SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Naxals block roads; obstruct movement of polling officers
Orissa: Patnaik, Gamang in fray

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Congress veteran Giridhar Gamang are among the top leaders in fray for phase 1 elections to 10 Lok Sabha and 70 Assembly constituencies in the state tomorrow. In all, 599 candidates for Assembly and 72 for Lok Sabha seats are contesting in this phase.

New Naxal weapons alarm security agencies
New Delhi, April 15
Security agencies are "alarmed" at the sophisticated weapons in the armoury of the Naxalites/ Maoists, who attacked the BSF camp in Rohtas district last night and also weapons used in the attacks that have taken place in the past few days.

Check infiltration from B’desh: SC to Centre
New Delhi, April 15
Acknowledging the Centre’s efforts to check illegal immigration and infiltration from Bangladesh, the Supreme Court today directed the government to “continue to take steps” to prevent the influx of people from across the border.



EARLIER STORIES



Army neglected, says Gen Malik
New Delhi, April 15
Former Army Chief General VP Malik (retd) today dropped a bombshell in these times of paranoid security, saying “armed forces were not getting (arms and ammunition) what they needed.”

Tight security for polling in Chhattisgarh
Security forces in Naxalite-affected Chhattisgarh have their fingers crossed on the eve of Lok Sabha polls scheduled here on Thursday, especially in view of Wednesday’s attacks in neighbouring Jharkhand and Bihar apparently aimed at disrupting elections.

Security personnel prepare to leave for the polling stations with EVMs ahead of the first phase of voting in Ranchi on Wednesday. — PTI

Security personnel prepare to leave for the polling stations with EVMs ahead of the first phase of voting in Ranchi

Bardhan rules out support to Congress-led govt
New Delhi, April 15
CPI general secretary AB Bardhan today firmly ruled out supporting a Congress-led government after the polls, saying the economic and foreign policies pursued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had harmed the country’s interests.

Do-or-die battle for Lalu
Patna, April 15
As 13 out of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar go to the polls in the first phase on Thursday, people are debating the issues that may become the preference of voters this time.

Advani slave of RSS, says Sonia
Bidar, April 15
Describing BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani as a “slave of RSS”, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said the saffron leader could not take any decision “without the fear of RSS”.

Sonia flays Advani over Kandahar
Raigarh, April 15
Congress president Sonia Gandhi used her visit to Chhattisgarh on the last day of campaigning in the state to launch yet another attack on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, this time over his recent statement on the Kandahar plane hijack episode in 1999.

Varun’s hate-speech result of bad upbringing: Khushwant
New Delhi, April 15
Noted writer Khushwant Singh, who has been a staunch admirer of Sanjay Gandhi’s actions during the Emergency, is critical of the late Congress leader’s son Varun and says his hate-speech was a result of his “bad upbringing” by Maneka Gandhi.

Code Violation
FIR registered against Sanjay Dutt
Lucknow, April 15
The state police has registered an FIR against Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt and others for allegedly violating the model code of conduct in an election rally in Mau district.

Villagers unite to contest free liquor during polls
Hyderabad, April 15
In a bold initiative, the people in about 100 villages in Andhra Pradesh have banned distribution of liquor and money in their areas by political parties at the time of elections.

N-capable Prithvi test-fired
Balasore (Orissa), April 15
India today successfully test fired a version of nuclear-capable ‘Prithvi-II’ ballistic missile with a range of 350 km from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from here off the Orissa coast.

Trial deferred, lawyer removed
Now Kasab wants counsel from Pak
Mumbai, April 15
Anjali Waghmare, the lawyer chosen by the government to defend Mohammad Ajmal Amir, alias Kasab, has been removed due to a conflict of interest issue. Kasab has now demanded that a lawyer from Pakistan be appointed to represent him.

Anjali Waghmare in Mumbai on Wednesday. — PTI

Pranab says no info about mother’s visit
Kolkata:
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has clarified that there is no information officially about any visit to India by the mother of Ajmal Kasab. — PTI

Anjali Waghmare in Mumbai

Prez expresses concern over ragging
New Delhi, April 15
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil has expressed grave concern over the rising incidents of ragging in certain institutions of higher secondary education across the country.

Delhi HC curtails civilian quota in ACMS
All MBBS seats can be filled with wards of Army men
Chandigarh, April 15
Striking down orders by a single judge, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has ruled that the Army College for Medical Sciences (ACMS) is entitled to fill up 100 per cent seats for the MBBS course from wards of serving, retired or deceased Army personnel.

Foreigner gangraped, three arrested
Mumbai, April 15
Three youths have been arrested for allegedly gang raping a foreign national completing a postgraduate course at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in suburban Chembur, the police said today.

Ram Sene disrupts India-Pak seminar
New Delhi, April 15
Members of the Sri Ram Sene, the rightist group that hit the public eye with its attack on women in a Mangalore pub, tried to disrupt a seminar of Indian and Pakistani journalists here before being pushed out.





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Naxals block roads; obstruct movement of polling officers
Orissa: Patnaik, Gamang in fray
Aditi Tandon writes from Aska (Orissa)

Phase I Snippets

  • 55 crorepatis in fray (28 for Assembly; 27 for Lok Sabha), led by BJD (18), Congress (15) and BJP (9).
  • BJD’s Naveen Patnaik, Suguna Singhdeo, Nityananda Pradhan, Kalikesh Singhdeo; BJP’s Sangeeta Singhdeo and Bikram Kishori Deo among top richest (assets over one crore).
  • Candidates with criminal record - 116 in 599 for Assembly; 31 in 72 for Lok Sabha.
  • Women in fray - 48 in 559 for Assembly; 8 in 72 for LS.
  • BJD and Congress have fielded no woman for Lok Sabha elections.
  • Lok Sabha constituencies - 10; Assembly constituencies - 70; Lok Sabha candidates 72; Assembly candidates 559

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Congress veteran Giridhar Gamang are among the top leaders in fray for phase 1 elections to 10 Lok Sabha and 70 Assembly constituencies in the state tomorrow. In all, 599 candidates for Assembly and 72 for Lok Sabha seats are contesting in this phase.

While Patnaik is fighting for the third time from the Hinjli Assembly area in Aska Lok Sabha segment (which he represented in the Lok Sabha (LS) until 2000), Gamang is running for a record 10th time from the Naxal-affected Koraput parliamentary constituency, where Maoists today blocked roads to obstruct the movement of polling officers; they also left posters in 11 panchayats of Malkangiri segment asking people not to vote.

Better known nationally for his lone vote that brought down the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 1999 at the time of the 10th Lok Sabha, Koraput’s sitting MP Gamang is famous in the state for promoting dynastic politics.

His wife Hema, son Sisir and personal assistant (PA) Nagraj Dora are all fighting Assembly elections from this LS segment - something that promoted senior state Congress leader Taraprasad Bahinipati to join the BJP; he is now challenging Gamang’s PA in the Jeypore Assembly area.

Also in fray tomorrow will be Union Minister of State for Rural Development Chandrashekhar Sahu from Berhampur LS segment and BJP national vice-president and former Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram from Sundergarh parliamentary seat. The Congress has fielded two-time former Orissa Chief Minister Hemanand Biswal to take on Oram, who has thrice represented the segment.

Other three-time MPs seeking reelection tomorrow are BJP’s Sangeeta Singhdeo from Bolangir and Bikram Kishore Deo from Kalahandi LS seats (both among top 10 richest LS candidates in Orissa). Working president of state Congress and former Union Rail Minister Bhakta Charan Das is pitted against Deo here, while the BJD has fielded ex-Congress MP Subhash Naik who they poached on March 29.

BJD veteran Prasanna Acharya, a three-timer in LS from Sambalpur, is this time fighting for Rairakhol Assembly seat from here. Contest for Sambalpur LS seat will be interesting considering Naveen Patnaik has fielded Rohit Pujari on the BJD ticket. Pujari was until recently state youth Congress president. In the lurch, the Congress is struggling in this area while the BJP has fielded ex-Rajya Sabha MP Surendra Lath against Pujari.

In Aska, Naveen Patnaik’s home segment, the BJD has again fielded a poached candidate - former CPI state secretary Nityananda Pradhan.

Congress’ former MP Ramachandra Rath and BJP’s woman leader Shanti Devi are fighting Pradhan in Aska, which boasts of the top two richest Assembly candidates in Orissa - Suguna Kumari Deo from Kavisuryanagar segment, the wealthiest with assets worth over Rs 9 crore, followed by Naveen Patnaik at Rs 7 crore and Prasanna Acharya with Rs 6 crore (all from the BJD).

Also going to polls tomorrow is Kandhamal Lok Sabha segment with its history of anti-Christian violence. The district has the highest security deployment in Orissa ahead of polls. Interestingly, two BJP candidates from Kandhamal - Ashok Sahu for LS seat and Manoj Pradhan for G Udaygiri Assembly seat, will contest from the jail. Sahu was jailed yesterday for his anti-Christian speech, while Pradhan has been behind bars for long for his role in the August 2007 riots.

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New Naxal weapons alarm security agencies
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Security agencies are "alarmed" at the sophisticated weapons in the armoury of the Naxalites/ Maoists, who attacked the BSF camp in Rohtas district last night and also weapons used in the attacks that have taken place in the past few days.

Last night, rocket launchers were used. The terrorists clearly graduated form using the ageing Ak47 rifles or the ordnance factory built INSAS rifles that they loot or snatch from security men. Sources in the security establishment said terrorists had acquired weapons made in Russia, the US and even China. This clearly showed the arms route was either through the porous Indo-Nepal border or the Northeast militants were routing these weapons for the Naxals through the Indo-Myanmar border or the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Sources said various Naxal units called "dalams" in the local language are using lethal foreign arms, including the US-made SMG Thomson guns, AK-47 rifles and a number of Russian and Chinese rifles and pistols. The weapons used by the Naxals vary from state to state. This indicated that large amount of money was being pumped in different units of the Naxals.

In Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Jharkhand they are using both foreign and local-made arms. In other states it is largely locally made wespons.

It is not that all Naxals are carrying top-of-the line weapons. In some cases they have been found to be using weapons ranging from the World War II era 303 rifles to fully automatic assault rifles.

As per records the CRP that has the mandate to deal with the Naxal menace has seized 1,714 arms in the last financial year (2008-09). The maximum seizures (1,040 arms) were from the Naxal-affected Orissa, where over 200 left-wing extremists had mounted attack on a CISF guarded NALCO mine last week resulting in the death of 11 security personnel. However, security agencies also feel that there is no proper intelligence network. The CRPF wanted a separate intelligence unit of its own that had been struck down by the Union Finance ministry.

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Check infiltration from B’desh: SC to Centre
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 15
Acknowledging the Centre’s efforts to check illegal immigration and infiltration from Bangladesh, the Supreme Court today directed the government to “continue to take steps” to prevent the influx of people from across the border.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and JM Panchal issued the order while disposing of a PIL filed by the All India Lawyers Forum for Civil Liberties that had sought the court’s direction for stopping infiltration.

“In view of the steps taken by the government, no further order is necessary. The government should take all possible steps to prevent illegal infiltration,” the Bench said, while recording in the order the fencing and other work already done by the Centre.

In a status report, filed at the instance of the apex court, the Home Ministry said fencing work was pending only on a 3.2 km stretch involved in the first phase (857.37 km). This was due to the fact that this small stretch was still not demarcated.

Under the second phase, fencing was midway through, with the work over on 1,783.1 km out of the sanctioned length of 3,579 km. Funds for the remaining work were being sanctioned. The Centre had also set up an additional 21 tribunals for detection of illegal immigrants, taking the total to 32.

The Border Security Force (BSF) was maintaining round-the-clock surveillance and there was a proposal to set up “Outposts” for effective border coordination, the Home Ministry said in its status report.

At the time of the last hearing on January 15, the court had suggested imprisonment of illegal immigrants as part of a series of drastic steps to deal with the serious problem. Among the proposals mooted by the court, in its oral observations, was denial of basic facilities such as education, employment, healthcare and ration cards.

“You should send out a deterrent message by putting illegal non-citizens in the jail” to discourage infiltration, the CJI had told the Centre’s counsel Amrinder Saran.

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Army neglected, says Gen Malik
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Former Army Chief General VP Malik (retd) today dropped a bombshell in these times of paranoid security, saying “armed forces were not getting (arms and ammunition) what they needed.”

General Malik said despite an increase in defence budgets every year, modernisation of armed forces were not taking place in a way it should have been. The General said, “Despite the 24 per cent increase in the defence budget this year, if you ask any of the chiefs of the defence staff whether they are fully prepared and equipped to take on either China or Pakistan, my hunch is that they would say no. That is the situation.” General Malik said this while chairing a discussion on “challenges to defence planning in India” by former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Vice- Admiral Raman Puri at the Observer Research Foundation.

The General, who led the forces in the Kargil conflict, is now president of the ORF institute for security studies.

“Defence planning have been a challenge and continues to be a challenge even today,” General Malik said, blaming too many agencies for the inordinate delay in planning and procurement.

Vice-Admiral Raman Puri said despite the GoM recommendation following the Kargil committee report authored by K Subrahmaniam, till today no decision had been taken on the proposal to create CDS (Chief of Defence Staff). He blamed the bureaucracy and the services for the status quo. General Malik opined politicians were also responsible.

Vice-Admiral Puri said there needed to be a national policy, followed by strategic policy, military policy, interoperability and integration of three services. “We don’t have a long term integrated perspective plan like many countries have. What we do at the Defence Ministry level is bundling of plans of three Service Chiefs and make one plan without any long-term perspective. These plans also keep changing as the Service Chief changes,” Vice-Admiral Puri pointed out.

Vice-Admiral KK Nayyar, chairman of the National Maritime Foundation (NMF), said “If we can make nuclear bombs and sophisticated satellite systems, why can’t we make other equipments. Even for pistols we run to other countries.”

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Tight security for polling in Chhattisgarh
Vibha Sharma writes from Raipur

Security forces in Naxalite-affected Chhattisgarh have their fingers crossed on the eve of Lok Sabha polls scheduled here on Thursday, especially in view of Wednesday’s attacks in neighbouring Jharkhand and Bihar apparently aimed at disrupting elections.

Eleven constituencies in the state would go to poll amidst tight security, as Naxalites had given a call for poll boycott. Of these segments, Bastar, Kanker and Sarguja are the worst hit.

The sudden spurt in Maoist violence in the past few days has rung alarm bells for the Chhattisgarh police, which sounded a high alert, particularly on the inter-state borders.

In the pre-poll violence in Chhattisgarh, Naxals have killed 15 security personnel in three incidents. Last Friday, Bastar turned into a battlefield when 10 security personnel lost their lives in a gunbattle between a CRPF battalion and Naxalites.

Earlier, the convoy of Bijapur SP Ankit Garg was targeted and before that Salwa Judum supporter and Congress leader Mahendra Karma's nephew Chhanu Karma was shot dead by Maoists.

As far as politics goes, among star candidates in the fray are Dilip Singh Judeo, Karuna Shukla, Ramesh Bais and Vishnu Deo Sai from the BJP and Renu Jogi and Charandas Mahant from the Congress.

While the ruling BJP in Chhattisgarh is struggling to repeat its 2004 general election feat when it won 10 of the 11 seats, the main opposition Congress is faced with a tremendous challenge as it is now trying to improve its tally.

A total of 178 candidates are in the fray, including nine who face criminal charges and seven who have declared assets worth over Rs 1 crore. Apart from the BJP and the Congress, the BSP is contesting all 11 seats. OBCs, with around 50 per cent of the states’ 1.54 crore voters, hold the key to fate of contestants. Women voters constitute 48 per cent of the total electorates in the state.

In spite of the lackluster campaign, intense triangular contests are expected to take place in Durg, Janjgir-Champa and Bastar. The BSP is trying to open its account from Janjgir-Champa. The contest in the prestigious Durg constituency is interesting. Here the four-time BJP MP Tarachand Sahu, an OBC leader expelled from the party after his anti-party activities during the Assembly election, is giving a strong fight as an Independent. With a pledge to uphold the pride of the people of the state, he may give the BJP candidate here a run for his money.

Another interesting contest is taking place in Bastar where CPI candidate Manish Kunjam is locked in a triangular battle with BJP’s Baliram Kashyap, eager to pull off victory for the fourth time in a row, and Congress’ Shanker Sodhi. But, as far as main contest in the state is concerned it is taking place at Bilaspur -- between arch rivals Dilip Singh Judeo and Renu Jogi (on behalf of husband Ajit Jogi).

The BJP is banking on “good governance” and the “good image” of Chief Minister Raman Singh to see it through. The Raman effect may work as the Chief Minister’s charisma has even managed to overshadow the personality of BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani. In fact, in Chhattisgarh a vote for the BJP may not essentially be a support for Advani.

The Congress is targeting ruling BJP on alleged gross misutilisation of Central funds, corruption in various schemes and on UPA’s accomplishments. But even though the Congress expects to improve its performance, the infighting may cost the party dear once again here.

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Bardhan rules out support to Congress-led govt
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
CPI general secretary AB Bardhan today firmly ruled out supporting a Congress-led government after the polls, saying the economic and foreign policies pursued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had harmed the country’s interests.

“Since he (Prime Minister) is sticking to these policies, I see no ground between the Congress and the Left…we don’t intend to support the Congress for pursuing these policies,” he told The Tribune here.

Bardhan also took strong exception to Manmohan Singh’s statement earlier in the day that regional parties were an obstacle to the nation’s growth. “His (Manmohan Singh) remarks against regional parties are strange because he had at least half a dozen of them holding important berths in his Cabinet.”

Regional parties, the CPI veteran underlined, were today a part of India’s socio-economic reality. “The Congress seems to think that it can continue and fall back upon the two-party system of either the Congress or the BJP. This is no longer possible,” he said.

He said because of this ‘jaundiced approach’, the Congress failed to see the growing challenge of a third alternative of non-Congress and non-BJP parties, with which the Left was also associated.

On Manmohan Singh’s statement that the country could start recording a 9-10 per cent growth by September, Bardhan said the nation was witnessing the same growth rate earlier also but it had only benefited the top layer of the society.

The CPI leader also attacked Manmohan Singh for relentlessly pursuing the Indo-US nuclear deal for 3 years. “Had he devoted this single-mindedness to solving the problems of the society and unemployment, the Indian people would have benefited,” stressed Bardhan.

The Prime Minister, he claimed, had compromised with the country’s sovereignty and independent foreign policy by signing the nuclear deal with the US.

On TV news channels projecting that the UPA would emerge as the single largest group but would not be able to cross the majority mark in the new Lok Sabha, Bardhan said, “All these projections are politically motivated.”

Asked how many seats the Left parties were expecting to garner, he remarked “more than 60 this time.”

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Do-or-die battle for Lalu
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, April 15
As 13 out of the 40 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar go to the polls in the first phase on Thursday, people are debating the issues that may become the preference of voters this time. While some believe that the elections would be a referendum of sorts on the development initiatives of the Nitish Kumar government (three years of the NDA rule will be compared to 15 years of the RJD), others believe that caste would still outweigh all other issues, including development. It is also being argued that secularism would continue to remain a major issue, particularly for the minority community voters. However, all agree that the elections are going to be a do-or-die battle for Lalu Yadav.

Prominent politicians whose fate is to be decided in the electoral arena tomorrow are Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav (Saran), Union Minister of State and Congress MP Meira Kumar (Sasaram), Former Police Commissioner of Delhi and Congress MP Nikhil Kumar (Aurangabad), Union Minister of State and RJD MP Kanti Singh (Karakat), four-time MP and leader of JD(U) parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha Prabhu Nath Singh (Maharjganj), Heena Shahab (Siwan), wife of Mohd. Shahabuddin, four-time RJD MP from Siwan, now convicted for life term imprisonment, Lalmuni Chowbey four-time BJP MP from Buxar and senior BJP leader and a Cabinet Minister in the Nitish government Bhola Singh (Nawada).

Stakes are very high for Lalu in this election and he must reclaim the lost ground in his home state or he would be out of the national reckoning. By wining 22 out of the 40 seats in the last LS polls (2004), Lalu not only got the coveted Railway Ministry but also emerged as an important UPA leader.

But just a year later, his party was voted out of power in Bihar in 2005 Assembly elections. The RJD could get just 53 seats out of the 243. Since then, Nitish is becoming popular day by day.

By pursuing his dual agenda of improving the law and order scenario and initiating development schemes on a priority basis, Nitish was able to earn the support of the masses. And by evolving his new social engineering formula, he also succeeded in securing a strong vote bank among Extremely Backward Castes (EBCs) and Mahadalits (most deprived among Scheduled Castes) other than his existing vote bank of upper caste and Kurmis and Kushwahas among the backward castes.

Despite having the BJP as its alliance partner, Nitish played Muslim card very smoothly and effectively and today his personal popularity amongst the Muslims is rated much higher than his rivals - Lalu and Paswan.

But even then the NDA may not get the advantage of Nitish’s popularity among the Muslims this time. In all likelihood they will not vote for the NDA this time, as LK Advani is its prime ministerial candidate. However, going by their own admission, they will extend their wholehearted support to Bihar Chief Minister in the Assembly elections, which is due in 2010.

Apparently aware of his declining support, Lalu went out of the way to forge an electoral alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan-led LJP with an eye on Dalit votes. But with BSP’s Mayawati putting her candidates on all 40 seats, Lalu and Paswan can only bank upon a section of Dalits-Paswans. Lalu’s alliance with Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) is also being perceived as an attempt to keep his caste men - Yadav voters intact.

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Advani slave of RSS, says Sonia

Bidar, April 15
Describing BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate L K Advani as a “slave of RSS”, Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said the saffron leader could not take any decision “without the fear of RSS”.

“It is Advani, who is a slave of RSS because he wants to protect his chair. This is the reason why he panders to each and every wish of RSS,” Sonia told an election rally here.

Dismissing Advani’s oft-repeated comment on Manmohan Singh being a weak Prime Minister as a “useless one”, she asked whether the senior BJP leader could take any decision on his own “without the fear of RSS”.

Gandhi said when Advani was BJP President he had given a “secular certificate” to Jinnah during his visit to Pakistan, which created a furore in the RSS and ultimately led to his resignation from the post.

“Advani must remember that a Prime Minister does not belong to one party but to the whole nation and an insult to him is an insult to the whole country,” she said.

“Now the choice is left to the people. They have to decide who is weak, whether it is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or BJP leader L K Advani,” Gandhi said. — PTI

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Sonia flays Advani over Kandahar
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Raigarh, April 15
Congress president Sonia Gandhi used her visit to Chhattisgarh on the last day of campaigning in the state to launch yet another attack on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani, this time over his recent statement on the Kandahar plane hijack episode in 1999.

Reacting to Advani’s statement that he was unaware of the then NDA government’s decision to release terrorists in exchange for Indian hostages in 1999, she asked the former Home Minister to explain that if such a big conspiracy was hatched with terrorists being taken to Kandahar without his knowledge, why he did not resign when he came to know the truth later.

Addressing rallies at Bilaspur and Purur, she said either Advani was lying or the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did not trust him to share details of the sensitive issue with him, urging the gathered crowds to think over this issue before casting their votes.

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Varun’s hate-speech result of bad upbringing: Khushwant

New Delhi, April 15
Noted writer Khushwant Singh, who has been a staunch admirer of Sanjay Gandhi’s actions during the Emergency, is critical of the late Congress leader’s son Varun and says his hate-speech was a result of his “bad upbringing” by Maneka Gandhi.

Singh, a former MP who supported Sanjay Gandhi’s actions during the Emergency, says that Varun be debarred from contesting elections for his “abusive” comments against Muslims.

“She (Maneka Gandhi) has badly brought up her child. I could not believe the words attributed to him about Muslims. Though he has denied them, it cannot get him out of it,” the renowned author said when asked about the hate-speech of the BJP’s candidate from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh was talking to reporters during the launch of the collection of his articles “Why I Supported the Emergency: Essays and Profiles” here. A seasoned journalist, who wrote extensively in support of Indira Gandhi and Sanjay, said: “Such abusive words for Muslims are ethnic insult for them. It is unpalatable. He should be banned from contesting elections.” — PTI

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Code Violation
FIR registered against Sanjay Dutt
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Sanjay Dutt Lucknow, April 15
The state police has registered an FIR against Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt and others for allegedly violating the model code of conduct in an election rally in Mau district.

According to Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Brijlal, the Samajwadi Party (SP) had organised an election meeting at Azad ground under Dakkhin Tola police station in Mau yesterday.

During the meeting Dutt made a communal speech mentioning that when he was in the police custody under TADA he was given third degree because his mother was a Muslim.

“I have suffered because of you people, you people should vote for the SP and make its candidate Arshad Jamal victorious”, he is quoted by the police press release to have said at the meeting.

Present on the dais were senior party leaders Amar Singh, Jaya Bachchan and candidate Arshad Jamal.

The actor and the candidate have been booked under Section 171 A of the IPC and 125 of the Representation of Peoples Act.

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Villagers unite to contest free liquor during polls
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, April 15
In a bold initiative, the people in about 100 villages in Andhra Pradesh have banned distribution of liquor and money in their areas by political parties at the time of elections.

Some of the villagers have even put up boards warning representatives of political parties against entering their villages with cash bags and liquor bottles. The villages, which have taken the initiative to banish liquor and money flow, are spread over Warangal, Karimnagar, Nellore, East Godavari and West Godavari districts.

All this was possible due to a unique movement “Melukolupu” (Awareness) launched by some NGOs and public-spirited citizens to curtail flow of money and liquor during elections.

“We will continue the efforts to see that number of such villages goes up from the present 100 to 1,000 in the next five years,” the convener of “Melukolupu”, B Ramakrishna Raju, said.

Noting that the response to the initiative was quite encouraging, he said it would go a long way in ridding electoral politics of the evil influence of money and liquor.

Justice Ambati Laxman Rao released audio and video CDs consisting of three inspirational songs composed by noted music directors RP Patnaik and Sri Krishna to give fillip to the movement. The CDs would be released in 10 districts to begin with, Raju said.

Justice Rao said “Melukolupu” was a highly credible civil society initiative to encourage people not to trade their valuable vote for inducements. “Of 22,000 villages in the state, the target is to carve 1,000 model villages,” Raju said.

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N-capable Prithvi test-fired

Balasore (Orissa), April 15
India today successfully test fired a version of nuclear-capable ‘Prithvi-II’ ballistic missile with a range of 350 km from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from here off the Orissa coast.

The indigenously developed surface-to-surface ballistic missile was test fired at around 10.20 am from a mobile launcher as part of a user trial by the army, defence sources said.

The entire trajectory of the trial was tracked down by a battery of sophisticated radars and electro-optic telemetry stations positioned in different locations for post-launch analysis, they said.

A naval ship had been anchored near the impact point in the Bay of Bengal and a long-range tracking radar (LRTR) as well as a multi-function tracking radar (MFTR) had been deployed to track the missile’s trajectory.

The sources said the test firing of the short-range ballistic missile was a user trial by the army. The surface-to-surface missile has already been inducted into the army and is “handled by the army unit attached to the strategic force command special group”, the sources said.

However, scientists of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) were supervising the test-firing and all logistic support was being provided by the ITR personnel here.

The missile has features to deceive any anti-ballistic missile and is equipped with “added inertial navigation” system, the sources said. The missile, designed to operate with both liquid as well as solid fuel, can carry conventional or nuclear pay loads of 500 kg.

The user trial of “Prithvi-II” was last carried out on May 23, 2008 from the ITR, Chandipur. — PTI

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Trial deferred, lawyer removed
Now Kasab wants counsel from Pak
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 15
Anjali Waghmare, the lawyer chosen by the government to defend Mohammad Ajmal Amir, alias Kasab, has been removed due to a conflict of interest issue. Kasab has now demanded that a lawyer from Pakistan be appointed to represent him.

The Special Sessions Court set up to try Kasab today ruled that Waghmare could not defend him as she was already representing one of the victims of the 26/11 terrorist attack case. Kasab's trial, which was to commence today, has been postponed as the government searches for another lawyer to represent him. The objections to Waghmare representing Kasab was filed by a senior advocate K Lam, who had earlier offered to represent the Mumbai terror attack accused.

In his petition, Lam said Waghmare should not appear in this case as she was representing Harishchandra Shrivardhankar, one of the victims injured in the attack.

Judge ML Tahilyani of the special court asked Waghmare to be removed after public prosecutor submitted a sealed cover said to be containing a copy of her ‘vakalatnama’ agreeing to represent Shrivardhankar.

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Prez expresses concern over ragging
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
President Pratibha Devisingh Patil has expressed grave concern over the rising incidents of ragging in certain institutions of higher secondary education across the country. Perturbed about the issue, she had also spoken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue a few days back, said sources in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The President has urged students, especially senior students in institutes of higher learning, to be more responsible in their dealings with the juniors. She believes that senior students have a greater responsibility to make their juniors feel at home in their new environment. Unfortunately, there were several instances where the practice of ragging had escalated to the level of torture amounting to crime. Such irresponsible behavior would cause serious apprehensions in the minds of new entrants and their parents, she said.

The President has called upon the state governments, university and college authorities to be vigilant and strict towards offenders and to take special efforts to prevent students from resorting to such acts of violence on the campuses of educational institutions. The state may also consider appropriate legislation to tackle this menace in the college and university premises in order to provide credible deterrence.

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Delhi HC curtails civilian quota in ACMS
All MBBS seats can be filled with wards of Army men

Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Striking down orders by a single judge, a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court has ruled that the Army College for Medical Sciences (ACMS) is entitled to fill up 100 per cent seats for the MBBS course from wards of serving, retired or deceased Army personnel.

The ACMS was set up in Delhi by the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) to cater to the professional educational needs of wards of defence personnel.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna, has held that the policy for filling up 100 per cent seats from wards of Army personnel was not unconstitutional and the AWES could not be denied the right to decide from what source the admission would be made.

Earlier, acting upon a petition filed by some civilian students, a single-judge bench had ordered last year that 21 seats out of 100 in the ACMS be thrown open to general category candidates on the basis of the common entrance test. Holding that a reservation of 79 seats out of 100 for wards of Army personnel would serve the purpose for which AWES was set up by the AWES, the judge observed that a large number of seats in the college were vacant.

Further, the student petitioners claimed that they were higher in the merit list than wards of Army personnel who were granted admission. The students had also contended that it was unconstitutional to reserve 100 per cent seats for wards of Army personnel in a government institution.

The bench held that the ACMS was not a government-aided institution and it was for the AWES to lay down the eligibility criteria. Stating that from the nature of things it was not possible to throw the admission open to students from the general public, the bench ruled the admission policy pertained to the numerous difficulties faced by wards of army personnel who were at disadvantage while competing with others.

The bench also ruled that the AWES’s policy for allocating 100 per cent seats to wards of Army personnel could not be equated with the usual form of communal reservation. It merely classified the source from which students would be drawn for the course.

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Foreigner gangraped, three arrested

Mumbai, April 15
Three youths have been arrested for allegedly gang raping a foreign national completing a postgraduate course at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in suburban Chembur, the police said today.

The victim was gangraped in suburban Andheri on Saturday night, the police said, adding the girl had approached them last night alleging she was raped by her six companions.

Three more youths who are allegedly involved in the crime are still absconding, the police said. All of them were in the age group of 20-25.

“The victim is a post-graduation student of international programme of our institute. We will provide all possible legal support to our student to protect her dignity,” S. Parasuraman, director of the institute, said. “Those involved in the crime are outsiders (not from the institute). An FIR has been lodged with the Trombay police,” he added.

The police said the victim knew all six accused. “They decided to consume alcohol on Saturday night following which they went to a beer bar in Govandi,” said Deputy Police Commissioner Dilip Sawant. “Subsequently, she was taken to a house in Andheri where, according to her, she was gangraped by the six,” Sawant said. So far three accused have been arrested. — PTI

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Ram Sene disrupts India-Pak seminar

New Delhi, April 15
Members of the Sri Ram Sene, the rightist group that hit the public eye with its attack on women in a Mangalore pub, tried to disrupt a seminar of Indian and Pakistani journalists here before being pushed out.

The Sene activists, who were seated as audience members at the venue at the India International Centre (IIC), shouted slogans against Pakistan.

The seminar, “Is Media Jingoism Fanning the India-Pak Problem?”, had been organised by the Foundation for Media Professionals and some Pakistani journalists were also attending it.

Owning responsibility for the act, Sene national general secretary Binay Kumar Singh said: “Everything was pre-planned as we wanted to disrupt the seminar.” He said around 30 members of the group were present.

“Speakers at the seminar were making comments against India and they were relating India with the recent terror attack on a police academy in Lahore. How can one listen to it? Pakistan has become a global problem and war is the only solution,” said Singh.

The speakers included noted author Arundhati Roy; columnist Swapan Dasgupta; Nirupama Subramanian, The Hindu correspondent in Islamabad; and Amit Baruah, Hindustan Times foreign editor.

A security official at the IIC said on condition of anonymity: “While the discussion was on, some Sene members started shouting anti-Pakistan slogans like ‘Pakistan is a global problem and war is the solution’. It spread commotion in the seminar room and the discussion was suspended for 15-20 minutes.”

Security officials, along with some Indian journalists, caught hold of the Sene members and pushed them out before the seminar resumed. — IANS

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