SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Dhaka Trouble
Up vigil on Bangla border: MPs’ panel
New Delhi, February 26
Touching upon a sensitive issue, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs today told the government that “any laxity” on the Indo-Bangladesh border would prove detrimental to India’s security and economic progress.

Top narcoanalyst sacked
Bangalore, February 26
A highly acclaimed narco-analyst Dr S Malini has been sacked by the Karnataka government over alleged irregularities regarding her credentials, an action which she said would be challenged calling it a "deep-rooted political conspiracy".

A Tribune Special
India-Pakistan-US intelligence assessment
Pak groups can carry out more 26/11s
New Delhi, February 26
Even after carrying out the deadly 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan-based groups can still carry out additional attacks against India and run the risk of provoking an India-Pakistan conflict, warns US intelligence community’s annual global threat assessment.




EARLIER STORIES

My music appealed to Hollywood: Rahman
Chennai, February 26
India’s Oscar hero A R Rahman today said he got the award, since his music appealed to the sensibilities of Hollywood audience, as it was very much new and different from what they were hearing till now.

THE HOMECOMING: Airport security guards escort child actors (L-R) Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Tanay Hemant Chheda and Rubina Ali, who acted in the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, at the international airport in Mumbai on Thursday. — Reuters
Airport security guards escort child actors (L-R) Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, Tanay Hemant Chheda and Rubina Ali, who acted in the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, at the international airport in Mumbai on Thursday.

Cabinet on a spree to clear proposals
New Delhi, February 26
Clearly aiming to beat the forthcoming deadline that the Election Commission of India will impose by way of the model code of conduct, the Cabinet met for the second time within four days here today.

Meltdown
India will be least affected: PM
New Delhi, February 26
The last session of the 14th Lok Sabha came to an end today, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuring the House that India will emerge the least-affected among countries suffering from the current global economic crisis.

PM should be member of LS: Advani
New Delhi, February 26
Leader of Opposition LK Advani has proposed amending the Constitution to make it mandatory for the Prime Minister to be a member of the Lower House.

Somnath Chatterjee bids adieu to politics
New Delhi, February 26
From seat number 512 in the fifth Lok Sabha to the Speaker’s chair in the 14th - Somnath Chatterjee today bid an emotional farewell to his eventful political journey of 40 years.

LS Polls: Congress keen to contest 25 seats in UP
New Delhi, February 26
The Congress yesterday stated it loud and clear that the party was not prepared to settle for anything less than 25 seats in its kitty if it went into an alliance with the Samajwadi Party. “If we have an alliance with the SP, we want to contest on 25 seats,” UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna said in the capital, giving rise to further speculation about the feasibility of the already-on-rocks Congress-SP alliance.

Capt’s plea: SC reserves verdict
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgment on Capt Amarinder Singh’s plea for transfer of the trial in the corruption case against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Sukhbir, after two days of heated arguments that saw Punjab decline the court’s suggestion for changing the public prosecutor. — TNS

Curfew relaxed for 12 hrs in Manipur districts
Imphal, February 26
Indefinite curfew, imposed since February 19 in Imphal East and Imphal West districts of Manipur after the killing of a sub-divisional officer and his two staff members by Naga militants, was today relaxed for 12 hours from 6 am.

Ex-CJI Khanna remembered
New Delhi, February 26
Former Chief Justice MN Venkatachaliah delivered the Justice HR Khanna Memorial Lecture here yesterday on “Constitutional World of Justice HR Khanna”. Noted jurist Soli J Sorabjee presided over the function.

Thackeray in hospital
Mumbai, February 26
Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray was rushed to Lilavati Hospital here this afternoon after he complained of uneasiness.





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Dhaka Trouble
Up vigil on Bangla border: MPs’ panel
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
Touching upon a sensitive issue, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs today told the government that “any laxity” on the Indo-Bangladesh border would prove detrimental to India’s security and economic progress.

The panel submitted its report today in both house of Parliament and suggested even greater strengthening of surveillance. “A large presence of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants poses a grave threat to the internal security and should be viewed seriously,” said the committee headed by BJP leader Sushma Swaraj.

The ministry should leave no stone unturned in making Indo-Bangladesh border intrusion-free, said the committee, while adding the border surveillance must be strengthened by deploying hi-tech equipment, patrolling and establishing additional troops in adequate number. The greater vigil in view of the alleged involvement of some Bangladeshi terrorist groups in recent blasts in the country.

The Home Ministry informed the committee that hand-held thermal imagers, battlefield surveillance radars had been provided. The riverine segments of the Indo-Bangladesh border were being patrolled using power-boats.

On reports of counterfeit notes in large circulation along the Indo-Bangladesh border, the committee strongly recommended that movement along the border may be “strictly monitored”.

The committee also slammed the ministry, saying security to people of the national capital appeared to be “inadequate” ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

It recommended the Home Ministry must undertake a “comprehensive review” of the security capability of the Delhi police and provide the force with required personnel, weapons and training.

The ministry had informed it that action would be taken in coordination with central intelligence agencies for security of the games and protection of participants.

In its action taken report, the ministry said the government had already sanctioned 5,000 additional posts in the Delhi police, specifically in the context of the Commonwealth Games, and an additional 7,612 posts had been sanctioned in terms of a larger proposal of the Delhi police.

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Top narcoanalyst sacked

Bangalore, February 26
A highly acclaimed narco-analyst Dr S Malini has been sacked by the Karnataka government over alleged irregularities regarding her credentials, an action which she said would be challenged calling it a "deep-rooted political conspiracy".

Malini, who is an Assistant Director of Forensic Science Laboratory, was "discharged" from the service by the BJP government yesterday over alleged forgery of documents relating to birth certificate and education records to get the high profile job.

"I am seeking legal action. For no fault of mine, I was made a victim," she said here.

"It's politically motivated with deep-rooted conspiracy. It's false and a concocted story," she said, adding that an inquiry against her was suo motu and she was not given an opportunity to present her case. — PTI

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My music appealed to Hollywood: Rahman
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 26
India’s Oscar hero A R Rahman today said he got the award, since his music appealed to the sensibilities of Hollywood audience, as it was very much new and different from what they were hearing till now.

“Just as we like Chinese dish, since it is different from what we are eating regularly, they liked my music”, he said humbly, while answering a query if he did not think that many of his films songs in Tamil and Hindi were better than ‘Jai Ho’.

“A beautiful ornament worn by a beautiful girl will always be more attractive. Since, the film itself was good, my music too was appealing”, he said.

When asked whether the film would have won Oscar awards, if an Indian director directed it, he said: “If the film is as good as this, it would have won Oscars. No body thinks about where the film is made”. Indian filmmakers could win world recognition if they think of something extraordinary and execute the idea with proper planning, he said.

He said the award had legitimised Indian music in the global stage and he represented the aspirations of Indian artistes and added that it would be a starting point for other Indian artistes to get global recognition.

To a question whether he would compose a symphony, like South Indian music maestro Ilayaraja, he said, “It will take two to three years”.

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A Tribune Special
India-Pakistan-US intelligence assessment
Pak groups can carry out more 26/11s
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, February 26
Even after carrying out the deadly 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan-based groups can still carry out additional attacks against India and run the risk of provoking an India-Pakistan conflict, warns US intelligence community’s annual global threat assessment.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis C. Blair submitted a 46-page statement dealing with international terrorism, economic and environment threat to American House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday night. Available with The Tribune, the document describes India-Pakistan as “one of the world’s least integrated regions within South Asia.”

Issuing an alert about China’s re-emergence as a major power with global impact, Blair said it was especially affecting the regional balance of power.

Talking about India-US relations, Blair felt “Indian leaders often will adopt positions contrary to those favoured by Washington…on the global stage, Indian leaders will continue to follow an independent course characterised by economic and political pragmatism.”

“Strong ties to Washington will give India more confidence in dealing with China and in mitigating the dangers posed by its long-time adversary, Pakistan,” Blair said, adding that “India will be concerned about China during the coming decade because of Beijing’s political and economic power and its ability to project military force regionally, but Indian leaders will strive to avoid confrontation with China.”

“India also will look for ways to safeguard its interests in light of the concluding civil war in Sri Lanka and political uncertainty in Bangladesh and Nepal, which have experienced dramatic transformations in government during the past year,” Blair said.

Making a significant observation, the National Intelligence chief said: “New Delhi generally will be supportive of democratic forces in its smaller neighbours, while also being sensitive to the opinions of the Tamil and Bengali communities within the country.”

Dealing with the issue of India-Pakistan relations, Blair said the determined efforts by Indian and Pakistani leaders to improve relations “through the so-called composite dialogue” over the last four years could unravel unless Islamabad takes sustained, concrete, meaningful steps to allay Indian concerns about Pakistan’s support to anti-Indian militant groups, and this is the case particularly in light of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

According to Blair, India, which has endured a series of major terrorist attacks without major military response since 2003, is under domestic pressure to make rapid and significant improvements in its counter-terrorism capabilities. India will strive to manage tensions with Pakistan, transnational terrorism, and spillover from instability in small neighbouring states.

“The Mumbai attack has convinced many Indians that Pakistani military leaders, in an effort to undercut India’s emerging international stature, now favour a strategy of allowing Pakistan-based groups to attack targets that symbolise New Delhi’s growing prominence on the global stage or that could undermine India’s prominence by provoking religious violence in the country,” he said.

In the absence of a military response against Islamabad, Blair pointed out, the Indian public will look for visible signs that Pakistan is actively working to punish those involved and eliminate its domestic terrorist organisations.

Touching every part of the globe, the American intelligence community believes that the groups with the greatest capability to threaten are extremist Muslim groups. The Al-Qaida leaders increasingly have highlighted enduring support for the Taliban and the fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in other regions where they portray the West being at war with Islam and Al-Qaida as the vanguard of the global terrorist movement, the national intelligence study said.

It claims that the Pakistan government is losing authority in parts of the NWFP and has less control of its semi-autonomous tribal areas: even in the more developed parts of the country, mounting economic hardships and frustration over poor governance have given rise to greater radicalisation. “In 2008 Islamabad intensified counterinsurgency efforts,” Blair observed, “but Islamabad’s record in dealing with militants has been mixed as it navigates conflicting internal and counter-terrorist priorities.”

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Cabinet on a spree to clear proposals
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
Clearly aiming to beat the forthcoming deadline that the Election Commission of India will impose by way of the model code of conduct, the Cabinet met for the second time within four days here today.

At its last meeting, the Cabinet, on Monday, had cleared some 70-odd proposals. Today it okayed a slew of proposals clearly aimed at finishing pending tasks. This included the setting up of the overseas Indian centre at Abu Dhabi, instead of Dubai, to facilitate better interaction with the Indian community in the Gulf.

The centre was earlier planned to be established in Dubai. The Cabinet today gave its approval to change the location of the centre from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Home Minister P Chidambaram said reporters.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, chaired the meeting. The cabinet also approved a Rs 360-crore proposal for enhancing the capacity of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) centres across the country to accommodate more students in the wake of implementation of the OBC quota.

Of the total amount, Rs 260 crore has been earmarked for enhancing the capacity of NIFT centres across the country and the remaining Rs 100 crore towards construction on the land available in Mumbai.

The scheme is aimed at accommodating more students as part of the implementation of OBC quota and to take into account further increase in number of students in subsequent years. It would form part of the Central scheme of grants to NIFT to be implemented through 2009-2010.

The Guwahati-based Institute of Advanced Studies in Science and Technology (IASST) will now be an autonomous grants-in-aid institute of the Centre.

The cabinet also approved a proposal to enhance the corpus fund of Maulana Azad Foundation from the existing Rs 200 crore to Rs 700 crore.

In another decision, the Cabinet gave its nod for signing an agreement with Bulgaria on exemption from visa requirement for the holders of diplomatic and official passports. The agreement would permit diplomatic and official passport holders of the two countries to enter into, transit through or stay in each other's territory up to 90 days without visa requirement.

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Meltdown
India will be least affected: PM
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
The last session of the 14th Lok Sabha came to an end today, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assuring the House that India will emerge the least-affected among countries suffering from the current global economic crisis.

In his message, the PM referred to India’s transition as the second fastest growing economy in the world, crediting the UPA for ending country’s nuclear isolation.

He hailed as “path-breaking” several legislations enacted in Parliament, including NREGA, RTI Act, the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, the STs and Other Forest Dwellers Act and the Central Educational Institutions Act. The LS was seen struggling for quorum, with both the treasury and opposition benches looking deserted.

The Left, however, kept decibel levels high in a House that would be remembered for disorderliness - the 14th LS lost 24 per cent of its time to disruptions. Even today, Speaker Somnath Chatterjee expressed his pain that “politics of intense confrontation dominated the House.

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PM should be member of LS: Advani
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
Leader of Opposition LK Advani has proposed amending the Constitution to make it mandatory for the Prime Minister to be a member of the Lower House.

Speaking to media on the conclusion of the 14th Lok Sabha, he said, “In our system of parliamentary democracy, the Lok Sabha is directly elected by the people and hence enjoys a more democratic profile than the Upper House. By convention, most Prime Ministers in the past were members of the Lok Sabha. In the 14th Lok Sabha, we have had a Prime Minister who was not its member.”

Incidentally, this was not the first time such a thing has happened. In 1996, Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda steered a Janata Dal-led United Front government as a member of the RS and a few BJP activists immediately went to the SC to secure his dismissal on this count but were rebuffed by the court. Then his successor Inder Kumar Gujarl too was a RS member. The BJP took over from Gujral in 1998 and remained in power for six years. Advani said nothing why he and the NDA government he virtually led, failed to amend the Constitution as he suggested today.

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Somnath Chatterjee bids adieu to politics
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
From seat number 512 in the fifth Lok Sabha to the Speaker’s chair in the 14th - Somnath Chatterjee today bid an emotional farewell to his eventful political journey of 40 years.

“With the 14th LS, I am also reaching my journey’s end,” he said, while presiding over the House, a satisfaction lining his voice. Right from morning today when he was seen joking with MPs till the evening when he drew the curtains on the 14th LS, Chatterjee was in a refreshingly jovial mood.

“Thank you for tolerating me for so long. I will be liberal today and wish you all the best,” he told MPs, reminding ministers of “keeping the elderly on their priority.” He jokingly asked Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel for a free air ticket to West Bengal and MoS Railways for concessions for older people.

At one point, the Speaker also allowed TDP’s Yerrannaidu to ask a supplementary even though the latter had not given a notice. A thankful Naidu urged the Speaker to re-contest.

Expelled from his party - the CPM - the Speaker could not but get reflective in his last utterances in the House today. Addressing the LS before adjourning it sine die, Chatterjee said he tried his best to uphold the parliamentary traditions.

“I dissociated myself from political activity in keeping with the essence of the Constitution… and not allowed myself to take a course of action which would have, in my views seriously compromised my position as Speaker,” Chatterjee clarified, referring obviously to events that led to his expulsion from the CPM over the UPA’s Indo-US deal.

An emotional Speaker recalled his life as a “servant of the people”. “I remember that in the fifth LS, I was allotted seat number 512 from where I heard memorable speeches of great parliamentarians. I served from the 5th to 14th LS and was leader of my party in the LS for 15 years till my election as Speaker,” Chatterjee reflected, thanking his party seniors, especially Jyoti Basu, for their guidance.

As he spoke, the CPM MPs listened in rapt attention, while the UPA and NDA thumped desks. Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh showered praises on the Speaker.“There were times when you had to take a call between defending parliamentary propriety and heeding to the demands of the organisation you spent a lifetime building. On all occasions, your sagacity prevailed,” the PM said.

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LS Polls: Congress keen to contest 25 seats in UP
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
The Congress yesterday stated it loud and clear that the party was not prepared to settle for anything less than 25 seats in its kitty if it went into an alliance with the Samajwadi Party. “If we have an alliance with the SP, we want to contest on 25 seats,” UP Congress chief Rita Bahuguna said in the capital, giving rise to further speculation about the feasibility of the already-on-rocks Congress-SP alliance.

Political observers feel this could very well sound a death knell for the rocky alliance between the two parties.

The SP-Congress seat-sharing talks in UP has hit many a turbulent waters with the SP announcing its reluctance to accommodate the Congress demands. While the Congress initially started off with a demand of 40 seats, scaling it down now to 25, the SP appeared loath to leave more than 16, arguing that the Congress won only 10 in the 2004 polls. The situation now is that there are just 19 out of 80 seats in UP, on which the SP has not announced its candidates.

Now that it is clear that the Congress was not prepared to settle for anything less than 25 seats could mean that the two parties, if they enter into the alliance, will end up in bitter fights in “friendly contests” on eight to 10 seats. In Bahuguna’s words, “in politics there is never an uncertainty and never a certainty. You can never give a definite option, the issue (of alliance) is open.”

Over the next two days it is expected to get clear whether Congress president Sonia Gandhi and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav are able to work out a working relationship between the two parties. “We are meeting leaders at various levels…we are also having our internal meetings. But as a state president, it is my duty that we are prepared to contest on all 80 seats,” she said.

Political observers, however, say that there may not be an alliance at all, especially the way situation is unfolding over the days. In fact senior Congress leaders from UP have virtually reconciled to going it alone.

“We are going ahead with our campaign and election strategy assuming that we may have to contest all 80 seats. Anyways we have not much to lose in UP if the alliance fails to come up. But we are also keen not to allow the rejuvenation of the BJP and help out the BSP,” they say.

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Curfew relaxed for 12 hrs in Manipur districts

Imphal, February 26
Indefinite curfew, imposed since February 19 in Imphal East and Imphal West districts of Manipur after the killing of a sub-divisional officer and his two staff members by Naga militants, was today relaxed for 12 hours from 6 am.

Offical sources said curfew was relaxed to restore normal life in Imphal and Greater Imphal areas covering the two districts.

The curfew would be lifted in the next few days if there was no violence or agitation over the killing of the SDO, Th Kishan of Kasom Khullen subdivision in Ukhrul district, and his two staff members, the sources said.

Educational institutions, government offices and banks functioned normally in the two districts during relaxation of the curfew. — PTI

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Ex-CJI Khanna remembered
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 26
Former Chief Justice MN Venkatachaliah delivered the Justice HR Khanna Memorial Lecture here yesterday on “Constitutional World of Justice HR Khanna”. Noted jurist Soli J Sorabjee presided over the function.

“Justice Khanna had wings and was a thunderbolt in his own way. In any society, judiciary symbolises the forces of self-purification and self-renewal. Great judges are the bearers of this mission. Justice Khanna was the truest embodiment of this spirit,” the former CJI said, recalling his observation on the occasion of Justice Khanna’s 85th birthday in 1997.

He also recalled landmark judgments of Justice Khanna, particularly the infamous Habeas Corpus case (AIR 1976 SC 1207) related to the Emergency period. Justice Khanna’s “glorious dissent” verdict had prompted the New York Times to write in an editorial: If India ever finds its way back to freedom and democracy, that proud hallmark of its first 18 years, someone will surely erect a monument to Justice HR Khanna.

The majority judgment “is confined to the dustbin of history. Justice Khanna’s dissent lives in the minds and hearts of the people,” he remarked.

Another judgement recalled by the speaker was an unreported Full Bench verdict of Delhi High Court in 1970 in the Digvijay Singh case.

Justice Khanna had ruled that the “mere filing of a suit cannot stifle discussion of a matter of national or public importance because debate and discussion is the very essence of free democracy. It is significant to note that later in 1978, the same view was taken by the European Court of Human Rights in the Thalidomide case,” he said.

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Thackeray in hospital
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 26
Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray was rushed to Lilavati Hospital here this afternoon after he complained of uneasiness.

According to party officials, a doctor attending on the aging leader found him feverish and advised that he should be taken to the hospital.

Routine medical tests are being conducted on him and the Sena head may be released later this evening, said sources. Thackeray was to address the party’s state executive committee meeting in the city. Uddhav Thackeray would now head the meeting, said the officials.

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