
As many as 25 Indian sailors onboard the MT Biscaglia, who were held hostage for more than two months by Somalian pirates, arrived in Mumbai early this morning. The hostages were released last week after the Liberian owners of the vessel apparently paid a ransom.

Uphaar fire: Ansal brothers get bail
New Delhi, January 30
The Supreme Court today granted bail to the Ansal brothers, Sushil and Gopal, in the Uphaar cinema hall fire case in which they have been sentenced to one-year imprisonment.

India ready to talk to Holbrooke
New Delhi, January 30
Now that the Obama administration has clarified that Kashmir will not be in the mandate of Richard Holbrooke, the newly appointed US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, India has no hesitation in dealing with him when he visits the region shortly.

UN Secy-Gen to visit India
New Delhi, January 30
India is expected to share with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon its findings in the Mumbai terror attacks mounted from the Pakistani territory when he pays a day-long visit to New Delhi on February 5.





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George stakes claim to Nalanda seat
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 30
Former NDA convener and senior JD(U) leader George Fernandes took everyone, including his party workers by surprise, as he staked his claim to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections from Nalanda.

George had represented the Nalanda Lok Sabha seat thrice earlier. At present, he is the Lok Sabha member from Muzaffarpur.

Belying the common refrain in the party that the octogenarian George would not be contesting elections in view of his poor health, he not only announced his decision to fight the Lok Sabha polls but also made his intention known to contest from Nalanda once again. He made these announcements to mediapersons, who had gone to cover the state-level convention of the JD(U), the ruling party in Bihar, at Rajgir on Wednesday.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, JD(U) national president Sharad Yadav and all top leaders of the party, ministers, MLAs and thousands of workers were present on the occasion.

Having won the Nalanda parliamentary seat for three successive terms, George had to shift to Muzaffarpur in 2004 as Nitish expressed his desire to contest from both the Barh and Nalanda parliamentary constituencies. Nitish lost from Barh to the RJD but won from Nalanda. He had to vacate Nalanda after becoming the Chief Minister in November 2005. By then relations between George (the then JD(U) chief and convener of NDA) and Nitish had soured to such an extent that George was unceremoniously ousted from the post of the party chief and subsequently from the post of NDA convener.

Sharad Yadav replaced him on both these posts. In the subsequent byelection for Nalanda, Ramswaroop Prasad of JD(U) and a close confidante of Nitish won the seat. However, he was also terminated from the Lok Sabha for having defected to the RJD and voting in favour of the UPA during the confidence vote violating the party whip.

Since then the JD(U) was on the look out for a 'suitable' candidate from Nalanda. It seems that by announcing his candidature, George has put the party's think tank in a fix. No senior leader of JD(U) had welcomed George's announcement to contest from Nalanda.

The party is tight lipped over this issue raising doubts over seriousness of George's claim.

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SP-Cong alliance coming apart
Vibha Sharma and Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
With the Congress Working Committee rejecting a national alliance with UPA allies, the Congress further hardened its position on seat-sharing with the Samjawadi Party in Uttar Pradesh here today and AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh reasserted the distinct possibility of friendly fights with the SP.

Digvijay Singh said here today that his party would soon announce its first list of Lok Sabha candidates for Uttar Pradesh and it would include at least some of those constituencies where the SP had already announced its candidates.

“The Central Election Committee (CEC) will meet in the next few days to finalise the names. Hopefully, we will be able to announce our list for UP by next week. The list will include those Lok Sabha constituencies where the Samajwadi Party has also announced its candidates. There will most likely be friendly contest on at least eight constituencies,” Singh said.

Though the SP did not react immediately, its general secretary Amar Singh had already rejected “friendly fights.” Political observers feel this could sound the death knell for a Congress-SP alliance and might hit the SP’s electoral chances seriously.

The SP-Congress seat-sharing talks in UP has hit many a turbulent water with the SP announcing its reluctance to accommodate all Congress demands. The Congress initially started off with a demand of 40 seats, scaling it down now to 25, the SP appeared loath to leave more than 16, arguing that the Congress won only 10 in the 2004 polls. But Amar Singh had said: “We can accommodate others, but not at the cost of our interests.”

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Age shocker for Bihar youth Cong chief
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 30
It was indeed a “bolt from the blue” for the newly appointed Bihar Youth Congress President Chandan Yadav. Just a couple of hours before Yadav could take charge of his new assignment in the state capital here on Thursday, his appointment was cancelled by the Indian Youth Congress on charge of being overage.

As a matter of fact, Yadav was still on board a flight from Delhi to Patna when the news regarding cancellation of his appointment was communicated to the state Congress President Anil Sharma. As per the latest directive, the outgoing Bihar Youth Congress Chief Tarun Kumar would continue on his post till further orders. A large number of Youth Congress workers had gathered at the Bihar Congress headquarters- Sadaqat Ashram -- here for the felicitation ceremony of new state Youth Congress chief.

Supporters of Yadav had painted the town with big hoardings and posters of their leader. Special garlands were made for his felicitation. But the ceremonial mood mellowed down as soon as they got the news. All special garlands were held back and many posters and hoardings were removed from the venue.

However, the function named as state-level youth Congress workers’ conference, continued as per the schedule but without any enthusiasm. It was learnt that the decision to cancel Chandan Yadav’s appointment was taken at the behest of Rahul Gandhi who happens to be in charge of the Indian Youth Congress as well as the NSUI.

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Budayun MP in two minds
Weighs his options of joining either Cong or BSP
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
The four-time sitting Samajwadi Party MP from Budayun in Uttar Pradesh, Salim Sherwani, is currently weighing his options of joining the Congress or the BSP, depending upon whether the Congress will go alone or align with the SP in the forthcoming general elections.

Sherwani is certain about contesting from Budayun, whether the BSP or the Congress backs him.

Sherwani, a minister in the United Front government, is upset over the SP’s announcing the candidature of Dharmendra Yadav, nephew of party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, without any advance notice.

His determination to fight against Dharmendra Yadav was further resolved after Mulayam embraced Kalyan Singh. “People from all over the country and my own constituency have been calling me up,” Sherwani said here today.

“Since January 8 (when Mulayam Singh announced his nephew’s candidature) without bothering to inform me, I have addressed at least 13-14 meetings and the crowds varied from 5,000 to 40,000. I joined the SP in 1995 and won Budayun on SP ticket in 1996 for the first time and since then have never lost. I have my own following too,” he said.

He has been meeting Congress leaders like party president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Digvijay Singh. In the BSP, too, he has been in touch with Mayawati’s trusted lieutenant Nasimuddin Siddqui.

Sherwani entered the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1984 as a Congress member and in spite of joining the SP later he had personal relations with the Nehru-Gandhi family.

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Parties want celebrities to bat for them
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 30
The forthcoming Lok Sabha elections is likely to see a number of celebrity candidates fronting for different political parties in the Mumbai city and suburban seats.

The Shiv Sena is first of the block by wooing former cricketer and national selector of the Indian cricket team Dilip Vengsarkar to contest on its ticket. Vengsarkar had a meeting with Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray today and is said to have accepted the latter’s invitation to join the party.

According to Sanjay Raut, the Sena’s Rajya Sabha member and editor of the party mouthpiece Saamna, Vengsarkar has been offered the Mumbai North-Central constituency, renamed the Mahim seat. The ace cricketer is likely to take on Priya Dutt who is likely to front the Congress party from here. Dutt presently represents the Mumbai North West seat but after the delimitation of constituencies much of her supporters are set to lie in the Mumbai North-Central constituency, say observers.

Incidentally, Dadar and its famous Shivaji Park grounds come under this constituency. The area is also home to the native Marathi-speaking population like Vengsarkar.

Dutt's old Mumbai North West, renamed Goregaon, seat may be fronted by the Samajwadi Party that is angling for a tie-up with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party in Maharashtra.

The Congress, on its part, is said to be wooing actor Shah Rukh Khan to contest from the Mumbai North, renamed as the Malad Lok Sabha seat. The seat is held by actor Govinda, whose chance of a re-election is slim. The constituency also has a sizable number of Gujarati voters who are traditionally supporters of the BJP. Former Union Petroleum Minister Ram Naik, who was defeated by Govinda in the last polls, is likely to contest from this seat again.

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Adivasis float party in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 30
Adivasis in Assam today launched a new political party, National People’s Party (NPP), following a crucial meeting of representatives of about 20 Adivasi organisations held here.

This is a bad news for the ruling Congress before the Lok Sabha polls because that used to have a strong bastion among the community.

Chief organising secretary of the All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA) Bosco Chermaco said the new political party of Adivasis in Assam was the fruit of initiative launched by the AASAA, which has been spearheading the community’s demand for Scheduled Tribe (ST) status in the state.

“The main objective of floating the party for the community is to send representatives of the community to Assam Assembly and Lok Sabha where they would take the community’s fight for ST status in Assam. The 60 lakh-strong Adivasi community in Assam can decide outcome of election in over 20 Assembly constituencies in the state,” the AASAA leader said.

He further said that though established political parties in Assam had elected representatives from Adivasi community, they could hardly raise issues of the community in the appropriate forum as their actions were always dictated by the high command of those parties.

The new political party of the Adivasis which is headed by Suresh Oraon as president and Ashaf Chandi Gudia as the general secretary, is yet to take a decision to field its candidates in the next Lok Sabha election.

Since the community plays a decisive role in several Assembly constituencies, particularly in the tea belts of Upper Assam and the north bank and in lower Assam, Adivasi leaders feel they can cause maximum electoral damage to established parties.

Reeling under decades of underdevelopment, the tea tribes have been up in arms demanding Scheduled Tribe status and gradually shifting their loyalty from the ruling Congress, which the community had been steadfastly supporting in the State since Independence.

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11 yrs after, Ohio doc’s fight for justice still on
Had lost wife to medical negligence; to sit on hunger strike in front of SC

Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

MEA officer’s struggle

K. Srikar Reddy, an MEA official, has been battling since 2003 when anesthesia overdose during delivery killed his wife. The Medical Council of India found two docs guilty and cancelled their licence for three months. Reddy has appealed against MCI orders to Delhi high court, seeking licence cancellation for five years or more. He has another appeal pending in the National Consumer Redressal Commission against the orders of Andhra Pradesh Consumer Redressal Commission, which had altogether dismissed his case for compensation

New Delhi, January 30
In 1998, a US-based clinical psychologist died of alleged medical negligence during her Indian holiday; she was 36 when steroid overdose allegedly killed her. Anuradha Saha just had skin rash.

Eleven years on, her case is dragging, prompting her husband, an acclaimed HIV/AIDS specialist from Ohio and a former World Bank consultant, to resort to hunger strike in India, protesting the delay in justice.

In the capital today, Dr Kunal Saha declared his intention of beginning an indefinite hunger strike unto death in front of the Supreme Court from February 6. Hundreds of similarly situated people are expected to join him. Saha has further sought security from the Delhi police during his stay in India, considering he was attacked when pursuing his wife’s case in Kolkata.

As things stand, not a single registered allopath in India had been convicted for “criminal negligence” under Section 304-A IPC until 2002, the year Saha secured the conviction of two leading Kolkata-based doctors for causing wrongful death of his wife. The trial court’s order was, however, overturned by the high court, resulting in Saha’s criminal appeal in the Supreme Court. The appeal has lingered since the SC admitted it in 2005.

It is this delay in early hearing that Saha is protesting. He yesterday brought the matter to the notice of the US Embassy, although the embassy spokesperson had no comments on the case. Saha, however, said he met a top official, who expressed concern over the delay in a case involving naturalised US citizens.

“All I want is a day of hearing in the court. My plea has been repeatedly declined whereas 83 per cent cases filed after my appeal have been disposed of. I am prepared to do or die,” said Saha, whose case is historic as it seeks the highest ever compensation in India’s medico-legal history, a whopping Rs 144 crore. Till now, Rs 15 lakh has been the highest compensation ever granted in cases of medical negligence; the lowest has been Rs 10,000.

“I want to change the way medical recklessness is perceived in India,” Saha said. The People for Better Treatment, an organisation he founded after his wife’s death, has 3000 such listed cases.

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Pension of Generals increased by Rs 3,000
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 30
The pension of Generals, who were granted pension lower to that of Colonels, following the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission has now been enhanced. Further, the new pension of Lieutenant Colonels, who retired prior to January 2006, is expected to be fixed at Rs 25,700 once the notification of their upgradation to pay band-IV comes through.

An additional fitment of Rs 3,000 per month to be incorporated in the pensions of Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals, who had retired prior to January 1, 2006, has been sanctioned.

A letter sent to the service headquarters by the Defence Ministry’s Department of Ex-servicemen Welfare on January 20 states that keeping in view that Colonels and Brigadiers have been placed in pay band-IV and military service pay of Rs 6,000 is reckoned in their case for stepping up pension, the pension of Generals be similarly regulated.

The letter states that it may be ensured that the pension is not lower than 50 per cent of minimum of pay band-IV plus notional military service pay of Rs 6,000 along with grade pay of Rs 10,000 for Major Generals and Rs 12,000 for Lieutenant Generals.

According to new pension scales applicable to pre-2006 retirees, the basic pension for Colonels is now Rs 26,050, for Brigadiers Rs 26,150, for Major Generals Rs 26,700 and for Lieutenant Generals now is Rs 27,700.

The basic pension of Major Generals and Lieutenant Generals was earlier fixed lower than Colonels and Brigadiers at Rs 23,700 and Rs 24,700, respectively. This so happened because military service pay is not admissible to General ranks.

“The pension of General ranks had to be stepped up since a higher rank cannot be sanctioned a pension lower than an inferior rank,” Maj Navdeep Singh, a local lawyer said.

“Similar anomalies resulted in the Fifth Pay Commission, when the pension of some Major Generals was fixed at rates lower that that of Brigadiers. The pension of Major Generals was later upgraded by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Supreme Court,” he added.

Meanwhile, with the government ruling out the implementation of one rank-one pension severe disparity of armed forces pensioners retiring at different times would continue to exist.

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Now, Ramadoss condemns pub culture
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

NCW chief has nothing to say on Gehlot

National Commission for Women chairperson Girija Vyas today evaded questions on the anti-pub culture remarks of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlote. She plainly said she had nothing to say on the matter

New Delhi, January 30
Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yedyurappa’s anti-pub campaign today found support in Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who said he was opposed to any culture that promoted alcohol consumption in any way.

“As Health Minister I am against any practice that induces alcohol consumption,” Ramadoss said after he discussed the National Alcohol Policy during a high-level meeting of the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare. The council is the apex advisory body to the Health Ministry, primarily on legislative issues.

Ramadoss indicated that the National Alcohol Policy would soon be a reality. “We will soon have the policy,” he said. The council is reported to have discussed at length various nuances involved in the matter.

Another issue debated at the meeting was the danger of infections due to syringes with the Health Minister saying auto-disabled syringes would be inducted into the health system within two years. The Central health institutes are already using these syringes. They can be used only once and prevent infection and recycling.

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Tackling Terror
Commando unit for rlys soon
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 30
In the backdrop of Mumbai terror strikes, the Railways is gearing up to raise a special commando outfit, on the lines of National Security Guards, to repulse terrorist attacks at railway stations and its properties.

Selected personnel from railway battalions would be given rigorous commando training on the lines of NSG and would be posted at vulnerable and sensitive railway stations and other places, Union Minister of State for Railways R Velu said here.

He was speaking to reporters after visiting Secunderabad railway station here and reviewing its modernisation works. An integrated security system was being worked out for 140 select railways stations across the country that are prone to attacks, apart from the four metro cities, the minister said.

As a part of the measures to beef up security, CCTVs would be installed at all these stations to monitor the movements of suspicious persons, apart from placing the services of bomb disposal and dog squads at the disposal of the railways.

The X-ray machines, metal detectors and enhanced Railway Protection Force (RPF) force would be made part of the enhanced security set-up to meet the emerging challenges.

On the modernisation of Secunderabad station, headquarters of south central railways, he said it would be upgraded into a world-class railway station with amenities like budget hotel, shopping malls, banks and stores.

Velu said Rs 8.50 crore has already been spent on various developmental works while Rs. 2.20 crore worth works were in progress. The proposed escalators would be installed within the next two years.

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Tax Inspectors’ Exam
After 10 years, Punjab submits results to SC
R Sedhuraman/Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 30
The Punjab government today submitted in a sealed cover the results of the 1999 examinations held for recruiting 53 Inspectors in the Excise and Taxation Department that had been stalled in December 2001 due to the Assembly elections.

A Bench comprising Justices LS Panta and BS Reddy, however, returned the documents to Punjab’s standing counsel Ajay Pal, directing him to find out whether the results could be shared with the petitioners, Sunita Rani and others. The petitioners have challenged the government’s move to recruit such inspectors by holding a fresh exam. The case would come up for hearing again on February 6.

Sunita Rani and other successful candidates had appeared for the interview in December 2001, but before the results could be out, the EC announced the dates for the Assembly polls in the state. The model code of conduct that came into force immediately stalled the recruitment process.

Some of the candidates moved the Punjab and Haryana HC, upon which the then Amarinder Singh government filed an affidavit in the HC, stating that there was no plan to fill up vacancies in the department due to the financial position. The HC dismissed the petition and this was challenged in the apex court. In the meantime, the Punjab government brought out an advertisement last year for filling up 160 posts in the department. According to the petitioners, the posts should be offered to them first, before any fresh process is initiated.

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Prime Minister may be discharged today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
On a speedy recovery post-heart bypass surgery, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to be discharged from AIIMS tomorrow. “If everything goes well, the PM would be allowed to go home tomorrow,” said AIIMS sources, adding that his discharge tomorrow was “very likely”.

The PM, it is learnt, is keen to attend the last day of the parliament session. “The PM is likely to attend the session on February 26, the last day of the 14th Lok Sabha,” UPA sources said. The doctors earlier said the PM would be in a position to return to his normal duties within three to four weeks, although he would take six weeks to be fully fit.

Meanwhile, doctors attending to the PM said the discharge date might be extended up to Sunday if there was any slowdown or change in PM’s recovery. That, however, seems very unlikely considering the PM has already returned to normalcy in his private room in the hospital. He started his day reading some newspapers and also walked around the corridor besides taking his normal physiotherapy sessions.

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Released sailors arrive in Mumbai
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 30
As many as 25 Indian sailors onboard the MT Biscaglia, who were held hostage for more than two months by Somalian pirates, arrived in Mumbai early this morning. The hostages were released last week after the Liberian owners of the vessel apparently paid a ransom.

The MT Biscaglia had a 31-member crew aboard, including three Bangladeshis, two British nationals and an Irish seaman, according to information available here. While the British and Irish nationals managed to escape by jumping into the sea, the Indians and Bangladeshis were held captive. The ship is a chemical tanker carrying 16,282 tonne of cargo and was en route between Indonesia and Europe when it was taken by pirates. At the Mumbai airport, crewman Hanif Kapde was received by his parents and wife, who were simply in tears at meeting him. “I had lost all hopes of returning home,” Kapde said.

Sher Khan, the second officer on board the ship, said there were moments of fear and apprehension during their two-month long captivity.

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Uphaar fire: Ansal brothers get bail
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 30
The Supreme Court today granted bail to the Ansal brothers, Sushil and Gopal, in the Uphaar cinema hall fire case in which they have been sentenced to one-year imprisonment.

A Bench headed by Justice SB Sinha also issued notices on the cross appeals filed by the brothers, whose main business is real estate, and the Association of the Victims of the Uphaar Tragedy (AVUT). While the realtors have challenged their conviction, the AVUT have sought enhancement of the sentence.

The Bench ordered their release on a personal bond of Rs 10,000 each on a plea by their counsel Ram Jethmalani who said his clients had served nearly half of their sentence.

The trial court had sentenced them to two years on November 20, 2007, but the Delhi High Court reduced it to one year on December 19, 2008. As many as 59 persons were killed in the fire in the cinema hall on June 13, 1997.

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India ready to talk to Holbrooke
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
Now that the Obama administration has clarified that Kashmir will not be in the mandate of Richard Holbrooke, the newly appointed US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, India has no hesitation in dealing with him when he visits the region shortly.

“We will be very happy to talk to him and explain to him,” government sources said here today. India’s known position is that without taking New Delhi into confidence, the problems in Pakistan and Afghanistan could not be solved.

Holbrooke is not a stranger to India. He has visited the country at least thrice in the recent past and is well aware of the problems in the region.

The sources shot down any proposal to discuss the Kashmir issue with Holbrooke. “Kashmir is not part of his job…he has to take care of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

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UN Secy-Gen to visit India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
India is expected to share with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon its findings in the Mumbai terror attacks mounted from the Pakistani territory when he pays a day-long visit to New Delhi on February 5.

According to sources in the UN Information Centre here, the UN chief was coming here primarily to attend the ‘Delhi Sustainable Summit’, aimed at bringing climate change on top of the global agenda.

The sources said Ban would also be meeting top Indian leaders during the course of the visit.

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