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N A T I O N

Pak to dominate Obama-Manmohan meeting
New Delhi, March 29
Barack Obama and (right) Manmohan Singh As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh prepares to leave for London on Tuesday to attend the G20 summit and have his first meeting with US President Barack Obama, Indian officials say there is no question of resuming the bilateral dialogue process with Pakistan until Islamabad brings to book the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Holbrooke to visit India next week
New Delhi, March 29
Close on the heels of President Barack Obama unveiling a new strategy on Afghanistan-Pakistan, US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke will undertake a visit here next week to discuss as to how India could help in efforts to end terror threat emanating from there.

26/11
FBI looks to India for speedy trial
New Delhi, March 29
After failing to make headway in Pakistan on its probe in the Mumbai terror strikes, the FBI team is working overtime with Indian investigators and legal officials to expedite the trial in a bid to put pressure on Islamabad to take action against genuine culprits.









EARLIER STORIES

Taslima was in India recently
Was whisked away to Europe
New Delhi, March 29
Controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who was dramatically bundled out of West Bengal in November 2007, had returned to India recently before being sent out again, even after grant of a visa extension.

SP nominee from Lucknow Sanjay Dutt comes out after paying obeisance at Naka Gurudwara, in Lucknow on Sunday.Poll 2009
SC to decide on Dutt’s plea today
New Delhi, March 29
The Supreme Court will tomorrow decide Bollywood actor
Sanjay Dutt’s plea for suspension of his conviction in
connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blast to contest
the coming Lok Sabha polls.

SP nominee from Lucknow Sanjay Dutt comes out after paying obeisance at Naka Gurudwara, in Lucknow on Sunday. — PTI photo

Angry students attack convoy

CPM top brass in Andhra to discuss seats with TDP
New Delhi, March 29
Unable to arrive at seat-sharing adjustments with the grand alliance in Andhra Pradesh, the CPM top brass today rushed to the state to finalise the matter.

AP Opposition Alliance
Wrangle over seat sharing continues
Hyderabad, March 29
Confusion reigned supreme in the four-party opposition alliance, led by the Telugu Desam Party, in Andhra Pradesh as wrangle over seat sharing continued today.

Telangana samithi finds itself in a fix

 





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Pak to dominate Obama-Manmohan meeting
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh prepares to leave for London on Tuesday to attend the G20 summit and have his first meeting with US President Barack Obama, Indian officials say there is no question of resuming the bilateral dialogue process with Pakistan until Islamabad brings to book the masterminds of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

The Prime Minister and Obama will have their first one-on-one meeting in London on April 2, during which the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan, global economic crisis and Indo-US bilateral issues are bound to figure prominently.

It is, however, the political unrest and the worsening security situation in Pakistan that could be the highlight of the meeting between the two leaders, which has assumed a new dimension against the backdrop of the new US strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, unveiled by President Obama on Friday.

New Delhi has been worried about reports from Washington suggesting that the new US administration wants to reach out to the so-called ‘good Taliban’ in Afghanistan and Pakistan in a desperate attempt to control the worsening situation.

India's position in the matter is clear: Taliban must not be put in different categories as that could spell further trouble for the whole region and embolden the militia.

On the dialogue process with Pakistan, the issue reportedly had also figured during Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon talks with his American interlocutors during his visit to Washington earlier this month.

New Delhi has taken a loud and clear position in the matter: Pakistan must take credible and verifiable action against those who perpetrated the Mumbai attacks and stop the misuse of the Pakistani territory for terrorist activities against India before New Delhi could consider the proposal to put the dialogue process back on track.

Meanwhile, US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richar Holbrooke will be here in early April to discuss the situation in the region with National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Menon.

The Prime Minister, who will be on his first foreign trip after he underwent a coronary bypass surgery on January 24, will also have bilateral meetings with Chinese President Hu Jintao, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other world leaders.

In his address to the G20 summit, Manmohan Singh, himself an economist of international repute, is likely to make a strong pitch to stop attempts by big economies to further protectionism to meet the threat posed by the economic crisis.

India would also make efforts to point out issues of services and visas, which are not covered by the WTO process but do have trade distorting effects.

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Holbrooke to visit India next week

New Delhi, March 29
Close on the heels of President Barack Obama unveiling a new strategy on Afghanistan-Pakistan, US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke will undertake a visit here next week to discuss as to how India could help in efforts to end terror threat emanating from there.

Holbrooke, Special Envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan, is expected to be here on April 7, sources said here today.

He will meet Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon and National Security Adviser MK Narayanan to discuss ways in which India could cooperate in US efforts to "defeat" terrorism originating from Pakistan and Afghanistan, the sources said.

The visit will take place in the backdrop of a new Afghan-Pakistan strategy unveiled by Obama on Friday.

He talked about involvement of India besides other countries of the region, saying they do not benefit from the "base for Al-Qaida terrorists and a region that descends into chaos" and have a "stake in the promise of lasting peace and security and development." — PTI

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26/11
FBI looks to India for speedy trial

New Delhi, March 29
After failing to make headway in Pakistan on its probe in the Mumbai terror strikes, the FBI team is working overtime with Indian investigators and legal officials to expedite the trial in a bid to put pressure on Islamabad to take action against genuine culprits.

A US team, which arrived here on March 24, has been holding consultations with investigators and legal officials, who were specially flown from Mumbai to finalise the details of deposition of FBI officials who carried out the probe in the 26/11 attack, official sources said today.

The US team asked prosecutors for the Mumbai police to work out dates for deposition of FBI sleuths, including those who had deciphered the technical elements in the case and satellite phone links establishing clear links with Pakistan.

During the discussions, the FBI team informed the Indian investigators that its team in Pakistan had so far not been able to make any headway as the Islamabad regime was not able to provide full support in probing the case.

The arrest of Mazhar Iqbal made by Pakistan in connection with 26/11 had not yielded any results as the FBI and Indian investigators found him as the weakest link in the case, the sources said.

The FBI informed the Indian authorities for expeditious trial so that pressure could be exerted on Pakistan globally, the sources said.

The FBI team comprising law officials will also finalise its own chargesheet besides working on logistics for its officials to appear before a special court holding the Mumbai attack trial. — PTI

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Taslima was in India recently
Was whisked away to Europe

New Delhi, March 29
Controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen, who was dramatically bundled out of West Bengal in November 2007, had returned to India recently before being sent out again, even after grant of a visa extension.

The 46-year-old Bangladeshi writer, who has been a target of Islamic fundamentalists, arrived in the national capital earlier this month and was immediately whisked away to an undisclosed destination, sources said.

The doctor-turned writer, who shot to fame with her controversial book 'Lajja', wanted to stay and complete the formalities for a resident permit. Her visa was earlier valid till February 17.

However, the writer was told politely that her request for a permanent residentship in the country would be taken by the new government as the general elections was around the corner.

She had arrived here after her visa had been extended by another six months by the government till August 16.

Within a week's time, she was sent back to Europe, they said. Taslima had left India on March 18 last year for Sweden after she was kept in a safe house in the national capital for more than four months.

Taslima, who had not been allowed to see any visitors during the period, had described her confinement as living in "a chamber of death". — PTI

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Poll 2009
SC to decide on Dutt’s plea today

New Delhi, March 29
The Supreme Court will tomorrow decide Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt’s plea for suspension of his conviction in connection with the 1993 Mumbai serial blast to contest the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Dutt’s fate will depend upon the stand taken by the CBI, which had not opposed his bail in the apex court after he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by a Mumbai TADA Court. The court had held Dutt guilty under the Arms Act.

The actor, who has joined the Samajwadi Party and decided to contest the polls from Lucknow, has sought suspension of the conviction on the grounds which were considered by the apex court while staying the conviction of BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu in a road rage case.

Dutt, who recently visited America as United Nations’ Goodwill Ambassador on malnutrition, said his conduct during the trial should be considered for granting him relief like cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu.

The apex court had on January 23, 2007 stayed the conviction and the three-year sentence of Sidhu in the case, paving way for him to contest the Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll after he resigned in the wake of Punjab and Haryana High Court holding him guilty of the offence. — PTI

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Angry students attack convoy
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, March 29
Sanjay Dutt, the Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow, faced the wrath of students of Lucknow University today when his cavalcade did not stop to interact with the crowd that was waiting to have a glimpse of him.

The incident took place this afternoon when Sanjay Dutt and his cavalcade arrived on the campus on a private visit to the residence of a teacher.

As the news of his arrival spread, a large number of students gathered to meet him outside the teacher’s residence.

However, when he emerged from the house, Sanjay lingered with the students for just a brief moment before zipping away in his car.

This left the students dissatisfied and they then started throwing stones on the
vehicles. — PTI

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CPM top brass in Andhra to discuss seats with TDP
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 29
Unable to arrive at seat-sharing adjustments with the grand alliance in Andhra Pradesh, the CPM top brass today rushed to the state to finalise the matter.

Only one day is left for the filing of nomination papers for the first phase of the Lok
Sabha elections.

Sources in the CPM said party general secretary Prakash Karat and Rajya Sabha MP Sitaram Yechury headed for Hyderabad today to discuss the issue with the TDP, which is the largest constituent of the alliance, besides the TRS, CPI and CPM.

The state CPM unit is said to have failed to arrive at any final adjustment of seats with the TDP, despite several rounds of talks.

This is being seen as a fissure in the so-called Third Front, of which the CPM is a
major driver.

The latter is said to have asked the TDP for 20 Assembly and two LS seats, but chief Chandrababu Naidu was willing to offer 16 Assembly and two LS segments — an arrangement the CPM leadership declined.

The party had, in the first place, given a list of 22 candidates, which it was willing to reduce to 20 or even 18.

The CPI will contest 14 Assembly and two LS seats while the TRS will fight in nine LS and 45 Assembly segments.

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AP Opposition Alliance
Wrangle over seat sharing continues
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 29
Confusion reigned supreme in the four-party opposition alliance, led by the Telugu Desam Party, in Andhra Pradesh as wrangle over seat sharing continued today.

After facing trouble from key partner the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the TDP found itself on a collision course with CPM over the number and choice of seats.

As time was running out for the alliance partners, the CPM today threatened to field its candidates in the contentious seats if the TDP failed to sort out the matters.

Trouble has been brewing in the “Maha Kootami” (Grand Alliance), comprising the TDP, the TRS, the CPI and the CPM, following differences over seat sharing for the next month’s simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assembly.

After prolonged negotiations, marked by threats of withdrawal, the TDP has reached an understanding with the TRS under which the Telangana party has been offered 9 Lok Sabha and 45 Assembly seats.

Similarly, the TDP has offered 16 Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats each to CPI and the CPM.

However, the CPM is insisting on 20 Assembly seats and is particularly furious over “unilateral” declaration of candidates by the TDP and the TRS for seats, which were originally earmarked for it.

There is stalemate over four seats- Warangal East, Waira, Mangalagiri and Patancheru- which are being claimed by CPM.

The party held an emergency executive meeting here to discuss the situation arising out of its differences with TDP.

Its central leaders- general secretary Prakash Karat and Politburo member Sitaram Yechury air dashed to the city to participate in the discussions.

The CPM leaders felt that the TDP was taking their support for granted and decided to go ahead with contesting from these constituencies.

In the midst of the deliberations, the TDP Chief N Chandrababu Naidu sent feelers that his party was prepared to offer a Rajya Sabha seat and two Council seats to the left ally as part of a compromise formula.

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Telangana samithi finds itself in a fix

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi, fighting for the statehood cause, has found itself in a fix over allegations of money changing hands in the selection of candidates for the coming elections.

The Election Commission (EC) has taken suo moto cognisance of the media reports that TRS candidate for Secunderabad Lok Sabha seat S Venkat Reddy had paid Rs 10 crore to the party leadership to “purchase the ticket.”

Reddy, a city-based realtor, was beaten up and chased away by irate TRS workers at the party headquarters here yesterday for bagging the ticket through unsrcupulous means.

Reddy himself had told a private Telugu news channel that he had offered money to the party leadership.

The Andhra Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer I V Subba Rao directed the Special Commissioner, Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, who is the election authority, to inquire into the startling disclosure.

He asked the election authority to submit a detailed report. All legal angles would be examined to take action against Reddy, the CEO said. 

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BRIEFLY

Mumbai becomes hoarding-free
MUMBAI:
Mumbai usually dotted with thousands of hoardings is now cleared of these eyesores after model code of conduct came into effect in view of Lok Sabha elections. As many as 84,000 hoardings have been removed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation since March 2, Bhaskar Gholap, Superintendent of License, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) told.

Rajashree Birla and lyricist Gulzar applaud during a function at the Maharashtra Hindi Sahitya Academy Annual Awards 2007-08, in Mumbai on Saturday.
Rajashree Birla and lyricist Gulzar applaud during a function at the Maharashtra Hindi Sahitya Academy Annual Awards 2007-08, in Mumbai on Saturday. — PTI

Village head’s house bombed
MOTIHARI:
Armed activists of proscribed CPM blew up the house of a village head Kedar Singh at Chausa in Bihar’s East Champaran district, the police said. The ultras numbering around 50 threw two cane bombs blowing a portion of the house, sources said. The portion of the house caved in but no casualties were reported as Singh, along with his family, was not in the house then, they said. Two persons were taken into custody for interrogation in this connection, the sources added.

Explosives seized
MUNGER:
A huge cache of explosives, including five kg ammonium nitrate, besides 40-metre fuse wire and some weapons were seized when the police raided a house at village Raghunathpur in Bihar’s Munger district, the police said on Sunday. Acting on a tip-off, the police searched house of Dharmendra Prasad and seized the explosives, sources said. Dharmendra, suspected to be having links with proscribed CPM, was arrested from the spot, they said, adding he was being interrogated.

Final touches
CHENNAI:
A city-based digital and media production house has done post-production work of a Hollywood movie, probably for the first time in India. The final touches to the horror movie ‘Ways’, directed by Hollywood film-maker Corrie, likely to be released by June, was given by Digital Magic Visuals India Ltd here. “The entire visual effects, re-recording, colour correction and editing for the film was done by us and I think this is the first time an Indian company has done the post-production work of a Hollywood movie,” Digital Magic Visuals India MD Arulmoorthy said.

Train runs out of fuel
JAIPUR:
A Bikaner-bound passenger train remained stranded in Bikaner division for two hours in the want of adequate diesel here on Saturday. 1-BC Bikaner Churu Passenger train was moving to Bikaner from Degana when the driver was forced to stop the train between Sudasar and Berasar and it remained stranded there for two hours on Saturday afternoon till the arrangement of alternative engine from Bikaner. The train, which was scheduled to reach Bikaner at 1.25 pm reached there at 3.45 pm and this created problems for several students who were going to Bikaner to appear for examination.

Czech national held
AGARTALA:
A Czech national has been detained for entering India through Bangladesh border at Sonamura in West Tripura district without a visa, the police said on Sunday. The BSF apprehended the person on Saturday and handed him over to the police. A passport, two mobile sets and $4100 were found in his possession. Preliminary investigation revealed that the citizen of the Czech Republic, whose name was not immediately known, had visited some districts of the neighbouring Bangladesh before crossing the border.

Crude bombs seized
KANNUR:
The police on Sunday recovered four crude bombs and a sword from Peringathoor in the district. The bombs and the sword along with an iron rod were found concealed in a scrap shop behind the Indian Union Muslim League office here, the police said. The police has been carrying out intensive raids in the politically sensitive areas of the district following clashes involving rival CPI-M and BJP-RSS workers as five persons were stabbed to death this month. — Agencies

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