SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Lankan Tamils’ Issue
TN sees another self-immolation bid
Madurai, January 31
Close on the heels of a Tamil youth, who set himself ablaze for the cause of Lankan Tamils in Chennai, a 39-year-old man made self-immolation bid allegedly for the same reason at Pallapatti village in Dindigul district last night.

Colleges closed indefinitely

Parties announce bandh on Feb 4
Chennai, January 31
Despite Supreme Court’s strong opposition to protest in the Sethu Samudram canal issue, the Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Forum — comprising CPI, MDMK, PMK and VCK — today gave a call for statewide bandh on February 4.

Disgruntled BSP leaders float new front
Lucknow, January 31
Accusing the Bahujan Samaj Party of diluting the Dalit movement’s ideology, eight minor political parties of the state have joined hands to float a new political front. The leaders of the new front said the BSP was resorting to crass commercialisation that has disillusioned the Dalits.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati waves during a BSP conference in New Delhi on Saturday. — PTI
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati waves during a BSP conference in New Delhi on Saturday.





EARLIER STORIES

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi (extreme left) and other state government officials during a review meeting after the imposition of President’s Rule in Ranchi on Saturday.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Jharkhand Governor Syed Sibte Razi (extreme left) and other state government officials during a review meeting after the imposition of President’s Rule in Ranchi on Saturday. — PTI

Mumbai Attack
Centre rejects BJP’s demand for probe
New Delhi, January 31
The Central government today rejected the BJP’s demand for the institution of a commission of inquiry into the lapses that led to the Mumbai attacks, saying the Mumbai police was investigating matter.

Docs complete pre-discharge tests on PM
New Delhi, January 31
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, presently recuperating at AIMMS after a bypass surgery, could not be relieved from the hospital today, with doctors still watching over him.

TRS joins four-party alliance
Will contest 9 LS seats out of total 17 and 45 Assembly seats out of 119
Hyderabad, January 31
After a prolonged dithering, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is fighting for separate Telangana state, today firmed up seat-sharing agreement with the Telugu Desam Party and formally joined the four-party “grand opposition alliance” to take on the ruling Congress in the coming elections.

‘Lady Amitabh’ too joins hands

Kosi breach plugged
Nitish flays rivals for criticism
Patna, January 31
The Water Resources Department of Bihar claimed to have plugged the main breach in eastern Kosi embankment at Kusaha in Nepal, pushing the river back to its original course.

‘Indo-Pak trust to come from cultural exchange’
Author Hari Kunzru calls for ‘serious’ dialogue
Kolkata, January 31
Trust between India and Pakistan could only come from a cultural exchange between them and not from the political establishment, British Indian author Hari Kunzru said.

Afghan migrants may get Indian citizenship
New Delhi, January 31
Sikhs and Hindus who migrated to India over a decade ago from Afghanistan following the rise of Taliban terror there may soon get citizenship in India.

M’lore pub attack accused get bail
Bangalore, January 31
All the 27 accused in the Mangalore pub attack incident were granted bail today by a local court there.

New museums to get major aid from govt
New Delhi, January 31
In an attempt to mobilise the conservation movement in India, the Union Ministry of Tourism and Culture has come up with a total revamping of the scheme for restoration of museums.

Health Issue
Most Indians want stern warning on tobacco products: Survey
New Delhi, January 31
With the government busy in diluting pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages, an overwhelming majority of Indians say they want these warnings, and, that too, large ones. About 98 per cent of those surveyed said they supported the health warnings on bidis; 99 per cent wanted larger and more effective pictorial warnings on all tobacco products and 73 per cent disagreed with the government’s decision to delay stronger health warnings on these products.

Now, subsidy for leprosy patients
New Delhi, January 31
The government will provide an incentive of Rs 5,000 each to leprosy-affected persons belonging to BPL families to help them undergo reconstructive surgery in identified institutions.

Scarlette Murder
Plea filed against cop
Panaji, January 31
A social activist today filed a contempt petition against police inspector Ramesh Gaonkar before the Goa-bench of the Bombay High Court in connection with the mysterious death of British minor Scarlette Keeling.

Activist files plea against cop
Panaji, January 31
A social activist today filed a contempt petition against police inspector Ramesh Gaonkar before the Goa-bench of the Bombay High Court in connection with the mysterious death of British minor Scarlette Keeling.

Hotel run by Lankan attacked
Puducherry, January 31
A four-storied hotel run by a Sri Lankan national here was attacked last night by an eight-member gang for the cause of Lankan Tamils.

US to prod B’desh to act against ultras
Guwahati, January 31
The United States has pledged to get in touch with the new government in Bangladesh for eviction of militants operating in north-east India from the soil of that country, besides offering to help terrorism-affected Assam through the government of India to ensure safety and security to its people.

Court cancels BPSC prelim test results
Patna, January 31
In a significant development, the Patna High Court yesterday set aside the results of the preliminary tests for the 48th to 52nd combined competitive examinations conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) for the post of Bihar Administrative Service, Bihar Police Service, etc., on the charge of anomalies and irregularities.

Famers to have ‘first right on water’ in Chhattisgarh
Raipur, January 31
The Chhattisgarh government has decided to make provisions to give farmers the "first right on water" in its new agriculture policy, a state cabinet minister said today.

President to inaugurate Global Pagoda
Mumbai, January 31
President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate the Global Pagoda which offers Vipassana mediation in Mumbai on February 8.

Chartered train tours promise style, comfort
New Delhi, January 31
Tourists can now charter a train to their dream holiday destination with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) all set to roll such a train from the western sector next month.

Spurt in crime against women worries NCW
Guwahati, January 31
The National Commission for Women (NCW) is worried over the rising incidents of crime against women all over the country, especially in National Capital Region (NCR) and Delhi, and has expressed concern over poor awareness level about the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Akash to go into production
Hyderabad, January 31
The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) here is gearing up for production of Akash, the first indigenous surface-to-air guided missile to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).





Top








 

Lankan Tamils’ Issue
TN sees another self-immolation bid

Madurai, January 31
Close on the heels of a Tamil youth, who set himself ablaze for the cause of Lankan Tamils in Chennai, a 39-year-old man made self-immolation bid allegedly for the same reason at Pallapatti village in Dindigul district last night.

P Ravi, said to be an activist of Ilamchiruthaigal Ezhuchi Paasarai - youth-wing of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, was admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital here in a critical condition.

He told the journalists that he was a staunch supporter of Lankan Tamils and had set himself ablaze in protest against the genocide of Tamils in the Island nation.

The police, however, denied his statement and claimed that Ravi suffered burn injuries due to stove-burst at his residence.

They added that Ravi was a notorious narcotic-peddler and several cases were pending against him. They also stated that Ravi was also detained under the Goondas Act.

Rejecting police claim, R Azhagumani, advocate of Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, said Ravi was a Tamil activist and had immolated himself for the cause of the Lankan Tamils. — UNI

Top

 

Colleges closed indefinitely

Chennai, January 31
The Tamil Nadu government today ordered an indefinite closure of colleges and hostels in the state in the wake of students’ unrest on the Sri Lankan-Tamils issue. Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary KS Sripathy said in a release here that all the colleges, both private and government, had been ordered to close due to the unrest. — PTI

Top

 

Parties announce bandh on Feb 4
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 31
Despite Supreme Court’s strong opposition to protest in the Sethu Samudram canal issue, the Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Forum — comprising CPI, MDMK, PMK and VCK — today gave a call for statewide bandh on February 4.

Coordinator of the forum P Nedumaran said they have invited all parties, including the DMK, AIADMK, Congress, Dravidar Kazhagam and CPI-M to join the protest. Since the bandh comes a day after the DMK’s crucial meeting, the ruling party would have to decide its stand on the bandh. It may be recalled that a contempt of court case is pending against the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in the Supreme Court for having announced a bandh in the Sethu Samudram issue.

The bandh announcement will be a crucial test for the DMK leader, who had several times asserted that he was ready to sacrifice power for the welfare of Tamils. If the DMK declines to participate in the protest, it would have to come out with an explanation to pacify the people of the state.

However, unlike the previous time, when an all-party meeting headed by the CM decided to observe the bandh, a forum not attached to the government has declared bandh this time.

Interestingly, when the PMK leader Ramadoss had proposed a bandh a week ago, the CM had turned it down saying that such a protest would topple his government. The proposed bandh would also reveal the stand of AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, whose allies MDMK and CPI are vociferous in their protests against the Centre, on Tamils’ issue.

Top

 

Disgruntled BSP leaders float new front
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 31
Accusing the Bahujan Samaj Party of diluting the Dalit movement’s ideology, eight minor political parties of the state have joined hands to float a new political front.

The leaders of the new front said the BSP was resorting to crass commercialisation that has disillusioned the Dalits. The front, the name of which is still to be decided, will also cater to the aspirations of Muslims and those belonging to the Backward Classes. Incidentally, six of the eight leaders that have come together yesterday are former BSP men who now want to get even with UP Chief Minister Mayawati.

The parties in the new front include the Apna Dal, BS4, National Lok Hind Party, Bhartiya Samaj Party, Bhartiya Sarvodaya Party, Lokpriya Samaj Party, Vanchit Jamaat Party and the Rashtriya Kangar Party. Talking to reporters, Apna Dal president Dr Sonelal Patel said the front would contest all 80 seats in the state and would not have any alliance with any national political party.

He said since some of the parties had a presence in other states, too, the front would contest in 14 states. According to Patel, the new body would make its presence felt in the coming Lok Sabha elections and would eventually hold the key to government formation by the time of the next assembly elections in UP.

Former UP minister RK Choudhury, who now heads BS4 party, said each leader in the front had some influence in some part of the state. “Together we will emerge as a force to reckon with,” declared Choudhury, who was once close to Mayawati. He accused the UP Chief Minister of discarding all senior leader of the party who were following the path of BSP founder Kanshi Ram. “She has got rid of off all stalwarts of the party. The BSP is now running under the influence of the same Manuwadis against whom Kanshi Ram had struggled all his life,” alleged Choudhary.

Top

 

Mumbai Attack
Centre rejects BJP’s demand for probe
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
The Central government today rejected the BJP’s demand for the institution of a commission of inquiry into the lapses that led to the Mumbai attacks, saying the Mumbai police was investigating matter.

The government’s opinion came today as Home Minister P Chidambaram addressed a press conference where he was asked whether the government would set up a commission to probe the Mumbai carnage. The demand for an enquiry was made by LK Advani, who sought a probe to investigate the lapses that led to the 26/11 attacks.

To a specific question as to why the government was reluctant to hold such an inquiry, which could bring out the role of other people in the attacks, the Home minister said under the law, crime is investigated by the police who chargesheet the accused in the court.

The Home Minister went to describe Pakistan High Commissioner Shahid Malik’s meeting with him this morning as a “courtesy call”, where nothing substantial was discussed.

On the security front, Chidambaram said all security agencies had found ‘extremely beneficial’ the Multi Agency Centre (MAC) formed in the wake of the Mumbai attacks. The Centre was now proceeding with the second stage of the project that was to link the MAC with state-level MACs and the special branches in the state. The government had sanctioned Rs 147 crore for this through the Intelligence Bureau, Chidambaram added.

Assam will be provided with 17 more companies of security forces. To locate the Quick Reaction Teams of NSG commandos, possession of 5 acres of land at IGI Airport along Dwarka Expressway was taken on January 14. The next Census would be undertaken and completed in 2010-11. Multipurpose National Identity Cards (MNICs) would be issued thereafter, he said.

However, the work of issuing MNICs to the population living in coastal areas in all the nine coastal states will be done by 2010.

The high-level empowered committee (HLEC) approved a sum of Rs 956 crore as for the completion of border fencing, roads and flood lighting works along the Indo-Bangladesh and Indo-Pakistan borders.

Also, the original schedule to procure 204 boats for coastal security has been compressed, he added while revealing that powers delegated to the Director-Generals and Special DGs of the CPMFs and the Director, IB, have been significantly enhanced. This will enable the heads of these organisations to speedily procure vehicles, arms and ammunition, stores, machinery and equipment, and clothing.

Orders were placed on January 16 to procure 20,000 bulletproof jackets on an urgent basis. Delivery will be completed by April this year. Separately, jawans of the BSF and CRPF will now carry the light weight 5.56 mm carbines and a global tender will be issued for the same.

Top

 

Docs complete pre-discharge tests on PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, presently recuperating at AIMMS after a bypass surgery, could not be relieved from the hospital today, with doctors still watching over him.

They, however, completed pre-discharge tests on the Prime Minister, indicating a possibility of his discharge tomorrow.

A PMO statement said Singh would return home soon and was completing the in-hospital phase of his post-operative recovery period. “He had a comfortable night and is going through an active daytime programme of exercise and physiotherapy. He has been reading newspapers, watching television and holding discussions with some officers of the PMO,” the statement added.

Top

 

TRS joins four-party alliance
Will contest 9 LS seats out of total 17 and 45 Assembly seats out of 119
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 31
After a prolonged dithering, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which is fighting for separate Telangana state, today firmed up seat-sharing agreement with the Telugu Desam Party and formally joined the four-party “grand opposition alliance” to take on the ruling Congress in the coming elections.

Overcoming the hiccups in seat adjustments, the TRS, seen as a major political force in the region, made the much-awaited announcement about the poll pact.

Wrapping up several rounds of intense negotiations, TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao drove to TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu’s Jubilee Hills residence here to clinch the deal. The two leaders then addressed a joint press conference to announce the poll tie-up.

As per the agreement, the Telangana party would contest nine Lok Sabha seats, out of a total of 17 in the region, and 45 Assembly seats out of 119 seats.

“We have come together to defeat the corrupt Congress. The opposition alliance will bag over 200 seats (in the 294-member Assembly) and come to power,” a beaming Rao said.

Naidu, on his part, described the development as “historic” and said the opposition was determined to put an end to the Congress misrule. The CPI and CPM are the other two partners of “Maha Kootami” (grand alliance).

Both the leaders said further details of the seat-sharing arrangement would be announced later.

At one stage, the talks were deadlocked with the TRS insisting on its share of 10 Lok Sabha and 50 Assembly seats, a demand turned down by the TDP chief who has to accommodate the requirements of the Left allies — CPI and CPM — as well.

After initial rounds of negotiations, the TRS had even threatened to pull out of “Maha Kootami” (Grand Alliance) if its demands were not met and to go it alone in the polls.

Simultaneously, it had opened a channel with the actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party for a possible poll tie-up.

‘Lady Amitabh’ too joins hands

Former Telugu film actress Vijayashanthi, known in film circles as “Lady Amitabh”, has merged her party, Talli Telangana, with the TRS, which is in the forefront in the movement for a separate Telangana state.

The yesteryears’ heroine wound up her three-year-old political outfit and took membership in the TRS after a meeting its president, K Chandrasekhar Rao, here today.

Welcoming her into the party fold, Rao said she would be given a key post in the Telangana party, ahead of the Assembly elections due in April-May. “I have decided to merge my party with the TRS in the interests of strengthening the statehood movement. Our ultimate goal is to achieve a separate Telangana state,” Vijayashanthi said. The development, she said, would help in ensuring that pro-Telangana votes are not divided in the coming elections.

Top

 

Kosi breach plugged
Nitish flays rivals for criticism
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 31
The Water Resources Department of Bihar claimed to have plugged the main breach in eastern Kosi embankment at Kusaha in Nepal, pushing the river back to its original course.

Principal Secretary of the Water Resources Department Ajay Nayak at a press conference today said the breach plugging work had been completed two months before the deadline i.e. March 31.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar praised officials of the Water Resources Department for meeting the challenge and announced to reward them suitably.

He also lambasted the opposition parties for raising doubts over the capability of state government to plug the breach.

“I was not allowed to visit Kusaha (Nepal) for inspection of the breach closure work and encourage the officials engaged in repairing work of Kosi embankment,” Nitish said.

Because of the major breach (around 1,700 m long) at Kusaha on August 18, 2008, the river had changed its course causing large-scale devastation in five districts of Bihar - Supaul, Saharsa, Madhepura, Araria and Purnea affecting 25 lakh people in the state. One district of Nepal - Sunsari — was also badly affected.

The state government had to launch an unprecedented rescue and relief operation with the help of the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces.

After making spot inspection of the multi courses of Kosi and its breached embankment in the upstream, a high-level committee of technical experts submitted a report to the Bihar government suggesting ways and means to plug the breach and put the river back to its old course.

Taking a swift cognisance of the report, the state government deployed a team of around 75 engineers to carry out the breach closure work

Top

 

‘Indo-Pak trust to come from cultural exchange’
Author Hari Kunzru calls for ‘serious’ dialogue

Kolkata, January 31
Trust between India and Pakistan could only come from a cultural exchange between them and not from the political establishment, British Indian author Hari Kunzru said.

“There needs to be a serious dialogue between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. But trust between them is not going to come from the political level. It’s going to come from the cultural level. People-to-people contact is very important,” he said.

“Both countries are not going to trust each other until and unless there is cultural interaction between them,” he told reporters here yesterday on the sidelines of the “Young Publishing Entrepreneur Award Ceremony” organised by the British Council.

Stating that since his father was a Kashmiri Pandit, he has always been fascinated by the thought of a peaceful Kashmir and Hindu-Muslim unity. “I hope that Hindu-Muslim unity becomes a reality one day.”

Speaking about prejudices and racism, about which he has been very vocal, he said, “Prejudices exist everywhere. Indian people are racist in many ways. I also had a Chinese girlfriend, but I could never introduce her to my family. It’s because of the racist society we live in.”

Novelist Kunzru was born in the US and now lives in London. His first book “The Impressionist” (2002) won the Betty Task Prize, Guardian First Book Award and the Whitbread First Novel Award.

His second novel “Transmission” won the British Book Awards in 2005. In 2003, he was named by Granta magazine as one of the twenty “Best of Young British Novelists”.

Currently, he is working on a new book where he would once again be writing with an Indian angle. — PTI

Top

 

Afghan migrants may get Indian citizenship
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Sikhs and Hindus who migrated to India over a decade ago from Afghanistan following the rise of Taliban terror there may soon get citizenship in India.

The chief of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, PS Sarna, today claimed that the Centre had, following DSGMC’s efforts, agreed to give citizenship to the migrants, around 20,000 in number and most of them living in Delhi.

Accompanied by Punjab Congress leader Iqbal Singh, Sarna said the migrants would have to relinquish their citizenship of Afghanistan. Since these people have been staying here for long and are tax-payers, it was logical to give them citizenship, he said, claiming the decision would be announced soon and a series of meeting had already been conducted by Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal in this connection.

Top

 

M’lore pub attack accused get bail
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 31
All the 27 accused in the Mangalore pub attack incident were granted bail today by a local court there.

Pramod Mutthalik, the Sri Ram Sena chief arrested in connection with the incident, too, was granted bail. However, he was re-arrested and sent in judicial remand by court immediately in connection with another case.

“An arrest warrant was pending against Mutthalik in another case. He has been kept in the Mangalore prison,” IGP (western range) AM Prasad said.

Prasad confirmed that the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) officers from Maharashtra questioned Mutthalik, whose name had figured in the investigations of the Malegaon blast case. “The questioning took place yesterday at the police station,” the IGP said.

Top

 

New museums to get major aid from govt
Ananya Panda
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
In an attempt to mobilise the conservation movement in India, the Union Ministry of Tourism and Culture has come up with a total revamping of the scheme for restoration of museums.

The new scheme, announced on Tuesday in the Capital by the secretary of the ministry, Jawhar Sircar, would now offer financial assistance for setting up, promotion and modernisation of regional and local museums.

It is for the first time that voluntary organisations, trusts, etc., which are registered under the Registration of Societies Act of 1860 (XXI), can avail financial assistance up to Rs 3 crore or 80 per cent of the total project expenditure under the new scheme. The remaining 20 per cent along with land for setting up the preservation centre would be the onus of the state governments.

This particular scheme has been amended three times earlier, however the fourth amendment, which got the go ahead three months ago, is quite significant. For, besides funding new museums, the allocations under the scheme for the extant museums across the country has been increased up to Rs 2.5 crore, which is actually four times of the earlier Rs 60 lakh.

Jawhar said the radical renovation of the scheme could be possible only due to the relentless efforts of Union Minister of Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni, on whose insistence last year, a special committee was set up to review the scheme for restoration of heritage buildings.

“The body weighed the viability of the scheme and came up with the conclusion on extending the upper limits of funding, and eventually came up with a landmark revamping of the scheme, which received the approval three months ago,” explained the secretary.

Meanwhile, the ministry has received 30 applications for setting up new museums as of now. In the next financial year, the ministry would expand the culture heritage movement, taking school and college students under its fold with an objective to give impetus to youth participation in accelerating the culture awareness campaign.

Top

 

Health Issue
Most Indians want stern warning on
tobacco products: Survey
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
With the government busy in diluting pictorial health warnings on tobacco packages, an overwhelming majority of Indians say they want these warnings, and, that too, large ones. About 98 per cent of those surveyed said they supported the health warnings on bidis; 99 per cent wanted larger and more effective pictorial warnings on all tobacco products and 73 per cent disagreed with the government’s decision to delay stronger health warnings on these products.

To sum up, three out of four Indians want immediate implementation of health warnings on the products.

Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Mumbai and Voluntary Health Association of India released these findings here today.

The survey is of topical importance as it comes just before a group of ministers (GoM) meeting scheduled for February 3. The meeting headed by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, might exempt the bidi lobby from having pictorial warnings on their packages. “By the next year, smoking will cause about 9,30,000 adult deaths each year in India, up from about 7,00,000 deaths per year in 2004,” said PC Gupta of the Healis Sekhsaria Institute.

He told The Tribune: “Clearly the tobacco epidemic is growing quickly, but it can be controlled if the government will step in to protect the Indian people.”

As required under the Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products Act, 2003, India had planned to implement large, pictorial health warnings on all tobacco products, including bidis, as early as February 2007.

However, the aforesaid meeting delayed the implementation of the law till May 31 this year and has also weakened the cause for pictorial warnings.

Top

 

Now, subsidy for leprosy patients
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
The government will provide an incentive of Rs 5,000 each to leprosy-affected persons belonging to BPL families to help them undergo reconstructive surgery in identified institutions.

The idea is to compensate the loss of wages during the affected person’s stay in hospital.

This decision is a part of the Centre’s new scheme to prevent disability and aid medical rehabilitation of leprosy-affected persons.

Support will be given to recognised institutions also in the form of Rs 5,000 per surgery conducted.

On release from hospital, the patient will get Rs 3,000. On his first follow-up visit after one month, an additional Rs 1,000 will be given and the final installment will be provided at the follow-up visit after the third month.

Top

 

Scarlette Murder
Plea filed against cop

Panaji, January 31
A social activist today filed a contempt petition against police inspector Ramesh Gaonkar before the Goa-bench of the Bombay High Court in connection with the mysterious death of British minor Scarlette Keeling.

Aires Rodrigues has contended that Gaonkar had violated the undertaking given to the court on October 10 that he would investigate into the role of Scarlette’s mother Fiona Mackeown on the strength of the complaint made against her by him.

Despite the lapse of three and half months, the inspector took no action thereof and thus was liable for punishment for the contempt of court, Rodrigues pleaded.

Rodrigues had in his complaint stated that Scarlett had come to India with her mother, who left the minor in the company of one ‘Julio’ with the intention that the latter would take care of the girl.

Fiona later left Goa for holidaying in Gokarn, along with her male companion and other children, in spite of being aware that her daughter was a minor and that the law mandates that all children within the state be provided a safe environment.

Rodrigues had also submitted to the police that the conduct of Fiona of leaving her daughter in the hands of an adult stranger was in violation of Section 8 (1) (2) and Section 8 (12) of the Goa Children’s Act, 2003, and needs to be investigated in respect of her behaviour and her activities. — UNI

Top

 

Activist files plea against cop

Panaji, January 31
A social activist today filed a contempt petition against police inspector Ramesh Gaonkar before the Goa-bench of the Bombay High Court in connection with the mysterious death of British minor Scarlette Keeling.

Aires Rodrigues has contended that Gaonkar had violated the undertaking given to the court on October 10 that he would investigate into the role of Scarlette’s mother Fiona Mackeown on the strength of the complaint made against her by him.

Despite the lapse of three and half months, the inspector took no action thereof and thus was liable for punishment for the contempt of court, Rodrigues pleaded.

Rodrigues had in his complaint stated that Scarlett had come to India with her mother, who left the minor in the company of one ‘Julio’ with the intention that the latter would take care of the girl.

Fiona later left Goa for holidaying in Gokarn, along with her male companion and other children, in spite of being aware that her daughter was a minor and that the law mandates that all children within the state be provided a safe environment . Rodrigues had also submitted to the police that the conduct of Fiona of leaving her daughter in the hands of an adult stranger was in violation of Section 8 (1) (2) and Section 8 (12) of the Goa Children’s Act, 2003, and needs to be investigated in respect of her behaviour and her activities. — UNI

Top

 

Hotel run by Lankan attacked

Puducherry, January 31
A four-storied hotel run by a Sri Lankan national here was attacked last night by an eight-member gang for the cause of Lankan Tamils.

The police said the gang came in four motorcycles before the hotel “Adhidhi” around 2 am and pelted stones, shattering the glasses at 12 places and causing a loss of Rs 1.5 lakh.

Police constable Senthil Kumar and Home Guard Narayanasamy, who were on night duty, saw the attack and attempted to nab the gang.

They pelted stones at them, injuring both and escaped. The cops, however, managed to catch one of them, identified as Selvam. — UNI

Top

 

US to prod B’desh to act against ultras
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 31
The United States has pledged to get in touch with the new government in Bangladesh for eviction of militants operating in north-east India from the soil of that country, besides offering to help terrorism-affected Assam through the government of India to ensure safety and security to its people.

Speaking to mediapersons here today, Kolkata-based US consul general Beth A Payne said: “We (the US government) will be in touch with the new government in Bangladesh so that they don’t allow their soil to be used by north-east militants. There is no reason to tolerate their (terrorists’) presence in that country. Scourge of terrorism is a problem for all of us as it has no boundaries.”

Extending his condolence to the victims of the series of terrorist attacks that occurred in Assam over the past several months, Payne said there was no justification for the vicious murder of innocent people.

The US consul general was bowled over by the lustre of the golden silk (‘muga’, indigenous to Assam) during her visit to the silk town of Sualkuchi, near here, and called upon the government and entrepreneurs of Assam to make an effort to market the golden silk garments, dresses and other products aggressively in the United States. “I strongly believe that the wonderful golden silk products will attract people out there in the US.”

Besides golden silk, she said, vast tourism potential in Assam could well trigger joint ventures between US and local enterprises. She also said the city of Guwahati, the gateway to not only the north-east of India but also to eastern neighbours of India, could become a business hub for entrepreneurs in faraway West, including the US.

Top

 

Court cancels BPSC prelim test results
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, January 31
In a significant development, the Patna High Court yesterday set aside the results of the preliminary tests for the 48th to 52nd combined competitive examinations conducted by the Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) for the post of Bihar Administrative Service, Bihar Police Service, etc., on the charge of anomalies and irregularities.

A single bench presided by Justice Navin Sinha asked the BPSC to conduct the preliminary test (PT) afresh in accordance with law. The court order has jeopardized the main examination, which was slated to begin from February 2.

The BPSC had conducted the ‘controversial’ preliminary test on May 2, 2008, at 530 centres across the state. Vacancies for five consecutive batches (48th to 52nd) were to be filled up through the examination. Around 1.76 lakh candidates had appeared for the examination out of which 19,318 were selected for the main examination.

Around 150 unsuccessful aspirants filed a writ petition in the Patna High Court challenging the results. Their submission was that there were serious anomalies in the examinations like faulty questions and wrong answers (model answers). The question sets distributed at different centres also varied and hence the examination proved to be discriminatory.

In course of argument, the court found their contention to be true. The counsel for BPSC PK Shahi’s argument that out of 1.76 lakh candidates only 150 candidates had raised doubts over the fairness of the examination. But the court said even if a single person had been denied his legitimate right, it would protect it.

Top

 

Famers to have ‘first right on water’ in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, January 31
The Chhattisgarh government has decided to make provisions to give farmers the "first right on water" in its new agriculture policy, a state cabinet minister said today.

"To augment agricultural productivity in Chhattisgarh, a new policy would be formulated. In this policy, farmers will have the first right on water," state Agriculture Minister Chandrasekhar Sahu told here.

"A declaration for preparing a new agricultural policy would be made in the present assembly session and then the process in this regard would begin," Sahu said adding the new policy would come into force within the next two years.

The priority of the government is also to increase the state's irrigation capacity.

Chhattisgarh has a 30 per cent irrigation facility to the total crop area as against the national average of 46 per cent. Sahu said the target was to increase the total area under irrigation by at least 10-12 per cent in the next five years. — PTI

Top

 

President to inaugurate Global Pagoda
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 31
President Pratibha Patil will inaugurate the Global Pagoda which offers Vipassana mediation in Mumbai on February 8.

The pagoda, patterned on Burmese pagodas, has been under construction for the past 11 years. The stone structure, measuring 325-feet-tall and a diameter of 280-feet, is the largest stone monument in Asia and will house the original bone relics of Gautama Buddha.

“With genuine relics enshrined, the pagoda will attract devotees of Buddha from all over the world. About one lakh visitors are expected every year,” Vallabh Bhansali, chairman and co-founder of Enam Group and trustee of Global Pagoda told visiting journalists at the pagoda’s construction site.

“Built at a cost of Rs 80 crore, it is twice the size of the previously largest stone monument in the world — The Gol Gumbaz dome in Bijapur — which is 90 feet in diameter,” he said.

The stones have been brought from Jodhpur as they are capable of withstanding sea weather. The centre of the pagoda contains world’s largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars, Bhansali said.

The inside of the pagoda is hollow and serves as a very large meditation hall with an area covering more than 6,000 sq mtrs.

The structure is located next to the amusement park, Esselworld across the Gorai creek at Borivli in North Mumbai.

Top

 

Chartered train tours promise style, comfort

New Delhi, January 31
Tourists can now charter a train to their dream holiday destination with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) all set to roll such a train from the western sector next month.

Promising style and comfort, the chartered train tour package would handle everything for the prospective clients from hotel booking, site seeing to choicest foods.

“The aim is to help the customer get rid of all travel-related hassles,” additional general manager of the IRCTC (West zone) Bela Meena said.

One such chartered train tour would be kicked off from the western sector as early as next month.

However, the services would come at a price and the packages would be tailor-made for customers.

The IRCTC is in touch with corporate houses interested in such packages for their employees.

“We are in touch with major telecom players interested in our chartered tour packages and have finalised three circuits where these service will run,” she said.

The routes prepared by the IRCTC for the services are Ahmedabad to Goa, Mumbai to Vaishno Devi and Mumbai to Tirupati.

These routes are much sought after, she said, adding that other sectors would be added depending upon the demand.

Travel planners feel that once the plan is set in motion, such a train would carve out an exclusive market for itself and rake in profits for the Railways.

The train would have a minimum of 15 coaches mostly comprising a mix of AC and non-AC coaches, she said.

Since these types of trains are known as “full tariff train”, charges will be levied even when the train is detained to facilitate site seeing.

She added that as many as 900 people could book a berth in the train. — PTI

Top

 

Spurt in crime against women worries NCW
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 31
The National Commission for Women (NCW) is worried over the rising incidents of crime against women all over the country, especially in National Capital Region (NCR) and Delhi, and has expressed concern over poor awareness level about the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

One of the members of the NCW, Neeva Konwar, on Wednesday informed that the commission everyday received about 70 complaints of different types of crime against women, and of these 50 per cent were related to domestic violence.

She said rising incidents of female feticides was emerging as a grave problem in the society, especially in north India. “Other areas of growing concern for us are increasing incidents of acid attacks on women by spurned lovers, physical and mental assaults on women call centre employees as well as other educated young women.”

“There are increasing numbers of surrogate mothers in our society in the country, with more and more NRIs as well as other foreign nationals seeking to hire Indian wombs. The NCW is concerned about the protection of the rights of these women,” the NCW member said, without giving details about what course is being taken by the commission to secure justice to these women.

The NCW member is of the view that the state governments should do much more to raise the level of awareness about provisions of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. She said the infrastructure available in various states for the implementation of provisions of the Act was not up to the mark.

“The NCW has been trying to raise the awareness level on the provisions of the Act by organising seminars all over the country by involving NGOs working in the field. The awareness level is especially low in north-eastern states, where the NCW has so far organised 712 workshops over the last two years,” Konwar added.

Top

 

Akash to go into production
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 31
The Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) here is gearing up for production of Akash, the first indigenous surface-to-air guided missile to be inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF).

The first phase of the IAF order will be worth Rs 1,500 crore, the DRDL officials said.

Besides, transferring technology in the form of documents for production of Akash, the DRDL will oversee the weapon system integration and provide support throughout the 20-year lifecycle of the missile system.

Akash, which is part of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme and comes with radars, mobile launchers, control centres, battlefield management software and other support systems, was successful in the recent field trials in terms of accuracy and consistency. In the same class as the American Patriot, Israel’s Barak and the UK’s SAM, the 5.78-metre long, 700-kg Akash can destroy targets as far away as 25 km and has a supersonic speed of 600 metres a second.

The medium range missile will be utilised by the IAF against attacks from unmanned combat aerial vehicles, aircraft and missiles.

It can destroy multiple targets and can be fired from both trucks and tracked vehicles.

The development of Akash missile system has cost the exchequer Rs. 516.86 crore, the highest for any of the country’s missile systems.

The first phase of production of Akash is expected to be completed in three years, the DRDL officials said.

Meanwhile, the chief controller of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Dr R Prahlada, visited the DRDL complex here and reviewed the work.

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |