SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Can’t ask Lanka to stop war: Govt
New Delhi, February 18
Despite repeated interruptions of Lok Sabha today by Tamil parties, including UPA allies PMK and DMK, the government ruled out asking Sri Lanka to halt the military offensive against the LTTE.

Murthy quits as IT adviser to Lankan Prez

Tough Talk
Time to get rid of terror camps, Pranab tells Pakistan
New Delhi, February 18
The government today asserted that it would continue to mount diplomatic pressure on Pakistan unless the perpetrators of Mumbai strikes were brought to justice and infrastructure available to terror actors was completely dismantled. It also said war with Pakistan was never an option.

Centre has anti-Dalit mentality, alleges Maya
Lucknow, February 18
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati today lashed out at the Congress-led UPA government for its “anti-Dalit mentality” as according to her it was attempting to water down the Constitutional guarantee of reservation assured to the scheduled castes and tribes.




EARLIER STORIES

Members of the All-India Trade Union Congress shout slogans at a rally against the government’s alleged anti-worker policy in New Delhi on Wednesday. Unions seek job guarantee
New Delhi, February 18
In the wake of over 30 lakh people losing jobs following global economic downturn, trade unions today demanded that the government seeks guaranteed job protection from industries who are receiving relief or concessions.


Members of the All-India Trade Union Congress shout slogans at a rally against the government’s alleged anti-worker policy in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Left takes the Right path to price rise
New Delhi, February 18
Left parties snatched the plank of price rise and growing unemployment from the main Opposition - the BJP - when it forced two divisions on the motion of thanks to the Presidential address in Lok Sabha here today.

Operation Bluestar
‘Army doesn’t have Golden Temple items’
New Delhi, February 18
The government today said that the Indian Army was not in possession of any books, documents and miscellaneous items recovered from the premises of the Golden Temple complex during Operation Bluestar.

A friend of Scarlett Keeling lights candle around a memorial built in British teenager’s memory at Anjuna beach in Goa on Wednesday. Year after, justice still eludes Scarlett
Panaji, February 18
A year after British teenager Scarlett Keeling was found dead at Goa's Anjuna beach, neither the police nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have made any significant headway in their respective investigations into the sensational murder. Scarlett’s bruised and semi-naked body was found just before dawn on February 18, 2008. Initially, the police said the 15-year-old had drowned.

A friend of Scarlett Keeling lights candle around a memorial built in British teenager’s memory at Anjuna beach in Goa on Wednesday. — AFP photo

Serial rapist-killer gets death penalty
Bangalore, February 18
Serial killer Umesh Reddy, who has been charged with ghastly rapes and murders of several women, was today sentenced to death by the Karnataka High Court. Reddy, an ex-police constable, gained notoriety for his sex crimes, raping women even after murdering them.

Vedic school to admit Dalit students
Hyderabad, February 18
In a far-reaching move, the administrative body of the country’s richest temple at Tirumala has decided to admit Dalits to its Vedic school, which trains students to become priests.

Lawyers protest against amendments in the Partnership Act in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Lawyers protest against amendments in the Partnership Act in New Delhi on Wednesday. 
— AFP photo

‘Talibanisation’
Court for FIR against Renuka
Bangalore, February 18
The Mangalore pub assault case continues to fester with the Judicial Magistrate First Class (third court) at Mangalore today asking the local police to register an FIR against the Union Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury.

SP never gave clean chit to Kalyan: Amar
Lucknow, February 18
Taking a U-turn, the Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh claimed that his party never gave a clean chit to former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh on the Babri demolition issue.

Govt won’t muzzle TV channels
New Delhi, February 18
The government today said it was in the favour of self-regulation by televisions in case of live coverage of sensitive incidents like the recent Mumbai strikes, and had no intention of controlling their coverage.

Centre moves SC against HC order on smoking ban
New Delhi, February 18
Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has challenged in the Supreme Court the judgment of the Delhi High Court which has lifted the ban on smoking scenes in movies. The petition filed by the Centre yesterday cited World Health Organisation (WHO) data confirming that 72 per cent teenagers start smoking because they were encouraged by smoking scenes in the movies.

New flood-alert system in North-East soon
Shillong, February 18
Come monsoon. A new flood monitoring system, aided by microwave remote sensing, will come up along the Brahmaputra basin in the North-East to help plan and execute efficient emergency response measures.

PM nod for Ganga basin authority
New Delhi, February 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday approved the notification for setting up the Ganga River Basin Authority for comprehensive management of the basin. The notification would be issued with immediate effect, a PMO communiqué stated.

Jhangeri gets its first school, courtesy 82-year-old Briton
Jhangeri (Uttarakhand), February 18
Thanks to the 82-year-old British, Kenneth Francis White, 46 marginalised SC children have started getting education in the remote village of Jhangeri. The children here had only heard of schools, never seen one. The dream has come true after six decades of India’s Independence, and Jhangeri has got its first primary school.



Kenneth Francis White: I believe a revolution is coming to uplift these people.
Kenneth Francis White: I believe a revolution is coming to uplift these people.

Armed forces form panel to resolve pay matters
New Delhi, February 18
Realising that the forthcoming general elections would put their pending demands on hold, the top brass of the armed forces have formed a high-powered committee to seek early resolution of the two remaining pay and status-related issues that have had the troops worried over the past six-eight months.

Kakodkar: India all set to achieve N-power target
Hyderabad, February 18
Despite the current economic recession, India is well on course to surpass the production target of 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020, the Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar said here today.

Bandh halts life in Manipur
Guwahati, February 18
Life came to a grinding halt in entire state of Manipur including the capital city in Imphal in view of 48-hour bandh called in protest against murder of three government employees including a Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) by unidentified militants.

UP needs 2,813 docs, 766 pharmacists
Lucknow, February 18
In spite of shortage of doctors and other medical infrastructure, there has been an inprecedented surge in the number of institutional deliveries in the state.

All-woman FM team makes waves in AP village
Hyderabad, February 18
A group of Dalit women in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh scripted history when a community radio station, entirely managed by them, went on air.

Cheer for farmers, slum-dwellers
Chennai, February 18
In a budget aimed at neutralising the resentment against the DMK’s soft approach to the Centre in the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, the Tamil Nadu government yesterday announced several populist measures for government employees, city’s slum dwellers and rural poor.

Assam unveils scheme for girl child
Guwahati, February 18
The Assam government today set on the roll a special scheme for the girl child in the family with an objective to wipe out discrimination especially in respect of higher education under the Assam Bikash Yojana.

Stamp in memory of PC Sorcar
Kolkata, February 18
A commemorative stamp in memory of legendary magician Pratul Chandra Sorcar, better known as PC Sorcar, will be issued by the Union government this year, Pradip Chandra Sorcar, the illustrious magician son of the maestro said.

TDP, TRS demand action against Andhra CM
New Delhi, February 18
The Mahakutumi of Left, TDP and TRS met Corporate Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta here today and demanded proceedings against Andhra Pradesh Chief Mminister YS Rajasekhara Reddy under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other accompanied laws.

Overbridge Collapse
Bihar CM criticises Lalu
Patna, February 18
The collapse of an overbridge being constructed by the Indian Railway Construction Corporation (IRCON) at Muzaffarpur on Tuesday which crushed three persons to death and injured many others gave Chief Minister Nitish Kumar an opportunity to attack Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Iran to help restore Qutub Shahi tombs
Hyderabad, February 18
Iranian conservation experts will help Andhra Pradesh government in restoring the 400-year-old Qutub Shahi tombs, mausoleums of the rulers of Golconda, to their pristine glory.

2 Cong leaders resign in Nagaland
Kohima, February 18
Despite the claim of Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) president KV Pusa that the party is intact,two more Congress legislators tendered their resignations from Assembly yesterday.





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Can’t ask Lanka to stop war: Govt
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Murthy quits as IT adviser to Lankan Prez

Bangalore: Narayana Murthy, founder and chairman of the IT services giant Infosys Technologies, has pulled out from the job offered to him by the Sri Lankan government to become the IT adviser to the government of the island nation. Murthy cited personal reasons for his withdrawal. “In a letter to the President of Sri Lanka, NR Narayana Murthy, chief mentor and chairman of the board, Infosys Technologies, thanked him for the invitation to be the IT adviser to the Sri Lankan government. He also communicated to the President that he has decided to withdraw from being the adviser due to personal reasons,” an Infosys statement said. It is believed that Murthy has decided to duck the Sri Lankan offer owing to pressure mounted on him by certain sections who are perturbed by the policy being followed by the Sinhalese government with regard to the minority Tamils.

New Delhi, February 18
Despite repeated interruptions of Lok Sabha today by Tamil parties, including UPA allies PMK and DMK, the government ruled out asking Sri Lanka to halt the military offensive against the LTTE.

“The government has no instrumentality in dealing with another sovereign government, forcing it to take a certain course of action. That is simply not possible,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today told the House after the PMK and the MDMK disrupt Lok Sabha. They were seeking the government’s intervention to stop the war - an option the Foreign Minister ruled out.

Earlier, Mukherjee said the government continued to support a negotiated political settlement in Sri Lanka within the framework of an undivided Sri Lanka acceptable to all the communities, including the Tamils.

The government’s statements, however, had no effect on the agitating PMK and MDMK, which forced two adjournments of Lok Sabha delaying important business.

The wrath of the Tamil parties, however, forced Mukherjee to come back to the House and explain the position afresh. He assured the agitating members that the government was committed to providing all possible help for the safety and security of the Tamil civilians.

Later, PMK founder S Ramadoss met Mukherjee and said he was not satisfied with the minister’s statements.

Cuddalore: A volunteer of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi(VCK), which has been spearheading the cause of Lankan Tamils today attempted self immolation, protesting against the killings of Lankan Tamils and pressing for immediate ceasefire. Jothi alias Tamizhvendan, an activist of the VCK, led by Thol Thirumavalavan, set himself ablaze, shouting slogans and denouncing the Lankan government for killing the Tamils. He’s battling for life with more than 90 per cent burns. — UNI

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Tough Talk
Time to get rid of terror camps, Pranab tells Pakistan
Aditi Tandon and Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
The government today asserted that it would continue to mount diplomatic pressure on Pakistan unless the perpetrators of Mumbai strikes were brought to justice and infrastructure available to terror actors was completely dismantled. It also said war with Pakistan was never an option.

Ruling out aggression against the neighbour, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee firmly reiterated that it was the responsibility of the Pakistan government to respond to India’s demands.

“I understand the complexity of the Pakistan situation but we will continue to raise our demands unless Islamabad fulfills its commitments,” Mukherjee told the Parliament, while replying to the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the President’s February 12 address. The motion was adopted following a division of votes.

Responding to BJP’s accusation that too much time had been given to Pakistan to act in the Mumbai case, Pranab said diplomacy had paid and not failed India. “We have been saying that non-state actors did not come from heaven. Pakistan has now admitted that. We didn’t mobilise a single soldier, pressed no panic button and laid no mines across the border,” he said, reiterating the independence of India’s foreign policy.

“When we were not weak, while running the PL-480 grain programme how can we be weak now when our granaries are full and we are funding our development ourselves,” Mukherjee said, while replying to the Left’s charges that India was subservient to the US. He reiterated support for a Palestinian homeland within a definitive territory, clarifying that India preferred persuasion to coercion in context of foreign affairs. The Minister also said there was no question of severing ties with Iran and West Asia, the principal fuel supplier.

To tackle the economic crisis, the government today said PSUs would shortly announce a package on home loans. Although it admitted to having never denied the magnitude of the financial crunch, the government took credit for inflation control, with Mukherjee saying that inflation did not reduce by itself from 13 per cent in August to 4.4 per cent at the moment.

“Several fiscal measures had to be taken,” he said, defending RBI’s revisions of the growth projections and seeking a restructuring of IMF and World Bank.

He also assured the Left that there was no attempt to dilute India’s insurance sector by allowing backdoor entry to FDI. “Indian ownership in insurance sector is well-guarded, but we need FDI for certain sectors,” Mukherjee said.

Coming to anti-terror legislation, whose efficacy leader of the opposition LK Advani had questioned yesterday, Pranab said the law had been carefully drafted to protect national security and human rights and it was too early to judge its efficacy. “POTA and TADA had to be repealed in the interest of human rights,” further said the External Affairs Minister.

“You had said it is difficult to handle a weapon like a suicide bomber for whom death is not a deterrent. That is true,” Pranab said, reminding Advani of the statement he made as the deputy PM.

Pranab’s responses to the opposition’s digs on the President’s Address came laced with praises for Home Minister P Chiadmbaram, who recently established Multi-Agency Center under the IB for mandating intelligence sharing.

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Centre has anti-Dalit mentality, alleges Maya
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 18
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati today lashed out at the Congress-led UPA government for its “anti-Dalit mentality” as according to her it was attempting to water down the Constitutional guarantee of reservation assured to the scheduled castes and tribes.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mayawati said she had already faxed letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterji and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi regarding her party's views concerning the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill, 2008, tabled in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday and expected to be introduced in Lok Sabha tomorrow.

According to her, if the bill becomes legislation, then SC and ST people would not get the facility of reservation in 47 higher education institutions that they had been entitled to so far.

BSP supremo pointed out that the provisions of the bill made it clear that SC and ST people were not fit for group ‘A’ (Class-1) posts of higher than lowest grade and posts classified as scientific or technical.

Appealing on behalf of the BSP to all political parties to prevent the bill from being passed by Lok Sabha, Mayawati said she would wait and watch before she decides her future course of action.

“Let me see what is the response to my letters. If the Congress decides to push through this bill, they would surely suffer reverses in the coming Lok Sabha election,” warned Mayawati.

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Unions seek job guarantee

New Delhi, February 18
In the wake of over 30 lakh people losing jobs following global economic downturn, trade unions today demanded that the government seeks guaranteed job protection from industries who are receiving relief or concessions.

“The government is announcing crores of rupees in concession to industries without placing any precondition that labour will not be retrenched or laid-off and that there will be no reduced work days or wage cuts,” said AITUC general secretary Gurudas Dasgupta.

“Concessions to industries in the form of bank loans, subsidies and tax concessions must be preceded by clear assurance that there will be no retrenchment, postponement of new recruitment and lay offs or wage cuts,” he added.

More than 3,000 workers from all segments like banks, insurance, defence production, anganwadi workers, agricultural workers and others came together at a rally at Ram Lila maidan here and then marched to Parliament to press their demand.

“The purchasing power of the 100 crore population must be improved by creating more jobs and increased thrust on public investment for social infrastructure projects in education and waterways must be given,” said AIUTUC chief Krishna Chakraborty. — PTI

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Left takes the Right path to price rise
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
Left parties snatched the plank of price rise and growing unemployment from the main Opposition - the BJP - when it forced two divisions on the motion of thanks to the Presidential address in Lok Sabha here today.

The Left lost both divisions by a wide margin of 45:145 and 43:146 votes. BJP members, including Leader of Opposition LK Advani, sat there quietly without pressing any division buttons. The amendments on price rise were moved by CPM parliamentary party leader Basudeb Achariya and on unemployment by Rupchand Pal.

This provoked CPM deputy leader Mohammad Saleem to remark on the proximity between the BJP and the government. Eventually, the motion itself was passed by a voice vote with the Left hardly raising their voice.

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Operation Bluestar
‘Army doesn’t have Golden Temple items’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
The government today said that the Indian Army was not in possession of any books, documents and miscellaneous items recovered from the premises of the Golden Temple complex during Operation Bluestar.

These have been handed over to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Amritsar, Curator Museum (Punjab government), Government Treasurer, Amritsar (Punjab), Department of Cultural Affairs, Chandigarh, and also some documents to the CBI, New Delhi. The representative of SGPC had also certified that they had no further claim on the Army or the government.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today, the government said the SGPC had approached it with similar requests in the past. The Army did not possess any of the manuscripts/articles recovered from the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar that was conducted in 1984.

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Year after, justice still eludes Scarlett

Panaji, February 18
A year after British teenager Scarlett Keeling was found dead at Goa's Anjuna beach, neither the police nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have made any significant headway in their respective investigations into the sensational murder.

Scarlett’s bruised and semi-naked body was found just before dawn on February 18, 2008. Initially, the police said the 15-year-old had drowned. However, Scarlett’s mother Fiona MacKeown campaigned for a second post-mortem that concluded that Scarlett had more than 50 bruises and that she had been given the drugs ecstasy, cocaine and LSD on the night she died. It was than the police then announced she had been raped and murdered.

The case was handed over to the CBI last year after Fiona accused police officials of mishandling the investigations.

Two suspects - Placido Carvalho and Samson D'Souza - were the only people arrested by the police but were subsequently bailed out by the trial court, citing absence of any evidence against them.

The police's scuttling of the probe came on the heels of allegations made by Fiona that Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik's son Roy Naik was involved in covering up the murder.

Even after a year, the body of Scarlett Eden Keeling lying in a mortuary here, awaits a customary burial in her hometown in London, where her mother is mourning.

Fiona Mckeown, who got her Visa to visit India for paying homage to her beloved daughter, was unable to make it, apprehending attacks on her by the drug mafia, suspected to be responsible for Scarlett's murder.

The slain teenager's relatives, however, laid flowers and lit candles today on Anjuna Beach, where her body was found. — Agencies

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Serial rapist-killer gets death penalty

Bangalore, February 18
Serial killer Umesh Reddy, who has been charged with ghastly rapes and murders of several women, was today sentenced to death by the Karnataka High Court.

Reddy, an ex-police constable, gained notoriety for his sex crimes, raping women even after murdering them.

Special Judge SR Bannurmath, a senior high court judge, while pronouncing the verdict, termed Reddy as a “violent offender” and described the case as the “rarest of the rare”, deserving the death sentence.

“In this case, he is an ex-policeman who has become a habitual pervert, who not only commits robbery but also to satisfy his lust, attacks helpless women and commits rape,” the judge said.

A lower court in 2006 had awarded him death sentence. But a year later, a two-member bench of the high court expressed a divergent view - one favouring the death sentence and another life term on an appeal by him (Reddy).

This led to the constitution of a special judge, Justice SR Bannurmath, who pronounced the verdict today.

Reddy faced 21 criminal cases of which he was acquitted in 11. The remaining nine related to rape, murder and robbery. — PTI

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Vedic school to admit Dalit students
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 18
In a far-reaching move, the administrative body of the country’s richest temple at Tirumala has decided to admit Dalits to its Vedic school, which trains students to become priests.

From the next academic year, Dalit children will be admitted to Sri Venkateswara Vedic Pathashala at Dharmagiri on Tirumala hills, the abode of Lord Balaji.

The 120-year-old Vedic school, located about 4 km from the shrine complex, offers two streams of programmes with Sanskrit as the medium of instruction , a five-year course and a 12-year programme. The students who have passed Class V are eligible for both courses.

So far, the admission in the Vedic school has been the exclusive prerogative of Brahmins. In an attempt to make the priesthood profession more inclusive, the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), the autonomous temple board, has decided to throw open the doors to children from the Scheduled Caste community.

"Besides, the temple board will deposit Rs 1 lakh each in the name of the SC students so that they can find employment after completing the course,” the TTD chairman, DK Adikesavulu Naidu, said.

At present, there are about 600 students-all Brahmins-in both the programmes.

"We encourage Dalits to join the institution where they can learn the ancient wisdom of the country. We will admit Dalits from the next academic year," the chairman said, adding that the priestly functions would no longer be the exclusive preserve of one community.

The TTD officials said the candidates would be invited through advertisements in leading newspapers and qualified applicants would be selected for the courses.

"We teach all aspects of the agama sastras in four parts here," Ramakrishna, principal of Veda Pathashala, said.

For the last few years, the TTD has taken up several initiatives to broad-base the activities of the temple and reach out to the disadvantaged sections of society.

As part of these efforts, it had launched “Dalita Govindam” programme last year under which the temple authorities took the idols of the deities in a procession to Dalit colonies to enable the devotees to offer prayers in their localities. The initiative was an instant hit.

Similarly, 'Matsya Govindam' and 'Girijan Govindam' programmes, involving training of fishermen and tribals in religious rituals and improving infrastructure in their colonies, were also taken up.

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‘Talibanisation
Court for FIR against Renuka
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 18
The Mangalore pub assault case continues to fester with the Judicial Magistrate First Class (third court) at Mangalore today asking the local police to register an FIR against the Union Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury.

Mayor of Mangalore city Ganesh Hosabettu had filed a criminal complaint against the minister for her remarks on “Talibanisation” of Mangalore in the wake of the recent attack by Hindu right-wing activists on women customers in a Mangalore pub.

The private complaint by Hosabettu was lodged under Sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, etc), 153 B (remarks prejudicial to national integration) and 505 (statements amounting to public mischief) of the IPC.

PP Hegde, counsel of the Mayor, told The Tribune over phone from Mangalore that the court had asked the police to investigate the case and submit a report to the court by February 20. “All the IPC sections mentioned in the complaint would be figuring in the FIR,” he said.

Hegde contended that the accused (Minister) had "deliberately" uttered communally provocative sentences in order to incite violence.

Sri Ram Sene, the right-wing group allegedly responsible for the assault on women customers in a pub, later came under spotlight for opposing the V-Day celebrations and also for handing over to police a Hindu girl who went out with a Muslim boy. The incident turned tragic as the girl committed suicide.

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SP never gave clean chit to Kalyan: Amar
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 18
Taking a U-turn, the Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh claimed that his party never gave a clean chit to former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh on the Babri demolition issue.

Holding the then Congress-ruled Central Government “equally responsible” for the demolition, Singh also hit out at the BJP for raking up the Ayodhya issue after so many years in a bid to gain political mileage in an election year.

Speaking to reporters, the SP general secretary wondered why political parties were making such a hue and cry over the SP's friendship with Kalyan Singh when the former Chief Minister had already taken moral responsibility for the demolition. “He has had a change of heart and has vowed to keep the BJP at bay. We support him in this,” said Singh.

Advising BJP's prime ministerial candidate LK Advani to follow in Kalyan's footsteps, Singh said Kalyan’s unconditional support to his party was for fighting communal forces and every right thinking citizen should welcome this.

Commenting on the Congress' reported plans to field film star Govinda against Sanjay Dutt in Lucknow, Singh said he was confident that there was enough solidarity in the film industry to resist such a move.

“Even Sunil Duttji, a dedicated Congress worker, had refused to campaign against Jaya Prada,” claimed Singh.

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Govt won’t muzzle TV channels
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
The government today said it was in the favour of self-regulation by televisions in case of live coverage of sensitive incidents like the recent Mumbai strikes, and had no intention of controlling their coverage.

Responding to queries in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Anand Sharma said at no point had the government contemplated a move to muzzle TV channels.

“There is no question of a ban on the live coverage of sensitive incidents and self-regulation is the option on the telecast of such events,” he said. The government has held many meetings with the representatives of the News Broadcasters Association, Indian Broadcasters Federation, the security and defence forces.

“NBA has drafted self-regulatory code of ethics and framed an emergency protocol to be followed during coverage of sensitive incidents. A grievance redressal mechanism has also been put in place for redressing complaints relating to broadcast of such incidents,” Sharma added.

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Centre moves SC against HC order on smoking ban
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 18
Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss has challenged in the Supreme Court the judgment of the Delhi High Court which has lifted the ban on smoking scenes in movies. The petition filed by the Centre yesterday cited World Health Organisation (WHO) data confirming that 72 per cent teenagers start smoking because they were encouraged by smoking scenes in the movies.

The HC had passed the order on a petition of Hindi film producer Mahesh Bhatt challenging the Centre's order banning smoking scenes. In its January 23 verdict, the HC had allowed the petition holding that ban on smoking scenes in the movies amounted to violation of fundamental rights of freedom of speech and expression. Ramadoss, in his petition, made it clear that he was not against any actor but the ban was imposed in public interest. Lakhs of people were dying every year due to smoking and passive smoking. The Centre has banned smoking in public places with effect from October 2 last year.

The Centre has also sought a stay on the impugned order of the HC till the final disposal of the petition.

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New flood-alert system in North-East soon

Shillong, February 18
Come monsoon. A new flood monitoring system, aided by microwave remote sensing, will come up along the Brahmaputra basin in the North-East to help plan and execute efficient emergency response measures.

The centrally-funded project, executed by the Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), aims at a new ‘object-oriented strategy’ to attempt ‘near-real time’ flood monitoring in the Brahmaputra basin with the help of microwave remote sensing system that can penetrate clouds.

“The system can provide information on the status of land use, soil protective cover and water level. The information can be translated into parameters and coefficients that hydrological models can use for run-off and flood forecasting,” Yogesh Singh, project leader of CDAC, told here.

The new system will delineate the inundation or rise in surface water level as soon as it occurs and help alert the place of occurrence as well as downstream.

“The new system is expected to provide timely information up to the block-level at villages and help reduce, manage and control the increasing extent of the disaster. The information would be provided within 24 hours of any rise in water level,” Singh said.

The web-based data information system is likely to be installed in a year. While initially the data would be provided only specific to the North-East, the CDAC proposes to expand its scope by putting in place a system that can collect data from the parts adjacent to China as well. — PTI

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PM nod for Ganga basin authority
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday approved the notification for setting up the Ganga River Basin Authority for comprehensive management of the basin. The notification would be issued with immediate effect, a PMO communiqué stated.

The framework for the proposed authority was finalised at a meeting chaired by Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister TKA Nair with chief secretaries of the basin states of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. West Bengal was represented by Principal Secretary from the state department of environment.

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Jhangeri gets its first school, courtesy 82-year-old Briton
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

Jhangeri (Uttarakhand), February 18
Thanks to the 82-year-old British, Kenneth Francis White, 46 marginalised SC children have started getting education in the remote village of Jhangeri.

The children here had only heard of schools, never seen one. The dream has come true after six decades of India’s Independence, and Jhangeri has got its first primary school.

White donated Rs 11 lakh last year for the construction of the school building in the village, 110 km from Dehradun.

Situated at 5,500 feet, this village in Jaunpur block in Tehri Garhwal district has 55 families, of which 45 live below the poverty line.

The villagers’ livelihood depends on agriculture and animal husbandry. However, many men regularly go to distant places like Dehradun, Mussoorie, Ludhiana, Jaipur and Delhi to work as labourers. To reach the nearest market near Jhangeri, one has to walk 20 km.

No one bothered about this village till the Dehradun-based non-governmental organisation, Rural Litigation Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), decided to expand its chain of primary schools by opening one branch here.

When RLEK chairman Avdhash Kaushal’s friend, Kenneth White, heard about this plan, he offered to fund the entire cost of constructing the school building. The school’s boundary wall and the road connecting it were constructed from the money provided by local BJP MLA Khazan Das from his constituency funds.

The RLEK is running two mobile schools, four formal schools for children of the Muslim ‘Van Gujjar’ community and 14 primary schools for the rural hill community in the remote areas of Dehradun, Uttarkashi and Tehri districts.

White said, “I felt very sad when I first visited this area and saw the economic and social conditions of the children here. This school is located in the SC/ST community belt. I believe a revolution is coming to uplift these people socially and economically. These people should exist like other people and be counted among equals. The SC/ST system should go away. For them, the next generation is very important come what may. Therefore, it becomes important that the SC/ST children should get proper education.”

The RLEK regularly keeps White updated about the school’s working through a field volunteer.

After the opening of the school, RLEK’s field volunteers have encouraged Jhangeri’s men and women to form two self-help groups. While women work on poultry farming and food processing, the men work for the “save seed” campaign and focus on traditional farming to save the environment, and to abolish ‘bali pratha’ (sacrificing of animals on festivals).

As a civil engineer, White first came to India from London in 1957 to work with a private company in Rourkela. Then, he moved to Jamaica before returning back to India after two years to work as the chief engineer for a private firm in the Bombay Docks.

In 2005, White came to India after a long gap, and visited Dehradun and Mussoorie. He went to Kolkata, too, where he met the RLEK chairman through a common journalist friend. “I found Kaushal to be an idealist. That’s the reason, why I keep coming back to RLEK and support its endeavors,” says White.

White says, “I stay for eight-nine months in India in a year and the remaining months in the UK.”

During his stay in Dehradun, White spends hours in the RLEK library, eats his food in its kitchen, watches a lot of Indian television channels - “they are full of fun. I find British television rubbish.”

White is married to homemaker Jo for 56 years. Both live in London. “Dehradun has become my second home because I like people over here and the climate is good,” he said. Ask him about his future plans and White laughs and thumping his chest says, “All depends on what life demands.”

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Armed forces form panel to resolve pay matters
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
Realising that the forthcoming general elections would put their pending demands on hold, the top brass of the armed forces have formed a high-powered committee to seek early resolution of the two remaining pay and status-related issues that have had the troops worried over the past six-eight months.

The committee was formed following directions from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in December last to sort out the four-core issues raised by the armed forces after the Sixth Pay Commission was implemented. While two issues had been resolved, the rest remained.

As the model code of conduct was impending, the armed forces fear that their two demands needed immediate attention, a senior officer said. One is that grade pay for all ranks of officers to be at par with the their counterparts in the civil services. Presently, the committee of secretaries that was looking into the anomalies of the Sixth Pay Commission had created difference by raising the grade pay of civil service officers. This means the salary of person on civil side, including the police, would be higher and was affecting the entire lot of officers.

The other pending issue is putting all lieutenant generals at par with director generals of police. In the previous Fifth Pay Commission, the DGPs were at par with lieutenant generals. Now, the Sixth Pay Commission has bifurcated the lieutenant generals and the equivalent ranks in the Navy and IAF into two. The GOC-in-C, their Naval and IAF equivalents and few other officers at the headquarters are in a grade that is higher than that of the DGPs while other lieutenant generals are in a grade lower than the DGPs. This anomaly is affecting about 150 officers.

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Kakodkar: India all set to achieve N-power target
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 18
Despite the current economic recession, India is well on course to surpass the production target of 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020, the Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar said here today.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has started work on four 700 MW nuclear power plants for which the Central Government has given approval in principle, Kakodkar said.

He was talking to the media on the sidelines of a three-day international conference on “Characterisation and Quality Control of Nuclear Fuels” organised by the Nuclear Fuel Complex.

The plans were also on to set up another four 700 MW nuclear plants and fast breeder reactors. Each megawatt of nuclear power will cost about Rs 6 crore.

"We also will go in for some light water reactors that have a capacity of over 1,000 MW each. We are in discussion with prospective vendors for constructing the light water plants and hope that very soon we will be able to actualise these projects," the top nuclear scientist said.

The Union Government, he said, gave in-principle approval for the development of sites at Jaithapur and Kudankulam. The initial work in this regard was also on.

The AEC chief said the private sector could also be allowed into nuclear power business provided they had "prior experience in Indian conditions."

"It is important that whoever enters into nuclear power business must have prior experience in Indian conditions. It is unlike other businesses because in nuclear business you have to run the facility whether or not you produce power. We have to ensure that there is control on nuclear materials and so there are demands on such entities," Kakodkar said.

The Atomic Energy Act clearly specifies that nuclear energy business could be carried out by a government company in which the Centre has a 51 per cent stake. The Act also enabled both government and private entities to participate within this framework, the AEC chairman said.

The NPCIL has the necessary capability to execute the new projects and deliver them within the specific time-frame and budget. The Corporation had recently signed an MoU with NTPC for power generation and was also talking to others, he said.

Pointing out that there is a growing energy demand in India, he said the energy should be clean and should not contribute to any green house gas emissions. “There are several drivers for growth of nuclear energy in India. This could in fact be one way of getting out of the economic slowdown problem,” Kakodkar said.

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Bandh halts life in Manipur
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 18
Life came to a grinding halt in entire state of Manipur including the capital city in Imphal in view of 48-hour bandh called in protest against murder of three government employees including a Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) by unidentified militants.

A Joint Action Committee (JAC) of several organisations gave the bandh call from today demanding identification and arrest of culprits (militants) behind the triple murder that has shocked the state.

A police source in Imphal said the bodies of three slain persons were still lying in hospital morgue as protestors wanted arrest of culprits before the cremation. The state government has decided to refer the case to the CBI to quell the raging mass protest.

The bodies of the three government employees were recovered on Tuesday morning on the bank of a canal Lukhrabi bridge in Senapati district of the state after they had gone missing February 14 when they were on way to interior Kasom Khullen from the district headquarter of Ukhrul on government duty.

The deceased were identified as Sub-divisional Officer (SDO), Dr Thingnam Kishan (40), an employee of revenue department Yumnam Token Singh (38) and driver Aribam Rajen Sharma (36).

The police said all three had been hit on the head with blunt and sharp weapons and termed the ‘most brutal form of murder’. The police has remained clueless about the identity of the militant group, if any, behind the brutal murder that has created tension in the state. The needle suspicion is pointed towards a Naga rebel group active in hill districts of the state.

The state has announced an ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh to the next of kin of late Dr Thingnam Kishan and Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of late Yumnam Token and late Aribam Rajen Sharma. The government has also promised jobs to the next of kin of the three deceased according to their educational qualifications.

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UP needs 2,813 docs, 766 pharmacists
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 18
In spite of shortage of doctors and other medical infrastructure, there has been an inprecedented surge in the number of institutional deliveries in the state.

Answering a group of health-related questions during the Question Hour in the Vidhan Sabha, state health minister Anant Kumar Mishra said the government of India had recently acknowledged that institutional deliveries in the state had gone up from 1.25 lakhs to 10 lakhs per year.

This is a significant indicator as the state tops the list of maternal deaths in the country. 517 maternal deaths are recorded per one lakh live births in the state. Delivery through untrained persons is one of the main reasons behind the deaths.

Going by the national health standards, the state needs 2,813 doctors and 766 pharmacists.

The state government has already requisitioned the state service commission, the minister informed.

SP MLA from Sevrahi in Kushinagar, PK Rai suggested compulsory rural postings for fresh medical graduates whose education was being subsidised by the government.

Rai, himself a physician, recalled that earlier in the state fresh medical interns were recruited on an ad hoc basis and regularised as and when permanent vacancies arose.

He also suggested that the state government should make medical students sign a bond for compulsory rural posting at the time of admission.

BJP MLA from Jalesar (Etah) Kuber Singh asked the minister to first provide adequate residential, security and other infrastructure support in remote areas so that medical staff could stay there and not clamour for urban postings or opt for private practice.

Responding to the charge of the government being soft on its doctors indulging in private practice, the minister said he had personally made surprise inspections in 62 of the 71 districts since the BSP government came to power.

Mishra said repeated GOs have been issued to Commissioners and District Magistrates to ensure the presence of doctors in the community health centres (CHCs) and primary health centres (PHCs).

In this concern, 38 doctors have got adverse entries in their service records, 12 have been transferred, five dismissed and 31 have been left after being warned. However, he made it clear that the government was not considering making private practice by government doctors a punishable offense.

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All-woman FM team makes waves in AP village
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 18
A group of Dalit women in Medak district of Andhra Pradesh scripted history when a community radio station, entirely managed by them, went on air.

Sangham Radio, billed as India’s first all-woman rural community radio station, was launched recently in Machnoor village, 110 km from Hyderabad.

It was a proud moment for Algole Narsamma and ‘General’ Narsamma, the radio managers, when their painstaking efforts bore fruit and a new forum was born to give voice to the marginalised rural sections.

The radio is completely owned, managed and operated by women from rural communities. The radio broadcast covers a radius of 30 km spread over 100 villages and a population close to 50,000.

The radio is facilitated by and licensed to the Deccan Development Society (DDS), an NGO working in the area of women empowerment.

The Union I&B Ministry had last year granted FM radio licences to educational institutions and NGOs.

Before getting government approval, Sangham Radio used to play recorded news capsules on a tape-recorder in the nearby villages on specific days. This ‘narrowcasting’ had a positive effect on the local people who soon became eager consumers of information on issues such as biodiversity and seed sovereignty.

The station has an enviable infrastructure with a full-fledged studio and two 100 watts FM stereo transmitters. But it is the content and production that differentiates this station from other commercial FM stations permitted by the government.

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Cheer for farmers, slum-dwellers
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 18
In a budget aimed at neutralising the resentment against the DMK’s soft approach to the Centre in the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, the Tamil Nadu government yesterday announced several populist measures for government employees, city’s slum dwellers and rural poor.

The welfare measures included Rs 1 lakh free insurance scheme for life-threatening diseases, 1,35,000 concrete houses for the rural poor, 21,000 houses for the city’s slum dwellers, waiver of interest for crop loans and waiver of land revenue for 12 flood-hit districts.

Under the free medical insurance scheme, about 1 crore people belonging to the agricultural workers, fishermen, unorganised labourers welfare boards and those families with an annual income less than Rs 24,000 would be benefited, he said.

The total revenue receipts of the government for 2009-2010 are estimated at Rs.58,270.93 crore and the total revenue expenditure is estimated at Rs.59,295.28 crore, showing a revenue deficit of Rs 1,024.34 crore.

In a departure from the IT and industrial oriented budgets of previous years, Anbazhagan presented a farmer-friendly and rural-oriented budget this year. The interest for farmers who repay the crop loans in time would be waived, he said, and announced that 5,000 milch animals would be provided to self-help groups in rural areas.

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Assam unveils scheme for girl child
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 18
The Assam government today set on the roll a special scheme for the girl child in the family with an objective to wipe out discrimination especially in respect of higher education under the Assam Bikash Yojana.

Unveiling the scheme that has been named ‘Majoni’ (the girl child in the family), Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said the scheme was aimed at arresting the declining birth rate of girls in the country so that the balance in the sex ratio could be maintained in society.

“The state government through the scheme wants to hold hand with those couples who are blessed with a girl child,” Gogoi said. The scheme will be implemented through the Assam Health and Family Welfare Department.

The salient features of the scheme include a fixed deposit account of Rs 5000 against every female new born to be opened by the state government in any of the nationalized banks on the basis of applications put up by the parents before the Deputy Commissioner at district level.

The fixed deposit will mature when the girl attains the age of 18 years so that she can utilize the money for higher education. The parents and guardians will not be able to liquidate the fixed deposit.

The parents should apply for the benefit under the scheme through an application along with the birth certificate and registration number of the new born girl.

The eligibility conditions include : the girl child must be born in free general ward of any government hospital in the state , the new born must be registered with the government, the scheme will cover only two girl children in a family , the fixed deposits against girl children can’t be mortgaged by the parents and the girl child must not be married before attaining 18 years.

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Stamp in memory of PC Sorcar

Kolkata, February 18
A commemorative stamp in memory of legendary magician Pratul Chandra Sorcar, better known as PC Sorcar, will be issued by the Union government this year, Pradip Chandra Sorcar, the illustrious magician son of the maestro said.

“Three days back, I received copy of a letter addressed to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee from the Department of Posts and Telecommunications that a postage stamp would be issued in memory of my father by this year, PC Sorcar (junior) told here today quoting a communique.

He said the idea was mooted by CPM MP Sujan Chakraborty to Chatterjee at a function some days back in which Sorcar (junior) was also present.

Sorcar (junior) said though he was happy with this honour bestowed on his father three decades after his death, he felt it was long overdue.

“Indians are proud of PC Sorcar who brought ‘bharatiya jaadu parampara’ into international limelight and whose ‘water of India’, ‘X-ray eyes’ and ‘flying carpet’ acts mesmerised the global audience,” he said.

He said there were requests from some quarters that the stamp cover be released by February 23, before the 96th birthday of the wizard king. “But I don't know if that would be possible”.

Sorcar died of heart attack while performing on stage on January 6, 1971 at Hokkaido in Japan at the age of 58. His son Pradip (PC Sorcar-junior) then resumed the show taking up the father's mantle. — PTI

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TDP, TRS demand action against Andhra CM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 18
The Mahakutumi of Left, TDP and TRS met Corporate Affairs Minister Prem Chand Gupta here today and demanded proceedings against Andhra Pradesh Chief Mminister YS Rajasekhara Reddy under the Prevention of Corruption Act and other accompanied laws.

TDP leader N Chandababu Naidu and TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao arrived here today along with their other leaders to press for severe action against the Congress leader. They also plan to meet President Pratibha Patil and the Prime Minister, said Naidu and Rao before going to meet Gupta.

Speaking to mediapersons, Naidu said Reddy had setup an architecture of corruption. He pointed that in 2004 declarations made before the Election Commission, Reddy had declared his assets around Rs 50 lakh. The only immovable asset was his house in Banjara Hills that he valued at Rs 14 lakh. Naidu alleged that as of today by his own admission Reddy’s assets together with his son Jagan Mohan Reddy and other family members runs to Rs 10,000 crore.

Naidu demanded investigations against Reddy under the PCA, FEMA, Money Laundering Act, RBI Act and the IT Act.

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Overbridge Collapse
Bihar CM criticises Lalu
Tribune News Service

Patna, February 18
The collapse of an overbridge being constructed by the Indian Railway Construction Corporation (IRCON) at Muzaffarpur on Tuesday which crushed three persons to death and injured many others gave Chief Minister Nitish Kumar an opportunity to attack Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Nitish, who is also a former Railway Minister, on Tuesday said the IRCON used to be a very reputed construction company during his stint in the Railways but during the last five years (Lalu's tenure), things had come to such a pass that it can not handle even the construction of a simple overbridge. He said the present Railway Minister had run his ministry in such a manner that his successor would have to tear his hair out.

The Chief Minister has ordered a magisterial enquiry into the incident and announced cash compensation of Rs 1.50 lakh to the kin of each of the deceased.

The state government would pay Rs 1,00,000 and Rs 50,000 would be provided from the Chief Minister's relief fund, he clarified.

The IRCON ,on its part, has suspended its Deputy Manager supervising the construction. The construction work of the overbridge, too, is under suspension.

The construction agency has also announced compensation of Rs two lakh each to the dependents of all the deceased.

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Iran to help restore Qutub Shahi tombs
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 18
Iranian conservation experts will help Andhra Pradesh government in restoring the 400-year-old Qutub Shahi tombs, mausoleums of the rulers of Golconda, to their pristine glory.

The state government will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Iran to take up conservation works at the historic Qutub Shahi tombs and gardens, Premamati mosque and Badeshahi Ashurkhana built in the typical Iranian style of architecture.

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2 Cong leaders resign in Nagaland

Kohima, February 18
Despite the claim of Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) president KV Pusa that the party is intact,two more Congress legislators tendered their resignations from Assembly yesterday.

Press Secretary to the Chief Minister Abu Metha here today informed, MLAs Azheto Zhimomi of Dimapur III Constituency and Deo Nukhu from Chizami under Phek district submitted their resignation papers to the Assembly Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie who had reportedly accepted it. — UNI

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BRIEFLY

Farooq takes oath as  RS member
NEW DELHI:
NC president Farooq Abdullah and senior party leader Mohammed Shafi Uri on Wednesday took oath as members of the Rajya Sabha. The two, who were elected in the biennial polls from Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month, took oath or affirmation of allegiance to the Constitution in Urdu. Both took oath in the name of God after which they were greeted by other members of the House. — PTI

Pappu Yadav gets bail
Patna:
The Patna High Court on Wednesday granted bail to incarcerated Lok Sabha member from Madhepura, Rajesh Ranjan, alias Pappu Yadav, in connection with Ajit Sarkar murder case. A division bench comprising Justice Shiv Kriti Singh and Justice Abhijit Sinha allowed bail to Pappu pending hearing on his Criminal Appeal in the High Court. — TNS

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