SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Poll Tunes
Reddy announces panel on Telangana 

Hyderabad, February 12
In a significant move, ahead of the Assembly elections, the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh today announced constitution of a joint committee of MLAs and MLCs to consider the demand for separate Telangana state and submit a report.

Junior NTR to campaign for TDP
Hyderabad, February 12
Popular hero Junior NTR, grandson of Telugu matinee idol late NT Rama Rao, is all set to hit the campaign trail on behalf of the Opposition TDP.

Centre tells K’taka CM
We don’t want any Cupid chaos

New Delhi, February 12 In the wake of threats by some outfits to organise protests on Valentine’s Day, Centre today asked Karnataka government to take “preventive and punitive” action to ensure law and order.



EARLIER STORIES

Union Minister for Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav shows the file of his budget speech to the media at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi
Union Minister for Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav shows the file of his budget speech to the media at Rail Bhawan in New Delhi. A Tribune photograph

Bhakra-Beas Projects
HP, Rajasthan at loggerheads

New Delhi, February 12
Himachal Pradesh yesterday contended in the Supreme Court that the inter-state dispute over the Bhakra Nangal and Beas projects was confined to the sharing of electricity, but Rajasthan argued that it was related to water also.

Quota Bill: Women MPs meet Speaker 
New Delhi, February 12
Women MP’s and activists today met Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to seek his support in the passage of the long-pending women reservation Bill that ensures 33 per cent quota for women in the Parliament and state assemblies.

Pavan Varma new envoy to Bhutan
New Delhi, February 12
Writer-diplomat Pavan K Varma was yesterday named as India's next Ambassador to Bhutan, succeeding Sudhir Vyas.

Somnath not to contest
New Delhi, February 12
Another round of elections for Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee is a sure “Na, na.”

Bangarappa quits SP
New Delhi, February 12
Samajwadi Party MP and former Karnataka Chief Minister S Bangarappa today resigned from the Lok Sabha as well as the party and announced his plans to join the Congress.

Pavan Varma new envoy to Bhutan
New Delhi, February 12
Writer-diplomat Pavan K Varma was yesterday named as India's next Ambassador to Bhutan, succeeding Sudhir Vyas.

Issue Rocks House
Engineer’s murder: SP seeks all-party probe

Lucknow, February 12
Brutal murder of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Aurraiya, allegedly by ruling party MLA Shekhar Tiwari, last December dominated the proceedings of the Vidhan Sabha today.

UP govt denies Prasad’s allegation
Lucknow, February 12
The state government today refuted the charge of union minister for small-scale industries Mahabir Prasad that he was being implicated in a murder case as part of a political conspiracy. 

Five Pak nationals under lens
Dehradun, February 12
Five Pakistanis are among seven foreign nationals of non-Indian origin who have purchased immovable property in Uttarakhand.

Assaults: Docs to observe ‘no practice day’ 
Mumbai, February 12
Doctors across Mumbai will observe a ‘No Practice Day’ once a month following several incidents of assaults by patients and their relatives.

Actor threatened for playing Kasab
Mumbai, February 12
The Mumbai police has registered a case against two unknown persons for threatening actor Rajan Varma who is playing the role of Mohammad Ajmal Iman, alias Kasab, the lone terrorist taken alive following the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Court martial of woman officer begins
Chandigarh, July 12
The Army has commenced the trial by a general court martial (GCM) of a woman officer who had levelled allegations of physical and mental harassment against her superior officers, for her alleged acts of professional impropriety.

Alliance: Cong, Trinamool inch closer
Kolkata, February 12
The electoral alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress against the CPM in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal made much headway yesterday following the AICC’s sudden decision of withdrawing their candidate from the Bishnupur Assembly byelection in favour of the Trinamool candidate.

Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora Saraswati Samman for novelist Bora
Guwahati, February 12
Noted Assamese novelist and a master story teller, Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora, has been conferred the most prestigious literary award, the Saraswati Samman, by the K K Birla Foundation for his novel “Kayakalpa” for the year 2008.

Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora

Probe ordered into rhino killing
Guwahati, February 12
The Kaziranga national park authority has ordered an inquiry into the accidental killing of a charging female rhino by a panic-stricken forest guard inside the park on Monday night.

Naga rebels kill Hindi-speaking trader
Guwahati, Februray 12
Suspected militants belonging to National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) shot dead a Hindi-speaking trader at Haflong town in North Cachar hill district of Assam yesterday.

IAF to launch own satellite in 2010
Bangalore, February 12
The pilots and ground forces of the Indian Air Force will soon have real-time data and will be inter-connected across the country. Using a countrywide optic fibre cable network of its own, the IAF will connect all airbases and forward formations to provide an operational data link between network sensors, command posts and airbases.

LCH to be tested in Aug
Bangalore, February 12
A light combat helicopter (LCH) being developed by the HAL will be put on flight test in this August. This was said here today by HAL chief Ashok K Baweja. The LCH will be able to perform anti-infantry and anti-armoury roles and can be used in high altitudes.

Israel eyes defence orders from India
Bangalore, February 12
Two top Army officers, including Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, spent considerable time in the pavilions set up by the Israeli heavy munitions and missiles manufacturing industry at Aero India-2009 here today.

Bindra’s F-16 ride ‘exhilarating’
Bangalore, February 12
Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra today described the ride aboard the F-16 fighter aircraft as the “most exhilarating experience” in his life after winning the gold medal in the Olympics.






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Poll Tunes
Reddy announces panel on Telangana 
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 12
In a significant move, ahead of the Assembly elections, the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh today announced constitution of a joint committee of MLAs and MLCs to consider the demand for separate Telangana state and submit a report.

“My government has no objection to the formation of Telangana state in principle and feels that the time has come to move forward decisively on the issue,” Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy said in a suo moto statement made in Assembly on the concluding day of budget session, the last before the state goes to polls in April-May.

Without setting any deadline for submission of the report, he said the proposed panel would deliberate on issues and concerns on the formation of Telangana state and also similar demands from the other two regions-Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra.

The surprise move assumes significance as Telangana statehood is expected to be a key poll issue. Pressure is mounting on Congress leadership, both from within and outside, to take a favourable decision on the issue in view of the widespread public sentiment in the region.

Besides, there are also fears that Congress may find itself isolated in Telangana in the elections in view of the emergence of “grand alliance” of opposition parties, comprising TDP, Telangana Rashtra Samithi, CPI and CPI (M).

Though Reddy’s opposition to the division of the state is well known, the electoral compulsions seem to have prompted the ruling party to send positive signals to the statehood protagonists and keep the Telangana pot boiling. Pointing out that the UPA government had made sincere efforts to arrive at a consensus on Telangana, in tune with its Common Minimum Programme, the CM said, “However, consensus could not be arrived at that point of time.”

Recalling that the Congress had, in its 2004 election manifesto, promised constitution of another States Re-organisation Commission (SRC) to look into the demands for smaller states, including Telangana, he said the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), which was then an ally of Congress, did not agree for it.

Making it clear that his government had no objection to the formation of Telangana state, Reddy, however, said a lot of issues have to be addressed before taking a decision.

The timing of the announcement has raised doubts over the efficacy of the proposed committee of the members of both the Houses as the parties are already in an election mode. The opposition parties dubbed the announcement as “poll-eve gimmick to once again hoodwink the people of Telangana”. 

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Junior NTR to campaign for TDP
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 12
Popular hero Junior NTR, grandson of Telugu matinee idol late NT Rama Rao, is all set to hit the campaign trail on behalf of the Opposition TDP.

The 25-year-old actor, who has a massive following among the youth, will launch his road shows on March 12 and cover the state during the 40-day-long, non-stop whirlwind tour.

Junior NTR, as he is called in the film circles for his resemblance with his legendary grandfather, is the latest star to add a touch of glamour to the poll campaign. His uncle and NTR’s son N Balakrishna, also a popular star, conducted the road shows last month, evoking good response from the people.

“Junior NTR will tour the entire state at one go, starting the campaign from Itchapuram in Srikakulam district,” TDP sources said.

In a bid to counter the impact of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam Party, the TDP has unleashed the star power of NTR’s family to attract voters. NTR’s sons Balakrishna, Harikrishna and grandsons Junior NTR, Kalyan Ram and Taraka Ratna, all actors of considerable repute, will campaign for the party founded by NTR in 1982.

The Assembly elections in the state are due in April-May.

Ever since losing power in the 2004 polls, TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, who is NTR’s son-in-law, has been making conscious efforts to get closer to NTR family. His only son Lokesh was married to Balakrishna’s daughter Brahmani last year, further cementing the family ties.

Naidu is banking on the glamour of NTR’s clan to revive the party’s past glory and enthuse the cadres, particularly in the face of large-scale migrations to Chiranjeevi’s camp. However, NTR’s elder daughter D Purandareswari, a minister in the UPA government, and son-in-law D Venkateswar Rao, are with the Congress. 

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Centre tells K’taka CM
We don’t want any Cupid chaos

New Delhi, February 12
In the wake of threats by some outfits to organise protests on Valentine’s Day, Centre today asked Karnataka government to take “preventive and punitive” action to ensure law and order.

In a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, Home Minister P Chidambaram drew his attention to reports of Rashtriya Hindu Sena and Sri Rama Sene to organise protests across the state on Valentine’s Day, which falls on February 14.

Statements of leaders of these parties are a threat to law and order, the Home Minister said, adding that he hoped the state government would take “preventive and punitive” action to ensure that no organisation took the role of “self-styled arbitrator” of morals and morality. The Centre hoped that such organisations will not involve in acts illegal and disruptive for peace and law and order, Chidambaram said in a letter to Yeddyurappa.

The Home Minister told the Karnataka government that it was ready to send additional help, if required, to maintain law and order. Sri Rama Sene activists and a few fringe saffron outfits have threatened to disrupt Valentine's Day celebrations contending that the festivities are “alien” to Indian culture. — PTI

Forum threatens to sue Renuka

Mangalore: The Mangalore Citizen Forum, an umbrella organisation of 16 citizen groups, has demanded that Union Minister for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury must withdraw her alleged statement that the city was infested with Taliban elements, or face defamatory criminal suit.

In a notice issued here today, Mangalore Nagarika Hitharakshana Samithi (Mangalore Citizen Protection Committee), headed by advocate PP Hegde from Mangalore, charged that the alleged statement from the minister over the recent attack on girls in a pub and abduction of a 12-year-old girl, maligned the image of the residents of the city. — UNI

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Bhakra-Beas Projects
HP, Rajasthan at loggerheads
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 12
Himachal Pradesh yesterday contended in the Supreme Court that the inter-state dispute over the Bhakra Nangal and Beas projects was confined to the sharing of electricity, but Rajasthan argued that it was related to water also.

A three-Judge Bench, headed by Justice BN Agarwal, then adjourned the hearing for February 24 to enable Rajasthan to file its objections to HP’s claim for more power from the two power projects.

Rajasthan was represented by counsel Aruneshwar Gupta, while JS Attri and Promila appeared for Himachal Pradesh.

The Bench said if the case turned out to be a water dispute, it would be referred to the water tribunal for adjudication. Himachal Pradesh has filed a suit against the Union of India, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Chandigarh, seeking 7.19 per cent of the power generated by the two plants. Its claim is based on the fact that Himachal Pradesh got 7.19 per cent of the population after the re-organisation of Punjab in 1966. HP is getting only 2.5 per cent of electricity from Bhakra Nangal and 15 MW from the Beas project.

Himachal Pradesh has claimed another 12 per cent of free power from the two plants under the policy that deals with the setting up of hydel power projects.

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Quota Bill: Women MPs meet Speaker 
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
Women MP’s and activists today met Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee to seek his support in the passage of the long-pending women reservation Bill that ensures 33 per cent quota for women in the Parliament and state assemblies.

Cutting across the party lines, CPM’s Brinda Karat, BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and Congress’s Krishna Tirath, along with 10 pro-reservation activists, registered their sense of betrayal over the failure of the UPA and the NDA to pass the controversial Bill.

The Bill, part of the UPA’s common minimum programme, is nowhere near passage even in this last Lok Sabha session before general elections. It is not even listed in the government’s business - a fact against which the Alliance of Organisation for 33 per cent Women Representation today held a mass protest outside parliament.

The Bill was earlier tabled in the Rajya Sabha and referred to a parliamentary standing committee, which is yet to submit its report. The women MP’s and activists today warned the government against diluting the Bill in the name of a consensus and demanded that the committee should reiterate its commitment to the original Bill and recommend in its report that the government should pass the Bill as it is.

In the mean time, women continue to lose their rightful political space, as evident from the results of the recent assembly elections in six states. The percentage of women elected is dismally low in each - Delhi- 4 per cent, MP- 11, Rajasthan-14, Jammu and Kashmir- 2 per cent and in Mizoram no woman elected.

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Pavan Varma new envoy to Bhutan

New Delhi, February 12
Writer-diplomat Pavan K Varma was yesterday named as India's next Ambassador to Bhutan, succeeding Sudhir Vyas.

Varma, who is currently the Director -General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), is expected to take up his new assignment shortly, the External Affairs Ministry said. The 1976-batch IFS officer has served in several key positions, which include Press Secretary to the President, High Commissioner to Cyprus, MEA spokesman and Joint Secretary (Africa) in the MEA. — PTI

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Somnath not to contest
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
Another round of elections for Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee is a sure “Na, na.”

Chatterjee, who was thrown out of the CPM for not resigning from speakership when the party along with other Left Front allies withdrew support to the UPA government in July last year, has expressed his desire to retire from active electoral politics soon after exiting the CPM. He led the CPM parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha since 1989 till as a CPM leader he was elected as Speaker because of an understanding between the UPA and the Left Front which was supporting the government from outside.

As the Speaker emerged from the lobby after the Presidential address today, reporters asked him whether like other MPs he also would fight elections. An amused Chatterjee, however, put his hands to his ears and said, “Na, na, baba.”

They asked, “Then what?” In a lighter vein, Chatterjee replied: “Sanyas, sanyas.”

Incidentally, much to the chagrin of the CPM there seem to be a number of admirers of the former CPM mascot perhaps because they feel his parent party has dealt with him unfairly.

One such admirer, a gentleman named A Moulana from Coimbatore, calling himself the secretary of International Association for Religious Freedom has sent Chatterjee a demand draft worth Rs 10,000 as his contribution and has urged the Speaker to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

Of course, this has failed to persuade Chatterjee, who has written back to Moulana and decided to return the draft with thanks, said sources in the Speaker’s office.

In his letter to Moulana, the Speaker has said, “Your good wishes have no doubt given me the enhanced encouragement to carry forward the challenging task of upholding the principles enshrined in the Constitution.”

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Bangarappa quits SP

New Delhi, February 12
Samajwadi Party MP and former Karnataka Chief Minister S Bangarappa today resigned from the Lok Sabha as well as the party and announced his plans to join the Congress.

“I have resigned from my Lok Sabha seat Shimoga as well as from the Samajwadi Party. I submitted my resignation to the Speaker and he has accepted it,” Bangarappa told reporters outside Parliament.

The former Congress leader said he had sought an appointment with Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

He said he had decided to quit the SP and join the Congress as he felt that the BJP's winning assembly election in Karnataka was “not a good sign and it is igh time all secular parties unite to defeat the communal forces”

To a question whether he resigned from the SP due to the recent bonhomie between that party and former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, Bangarappa said, “This is not the reason”.

He declined to comment on whether his resignation from the SP would affect the alliance talks between the Congress and the Mulayam Singh Yadav-led party. “Such things happen. They will be sorted out,” he said. — PTI

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Pavan Varma new envoy to Bhutan

New Delhi, February 12
Writer-diplomat Pavan K Varma was yesterday named as India's next Ambassador to Bhutan, succeeding Sudhir Vyas.

Varma, who is currently the Director -General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), is expected to take up his new assignment shortly, the External Affairs Ministry said. The 1976-batch IFS officer has served in several key positions, which include Press Secretary to the President, High Commissioner to Cyprus, MEA spokesman and Joint Secretary (Africa) in the MEA. — PTI

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Issue Rocks House
Engineer’s murder: SP seeks all-party probe
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 12
Brutal murder of PWD engineer Manoj Gupta in Aurraiya, allegedly by ruling party MLA Shekhar Tiwari, last December dominated the proceedings of the Vidhan Sabha today.

While the Samajwadi Party demanded an all-party probe into the murder to establish the motive for the murder, the BJP, Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) wanted no less than a CBI inquiry.

As soon as the House assembled this morning, leader of the opposition Mulayam Singh Yadav demanded a discussion on the engineer’s murder under suspension of rule forcing repeated adjournment of the House.

Finally, speaking on notice of adjournment motion, Yadav demanded immediate release of 39 SP leaders, including Kamlesh Pathak and his brothers arrested under the NSA and the Gangster and Goonda act in Aurraiya during the protests after the murder.

Terming the absence of the leader of the House, Mayawati, during this important discussion as an indicator of her insensitivity to the issue, Yadav asked for an all-party probe to find out the real reason for the murder.

Describing the murder as the most gruesome in recent history, BJP MLA Suresh Khanna demanded a CBI probe.

Congress legislative party leader Pramod Tiwari also dwelt at length over the significance of ‘motive’ in criminal law.

He said the involvement of both the MLA and the district party president forces one to wonder if the motive was larger than what is being projected as the engineer not obliging the MLA. He reiterated the demand for a CBI inquiry so that things became clear.

Supporting the demand for a CBI probe, RLD leader Kaokab Hamid described the murder as the most horrendous and pervert act in which electric shocks and lathi blows killed an honest officer for not coughing up money.

The treasury benches went to combat mood when SP MLA Ambika Chaudhury charged Mayawati’s birthday bash collection as being the real cause for the murder.

Responding to the notice, parliamentary affairs minister Lalji Verma claimed that the promptness shown by the government in taking action in the case was unparalleled in the country. 

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UP govt denies Prasad’s allegation

Lucknow, February 12
The state government today refuted the charge of union minister for small-scale industries Mahabir Prasad that he was being implicated in a murder case as part of a political conspiracy. 

An official press release said that the Allahabad HC had ordered the Gorakhpur CJM to resister a case of murder and concealment of facts at the Gagha police station against Prasad and two others. “The case was registered on Tuesday and the government had nothing to do with it,” the press release said. — TNS

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Five Pak nationals under lens
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, February 12
Five Pakistanis are among seven foreign nationals of non-Indian origin who have purchased immovable property in Uttarakhand.

The information based on intelligence inputs has sent the state administration into a tizzy due to prevailing security threat in the wake of Mumbai terrorist attack.

The matter cropped up in a meeting of the Regional Economic Intelligence Committee (REIC) recently held here. These foreign nationals purchased residential and commercial properties without the mandatory permission of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) some years ago.

A Dutch national, who is also under the watch of the intelligence agencies, purchased property in Nainital but with the RBI permission, said sources.

As per the minutes of the meeting, a copy of which is with The Tribune, four Pakistani nationals purchased houses and shops in Dehradun and while another one in Rishikesh.

A US and a British national have also purchased properties in Mussoorie and Uttarakashi.

The minutes did not mention the names of these foreign nationals and other details. Intelligence officials also refused to divulge the same.

LM Pant, secretary, Finance, Uttarakhand, confirmed that an inquiry has been marked into the matter on the basis of the information provided by the intelligence agencies.

The district registrars of Dehradun, Uttarakashi and Nainital districts have been asked to find out when these properties were registered.

Notably, under Rule 241 of the registration manual, the registering officers are not concerned with the legal validity of a document.

The deed documents also do not require information on the nationality of a buyer.

But sources said that the matter was very sensitive since it involved Pakistani nationals. The inquiry will reveal whether the properties in question are “benami” or actually owned by them.

Intelligence agencies had been monitoring their visits to their relatives here for quite some time.

Their officials refused to comment whether the revelation had any espionage angle at this stage.

“All we can say is that they are under watch,” they said.

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Assaults: Docs to observe ‘no practice day’ 
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 12
Doctors across Mumbai will observe a ‘No Practice Day’ once a month following several incidents of assaults by patients and their relatives.

The move was first mooted by the Maharashtra Opthalmologists’ Society (MOS) which is observing the 24th of every month as 'No Practice Day' from January last. The Association of Medical Consultants (AMC) today announced that they would join the protest from February onwards.

Other associations of doctors like the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Indian Academy of Paediatricians, General Practioners Association and Colo Rectal Surgeons’ Association will follow suit. 

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Actor threatened for playing Kasab

Mumbai, February 12
The Mumbai police has registered a case against two unknown persons for threatening actor Rajan Varma who is playing the role of Mohammad Ajmal Iman, alias Kasab, the lone terrorist taken alive following the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.

Verma told the police that his car was attacked by two persons who warned him not to play the role of Kasab in the film which is said to be based on the terror attacks. The rear pane of his car was smashed, the police said.

The movie titled ‘Total Ten’ is being shot at Film City in suburban Mumbai. — TNS

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Court martial of woman officer begins
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Army has commenced the trial by a general court martial (GCM) of a woman officer who had levelled allegations of physical and mental harassment against her superior officers, for her alleged acts of professional impropriety.

Earlier, a court of inquiry (COI) had held Capt Poonam Kaur blameworthy on several counts, following which the Army commenced disciplinary proceedings against her. The GCM, convened at Patiala, held its first hearing yesterday and has now been adjourned till January 17, sources said.

She is reported to be the second woman officer in the Army to be tried by a GCM. Court martial proceedings against another woman officer are being held in abeyance as the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

In July last year, Captain Poonam, then posted with the 5682 ASC Battalion in Kalka near here, had accused three of her seniors, her commanding officer Col R.K. Sharma, the unit’s second-in-command Lt Col Ajay Chawla and adjutant Major Suraj Bhan of harassing her over the past few months.

The COI instituted into the allegations held her blameworthy for disobedience of lawful command, wrongfully getting married accommodation allotted to her, unauthorised contact with the media and improper association with her driver. 

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Alliance: Cong, Trinamool inch closer
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 12
The electoral alliance between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress against the CPM in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal made much headway yesterday following the AICC’s sudden decision of withdrawing their candidate from the Bishnupur Assembly byelection in favour of the Trinamool candidate.

Mamata Banerjee also said she was no longer a partner of the NDA and she declared after the elections that she would support a secular anti-left government at the Centre.

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Saraswati Samman for novelist Bora
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 12
Noted Assamese novelist and a master story teller, Dr Lakshmi Nandan Bora, has been conferred the most prestigious literary award, the Saraswati Samman, by the K K Birla Foundation for his novel “Kayakalpa” for the year 2008.

After consideration of the works published in 22 Indian languages during 1998-2007 the panel of juries, the Chayan Parishad, appointed by the foundation has selected Assamese novel “Kayakalpa” for the 18th Saraswati Samman, 2008.

On hearing the good news, the novelist said, “It is an honour bestowed on Assamese literature and the people of Assam.”

“Kayakalpa”, which was published in 2002, covers a wide canvas, ranging from modern technology and science to the ancient thoughts and philosophy of the great 'Rishis' (saints) of India.

The novel is unique because of its unusual theme, evocation of a scientific ambience, characters and situations throwing light on some of the fundamental values of life and society.

Bora was born on 1st March, 1932 at Hatichung Kujidah in Nagoan district of Assam. A scientist by education and profession, Bora is one of the foremost men of letters today in Assam. A prolific writer in many fields - fiction, non-fiction, science and journalism- Bora has 56 volumes of books to his credit. 

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Probe ordered into rhino killing
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 12
The Kaziranga national park authority has ordered an inquiry into the accidental killing of a charging female rhino by a panic-stricken forest guard inside the park on Monday night.

Divisional Forest Officer, D Gogoi informed a probe had been ordered to ascertain the circumstances that compelled the forest guard to shoot down the rhino.The forest official informed that a huge rhino who was with her calf, suddenly came charging towards the vehicle carrying a group of environment workers of a green brigade called Aaranyak, that prompted a scared forest guard Ganesh Pegu to open fire from his service weapon, killing the rhino instantly.

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Naga rebels kill Hindi-speaking trader
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, Februray 12
Suspected militants belonging to National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Khaplang) shot dead a Hindi-speaking trader at Haflong town in North Cachar hill district of Assam yesterday.

The police said 55-year-old trader Rameshwar Sahu was shot dead by suspected militants at lower Haflong area in the hill town, triggering sharp protests from the trading community which chose to keep shutters down for the 
day in protest.

The slain trader’s son Satrughna Sahu said the Naga rebel group had slapped an extortion notice demanding Rs 1.5 lakh by February 6 last.

The NSCN-K is under truce with the Central government forces within the state of Nagaland. Meanwhile, in another incident, a group of militants from Black Widow or Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel Garlosa) shot dead a primary school teacher Munit Bodo at Maibong area in the hill district yesterday.

The assailants had earlier vandalised the residence of a militant leader of the rival DHD faction, which is now in ceasefire with the government of India. The group also tortured the wife of one of the pro-talks faction leaders Manraj Dimasa.

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IAF to launch own satellite in 2010
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 12
The pilots and ground forces of the Indian Air Force will soon have real-time data and will be inter-connected across the country. Using a countrywide optic fibre cable network of its own, the IAF will connect all airbases and forward formations to provide an operational data link between network sensors, command posts and airbases.

Within two years, the link will be in place, said Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major while addressing a press conference at the Aero India show here today. In the first project, 165 nodes have been set up and these will be linked by July hence activating the voice and data link between these nodes that will in turn service major IAF installations.

He said the IAF would launch its own satellite by the middle of next year. On the forthcoming expansion of the force, Major said: “We are looking to narrow down inventories and this includes the several variations of aircrafts that are presently used for choppers and fighters. The variations have to be within manageable limits. At present the varied inventory is a challenge to manage.”

When asked about the level of fighting squadrons of the IAF having gone down to 34 from the sanctioned 39.5 squadrons, the IAF chief said this was part of the any air force that the fleet strength depletes when fresh inductions take place. We will have the desired level by 2017 and even more by 2020, however, the present strength does not mean that the combat edge has been lost.

In the view of the IAF chief, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for spying and intelligence gathering will increase in future. The UAVs are getting better and improving. The payloads are increasing and correspondingly the deployment will also increase. On the phasing out of the MiG 25, a very high altitude aircraft used for reconnaissance, better and more effective means are available now.

On being asked what has been India’s move following huge infrastructure built by the Chinese on their side, Major said: “We have deployment according to the threat perception as per our likely adversaries.”

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LCH to be tested in Aug
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 12
A light combat helicopter (LCH) being developed by the HAL will be put on flight test in this August. This was said here today by HAL chief Ashok K Baweja. The LCH will be able to perform anti-infantry and anti-armoury roles and can be used in high altitudes.

Baweja said the HAL had received orders worth Rs 16,000 crore for the advanced light helicopter Dhruv developed by it. Out of the total orders, about Rs 1,000 crore was for exporting the helicopters, he said.

“We are eyeing the South American market for selling more of our helicopters”, Baweja said. He said the HAL would be setting up a base in Ecuador for maintenance and repair of the helicopters sold by the HAL to the South American countries and also for promoting the sale of the helicopter and other HAL products in that part of the world.

Ecuador and Suriname were among the countries that were acquiring Dhruv.

Baweja also said that the intermediate jet trainer being developed by the HAL had been fitted with a new engine. “It will be put on for test flying next Monday”, he said.

Baweja, who was addressing a press conference at the Aero India expo here, said the HAL was manufacturing 40 light combat aircrafts (LCA), including 20 fighters and 12 trainers. This would be followed by manufacture of an advanced version of the LCA. The engine for the advanced LCA version was yet to be chosen, he said.

The HAL chief said the naval version of the LCA being developed by the HAL was facing some problems with regard to the undercarriage. “We will also have to select an engine for it”, Baweja said and added that two prototypes of the naval LCA were being manufactured.

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Israel eyes defence orders from India
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 12
Two top Army officers, including Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, spent considerable time in the pavilions set up by the Israeli heavy munitions and missiles manufacturing industry at Aero India-2009 here today.

Kapoor checked out Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems, especially its short range and medium range missiles on simulators. He blew up an enemy tank using the short range “Spike” missile. “He was superb,” a thrilled Zohar Elkoby, representative of Rafael’s Precision Tactical Weapon System wing, said.

Kapoor also visited the pavilion set up by the Elbit system. The system specialises in the manufacture of defence airborne systems, unmanned vehicles and combat vehicle systems.

“Some of the Israeli equipment is quite good. We have to find out if these equipments perform well in our conditions also,” Kapoor said. On whether India was thinking about buying Israeli heavy weapons, Kapoor gave a guarded reply. 

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Bindra’s F-16 ride ‘exhilarating’
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 12
Ace shooter Abhinav Bindra today described the ride aboard the F-16 fighter aircraft as the “most exhilarating experience” in his life after winning the gold medal in the Olympics.

As part of the marketing strategy of the Lockheed Martin group to fly celebrities in fighter aircrafts manufactured by the company, Bindra today flew in an F-16 IN Super Viper aircraft for about 45 minutes. He sat at the rear seat of the tandem-seater aircraft, and for a brief while was also given the control of the aircraft.

Paul Randall, the Lockheed Martin test pilot flying the fighter jet said he did not feel nervous when Bindra was in charge of the aircraft. “I was in able hands”, Randall said. Randall made the plane soar up to a height of 20,000 ft from the ground, which was the limit set today for the planes performing in the Aero India 2009 Expo underway here. 

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BRIEFLY

Ranchi
Yashwant, Munda hurt in police baton charge:
ormer Union Minister Yashwant Sinha, ex-Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda and at least 20 men and women were injured today when police resorted to baton charge to disperse activists of the saffron party who tried to gherao Raj Bhavan during a protest march.
Sinha, who suffered injury under the ear, escaped more blows when three of his bodyguards shielded him. They received serious head injuries as batons rained on them, sources said. — PTI

Chennai
Battle for burial ground:
Dalits living in a village in Central Tamil Nadu are fighting to retrieve their burial ground encroached by persons belonging to upper caste, who have the support of revenue officials.
The Dalits in the village have no burial ground and they are also barred from using the burial ground used by upper castes. — TNS

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