SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


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

IAF not to ground MiG-29
New Delhi, March 14
A day after Russia grounded some 90 odd MiG-29 combat aircraft, the Indian Air Force has decided that it will not ground any of the MiG-29s in its fleet. India has about 55-60 fighters of this class that are deployed in air bases, including one in Punjab, along the Indo-Pak border.

Cong fields Virbhadra from Mandi
Names 3 LS candidates from Himachal
New Delhi, March 14
Forty-seven years after he first represented Mandi in the Lok Sabha, three-time MP and five-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is all set to return to his roots for yet another innings in national politics.

Its like placing cart before horse, says Pranab
New Delhi, March 14
Rattled by the growing profile of the multi-party Third Front, the Congress has decided to mount a sharp attack against this alliance in the upcoming general elections by projecting it as a mere conglomeration of disparate political groups with no vision or programme.

BJP’s anticipatory blame game begins
New Delhi, March 14
The blame game in the BJP has begun before the party has gone to polls and tested its fortunes, as if BJP leaders have a premonition of the results and are simply preparing the ground for blaming each other. BJP top leader Sushma Swaraj seemed to have had a foreboding of it. 


Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire child stars Azhar and Rubina with playback singer Sukhwinder Singh (R) at a function in Mumbai
Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire child stars Azhar and Rubina with playback singer Sukhwinder Singh (R) at a function in Mumbai on Friday night. — PTI





EARLIER STORIES

BSP denies giving ultimatum on PM’s post
New Delhi, March 14
Bahujan Samaj Party today denied having given any ultimatum of 48 hours to the Third Front to declare its chief Mayawati as their Prime Ministerial candidate and alleged that such reports are being planted by BJP and Congress. Describing such reports in the media as "baseless and wrong", the party today said "no such ultimatum was given by anybody and such ill publicity is concocted".

A security jawan guards holymen during the launch of the Dharma Raksha Yatra in Ayodhya
A security jawan guards holymen during the launch of the Dharma Raksha Yatra in Ayodhya on Saturday. — PTI

India against protectionist policies
New Delhi, March 14
In the wake of job losses in the country due to the global meltdown, India today said it would ask the developed countries at the G-20 Summit not to resort to protectionist policies.

Helping the blind groom their social skills
New Delhi, March 14
How does a blind person communicate effectively with those who can see despite being unable to establish eye contact? This is part of the social skills and personality development that an NGO is to impart to the visually impaired at a mobile training camp here.

BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani with party president Rajnath Singh, senior leaders Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jatley, during the launch of the party’s IT vision in New Delhi
BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani with party president Rajnath Singh, senior leaders Jaswant Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jatley, during the launch of the party’s IT vision in New Delhi on Saturday. 
Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Ragging becoming organised crime
New Delhi, March 14
Despite a Supreme Court directive to colleges to curb ragging, the scourge that most recently caused the death of a medical student and led another to attempt suicide, continues to terrorise hundreds across the country, with many brutal cases going unreported.

‘There can be no military solution’
New Delhi, March 14
India today insisted that there can be no military solution to the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka and voiced deep concern over the plight of Tamil civilians in the island nation.

SP’s women wing head joins BSP
Lucknow, March 14
In a major jolt to the Samajwadi party today, national president of its women’s wing Ranjana Bajpai joined the Bahujan Samaj Party, charging Mulayam Singh Yadav of being anti-Brahmin.
Actress Rim Jhim Mitra (centre), along with models, participates in a diabetes awarness walk in Kolkata
Actress Rim Jhim Mitra (centre), along with models, participates in a diabetes awarness walk in Kolkata on Saturday. — PTI

SP’s women’s wing head joins BSP
Lucknow, March 14
In a major jolt to the Samajwadi party today, national president of its women’s wing Ranjana Bajpai joined the Bahujan Samaj Party, charging Mulayam Singh Yadav of being anti-Brahmin.

No secular govt without Sonia: Amar
Lucknow, March 14
In sharp contrast to Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s measured stance on the Third Front, party general secretary Amar Singh attacked it for shaking hands with Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.

EC removes 3 District Magistrates
Lucknow, March 14
The Election Commission of India (ECI) tonight removed with immediate effect three district magistrates, one each Inspector- General of Police (IG) and Superintendent of Police (SP) in Uttar Pradesh.
A Tibetan protester writes an open letter, with her blood, to European Parliament (EP) asking it to support Tibetan protesters staging a hunger strike for Tibetan freedom, in New Delhi
A Tibetan protester writes an open letter, with her blood, to European Parliament (EP) asking it to support Tibetan protesters staging a hunger strike for Tibetan freedom, in New Delhi on Saturday. — PTI

Colonel faces disciplinary action for molestation
Chandigarh, March 14
While the Army has ordered disciplinary action against a colonel for allegedly molesting a captain in the military nursing service (MNS), the officer has contended that the court of inquiry that held him blameworthy was without jurisdiction on account of several procedural improprieties.

Return of the ‘King Maker’
Hyderabad, March 14
Nearly five years after suffering a humiliating electoral drubbing in his home state of Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party Chief N Chandrababu Naidu looks set to play the role of a ‘King Maker’ once again at the national level.

Members of Shia and Sunni communities take part in a peace rally in Hyderabad
Members of Shia and Sunni communities take part in a peace rally in Hyderabad on Saturday. — PTI

Online game on political leaders
Hyderabad, March 14
As politicians slug it out in the electoral battle, their fans and followers can now take the fight to cyber space to root for their leaders and even decide who should be the winner.

TN administration paralysed: Jaya
Chennai, March 14
Leader of the Opposition and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today alleged that the administration in the state had been paralysed, following the Chief Minister’s illness. In a statement here, she cited examples of government Dr Ambedkar Law College being closed for the past four months and the dysfunctional of the Madras High Court for the past few weeks in the wake of the 19 February violence on the court campus.

Land allocation PC’s legal notice to CPI MLA
Chennai, March 14
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has issued a legal notice on CPI MLA Gunasekaran, demanding an apology for accusing him of supporting allocation of 500 acres of government land to a private company in his constituency Sivaganga.

Charlie Chaplin’s statue sparks controversy
‘Udupi, March 14
After pub-going women and lover couples, Charlie Chaplin has become the latest victim of saffron wrath in Karnataka, with a "Hindu" group objecting to installation of a statue of the famous Hollywood comedian in Kundapur taluk here on the grounds that he was a Christian.

Cong leader ‘inaugurates’ trouble
Jaipur, March 14
Close on the heels of Union Minister for Mines Sis Ram Ola inaugurating two rooms of a school building a few days back, another Congress leader has come under the EC scanner for violation of model code of conduct.

Mamata kicks off campaign at Nandigram
Kolkata, March 14
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee launched her elections campaign at Nandigram today by observing the martyrs day in memory of 14 farmers who were killed in police firing on this day in 2007.

Bomb found near police station
Tezpur, March 14
A powerful time bomb was recovered this evening in front of Barahat police out post in Sonitpur district. According to the police, an abandoned bicycle was found parked in front of the police station. On suspicion, the police searched the belongings and found the bomb kept inside a vegetable laden bag. The bomb was immediately taken to a safe area and bomb experts from the nearby 4 corps of the Army defused it. The police suspected it as an act of the Muslim United Liberation Tiger of Assam (MULTA). — UNI 






Top
















 

IAF not to ground MiG-29
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
A day after Russia grounded some 90 odd MiG-29 combat aircraft, the Indian Air Force has decided that it will not ground any of the MiG-29s in its fleet. India has about 55-60 fighters of this class that are deployed in air bases, including one in Punjab, along the Indo-Pak border.

India’s MiG-29 fighters - that boast of twin engines - were procured from Russia some two decades ago starting 1986. These are not a part of the upgraded, or the newer version of the aircraft, that was facing problems in Russia, sources in the IAF said today while confirming that there will be no grounding of its fleet.

Only the avionics of the Indian fighters had been upgraded in 2001 and that was functioning without any glitch. There has been no engine or structural frame upgrade or any change in the metallurgy of the plane. India has a licence to manufacture the R-33 engine of the MiG-29 at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility under a $275 million deal.

Meanwhile, the delivery schedule of the MiG-29-k, the Naval variant of the same fighter, will be surely affected, official sources said today. India was to get 16 of these by the year-end from Russia. These have different variant of the engines and facilitate a vertical thrust needed for take-off at sea.

The first batch was to arrive by the end of the next month. This will be delayed by a few months till the problems are sorted out. Indian Naval pilots are undergoing training on these planes. These will be largely used to augment strike power at sea and will be deployed to operate from the deck of the upcoming aircraft carriers - the INS Vikramaditya (Admiral Gorshkov) and the one under construction at Kochi. Since the price for the Gorshkov was being re-negotiated, delivery of the aircraft was being delayed, the new problem can delay it further.

In Russia, some of the newly built MiG-29s were facing metal corrosion. Last December, signs of metal corrosion showed when a MiG-29 crashed in eastern Siberia. The Russian Defence Ministry Commission has inspected around 200 aircraft, clearing more than 100 for further flights, but found 90 to be defective. Experts are looking into the possible causes of the corrosion.

The MiG-29 that was code-named 'Fulcrum' during the Cold War era, have been of importance to India. The IAF has positioned the same, along with the now-phased-out MiG 23, to counter the F-16 procured by Pakistan in the early 1980’s.

Top

 

Cong fields Virbhadra from Mandi
Names 3 LS candidates from Himachal
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
Forty-seven years after he first represented Mandi in the Lok Sabha, three-time MP and five-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is all set to return to his roots for yet another innings in national politics.

In a late night development today, the Central Election Committee (CEC) of the Congress cleared the candidature of Virbhadra Singh from Mandi, where he replaces his wife and sitting MP Pratibha Singh.

A winner by a margin of 66,000 votes from Mandi in the last elections, Pratibha is being seen as a weak candidate from the segment this time. She has been facing stiff opposition ever since the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led BJP government took charge of the Himachal government. She has also been charged with neglecting her constituency since the change of guard in the state.

That explains the Congress decision to field its strongman Virbhadra Singh from the area. Incidentally, Virbhadra Singh does not hold any party position right now. He is neither the party president in the state nor leader of the Congress Legislature Party. Meanwhile, the CEC also renominated sitting MPs Chandra Kumar from Kangra and Dhani Ram Shandil from Shimla Reserve constituency tonight.

No decision was, however, taken on Hamirpur, the last of the four LS segments in Himachal Pradesh, from where the BJP has fielded Himachal Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s son Anurag Thakur. Congress sources say the party is hunting for a sure winner from the area, with the name of actress Preity Zinta also doing rounds.

As for Virbhadra Singh, it would be a virtual coming around for the Congress stalwart after he was first elected to the Lok Sabha from Mandi in 1962. He started his political career from Mandi, which he thrice represented in Parliament before moving to the state politics in 1983. He remained chief minister five times and represented the Rohru assembly segment.

Top

 

Its like placing cart before horse, says Pranab
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, March 14
Rattled by the growing profile of the multi-party Third Front, the Congress has decided to mount a sharp attack against this alliance in the upcoming general elections by projecting it as a mere conglomeration of disparate political groups with no vision or programme.

The Congress’s intention to take the Third Front head-on was evident today when it fielded senior leader and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to hit out at the Centre-Left alliance. Poking fun at it, Mukherjee said history showed that such a coalition could never come to power on its own.

“I do not understand the nomenclature the Third Front is using. What is their objective? Is it to form a non-Congress-non-BJP government? Has it been possible in all these years?” Mukherjee said.

Delving into the past, he said previous such experiments had been inherently unstable and failed to last long as these governments had been dependent on national parties like the Congress or the BJP for survival.

The senior minister also ridiculed the ongoing battle within the Third Front for the Prime Minister’s position, stating that a political party had to first win a substantial number of seats to form a government to stake claim to the top job. “I do not know if any of the Third Front parties will project anybody as the Prime Minister. I do not know whether they will have a common programme. If the idea is only to make somebody the Prime Minister, then it is like putting the cart before the horse,” he remarked.

Although Mukherjee was quick to brush aside the suggestion that the Congress was worried about the emergence of the Third Front, his sharp attack today told a different story.

The Congress strategists privately admitted that there is growing realisation in the party that it can ill-afford to ignore this grouping of regional players who are set to play a crucial role in these elections. The Congress has consequently reworked its election strategy to meet the challenge posed by the Third Front. “We are going to attack them in a big way... we are not going to be kind to them,” said a senior Congress leader.

Taking a cue from Mukherjee, the Congress campaign will paint the Third Front as an unstable proposition whose constituents have no common ideology or programme. In contrast, the Congress will be positioned as the only national party with a pan-Indian presence which ruled the country on its own for 45 years.

“Can any secular, non-BJP be formed without the Congress ...it is unthinkable,” a Congress leader said.

Top

 

BJP’s anticipatory blame game begins
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14
The blame game in the BJP has begun before the party has gone to polls and tested its fortunes, as if BJP leaders have a premonition of the results and are simply preparing the ground for blaming each other.

BJP top leader Sushma Swaraj seemed to have had a foreboding of it. Referring to her party’s defeat in Delhi and Rajasthan Assembly elections, Sushma warned fellow party leaders on February 8 at the national council meeting in Nagpur against sabotaging the prospects of the party in the next general elections. She had said, “Congress did not defeat us in Delhi and Rajasthan. It was we who decided: Haar jeet agli baar dekhenge, is baar niptaynge ( We will think of winning the elections next time, this time we will fix our rivals in the party). Let us not repeat that again.”

Sushma sounds prophetic after the public spat between BJP president Rajnath Singh and party general secretary Arun Jaitley, the protégé of BJP/NDA prime ministerial candidate LK Advani yesterday over the appointment of a BJP activist Sudhanshu Mittal as the co-coordinator for dealing with AGP in Assam.

Jaitley camp described Mittal, a close associate of late Pramod Mahajan, as a tentwallah “wheeler dealer.” Since yesterday, when Jaitley boycotted the CEC meeting here over giving official legitimacy to Sudhanshu Mittal, the party leaders are trying to play it down saying “This is a non-issue. It will be sorted out.”

They point out that Jaitley turned up today for a party function in which Advani released the IT Vision Document. But the BJP leaders were unclear whether the Jaitley-Mittal issue had been given a decent burial and therefore whether Jaitley will attend the next CEC meeting on March 17. Some BJP leaders insisted, “Everything has been sorted out,” others said “Nahin abhi kahan (No not yet).” But several attempts to seek Jaitley’s version failed both yesterday and today.

“But then why did Jaitely go public with it?” asked his critics in the BJP circles. The issue is bigger. Jaitley’s supporters claim that though he is supervising election management and alliances in many states including UP, he is not being involved by party president Rajnath Singh in decisions concerning these states, particularly UP where Rajnath Singh is contesting in Ghaziabad.

But Rajnath men deny this. They point out how he quietly endorsed Advani/Jaitley move to co-opt Rajnath’s strident critic journalist Swapan Dasgupta into the strategy team for the elections. This team includes apart from Swapan, Pioneer Editor-in-chief Chandan Mitra, Balbir Punj and even Advani’s personal secretary Deepak Chopra. “We never made an issue of Swapan Dasgupta. Moreover, Sudhanshu Mittal was the one who initiated a dialogue with AGP leaders and he was given an official status at their insistence when they protested that the BJP is negotiating through an emissary who enjoys no official position in the party,” said Rajnath’s supporters.

Jaitley was not alone in objecting to party’s functioning under Rajnath. Another Advani camp follower Venkaiah Naidu is reported to have said in the party meeting that his voice was not being heard.

Advani had exempted Naidu and Jaitley from contesting Lok Sabha polls to allow them to work on alliances, strategies and election management. Naidu was to specifically concentrate on home state Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. But he failed.

Political observers recall how under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the BJP had MPs both in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and forged fruitful alliances with the TDP in Andhra Pradesh and alternatively with AIADMK and DMK in Tamil Nadu.

It is not unusual for rival political leaders to accuse each other for the defeat of their party. But when it starts happening before going to polls, it just betrays a certain demoralisation and that is what the BJP is showing on election eve.

Top

 

BSP denies giving ultimatum on PM’s post

New Delhi, March 14
Bahujan Samaj Party today denied having given any ultimatum of 48 hours to the Third Front to declare its chief Mayawati as their Prime Ministerial candidate and alleged that such reports are being planted by BJP and Congress.

Describing such reports in the media as "baseless and wrong", the party today said "no such ultimatum was given by anybody and such ill publicity is concocted".

"BSP strongly condemns such reports, which are being planted by BJP and Congress for last two days after they found out the third front getting stronger and emerging as an option for the people suffering due to their misrule for years," party general secretary of BSP Satish Chandra Mishra said in press release.

According to some media reports, Mayawati had given an ultimatum of 48 hours to the Third Front leaders to declare her their Prime Ministerial candidate if they want to keep her in the Front.

While maintaining that the "time for electing Prime Ministerial candidate of these parties has yet not come as this decision is taken only after the election," the BSP leader, however, said, "it is also true that BSP leaders across the country are working hard with the aim of making Mayawatiji, the first Dalit PM of the country." "I had said the same thing in Bangalore during the press conference," Mishra clarified.

Asserting that the BSP was with all those parties whose aim was to keep both the BJP and Congress out of power, Mishra said that many other parties including BSP have gathered for this purpose.

He also sought to deny any political link to Mayawati's invitation for dinner to few parties at her home on March 15.

"Mayawati is entering her new house on the auspicious occasion of the birth day of late Kanshi Ram ji and hence invited those parties who want to keep both BJP and Congress out of power and those who can spare time to come to Delhi to her house that day," BSP leader Satish Chandra Mishra said.

If criteria is Dalit, I am suitable to be PM: Paswan

NEW DELHI: Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said if being a Dalit was the criteria for becoming PM, then he is the suitable candidate. "If there has to be any Prime Minister from among Dalit leaders, why Mayawati should become PM. Why not Ram Vilas Paswan," the LJP chief told PTI when asked to comment on the projection of Mayawati as first Dalit PM in the country. Paswan claimed that he has handled a number of portfolios in his long political career and every time discharged his responsibilities with finesse.

This is not the first time Paswan has openly expressed his ambitions to become the prime minister. — PTI 

Top

 

India against protectionist policies

New Delhi, March 14
In the wake of job losses in the country due to the global meltdown, India today said it would ask the developed countries at the G-20 Summit not to resort to protectionist policies.

“Job losses in the country due to the global meltdown was a concern for the government. India would raise the issue at the G-20 summit that the developed countries should not resort to protectionist policies,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

“We are concerned at the job losses in certain sectors with developed countries going for protectionist policies. But I am not pressing the panic button,” Mukherjee told reporters here.

On asked about the retail prices still being high even though the Wholesale Price Index has come down, he said the government had already announced three financial stimulus packages, the last on February 16.

“It will take 2-3 months for these to get reflected,” the minister said.

To a query whether the job losses and other economic factors will have a role in the elections, Mukherjee said the government was concerned and these had to be addressed. — PTI

Top

 

Helping the blind groom their social skills

New Delhi, March 14
How does a blind person communicate effectively with those who can see despite being unable to establish eye contact? This is part of the social skills and personality development that an NGO is to impart to the visually impaired at a mobile training camp here.

The Score Foundation will hold a workshop with 50 blind students in Delhi in April where they will also be helped to choose their career. The camp, a three-day pilot project, will have students from different blind schools in Delhi and the National Capital Region, where they will be groomed in communication skills with the help of a talking software.

They will be helped with career options, job opportunities and told how to apply for jobs. “We just have 250 formal blind schools in the country catering to 16 million blind people. Through this project we want to connect to the blind people in villages and towns,” George Abraham, head of the Score Foundation, told IANS.

If the pilot project is successful, the NGO will hold similar workshops elsewhere. “We have roped in professional trainers, counsellors and educationists to train the blind. They need to have very effective communication and social skills as they are unable to establish eye contact while speaking,” said Abraham.

The NGO, through its vocational training programmes, has already brought a new ray of hope into the lives of many completely blind people and those with low vision. “I was working as a teacher in a government school when I suddenly began to lose eyesight and gradually became blind. It came as a shock to me and I was so depressed that I lost all hope. Then one day, I listened to a radio show for the blind and called the helpline of the NGO, which helped to shift my whole perspective,” said S.P Singh, who has rejoined his teaching.

Singh was told about a talking software for the blind, which he found very useful. The NGO has recently launched a dedicated website for the blind that has a wide range of information on eye disorders, its services and on educational opportunities and career guidance. The NGO’s helpline is - 46070380 - and its website is www.eyeway.org, which is a talking software. — IANS

Top

 

Ragging becoming organised crime

New Delhi, March 14
Despite a Supreme Court directive to colleges to curb ragging, the scourge that most recently caused the death of a medical student and led another to attempt suicide, continues to terrorise hundreds across the country, with many brutal cases going unreported.

Society Against Violence in Education (SAVE), the country’s only registered anti-ragging NGO, calculated that nine teenagers are killed every year due to ragging while hundreds of them get seriously injured, hospitalised or disabled due to ragging by their seniors in colleges.

“We observed a pattern of ragging in colleges after analysing the ragging complaints registered with us. We found that sexual and physical abuse has become rampant in colleges and students get a kind of sadistic pleasure in ragging,” Kashal Banerjee, founder president of the NGO, told IANS.

In February this year, taking serious note of an alarming rise in incidents of ragging in educational institutions across the country, the Supreme Court accepted the recommendations of the K.R. Raghavan Committee to curb the menace.

Despite the apex court’s direction to all educational institutions to take stringent anti-ragging measures, including slapping criminal cases against erring students, ragging incidents remain unchecked in the country.

Interestingly, there are several communities on social networking sites where ideas are invited for ragging freshers. “Ragging is an organised crime as students prepare months before the new academic year starts. Students invite ideas on networking sites like Orkut for ragging juniors,” said Banerjee.

A 2007 report by an anti-ragging group Coalition to Uproot Ragging from Education (CURE), which analysed 64 ragging complaints, found that over 60 percent of these were related to physical ragging and 20 percent were sexual in nature.

Within a week two horrendous ragging incident were reported - Aman Kachru died on Sunday after being ragged by four final year students of the Rajendra Prasad Medical College in Himachal Pradesh. Police said he died of head injuries and other wounds.

In another incident a girl student of agriculture engineering in Andhra Pradesh attempted suicide after her hostel mates allegedly made her dance nude as part of ragging.

Raghavan, a former CBI director, in his report said the menace of ragging has assumed alarming proportions as freshers are subjected to torture, extortion and harassment by seniors with a criminal bent of mind. He also said the medical colleges are the worst affected in India.

“We used to have two ragging sessions per day and were asked to do everything starting from washing used vessels to dancing nude on a table. And, we never dared to make a complaint to the authorities as it would have further increased trouble for us,” said Naveen Tentiwal, an electrical engineering student, an alumnus of a reputed engineering college in Kolkata.

Many students even drop out of colleges after being ragged. “I withdrew my son from an engineering college in Bihar after he was ragged by his seniors. He was so scared that he ran away from the college and said he will die if he continues to stay there. For the next one year he was so depressed that he did not join any college and was being given regular counselling,” said Ranjita Mishra, mother of a ragging victim.

Anti-ragging experts and psychiatrists feel that it is not stringent laws but awareness and involvement of civil society that can check the menace. “I think there is no perfect remedy and the law alone cannot stop ragging in colleges. We need to spread awareness among students and civil society to curtail the menace,” Banerjee added.

Psychiatrist Sameer Parikh feels that violent behaviour among college students could be because of uncontrolled anger or to make a style statement. “Many times students feel that they were ragged and so they have a right to rag their juniors. Ragging is acceptable when it is mutually acceptable in a light way but students often forget that their act could take somebody’s life which is really unacceptable,” Parikh said. — IANS 

Top

 

‘There can be no military solution’

New Delhi, March 14
India today insisted that there can be no military solution to the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka and voiced deep concern over the plight of Tamil civilians in the island nation.

“We are deeply concerned at the sad plight of the Tamil civilians who have been caught in the crossfire between the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE...,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here. He said “military solution was not the solution” to the issue and it had to be addressed politically. Mukherjee recalled that he had visited Sri Lanka and held long discussions with leaders and asserted the solution had to be found with devolution of power “without altering the territorial integrity and constitutional sovereignty of Sri Lanka”. “India will provide all facilities for the rehabilitation of displaced Tamil civilians,” Mukherjee said. — PTI

Top

 

SP’s women wing head joins BSP
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 14
In a major jolt to the Samajwadi party today, national president of its women’s wing Ranjana Bajpai joined the Bahujan Samaj Party, charging Mulayam Singh Yadav of being anti-Brahmin.

Exactly ten days after the SP decided to drop her as the Lok Sabha candidate from Sitapur, Bajpai switched loyalties to BSP, describing it as the party that has given the Brahmins ‘izzat’ (respect).

In the first list released by Amar Singh in January, Bajpai had been announced as the Lok Sabha candidate from Sitapur. However, after the Sitapur seat was given to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal in the BJP-RLD alliance and it announced the candidature of Ram Asrey Verma, SP decided to replace Bajpai by Mahendra Verma to suit the new caste configuration.

Emphasising on the Sarvjan hitay, sarvjan sukhay slogan of the BSP, Bajpai called it as the only party that had given each caste and community its due place.

At a function in a five-star hotel in the city presided over by BSP state president Swami Prasad Maurya, Bajpai formally joined the party.

Though she has not been given a Lok Sabha ticket, she has been given the responsibility of coordinating the Lok Sabha campaign of eight constituencies - Sitapur, Mohanlalganj, Hardoi, Lakhimpur Khiri, Mishrikh, Dharaura, Allahabad (city) and Fatehpur.

Describing Mulayam Singh Yadav as “a puppet in the hands of Amar Singh”, Bajpai held Singh responsible for eroding the party’s socialist ideology. “Today the party has no place for serious political leaders. Its bankruptcy has forced it to depend on Bollywood stars, money bags and feudal forces,” she said.

She held the dilution of the party’s old beliefs responsible for the departure of senior leaders.

Top

 

SP’s women’s wing head joins BSP
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 14
In a major jolt to the Samajwadi party today, national president of its women’s wing Ranjana Bajpai joined the Bahujan Samaj Party, charging Mulayam Singh Yadav of being anti-Brahmin.

Exactly ten days after the SP decided to drop her as the Lok Sabha candidate from Sitapur, Bajpai switched loyalties to BSP, describing it as the party that has given the Brahmins ‘izzat’ (respect).

In the first list released by Amar Singh in January, Bajpai had been announced as the Lok Sabha candidate from Sitapur. However, after the Sitapur seat was given to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal in the BJP-RLD alliance and it announced the candidature of Ram Asrey Verma, SP decided to replace Bajpai by Mahendra Verma to suit the new caste configuration.

Emphasising on the Sarvjan hitay, sarvjan sukhay slogan of the BSP, Bajpai called it as the only party that had given each caste and community its due place.

At a function in a five-star hotel in the city presided over by BSP state president Swami Prasad Maurya, Bajpai formally joined the party.

Though she has not been given a Lok Sabha ticket, she has been given the responsibility of coordinating the Lok Sabha campaign of eight constituencies - Sitapur, Mohanlalganj, Hardoi, Lakhimpur Khiri, Mishrikh, Dharaura, Allahabad (city) and Fatehpur.

Describing Mulayam Singh Yadav as “a puppet in the hands of Amar Singh”, Bajpai held Singh responsible for eroding the party’s socialist ideology. “Today the party has no place for serious political leaders. Its bankruptcy has forced it to depend on Bollywood stars, money bags and feudal forces,” she said.

She held the dilution of the party’s old beliefs responsible for the departure of senior leaders like Beni Prasad Verma, Raj Babbar, Salim Sherwani, SP Singh Baghel and Shafiqur Rehman Barq.

Hitting out at the SP for ‘completely marginalising the Brahmins’, she said: “In the 2004 elections, the SP had just one Brahmin seat of Raj Narain Bhadouria from Hamirpur. After being humiliated even he is not with SP any longer.”

Charging SP of being in tacit understanding with the BJP, she said this time three Brahmins had been given ticket, of whom the two - Manoj Tiwari from Gorkahpur and Kamlesh Pathak from Kanpur dehat - were brought in only to spoil the chances of the BSP’s Brahmin candidate.

Bajpai, the daughter in-law of former state Congress president and union minister Rajendra Kumari Bajpai, had quit the Congress in an equally surprising manner in July 2002 when she was the state president of the Uttar Pradesh Mahila Congress.

During Yadav’s government in 2003-07, Bajpai was the chairperson of the State Women Commission. Her former husband Ashok Bajpai is also with the BSP.

Top

 

No secular govt without Sonia: Amar
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 14
In sharp contrast to Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav’s measured stance on the Third Front, party general secretary Amar Singh attacked it for shaking hands with Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati.

Speaking to the media, Amar Singh said: “The Left, Congress and Mulayam never had anything to do with the BJP, which is communal in character. But Mayawati has become the Chief Minister thrice with their help.” Not sparing his former Third Front partners Chandrababu Naidu and HD Deve Gowda, Singh said: “These leaders had been part of the BJP-led NDA and were now claiming to be secular.’’

According to Amar Singh, formation of a secular government was just not possible without Sonia Gandhi and Mulayam Singh.

He, like Yadav earlier in the day, downplayed the differences with the Congress by stating that the Congress and the SP may have differences on seat sharing but there was no difference on government formation.

Singh was addressing a meet of all the frontal youth organisations - Lohia Vahini, Mulayam Singh Youth Brigade, Samajwadi Chhatra Sabha and SP Yuvajan Sabha that had been convened by the national in charge Akhilesh Yadav at the party headquarters.

On the occasion, the party’s candidate for Lucknow Lok Sabha Sanjay Dutt also addressed the gathering. 

Top

 

EC removes 3 District Magistrates

Lucknow, March 14
The Election Commission of India (ECI) tonight removed with immediate effect three district magistrates, one each Inspector- General of Police (IG) and Superintendent of Police (SP) in Uttar Pradesh.

All removal, expect for Sultanpur, involved the districts where the Lok Sabha elections is proposed in the first phase on April 16.

The marching orders were given on the complaint received by the ECI through different sources.

According to election office sources, District Magistrate Balrampur Sachidanand Dubey has been removed and was replaced by Additional CEO, Noida, Mohammad Mustafa. DM ,Sidharthanagar, Dr Ramakant Shukla has been given marching orders by the ECI and Deeraj Sahu, presently posted in the APC branch will be the new DM in his place.

Similarly DM Sharvasti Vikas Gothalwal has been removed and Amit Gupta, special secretary in the Programme Implementation Department will be the new DM of Shravasti.

Sources said IG, Varanasi range, Gurudarshan Singh has been moved out and Kamal Saxena, posted in Lucknow would take his place.

Superintendent of Police, Sultanpur, RK Swarankar has been removed and SP Intelligence ( Lucknow) Sanjay Srivastava will take his place. — UNI

Top

 

Colonel faces disciplinary action for molestation
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 14
While the Army has ordered disciplinary action against a colonel for allegedly molesting a captain in the military nursing service (MNS), the officer has contended that the court of inquiry that held him blameworthy was without jurisdiction on account of several procedural improprieties.

The court of inquiry, presided over by a brigadier, also held the nursing officer blameworthy for consuming liquor while on duty. She was on emergency call duty in the operation theatre in a military hospital the night the alleged incident occurred.

The officer, Col Surinder Singh, an armoured corps officer posted in Delhi, has moved the High Court against the disciplinary proceedings. The High Court on Friday last issued notices to the Army and fixed March 24 as the next date of hearing.

The officer’s counsel, Maj K. Ramesh (retd) said that COI held him blameworthy of taking out an MNS officer (impliedly for dinner) against the service norms thus showing unbecoming conduct, and for driving after consuming liquor. Besides being intoxicated on call duty, the MNS officer was also blamed for going out with a married officer against the service norms.

The tentative charge made out against the officer for the Hearing of Charge, was however, committing a civil offence by using criminal force and kissing and biting her lips forcibly, thus outraging the modesty of the lady, and taking her out for dinner ethically against the service norms.

In his petition, the officer has contended that provisions of Army Rule 180, which gives the accused the right to examine witnesses was not complied with. Further, an officer junior to the accused was made a member of the COI, was contrary to army regulations.

Top

 

Return of the ‘King Maker’
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 14
Nearly five years after suffering a humiliating electoral drubbing in his home state of Andhra Pradesh, the Telugu Desam Party Chief N Chandrababu Naidu looks set to play the role of a ‘King Maker’ once again at the national level.

The emergence of Third Front, a conglomeration of disparate regional players and Left parties, has revived the hopes of Naidu who has been on an image make-over exercise to regain the confidence of voters.

During his hey days, Naidu was widely seen as a poster boy of reforms and had earned the sobriquet ‘King Maker’ for his crucial role in both the United Front and NDA regimes. The regional satrap had saddled the two ends of the political spectrum with equal ease and finesse.

“We expect that the coming elections will throw up a situation similar to the one that prevailed in 1996 when regional parties emerged as crucial players in the formation of government at the Centre. Our voice will have a greater say,” the TDP’s parliamentary party leader K Yerran Naidu said.

The TDP chief, one of the prime movers of the UF, went on to influence its course in the subsequent years. From formulating the political strategies to building consensus over Prime Ministerial candidates, Naidu’s influence was overwhelming during the UF 
dispensation.

However, he pulled off a surprise in 1998 by switching sides and supporting the Vajpayee government in return for Lok Sabha Speaker’s post for his party nominee. The TDP’s alliance with BJP continued for seven years till both the parties suffered defeat in the previous elections.

After a series of policy reversals in the wake of rout in the 2004 polls, Naidu is now positioning himself as a ‘pro-poor, populist politician’ and assigning a bigger role for himself at national level.

“In the emerging scenario where neither Congress-led UPA nor BJP-led NDA is in a position to get a clear mandate, the regional parties like TDP are expected to play a key role in shaping the next government at the Centre. There is also a possibility of Naidu throwing his hat in the ring for prime ministerial race,” political analyst C V Narasimha Rao said.

There is also a talk in TDP circles that Naidu might look for a greater role in national politics, leaving the state affairs to his actor brother-in-law and NTR’s son N Balakrishna who is already gaining influence in the regional party.

Top

 

Online game on political leaders
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 14
As politicians slug it out in the electoral battle, their fans and followers can now take the fight to cyber space to root for their leaders and even decide who should be the winner.

7Seas Technologies Limited, a Hyderabad-based gaming company, has developed a series of online political games on its official gaming portal www.onlinerealgames.com.

“We have designed 10 games, five based on national leaders and another five on Andhra Pradesh leaders. All the games will be free on our website,” the company’s managing director L Maruthi Sanker said. With current political scenario forming the backdrop, several prominent leaders will be the main characters vying for Prime Minister’s seat with more strong-arm tactics than usual.

Top

 

TN administration paralysed: Jaya
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 14
Leader of the Opposition and AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today alleged that the administration in the state had been paralysed, following the Chief Minister’s illness. In a statement here, she cited examples of government Dr Ambedkar Law College being closed for the past four months and the dysfunctional of the Madras High Court for the past few weeks in the wake of the 19 February violence on the court campus.

She said the law college, which was closed in November last year following students unrest over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, was yet to be reopened.

“Nothing has been done to reopen the institution and neither the Law Minister nor the Education Minister seem to be in any way concerned about it and the academic year has almost come to an end,” she said.

Recalling the 19 February clash between the police and lawyers at the High Court premises, Jayalalithaa said lawyers had been boycotting courts, demanding action against errant police officials.

Top

 

Land allocation PC’s legal notice to CPI MLA
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 14
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has issued a legal notice on CPI MLA Gunasekaran, demanding an apology for accusing him of supporting allocation of 500 acres of government land to a private company in his constituency Sivaganga.

Describing the charges as a “total lie”, Chidambaram said his name had been dragged unnecessarily over an issue between the government and a private firm, while talking to reporters about the legal notice at Sivaganga. The MLA had reportedly mentioned Chidambaram’s name during an agitation led by him against the Union Minister at Karaikudi on March 12 to protest allocation of land in Kazhanivasal in Sivganga district to a private firm. Pointing out that even the Sivaganga District Collector had issued a statement denying land allocation for a private firm, the Union Minister said only a recommendation had been made to allocate 3.5 acres to a private firm on lease basis, as there was a potential for the company to give employment to 1,500 people.

Top

 

Charlie Chaplin’s statue sparks controversy

‘Udupi, March 14
After pub-going women and lover couples, Charlie Chaplin has become the latest victim of saffron wrath in Karnataka, with a "Hindu" group objecting to installation of a statue of the famous Hollywood comedian in Kundapur taluk here on the grounds that he was a Christian.

Ever since the project to install the 67-ft statue at the Ottinene beach was launched by him, it was facing protests, Hemanth Hegde, director of Kannada Film "Houseful", told reporters today but refused to blame any particular group.

Some activists claiming to represent "a Hindu organisation" yesterday descended on the project site and halted the work. This is the second time the project was facing problems, Hegde said but added "I don't want to name anyone that they belong to Bajrang Dal or any other organisatio n." The project has been launched with the support of a leading garment export firm at a cost of Rs 35 lakh.

Hegde has plans to shoot two song sequences of his film using the statue. Work on the statue is expected to be completed by April five. He said the protesters first claimed that the statue would affect the nearby Someshwara temple but later argued that "Chaplin is a Christian and his contribution to India is nil." — PTI 

Top

 

Cong leader ‘inaugurates’ trouble
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, March 14
Close on the heels of Union Minister for Mines Sis Ram Ola inaugurating two rooms of a school building a few days back, another Congress leader has come under the EC scanner for violation of model code of conduct.

The Election Commission has taken the cognisance of a public feast organised by Cooperatives Minister Parsadi Lal Meena in Dausa district a couple of days back. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and several Cabinet ministers of the state had also attended the feast in Madavari, which was a part of a family ritual.

The feast also witnessed participation in large numbers from political workers and local people. According to sources, the Chief Electoral Officer has already forwarded a report submitted by the Dausa Collector in this regard to the Election Commission. Sources said the election department officials also got the entire event videotaped, a copy of which has been sent to the EC which will take a final decision on the matter.

Top

 

Mamata kicks off campaign at Nandigram
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, March 14
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee launched her elections campaign at Nandigram today by observing the martyrs day in memory of 14 farmers who were killed in police firing on this day in 2007.

Addressing a rally at Nandigram, she called upon the people irrespective of their caste, creed and political differences to defeat the CPM in the upcoming polls and make an end to the prolonged misrule of the Left Front government in West Bengal. She was confident that the elections would bring a large-scale victory to them, which after elections would help form an anti-CPM secular government at the Centre.

She said soon the Congress and the TMC would jointly launch massive campaign all over the state and ensure that the Left parties were defeated in all 42 LS seats in the state.

Along with their leader Mamata, Trinamool’s star candidates, film actress Satabi Roy, actor Tapash Pal and singer Kabir Suman also formally launched their election campaign today in their constituencies at Birbhum, Krishnanagar and Jadavpore, respectively. On the other hand, CPM candidates, who have already launched their campaigns in their respective areas, today continued their campaigns.

Meanwhile, people also took out a silent procession here today in memory of the March 14 massacre victims at Nandigram. The protesters wore black badges and carried placards and posters condemning the mass killing.

Top

 

Bomb found near police station

Tezpur, March 14
A powerful time bomb was recovered this evening in front of Barahat police out post in Sonitpur district. According to the police, an abandoned bicycle was found parked in front of the police station. On suspicion, the police searched the belongings and found the bomb kept inside a vegetable laden bag.
The bomb was immediately taken to a safe area and bomb experts from the nearby 4 corps of the Army defused it. The police suspected it as an act of the Muslim United Liberation Tiger of Assam (MULTA). — UNI 

Top

 
BRIEFLY

Sehajpal appointed DG
New Delhi:
Lt. General S B Sehajpal has been appointed director General, Dental Services of the Armed Forces. A graduate from Dental College, Amritsar and a post-graduate from Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, he is a recipient of VSM and AVSM for his services. He was the founder director of the Army Dental College AT Secunderabad.

HRD seeks report
New Delhi
: Friends and relatives of Aman Kachroo, the first year student who died in Himachal Pradesh after being beaten up by seniors at the medical college, gathered in Delhi on Saturday and lit candles in his memory. They also carried placards. Union HRD ministry, meanwhile, has called for details about the incident from the state government. 

Virk takes over as M’rashtra DGP
Mumbai:
Senior police officer SS Virk, who is facing charges of corruption by the Punjab government, today formally took over as the Maharashtra Director-General of Police. Virk replaces Anami N Roy, whose appointment was quashed by the Central Administrative Tribunal on grounds of seniority. The Bombay High Court had upheld the CAT order thereby putting the Maharashtra government in a spot. — TNS

Cong leader’s house attacked
IMPHAL:
The house of a youth Congress leader was attacked by militants in Singjamei area of Imphal West district, the police said on Saturday. The militants fired at the house of L Tilotama, the Pradesh Youth Congress Committee president of Manipur, late Friday night when she was inside the house along with family members. However, no casualty was reported, the police said. — PTI

17 kg tumour removed
KOLHAPUR:
A rare case of removing 17 kg tumour knot surgery occured in Sarnaik Hospital Kolhapur, M M Sarnaik said here on Saturday. Sarnaik said Shakuntala Shamrao Patil (45) was admitted to his hospital as she was suffering from stomach pain for the past three years. After one-and-a-half hour surgery, the doctor removed 17 kg knot of tumour. — PTI

Self-immolation
ALLAHABAD:
Driven by penury, a man allegedly committed self-immolation at a village in Allahabad district while his wife suffered critical injuries in trying to save him even as the couple’s five children looked on. The incident took place at Umaria Badal village late Friday night when 45-year-old Bachai set himself afire at his house following a tiff with his wife over his addiction to alcohol, the police said. The cries of their children caught the attention of neighbours, who rushed to their house and doused the flames before taking the couple to a hospital, the police said. — PTI

Statue controversy
UDUPI
: Charlie Chaplin has become the latest victim of saffron wrath in Karnataka, with a “Hindu” group objecting to installation of a statue of the famous Hollywood comedian in Kundapur taluk here on the grounds that he was a Christian. Ever since the project to install the 67-ft statue at the Ottinene beach was launched by him, it was facing protests, Hemanth Hegde, director of Kannada Film “Houseful”, told reporters on Saturday but refused to blame any particular group. Some activists claiming to represent “a Hindu organisation” on Friday descended on the project site and halted the work. — PTI

Girl killed
MUZAFFARNAGAR
: In a suspected case of honour killing, a 21-year-old girl was stabbed to death on Saturday allegedly by her family members, who were opposed to her love-affair, in Shoram village here, police said. “The victim Mukesh was in love with a youth from the same village, but her family was opposed to their relationship,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Mukesh Kumar Mishra said. “Following a heated argument, her brother Amit Kumar (23) and mother Shakuntala Devi stabbed her to death,” he told reporters here. While her mother was arrested, the victim's brother is absconding, Mishra said, adding a murder case has been registered against the duo. — PTI

Denied ticket, ex-MP quits TDP
Hyderabad:
Former MP Guttha Sukhender Reddy, has resigned from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) today, miffed at not being given a ticket to contest the Nalgonda Lok Sabha seat.
The Congress is said to have offered Reddy the Nalgonda seat, which he had won in 1999, after which he quit the TDP. — PTI

Top





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |