SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Taliban has to be confronted, defeated: India
New Delhi, February 19
Amid increasing worldwide concern over the deal between the Pakistan government and Islamic radicals in the Swat valley, India today asserted that the Taliban could not be divided into “a brutal Taliban and a benign Taliban”.

Now, CISF cover for pvt firms
Top priority to petro, IT sectors
New Delhi, February 19
In an apparent bid to tighten security around important installations following the Mumbai attacks, the Parliament today made a crucial amendment to allow posting of armed guards of the Central Industrial Security Force ( CISF) at privately owned installations of economic importance.

Lankan Tamils Issue
SC notice to striking TN lawyers
New Delhi, February 19
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Bar Council of India and the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHCAA) on a petition that has sought an end to the “illegal” indefinite strike by the lawyers in Tamil Nadu since January 30.

Major reshuffle in Cong ahead of LS polls
New Delhi, February 19
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress tonight carried out a major organisational reshuffle, bringing senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad back as party general secretary and given the charge of four states, changing the work allocation of almost all other general secretaries.

New regional front on cards in M’rashtra
Mumbai, February 19
Regional parties in Maharashtra like the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Peasants and Workers’ Party and splinter Republican Party of India have mooted the idea of forming a regional front to act as a counter to the Congress and the BJP.


MPs go Berserk

BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain has something to tell RJD’s MP Pappu Yadav at Parliament House.
BJP MP Shahnawaz
Hussain has something
to tell RJD’s MP Pappu
Yadav at Parliament
House. — PTI photo





EARLIER STORIES

Azharuddin Ismail (L), who plays the character of young Salim and Rubina Ali who acts as young Latika in the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ are all smiles as they leave in a taxi after their US visa interview in Mumbai on Thursday.
TWIN CHEER: Azharuddin Ismail (L), who plays the character of young Salim and Rubina Ali who acts as young Latika in the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ are all smiles as they leave in a taxi after their US visa interview in Mumbai on Thursday. — Reuters photo

Marathas’ Demand for Quota
Political parties face heat
Mumbai, February 19
All major political parties in Maharashtra are facing the heat from the dominant Maratha community, which is demanding reservations in government jobs.

Rane back in M’rashtra cabinet
Mumbai, February 19
Maharashtra's Chief Minister Ashok Chavan today expanded his cabinet by inducting Narayan Rane and two others.

M’rashtra okays Parents’
Welfare Act

Mumbai, February 19
Maharashtra has joined a list of 15 states which have approved the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, which entails imprisonment for those neglecting their parents.

MPs of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) cover their faces with black cloth during a silent protest against the Sri Lankan army action on the Tamilians at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday.
MPs of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) cover their faces with black cloth during a silent protest against the Sri Lankan army action on the Tamilians at Parliament House in New Delhi on Thursday. The MPs demanded an immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka and sought the issue be taken to the UN Security Council. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Protesters hurl stones at
minister’s chopper

Pune, February 19
Demonstrators demanding the reservation for the Maratha community hurled stones at the helicopter carrying Maharashtra Finance Minister Dilip Walse Patil at the Shivneri Fort today.

NTR’s wife to campaign for Cong
Hyderabad, February 19
Emerging from a prolonged political hibernation, NTR’s widow Lakshmi Parvathi today pledged support to the ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh, saying she was impressed by the government’s unflinching focus on welfare of the poor.

To have names of candidates
EVMs with Braille strips in AP
Hyderabad, February 19
In a bid to help visually-challenged persons to exercise their franchise, all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in Andhra Pradesh will have Braille strips containing names of contesting candidates and other details.

15 die as van rams into tree
Bellary, February 19
As many as 15 people, including six women, were killed and six injured when the van in which a marriage party was travelling rammed against a roadside tree at Venipura near here early this morning.

Cops, lawyers clash in HC complex
Chennai, February 19
In an unprecedented violence in the Madras High Court, judges and lawyers were injured in brutal attacks by hundreds of policemen, who gathered outside the court building and hurled stones at the lawyers inside.

WB to regularise 1 lakh employees
Kolkata, February 19
The state cabinet at its meeting yesterday decided to regularise some 1,00,000 casual and temporary employees working in various government departments and directorates since the past ten years.

Buddhadeb lashes out at UPA
Kolkata, February 19
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today lashed out at the UPA for still sticking to the pro-US policy, which had been destroying the country’s economy and political stability.

Adopt and adapt key to growth: Kamal Nath
Guwahati, February 19
Union Minister of Commerce Kamal Nath today said India’s strength lied in capability to ‘adopt and adapt’ to manage economic growth amid global economic meltdown.

‘Ensure safety of citizens’
Guwahati, February 19
The biggest conclave of litterateurs in the Northeast, Asom Sahitya Sabha, has denounced continuing insurgency and violence in Assam and called upon the government to come down on terror with an iron hand.

Maoists gun down panchayat head
Sheohar (Bihar), February 19
A village panchayat head was shot dead by suspected CPI(Maoist) rebels in Bihar's Sheohar district, the police said today.

Centre’s Wrongdoings
Chauhan’s padyatra from tomorrow
Bhopal, February 19
In an attempt to lay the blame for everything that is wrong in the state at the Centre’s doorstep, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has embarked upon a “padyatra” of the state from February 21.

Sikh Marriage Act
Tarlochan seeks amendment
New Delhi, February 19
Former Chairman of the National Minorities Commission and Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh on Thursday demanded an amendment to the Anand Marriage Act, enabling lawful registration of Sikh marriages under Sikh rites as per the said Act, to be brought in at the earliest.

Rajya Sabha speech: Haryana MP prefers Punjabi
New Delhi, February 19
It took sixty years and the love for the language, that Punjabi was used in an extempore speech in the Rajya Sabha (RS).

‘Centre must do more for farmers’
New Delhi, February 19
Former Union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa yesterday asked government to link the MSP of food grains to the price index and international parameters or accept recommendations of MS Swaminathan committee.

Health Minister to visit Amritsar tomorrow
New Delhi, February 19
Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss will give “Save the Girl Child” message in Amritsar this Saturday when he will visit the city to launch a health awareness drive, primarily focussing on fighting female feoticide and drug addiction.

 





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Taliban has to be confronted, defeated: India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News service

New Delhi, February 19
Amid increasing worldwide concern over the deal between the Pakistan government and Islamic radicals in the Swat valley, India today asserted that the Taliban could not be divided into “a brutal Taliban and a benign Taliban”.

Talking to reporters here after a meeting of the India-Mozambique Joint Commission, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma hit out at the Taliban for propagating the cult of violence and representing religious intolerance.

“These forces have to be confronted and defeated. There is no cause that justifies the kind of behaviour the Taliban represents.”

Answering questions, Sharma also stated that India was prepared to share whatever information Pakistan wanted on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks with a clear understanding that the neighbouring country was determined to dismantle the terror infrastructure and bring to justice the perpetrators of the strikes.

“It is clear from ‘day one’ that the perpetrators of the attacks came from Karachi. One of them was caught alive. India has given a comprehensive dossier. Besides India, other countries have specific information about the attacks. It was ‘not for nothing’ that the UN Security Council proscribed the key conspirator.”

Pakistan, he noted, had reverted to India and made admissions about the culpability of its nationals in the attacks and the conspiracy being hatched in Pakistan. An investigation was on in India and Pakistan was also carrying out its own inquiry.

“I have no doubt that if they conduct sincere investigations, it will confirm the ‘painful truth’ about the identity of the conspirators.’’

Meanwhile, official sources said India was considering naming its new High Commissioner to Pakistan since the present incumbent Satyabrata Pal is scheduled to retire on February 28.

The front-runner for the job is Sharat Sabharwal, Special Secretary in the external affairs ministry.

Earlier, there were indications that the decision on the new envoy in Islamabad could be left to the new dispensation that will assume office after Lok Sabha polls.

However, the change in the thinking appears to be due to the fact that Pakistan has shown some seriousness in carrying out investigations into the Mumbai attacks.

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Now, CISF cover for pvt firms
Top priority to petro, IT sectors
Ajay Banerjee & Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
In an apparent bid to tighten security around important installations following the Mumbai attacks, the Parliament today made a crucial amendment to allow posting of armed guards of the Central Industrial Security Force ( CISF) at privately owned installations of economic importance.

The guards of CISF, a paramilitary force, will be posted as per request from corporate houses and against payment.

Top priority would be accorded to petroleum and natural gas installations like refineries, IT firms, power generation hubs, sea ports, airports and steel sector.

The payment made by firms will be at par with the money that public sector companies pay for similar deployment.

The idea is not to make profit but to meet basic costs. The government will make a risk analysis before providing the services.

Home Minister P Chidambaram explained in Parliament that the CISF will carry out only critical functions related to security of a place.

For non-critical functions like watch and ward, the companies will have to hire private guards. However, the overall command will be of the CISF team deployed at an installation.

Earlier, he assured that the government and public sector units (PSUs) would continue to have first claim on the CISF cover even after its services are extended to the private sector.

“There was no question of reducing the CISF cover to PSUs as its first response. CISF security for private sector could not be envisaged overnight as first the force would have to be expanded to meet the new demands. We have permitted further raising of the force,” the Home Minister said.

“Times now demand that the CISF cover be extended. After 26/11, many institutions have demanded protection,” Chidambaram further said.

The CISF Amendment Bill, 2008, which was also referred to the Parliamentary standing committee on Home Affairs, also seeks to provide protection to Indian missions abroad.

Chidambaram said the standing committee recommendations would be taken into account in the amended bill.

He assured the house that CISF would not get involved in land disputes, labour and law and order issues as they would remain under the purview of local authorities.

The strength of the force would be expanded to 1.45 lakh from the present 1.12 lakh, said the Home Minister.

SS Ahluwalia of the BJP demanded that services of ex-servicemen and former cops could availed for the purpose.

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Lankan Tamils Issue
SC notice to striking TN lawyers
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 19
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Bar Council of India and the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHCAA) on a petition that has sought an end to the “illegal” indefinite strike by the lawyers in Tamil Nadu since January 30.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan listed the matter for hearing on February 23. The SC notice would also be served on the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and the Madras Bar Association.

Appearing for the petitioner, Prof. R Muralidharan of National Law School and IIM Bangalore and senior counsel Harish Salve said the strike had crippled the functioning of the judiciary at all levels in the state.

Earlier, lawyers used to go on one-day token protest to get their genuine grievances redressed. But, now they were on an indefinite strike since January 30 to protest against the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

He said it was not an issue that warranted a strike by the lawyers. Since the advocates in Tamil Nadu were “increasingly and frequently” going on strike, the petitioner has sought a report from the Registrar General of the Madras High Court on the number of days the courts could not function due to such agitation.

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Major reshuffle in Cong ahead of LS polls

New Delhi, February 19
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress tonight carried out a major organisational reshuffle, bringing senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad back as party general secretary and given the charge of four states, changing the work allocation of almost all other general secretaries.

Azad, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, who has had one of the longest tenure in the Congress Working Committee, was given charge of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Orissa. Azad has in the past been general secretary in charge of a number of states.

The work allocation of the nine general secretaries has also been changed. Rahul Gandhi will continue to look after the Youth Congress and the NSUI. Digvijay Singh remains in charge of Uttar Pradesh, apart from looking after publicity.

Mohsina Kidwai has been given charge of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh while Mukul Wasnik will be in charge of party affairs in Delhi and Rajasthan.

Prithviraj Chavan will continue to be AICC general secretary in charge of Jammu and Kashmir. In addition, he has been made the party in charge of Haryana. Janardan Dwivedi will continue to look after organisation.

He also gets new responsibilites like organisational elections, training and programme implementation. Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora gets additional responsibility as party in charge of administration. — PTI

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New regional front on cards in M’rashtra
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 19
Regional parties in Maharashtra like the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Peasants and Workers’ Party and splinter Republican Party of India have mooted the idea of forming a regional front to act as a counter to the Congress and the BJP.

The nascent umbrella coalition is also mulling a tie-up with other regional outfits like the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP in Bihar.

According to sources, the groundwork for a grand alliance on the lines of the Third Front of the 1980s is being laid by Shiv Sena Executive president Uddhav Thackeray and NC leader Sharad Pawar.

Both Thackeray and Pawar met at the former’s residence in Delhi earlier this week sparking off rumours of both leaders ditching their respective national allies - the BJP and the Congress.

While Thackeray has refused to comment on the meeting, Pawar has indicated that the NCP is open to an alliance with any national party other than the BJP.

Leaders of both the Sena and the NCP say the growth of the two outfits were being stifled by their national partners.

In fact, both have been demanding a higher share of seats in the Lok Sabha elections from the BJP and the Congress, respectively.

While local Congress leadership has flatly refused to concede to demands of Pawar, the BJP is showing signs of panic at the possibility of the Thackerays’ jumping ship.

LK Advani’s Prime Ministerial ambitions hinge on the BJP’s alliance with the Sena in Maharashtra and the saffron party’s leaders are chalking out a charm offensive to win over the Thackerays.

Shortly after the news of Uddhav’s meeting with Pawar leaked out, senior BJP leaders left for Ahmedabad for confabulations with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. According to BJP sources here, Advani is planning to visit Matoshree to placate the Thackerays.

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Marathas’ Demand for Quota
Political parties face heat
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 19
All major political parties in Maharashtra are facing the heat from the dominant Maratha community, which is demanding reservations in government jobs.

Leaders of the community, which has dominated Maharashtra politics for more than half-a-century, cutting across party lines, are coming together to turn reservations into an election issue.

The ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition has however sought to steal the opposition’s thunder by bringing this community within the ambit of job quotas before the Lok Sabha elections.

However, the ruling front’s proposals face a major setback as more than half of the government jobs in Maharashtra are already under various quotas and providing additional reservations to the community could violate the Supreme Court guidelines.

“We will be calling an all-party meeting to decide on the quotas for the Maratha community,” Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said at the Shivneri Fort in Pune today.

Chavan said attempts would be made to provide quotas for the Marathas without disturbing the share of other communities.

On Wednesday, Chavan told members of the Mumbai Press Club that he had been working hard to bring about a solution to the vexed issue.

However, the anger of the community seems to be boiling over as the government fumbles for a solution.

Today, activists of the Sambhaji Brigade, which represents the Marathas, threw stones at Chavan’s helicopter minutes before it was to land at the Shivneri Fort.

The mainstream political parties in Maharashtra are apprehensive of a polarisation on caste-lines with Dalits and OBCs opposing any attempts to reduce their quotas to accommodate the Marathas. The Dalits and non-Maratha OBCs account for some 45 per cent of the state’s population.

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Rane back in M’rashtra cabinet
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 19
Maharashtra's Chief Minister Ashok Chavan today expanded his cabinet by inducting Narayan Rane and two others.

Rane, whose suspension from the party was revoked earlier this week after he apologised to the Congress leadership, was administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor SC Jamir today.

Apart from Rane, Naseem Khan and Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil were also inducted into the state cabinet.

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M’rashtra okays Parents’ Welfare Act

Mumbai, February 19
Maharashtra has joined a list of 15 states which have approved the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, which entails imprisonment for those neglecting their parents.

The Act provides that anyone who shows disrespect to or does not care for his or her parents who are above 60 years of age is liable for punishment up to three months of imprisonment or a fine of Rs 5,000 or both.

A meeting of the state cabinet held here late last night decided to implement the law in the state from March 1. Adopted children will also be liable to the punitive measures for ignoring their parents.

The law, passed in 2007, already exists in 15 other states. Currently, a person is fined Rs 500 if his/her parents (senior citizens) lodge a complaint.

The cabinet also approved establishment of maintenance tribunals to deal with the issues of senior citizens and parents whose responsibility has been rejected by their kith and kin.

The tribunals will have the status of a civil court with the powers of judicial magistrate first class, as provided under the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973. — PTI

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Protesters hurl stones at minister’s chopper

Pune, February 19
Demonstrators demanding the reservation for the Maratha community hurled stones at the helicopter carrying Maharashtra Finance Minister Dilip Walse Patil at the Shivneri Fort today.

Three activists of Maratha outfit Sambhaji Brigade and a policeman were injured when the police indulged in lathi-charge as the protesters turned unruly and threw stones at the helicopter, the police said.

The incident happened just before Chief Minister Ashok Chavan's helicopter was to land at the historic fort, around 100 km from here, they said. — PTI

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NTR’s wife to campaign for Cong
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 19
Emerging from a prolonged political hibernation, NTR’s widow Lakshmi Parvathi today pledged support to the ruling Congress in Andhra Pradesh, saying she was impressed by the government’s unflinching focus on welfare of the poor.

After an ignominious exit from electoral politics following the rout of her “NTR TDP” in the 1999 elections, Parvathi has been keeping herself away from public glare, barring occasional outburst against her bęte noire and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu.

She drove to Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy’s camp office today and had a brief meeting with him.

She submitted a memorandum seeking a probe into the allegations of financial irregularities in Heritage Foods, owned by Naidu’s family members.

“I am truly impressed by the pro-poor policies of the Rajasekhar Reddy government. He reminds me of NTR who was a champion of the poor and downtrodden,” Parvathi said after the meeting.

She said she was prepared to campaign for Congress and spread the message of development ahead of simultaneous elections to Parliament and the state Assembly.

Asked whether she would join the Congress, Parvathi, who once wielded unbridled power in TDP as NTR’s wife, said she was yet to make up her mind.

Parvathi, who entered NTR's life as his biographer, married the charismatic actor-turned-politician in 1993, much to the chagrin of his family members, including his son-in-law Chandrababu Naidu.

She was seen as the Villain De Piece of the bitter family drama that had engulfed TDP in August, 1995 leading to dethronement of NTR, the party founder, in a midnight political coup led by Naidu.

The revolt against NTR was a result of Parvathi’s growing role in the party affairs and a widely-held perception that she may be declared as a political heir to NTR.

After NTR’s death in 1996, she floated the party in her husband’s memory and hit the poll campaign in style four months later drawing huge crowds. But, her political show ended in a whimper.

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To have names of candidates
EVMs with Braille strips in AP
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, February 19
In a bid to help visually-challenged persons to exercise their franchise, all Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in Andhra Pradesh will have Braille strips containing names of contesting candidates and other details.

For the first time, all EVMs in 66,000 polling stations across the state will have the names of candidates and numbers assigned to party symbols in Braille script, Chief Electoral Officer IV Subba Rao said.

An attendant will also be allowed to accompany the visually-impaired persons. “We want every single blind voter to be able to vote on his own, with full confidence and without any help,” the official said.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission was planning to deploy helicopters to ferry people from remote areas to the polling booths. AP is set to witness simultaneous elections to the Parliament and Assembly in April-May.

“Voters living in inaccessible areas should not suffer any hardship in reaching the polling stations,” he said, adding that helicopter facility was likely to be used in the tribal areas of Visakhapatanam and East Godavari where people had to walk for several miles to reach the polling booths.

Meanwhile, the poll panel has ordered the transfer of 1,568 officers and employees as part of measures to ensure free and fair elections in the state. Majority of these employees are from the state police department.

The list includes 13 deputy superintendents and 307 circle inspectors who have completed three years of service in one district.

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15 die as van rams into tree

Bellary, February 19
As many as 15 people, including six women, were killed and six injured when the van in which a marriage party was travelling rammed against a roadside tree at Venipura near here early this morning.

Police sources told here all the victims belonged to a marriage party from Nidagundi village in Gadag district.

Among the six injured, condition of two were serious and they were admitted to the VIMS hospital here.

District Police Superintendent Seemanth Kumar Singh along with top police officials rushed to the spot to supervise the rescue operation. — UNI

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Cops, lawyers clash in HC complex
N. Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 19
In an unprecedented violence in the Madras High Court, judges and lawyers were injured in brutal attacks by hundreds of policemen, who gathered outside the court building and hurled stones at the lawyers inside.

The police station inside the court was set ablaze allegedly by the lawyers. The policemen, who attacked the lawyers with lathis, started throwing stones at them, when they ran into the court building.

They also smashed the cars and other vehicles of lawyers parked in the court premises, besides setting fire to many two-wheelers.

It all started when the police entered the court premises to arrest 16 lawyers, who were accused of pelting eggs at Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy, who came to file a petition in the HC two days ago.

When the lawyers surrendered before the cops, another lawyer, who was nearby, said he had filed a complaint against Subramanian also and asked why the police was not arresting him.

As the heated arguments turned into a clash, about thousand of policemen were sent to the court premises. As the police started attacking lawyers with lathis, they ran inside the court building.

The police force, which surrounded the court building, hurled stones at the lawyers inside. Justice Arumuga Perumal Adityan, who came outside to pacify policemen, was attacked with stones by the police and was injured.

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WB to regularise 1 lakh employees
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 19
The state cabinet at its meeting yesterday decided to regularise some 1,00,000 casual and temporary employees working in various government departments and directorates since the past ten years.

State finance minister Asim Dasgupta said he had asked all the departments to furnish him with the lists of all the temporary workers at the earliest.

He hoped these employees could be absorbed as permanent staff of the state government within the next couple of months.

The Congress and Trinamool Congress claimed that the decision, which would involve an additional expenditure of about Rs 500 crore to the government every month, was taken keeping in mind the upcoming LS polls and aimed at wooing the electorates in favour of the Left Front.

Still they welcomed the decision, which Mamata Banerjee said should have been taken much earlier.

The cabinet today also sanctioned some 200 new thanas and outposts in coastal regions of the Sunderbans, Haldia, Diamond harbour and other vulnerable areas for protecting West Bengal from potential terrorist attacks.

The decision followed the Union home ministry’s directives after the Mumbai attacks for strengthening the coastal guards network in all the states.

Simultaneously, the Cabinet also sanctioned additional funds for the setting up of special anti-terrorist squads in the extremists-infested areas in west Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia in south Bengal, and Jalpaiguri and Coochbehar in north Bengal.

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Buddhadeb lashes out at UPA
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 19
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today lashed out at the UPA for still sticking to the pro-US policy, which had been destroying the country’s economy and political stability.

He warned the Manmohan Singh government to abandon the decisions of privatisation of banks, insurances and other profit-making national institutions, otherwise they would organise massive nation-wide movement and agitations for the larger interest of the people.

The Chief Minister was addressing state employees at a rally in the Esplanade area, which was organised by the CPM-controlled state co-ordination committee.

The employees in large number today left their offices soon after signing in their attendance register to attend the rally.

Employees came out in several processions from their respective offices in and around Kolkata and the neigbouring districts during the busy office hours, which caused acute traffic jams.

Around the same time, Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee also held “rasto roka” agitation which worsened the city’s transport problems.

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Adopt and adapt key to growth: Kamal Nath
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 19
Union Minister of Commerce Kamal Nath today said India’s strength lied in capability to ‘adopt and adapt’ to manage economic growth amid global economic meltdown.

He underlined the need for setting up infrastructure that would unleash intellectual and entrepreneurial abilities in the country and is the need of the hour.

The minister was here to inaugurate the first state- of-the-art trade centre for the Northeast named after Maniram Dewan, the first commercial tea planter in Assam and the state’s first martyr in the Freedom Movement in 1957.

He also announced the Central government’s decision to sanction a National Institute of Design (NID) in the city to help the huge pool of tribal youth in the region to unleash a revolution in textile designing unique to the tribal tradition in the part of the country.

He said, “The global economic architecture is undergoing a change (recession). Global giants who used to suggest how to reform our financial and economic system are collapsing under their own system. But we have a healthy financial system.”

To drive home his point, Kamal Nath said , “Our banks are giving money to the government while in other parts of the world, it is the government that is providing bail-out packages to banks.”

He said liberalisation of Indian economy in 1990s under the leadership Dr Manmohan Singh was not aimed at dumping either socialism or the distribution of justice.

“We needed to bring about a change in the way of creating wealth to be distributed among different strata of people. We did it with an India-specific model.

“Indian entrepreneurs have invested more in the US, UK and Australia during the past few years than their own entrepreneurs.

“Post liberalisation, India’s engagement in the global economy is worth $500 billion dollars. Our export volume increased to $154 billion while foreign direct investment (FDI) has soared to $26 billion.”

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‘Ensure safety of citizens’
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 19
The biggest conclave of litterateurs in the Northeast, Asom Sahitya Sabha, has denounced continuing insurgency and violence in Assam and called upon the government to come down on terror with an iron hand.

In a resolution adopted in its 70th annual session held at Dhemaji in eastern Assam, the apex body of litterateurs made an appeal to the government to be tough with all terror outfits in the state to ensure security and safety of the citizens.

The body of litterateurs, which in the past had offered to play the role of mediator in the event of peace talks between the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and the Centre, warned the government against being complacent in the fight against terror.

The Sahitya Sabha underlined that the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh was posing a threat to the sovereignty and national integration and the government must take steps to stop infiltration.

It said in a resolution that there was an urgent need to complete the construction of fencing along the India-Bangladesh border without further delay.

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Maoists gun down panchayat head

Sheohar (Bihar), February 19
A village panchayat head was shot dead by suspected CPI(Maoist) rebels in Bihar's Sheohar district, the police said today.

Neeraj Kumar Mukul (35), mukhiya of Rahua panchayat under Shyampur-Bhataha police station was dragged out of his house late last night and shot for allegedly being a police informer.

He died on the spot, sources said, adding that efforts were on to apprehend the
culprits. — PTI

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Centre’s Wrongdoings
Chauhan’s padyatra from tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Bhopal, February 19
In an attempt to lay the blame for everything that is wrong in the state at the Centre’s doorstep, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has embarked upon a “padyatra” of the state from February 21.

With the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the ruling BJP is obviously keen that the state government is not blamed for the severe power and water crisis stalking the state.

The official objective of the “padyatra” is to “expose the Centre’s step-motherly treatment towards the state.”

The state is in the throes of a severe power crisis with the power supply going on the blink in the rural areas for up to 12 hours a day.

This when “bharpoor bijli” (adequate power) was one of the key poll promises of the BJP in the 2008 assembly elections.

The BJP is trying to make out a case that the Centre was arm-twisting NTPC, NHDC, Coal India Limited and other agencies to ensure that Madhya Pradesh does not get enough power.

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Sikh Marriage Act
Tarlochan seeks amendment
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
Former Chairman of the National Minorities Commission and Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh on Thursday demanded an amendment to the Anand Marriage Act, enabling lawful registration of Sikh marriages under Sikh rites as per the said Act, to be brought in at the earliest.

Substantiating, Singh said Sikhs solemnised their marriages according to the Anand Marriage Act, but were unable to register the ceremony on account of this lacuna.

He added that Sikhs settled in different countries were facing huge problems due to the absence of this amendment.

“The Anand Marriage Act was passed in 1908 by which all marriages which are performed by Sikh rites, known as Anand Marriage, will be legal.

“Recently the Supreme Court issued a direction that all marriages should be registered for which the state governments were to make proper provision.

“Under the present Anand Marriage Act, the clause of registration is to be added,” Tarlochan told the House in a special mention during the Zero Hour today.

Sikh MPs, he said, in the past had represented the matter to Union Law Minister HR Bhardwaj, who had extended an assurance six months ago that he would bring forth the amended legislation at the earliest.

“The standing committee on Law and Justice has already sent its recommendations to the Law Ministry,” the Rajya Sabha MP said. This assurance, however, remains to be fulfilled, said Tarlochan.

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Rajya Sabha speech: Haryana MP prefers Punjabi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
It took sixty years and the love for the language, that Punjabi was used in an extempore speech in the Rajya Sabha (RS).

MP from Haryana Tarlochan Singh on Tuesday made his speech in Punjabi and latter he told mediapersons that this was the first-ever continuous translation from Punjabi to other languages, like English, in the Rajya Sabha.

Earlier, speeches made in Punjabi had to be submitted with versions translated into English for the other members.

For the first time the Rajya Sabha has employed a person who translates Punjabi into English, he said.

Actually great skill is required to provide continuous translation. Tarlochan’s love for Punjabi and matters related to Sikhs is well known. He has been chairman of the National Minorities Commission.

In his speech in Punjabi on Tuesday he demanded that people-to-people contact should continue with Pakistan. He said India was not against the people of Pakistan but against terrorists.

Each year well-known citizens of the country hold a candlelight march on Wagah- Attari border. Statements like “No more visas and no more tourists” were wrong.

Tarlochan said it was needed to revise the blacklist of people living abroad. Before starting his speech he had told members of the importance of the occasion and he received applause as he concluded.

He had also raised the issue of returning the articles and Sikh manuscripts that were missing since operation Bluestar.

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‘Centre must do more for farmers’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
Former Union minister and Shiromani Akali Dal member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa yesterday asked government to link the MSP of food grains to the price index and international parameters or accept recommendations of MS Swaminathan committee.

Participating in a Lok Sabha debate, he said the government should do more to help farmers, especially those from Punjab.

The farmers of the state are contributing 60 per cent of food grains to the central pool but they are the worst sufferers, he said.

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Health Minister to visit Amritsar tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss will give “Save the Girl Child” message in Amritsar this Saturday when he will visit the city to launch a health awareness drive, primarily focussing on fighting female feoticide and drug addiction.

Punjab, along with Haryana, is a priority state for the Government of India in its fight against low child sex ratio, Fatehgarh Sahib being the most problematic district. A free health check up camp would also be organised on the occasion.

The drive would be launched by the union health ministry in collaboration with the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and would address issues of tobacco control, alcohol prevention and junk food consumption - close to Ramadoss’ heart.

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