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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Valentine’s Day
It’s Sena vs NCP in M’rashtra

Mumbai, February 11
With elections looming large, Maharashtra’s politicians are boarding the Valentine’s Day bandwagon to placate their respective constituencies. True to its past record, the Shiv Sena has decided not to allow Valentine’s Day to be celebrated in Maharashtra.

Rizwanur Case: Investigation officer found dead
Hooghly (WB), February 11
In a tragic twist in the probe into the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rehman, young Railway police sub-inspector Arindam Manna, the first investigating officer in the sensational case, was also found dead under suspicious circumstances beside rail tracks.

Budget session from today
New Delhi, February 11
The budget session of the 14th Lok Sabha commencing here tomorrow is likely to be overshadowed by the strain in Samajwadi Party-Congress ties and the reigning stand-off between Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and his colleague Navin Chalwa in the commission.



EARLIER STORIES

Lankan Conflict
BJP, CPI share platform
Chennai, February 11
Archrivals at the national level, the CPI and the BJP, shared a common platform to condemn ‘Centre’s military support to Sri Lanka, which is carrying out a genocidal war against Tamil race’.

PC snubs Modi, asks if he is in touch with Pak
New Delhi, February 11
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday slammed BJP leader and Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi over his irresponsible remarks concerning ‘local links’ in the Mumbai terror attack.

Arrest warrant against Nayanar 5 yrs after death
Thiruvananthapuram, February 11 A local court has issued an arrest warrant against former Kerala Chief Minister EK Nayanar as the police failed to inform the court about the death of the Marxist leader nearly five years ago.

Near-Miss Case
Air Chief defends IAF pilots of Prez fleet
New Delhi, February 11
The blame game has begun over the near-miss, involving the IAF chopper carrying the President Pratibha Patil’s entourage and the Air India aircraft, at the Mumbai airport. The near-miss has resulted in visible friction between the IAF and the civil aviation authorities.

Ragging Menace
Deny aid to colleges: SC to universities
New Delhi, February 11
The Supreme Court today asked the universities to reduce or deny grants in aid to educational institutions that try to shield students involved in ragging.

 





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Valentine’s Day
It’s Sena vs NCP in M’rashtra
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 11
With elections looming large, Maharashtra’s politicians are boarding the Valentine’s Day bandwagon to placate their respective constituencies. True to its past record, the Shiv Sena has decided not to allow Valentine’s Day to be celebrated in Maharashtra.

Cupid ‘army’to confront trouble-makers

New Delhi: In a counter offensive against moral policing, a group of volunteers will patrol the streets of the capital on Valentine’s Day to ensure that the “self-styled” guardians of culture do not harass young lovers. Aiming to prevent hooligans from playing spoilsport, martial-arts trained volunteers of the Save the Earth Foundation will roam around major hangouts on February 14. — PTI

Across Mumbai, Shiv Sena activists have gone around threatening shop owners selling greeting cards and gifts warning them of dire consequences. So posters and banners advertising Valentine’s Day are not visible though pink teddy bears and soft toys in the shape of hearts are openly on display.

“We have not received any orders from the head office, but we know what to do if people are caught celebrating Valentine’s Day,” says Prakash Agre, a Shiv Sena activist at Borivili in North Mumbai.

However, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena has decided that it won’t oppose Valentine’s Day if only because its leader Raj Thackeray won’t want to be seen on the same side as cousin Uddhav Thackeray of the Shiv Sena. “The party will take a stand and it will be announced soon,” says an MNS spokesman. But it is Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, which has decided to openly take on the Shiv Sena on the streets.

The NCP has decided to set up stalls selling Valentine’s Day cards in different parts of the state. Leading the campaign is party MLA Jitendra Awhad who even inaugurated a shop selling cards in Thane on Tuesday. The cards have been priced at Rs 10 onwards.

Awhad said 5,000 cards have been ordered initially and more could be arranged for if demand was good. “We do not have political purpose in mind. We are only opposing political parties and outfits like the Ram Sene from dictating terms to people,” Awhad said at the inauguration.

Even while NCP chief Sharad Pawar is making overtures to the Shiv Sena, leaders like Awhad are taking on the middle-level Sena leadership. Awhad hit out at Shiv Sena leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi for allowing special Valentine’s Day packages to couples at the Kohinoor Hotel run by him.

Joining Awhad is Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule who has asked the party cadres to prevent young couples from being harassed by the moral police. Sule, who intends to contest the Lok Sabha polls from the Baramati seat, has said in public that people have a right to express love and affection for each other without any hindrance.

With politicians in action, security has been tightened in the main cities of Maharashtra and near college campuses. Police officials have been told to crack down on hooligans targeting shopping malls and hotels where young people are found congregating.

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Rizwanur Case: Investigation officer found dead

Hooghly (WB), February 11
In a tragic twist in the probe into the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rehman, young Railway police sub-inspector Arindam Manna, the first investigating officer in the sensational case, was also found dead under suspicious circumstances beside rail tracks.

In what comes as a big blow to the Rizwanur unnatural death case, the body of 31-year-old Manna, also a key witness, was found beside the railway tracks near Mankundu Station in Hooghly district.

The body of Rizwanur, a computer graphics teacher, was also found at the rail tracks in Dum Dum on September 21, 2007, days after his marriage with Priyanka Todi, daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi.

Officer in-charge of Sheoraphuli Government Railway Police (GRP) S Bhattacharya said the head of Manna, a second officer at the GRP unit in Dum Dum, was found severed from the body on the tracks at the Mankundu railway station.

He said “prima facie it is a case of suicide” and the body has been sent for post mortem. But Manna’s father cried foul and alleged he was murdered.

An FIR filed by the family with the police said the body bore marks of injuries in the right leg, left eye and throat.

Ashoke Kumar, Manna’s father, said, “My son used to get threat calls and used to say that his seniors were putting pressure on him. He was mentally disturbed for quite a long time. He has been murdered.”

The Manna family lawyer Kalyan Banerjee said their FIR had mentioned that the officer’s death was a case of murder.

Ashoke Kumar said his son had been home since yesterday as he was on leave but left the house at around noon today.

“The last call he made was on his mother’s cellphone at 1.49 am and inquired about us. He also said he will be returning soon,” he said. Subsequently, a call was received by the family from the Sheoraphulli GRP about Manna’s body being traced.

About the suicide theory being floated by the police, Ashoke Kumar said he found it surprising that his son travelled across two districts--Howrah and Hooghly-- to take his own life.

Rizwanur’s brother Rukhbanur said Manna was an important witness and there was something more than what met the eye.

Manna was also among the list of witnesses that the CBI had submitted along with its charge sheet to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.

On January 16 this year, the Supreme Court ordered release of Ashok Todi and his brother Pradeep Todi on bail in the Rizwanur case. The brothers had been in jail for nearly one and a half months. — PTI

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Budget session from today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
The budget session of the 14th Lok Sabha commencing here tomorrow is likely to be overshadowed by the strain in Samajwadi Party-Congress ties and the reigning stand-off between Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswami and his colleague Navin Chalwa in the commission.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is still recuperating after his bypass heart surgery, will not attend the crucial last session, which will be devoted to the introduction and passage of interim railway and general budgets to run the country for four months before a new Lok Sabha is constituted. Since the first sitting of the 14th LS happened on June 2, 2004, the deadline for the constitution of new LS ends on the midnight of June 1, 2009.

Over 10 sittings in 15 days, the government plans to present the interim railway budget to the Lok Sabha on February 13 and the interim general budget on February 16. Discussions on interim general budget will happen on February 20 and a vote on account will be sought on 
February 24.

The session, which will conclude on February 26, comes at a difficult time when SP-Congress alliance appears on the edge, the EC row is unaddressed, the Sri Lankan Tamil issue is raging and the Satyam fraud is troubling everyone. Price rise is also an issue. 

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Lankan Conflict
BJP, CPI share platform
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 11
Archrivals at the national level, the CPI and the BJP, shared a common platform to condemn ‘Centre’s military support to Sri Lanka, which is carrying out a genocidal war against Tamil race’.

Thamizhisai Soundarrajan, state general secretary of the BJP, which is the latest entry to the Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement, formed by the CPI, MDMK, PMK and VCK, alleged that the Centre had not appealed for a ceasefire, as it was supporting the war, leading to mass murders and displacement of Tamil people.

The BJP discussed the issue at its national council meeting at Nagpur recently and had passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire, she said.

“As long as the Congress is in power at the Centre, the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils will continue, since the party is bent on taking revenge on Sri Lankan Tamils”, Thamizhisai alleged. Asserting that the BJP would ensure a peaceful, dignified solution to the Sri Lankan Tamils, if the party was voted to power, the BJP leader said the LTTE could not be defeated, as expected by the Sri Lankan and Indian governments. Though, it had retreated into the jungle, it would fight back at the appropriate time, she said.

CPI state secretary D Pandian said his party was ready to support the DMK government for the remaining two years, if Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was able to bring about a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, within two days.

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan said some people were under the wrong impression that only a few small parties in Tamil Nadu were seeking ceasefire. Noting that all parties, including the DMK, the AIADMK and the Congress supported the Assembly resolution for an immediate ceasefire in the island nation, he said “even the Congress and the AIADMK were afraid to oppose the resolution, which clearly shows the public mood in Tamil Nadu.”

MDMK leader Vaiko said: “The Centre is sowing seeds of separatism in Tamil Nadu by its support to the genocidal war against Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Alleging that the Centre was fighting a proxy war in Sri Lanka, Vaiko said the Centre’s actions had alienated youths in Tamil Nadu from the national stream.

PMK leader S Ramadoss assured Chief Minister M Karunanidhi that the state government would not fall in the island Tamils issue, since the PMK would support it, if the DMK sincerely raised its voice for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka.

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PC snubs Modi, asks if he is in touch with Pak

New Delhi, February 11
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday slammed BJP leader and Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi over his irresponsible remarks concerning ‘local links’ in the Mumbai terror attack.

Queried on similarities Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks on involvement of ‘internal elements’ in Mumbai attacks and comments by Pakistani leadership, Chidambaram said, “You should ask Narendra Modi whether he and Pakistan are in contact with each other.”

Narendra Modi had claimed there was “local support” to the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack.

While his party defended Modi, Congress called his remarks “anti-national.”

Modi, however, said on Tuesday that he has been quoted out of context.

“I meant to say that if Pakistan executed such a massive operation then it would not have been possible without a local recce. There must have been some networking. The Indian Government should also probe that angle,” the Chief Minister had said.

Chidambaram also said that India has not received any official response from Pakistan on the dossier on the investigation into the Mumbai attacks and handed over to the neighbouring country last month. Asked whether Islamabad has sought DNA samples of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist caught alive while carrying out attacks in Mumbai, Chidambaram shot back at the questioner: “When did they ask you? I do not know. If they have asked you please pass on the letter to me.”

Chidambaram parried questions on a case registered against Union Minister Mahabir Prasad on allegations of conspiracy of murder. “I do not know. I only saw some flash in a news channel. if the news is correct, the channel head need not resign. — PTI

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Arrest warrant against Nayanar 5 yrs after death

Thiruvananthapuram, February 11
A local court has issued an arrest warrant against former Kerala Chief Minister EK Nayanar as the police failed to inform the court about the death of the Marxist leader nearly five years ago.

Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate S Gopalakrishnan issued the warrant for the second time yesterday in a case relating to the collectorate blockade organised by the party in 2002. The case came up before the court on a number of occasions over the years. However, even after issuing the arrest warrant in January 2007, the police failed to produce the death certificate or furnish a report before the court in this regard.— UNI

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Near-Miss Case
Air Chief defends IAF pilots of Prez fleet
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
The blame game has begun over the near-miss, involving the IAF chopper carrying the President Pratibha Patil’s entourage and the Air India aircraft, at the Mumbai airport. The near-miss has resulted in visible friction between the IAF and the civil aviation authorities.

Rejecting suggestions that IAF pilots who were part of the President’s convoy could be responsible for the incident, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major today categorically stated that his pilots were not in the wrong and that the DGCA needed to fine tune its procedures.

Reports emanating from Mumbai indicated that that the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday refused to comment on the Air Chief’s statement. However, reacting to Major’s statement, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said he did not want to get into any controversy as the DGCA probe was still on but he did add that “maybe the Air Chief had some better information on his side,” indicating that the remarks had not gone down too well with him.

Patel also admitted that a good working relationship was lacking between civil and defence authorities as far as airspace management was concerned.

“We have to learn to work together…airspace should be better managed between civil aviation and defence authorities. Right now we do not have a good working relationship between civil aviation and defence authorities,” he said.

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Ragging Menace
Deny aid to colleges: SC to universities
R Sedhuraman/Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 11
The Supreme Court today asked the universities to reduce or deny grants in aid to educational institutions that try to shield students involved in ragging.

Universities or controlling bodies “shall be free to reduce the grants in aid, and in serious cases deny grants,” a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and MK Sharma said in a judgment in a case of ragging filed by Kerala University. The Council of Principals of Colleges in that state was the respondent.

The apex court also directed the state governments, the union territories and the universities to implement the guidelines formulated by the Dr RK Raghavan committee. The regulations framed by the UGC and other such institutions shall be binding on the institutions.

“Delay in taking action in many cases would frustrate the need for taking urgent action. In such cases, if the authorities are prima facie satisfied about the errant act of any student, they can, in appropriate cases pending final decision, suspend the student from the institution and the hostel,” the Bench said.

Further, the police should be informed and criminal law set in motion, the court said.

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