SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Day after, Cong’s shocker for Lalu
Seals pact with JMM in Jharkhand, leaves two seats for RJD
New Delhi, March 18
A day after its “most trusted” ally Lalu Prasad Yadav clinched a poll deal with Ram Vilas Paswan in Bihar, a disgruntled Congress today finalised an independent seat-sharing pact with Shibu Soren’s JMM in Jharkhand.

The deal-clincher

Paswan put off by Cong
New Delhi, March 18
Union steel minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP)
president Ram Vilas Paswan is unhappy that the
Congress has not demonstrated the seriousness it
had showed in forging alliances during the run-up to
the last Lok Sabha elections.

No alliance with SP in UP: Cong
New Delhi, March 18
There is no scope for any alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh, Congress- the grand old party, has made it clear, effectively meaning that even a tacit seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and the SP is now in doldrums.

Uma to campaign for BJP
New Delhi, March 18
A day after BJP rebel Uma Bharti pledged support to LK Advani for prime ministership, the Bharatiya Janshakti Party president today said she would not put up candidates against the party and would campaign for it in the non-BJP ruled states.

Lankan Conflict
BJP vows to expose UPA’s duplicity
Chennai, March 18
Charging the UPA government with “duplicity” on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, Tamil Nadu BJP president L. Ganesan said today the Centre was sending medicines to the wounded Tamils in the island7, while providing military support to continue the war.

Bajrang Dal bats for Varun
Kanpur, March 18
After the Shiv Sena’s support to Varun Gandhi over
his alleged communal remarks, the BJP leader got
backing from another saffron group Bajrang Dal that
says his speeches carry “nothing wrong” for which
he should tender an apology.



Workers remove stalks from red chilli at a farm in Shertha village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in Gujarat on Wednesday.
Spicy surroundings: Workers remove stalks from red chilli at a farm in Shertha village on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in Gujarat on Wednesday. — Reuters



EARLIER STORIES

Two Pilibhit officials suspended, 2 shifted
Lucknow, March 18
Taking action against the sluggish response in reacting to the Varun Gandhi episode, the Election Commission (EC) today suspended Additional District Magistrate of Pilibhit SS Kamal and Additional SP Saurabh Kush.

Violation of Poll Code
Sanjay Dutt Munnabhai in trouble
Lucknow, March 18
Action might be taken against Sanjay Dutt for violation of the election code of conduct as, he, along with his entourage, entered a degree college on last Monday evening to hold a meeting while some students there were taking their B. Com third year examination.

Poll Code Violation
EC orders transfer of Andhra DGP
Hyderabad, March 18
The Election Commission today ordered transfer of the controversial Andhra Pradesh Director-General of Police, SSP Yadav, for violating the model code of conduct.

Finally, Libra lands in Congress
New Delhi, March 18
Akali Dal MP Sukhdev Singh Libra, who created a ripple in the Punjab politics by abstaining during the “trust-vote” in Parliament in July, joined the Congress in the presence of senior Congress leaders here today.

Sudhanshu reaches Assam amid deadlock
New Delhi, March 18
Even as the stalemate in the party over his appointment continues, BJP’s co-convener for the north-east Sudhanshu Mittal today reached Assam to take part in some important deliberations.

Reel to Real
Sadhu Yadav vs Prakash Jha
New Delhi, March 18
Reel life to real — Sadhu Yadav has returned to haunt filmmaker Prakash Jha, whose film “Gangajal’s” villain had the same name as the don-turned-politician.

M’rashtra Cong divided over alliance with NCP
Mumbai, March 18
The Maharashtra Congress is split on factional lines over allying with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

Air hostess commits suicide after quarrel with boyfriend
Mumbai, March 18
Anupama Acharya, 22, an air-hostess committed suicide early this morning by jumping from the fifth floor of a building in suburban Powai where she lived with her pilot boyfriend, police said.

PETA activists stage a simulated funeral procession to protest against cosmetic testing in New Delhi on Wednesday.
PETA activists stage a simulated funeral procession to protest against cosmetic testing in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Armed forces still
await enhanced pay

New Delhi, March 18
The long wait of the 13 lakh
strong armed force for better
salary and status continues as
no orders have been issued, so
far, to implement the decision
that was taken on certain issues
of the forces.

Moral Policing
Now, Ram Sene
targets Goa

Belgaum (Karnataka), March 18
Undeterred by the widespread
criticism following its attack on a Mangalore pub, right wing group Sri Ram Sene has now set its sight on Goa, vowing to agitate against pub culture in the state.

4 killed in blast
Kolkata, March 18
At least four persons were killed and 15 injured following an explosion on the premises of a supermarket at Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri district in north Bengal today.

 





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Day after, Cong’s shocker for Lalu
Seals pact with JMM in Jharkhand, leaves two seats for RJD
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

The deal-clincher

The pact with JMM in Jharkhand is the second successful seat-sharing arrangement for the Congress clinched by K Keshva Rao after the deal with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in West Bengal. 

New Delhi, March 18
A day after its “most trusted” ally Lalu Prasad Yadav clinched a poll deal with Ram Vilas Paswan in Bihar, a disgruntled Congress today finalised an independent seat-sharing pact with Shibu Soren’s JMM in Jharkhand.

The Congress said they had sealed a deal with the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), as per which two Lok Sabha seats, of the total 14 in the state, were to be given to Lalu Prasad’s RJD.

The deal was finalised at a meeting attended among others by JMM chief Shibu Soren and Congress’ state in charge K Keshva Rao.

“The Congress and JMM will contest from seven and five constituencies, respectively,” Rao said, quick to add that it had nothing to do with RJD’s (Bihar) decision or the fact that the Congress was feeling “let down” by Lalu.

Rao said the Congress did not believe in “negative” or “cynical” style of functioning in politics and that the party had not taken a call on Chatra and Palamu, currently represented in the Lok Sabha by RJD MPs.

“The Congress never retaliates. It only acts. It is not a tit for tat, as we have left two seats for the RJD... if they want them they can, otherwise we will decide about these two seats, too, in consultation with the JMM,” he said.

According to the deal, both the parties have got one seat each in addition to the seats on which they have sitting MPs.

While Hazaribagh has gone to the JMM, Congress would field its candidate from Koderma, from where Babu Lal Marandi won last time.

Party sources said if the RJD and LJP do not enter into a respectable seat-sharing pact with the Congress in Bihar, the Congress and the JMM would field candidates from Palamu and Chatra as well.

Rao also refused to comment on whether any understanding had been reached with Soren as far as the chief ministership of the state was concerned.

Notably, the JMM has been saying that a coalition could be formed only after the JMM chief or a party legislator was chosen for the post of chief minister in state.

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Paswan put off by Cong
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, March 18
Union steel minister and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) president Ram Vilas Paswan is unhappy that the Congress has not demonstrated the seriousness it had showed in forging alliances during the run-up to the last Lok Sabha elections.

He conveyed as much to his Congress colleagues when he came face-to-face with them at the Cabinet meeting today.

As soon as Paswan walked in for the meeting today, he was questioned by Congress leaders like AR Antulay and Sis Ram Ola about yesterday’s unilateral announcement by the LJP chief and RJD president Lalu Prasad Yadav about the seat-sharing arrangement for Bihar in which the Congress quota was a mere three.

Pointing to Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who was Congress in charge of seat-sharing negotiations for Bihar, Paswan explained he had contacted Shinde several times to discuss the alliance but failed to get any response.

Since he could not afford to wait endlessly, Paswan said he had no choice but to go ahead and finalise a pact with the RJD. On his part, Shinde did not say anything.

Later, Paswan admitted that he was upset at the Congress party’s non-serious attitude towards its allies but rejected the suggestion that he was preparing to desert the UPA for the emerging Third Front. “That question does not arise...there is no chance of my leaving the UPA,” Paswan declared.

Although Congress leaders have cried foul over the manner in which Paswan and Lalu Prasad Yadav arrived at a unilateral seat-sharing formula, Paswan is confident that this development will not create any fissures in his relationship with the grand old party. But added that he was not guilty about sealing a deal with the RJD.

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No alliance with SP in UP: Cong
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
There is no scope for any alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh, Congress- the grand old party, has made it clear, effectively meaning that even a tacit seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and the SP is now in doldrums.

Uttar Pradesh Congress president Rita Bahuguna, on Wednesday, said there was no scope left for any talks with the SP and the Congress was now in the process of selecting candidates for seats it wanted to contest in the state.

“The seat-sharing talks are over. They (SP) are looking at their interest...We have to see the interests of our own party,” Bahuguna said.

Asked whether discussions would continue with the SP for any last minute understanding on seats, she said, “No discussions are being held. There is hardly any scope for discussions now.” She also said there were no “hidden agenda” in alliance talks with the SP.

With seat-sharing talks with the party in Uttar Pradesh virtually null and void, the Congress clearly is in for trouble in the state that sends the maximum 80 members to the Lok Sabha.

The party, already feeling let down by their most trusted ally Lalu Yadav in Bihar,
is also worried that Sharad Pawar- another important ally-does not break the
alliance in Maharashtra.

Amidst all these developments, there were also reports of a meeting between Union Minister of State for Home and Congress candidate from Kanpur Sriprakash Jaiswal and SP general secretary Amar Singh.

Jaiswal on Wednesday reportedly met Singh at his residence in the backdrop of the SP fielding a candidate against him in his constituency Kanpur.

When asked about the purpose of his visit, Jaiswal said it was to “seek advice on various political issues”.

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Uma to campaign for BJP

New Delhi, March 18
A day after BJP rebel Uma Bharti pledged support to LK Advani for prime ministership, the Bharatiya Janshakti Party president today said she would not put up candidates against the party and would campaign for it in the non-BJP ruled states.

“Among politicians, Advani is unparalleled. When I met him recently, I told him I don’t want to be a part of the BJP and neither have we thought of being a part of the NDA. We want to support him selflessly,” Bharti told mediapersons.

Giving a word of advice to sulking Arun Jaitley with whom she allegedly had problems when she was with the BJP, Bharti said he should forget “differences” like the way she had “swallowed insults”.

Known for her mercurial ways as much as her firebrand politics, Bharti said she would campaign for the BJP.

“But, I have told Advani that I will not campaign in BJP-ruled states,” she said, adding that she had requested party president Rajnath Singh to decide her campaign schedule. — PTI

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Lankan Conflict
BJP vows to expose UPA’s duplicity
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 18
Charging the UPA government with “duplicity” on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, Tamil Nadu BJP president L. Ganesan said today the Centre was sending medicines to the wounded Tamils in the island, while providing military support to continue the war.

Citing the statement of Sri Lankan Minister Nimal Sripala De Silva at Sri Lankan Parliament that the Indian government was strongly supporting the war against the Tigers, the BJP leader said his party would expose the duplicity of the Congress and its allies in the forthcoming Parliament elections.

In Tamil Nadu, state Congress leaders were so weak that they could not prevent admission of pro-LTTE leader Thol Thirumavalavan into the alliance, he observed.

He said the Congress had become very weak in the Hindi heartland, which is revealed by the offer of three seats by its allies in Bihar.

To a query on the Biju Janata Dal breaking its ties with the BJP, Ganesan said: “It is a welcome development. The Hindus in Orissa are very angry with the state government for not taking action against the killers of revered religious leaders.”

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Bajrang Dal bats for Varun

Kanpur, March 18
After the Shiv Sena’s support to Varun Gandhi over his alleged communal remarks, the BJP leader got backing from another saffron group Bajrang Dal that says his speeches carry “nothing wrong” for which he should tender an apology.

“Varun has not said anything targeting any single religion and he need not to be ashamed for his remarks,” Bajrang Dal national convener Prakash Sharma said. He blamed the media for blowing up the matter.

Assuring his organisation’s support to the scion of estranged Gandhi family, he said the young leader should not think himself alone as the Bajrang Dal was with him.

Targeting BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain, Sharma said Hussain would have to face the consequences in the Lok Sabha polls if he tried to be “more secular”. — PTI

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Two Pilibhit officials suspended, 2 shifted
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 18
Taking action against the sluggish response in reacting to the Varun Gandhi episode, the Election Commission (EC) today suspended Additional District Magistrate of Pilibhit SS Kamal and Additional SP Saurabh Kush.

The EC also asked for drawing up disciplinary proceedings against them. District Magistrate MP Aggarwal, who was also the district election officer, and Superintendent of Police RK Chaturvedi have been transferred with immediate effect to non-election related posts. A new DM and SP are yet to be announced.

Additional chief electoral officer Amrit Abhijaat said on behalf of the ECI, notices had been served on the state BJP president and to Varun Gandhi, asking them as to why action should not be taken against them for violating the model code of conduct.

Both have to furnish their replies to the EC latest by 1100 hours on March 20. A copy of the CD has also been sent to the BJP office along with the notice.

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Violation of Poll Code
Munnabhai in trouble
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 18
Action might be taken against Sanjay Dutt for violation of the election code of conduct as, he, along with his entourage, entered a degree college on last Monday evening to hold a meeting while some students there were taking their B. Com third year examination.

The incident occurred at National College where Dutt, along with SP Rajya Sabha MP Virendra Bhatia and many former MLAs, were allowed to enter the college premises and hold a meeting in a hall on the second floor even as B. Com III year students were taking an examination in the same building.

“We will have to check if this is a violation of the model code of conduct. But even ordinarily no outsider should be allowed to enter any centre where examinations are being held,” said Additional Chief Electoral Officer Amrit Abhijaat.

The DM meanwhile has asked for the facts of the case before taking any action. The EC has also sought a report from the DMs of Lucknow and Farukhabad following reports of Lodh sammelans being held in these two places.

Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh Yadav and Kalyan Singh’s son Rajvir Singh
had jointly addressed a Lodh sammelan at Lucknow. Kalyan Singh belongs to the
Lodh community.

On March 9, Chief Electoral Officer Anuj Bishnoi had announced that strict action would be taken against political parties or candidates asking for votes in the name of caste or religion.

All the DMs have been directed to ensure that such functions be recorded on video to enable the EC to take immediate cognisance.

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Poll Code Violation
EC orders transfer of Andhra DGP
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 18
The Election Commission today ordered transfer of the controversial Andhra Pradesh Director-General of Police, SSP Yadav, for violating the model code of conduct.

State chief electoral officer IV Subba Rao told mediapersons here that a poll panel had directed the state government to submit a list of three police officials in the next two days, so that one of them could be picked up for the post.

Yadav found himself in trouble following his remarks eulogising Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy during a meeting of police officers in Kurnool recently.

Opposition parties represented to Chief Election Commissioner V Gopalaswamy, alleging that the DGP had clearly violated the code of conduct and demanded his removal from the post.

The top cop’s controversial remarks were made during a pre-poll review meeting of police officers. “The Chief Minister is bold enough to issue orders for filling 37,000 vacant posts in the department. This is unprecedented in the country’s history,” Yadav was reported to have said at the meeting.

Even as the matter was under EC’s consideration, he kicked up a fresh controversy when he left for Singapore on March 15 to participate in an international conference on “Homeland security”, without informing the Election Commission.

Taking a serious note of the lapse, the CEO brought the matter to the notice of the Election Commission.

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Finally, Libra lands in Congress
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
Akali Dal MP Sukhdev Singh Libra, who created a ripple in the Punjab politics by abstaining during the “trust-vote” in Parliament in July, joined the Congress in the presence of senior Congress leaders here today.

The Akalis and the Congress are bitter rivals in Punjab and Libra’s act of abstaining favoured the Congress-led-UPA regime in surviving the trust-vote and continuing in the government.

Libra could be in the race to get a ticket from Fatehgarh Sahib, a reserved seat.
He was a sitting Lok Sabha MP from Ropar, resigned his seat and that was
accepted on March 16.

Libra said he had joined because of the PM and the respect he has for the PM. Within hours of joining the Congress he said, “it was the wish of the party in case it wanted him to contest”.

When asked if was asking for ticket, Libra said I do not need to ask, the party can direct me and added “I am ready to take on any duty that Congress president Sonia Gandhi chose to give”.

He clarified “I have not joined the Congress due to any ulterior motive or greed. The working style of the Akali Dal has changed. All those who had given lot of sacrifices for the party do not have any say now.”

Mohsina Kidwai, Congress party in charge for Punjab, said the Congress would gain strength with the joining of Libra. “Workers of the Tohra group were feeling stifled in the Akali Dal”, she added.

Libra was an MLA on a Akali ticket from Khanna in 1985, when SS Barnala was the Chief Minister. In 1987, he sided with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal when the Akalis were divided and the Barnala government fell.

Libra was close to former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief GS Tohra. He then went to enjoy a term in the Rajya Sabha. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2004.

Old- time political watchers said it was expected that Libra would join the Congress. The Akali Dal issued a notice to disqualify him, however, no formal action was taken.

AICC general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, Kidwai and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Mohinder Singh Kaypee were among those present.

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Sudhanshu reaches Assam amid deadlock

New Delhi, March 18
Even as the stalemate in the party over his appointment continues, BJP’s co-convener for the north-east Sudhanshu Mittal today reached Assam to take part in some important deliberations.

“I would be here (Guwahati) for the next three-four days and attend some important party meetings and deliberations," Mittal said.

Mittal, whose appointment has been opposed by party general secretary Arun Jaitley, said he would be attending the meet to finalise the poll strategy. — PTI

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Reel to Real
Sadhu Yadav vs Prakash Jha
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
Reel life to real — Sadhu Yadav has returned to haunt filmmaker Prakash Jha, whose film “Gangajal’s” villain had the same name as the don-turned-politician.

The two are again pitted against each other in Bettiah, the Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar’s West Champaran district, where the Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) has named Jha their candidate.

Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan yesterday traded the seat with Rashtriya Janata
Dal’s Lalu Yadav, who is facing a rebellion at home, with brother-in-law Sadhu
Yadav up in arms.

But Jha, in the capital today for a formal introduction as the LJP’s Bettiah nominee, feels the Sadhu factor will do him no harm in Bettiah.

“I have a senior leader like Lalu Yadav by my side. Moreover, Sadhu’s outburst is natural. He is not angry; he is frustrated,” said the filmmaker, who suddenly finds the LJP the best among political parties in Bihar for its “pro-poor” agenda.

Until February 10, Jha was speaking highly of all parties, including JD-U, RJD, LJP and BJP. Reports were that he was seeking a ticket from the JD-U and RJD, but eventually managed a deal with the LJP.

When asked today how he bent towards the LJP when he was close to Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Jha said: “I never interacted with Nitishji on a political level. He is a close personal friend.”

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M’rashtra Cong divided over alliance with NCP
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 18
The Maharashtra Congress is split on factional lines over allying with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

While Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has emerged as a major supporter for continuing the tie-up with the NCP, his predecessor Vilasrao Deshmukh and Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee chief Manikrao Thakre have emerged as staunch opponents of an alliance with Sharad Pawar’s outfit.

According to sources here, Deshmukh blames Pawar for the loss of his post in the wake of the November 26 terrorist attack in Mumbai last year.

By virtually forcing the then Deputy Chief Minister RR Patil of the NCP to resign taking moral responsibility for the incident, Pawar maneouvered the Congress party into jettisoning Deshmukh.

Deshmukh’s ouster was seen as a major coup by Pawar on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls. However, Deshmukh bounced back after the Congress made him in charge of its Election Committee in Maharashtra, thus pitting Pawar against a wounded tiger.

Joining Deshmukh is MPCC chief Thakre who together are willing to risk the
Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra in order to paint the Maratha
strongman in a corner.

Giving them plenty of ammunition is Pawar himself who has virtually offered himself as a candidate for the post of Prime Minister.

The latest issue of party mouthpiece Rasthravadi reiterates the NCP’s call for a Marathi manoos bidding for the top job. Even the Shiv Sena, which has tied up with the BJP, continues to back Pawar.

Both Thakre and Deshmukh, who enjoy good rapport with the Central leadership of Congress, are said to be playing on party president Sonia Gandhi’s inherent suspicions about Pawar.

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Air hostess commits suicide after quarrel with boyfriend
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 18
Anupama Acharya, 22, an air-hostess committed suicide early this morning by jumping from the fifth floor of a building in suburban Powai where she lived with her pilot boyfriend, police said.

Both Acharya and her boyfriend Sameer Chaturvedi, 24, were employees of Jet Airways. According to a police official at the Powai police station, both of them had moved into the Dil Darshan building only a few months ago.

On Tuesday night, both of them had returned home from a party after Anupama left in a huff. The quarrel between the two continued at home after which she jumped off the building.

Chaturvedi, who is being questioned by police, told investigators that Anupama had quarrelled with him over smoking cigarettes and jumped from the staircase on the fifth floor where the flat is located. Her body landed on the stairwell of the building.

Anupama was rushed to hospital where she was declared dead on admission. Police are questioning Sameer after being told of past fights between the couple.

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Armed forces still await enhanced pay
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 18
The long wait of the 13 lakh strong armed force for better salary and status continues as no orders have been issued, so far, to implement the decision that was taken on certain issues of the forces.

Four core issues still remain unresolved despite directions of the Prime Ministers Office (PMO) in this regard.

Since the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has not issued directions, the central defence accounts (CDA) cannot implement any hike or change that was cleared by the PMO, resulting no change at the ground level.

The Armed forces had raised four core issue after the Sixth Pay Commission submitted its report.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh formed a three-member ministerial committee headed by Pranab Mukherjee, which submitted its report in the last week of December. Subsequently, Chief of Staffs Committee Admiral Sureesh Mehta took up the matter.

A Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Defence issued a letter some time in the last week of January, clarifying that Lieutenant Colonels, with a few exceptions of those who are on deputation to public sector units, will be placed under the enhanced pay-band IV structure.

That was the last written word on the subject. In a normal course, instructions are issued and conveyed to the CDA informing it that Lt Cols and their equivalents in the IAF and the Navy, are now placed in pay-band IV and not pay-band III as suggested by the pay commission.

This is expected to raise the salary of each officer by about Rs 10,000-12,000 over the existing pay okayed by the sixth pay commission.

There are about 11,000 officers who are in the rank of Lt Cols or wing commanders of the IAF and the Commanders of the Navy.

However, no instructions has been issued till date. Sources in the ministry of defence confirmed here yesterday.

Another issue was of granting 70 per cent weightage of the last salary to retiring jawans for their post-retirement pension.

The commission had allowed only 50 per cent. Though senior ministers in the UPA regime have gone public to claim that the matter has been sorted out, sources confirmed that no instructions have been issued to convey a decision, if any, to the CDA. The jawans form the back bone of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy. So, as of now, a retiring jawan continues to get just 50 per cent weightage.

The third issue was of giving a grade pay to all ranks of officers that is at par with their counterparts in the civil administration. The PMO had said a high-powered committee should be formed to look into this.

The forces have tabulated and submitted their claims. In this case also the committee has not even taken a decision.

The last was of placing all Lieutenant Generals in the special pay band of higher administrative grade plus. All DGPs of states are in this grade.

The last pay commission had maintained this parity, the forces want that restored. However, this is also pending at the level of the high-powered committee.

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Moral Policing
Now, Ram Sene targets Goa

Belgaum (Karnataka), March 18
Undeterred by the widespread criticism following its attack on a Mangalore pub, right wing group Sri Ram Sene has now set its sight on Goa, vowing to agitate against pub culture in the state.

Challenging Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik, who had declared that the group would not be allowed to set up its unit, Sene chief Pramod Muthalik today said he along with volunteers would enter the coastal state to protest the pub culture existing there.

“We will agitate and create awareness against it in Goa since the culture is spreading to other parts of the country,” he said.

Sene activists had barged into a pub at Mangalore on January 24 and attacked women and others in an act of moral policing against pub culture, triggering protests from women bodies.

Muthalik also questioned the Mangalore district administration’s decision to ban his entry, alleging that “those involved in murdering Hindu leaders and workers were moving freely with no action being taken against them”.

Muthalik further said Sri Ram Sene would agitate on the issue and stage dharnas across the state on March 23. — PTI

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4 killed in blast
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, March 18
At least four persons were killed and 15 injured following an explosion on the premises of a supermarket at Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri district in north Bengal today.

The RDX and other explosive materials were kept in a motorcycle parked at the entrance of the supermarket.

Several shops and other hutments were damaged due to the explosion, according to reports reaching at the state government headquarters at Writers Buildings.

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BRIEFLY

Sand artist to sculpt Ganesha abroad
BHUBANESAR:
Sand artist Sudarsan Patnaik on Wednesday said he would create a 5.20 metre long sand sculpture of Lord Ganesha with Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in Japan next month. “I have been selected to participate in the World Sand Sculpting Contest Japan 2009, which will be held at Tottori city from April 5 to 15,” Patnaik told on phone from his hometown Puri, 56 km from here. — IANS

Queen Mary 2 at Kochi
KOCHI:
Queen Mary 2, billed as the grandest and most magnificent ocean liner ever built, came calling at the port here on Wednesday. The liner arrived from Singapore early in the day and was scheduled to leave for Dubai in the evening. On board are 2,451 passengers and 1,253 staff members, including Indians. The vessel, which entered service in January 2004, had made its maiden voyage to Cochin on March 7 last year. — IANS

Thane tense
THANE:
The police opened fire in air to quell two clashing groups of different communities in the Rabodi locality, near here, on Tuesday night, in which 12 people were injured. The police said a petty quarrel between two motorcycle riders had led to the clash in which both the groups pelted stones at each other. The police had to fire in the air to disperse them. Additional police force had been deployed in the area, police said, adding the situation though under control, was till tense. — UNI

Army to probe Purohit case
PUNE:
The army has constituted a three-member committee to conduct departmental enquiry against suspended Lieutenant Colonel Prasad Srikant Purohit, an accused in the September 29, 2008 Malegaon blast. In a statement issued here on Wednesday, it was clarified that the inquiry was not a court martial, but a form of internal audit to identify and pinpoint lapses and lacunae in the existing system to enable suitable measures to be instituted to prevent the recurrence of such as incident in future. The inquiry would run concurrent to the investigations already underway by the ATS and the custody of Lt Col Purohit has not been asked for the same, the statement said. — UNI

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