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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Security at missions to be beefed up
New Delhi, March 19
The volatile situation in the region, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, has prompted the government to order a thorough review of security for Indian missions across the globe in order to meet any threat from terrorist groups.

MiG with India fit to fly: Russian makers
Say no question of defect in upcoming naval version
New Delhi, March 19
The Russian makers of MiG-29 aircaft, which has been in the news for the past one week, said today that the fighters with the Indian Air Force have been flying for more than 20 years and were totally fit for flying. The yet-to-be-supplied naval version has been adapted for operations at sea “there was no question of any defects iBn the airframe”.

Man held for raping daughters
Mumbai, March 19
The Mira Road police earlier this week arrested a businessman who raped his own daughters for nine long years on the advice of a tantrik. According to the police in the township on the outskirts of Mumbai, the businessman who owns a manufacturing unit in the city was arrested after he turned on his second daughter aged 15.



EARLIER STORIES

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ child actors Mohammed Azharuddin Ismail (right) and Rubina Ali Qureshi walk the ramp at the Wills India Fashion Week in New Delhi on Thursday.
‘Slumdog Millionaire’ child actors Mohammed Azharuddin Ismail (right) and Rubina Ali Qureshi walk the ramp at the Wills India Fashion Week in New Delhi on Thursday. — AFP

TN lawyers to end strike
Chennai, March 19
After boycotting courts for a month, lawyers in Tamil Nadu have decided to resume work from March 22 following Madras High Court’s order yesterday for the suspension of two police officials involved in lathicharge on them inside the court premises.

King on a royal hunt
Bokakhat (Assam), March 19
Unfazed by the cases lodged against him for threatening to kill the chief range officer of the Kaziranga National Park, independent MLA Jiten Gogoi today claimed he was a ‘king’ and would hunt animals as royalty has always done so.

Sharad-Nitish oust George from electoral politics
New Delhi, March 19
JD(U) stalwarts — party president Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar — have got together and finally ousted their bete noire George Fernandes from electoral politics.

JD(S) leaders walk out of LDF meet
Thiruvananthapuram, March 18
With the CPM refusing to budge on the Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat, JD(S) in Kerala today walked out of the LDF state committee meet, rasing a question mark over its continuance in the ruling front.

Shahabuddin snubbed by SC
New Delhi, March 19
Jailed RJD MP Mohammed Shahabuddin today received a major setback, when the Supreme Court turned down his request for an early hearing of his petition in the Patna High Court, seeking stay of his conviction in an attempt to murder case to enable him to contest the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Take steps to reverse damage in Aravallis: SC
New Delhi, March 19
The Supreme Court today said measures should be taken to reverse the ecological ‘devastation’ caused by mining in the Aravalli region of Haryana even as miners maintained they were not responsible for the present situation as their activities had remained stalled since the 2002 ban.

Fresh production warrant against Salem
New Delhi, March 19
A Delhi court today issued fresh production warrant against underworld don Abu Salem after the Mumbai police failed yet again to produce him in an extortion case here. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja sought the presence of the extradited gangster before the court on April 9.

Blast damages Rajdhani Express track
Guwahati, March 19
Suspected tribal militants triggered a powerful bomb explosion on the railway track between Diphu station in central Assam and Dimapur station in Nagaland just before Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express was scheduled to pass through the area today.

Twelve of family burnt alive
Bhopal, March 19
In one of the most horrific dacoity-related incidents, 12 persons, including five women and two children, were burnt alive in a small village in Satna district. The incident happened late on Wednesday night. According to the police, old enmity between a surrendered dacoit and an active dacoit gang was behind the crime.

Hotelier gets life term
Chennai, March 19
Founder of famous Saravana Bhavan chain of hotels, R Rajagopal, received a stiffer punishment today when the Madras High Court convicted him of murder in a 2001 case and enhanced to life sentence the 10-year imprisonment awarded by a trial court.





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Security at missions to be beefed up
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The volatile situation in the region, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, has prompted the government to order a thorough review of security for Indian missions across the globe in order to meet any threat from terrorist groups.

According to top government sources, the External Affairs Ministry was reviewing the security of the Indian missions in consultations with officials of the Home Ministry and various security and intelligence agencies.

“We live in a pretty dangerous world. We will do what needs to be done to protect our people serving abroad. We propose to provide a structured security cover to our missions abroad. It has to be done at the global level,” they added.

Even terrorism topped the agenda when the chief of USA’s intelligence gathering agency, the CIA, Leon Panetta, today met Home Minister P Chidambaram. On her first overseas visit since assuming office, Panetta will hold scheduled meetings with National Security Adviser MK Narayanan, RAW chief KC Verma and Intelligence Bureau boss Rajiv Mathur. The three security chiefs will also discuss the scenario in the neighbourhood - Pakistan and Afghanistan- and its effect on India, sources said. The discussion will revolve around security cooperation between US and India besides the ongoing fight against terrorism.

The security of Indian missions has been a matter of serious concern to the government ever since a suicide bomber attacked the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008, killing nearly 50 people, including an Indian diplomat and the Indian defence attaché. New Delhi had blamed Pakistan’s ISI for the attack. The government has already dispatched a large contingent of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel to Afghanistan to protect the embassy in Kabul and the four Indian consulates.

However, the fast deteriorating political and security situation in Pakistan has also been worrying New Delhi from the point of view of security of the Indian staff working at the high commission in Islamabad and consulates at other places in the neighbouring country. Intelligence reports have suggested that terror outfits like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed could target the India mission in Islamabad. The government recently sent a special unit of 16 trained CISF commandos to Pakistan to provide proximate security to Indian diplomats.

India embassies, meanwhile, have been told to restrict access and to verify the antecedents of the local staffers working in the mission. The heads of missions have been advised to also seek extra security, if needed, from their host governments in view of the enhanced threat perception. Besides those in South Asia, the Indian missions particularly vulnerable are the ones located in the US, Canada, the Gulf and the UK.

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MiG with India fit to fly: Russian makers
Say no question of defect in upcoming naval version
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The Russian makers of MiG-29 aircaft, which has been in the news for the past one week, said today that the fighters with the Indian Air Force have been flying for more than 20 years and were totally fit for flying. The yet-to-be-supplied naval version has been adapted for operations at sea “there was no question of any defects iBn the airframe”.

Allying fears in India after reports of “grounding” of some of the MiG-29 fleet in Russia, the India press office issued an email today, saying “Our attention has been drawn to some media reports on ‘grounding’ of MiG-29 aircraft in Russia. This is not only incorrect but misleading.

The facts are that since the early 1990s, a substantial part of the Russian Air Force MiG-29 fleet has not been operated for different reasons, primarily budgetary. In the course of scheduled inspections and maintenance of these aircraft, some defects in specific aircraft fins were ascertained in a relatively small number of aircraft.

Based on this inspection, the Russian aircraft corporation’s (RAC) MiG Design Bureau has issued specific procedures for rectification which will enable these aircraft to remain fully operational through their service life. The bulk of MiG-29 type aircraft with the Russian Air Force continue in frontline service with fighter units in accordance with standard procedure.

The statement said the IAF has been operating MiG-29s for over 20 years. These planes continue in frontline service even as the upgrade programme is underway in Russia.

Apart from this, in January 2009, the RAC, for the purpose of prompt notification, forwarded a method for inspection of critical zones of the aircraft fins to the IAF.

On the naval version - the new MiG-29-K - the statement said these had been designed and produced in full consideration of the maritime conditions in which they would be operated.

These aircraft have been suitably altered and there is no question of any defects in the airframe structure even during the aircraft’s long term storage. It may be mentioned here that certain experts had raised questions over the durability of the Russian aircraft at sea where salinity is high.

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Man held for raping daughters
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 19
The Mira Road police earlier this week arrested a businessman who raped his own daughters for nine long years on the advice of a tantrik.

According to the police in the township on the outskirts of Mumbai, the businessman who owns a manufacturing unit in the city was arrested after he turned on his second daughter aged 15. The tantrik was arrested after relatives of the family provided his whereabouts to the police, according to Inspector Mukund Mahajan who is investigating the case.

Apart from the father and the tantrik, the police has also arrested the mother of the two girls for allowing the crime to take place.

The police officer said the names of all the family members were being withheld to protect the identity of the victims. Television channels were also requested not to name or show the photographs of the family. However, a few channels had clips of people in the area beating up the tantrik shortly after his arrest on Wednesday night. The tantrik's name has been given as Hasmukhbhai Rathod.

The case came to light after the older girl complained to relatives about the incident after the father began raping the younger girl aged 15 a few months ago. The assaults on the older girl happened in 2000, when she was 11 years old. The businessman was told by the tantrik that raping his own daughters would bring him prosperity.

Police are still investigating the possibility of the tantrik also participating in the rapes. The two girls are said to be traumatised.

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TN lawyers to end strike
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 19
After boycotting courts for a month, lawyers in Tamil Nadu have decided to resume work from March 22 following Madras High Court’s order yesterday for the suspension of two police officials involved in lathicharge on them inside the court premises.

While announcing that they would resume their work, the lawyers’ association also said they would continue their agitations in various forms, till all police officials involved in the brutal assault on lawyers were punished. President of Madras High Court Advocates Association RC Paul Kanagaraj, who addressed a rally here, said the lawyers had decided to change the form of protest, since public was being affected.

Terming suspension of two police officials as a small victory, he said the lawyers would continue their protests in various forms and initiate legal measures against all police officials involved in the incident, including the city police commissioner who was present in the court premises on February 19, when the lawyers were attacked. The joint action committee of lawyers would decide on the next form of protest which would not affect the common people, he said.

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King on a royal hunt

Bokakhat (Assam), March 19
Unfazed by the cases lodged against him for threatening to kill the chief range officer of the Kaziranga National Park, independent MLA Jiten Gogoi today claimed he was a ‘king’ and would hunt animals as royalty has always done so.

“I am known as the king of this area and I will behave like a king. Earlier, kings went hunting and I will also hunt animals,” Gogoi told a local television channel.

“Who are these forest people to complain against me? Are they bigger than me? We don’t kill animals nowadays, but I think this time I will hunt inside the park to show them that I am a king,” Gogoi told the channel.

Gogoi and another independent MLA Kushal Deuri had on Tuesday allegedly entered the park, a world heritage site and home to the endangered one-horned rhino, for fishing, which was prohibited there.

When prevented, Gogoi had threatened to kill chief range officer Dharanidhar Boro with his AK-47 and assaulted forest employees.

The police claimed that the two MLAs, who earlier belonged to the ULFA, were absconding. Cases have been registered against them under various sections of the IPC, Arms Act and Wildlife Protection Act. — PTI

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Sharad-Nitish oust George from electoral politics
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
JD(U) stalwarts — party president Sharad Yadav and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar — have got together and finally ousted their bete noire George Fernandes from electoral politics.

Yadav has written to Fernandes (79) denying him party ticket from Muzaffarpur that he had won in 2004. In his letter, Yadav cited health grounds to deny the ticket to Fernandes arguing that elections would be a big strain on his failing health.

Sources in the party saw this coming. Yadav and Nitish Kumar never enjoyed any comfort level with Fernandes, who was transplanted into Muzaffarpur in the aftermath of Emergency in 1977. Before that he was a socialist leader from Mumbai. But since then he had made Bihar his second home. He had won four times from Muzaffarpur and in all seven times from Bihar.

When George broke away from the Janata Dal along with Nitish Kumar in 1994 and floated his Samata Party to oppose the then Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad, Nitish Kumar offered him safety of the Kurmi-dominated Nalanda seat that he represented till 2004 when Nitish and Sharad snatched away that too from him, pushing him back to Muzaffarpur.

Sources say he had managed to win Muzaffarpur in spite of Sharad and Nitish. It was only due to tacit support from Lalu Prasad at the instance of late Chandra Shekhar.

Recently at a JD(U) meeting George had publicly reiterated his desire to return to Nalanda but Sharad-Nitish duo seemed to have something else in store for him.

Incidentally, George was provoked into leaving the Janata Dal when in 1993 VP Singh resigned as the Janata Dal parliamentary party leader and George contested to become its leader. Against VP Singh’s counsel, Nitish and Lalu Prasad backed Sharad Yadav who was defeated in the 1991 elections from Budayun, but courtesy Lalu Prasad got elected from Madhepura.

Also by his own admission, Sharad Yadav was drafted into the Janata Party in 1974 by George Fernandes who also helped him fight Lok Sabha by-elections then and become an MP.

As a sop, Sharad has promised to nominate the veteran leader to the Rajya Sabha “whenever a vacancy arises”. Under the seat sharing agreement with the BJP, the JD(U) will contest 25 seats in Bihar and leave 15 for the latter.

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JD(S) leaders walk out of LDF meet

Thiruvananthapuram, March 18
With the CPM refusing to budge on the Kozhikode Lok Sabha seat, JD(S) in Kerala today walked out of the LDF state committee meet, rasing a question mark over its continuance in the ruling front.

After withdrawal of its lone minister from the state cabinet, JD(S) representatives attended the LDF meeting today to make a final appeal to the CPM to restore Kozhikode seat held by it, which the senior partner had taken away from the ally for contesting.

Walking out of the meeting, JD(S) national general secretary Verghese George came down heavily on the CPM’s stand and said his party’s state council meet on March 22 would decide on the future course of action.

He said the Left’s space in Kerala was not an exclusive preserve of the CPM, but the JD(S), with its socialist traditions, had also contributed greatly for evolving it as a prominent political stream in the state. — PTI

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Shahabuddin snubbed by SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 19
Jailed RJD MP Mohammed Shahabuddin today received a major setback, when the Supreme Court turned down his request for an early hearing of his petition in the Patna High Court, seeking stay of his conviction in an attempt to murder case to enable him to contest the coming Lok Sabha polls.

The apex court said the Siwan MP could not get preference when the high court had been struggling with large-scale pendency of cases and was facing difficulty in listing fresh matters. “There are thousands of cases and in the Patna High Court even fresh matters are taken after six months. Think of the situation. You can’t have a preference,” a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said.

However, it agreed to the plea subsequently after Singhvi said the petition would become infructuous unless it was disposed of one way or the other before the deadline for the filing of nominations.

The Bench, which also included Justices Arijit Pasayat and SH Kapadia, posted the matter for hearing on March 23 after senior counsel Abhishek Singhvi mentioned the petition today.

Shahabuddin is seeking a direction to the Patna High Court to dispose of his petition seeking a stay on his conviction and sentence, pending disposal of his appeal.

Earlier, the apex court had issued notice to the CBI on a plea by film star Sanjay Dutt, who had sought a stay on his conviction and six-year sentence in a case relating to illegal possession of arms. Dutt wants to contest the Parliamentary poll from Lucknow as a candidate of the Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh. Further hearing on the plea is slated for March 30.

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Take steps to reverse damage in Aravallis: SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 19
The Supreme Court today said measures should be taken to reverse the ecological ‘devastation’ caused by mining in the Aravalli region of Haryana even as miners maintained they were not responsible for the present situation as their activities had remained stalled since the 2002 ban.

The Forest Bench, headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, expressed the view while senior counsel Anil Diwan was arguing for a mining magnet who once had his operation spread over 900 hectares in Faridabad alone.

The apex court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has submitted a proposal for restricting mining to minor minerals and that too in an area of not more than 600 hectares in the district.

Diwan wondered what would happen to his client’s right to property as guaranteed under law as the CEC had also suggested that each mine operator should be given licence only for 30 hectares or less. This would be in addition to the overall area restriction of 600 hectares.

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Fresh production warrant against Salem

New Delhi, March 19
A Delhi court today issued fresh production warrant against underworld don Abu Salem after the Mumbai police failed yet again to produce him in an extortion case here. Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja sought the presence of the extradited gangster before the court on April 9.

The court had earlier on February 24 directed the Arthur Road Jail authorities in Mumbai to produce Salem today. The Mumbai police had, on December 12 and January 16, failed to produce the gangster here.

Three other accused CP Rai, Sadiq Ali and Istiyaq Ahmed were, however, present before the court during the proceedings.

Salem has been lodged in the Mumbai jail after being extradited from Portugal in 2005. During his last production here, the court had provided a copy of the chargesheet to him.

Besides Salem, three others- Rai, Ali and Ahmed- have been booked for making threat calls to Rajat Nagrath, owner of Allied Communication at East of Kailash here demanding Rs one crore in 2002.

The don is facing trial in eight cases, including 1993 Mumbai serial blasts and two murder cases. — PTI

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Blast damages Rajdhani Express track
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, March 19
Suspected tribal militants triggered a powerful bomb explosion on the railway track between Diphu station in central Assam and Dimapur station in Nagaland just before Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express was scheduled to pass through the area today.

Northeast Frontier Railway chief spokesman SS Hajong said the blast caused damaged to the track, disrupting the train service till morning hours. He said the blast occurred just after the security escort engine that travels ahead of Rajdhani Express, had passed through the area.

The police suspects hands of Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front behind the blast.

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Twelve of family burnt alive
Tribune News Service

Bhopal, March 19
In one of the most horrific dacoity-related incidents, 12 persons, including five women and two children, were burnt alive in a small village in Satna district. The incident happened late on Wednesday night. According to the police, old enmity between a surrendered dacoit and an active dacoit gang was behind the crime.

Bichiyan village in the Majgawan block of Satna was raided by the dacoit gang led by Khardushan Singh at around midnight. The target was the house of Beta Singh, a surrendered dacoit. Both belong to the same village and had an old running feud.

The dacoits first tried to drag the members of Beta Singh’s family out of their house. However, the latter succeeded in pushing the dacoits out and bolting the house from inside. After this, the dacoits sprayed kerosene on the entire structure and set it afire. They waited till the house, with all its 12 inmates, was reduced to cinders and then escaped from the spot.

A police team reached the village today morning. A postmortem was performed on all bodies in the village and the bodies were later cremated.

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Hotelier gets life term

Chennai, March 19
Founder of famous Saravana Bhavan chain of hotels, R Rajagopal, received a stiffer punishment today when the Madras High Court convicted him of murder in a 2001 case and enhanced to life sentence the 10-year imprisonment awarded by a trial court.

Allowing an appeal by the prosecution, seeking higher punishment, a division bench held Rajagopal and five others guilty under Section 302 of the IPC (murder). — TNS

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BRIEFLY

Suspected Pak terrorist held
KOLKATA:
The police arrested a Pakistani national from the Eastern Railway’s counter at Fairlie Place on Thursday. The 27-year-old suspected terrorist, Sahabaj Ismail, was serving the Pakistani army till 2008. Reportedly, he left the army afterwards and had joined Al-Qaida. According to the Kolkata police, recently he had landed in Dhaka from Karachi carrying a passport issued in Pakistan. Last week, he sneaked into Malda through border. Following a tip-off from the BSF, the Kolkata police today arrested Sahamaj.

Tharoor to contest LS polls
New Delhi:
Former UN Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor will contest the April 16 Lok Sabha elections from the Thiruvananthapuram seat in Kerala as the list of Congress candidates for the state was announced on Thursday night. Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala announced the list of candidates for 16 seats after a meeting of the Central Election Committee, chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Though the Congress is fighting 17 out of the 20 seats, the candidate for the Bdagara seat was not announced.

No troop cut on Pak border
NEW DELHI:
India is learnt to have politely turned down a US suggestion to lower troop levels along the border with Pakistan. The Americans had broached the subject during Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon's recent visit to the US. It is understood that the US made the demand so as to enable Pakistan shift its troops to its restive border with Afghanistan.

Memorable helplines
NEW DELHI:
Can’t remember the Delhi Police’s helpline numbers. There is good news as the city police is soon changing all its eight digit helpline numbers to four digit numbers. The force is seeking the number 1096 for anti-obscene helpline and 1097 for anti-recovery agents helpline. Once approved, these helplines would add to the existing four helplines that have four digit numbers. They are senior citizens’ helpline (1291), eyes and ears (1090), women’s helpline (1091) and traffic (1095). People could call the helpline even from mobile phone without dialling the STD code.

Tourists’ bliss
NEW DELHI:
A number of majestic ancient monuments in the Capital are set to dazzle with the government starting lighting facility at these sites. Four monument sites have been provided lighting facility, helping tourists get glimpse of the sites during evening hours. However, entry of visitors during evening is not allowed for security reasons. These monuments include Old Fort, Nila Gumbad and Sabdarjung Tomb. A few other sites, including Qutab Minar, already has the facility. — TNS & Agencies

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