SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Kalyan Issue
Amar upset but will keep the bond
New Delhi, February 14
Under fire from different quarters over the tie-up with Kalyan Singh, Samajwadi Party today accused certain Congress leaders of “fanning” the issue, but made it clear that it would not break the alliance with the grand old party.

SP MP joins Maya camp
Lucknow, February 14
Samajwadi Party MP from Moradabad Shafiqur Rehman Barq today joined the Bahujan Samaj Party charging party president Mulayam Singh Yadav of not caring about Muslims any longer.

AICC reshuffle likely in a week
Cong panels to look at tie-ups
New Delhi, February 14
With barely two months to go for the next Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has begun the process of working on its electoral alliances that had proved crucial in bringing the party back to power at the Centre in 2004.


EARLIER STORIES

Pinarayi gets CPM backing
New Delhi, February 14
The Politburo of the CPM, notwithstanding its Kerala Chief Minister VS Achutanandan reiterated here today its support to its state Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan being investigated by the CBI for alleged irregularities in awarding contracts to a Canada-based company SNC-Livalin case.

No truck with Congress, BJP, says Deve Gowda
New Delhi, February 14
Sounding the bugle for the “victory” of the Third Front in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president HD Deve Gowda on Saturday made it clear that his party would have nothing to do with either the Congress or the BJP in the general elections.

Death toll scaled down to 9
Train mishap: Probe ordered
Jajpur Road (Orissa), February 14 A high-level inquiry has been ordered into the derailment of the Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express in Orissa's Jajpur district in which authorities today scaled down the toll from 15 to nine.

Rescue team near the mangled coaches of the Coromandel Express in Orissa’s Jajpur district. — PTI photo

20 hurt in another rail mishap
Sugauli (Bihar), February 14
At least 20 passengers were injured in a train accident at Sugauli junction on Narkatiyaganj-Muzaffarpur rail section of the East Central Railway in Bihar on Saturday.

Somalia Crisis
Family of captive Indian sailor seeks PM’s help
Lucknow, February 14
The family of sailor Manoj Singh, one of the 14 sailors held captive by a ship owner in Somalia since October 10 last, has made an emotional appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene into their release.

Friends shot dead over ‘love affair’
Rohtak, February 14
Two youths were shot dead by some miscreants here last night. The victims have been identified as Devender, resident of Prem Nagar and his friend Naveen of Jasbir Colony in Rohtak. The murders were so meticulously executed that initially the police thought it to be a case of accidental deaths.

Andhra techie found dead in Spain
Hyderabad, February 14
An aeronautical engineer from Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh was found dead under suspicious circumstances at his house in Madrid in Spain.

10 students held for molesting US couple
Jaipur, February 14
Ten students were detained for allegedly misbehaving with a US tourist couple in the pink city, the police said today.

Deal on air missile to be finalised soon
New Delhi, February 14
India and a European missile manufacturer are close to finalising a deal on co-developing a new short-range surface-to-air missile that will primarily be used in air defence of the nation.

Pranab holds talks with Trinamool leaders
Kolkata, February 14
The state Congress leadership in the presence of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and AICC general secretary Mohshina Kidwai in the city today agreed unanimously to fight jointly with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls against the CPM.

Subdued V-Day amidst tight security
Mumbai, February 14
Young couples across Mumbai and other cities of Maharashtra were spotted at flower shops and greeting card outlets even as police personnel in large numbers patrolled the streets to prevent any untoward incident.

5 Dhruvs handed over to Ecuador
Bangalore, February 14
Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar on Friday handed over the keys of five advanced light helicopter (ALH) “Dhruv”, developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), to the chief of the Air Force of Ecuador at a function at the HAL pavilion at the Aero India 2009 Expo here today.

Immolation bid by man near PM’s office
New Delhi, February 14
A man hailing from Jharkhand allegedly attempted self-immolation in the high -security area near Prime Minister’s Office here.

 





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Kalyan Issue
Amar upset but will keep the bond

New Delhi, February 14
Under fire from different quarters over the tie-up with Kalyan Singh, Samajwadi Party today accused certain Congress leaders of “fanning” the issue, but made it clear that it would not break the alliance with the grand old party.

“They (some Congress leaders) are making Kalyan a great issue, they are fanning this...” SP general secretary Amar Singh said during an interview on CNN-IBN’s ‘Devil’s Advocate’ programme.

After the demolition of Babri Masjid, Congress had said they would re-build the mosque there, BJP said they would build a temple while BSP’s founder Kanshi Ram had said a toilet should be built there, Singh recalled. Questioning the Congress role during the demolition period, the SP leader said, “After only five per cent of the mosque was demolished, there was President’s rule in UP. The remaining mosque was demolished during the President’s Rule in the state when the Narasimha Rao government was at the Centre.” — PTI

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SP MP joins Maya camp
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 14
Samajwadi Party MP from Moradabad Shafiqur Rehman Barq today joined the Bahujan Samaj Party charging party president Mulayam Singh Yadav of not caring about Muslims any longer.

Speaking to the media, Barq said he had an hour-long meeting with BSP supremo Mayawati today following which he decided to quit SP and join BSP. Barq had earlier made his displeasure known when Mulayam had extended a hand of friendship toward’s Kalyan. He had then categorically denied that he had any plan to quit the SP despite being denied a party ticket this time.

The decision to quit SP and formally join the BSP was announced at a press conference where BSP’s Rajya Sabha MP and coordinator (West) Mumtaz Ali declared Barq as the BSP’s Lok Sabha candidate from Sambhal.

Now Barq would be directly contesting against Mulayam Singh Yadav’s brother Dr Ramgopal Yadav who is the SP Lok Sabha candidate from Sambhal. Barq said he had been a comrade of Mulayam since the inception of the SP but the recent proximity of Yadav with Ayodhya mascot Kalyan Singh and his son Rajvir joining the SP had not only hurt him but had left the Muslim community stunned. Calling this Yadav's gravest blunder Barq said that his words would be proved correct very soon during the Lok Sabha polls.

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AICC reshuffle likely in a week
Cong panels to look at tie-ups
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, February 14
With barely two months to go for the next Lok Sabha polls, the Congress has begun the process of working on its electoral alliances that had proved crucial in bringing the party back to power at the Centre in 2004.

Ignoring the vociferous proponents of the “ekla chalo” line in her party, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has set up special committees to do the basic groundwork in each of the states where the party is to negotiate an alliance with regional parties.

These panels, comprising the AICC general secretary, state unit chief, legislative party leader and other local leaders, have been asked to submit their reports by early next month that will then form the basis of seat-sharing talks with the alliance partners.

The party has indicated that it will drive a hard bargain for a substantial chunk of seats as it believes its popularity ratings have improved considerably because of its handling of the economic meltdown and the diplomatic offensive it launched after the Mumbai attacks. The Congress is also negotiating with new partners, notably the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh and and the Deve Gowda-led Janata Dal (S) in Karnataka.

The party is also working to put its house in order by addressing the grievances of sulking leaders like Narayan Rane in Maharashtra and Siddaramaiah in Karnataka.

The new election team is expected to be announced in a week’s time to enable the office bearers to begin preparations for the upcoming electoral battle.

There are two vacancies of AICC general secretaries after Margaret Alva was stripped of this post and Ashok Gehlot took over as Rajasthan Chief Minister.

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Pinarayi gets CPM backing
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
The Politburo of the CPM, notwithstanding its Kerala Chief Minister VS Achutanandan reiterated here today its support to its state Kerala secretary Pinarayi Vijayan being investigated by the CBI for alleged irregularities in awarding contracts to a Canada-based company SNC-Livalin case.

The much-awaited meeting of the Politburo attended both by Vijayan and Achutanandan declared the CBI case as “Politically motivated,” said general secretary Prakash Karat later.

Clarifying Achutanandan’s position, Karat said, “What he does as the Chief Minister is for him to decide, but as a member of the Politburo, he is privy to the decision of the party and the party is fully standing by him (Vijayan).”

Asked if there was voting on the issue and whether the Chief Minister also voted for the decision, Karat said, “The Politburo and the party are united on this.”

The two senior most leaders of the CPM have been at loggerheads over the CBI allegations of corruption and misuse of office against Vijayan, which Achutanandan, going against the party line, had refused to condemn.

In an accompanied statement the Politburo stated, “The LDF government led by EK Nayanar decided to go ahead with the SNC Lavalin contract, which was initiated by the earlier Congress-led UDF government. The proposal was discussed by the state secretariat and Pinarayi Vijayan, as the Minister for Electricity implemented the decision.”

Defending Vijayan’s continuation as the party secretary in spite of the charges, the Politburo said, “The CPM has consistently held that any person holding public office should step down if he faces prosecution by the CBI. This does not apply to Vijayan as he is not a minister or holding any public office. The party will fight the case politically and legally if it comes in court.”

Karat dismissed all hype around the case and said the Congress raised this issue in every election. “They raised it during the municipal elections, then again in the Assembly elections and now that the Lok Sabha elections are approaching they have again raised this issue,” he concluded.

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No truck with Congress, BJP, says Deve Gowda
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
Sounding the bugle for the “victory” of the Third Front in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president HD Deve Gowda on Saturday made it clear that his party would have nothing to do with either the Congress or the BJP in the general elections.

“There is no question of any pre-poll alliance with the Congress or the BJP. We have been pursuing a policy of equidistance from both these parties since 1999,” Gowda said today. He was, however, silent on the possibility of a post-poll truck with the Congress. “I can’t say what will happen after the polls,” Gowda said, when asked to clarify his stand on a tie-up with the Congress considering reports of his son HD Kumaraswamy’s meeting with AICC president Sonia Gandhi.

Kumaraswamy today denied any such meeting and said the party’s resolution of going it alone in Karnataka for LS polls stood unaltered. The JD (S) said it would have pre-poll alliance only with Left parties, and hoped the BSP and AIADMK also cooperated in building up the Third Front.

Interestingly, Gowda today evaded a query on whether he would be fine with Mayawati as the PM. “We will see that after the polls.”

Meanwhile, the Third Front leaders, including those from the Left, TDP and AIADMK, are expected to attend a national rally in Bangalore in March. Before that, Gowda would meet Left leaders Prakash Karat and AB Bardhan to chalk out the Third Front strategy for LS polls.

Gowda also said moral policing of the kind in Karnataka was not acceptable in a country with as diverse a culture as India.

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Death toll scaled down to 9
Train mishap: Probe ordered

Jajpur Road (Orissa), February 14
A high-level inquiry has been ordered into the derailment of the Howrah-Chennai Coromandel Express in Orissa's Jajpur district in which authorities today scaled down the toll from 15 to nine.

Minister of State for Railways R Velu, who visited the accident site, said the probe would be conducted by the Commissioner of Railway Safety and the report would be submitted within seven days. He said nine persons have been killed in the mishap.

He said only 45 of the injured passengers were admitted to different hospitals where the condition of six was stated to be critical. Most of the injured were discharged after first aid, he said. Earlier, railway officials had put the toll at 15. Velu said the men and machinery of the Railways and other agencies were working on a war-footing to clear the tracks to restore normal traffic. — PTI

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20 hurt in another rail mishap

Sugauli (Bihar), February 14
At least 20 passengers were injured in a train accident at Sugauli junction on Narkatiyaganj-Muzaffarpur rail section of the East Central Railway in Bihar on Saturday.

The accident occurred around 5:30 am when Bettiya-Muzaffarpur passenger train, which was about to halt, collided with the engine of Raxaul-Sugauli passenger train at the Sugauli railway station. Engines of both the trains were derailed after the accident. — ANI

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Somalia Crisis
Family of captive Indian sailor seeks PM’s help

Lucknow, February 14
The family of sailor Manoj Singh, one of the 14 sailors held captive by a ship owner in Somalia since October 10 last, has made an emotional appeal to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene into their release.

The Indian sailors are struck in the heavy firings between the naval warships and the Somalian pirates at Mogadishu port of Somalia since last four months. Manoj’s family, who hails from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, appealed to the PM to make an effort for an early release of the captives of the ship ' MV Jaipur 1'.

The members who recently talked to Manoj, said, he informed them that the situation at the Somalian port had become volatile due to intermittent firing between pirates and African naval warships, due to which except their ship all other ships/vessels had moved to safer places.

The ship was stranded at the port, with the Somalian cargo owner holding it sailoirs on board captive for recovering $20 million from the shipowners in UAE for damage to his cargo while the ship was being grounded at Somalian port on October 10, 2008.

The captives expressed that they did not know how longer would they be alive with the battle on between pirates and navy, no food and money left and many of the sailors falling ill. Neither the employers (ship owner Al Rashid Shipping Company, UAE) nor the Indian embassy in UAE was helping them, the captive informed. – UNI

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Friends shot dead over ‘love affair’
Bijendra Ahlawat

Tribune News Service

Rohtak, February 14
Two youths were shot dead by some miscreants here last night. The victims have been identified as Devender, resident of Prem Nagar and his friend Naveen of Jasbir Colony in Rohtak. The murders were so meticulously executed that initially the police thought it to be a case of accidental deaths.

It was only after the doctors, who conducted the post-mortem examination, found bullets in the body that cops registered a case of murder and started a manhunt to nab the accused.

According to the police sources, the bodies were recovered from near Sector 2 on Sonepat road this morning. A motorcycle found near the bodies led the police and the family members of the victims to believe that they had met with an accident, resulting in their death. The duo had gone to attend a marriage party on Friday night. The bodies were taken to the PGIMS where doctors found bullets in temples during autopsy.

Later, the police also recovered some love letters from the pocket of Devender, who studied in a Polytechnic institute in Kiloi village. During investigations, it was revealed that Devender had an affair with a girl of Paksma village. The victims were waylaid by assailants who fled after killing them, said police. Preliminary investigation points the needle of suspicion towards the brother of the girl with whom Devender was having an affair. “A police team went to the house of suspect but he was found missing,” said a police official. 

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Andhra techie found dead in Spain

Hyderabad, February 14
An aeronautical engineer from Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh was found dead under suspicious circumstances at his house in Madrid in Spain.

25-year-old Y Sidhartha, working in GMB - Space Research Centre in Madrid, was found dead in his flat yesterday, and the reason for his death was still not known. Sidhartha's parents, who are doctors at Nizamabad, were informed about his demise yesterday and they are trying to get more details on the incident.

"Some people from IIT Chennai called me up yesterday and told Sidhartha was seriously injured. To further confirm the incident, I called up Sidhartha's junior in Madrid who told me that Sidhartha was found dead in his house," a shocked Y Sambasiva Rao, the victim's father, told today.

He said GMB officials have also contacted him and informed about his son's death. "GMB officials told me they would arrange for VISA, travel documents and other arrangements for handing over Sidhartha's body at the earliest," he said. – PTI

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10 students held for molesting US couple

Jaipur, February 14
Ten students were detained for allegedly misbehaving with a US tourist couple in the pink city, the police said today.

The US couple, Dainy Decter and Anysthiya, was returning to their residence in Adarsh Nagar area, where they were staying as paying guest, on a motorcycle after having dinner when a group of around 15 students stopped them in front of a boys’ hostel and misbehaved with them, the police said.

The couple, however, managed to escape from there and informed the police. The police rushed to the spot and detained 10 students.

A case has been registered with Lalkothi police station and investigation in the case is going on, they said. – PTI

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Deal on air missile to be finalised soon
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 14
India and a European missile manufacturer are close to finalising a deal on co-developing a new short-range surface-to-air missile that will primarily be used in air defence of the nation.

Top sources in the Indian Defence Establishment confirmed that talks are in final stages and the modalities were being worked out. It could be finalised within the next few weeks.

The European missile maker MBDA — that is jointly held company of various European nations — is in talks to developed the missile with DRDO. At the government-level transfer of technology to India will be the prime focus and is likely to sail through. Officials of the MBDA were at the Aero India show in Bangalore. The DRDO sources maintain that progress was good.

The MBDA already has a local industrial partner in Bharat Dynamics Limited that has been producing the MILAN series of anti-tanks missile since long for the armed forces.

Sources said talks were on to co-develop the new missile and launcher, using the technology and capabilities of the European company and the DRDO.

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Pranab holds talks with Trinamool leaders
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 14
The state Congress leadership in the presence of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and AICC general secretary Mohshina Kidwai in the city today agreed unanimously to fight jointly with the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls against the CPM.

But they stressed that there should be an agreement with the TMC, which would be honourable to both parties.

Incidentally, the Congress had already shown a friendly gesture by suddenly withdrawing their candidate for the Assembly byelections in Bishnupur West in favour of the TMC candidate Madan Mitra. The byelection is scheduled to be held on February 26.

At today’s meeting, the Congress leadership discussed about the seat sharing and their poll strategy.

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Subdued V-Day amidst tight security

Mumbai, February 14
Young couples across Mumbai and other cities of Maharashtra were spotted at flower shops and greeting card outlets even as police personnel in large numbers patrolled the streets to prevent any untoward incident.

Business was brisk though there were fewer buyers than before. People were wary of being seen buying flowers and greeting cards lest goons from the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal attack them.

Since Friday night leaves of all police personnel were cancelled and the force was put on high alert to prevent disruption of Valentine’s Day in Mumbai. Contingents of the State Reserve Police were also deployed in Mumbai as a precautionary measure.

The Shiv Sena has put out signboards saying it’s call for boycott of Valentine’s Day has been a huge success. — TNS

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5 Dhruvs handed over to Ecuador
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 14
Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar on Friday handed over the keys of five advanced light helicopter (ALH) “Dhruv”, developed and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), to the chief of the Air Force of Ecuador at a function at the HAL pavilion at the Aero India 2009 Expo here today.

The helicopters - having a seating capacity of six passengers and two crewmembers - are part of the seven helicopters that Ecuador has bought from HAL.

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Immolation bid by man near PM’s office

New Delhi, February 14
A man hailing from Jharkhand allegedly attempted self-immolation in the high -security area near Prime Minister’s Office here.

Abhishekh (32) sustained over 70 per cent burn injuries after he set himself afire at around 3.30 pm at Vijay Chowk, the police said, adding the reason for taking the extreme step was not clear.

The police had a harrowing time to control the blaze and he was admitted to RML Hospital in critical condition, they said. – PTI

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