SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

‘Serial killings’ back to haunt BJP, AGP
Assam Congress tries to corner the coalition on the issue
Guwahati, March 28
The “serial killings” of the kin of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) members that had rocked Assam between 1998-2001, it seems, is back to haunt the BJP-AGP combine, with the state Congress leaving no stone unturned to corner the former on the issue.

Meena has Cong, BJP on tenterhooks
Jaipur, March 28
Even as the Congress and the BJP have come out with their first list of candidates for Rajasthan Lok Sabha polls, the two parties are waiting for firebrand tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena to open his cards before taking a call on candidates for the remaining seats.

Women candidates in Bihar get raw deal
Patna, March 28
Indian women aspiring to make a place in politics still have a long way to go. Notwithstanding the tall talk by political parties that they are committed to empowerment of women and number of women parliamentarians should increase, no party has spared even 10 per cent of their Lok Sabha seats for them.



EARLIER STORIES



A veterinarian rescues a tranquilised leopard from a well in Guwahati
A veterinarian rescues a tranquilised leopard from a well in Guwahati on Saturday. — AFP

Branded fuel to cost more
Chandigarh, March 28
Get ready to pay more for fuel, at least for the next three days. Not because of any fuel-price revision, but, because the three state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) are forcing their dealers to lift and sell more of branded or premium fuels.

Army to test Israeli defensive suite on Arjun
Chandigarh, March 28
The Army would be evaluating an advanced laser-based defensive suite on the Arjun battle tank this summer. The system is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in collaboration with Israel.

Army chief to visit France
New Delhi, March 28
Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor will pay a four-day official visit to France from March 31, an official press note said. France and India share common values and have convergence of views on many issues that affect the emerging world order.

Big-ticket book deal will encourage non-fiction writers: Guha
New Delhi, March 28
Author Ramachandra Guha, who has clinched Rs 97 lakh-deal with Penguin India for seven books, feels it would encourage young authors to take to writing non-fiction. “It (the deal) is a welcome acknowledgement of the imbalance between fiction and non-fiction.

Medico secures berth in Limca Book of Records
New Delhi, March 28
It’s yet another milestone for Delhi-based Dr Ashok Rajgopal, director of the orthopaedics department of Fortis Healthcare. He, along with a team of 23 medicos, has performed 24 knee replacement surgeries in a day that he claims to be a world record.

Hema Malini performs as ‘Draupadi’ in a group ballet dance programme at Shanmukhananda Hall, in Mumbai
Hema Malini performs as ‘Draupadi’ in a group ballet dance programme at Shanmukhananda Hall, in Mumbai on Friday. — PTI

Naveen Patnaik files nomination
Berhampur (Orissa), March 28
BJD supremo and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today filed nomination papers from his traditional Hinjili Assembly constituency in Ganjam district for the April 16 elections.

SC: Leaders to pay for damage to property
New Delhi, March 28
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would consider making leaders pay for damage caused to public and private property during agitations by their activists. A Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, LS Panta and P Sathasivam said this while reserving its verdict on the issuance of guidelines for protecting property.

Uddhav Thackeray, Nitin Gadkari booked for remarks on PM
Mumbai, March 28
The Mumbai police has registered an FIR against Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and BJP state president Nitin Gadkari for their alleged remarks against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during an election rally.

BIT student files FIR against seniors
Dhanbad (Jharkhand), March 28
A student of Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Sindri, here has lodged an FIR against four senior students charging them with ragging, hours after the authorities debarred him from appearing in mid-semester for his alleged misbehaviour with a girl student.

Home Secy gets 3-mth extension
New Delhi, March 28
The government has extended the tenure of Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta by three months just four days before he was to retire. The step has been taken in view of the upcoming L S elections.





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‘Serial killings’ back to haunt BJP, AGP
Assam Congress tries to corner the coalition on the issue

Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, March 28
The “serial killings” of the kin of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) members that had rocked Assam between 1998-2001, it seems, is back to haunt the BJP-AGP combine, with the state Congress leaving no stone unturned to corner the former on the issue.

Senior Congress leader and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said the people of Assam had not forgotten those days of terror and horror when unidentified assailants serially killed the kin of ULFA militants. Then, said he, the BJP-led NDA government was in power at the Centre and AGP government was in the state.

“There is no scope for doubt that those killings were carried out in connivance with the then state and Union governments. Otherwise, LK Advani, who during electioneering always sheds crocodile tears for Assam, should have prevented those killings in the capacity of Union Home Minister. If not involved, the then home ministry was totally inefficient,” Gogoi said.

The Congress government in Assam had instituted Justice (retd) KN Saikia Commission that inquired into the alleged ‘secret killings’ — systematic elimination of close relatives of ULFA members in a sort of revenge — that took place during the later half of the erstwhile Asom Gana Parishad-led government (1998-2001) and among others indicted former AGP Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

Regarding Advani’s attack on Congress for not mentioning the problem of infiltration from Bangladesh through Assam in its poll manifesto, Gogoi said, “For the BJP-AGP, infiltration has only remained an election issue to cash in on the emotion of the people. The BJP and the AGP must tell the people of Assam what their governments at the Centre and the state did to solve the problem.”

Infiltration, said Gogoi, was one of the problems among other issues like unemployment, education, health, agriculture, flood and erosion that the Congress was working upon. “ It is the Congress government at the Centre that held the first ever prime minister level tripartite talks with the All Assam Students Union (AASU) on Assam Accord implementation to solve the foreigners’ problem.”

On his part, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Atul Bora said Gogoi’s attack on AGP-BJP combine reflected how uncomfortable the Congress was over the seat-sharing deal between the two parties.

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Meena has Cong, BJP on tenterhooks
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, March 28
Even as the Congress and the BJP have come out with their first list of candidates for Rajasthan Lok Sabha polls, the two parties are waiting for firebrand tribal leader Kirori Lal Meena to open his cards before taking a call on candidates for the remaining seats.

Though the BJP, which was at the receiving end of Kirori Lal’s politics during the Assembly polls in December last, is happy to have swapped its position with the Congress, the party is finding it difficult to finalise its candidate from the Lok SabhzTonk-Sawai Madhopur and Jaipur Rural. Neither the Congress nor the BJP has announced its candidates zaining with Kirori Lal over these seats and on the other, the BJP is awaiting the outcome of the deliberations between the two before announcing its candidates. The BJP’s move to delay announcement of candidature seems well calculated in view of the uncertainty looming large over Congress-Kirori alliance.

“The BJP can’t risk announcement of candidates on these seats before the results of Congress-Kirori talks are out. The political scenario will be entirely different if Kirori decides to go it alone and field his own candidates,” opine political observers here.

Sources said the Congress had put forth various proposals before Kirori but he didn’t budge. He is adamant on his stand that the party candidates on seven seats, including Dausa, be decided with his consent. His unyielding position has the fate of senior Congress leader and Union minister Namo Narayan Meena hanging in balance as he too is eying Dausa Lok Sabha seat.

Kirori’s rigid stand had the state Congress leadership peeved, forcing Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to use strong words against him. “He is not even a member of our party. He can’t have a say in the list of party candidates,” he had said a few days ago. However, Kirori is now back to the negotiation table with the Congress. He has again left for New Delhi to hold talks with central Congress leadership.

Before leaving for New Delhi, Kirori told mediapersons that even if the Congress didn’t agree to his demand, he himself would contest from Dausa, besides fielding candidates from six other Lok Sabha seats - Jaipur Rural, Kota, Bhilwara, Jhalawar, Dhaulpur and Tonk-Sawai Madhopur.

The Congress has announced a list of 18 candidates while its arch rival BJP has announced its nominees on 15 seats out of the total 25 seats in Rajasthan. However, as of now the picture regarding both Congress and BJP candidates is only clear on 12 Lok Sabha seats.

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Women candidates in Bihar get raw deal
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 28
Indian women aspiring to make a place in politics still have a long way to go. Notwithstanding the tall talk by political parties that they are committed to empowerment of women and number of women parliamentarians should increase, no party has spared even 10 per cent of their Lok Sabha seats for them.

The situation is no better in Bihar. With most of the parties completing their ticket distribution exercise, it has become clear that women candidates do not even account for four out of the 40 Lok Sabha seats in any political party. Quite a few of these women are just proxy candidates for their husbands who cannot contest the polls after being convicted in criminal cases. Many others are in the fray by virtue of being the sitting MP of their party.

While the ruling JD(U) has fielded just two women candidates, including a sitting MP, out of the 25 seats it is contesting on, its coalition partner the BJP, which has put its nominees on 15 seats, gave the party symbol to just one woman. The lone woman candidate of the BJP Rama Devi, a former minister in the Rabri Devi government, joined the party barely a week ago.

Lalu Prasad-led RJD had shown no leniency for them either. There are just two women candidates out of the 28 seats the party is fighting for. One of them is a sitting MP and Union Minister of State Kanti Singh and the other is Hina Shahab, wife of the incarcerated MP from Siwan Mohd Shahabuddin. As the four-term MP from Siwan and a strongman in the RJD, Shahabuddin could not contest the polls after his conviction and life-term sentence in a number of cases, the party had no option but to put his wife in the fray.

Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP would be contesting on 12 seats but it has also put up only two women candidates. One of them Ranjita Ranjan, wife of Pappu Yadav, is party’s sitting MP from Supaul and the second one — Veena Devi — happens to be the wife of convicted sitting MP Surajbhan Singh. Of the 37 Congress candidates in the state, only three are women.

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Branded fuel to cost more
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
Get ready to pay more for fuel, at least for the next three days. Not because of any fuel-price revision, but, because the three state-run oil marketing companies (OMCs) are forcing their dealers to lift and sell more of branded or premium fuels. The rising dealers’ stockpiles of branded fuel will mean that this more expensive fuel will be forced down your car.

This inspite of the fact that demand for premium fuels has reached a nadir, as price-conscious customers are shifting to regular fuels. In recent months, demand for premium petrol has come down by two per cent, whereas demand for premium diesel has declined sharply -by 13 per cent.

All three oil marketing companies- Indian Oil Corporation, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation, have denied these allegations.

JP Khanna, president of Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association, said that since price of premium fuels are free from the government control, OMCs make a good profit on their sales. “Thus, there is a lot of thrust on increasing sales of these fuels, even as there is no demand,” he said.

There is a price differential of Rs 2 per litre between branded and non- branded petrol, and of Rs 1.50 per litre between branded and non- branded diesel.

Dealers in the region also complained that the SAP systems in depots of these companies had been locked, so that dealers could be ‘coerced’ to buy only premium fuels and further sell this to their customers. “When we send in our indents, we are told that indents for normal fuels will be honoured only if we top-up our storage capacities for branded fuels. Though this will clear the inventory of the OMCs, dealers will be left with a huge inventory as there is virtually no sale of these fuels,” alleged a BPCL dealer based in Malerkotla.

He added that as a result dealers in rural areas, especially in Fatehgarh Sahib, who had just one dispenser, were facing problems as they were being asked to sell only branded fuel.

A HPCL dealer in Patiala said the company was forcing them to sell fuel (branded and non-branded) at discounted rates. “We are being asked to ensure maximum sales till March 31, by giving discounts to bulk customers. We are being told to sacrifice our commission (Rs 0.60 per litre) and give an additional discount of Rs 0.40 per litre from our own side, so that maximum sales can be affected,” he alleged. HPCL, has, however, denied this.

Officials in all three OMCs, when contacted, denied use of any pressure tactics, but admitted that they were asking the dealers to lift premium fuels because they had to meet their year-end sale targets for these fuels. “However, we have not stopped the sale of normal fuels. We are just telling dealers to also lift branded fuels, along with non- branded fuels,” said officers in these companies. A senior official in IOC also said that in order to increase the sales and meet their sale targets, they were giving interest free credit up to five days to their dealers. “But dealers want to take credit for normal fuel, without lifting premium fuels,” he said.

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Army to test Israeli defensive suite on Arjun
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Army would be evaluating an advanced laser-based defensive suite on the Arjun battle tank this summer. The system is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in collaboration with Israel.

Designated the Advanced Laser Warning and Countermeasure System (ALWCS), the suite comprises a laser warning system, infra-red jammer and an aerosol smoke grenade system. The sensors for these systems are mounted on the front and sides of the turret.

The purpose of ALWCS is to enhance survivability of armoured vehicles against anti-tank guided missiles. Israel’s Elbit Systems Limited, which manufactures and integrates hi-tech defence electronic and electro-optic systems and undertakes weapon upgrade projects for militaries throughout the world, is DRDO’s collaborating partner for the ALWCS.

The Arjun, which is under development for the past 36 years, is scheduled to undergo comparative trials with the Russian-origin T-90 tanks in Rajasthan in May-June. Last year’s summer trials were not reported to be successful and had generated some controversy after some top defence ministry functionaries had suspected sabotage behind Arjun’s poor performance.

As part of the Arjun’s protection capability, DRDO’s Adavi-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment has also developed a mobile camouflage system (MCS) to provide multi-spectral signature management for reducing the vehicle visual, thermal and radar signature against sensors and smart munitions.

The general approach of the MCS is to hide glossy or flat surfaces and conceal significantly recognisable parts of the vehicle, like turret and guns, with contour disrupters. Such systems can also obstruct laser reflections to affect the enemy’s range measurement accuracy.

MCS system has been developed in collaboration with Barracuda Camouflage Limited of Gurgaon, which is a subsidiary of the Swedish Saab Barracuda Group.

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Army chief to visit France
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28
Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor will pay a four-day official visit to France from March 31, an official press note said.

France and India share common values and have convergence of views on many issues that affect the emerging world order. The number of bilateral agreements signed between the two countries in the recent past in diverse fields, including the Civil Nuclear Deal, is a testimony to their growing strategic partnership. The visit to France by the Army chief comes at a time when relations between the two countries are at an all-time high.

The bilateral defence cooperation has been vibrant and intense and is progressing well under the aegis of institutionalised mechanisms. These encompass varied activities like visits, training exchanges, equipment collaboration and participation in Seminars and Conferences.

The visit by Gen Kapoor will add the necessary impetus to the defence relationship and broad-base it further into a mutually beneficial partnership. During his visit, the Army chief will interact with senior military and civilian defence hierarchy and discuss various contemporary defence related issues.

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Big-ticket book deal will encourage non-fiction writers: Guha

Ramachandra GuhaNew Delhi, March 28
Author Ramachandra Guha, who has clinched Rs 97 lakh-deal with Penguin India for seven books, feels it would encourage young authors to take to writing non-fiction.

“It (the deal) is a welcome acknowledgement of the imbalance between fiction and non-fiction. Fictional genres like poetry, prose and novels always had a great place in literature, but non-fiction is also important. This would encourage young authors to write non-fiction,” Guha said.

The author, who is working on “Makers of Modern India” and “The Past and Future of Indian Democracy”, described the deal as a part of his writing process.

“It is a part of my writing process. Like any other professional, my job is to write. It is a part of the mechanics of life - of making a living and ensuring my own safety and security,” the commentator-author said.

Under the deal with Penguin India, Guha will write seven books, including a two-volume biography of Mahatma Gandhi, spread over 2010-15.

Penguin India's Ravi Singh said the proposed books were about most significant and fascinating aspects of national life. “It doesn't get any bigger and more important than this in contemporary non-fiction,” Singh said.

Despite a marginal slowdown because of the economic slowdown, advances to authors are becoming heftier, thanks to competitive bidding by the surfeit of publishers in the Indian market.

Guha's book deal is an example. Three high-profile bidders were in the fray for the deal and Random House reportedly offered him Rs.1 crore.

HarperCollins India had also bid, with an offer matching the Penguin bid, HarperCollins CEO PN Sukumar said.

But Guha and his agent Gill Coleridge opted for Penguin.

Penguin had paid Rs.55 lakh for Amitav Ghosh's “Ibis trilogy” - of which “Sea of Poppies” was the first book. Nandan Nilekani fetched Rs.25 lakh for “Imagining India” and Arvind Adiga raked in Rs 13 lakh for the Man Booker winner “White Tiger”, according to reports. Author Advaita Kala, whose debut novel “Almost Single” has sold 40,000 copies in India since its release in 2007, says book auctions involving multiple bidders help novelists get the right price and publisher for their works.

“I have gone through the process myself. Random House won the bid for my book in New York in June 2008. Between the first and the last bid, the price of my book went up four-fold,” Kala said.

The young novelist felt this was a great time for popular commercial fiction writers, “though non-fictions in India was picking up like in the West”.

Author Omair Ahmad, whose book “The Storyteller's Tale” was published by Penguin India this month, said the trend could see more stories about India being told.

However, publishing industry veteran Yogesh Sharma, formerly with HarperCollins, sounded a note of caution. “The hype could result in a highly inflated market,” Sharma said. — IANS

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Medico secures berth in Limca Book of Records
Ananya Panda
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28
It’s yet another milestone for Delhi-based Dr Ashok Rajgopal, director of the orthopaedics department of Fortis Healthcare. He, along with a team of 23 medicos, has performed 24 knee replacement surgeries in a day that he claims to be a world record. And the basis of his certainty is the absence of any recorded data on the same either in the Guinness World Records or the Limca Book of Records.

The hospital authorities say that this exercise, which entailed 11 billateral surgeries, along with two unilateral arthroscopic surgeries, to break the monotony, is actually a breakthrough in both diagnostic and curative surgery. The record act was performed on 13 patients, who weren’t aware of their role in the making of the record, admits Dr Ashok.

VVR Murthy, an official of Limca Book of Records certifying to the Fortis’s version, said the doctor with his team had conducted the record knee replacements in the presence of an official from the Limca Recording Agency. Dr Ashok’s new feat qualifies to find a mention in next year’s edition of Limca Records.

Terming the record act as a ‘landmark success’, Dr Ashok says that besides an efficient team of medical personnel, it was the logistic exercise that kept the whole team going with optimal concentration.

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Naveen Patnaik files nomination

Berhampur (Orissa), March 28
BJD supremo and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today filed nomination papers from his traditional Hinjili Assembly constituency in Ganjam district for the April 16 elections.

Patnaik, who is seeking election from his home turf for the third time in a row, filed four sets of nomination papers with the returning officer at Chhatrapur, headquarters town of the district.

After paying obeisance at a nearby temple of goddess Tara Tareni, Patnaik went to the district headquarters with his supporters to file the nomination.

He expressed optimism that the BJD would be voted back to power in the state because of its performance and the support and blessings of the people.

Patnaik had been elected to Orissa Assembly from Hinjili in 2000 and 2004 elections after representing Aska in the Lok Sabha thrice. — PTI

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SC: Leaders to pay for damage to property
R Sedhuraman/Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 28
The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it would consider making leaders pay for damage caused to public and private property during agitations by their activists. A Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, LS Panta and P Sathasivam said this while reserving its verdict on the issuance of guidelines for protecting property. The compensation would be decided on the basis of the recommendations made by the two committees headed by Justice KT Thomas and senior counsel Fali Nariman.
The court received the draft guidelines framed by Amicus Curiae Rajiv Dhawan and vetted by the Solicitor General GE Vahanvati.

Under the draft guidelines, the police would be required to video record violent incidents and getting bail by those involved in such agitations would be difficult. Compensation would be awarded on the basis of the actual value of the property and not on its book value.

The guidelines would be in force till these are incorporated in the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. The case had been filed in the wake of the Gujjar reservation agitation that had hit Rajasthan, Haryana and other states.

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Uddhav Thackeray, Nitin Gadkari booked for remarks on PM
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, March 28
The Mumbai police has registered an FIR against Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray and BJP state president Nitin Gadkari for their alleged remarks against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during an election rally.

The Kalachowkie police station in Central Mumbai filed the complaint against the two leaders on the basis of a report by the Mumbai City District Collector Idzes Kundan. She had called for video recording of the speeches made by the two leaders before taking her decision. Both politicians have been charged with violating the model code of conduct. During the speech made on March 20, Thackeray had referred to an earlier meeting he had in Nashik where he alleged that party workers had called the Prime Minister a eunuch. Thackeray then reportedly went on to call the Prime Minister an ineffectual leader. Gadkari is also alleged to have given a speech in the same vein.

Both Sena and the BJP had kicked off their joint election campaign at the meeting, which was also attended by BJP president Rajnath Singh.

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BIT student files FIR against seniors

Dhanbad (Jharkhand), March 28
A student of Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), Sindri, here has lodged an FIR against four senior students charging them with ragging, hours after the authorities debarred him from appearing in mid-semester for his alleged misbehaviour with a girl student.

“The disciplinary committee found the second-year student, Asutosh Kumar, guilty of misbehaving with a girl student on Thursday and debarred him from appearing the mid-semester. It also asked him to vacate the hostel immediately,” the institute’s director, S K Singh, said today.

The disciplinary committee met yesterday after 100 girl students complained that Kumar had “misbehaved” with one of the girls. The committee also warned Kumar that he would be rusticated if he failed to “mend” his behaviour, Singh said.

Kumar, however, filed an FIR with the police charging four senior hostel students with beating him up and forced him to do certain “unnatural offence” when he went to hostel last night, the sources in the police outpost at Gosala, where the FIR was lodged, said. They, however, refused to elaborate on the unnatural offence part. — PTI

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Home Secy gets 3-mth extension

New Delhi, March 28
The government has extended the tenure of Union Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta by three months just four days before he was to retire. The step has been taken in view of the upcoming L S elections.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, yesterday approved the extension of Gupta’s tenure, a 1971-batch IAS officer of Uttarakhand cadre. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

Advani now calls Sonia for TV debate
Padrauna (UP):
With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh refusing his offer for a television debate, senior BJP leader L K Advani on Saturday said that if he was not willing, he could ask Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the same. I have told the PM several times that it would be so nice that like in foreign countries, we should also have a debate, said Advani.

Man acquitted after 11 yrs
MUMBAI:
The sessions court here has acquitted a 29-year-old man arrested for murdering a senior citizen 11 years ago after it was proved that he was then a juvenile, as per the amended Juvenile Justice Act. The accused, Joseph Paul (name changed), who has been lodged at the Nashik jail since his arrest in 1998, was released by the sessions court last week after he claimed benefit of the amendment.

Radios for prisoners
VELLORE:
Inmates of the central jail here have now been provided radios by the Rotary Club to enable them hear the daily news and various educational programmes of All India Radio. The club presented four radios for the benefit of inmates on Friday, jail superintendent Sekar said.

Attack on Cong candidate
GUWAHATI:
At least five persons were injured and three vehicles damaged as a group of miscreants on Friday attacked the election convoy of Mani Kumar Subba, Congress candidate from Tezpur Parliamentary, at Borigaon under Gohpur police station in Sonitpur district of Assam.

Teacher booked
ALMORA:
A case has been registered against a school teacher for beating and abusing a student at Thiklana, in Panuwanaula, 25 kms from here, the police said on Saturday. The case has been registered on the orders of the Sub-divisional District Magistrate NS Quirila after the mother of the child, Master Thakur Singh, brought the issue to his notice.

Source: TNS & Agencies

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