SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Shoe-Gate Incident
BJP condemns, CPM hails, Cong forgives

New Delhi, April 7
The ‘shoe-gate incident’, as the shoe hurling effort by Dainik Jagran reporter Jarnail Singh is now being termed, has caused ripples within political circles. Keeping in view the Sikh sentiments, the Congress, it appears, is doing a re-think on its decision to field 1984 anti-Sikh riots accused Jagdish Tytler from North-East Delhi.
UP IN ARMS: Sikh community members demonstrate against Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar for their alleged roles in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi
UP IN ARMS: Sikh community members demonstrate against Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar for their alleged roles in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in New Delhi on Tuesday.
— Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Jarnail: Who is he?
New Delhi, April 7
Sedate and god-fearing journalist Jarnail Singh hardly seems the one who can lose his cool. Hours after he had shocked the nation by hurling a shoe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Jarnail was back to his calm and collected-self as he told the Tribune, “Political parties should not politicise the issue rather tackle it.”





EARLIER STORIES



Volunteers distribute leaflets to create awareness in favour of voting in Bhubaneswar
Volunteers distribute leaflets to create awareness in favour of voting in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. — PTI

FOR A CAUSE: Students sign a billboard during a signature campaign on health to mark World Health Day at India Gate in New Delhi
FOR A CAUSE:
Students sign a billboard during a signature campaign on health to mark World Health Day at India Gate in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

SGPC offers job
Amritsar, April 7
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) today offered the post of media advisor to Jarnail Singh, who was sacked by a Hindi daily immediately after throwing a shoe at Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram after a confrontational exchange during a press conference over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that left thousands dead.

Action unprofessional, says Editors Guild
New Delhi, April 7
Reacting to the shoe-hurling incident, editors of various media organisations said the act was “unprofessional” and “uncalled for”. KS Sachidananda Murthy of the Editors Guild said the first advice given to journalists going out on official assignments and press conferences was to not get emotionally involved and give an unbiased report.

Cong pledges to protect India from terror
New Delhi, April 7
The Congress party today released its “pledge” to protect India from terror and stressed that the party alone could effectively deal with the problem, a day after terror visited Assam.

Tighten security of CMs, DGPs told
New Delhi, April 7
The Centre has directed police chiefs of 11 states to tighten security of their respective Chief Ministers in view of fresh intelligence inputs that suggest threat to their lives.

Films for election campaign
Atal steals show from Advani; followers upset
New Delhi, April 7
Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have softly receded into history for people and even sections within the BJP, but his ghost continues to haunt the followers of BJP’s prime minister-in-waiting LK Advani, even more than Advani himself.

Raj Thackeray crafts plan to damage Shiv Sena
Mumbai, April 7
Raj Thackeray, the estranged nephew of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, has drawn up an elaborate plan to damage prospects of the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine in a dozen states in Maharashtra’s urban belt.

No safe drinking water, no votes, says Bihar village
Patna, April 7
Fed up with official apathy, people of a Bihar village, suffering for decades due to high fluoride content in drinking water, have sent politicians the simple message: no safe drinking water, no votes.

PMK withdraws support to TN govt
Puducherry, April 7
The PMK today withdrew its support to the Congress government in Puducherry but the Vaithalingam Ministry faced no threat to its survival. The PMK with three members, including one nominated, was supporting the government from outside.

Amar rules out quitting after making a threat
Lucknow, April 7
After making a veiled threat that he may quit his party over differences with colleague Azam Khan, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh tonight ruled out his resignation asserting “everything is normal.”

NDA neglected tribals: Rahul
Rourkela, April 7
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today accused the BJP-led NDA of neglecting the tribals and predicted an impressive show by the UPA in the ensuing elections due to the pro-poor steps taken by the Centre.

Adivasi woman’s candidature cancelled
Guwahati, April 7
Hope of Adivasi woman Lakshmi Orang to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections was nipped in the bud today with her nomination papers being declared invalid by the returning officer.

AGP wants EC to review security
Guwahati, April 7
The blasts that had rocked the state since March 31, killing at least 11 persons and injuring over 70 in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, have dampened the elections spirit in the state.

Heavy rain keeps PM away from poll rally
Guwahati, April 7
Heavy rain and hailstorm today prevented Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from addressing an election rally at Dibrugarh in Assam, his adopted home state, much to the frustration of Congress leaders and workers.

People should get rid of ‘weak’ UPA: Modi
Raigarh (Chhattisgarh), April 7
Terming the UPA government as “weak”, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today asked people not to vote for the coalition partners in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

Gawli to support Cong candidate
Mumbai, April 7
Alleged gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli has decided not to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and instead support the Congress, his daughter Geeta told reporters here today.

Aamir, SRK join hands for ‘fair rights for Friday nights’
Mumbai, April 7
Bollywood superstars Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan today closed ranks to voice the sentiments of the Bollywood fraternity over their demand for equal share of profit with multiplex owners.


Bollywood actors and producers Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan at a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday. — Reuters

Bollywood actors and producers Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan at a press conference in Mumbai

Person seeking promotion can’t question process: SC
New Delhi, April 7
An employee, who participates in the selection process for promotion, cannot question the same process merely because he has been unsuccessful in getting promoted, the Supreme Court has said.

Bihar’s DyCM in trouble for anti-women remarks
Patna, April 7
Another Bihar leader seems headed for trouble over his unsavoury remarks. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has got a women’s rights activist fuming over his statement that RJD leader and former CM Rabri Devi should go back to the kitchen as that is where she belongs.

Elephant kills Dutch tourist
Guwahati, April 7
A 62-year-old tourist from The Netherlands was trampled to death by a wild elephant inside the Kaziranga National Park in Assam today. The tourist has been identified as Robert Goldbach.

9 medical students held in ragging case
Hyderabad, April 7
The police today arrested nine students of Osmania Medical College here for allegedly ragging their juniors.





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Shoe-Gate Incident
BJP condemns, CPM hails, Cong forgives
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
The ‘shoe-gate incident’, as the shoe hurling effort by Dainik Jagran reporter Jarnail Singh is now being termed, has caused ripples within political circles.

Keeping in view the Sikh sentiments, the Congress, it appears, is doing a re-think on its decision to field 1984 anti-Sikh riots accused Jagdish Tytler from North-East Delhi.

The BJP has condemned the incident. BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh said the Congress should take lesson from it and withdraw anti-Sikh riot accused candidate from the Lok Sabha elections. “We condemn the incident. It is unfortunate, but also an occasion for the Congress to take a lesson,” he said.

Interestingly, the CPM came out in tacit support of Jarnail, saying that democracy allowed everyone the right to protest the way they wanted to. CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said: “The CBI is being used by the party in power to further its own agenda and if the journalist concerned wanted to the protest the way he did it is his right”.

But the saffron party suggestion to its rival Congress was to reconsider the candidature of anti-Sikh riot accused Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, who are contesting the Lok Sabha elections on Congress tickets from South and North-East Delhi, respectively. However, the party maintained that the act was an expression of the sentiments of the Sikh community.

The Congress, not wanting to blow the situation out of proportion in the election times, decided to forgive and forget and not take any action against the journalist. Apparently the party is also contemplating a re-think on Tytler contesting on the party ticket. Terming the incident “most unfortunate and avoidable, the Sikh Forum said if the party persisted with its decision it would only aggravate the situation. “Even now it is not too late to reconsider the issue,” Sikh Forum secretary RS Chhatwal said. “Jarnail Singh’s action reflects the anguish and frustration of the community that justice delayed is justice denied,” SAD (Badal) Delhi president Manjit Singh GK said.

DSGMC president Paramjit Singh Sarna has also termed the incident unfortunate. “Jarnail has not only ashamed the journalistic community but also the Sikhs world over,” he said.

Dainik Jagran has said that disciplinary action was being taken against Jarnail Singh.

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Jarnail: Who is he?
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
Sedate and god-fearing journalist Jarnail Singh hardly seems the one who can lose his cool. Hours after he had shocked the nation by hurling a shoe at Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Jarnail was back to his calm and collected-self as he told the Tribune, “Political parties should not politicise the issue rather tackle it.”

He admitted, “The way I agitated was incorrect, however, the issue of anti-Sikh riots and bringing the culprits to book is much bigger. However, justice has to be done.” On his release from the police detention, Jarnail said, “I am not against any party not even the Congress as it made Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister. Sikhs are a proud race and have always stood by the country, but the happenings in the past two decades have hurt.”

Jarnail Singh, in his late thirties, is the son of immigrants who came across the border from Lahore in 1947 and settled down in New Delhi. He lives in a typically middle-class Punjabi-dominated locality of Lajpat Nagar in South-central part of Delhi. He comes across as a calm person and often quotes the holy Guru Granth Sahib in his daily life. He is seen as reticent person. He is a special correspondent with leading Hindi newspaper Dainik Jagran. Jarnail covers the Defence beat and was at Chidambaram’s press conference.

Jarnail, during his detention at the Tuglak road police station, told reporters that he just wanted to ask (Chidambaram) how he could be happy when one community was in deep anguish. He was also quoted in a section of the media as having said, “I just wanted to ask how justice can be done but he was not interested in answering the question”. Later Dainik Jagran condemned Jarnail’s action of throwing a shoe at P Chidambaram. The management said disciplinary action was being initiated against him.

It was not clear what action was being taken against the scribe even as his newspaper distanced itself from the journalist’s action, stating that it was his “personal matter”.

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SGPC offers job
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 7
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) today offered the post of media advisor to Jarnail Singh, who was sacked by a Hindi daily immediately after throwing a shoe at Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram after a confrontational exchange during a press conference over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that left thousands dead.

Earlier, the SGPC President had offered to bear all expenses if the angry journalist was booked by the Delhi Police.

However, he claimed that the Indian National Congress (INC) had agreed in principle to review the tickets given to Jagdish Tytler following pressure from the SGPC. Earlier, the SGPC chief led protest march towards the residence of Sonia Gandhi, President, INC. However, they were stopped the protesters from proceeding towards Sonia’s residence. The SGPC president alleged that Lok Sabha seats were allotted to the “tainted” Congress leaders when they told Sonia that they would disclose to the media that they had engineered the riots following “directives”, given by Rajiv Gandhi after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.

Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh has also sought immediate action against Tytler, Sajjan Kumar and others who were involved in the anti-Sikh riots of November,1984.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has also sought withdrawal of tickets to Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. Earlier, the DSGMC had strongly criticised the action of the angry journalist who threw his shoe on the Union Home Minister.

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Action unprofessional, says Editors Guild

New Delhi, April 7
Reacting to the shoe-hurling incident, editors of various media organisations said the act was “unprofessional” and “uncalled for”.

KS Sachidananda Murthy of the Editors Guild said the first advice given to journalists going out on official assignments and press conferences was to not get emotionally involved and give an unbiased report. Arati Jerath, political editor of the DNA newspaper, said the act of Dainik Jagran correspondent Jarnail Singh was uncalled for.

“At the professional level, when you go to cover an event you have to keep your emotions apart. Having said that, journalists are also human beings and from his (Singh) comments you could make out, he was very emotional about the issue,” Jerath said. “This person did not brandish a gun or a bomb. Therefore I don’t think this incident will hamper our freedom in coverage of press conferences and rallies, since elections are around the corner and security is a major issue.”

Neena Gopal, resident editor of the Deccan Chronicle, agreed that it would impinge on the media’s freedom to cover events.

“I don’t think this incident will curb our freedom in coverage of events. This incident, I think, will instead put us in bad light. As journalists, we are looked upon with a lot of respect, and this incident may hamper that.” — IANS

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Cong pledges to protect India from terror
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
The Congress party today released its “pledge” to protect India from terror and stressed that the party alone could effectively deal with the problem, a day after terror visited Assam.

“The Congress is alive to the challenge and committed to providing strong and decisive leadership to meet the challenge of terrorism. This is our pledge to the people of India,” the party promised in its document ---“Protecting India from terror”.

Announcing the comprehensive action plan to tackle terrorism, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said the country’s ability to respond to terror was much better than five years ago. “Our level of preparedness is much higher than it was five years ago…It will be higher after six months and even better after one year,” he explained.
Adding that the terrorism was a global phenomenon, he said the situation had deteriorated in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

As Chidambaram expressed concern over the recent terror attacks saying that the security situation in South Asia was deteriorating very sharply, he said major steps needed to be taken soon. “We are in the middle of a ring of fire,” Chidambaram warned.

On yesterday’s terror strikes in Assam, he said ULFA was waging a “virtual war “against the country and that there were strong reasons to believe that the banned organisation was behind the recent violence in Assam”.

“ULFA is an old adversary. It is a banned organisation. Its leaders are operating from sanctuaries across the international border. It has waged a virtual war against the Indian state for many years. The government has made it clear that it will not yield to ULFA’s demands. The period between March 16 (so called Army Day) and April 7 (so called Raising Day) has always been a vulnerable period in Assam for many years,” Chidambaram said.

He also admitted that the blasts had taken place despite security personnel being on alert, but said the issue should not be politicised and should be seen in the global perspective. The Home Minister said information was available about names of ULFA commanders/cadres who would attempt to explode IEDs.

“Many advisories were sent to the security forces as well as to the Government of Assam to remain extremely vigilant during this period. The security forces, and especially the Assam police, were on high alert and tried their best to secure the most vulnerable locations. It is unfortunate and deeply regretted that the adversary has been able to strike this time,” he said.

As he spoke to journalists on terror and Congress’ policies, Chidambaram promised that if the party was voted to power, a war room headed by the Cabinet Secretary to deal with terror would be set up.

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Tighten security of CMs, DGPs told

New Delhi, April 7
The Centre has directed police chiefs of 11 states to tighten security of their respective Chief Ministers in view of fresh intelligence inputs that suggest threat to their lives.

The 11 Chief Ministers included Shivraj Singh Chouhan (Madhya Pradesh), Raman Singh (Chhattisgarh), Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya (West Bengal), Mayawati (Uttar Pradesh), Naveen Patnaik (Orissa), Ashok Chavan (Maharashtra), and Narendra Singh Modi (Gujarat), official sources said.

Names of Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Manipur’s Okram Ibobi Singh and Tamil Nadu’s K. Karnunanidhi are also in the list. The Centre has asked the Directors-Generals of Police of these states to ensure fool-proof security for their respective CMs.

The DGPs have been asked to conduct an ‘Advance Security Liaising’ (ASL) meeting with officers from the State Intelligence Bureau and the CID in coordination with other agencies responsible for the security of the VIP concerned.

According to the directive, the Chief Ministers, barring Omar Abdullah, will be given extra security in their states only. Abdullah will get an enhanced security cover in rest of the country as well, they said.

The government has also instructed police chiefs of all Northeastern states to increase security for the Manipur Chief Minister if he visits their region. — PTI

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Films for election campaign
Atal steals show from Advani; followers upset
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 7
Atal Bihari Vajpayee may have softly receded into history for people and even sections within the BJP, but his ghost continues to haunt the followers of BJP’s prime minister-in-waiting LK Advani, even more than Advani himself.

Advani loyalists in the BJP’s campaign management and policy enunciation committees, both led by the same leader, were reluctant to release one of the four films prepared for the BJP’s election campaign because it began with Atal word and worse it started with Vajpayee delivering an inspiring speech while founding the party in Mumbai in 1980.

The party has prepared four films for the election campaign. One of them “Nidar Neta Chunenge Ham (We will elect a fearless leader)” was shown for the first time by the BJP at its manifesto-release function last week on April 3.

There was so much appreciation for this film that BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad ran the film a second time amidst vigorous clapping.

The Atal film titled “Fauladi Baazu, Atal Irade (Iron fist, firm resolve)” was initially slated to be shown that day. But the idea was shot down on the ground that if the BJP campaign were to unveil with the film which begins with Atal name and Atal’s facial profile, it may tend to shift the focus from Advani to Atal and that is not good publicity for Advani.

Advani who had seen the Atal film, however, appreciated it. So he suggested that instead of April 3 the film could be shown on April 6 which happened to be the party’s 20th foundation day.

But again there was some opposition from the committee members pleading that this way the focus may shift away from Advani to Atal. This time, however, other sections in the party took up the matter with Advani himself and he had to insist that the Atal film be shown on the foundation day and eventually it was shown yesterday.

Lobbyists for this film claimed that of the four in the package this film alone showcased the entire Advani team, including Arun Jaitley, Sushsma Swaraj, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, standing and raising their (iron) fists together in unison giving a picture of joint firm resolve.

The BJP, however, officially denied any controversy on the Atal film.

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Raj Thackeray crafts plan to damage Shiv Sena
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 7
Raj Thackeray, the estranged nephew of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, has drawn up an elaborate plan to damage prospects of the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party combine in a dozen states in Maharashtra’s urban belt.

Having built up a sizeable following among the underprivileged Marathi-speaking people with his shrill anti-North Indian campaign for the past two years, Raj Thackeray wants to use his new-found clout to damage his uncle and estranged cousin Uddhav.

Raj’s party, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), will be contesting just 12 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra. Apart from the six Lok Sabha seats in Mumbai, the MNS will field its candidates from Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, Kalyan, Bhiwandi and Thane. All these seats have a large number of migrant North Indian voters with native Marathi-speaking population numbering more than a third of the total. Of the seats it is contesting, the MNS has carefully chosen to field its toughest candidates against the Shiv Sena rather than the BJP. In many of these seats, the Shiv Sena is locked in a neck and neck contest with the Congress-NCP candidate.

For instance, in south Mumbai where sitting MP Milind Deora is facing a tough fight from Shiv Sena’s Mohan Rawle, the MNS has fielded high-profile Bala Nandgaonkar. Till recently, Nandgaonkar was a Shiv

Sena MLA from the area. Following the delimitation of constituencies, parts of Central Mumbai that is home to scores of Marathi-speaking mill workers have been included in this constituency.

Another veteran Shiv Sena leader Gajanan Kirtikar, who is contesting from north-west Mumbai, faces the prospect of a member of the Thackeray family eating into his votes. The MNS has fielded Shalini Thackeray, the wife of a distant cousin of Raj, from this constituency. Punjab-born Shalini, who speaks fluent Marathi, has been drawing a huge crowd much to the discomfiture of the Shiv Sainiks. The Congress has fielded its sitting MP Gurudas Kamat from this seat.

In the South Central Mumbai constituency where sitting Congress MP Eknath Gaikwad faces Shiv Sena MLA Suresh Gambhir, the MNS has fielded an advertising professional Shweta Parulekar. Though she is seen as a weak candidate, MNS cadres are campaigning for her. With its aggressive posturing against North Indian migrants, the MNS is likely to hurt the Shiv Sena-BJP in Aurangabad and Bhiwandi, which have large Muslim populations hailing from North India.

The only place where the MNS could hurt the BJP seems to be the Mumbai north-west constituency where its candidate Mahesh Jethmalani is contesting against sitting MP Priya Dutt of the Congress. The MNS has fielded its leader Shishir Shinde, who had hit the limelight when he dug up the cricket pitch at the Wankhede stadium in 1991.

Raj Thackeray has hit out at his father, senior lawyer Ram Jethmalani for defending Afzal Guru, who was found guilty in the Parliament attack case.

Interestingly, Raj Thackeray has decided to leave the Konkan region alone. The Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri constituency where Shiv Sainik-turned-Congressman Narayan Rane’s son Nilesh faces Shiv Sena’s Suresh Prabhu won’t see any MNS leader contesting.

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No safe drinking water, no votes, says Bihar village

Patna, April 7
Fed up with official apathy, people of a Bihar village, suffering for decades due to high fluoride content in drinking water, have sent politicians the simple message: no safe drinking water, no votes.

Villagers in Khaira in Jamui constituency have decided to boycott the April 16 polls and have banned the entry of politicians for campaigning.

"We have decided to boycott elections and will not allow the entry of politicians to draw the attention of officials over the failure to provide fluoride-free drinking water to us," said Hardeo Prasad, a resident of Khaira, 200 km from here.

Another villager, Mukesh Kumar, said Janata Dal-United (JD-U) legislator Anant Satyarthi was forced to go back after the people refused to listen to him. "We did not allow him to enter the village for campaigning to show our anger and frustration," Kumar said.

The villagers told the legislator that no politician would get any vote until the problem is solved.

The villagers have also put up posters, saying 'No safe drinking water, no votes', at the entry point of the village.

"We will continue to boycott the elections till we are provided fluoride-free drinking water," Rameshar Singh, a villager, said.

Khaira, with a population of nearly 6,000, hit the headlines in the early 1990s when an unusually high number of villagers were found to be suffering from fluorosis, which leads to bone diseases.

But the villagers say the problem was detected way back in the 1970s when a tube well was installed in the village.

Residents say people suffering from bone diseases, stooped backs, crooked hands and legs, deformed teeth and other handicaps are a common sight in the village. "A large number of people in the village have been suffering from severe fluorosis for the last several decades, but successive governments have failed to provide us any relief," Manju Devi, another villager, said.

Satyarthi admitted that he had faced the ire of the villagers on the drinking water problem. "I admit that the plight of the villagers is bad and accept that excess fluoride in drinking water has crippled hundreds of villagers," said Satyarthi.

But in usual politician-style he blamed the earlier state governments for the problem and claimed that the government led by Nitish Kumar had initiated measures to provide safe drinking water.

"The seriousness of the problem can be measured from the fact that fluoride in water was found even 400 feet below the ground. Now the government plans to import filter machines to provide safe water to villagers," he said.

Official sources in the Public Health and Engineering Department said excess fluoride in drinking water is found in nine districts of Bihar. — IANS

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PMK withdraws support to TN govt

Puducherry, April 7
The PMK today withdrew its support to the Congress government in Puducherry but the Vaithalingam Ministry faced no threat to its survival. The PMK with three members, including one nominated, was supporting the government from outside.

Coming nearly two weeks after it joined the AIADMK front for the Lok Sabha polls, the PMK move has reduced the strength of the Congress-led coalition from 24 to 21 in the 33-member Assembly of the Union Territory, including three nominated members.

The Congress has 11 members, including one nominated, with seven DMK and three Independent legislators propping up the government without sharing power.

Opposition the AIADMK and the PMC have three members each and the CPI two, including a nominated member, and the MDMK has one.

PMK leader M Ramadoss, MP, along with its legislators, met Secretary to Lt Governor GC Joshi today at Rajnivas and handed over a letter conveying their decision to withdraw support, party sources said. The PMK had on March 26 left the Congress-led UPA, of which the DMK is a partner and switched its loyalties to the AIADMK with which it entered into a seat-sharing pact recently. — PTI

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Amar rules out quitting after making a threat

Amar SinghLucknow, April 7
After making a veiled threat that he may quit his party over differences with colleague Azam Khan, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh tonight ruled out his resignation asserting “everything is normal.”

“I can leave the world but I can’t leave the party,” Singh said, addressing a hurriedly convened press conference here shortly after his remarks in the backdrop of what he called abuses hurled at him by Azam Khan suggested a rift in the Samajwadi Party.

He said there were no differences in the party over actress- turned-politician Jayaprada being fielded from Khan’s hometown in Rampur for the Lok Sabha elections.

Amar Singh and Azam Khan have been locked in an uneasy relationship ever since Khan, an influential leader in western Uttar Pradesh, has been campaigning against Jayaprada’s candidature in Rampur from where she had won in 2004.

“I know where I stand. The day I feel I had enough then I will say goodbye to Mulayamji and leave the party,” Amar Singh said in the strongest remarks yet on his role in the Samajwadi Party earlier in the day.

But hours later, Amar Singh described these comments as an “off the cuff remark” and asserted, “There is nothing wrong. Everything is normal. There are no differences. Mulayam Singh Yadav is my mentor and there is no question of rift,” Singh said, adding he had strong ties with the SP supremo and that none could break it. — PTI

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NDA neglected tribals: Rahul

Rourkela, April 7
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today accused the BJP-led NDA of neglecting the tribals and predicted an impressive show by the UPA in the ensuing elections due to the pro-poor steps taken by the Centre.

"The NDA was wiped out in the 2004 general elections despite its India shining campaign as it was working for the rich people neglecting the tribals and the poor, whose plight worsened during its rule,” Rahul said while addressing a poll rally in this steel city.

Affirming the Congress party’s resolve to work for the downtrodden, backward and the Dalits, the young leader said the UPA government had brought a historic bill for tribals to get back their valuable land, which had been taken away without compensation.

Listing achievements of the Congress-led government at the Centre, he said a number of schemes were introduced and implemented during the past five years for the uplift of the poor and backward.

He said the UPA had taken concrete steps for the electrification of all villages in the country. — PTI

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Adivasi woman’s candidature cancelled
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 7
Hope of Adivasi woman Lakshmi Orang to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections was nipped in the bud today with her nomination papers being declared invalid by the returning officer.

The Adivasi girl was allegedly assaulted and stripped in public at the Beltola area in Guwahati on November 24, 2007, while she was taking part in a rally organised by the Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam, demanding the Scheduled Tribe status for the community.

To start her life afresh, Lakshmi filed nomination on the ticket of the Assam United Democratic Front to contest the elections from the Tezpur Lok Sabha constituency in north Assam.

Unfortunately, her nomination was rejected by the returning officer after she was found underage to contest the elections.

“Lakshmi Orang produced a certificate issued by a local high school that mentioned her year of birth as 1983. But it was not endorsed by the inspector of school concerned. The electoral rolls on the other hand had mentioned her age as 19 years,” informed J. Chakraborty, an official in the Returning Officer’s office at Tezpur informed.

The AUDF leadership probably had doubt about Lakshmi’s eligibility to be a poll candidate and hence had already put her father Deba Orang as a substitute candidate.

“Deba Orang is now the official AUDF candidate from Tezpur,” HRA Chaudhury, secretary general of the AUDF, informed.

“The cancellation of my nomination has come as a shock for me. But, I am neither demoralised nor have lost faith in the AUDF. I will now campaign for my father. He has to win to highlight the plight of the Adivasi people living in Assam in Parliament,” Lakshmi said over the phone.

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AGP wants EC to review security
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 7
The blasts that had rocked the state since March 31, killing at least 11 persons and injuring over 70 in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections, have dampened the elections spirit in the state.

Rattled by the blasts, the regional Asom Gaana Parishad (AGP) said today that the Election Commission (EC) should review the law and order situation in the state and instruct the state government to provide security to lives and property of the people so that voters could participate in the elections.

President of the AGP Chadra Mohan Patowari said the party and its ally, the BJP, would send a letter to the EC in this regard.

He lambasted the incumbent Congress-led government of Tarun Gogoi for failing to improve the law and order situation in the state.

“The Congress, which has come to power in the state with the promise of providing peace and security to the people, has miserably failed to keep up its commitment. Innocent people are being killed in attacks carried out by various militant groups across the state,” Patowari said.

Patowari especially mentioned about the yesterday’s blast here despite the government’s claim to have taken adequate measures to prevent such strikes by militants.

He said the situation in the state, especially in the two hill districts and Kokrajhar district in western Assam, was very bad and the people were reeling under fear.

“The panic-stricken people may not come out to vote. The EC should review the situation and issue appropriate directive to the government to restore peace and normalcy before polls,” the AGP leader said.

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Heavy rain keeps PM away from poll rally
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 7
Heavy rain and hailstorm today prevented Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from addressing an election rally at Dibrugarh in Assam, his adopted home state, much to the frustration of Congress leaders and workers. The Prime Minister’s plane did arrive in time at Mohanbari airport in Dibrugarh, but due to heavy showers he could not board the chopper that was to take him to the Chowkidinghi rally ground.

Later, the Prime Minister took the flight back to New Delhi without addressing the rally. “The helicopter pilot did not want to take a risk in view of the inclement weather,” Assam Congress leader and a senior minister Pradyut Bordoloi said.

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People should get rid of ‘weak’ UPA: Modi

Raigarh (Chhattisgarh), April 7
Terming the UPA government as “weak”, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today asked people not to vote for the coalition partners in the coming Lok Sabha polls.

“With development, security is equally important for the country. But despite the Supreme Court order, Parliament-attack convict Afzal Guru has not been hanged yet. The government failed on the security front and people should not bring such weak coalition to power again,” Modi said, while addressing an election meeting at Ramlila Maidan here.

“The UPA government has been indifferent to the needs of farmers and deprived sections of the country,” he alleged, adding the people should elect a “strong” government at the Centre under the leadership of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani. — PTI

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Gawli to support Cong candidate
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 7
Alleged gangster-turned-politician Arun Gawli has decided not to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections and instead support the Congress, his daughter Geeta told reporters here today.

Gawli had earlier announced that he would contest the South Mumbai Lok Sabha seat on his Akhil Bharatiya Sena ticket. Only last month Gawli revoked the merger of his ABS with Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party after the UP leader denied him the ticket.

The Congress candidate for the seat is Milind Deora who won in 2004.

However, after delimitation of constituencies, areas of Central Mumbai, including the mill areas have come under the South Mumbai constituency. Gawli, an MLA from Chinchpokli, enjoys tremendous clout.

The Maharashtra government had arrested Gawli under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in connection with the murder of a Shiv Sena leader.

His daughter said today that Gawli was staying away from the fray because he would not be able to campaign from jail.

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Aamir, SRK join hands for ‘fair rights for Friday nights’

Mumbai, April 7
Bollywood superstars Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan today closed ranks to voice the sentiments of the Bollywood fraternity over their demand for equal share of profit with multiplex owners.

The two actors, who are rarely seen together and are known arch rivals, donned the role of spokespersons for the producers and distributors at a press conference here, which was also attended by other bigwigs of the industry.

“It is our responsibility to explain our problems and issues to our audiences. We as entertainers feel sorry for not being able to show new films for sometime and we are here to explain our side of the argument,” said Aamir Khan.

The bone of contention between the producers-distributors and multiplex owners is the revenue-sharing model, with producers demanding a 50 per cent of the earnings while the multiplex owners want to stick to the current model of 40 to 48 per cent depending on the film's performance.

Pitching for an equal share for producers, Aamir said: “There is a need to re-look at revenue-sharing model. The gross and net profits made by the films have increased over the years but the share of producers and distributors remains the same.” Similar sentiments were echoed by actor-producer Shahrukh Khan, who said the industry had not come together for a “power show” but was merely asking for “fair rights for Friday nights”. They added that the current situation should not be looked upon as a “strike, embargo or deadlock”. — PTI

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Person seeking promotion can’t question process: SC

New Delhi, April 7
An employee, who participates in the selection process for promotion, cannot question the same process merely because he has been unsuccessful in getting promoted, the Supreme Court has said.

The apex court, citing a 1995 ruling in the Madan Lal vs State of J&K case, said if a candidate took a calculated chance and appeared in the interview, he could not, just because the result was not palatable, subsequently contend that the process was unfair. “The appellant having participated in the selection process along with other contesting respondents without any demur or protest cannot be allowed to turn round and question the same process having failed to qualify for the promotion,” a Bench of Justices Lokeshwar Singh Panta and B. Sudershan Reddy observed.

The apex court passed the ruling while dismissing the plea of Indian Airlines woman employee KA Nagamani, who filed an appeal after she was denied promotion by a selection committee. Nagamani, an assistant manager (systems), participated in the selection process for promotion to the post of deputy manager (systems) but failed to get promoted. She challenged the selection process as being illegal primarily on the grounds that 50 per cent of the marks were prescribed for the interview and the balance 50 per cent on the evaluation of the annual confidential reports (ACRs). — PTI

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Bihar’s DyCM in trouble for anti-women remarks

Patna, April 7
Another Bihar leader seems headed for trouble over his unsavoury remarks. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi has got a women’s rights activist fuming over his statement that RJD leader and former CM Rabri Devi should go back to the kitchen as that is where she belongs.

Kanchan Bala, also a member of Bihar’s ruling JD-U, has demanded the EC to take action against Modi for his anti-women remarks.

Modi, who belongs to the JD-U’s alliance partner BJP, said Rabri should return to the kitchen and look after her children and keep away from the election limelight. He was reacting to her reported derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and state JD-U chief Rajiv Ranjan, alias Lalan Singh, at a poll rally in Saran district. — IANS

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Elephant kills Dutch tourist
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, April 7
A 62-year-old tourist from The Netherlands was trampled to death by a wild elephant inside the Kaziranga National Park in Assam today. The tourist has been identified as Robert Goldbach.

Director of the park SN Buragohain informed that a lone wild elephant suddenly appeared in front of a group of nine foreign tourists, who were trekking inside the Panbari range under the sanctuary. While rest of the group managed to flee, Robert was attacked and trampled to death by the jumbo. The incident occurred at around 9 am today.

Though the armed forest guard accompanying the tourist tried to chase away the animal by firing from his service weapon , the tourist coundn’t be saved. The park official said such an accident occurred for the first time in the Panbari range.

District administration official Mridul Mahanta, who conducted the investigation into the incident, informed that the group of nine tourists was from different European countries.

The body of the tourist was sent to the Golaghat Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination. The state government will be in touch with the The Netherlands Embassy in New Delhi to hand over the body of the tourist.

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9 medical students held in ragging case

Hyderabad, April 7
The police today arrested nine students of Osmania Medical College here for allegedly ragging their juniors.

“Following a complaint by the Osmania Medical College vice-principal yesterday that first-year MBBS students were ragged by second-year students of their college, a case has been registered under the AP Prohibition of Ragging Act,” East Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police N. Shiva Shankar Reddy said.

As per the complainant, senior medical students took their juniors on the terrace of their hostel mess and allegedly subjected them to severe ragging on the night of April 2, he said.

During a course of investigation, nine MBBS second-year students were today arrested by the Sultan Bazar police, and they would be produced before a local court for sending them to judicial remand, Reddy said.

“Efforts are on to nab other students,” he said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

‘Unbreakable glass a reality soon’
NEW DELHI:
Unbreakable glass that won’t shatter even when thrown from a height of 10 feet will soon be available at an affordable price, claims an American scientist. “No glass is unbreakable, but our process produces the highest strength glassware available today, and at price that makes it affordable,” said Dr William LacCourse, a professor of Glass Science at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. The process could save a lot of money in glassware costs for houses and hospitality business. “It has the potential to save restaurants, catering services and families up to 80 per cent, and perhaps more, on their glassware costs,” he claims.

Cognitive technology to read terrorists’ mind
BANGALORE:
In what could help building better strategy for anti-terror mechanism in the country, the Department of Science and Technology is facilitating a group of bright scientists to develop a complex human cognitive technology which would allow reading the mind of a terrorist. At the same time, scientists are also developing sensors that would detect hidden devices. As many as 30 groups are involved in the initiative, part of homeland security, Secretary in the department, T Ramasami, said. The idea is to integrate the technology and sensors to nail down terrorists, he said.

4,000 trouble-makers identified in Orissa
BHUBANESWAR:
At least 4,000 people have been identified as possible trouble makers ahead of polls in Orissa’s Kandhamal district, which saw communal violence that killed at least 38 persons last year, an official said on Tuesday. “We have identified at least 4,000 people of different religions and communities who could create trouble. We have asked them to sign bonds that they will maintain peace and harmony,” district collector Krishan Kumar said. “Already, 2,600 people have signed the bonds. We have served notices to the others and hope they will also sign it in the next few days,” he said.

Cop killed in Maoist attack
RAIPUR:
A constable was killed and five policemen were injured on Tuesday when Maoist guerrillas attacked the SP’s convoy and blew up one of the vehicles in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district. The incident took place on a forested hilly stretch in Bastar region. Bijapur SP Ankit Garg, who was seated in the second vehicle of the convoy, escaped unhurt. “Constable Nandkumar Sori was killed on the spot while four constables and a special police officer sustained multiple injuries due to land mine attacks,” Deputy Inspector General (police headquarters) Pawan Deo said.

Cyber cafe owner held
RAJKOT:
Magan Patel, a cyber cafe owner in the city, has been arrested in connection with an e-mail threat, which was sent to a private channel in Mumbai from his cyber cafe, the police said here on Tuesday. The police informed that the e-mail had threatened of blowing up various railway stations in Mumbai, Acting on the information given by the Mumbai police, a special operation group took the accused in custody after investigation revealed that the threat was sent from his cyber cafe on the Tagor Road area of the city.

Source: Agencies

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