SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Kasab trial begins today
Mumbai, April 14
The police has thrown a thick security blanket in and around the Arthur Road central prison here where a special court will begin hearing in the November 26 terror attack case tomorrow.

Bhopal Union Carbide Material
Incinerate waste in Gujarat: Centre to SC
New Delhi, April 14
The 25-year-old toxic waste from the Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), Bhopal, should be incinerated at a disposal facility at Ankleshwar, Gujarat, despite the state government's objection the Centre has informed the Supreme Court.

BJP: Manmohan a glorified caretaker of PM’s post
New Delhi, April 14
Manmohan Singh is a ‘glorified caretaker’ of the post of Prime Minister who is keeping the chair warm for another member of the ‘first family’ of the Congress, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said today.





EARLIER STORIES



Members of the Bhartiya Dalit Panther party cutting a cake weighing 100kg to celebrate the 118th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar in Bhopal
Members of the Bhartiya Dalit Panther party cutting a cake weighing 100kg to celebrate the 118th birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar in Bhopal on Tuesday. — PTI

Music composer A R Rahman along with cancer-afflicted children at the inauguration of Mahesh Memorial Paediatric Ward at Adayar Cancer Institute in Chennai
Music composer A R Rahman along with cancer-afflicted children at the inauguration of Mahesh Memorial Paediatric Ward at Adayar Cancer Institute in Chennai on Tuesday. — PTI

This Muslim ex-cop’s reason for backing BJP is Modi
Why would a recently retired Muslim police officer who narrowly escaped getting killed during the 2002 riots join the BJP, a political party headed in Gujarat by a man who is widely perceived to have failed to prevent an anti-Muslim pogrom seven years ago?

Third Front rising, says Karat
Kolkata, April 14
The CPM today ruled out any alliance with the Congress after the Lok Sabha elections and exuded confidence that there would be a realignment of political forces with the Third Front emerging as the largest combination.

Cong did not do justice to Ambedkar, says Advani
New Delhi, April 14
In a clear attempt to woo the Dalits on the BJP’s side, party’s prime ministerial nominee L K Advani has charged the Congress with not giving the Dalit ‘messiah’ B R Ambedkar his due while suggesting that it was due to the BJP’s efforts that the Bharat Ratna was conferred on him posthumously in 1990 by the V P Singh government.

Violation of code
Lalu held, let-off
Garwah (Jharkhand), April 14
RJD chief Lalu Prasad was today arrested for alleged violation of the model code of conduct but was granted bail and released soon after. Lalu was arrested on the dais for an election meeting here, said district superintendent of police Saket Kumar Singh.

Militants attack Congress leader’s house
Diphu (Assam), April 14
A day after attacking a moving BSF vehicle at Dolamara in Karbi Anglong, members of the banned militant outfit Karbi Longri National Liberation Front (KLNLF) today hurled a grenade at the house of a Congress leader in the central Assam's district.

Jaya not in race for PM
Chennai, April 14
AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today declared that she did not have any Prime Ministerial ambitions and she was not in the race for the top post.

IJP Candidate’s Death
Postmortem indicates suicide: Police
Lucknow, April 14
Referring to the postmortem report of slain Indian Justice Party candidate Bahadur Sonkar, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Brijlal said it pointed towards suicide rather than murder.

SC for safety of school buildings
But surveys reveal many have no buildings
New Delhi, April 14
The Supreme Court's guidelines for preventing accidents at school buildings have come a day ahead of the School Fire Safety Day (April 14), but recent surveys reveal that thousands of government schools across the country have no buildings.

CIC relief to IGNOU students
New Delhi, April 14
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has sought to bring about relief for the students enrolled with IGNOU and pursuing the Higher National Diploma (HND) and B.I.T courses, which the university has been running in collaboration with a UK-based university.

Women being trained for terror acts: Army
Denies Taliban’s infiltration
New Delhi, April 14
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor today said there was no "trace" of Taliban in the country amid reports that some of these elements had infiltrated but women were being "trained" on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) to cross over for terror acts. He was talking to reporters here on the sidelines of an international seminar.

‘Bishu’ revelry poll-struck
Silchar, April 14
For 45-year-old S Bhattacharjee, an officer from the Rural Development, discharging the “national duty” during elections as polling official is not a new experience, but it was never during the “Bishu” in the past.

Shivaji Park to stay silent on poll eve
Mumbai, April 14
Mumbai's Shivaji Park known for its cricket stars and political rallies will fall silent till May 2 as the grounds will be taken over for the Maharashtra Day parade.

Good Governance
Eminent citizens join hands
Chandigarh, April 14
A group of eminent citizens, who have joined hands to create a pressure group against corruption and criminalisation of politics, met at the India International Centre in Delhi today.

Elephantine ‘visitor’ rescued after four days
Kochi, April 14
An elephant, which swam to the tiny island of nearby Kaka Thuruth and stranded there for four days, was finally rescued using a barge. The island had never received such a visitor before.

BSF on high alert: DG
New Delhi, April 14
With Pakistan-based militants frequently attempting to sneak into the country, the Border Security Force is on high alert along the border with Pakistan and Bangladesh ahead of the general elections, Director General of BSF M L Kumawat said here today.

President Pratibha Patil presents the Padma award to chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation Madhavan Nair (left), Prof Ranbir Chander Sobti (right top), and Dr Purshotam Lal, at the President House in New Delhi
President Pratibha Patil presents the Padma award to chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation Madhavan Nair (left), Prof Ranbir Chander Sobti (right top), and Dr Purshotam Lal, at the President House in New Delhi on Tuesday. — AFP





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Kasab trial begins today

Mumbai, April 14
The police has thrown a thick security blanket in and around the Arthur Road central prison here where a special court will begin hearing in the November 26 terror attack case tomorrow.

In view of the sensitive nature of the case, Maharashtra Minister of State for Home Naseem Khan today visited the jail to get first hand impression of the security cover.

The court, which was earlier housed in Sessions Court at Kala Ghoda in South Mumbai, shifted yesterday to the Arthur Road jail along with the staff and trunk-load of documents and the 11,000 page chargesheet against lone surviving gunman Mohammed Amir Ajmal Kasab and others.

Judge ML Tahilyani will preside over the court to conduct the trial, which is expected to last for six months, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said.

The judge has been provided Z security while prosecutor has Z plus security cover. Defence lawyer Anjali Waghmare, appointed by the court has also been given Z security, which comprises four armed security guards.

Inside the jail, a portion has been separated exclusively for the court and Kasab's cell, which have been strengthened with bullet and bomb proof steel concrete construction. The inmates of the jail are lodged in barracks in another section which is divided by a huge wall.

A bomb proof tunnel has been constructed to join Kasab's cell with the court to give direct access to the suspected LeT operative who is charged with unleashing terror by firing indiscriminately at public places on November 26 last year, killing more than 160 persons and injuring several others.

Kasab will appear personally for the first time tomorrow before the court. Earlier, he had appeared through video conference. — PTI

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26/11: Sufficient evidence given to Pak, says PM
Tribune News Service

It was a reality that many people were killed in the Mumbai attacks. One terrorist had been arrested and he had made certain confessions. Kasab’s mother is coming to Mumbai to meet him. These are the realities. These are the facts. If somebody wants to evade and avoid these facts, what can we do?
— Pranab Mukherjee

New Delhi, April 14
India today asserted that it had provided sufficient evidence to Pakistan about the involvement of elements from Pakistan in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, adding it was now for Islamabad to take tangible action against the perpetrators of the mayhem. “We have given enough information to act. It is for them to get their act together,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told reporters.

Home Minister P Chidambaram, in a tongue-in-cheek remark, said if Pakistan was not in a position to interrogate those whom India had blamed for the Mumbai incidents, it should permit India to do so.

New Delhi’s statements came in the wake of Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik yesterday saying India had not provided adequate information.

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Bhopal Union Carbide Material
Incinerate waste in Gujarat: Centre to SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 14
The 25-year-old toxic waste from the Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL), Bhopal, should be incinerated at a disposal facility at Ankleshwar, Gujarat, despite the state government's objection the Centre has informed the Supreme Court.

“As on date, Ankleshwar and not Pithampur (Madhya Pradesh), is the appropriate location for carrying out the incineration” of the 350 tonne of waste from UCIL, now known as Dow Chemicals, Deputy Secretary Yashvir Singh said in a fresh affidavit filed in the apex court.

The Gujarat government has challenged in the apex court, the December 16, 2008 verdict of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The high court had ordered the disposal of the waste at Bharuch Enviro Infrastructure Ltd (BEIL) at Ankleshwar, located 680 km from the UCIL site, the scene of India's worst gas leak tragedy in December 1984.

According to Gujarat, the Ankleshwar facility already has a backlog of nearly 10,000 MT of waste for incineration and the UCIL toxins could be stored at the upcoming Pithampur facility in Madhya Pradesh till it was made functional.

At the instance of the apex court, the Centre held a meeting with top officials of the two states and the Chairman of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on March 20 this year, where the Gujarat Chief Secretary reiterated the state's stand, the affidavit said.

However, the CPCB clarified that it had lifted the ban on the Ankleshwar facility for accepting additional waste.

The restriction had been imposed to enable the facility to dispose of such material already lying with it. "The CPCB has revoked the earlier order, upon satisfactory compliance by the operator of the incinerator at Ankleshwar, and the operator may start collecting wastes" from April 12, the Centre said.

Further, the completion of the facility at Pithampur will take at least 8-10 months as it has not obtained the necessary authorisation for accepting toxic wastes from concerned authorities, the Centre said.

In view of all this, "the best course of action at this stage is to issue directions to all concerned to comply with the orders" of the high court, the Centre said.

When the case came up for hearing yesterday before the Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, the Gujarat counsel sought time to respond, upon which the court adjourned the hearing till April 24.

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BJP: Manmohan a glorified caretaker of PM’s post
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 14
Manmohan Singh is a ‘glorified caretaker’ of the post of Prime Minister who is keeping the chair warm for another member of the ‘first family’ of the Congress, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said today.

As campaigning for the first phase of voting in the Lok Sabha elections concluded this evening, the BJP posed a series of questions to the Congress leadership, particularly on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s reported statement that Rahul Gandhi had all qualities of becoming the Prime Minister.

“The Congress must explain whether Rahul is the real candidate for prime ministership and Manmohan Singh is being used as a mask so that Rahul is not subjected to public scrutiny,” Prasad said at the party’s regular press briefing.

Denouncing the “orchestrated and synchronised verbal assault” on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani by Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka yesterday, he said it clearly reflected the desperation and frustration which was now gripping the top leadership of the Congress.

The people of the country were witnessing an exceptional situation in which the Congress and its leadership were trying to deflect the national debate on security, price rise, unemployment and terrorism because of vote-bank politics and the “mess” the country was facing because of the “ill-governance” by the UPA during its five-year term.

On Sonia Gandhi’s statement that some people within the country were more dangerous than terrorists, Prasad wanted to know if the Congress chief was referring to Indian Mujahideen, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) or the BJP and its associates.

BJP lowered level of debate: Cong

The Congress today accused the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate LK Advani of reducing the level of political discourse in the Lok Sabha poll campaign.

In a strong defence of Manmohan Singh, Congress spokesman Anand Sharma came down heavily on Advani for launching personal attacks on the Prime Minister, without even taking into account the post the latter held.

“We never levelled any personal allegations against any BJP leader…they (BJP) should have anticipated that we will certainly show them their real face in the mirror if they become personal. What we have said is rooted in truth…we are reminding the BJP of facts,’’ he said at the party’s press briefing, a day after the Election Commission expressed unhappiness over the level of debate being witnessed during the election campaign.

Asserting that Manmohan Singh was the Congress candidate for the prime ministership, Sharma said his party did not believe in negotiating its leadership. There was no question of any change in the party’s stand, he said, when asked to comment on the BJP’s poser whether Rahul Gandhi was the party’s real nominee for the PM’s post.

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This Muslim ex-cop’s reason for backing BJP is Modi
Dinesh Kumar writes from Ahmedabad

Why would a recently retired Muslim police officer who narrowly escaped getting killed during the 2002 riots join the BJP, a political party headed in Gujarat by a man who is widely perceived to have failed to prevent an anti-Muslim pogrom seven years ago?

Abdullah I. Saiyed does not figure in the list of the party’s glamorous candidates, but he is certainly among the more interesting and unusual persons to have been propelled into the limelight during this electoral process. In fact, Saiyed is among the few accomplished professionals from his community who are openly supporting a political party that has been criticised for having accentuated communal faultlines in a state that is ironically credited with producing history’s most celebrated proponent of non-violence and communal harmony.

“It is true that Muslims are reluctant to express support for the BJP. But many friends and well-wishers from my community have congratulated me,” says the cop who retired as additional director general (administration) in May last year. Saiyed, who says he can recite the Gayatri Mantra and has read the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Vedas and the Bible, quotes from the Hadith and the Koran to emphasise how Islam teaches that love for one’s country is part of one’s faith.

Saiyed’s reason for joining the BJP is the very name that excites extreme emotions -- Narendra Modi. He does not agree that Modi had a role to play in the riots. “I know him. He did not do it,” is his one-line answer, offered in a tone of finality. So, who engineered the riots? “I was in the police then and I know who was responsible for it,” is all that he is willing to say on record.

Saiyed hails from Mahesana -- the same district as Modi. So what if Modi were to shift out of Gujarat or lose his standing in the state BJP? “I will continue with the BJP even if Modi were to go. There is no question of betrayal,” he says.

Saiyed almost became a victim of the anti-Muslim riots when a stone-throwing mob tried to stop his car as he was headed for work. “I told my gunman not to react and asked my driver to speed past the mob, that’s how we were saved,” he said.

To many critics, Saiyed would appear to be “politically incorrect” if not a “betrayer” of his community in a communally polarised state. But he is quietly dismissive of any such suggestion. His message is not as much for the party that he joined barely a fortnight ago on March 29 as it is for members of his own community. “The Muslims do not have a spokesman. Whatever they have is in the form of either maulvis or “outsiders” who, he alleges, do not know Gujarat’s history, culture, language, and people.”

Taking exception to the role being played by maulvis, Saiyed does not mince his words. “Their (the maulvis? ) duty is meant to be confined to the mosque. They can advise and educate on religious issues, but most certainly not dabble in politics. Why must the maulvis be a part of politics?” he asks.

His ire is likewise directed at the Congress party. Narrating from his experience of 35 years in the police force, which he joined as deputy superintendent of police in 1973, Saiyed blames the Congress for keeping the Muslims in the dark. “What has the Congress done and what is it that the BJP cannot do?” he asks while giving specific accounts of the Congress party’s “diabolical role” in the state. He, however, does not wish to go on record on this aspect. His emphasis during campaigning, he says, will be on what the Congress has done and what the BJP can do in the future.

Saiyed’s many assignments included that of officer on special duty with former Punjab Police chief KPS Gill when the latter was appointed Adviser to Modi for three and a half years soon after the Godhra-related riots.

But Saiyed, who may be championing the cause of many of his party candidates -- all Hindus -- in constituencies located in northern Gujarat, also lives in a “real” world. That “real world” is Juhapura, an exclusively Muslim colony, one of the two Muslim colonies on the “Hindu side” of Ahmedabad where members of one community simply do not rent their houses to the other. Saiyed has more than an uphill task ahead, but this son of the soil is counting on his commitment to Gujarat and “Gujaratiat” to make a difference.

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Third Front rising, says Karat
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, April 14
The CPM today ruled out any alliance with the Congress after the Lok Sabha elections and exuded confidence that there would be a realignment of political forces with the Third Front emerging as the largest combination.

"We expect a realignment of political forces in the post-poll scenario. Third Front will emerge as the largest combination and there is no question of having any understanding or alliance with the Congress," CPM general secretary Prakash Karat told reporters here while addressing the “Meet the press session” at Calcutta Press Club today.

But the constituent parties will decide who will be prime minister only after the election, he added.

Karat said as the election dates were nearing, the chances of the formation of the non-Congress and non-BJP government were brightening.

He said the Third Front would have the adequate strength for running a stable government for five years but he did not specify the number of seats they would get.

“The UPA is now a sinking boat with the lone Congress as its occupant since all other partners had already left them. The BJP also has been losing their ground in most of the states, while the alternative Third Front has been strengthening day by day with the inclusion of several other parties, which were so long either with the NDA or the UPA,” Karat observed.

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Cong did not do justice to Ambedkar, says Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 14
In a clear attempt to woo the Dalits on the BJP’s side, party’s prime ministerial nominee L K Advani has charged the Congress with not giving the Dalit ‘messiah’ B R Ambedkar his due while suggesting that it was due to the BJP’s efforts that the Bharat Ratna was conferred on him posthumously in 1990 by the V P Singh government.

Addressing a function organised by the BJP Scheduled Caste Morcha to mark the birth anniversary of the architect of the Indian Constitution, Advani said: “The Congress never gave Ambedkar his due. It got him defeated in the Lok Sabha elections in 1952.”

He claimed that it was Mahatma Gandhi who prevailed on Pt Jawaharlal Nehru to include Ambedkar in his cabinet. It was only in 1990 that Ambedkar was honoured with the Bharat Ratna. This was done by the V P Singh government which was supported by the BJP.

Agitated over Advani’s remarks, the Congress described the BJP leader’s statement as complete ignorance of political history.

“Advani’s comments reflect the political hypocrisy of the BJP,” Congress spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters at the party’s briefing. Advani should rather throw out Arun Shourie from the BJP for insulting Ambedkar in his book “Worshipping False Gods”, Sharma added.

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Violation of code
Lalu held, let-off

Garwah (Jharkhand), April 14
RJD chief Lalu Prasad was today arrested for alleged violation of the model code of conduct but was granted bail and released soon after.

Lalu was arrested on the dais for an election meeting here, said district superintendent of police Saket Kumar Singh.

The police had lodged an FIR against Lalu and his pilot after his helicopter landed at the venue of an election meeting on April 7 instead of the nearby helipad.

The FIR was lodged by block development officer Subhas Singh.

The Election Commission had served a notice to the minister for violating the model code.

“The Election Commission issued the notice yesterday and asked him (Lalu Prasad) to reply by tomorrow,” assistant chief electoral officer AK Sinha, said here today. — PTI

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Militants attack Congress leader’s house

Diphu (Assam), April 14
A day after attacking a moving BSF vehicle at Dolamara in Karbi Anglong, members of the banned militant outfit Karbi Longri National Liberation Front (KLNLF) today hurled a grenade at the house of a Congress leader in the central Assam's district.

According to official sources, the militants lobbed a grenade at the house of Congress leader and Karbi Anglong District Autonomous Council member Ratan Ingti at Deuthai.

The police personnel deployed in Ingti's house fired in retaliation and exchanged bullets with the militants. None of the security men was injured.

However, some ultras may have been wounded, but that could not be confirmed as they managed to escape, the sources said.

The ultras had struck thrice on three consecutive days in the twin hill districts of Karbi Anglong and N C Hills since April 10, targeting trains, railway tracks and security men, besides exploding a bomb at Haflong.

Earlier, DHD(J) ultras had attacked poll observer A P Singh on April 8. — PTI

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Jaya not in race for PM
Tribune News Service

Chennai, April 14
AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa today declared that she did not have any Prime Ministerial ambitions and she was not in the race for the top post.

The AIADMK leader denied that she was discussing post-poll alliance with other parties and said the strategy to be adopted after the elections would be decided after joint consultations with the Left parties, the PMK and the MDMK, she told reporters, after garlanding the statue of B R Ambedkar, on the occasion his birth anniversary today.

The alliance with the Left parties had been formed with an aim to form a non-Congress and non-BJP government, she said.

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IJP Candidate’s Death
Postmortem indicates suicide: Police

Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 14
Referring to the postmortem report of slain Indian Justice Party candidate Bahadur Sonkar, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Brijlal said it pointed towards suicide rather than murder.

Speaking to the press, he tried to give an impression that Sonkar probably had decided to end his life. “How is it possible to hang someone so high on a tree. The marks on his body can be caused by the act,” asserted Brijlal.

He also did not answer why no action was taken on the dead candidate’s written complaints to the state government. He parried all questions regarding who was repeatedly threatening him to withdraw his candidature and if the police had checked on that number. “The matter is under investigation” was his reply.

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SC for safety of school buildings
But surveys reveal many have no buildings

R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 14
The Supreme Court's guidelines for preventing accidents at school buildings have come a day ahead of the School Fire Safety Day (April 14), but recent surveys reveal that thousands of government schools across the country have no buildings.

"All schools to observe Fire Safety Day on April 14 every year with awareness programmes and fire safety drills in collaboration with the Fire and Rescue Department," the apex court had said in its order yesterday, quoting the National Building Code of India, 2005.

A recent survey by the National Institute of Education Planning and Administration (NIEPA), however, showed that nearly 42,000 government schools in various states were functioning without a building. The states on top of this unenviable list were Madhya Pradesh (over 13,000 such schools), Rajasthan (more than 5,000), Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

The survey also revealed that about one lakh elementary schools, accounting for 10 per cent of the total number, had only one classroom.

Statistics gathered by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) showed that nearly one-third of schools functioned in tents or under the open sky. Delhi was no exception.

The apex court verdict by a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and LS Panta had observed that it had become imperative on its part to "direct that safety measures as prescribed by the National Building Code of India, 2005, be implemented by all government and private schools." The Bench had cited the fire at a Tamil Nadu school that had killed 93 children.

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CIC relief to IGNOU students
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 14
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has sought to bring about relief for the students enrolled with IGNOU and pursuing the Higher National Diploma (HND) and B.I.T courses, which the university has been running in collaboration with a UK-based university.

Some of the students, who had pursued the courses, have been waiting for years to get their certificates from Edexcel, the UK-based University, in the absence of which all their hard work is of no use.

The IGNOU on its front has no explanation as to why the UK University has not been issuing the all-important certificates to the successful students.

In a recent order by Information Commissioner Sailesh Gandhi, the CIC directed the Vice-Chancellor of IGNOU Prof. Rajasekharan Pillai to enquire into the matter and send a report to the Commission before April 30.Incidentally, there are a number of students who have been facing this traumatic experience with no information forthcoming either from Edexcel or IGNOU.

The matter came up before the CIC following the filing of an application by one Aslam Ansari whose son Obaidurrahman had successfully pursued the HND and B.I.T. courses run by IGNOU and Edexcel in 2005-06 and cleared the course in December 2005.

While some of the successful students were issued the certificates by Edexcel, others were not and there was no reason forthcoming for the same. The issue remains the same with the latter courses with some students getting the certificates and some not. After Aslam Ansari moved his application with CIC in September of 2008, initially there was no response from IGNOU.

Subsequently, the IGNOU replied that the HND Certificate to the student is to be awarded by the Edexcel International. U.K. It further said that it was in regular touch with the authorities of Edexcel to issue certificates and efforts were being made to organize a meeting between the authorities of both the bodies to sort out all the issues regarding issue of HND certificate to the students. A meeting is expected soon.

However, since there was no movement on the front over the past few months, the CIC in its latest hearing earlier this month expressed its unhappiness with IGNOU over it not being able to help its students. While Edexcel and IGNOU had no explanation for the lapse, the Edexcel courses continue to be run in India.

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Women being trained for terror acts: Army
Denies Taliban’s infiltration

Army chief General Deepak Kapoor addresses media persons in New Delhi
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor addresses media persons in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

New Delhi, April 14
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor today said there was no "trace" of Taliban in the country amid reports that some of these elements had infiltrated but women were being "trained" on the other side of the Line of Control (LoC) to cross over for terror acts. He was talking to reporters here on the sidelines of an international seminar.

Gen Kapoor also said the Army would continue to "neutralise" elements trying to disturb peace and security in the country.

"Whether it is the LeT, the JeM or the HUJI militant or Taliban, whosoever tries to disturb peace and stability of the region, will be dealt with in the same fashion and will be neutralised," he told reporters.

Asked about reports that some 30 Taliban had infiltrated into India, Kapoor said, "As far as the Indian Army is concerned, we have had no trace of Taliban." Asked about the possibility of involvement of women handlers in the Pulwama encounter in Jammu and Kashmir that ended yesterday with the killing of two militants, Gen Kapoor said, "We have information that women are being trained on the other side to infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir." "It is possible that women may be involved in giving directions to the terrorists," he added.

Kapoor said that Army was "fully prepared" to deal with the situation if there was any information about infiltration of women in the country.

The General said the Army had expected "calibration" in infiltration around election time. — PTI

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‘Bishu’ revelry poll-struck
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Silchar, April 14
For 45-year-old S Bhattacharjee, an officer from the Rural Development, discharging the “national duty” during elections as polling official is not a new experience, but it was never during the “Bishu” in the past.

This election is different for him because it will keep him away from his family during the “Bishu” (spring festival) while attending to his election duty on the assigned polling station away from his home.

“Bishu” for some community and “Bihu” for others is celebrated in Assam during April 14 and 15 every year. With the first phase election being held on April 16 in three of the constituencies in Assam --Silchar, Karimganj and Autonomous districts --- thousands of polling officials like Bhttacharjee have embarked on the journey to their respective polling booths to conduct polls leaving behind their families.

“I will miss my 10-year-old son during the festival, but it is a call for a national duty during the polls which we government servants take pride in discharging,” said Bhattacharjee, before starting his journey to polling station from ISBT at Silchar.

Like Bhattacharjee, who is from Udarband area, many other officials too gathered at the ISBT this morning to begin their journey to polling stations in far-flung areas during the spring festival.

The use of EVMs has been a boon for the poling officials in many aspects. “The EVMs have been great as these reduce our paper works as well as chances of rigging to great extent. Let’s see how the micro observers, assigned by the EC for the first time, help in conducting polls in a better way,” said Bhattacharjee, who had also conducted polls when EVMs were not in use.

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Shivaji Park to stay silent on poll eve
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 14
Mumbai's Shivaji Park known for its cricket stars and political rallies will fall silent till May 2 as the grounds will be taken over for the Maharashtra Day parade.

As per an order issued by the Maharashtra government, the Mumbai civic body has decided to withdraw permission granted to political parties to hold rallies ahead of polling in the city scheduled for April 30.

The grounds will be taken over for parade rehearsals from April 15 ahead of Maharashtra Day, which falls on May 1. Among the parties that were scheduled to hold rallies in the last fortnight before the polls were the Congress and the Shiv Sena. Both outfits are looking for alternative venues to hold their rallies.

Congress leaders say, their rally has been shifted to the MMRDA Ground at the Bandra-Kurla complex in suburban Mumbai. Party president Sonia Gandhi will address a rally next week. On the other hand, the Shiv Sena-BJP combine is keen on holding its rally in town. They have decided on the Azad Maidan grounds opposite the Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus.

The last big rally to be held on the grounds was the one by the Bahujan Samaj Party last week.

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Good Governance
Eminent citizens join hands
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 14
A group of eminent citizens, who have joined hands to create a pressure group against corruption and criminalisation of politics, met at the India International Centre in Delhi today.

Led by the former Chief Justice of India Justice JS Verma, the eminent personalities today discussed how criminals have entered into politics and continued to abuse positions of authority. The group, which looks forward to initiate change, deliberated how India’s position has slipped to 128 among 174 nations of the world in the human development index.

They also deliberated how India’s position has slipped from 72 to 85 in the corruption perception index prepared by Transparency International. The group has already asked political parties not to field tainted candidates during the forthcoming elections. “We will not only not vote for such candidates but will do everything in our power to expose them and deny them success. We have resolved that we cannot afford to watch the degradation of our democracy as bystanders. We must and will engage with our political system and do everything in our power to ensure good governance,” said a release by Justice Verma.

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Elephantine ‘visitor’ rescued after four days

Kochi, April 14
An elephant, which swam to the tiny island of nearby Kaka Thuruth and stranded there for four days, was finally rescued using a barge.

The island had never received such a visitor before.

The elephant soon endeared itself to the locals and they competed with each another in trying to get bananas, leaves, rice gruel and jaggery for the animal.

For the 50-year-old tusker, Neelakantan, who swum across the backwaters and reached the small island, housing about 300 families, going back the same way was difficult as the animal refused to take the same route. Finally, the animal's owner, Shaji and mahout Shashi decided to get a barge to transport the animal to the mainland. — PTI

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BSF on high alert: DG

New Delhi, April 14
With Pakistan-based militants frequently attempting to sneak into the country, the Border Security Force is on high alert along the border with Pakistan and Bangladesh ahead of the general elections, Director General of BSF M L Kumawat said here today.

The BSF has intensified its vigil along both the sensitive borders to ensure that no undesirable elements enter into the country to disrupt the poll process, the senior official said.

"We are fully alert along our borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh. We have heightened our vigilance along the borders. Infiltration attempts are a serious matter. We have taken certain measures at the sensitive areas," Kumawat said. The BSF headquarters in the national capital is in constant touch with its frontier headquarters across the country and various other Border Out Posts for better coordination and operational requirements. — PTI

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BRIEFLY


Nafisa Ali (left), SP candidate from Lucknow, performs community service on the occasion of Baisakhi at a gurdwara in Lucknow
Nafisa Ali (left), SP candidate from Lucknow, performs community service on the occasion of Baisakhi at a gurdwara in Lucknow on Tuesday. — PTI

14 Indians sailors released
MUMBAI:
Fourteen Indian sailors aboard a vessel which was detained in Somalia since October last year have been released. "M V Jaikur-I, with the crew of 14 Indians, which had been detained in Mogadishu since October 2008 due to a commercial dispute between owners and other interested parties, has been released," a statement from the Director General of Shipping said here on Tuesday. As per the information received from the Indian Embassy in Nairobi, all the Indian crew members were in good health, the statement said. — PTI

Kerala celebrates Vishu
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:
Kerala today celebrated Vishu, Malyali new year, with fervour and gaiety. People visited nearby temples wearing new clothes. Gifts were exchanged and children burst crackers celebrating the arrival of the new year. Elders in the family gave 'vishukaineetam' (cash) to youngsters wishing them prosperity in their life. There was heavy rush of devotees at Sree Krishna Temple in Guruvayur and Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala. — PTI

Encounter in Manipur
IMPHAL:
There was heavy exchange of fire between unidentified militants and Assam Rifles personnel in interior Ukhrul district of Manipur bordering Myanmar and Mizoram early this morning, police said. The incident occurred when the Assam Rifles personnel patrolling Chasad hill area were fired upon by the militants. The jawans returned the fire, but there was no report of casualty on either side. — PTI

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