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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Lanka Conflict
Centre did not provide military aid: Karuna

Chennai, February 3
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who had earlier stated that there were reports of military aid to Sri Lankan government when the AIADMK was in power, today denied that the Centre had provided such assistance to the island government.

Mangalore Pub Case
Centre probe trashes NCW findings
New Delhi, February 3
The government’s fact-finding team on the Mangalore pub incident has trashed the National Commission for Women’s (NCW) findings in the matter, and found the city in the grip of fear of Sri Ram Sena’s men.

Govt staff, traders to support today’s bandh
Chennai, February 3
Despite issuance of a stern warning against tomorrow’s bandh by the state government, the Tamil Nadu Government Employees Union today announced that its members would participate in the bandh.



EARLIER STORIES



Congress President Sonia Gandhi waves to supporters at the party's thanksgiving rally in Jaipur
Congress President Sonia Gandhi waves to supporters at the party's thanksgiving rally in Jaipur on Tuesday. — PTI

Three students attempt suicide
Theni, February 3
Dejected over the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils, three students of Government Higher Secondary School at Periakulam in this district of Tamil Nadu, had allegedly consumed poison today.

NSCN (IM)-Assam Rifles rift comes to an end
Guwahati, February 3
The 14-day stand off between NSCN (IM) cadres and troops of the 17-Assam Rifles at Siroy in Ukhrul district of Manipur ended peacefully yesterday with NSCN (IM) cadres moving out of the area much to the relief of local people.

300 ULFA, NDFB cadres in Bangladesh: Gogoi
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday said as many as 300 cadres of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and anti-peace talks faction of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) were taking shelter in camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.

CEC’s move not legally sound: Sibal
New Delhi, February 3
A day after Law Minister HR Bharadwaj criticised Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalswami for triggering a controversy by recommending the removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, the Congress today slammed the BJP for attacking the Constitutional institution.

Dharavi dwellers slam ‘Slumdog’
Say they have been portrayed in ‘negative’ light
Mumbai, February 3
Residents of the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai where Danny Doyle's internationally-acclaimed film "Slumdog Millionnaire" is set are up in arms over their portrayal in the movie.

Dogs having a field day at SC!
New Delhi, February 3
From stray dogs to pedigree varieties that sashay at dog shows, the canine family seems to be having a field day of late, that too at the Supreme Court.

Siddhivinayak to auction ornaments
Mumbai, February 3
Famous Siddhivinayak temple will soon auction gold and silver ornaments donated by the devotees once it gets an official nod from the Maharashtra government.

DMK not to quit UPA
Chennai, February 3
Belying expectations of a strong message to the Centre on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, the DMK executive committee meeting today ended as a tame affair with party chief M Karunanidhi declaring that his party would not withdraw his ministers from the Union Cabinet on the issue.

RAW officer remanded in 3-day police custody
New Delhi, February 3
Senior RAW officer AS Narayan Rao, arrested by CBI for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from a Chennai-based manufacturer, was today remanded in three days police custody by a Delhi court.

ABVP activists vandalise missionary school
Bhopal, February 3
The self-appointed custodians of the Indian culture and flag bearers of patriotism were at it once again. A mob of activists of the ABVP vandalised a missionary school here yesterday. The reason: the principal of the school had allegedly insulted the national anthem.

Vajpayee admitted to AIIMS
New Delhi, February 3
Former Prime Minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at about 10 pm today following fever and chest infection.





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Lanka Conflict
Centre did not provide military aid: Karuna
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 3
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who had earlier stated that there were reports of military aid to Sri Lankan government when the AIADMK was in power, today denied that the Centre had provided such assistance to the island government.

To a question whether the Indian government was fighting a proxy war against Tigers in Sri Lanka, he said Defence Minister AK Antony had already denied such allegations.

In his earlier statement on the same issue, the DMK leader had said there were reports of military aid to the island government when Jayalalithaa was in power. To this Jayalalithaa had issued a counter, saying that the military assistance was given only after the UPA government assumed power in 2004. Even though the AIADMK was in power in Tamil Nadu, Karunanidhi was responsible for the military aid, since his party was one of the consituents of the UPA, she had pointed out.

Karunanidhi expressed dissatisfaction over the Centre’s action to stop the ongoing war. He said even Foreign Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee would not be satisfied with the results of his visit.

To a query whether LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was the sole representative of Sri Lankan Tamils, Karunanidhi refrained from rejecting the opinion and simply said protection for Tamils and not Prabhakaran was the issue.

Although the state government, headed by the DMK, had issued a stern warning against tomorrow’s bandh, the DMK leader declined to spell out the party’s stand on the protest. When asked again what he would say to the people of the state on tomorrow’s bandh, he merely said the bandh was illegal.

Karunanidhi said innocent civilians in Sri Lanka were being killed by the Sri Lankan government even in places declared as safe zones, and appealed to everyone in Tamil Nadu to fight unitedly. He also welcomed the intervention of the United Nations in resolving the conflict.

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Mangalore Pub Case
Centre probe trashes NCW findings
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Renuka slams Fiza, Maya

Union Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chaudhary on Tuesday slammed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and Fiza Mohammad for poor handling of their respective situations. “Fiza is a well-educated, mature woman. She is a lawyer herself. What can I say about her and her condition? She should have known better,” said Choudhury, who then went on to accuse Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for her “utter failure to protect women and children in her state”.

New Delhi, February 3
The government’s fact-finding team on the Mangalore pub incident has trashed the National Commission for Women’s (NCW) findings in the matter, and found the city in the grip of fear of Sri Ram Sena’s men.

Highly placed sources today told The Tribune that the government team had blamed the state government for lack of security in Mangalore and asked it to gear up ahead of the Valentine Day threat, issued by the Sena.

“The youth are so scared, they don’t even venture out after 8 pm. The Sena’s men have been beating up girls in tight jeans and couples expressing their affections publicly. They have now vowed to go after girls in noodle straps. That’s absurd. Most of these men are cleaners, bus conductors, etc by profession,” a top official today said.

The team is learnt to have found the police role clean; it has in fact noted that the law (recent amendments to CrPC) may just have helped the culprits escape.

“Our officers have noted down the sections under which the culprits were booked. We will see if and how the recent CrPC amendments impacted this case,” Union Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Choudhury today said. She dispatched her team to Mangalore last Sunday, after the NCW failed to submit its report. The team’s mandate was to meet the victims, which they did; they also found that the pub had a valid licence.

Earlier, NCW member Nirmala Venkatesh, who first went for a probe, had said the bar had no licence. She didn’t meet the victims but claimed she spoke to them on the phone. Surprisingly, she went on to advise the girls to wear sarees, in a way speaking for the culprits.

The ministry may well be looking at proceeding against Venkatesh, with Choudhury today admitting: “That recommendation has to come from NCW chairperson Girija Vyas. If it comes, we will look into it.” Vyas had yesterday distanced herself from Venkatesh’s report.

Meanwhile, the ministry team found that two victims of the Mangalore attack had already left the city; the rest told them of how the goons were carrying knives and were no challenge to bouncers at the pub, which opened recently on December 30.

The team does not rule out extortion angle, considering the pub was a new and elite business (set up by some doctors and engineers). It runs alongside a 46-room hotel.

Most importantly, the Mangalore SP told the government team that the law prevented the police from detaining the culprits for too long. There is a view now within the ministry that molestation of girls be made a non-bailable offence.

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Govt staff, traders to support today’s bandh
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 3
Despite issuance of a stern warning against tomorrow’s bandh by the state government, the Tamil Nadu Government Employees Union today announced that its members would participate in the bandh.

K Balasubramanian, leader of the union, urged all the 7 lakh govt employees to turn up for the bandh.The Federation of Tamil Nadu Traders Associations, the umbrella organisation for all traders in the state, had also announced that all shops would remain closed tomorrow. Federation president T Vellaiyan demanded the Centre should sever diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka if the latter refused to stop the war.

Stating that the traders were ready to sacrifice their profit for the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils, he said they were prepared to face the government, if it initiated action on them for closing the shops.

Tamil Nadu Lawyers Association and Madras High Court Advocates Association announced that 60,000 lawyers through out the state would boycott courts for the third consecutive day tomorrow.

All colleges, including those of engineering and medical, would also remain closed.

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Three students attempt suicide

Theni, February 3
Dejected over the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils, three students of Government Higher Secondary School at Periakulam in this district of Tamil Nadu, had allegedly consumed poison today.

The police said the students were shouting slogans, protesting against the alleged genocide of Tamils in the island nation, before consuming poison. The students were rushed to Government Hospital here, where their conditions were stated to be stable. Earlier, they attempted to observe fast in front of Victoria Memorial Government Higher Secondary School. — UNI

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NSCN (IM)-Assam Rifles rift comes to an end
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 3
The 14-day stand off between NSCN (IM) cadres and troops of the 17-Assam Rifles at Siroy in Ukhrul district of Manipur ended peacefully yesterday with NSCN (IM) cadres moving out of the area much to the relief of local people.

The Assam Rifles personnel had laid siege to a camp that the NSCN (IM) cadres were trying to set up at Siroy in violation of the ceasefire ground rules. The Assam Rifles wanted the NSCN (IM) cadres to move out of the area and go to any of the other three truce-time designated camps of the outfit in Manipur.

An Assam Rifles source in Manipur informed that the standoff came to an end after 25 cadres of the NSCN (IM), who were holed up, vacated their positions in the newly constructed camp. The NSCN rebels headed for another notified designated camp in the state.

The Assam Rifles troops, after providing safe passage to NSCN (IM), rebels withdrew the siege and went back to their operation headquarters nearby. The NSCN (IM), which is in ceasefire agreement with the Central forces in Nagaland, has three notified truce time camps in Manipur - one each at Senapati, Chandel and Tamenglong districts.

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300 ULFA, NDFB cadres in Bangladesh: Gogoi

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday said as many as 300 cadres of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and anti-peace talks faction of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) were taking shelter in camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.

The Assam government is preparing dossiers on camps of ULFA and NDFB militants in the neighbouring country to be submitted to External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee before he goes on a visit to Bangladesh. “We have information about the presence of at least 16 camps of ULFA and NDFB, including six big ones, housing about 300 cadres at various locations in Bangladesh. All the top-ranking leaders of the outlawed groups are taking shelter in Bangladesh where they have reportedly invested in many business ventures,” Gogoi said.

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CEC’s move not legally sound: Sibal
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, February 3
A day after Law Minister HR Bharadwaj criticised Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) N Gopalswami for triggering a controversy by recommending the removal of Election Commissioner Navin Chawla, the Congress today slammed the BJP for attacking the Constitutional institution.

Stating that the issues involved in this particular case were legal in nature, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal asked the BJP to stop sullying the image of a Constitutional body like the Election Commission and approach the courts if it believed it had a strong legal case.

Explaining the legal position, Sibal, a noted lawyer, outright rejected the view that the CEC has the right to remove an election commissioner as he did not appoint him. “It is only the appointing authority which has the right to remove him. Since the CEC did not appoint him, he does not have the powers to remove him...it is unthinkable in law,” Sibal said.

Although Sibal refused to comment on the CEC’s decision to recommend removal of an election commissioner, he said the government had empowered the CEC to recommend the removal of an election commissioner but this was done primarily to insulate the Election Commission from government interference and to enable the body to function independently.

“The government cannot remove an election commissioner without a recommendation from the CEC but this does not mean that he can act on his own,” Sibal said, adding that he can take recourse to such an action at the instance of the government.

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Dharavi dwellers slam ‘Slumdog’
Say they have been portrayed in ‘negative’ light

Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 3
Residents of the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai where Danny Doyle's internationally-acclaimed film "Slumdog Millionnaire" is set are up in arms over their portrayal in the movie.

Egged on by local politicians and activists, residents of the sprawling slum today came out on the streets and held a public meeting denouncing the movie. The residents said they had been portrayed in a “negative” light. “There is nothing to show about our hard work and how we have improved our daily lives,” Anna Mutthu, a protester said.

Many of the protesters said they had seen the Hindi version of the film titled Slumdog Crorepati. Both the English and Hindi versions had received a tepid response at the Indian box office though it has received rave reviews abroad and is a candidate for the Oscars.

The protesters, who gathered at the main road in Dharavi, carried posters of the film along and shouted abuse insults at them and even hit them with slippers. Many of them were seen carrying placards denouncing Boyle. “We are not jhopadpatti ke kutte as they have called us. We live with dignity,” shouted one protester. Police presence was tight and policemen were seen warning some of the protesters not to get too excited.

The residents also felt that the film's producers should share a part of their profits with the local residents and help improve their lives.

Despite the vocal protests, the residents do not seem to mind foreigners photographing the interiors of the slums. A Mumbai tour operator who holds slum tours at Dharavi draws encouraging response and local residents often warm up to the visitors and pose for pictures. Many of them also sell small curios to the tourists.

The film has drawn criticism from actor Amitabh Bachchan and film maker Priyadarshan. One local politician, Nicholas Almeida, has gone to court challenging the censor board's decision to clear the film for screening in India.

Meanwhile, Boyle and Christian Colson, who produced the movie, told a British newspaper that they were sponsoring the education of children who featured in the film and also set up a fund to provide for some of their expenses.

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Dogs having a field day at SC!
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 3
From stray dogs to pedigree varieties that sashay at dog shows, the canine family seems to be having a field day of late, that too at the Supreme Court.

Within days of an NGO obtaining an SC stay on the Mumbai civic body chasing and killing stray dogs that are a nuisance, a dog farm today approached the apex court and obtained permission for fielding its dogs at the prestigious shows conducted by the Kennel Club of India.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan today allowed the petitioners, KS Nagaraj Shetty and N Kaplana Shetty of Karnataka, to exhibit their dogs till February 16 at the dog shows of Kennel Club.

One R Gopinath, claiming to be a dog lover who attends the club’s dog shows, had secured an interim injunction from a Chennai court against the petitioners, expressing the fear that the appellants’ dogs might cause “irreparable injury”.

The Shettys, owners of Agrani Kennels, obtained a stay from the Madras High Court, which however vacated it later. The Shettys then came to the apex court.

When senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi made a mention about the petition, the CJI, perhaps with the street dogs case fresh in his mind, made a remark: “I thought, we deal with law here,” prompting the courtroom to burst into laughter.

According to the petition, the dogs of Agrani Kennels have won the “Dog of the Year” award for three consecutive years, from 2004-2007.

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Siddhivinayak to auction ornaments

Mumbai, February 3
Famous Siddhivinayak temple will soon auction gold and silver ornaments donated by the devotees once it gets an official nod from the Maharashtra government.

“On January 29, we had a meeting in the office of Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal to discuss about the auction of gold and silver ornaments donated by the devotees,” Siddhivinayak Trust chairperson Subhash Mayekar said.

In principle, the government has agreed and “we are waiting for the official communication regarding this,” Mayekar said.

Part of the auction money will be given to social causes and the rest will be utilised for activities in temple, he said.

Earlier, the state government, which is the custodian of the temple, allowed auction of silver ornaments costing up to Rs 500 and others used to be melted and kept in the form of bars.

Since the rest of the ornaments remained as idle inventory, and also the melting reduced the value of gold, the temple officials decided to approach the government to take permission for auctioning, he said.

However, the temple officials will not auction those ornaments meant for the idol of lord the Ganesha.

The temple trust has a gold reserve of Rs 2 crore for the period from 1999 to 2004 and more than Rs 3 crore from 2004 till date. — PTI

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DMK not to quit UPA

Chennai, February 3
Belying expectations of a strong message to the Centre on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, the DMK executive committee meeting today ended as a tame affair with party chief M Karunanidhi declaring that his party would not withdraw his ministers from the Union Cabinet on the issue.

The executive committee in its resolution said it would form Sri Lankan Tamils Welfare and Rights Forum and campaign for a autonomous state with decentralised powers for the island Tamils. This is seen as a counter to the Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Forum formed by the CPI, MDMK, PMK and VCK. The party would hold meetings and rallies on February 7, the same day the forum formed by opposition parties had announced black flag rallies.

Karunanidhi said he would not fall prey to the machinations of a few people to create a wedge between the Centre and his party, although the party was not fully satisfied with the Centre's action. The Chief Minister also declared that he would not support the LTTE and his party's support was only for the Sri Lankan Tamils. — TNS

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RAW officer remanded in 3-day police custody

New Delhi, February 3
Senior RAW officer AS Narayan Rao, arrested by CBI for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from a Chennai-based manufacturer, was today remanded in three days police custody by a Delhi court.

Rao, working as a scientist in the technical division of RAW, was arrested by CBI from a hotel in Karol Bagh last night when he was allegedly taking the bribe money from the manufacturer.

He was produced before a designated judge, PK Saxena, who allowed CBI's plea for his custodial interrogation. Rao, PhD in Physics, is one of the members of working committee of the inter-ministerial group formed to grant export licences to companies dealing in sensitive items. The official was caught red-handed while demanding Rs 8 lakh as bribe for clearing the export licence of the Chennai-based firm, which had procured an export contract worth Rs 4.5 crore, the CBI said. — PTI

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ABVP activists vandalise missionary school

Bhopal, February 3
The self-appointed custodians of the Indian culture and flag bearers of patriotism were at it once again. A mob of activists of the ABVP vandalised a missionary school here yesterday. The reason: the principal of the school had allegedly insulted the national anthem.

More than two dozen ABVP workers smashed window panes, broke furniture and bashed up the staff members of St Thomas Convent Senior Secondary School. The vice-principal of the school, a nun, was also manhandled.

Principal Father Thomas Malancharuvil pronounced guilty as charged by the ABVP, is accused of “interrupting” the singing of the national anthem at the R-Day congregation of the school to upbraid a teacher who had come late for the function. — TNS

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Vajpayee admitted to AIIMS

New Delhi, February 3
Former Prime Minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee was admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at about 10 pm today following fever and chest infection.

According to AIIMS medical superintendent Dr DK Sharma, Vajpayee was admitted here at 10 pm and tests are being conducted on him to ascertain the exact nature of the problem. “He was having fever and suffering from chest infection when he was admitted here,” he said.

His condition is stable, Dr Sharma added. Meanwhile, Vajpayee’s family and party sources said all his vitals were okay and there was no need for concern. He will be kept in the hospital tonight and undergo tests again in the morning, they added. — UNI

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