SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Noose tightened on criminals: Poll Commissioner
New Delhi, April 16
As polling for the first phase of the 15th Lok Sabha elections began today, an Election Commissioner said the poll panel had not been able to contain money power in the election process, though the noose had been tightened on criminal elements, relatively speaking.

Cong using kids for poll campaign in Surat: BJP 
Surat, April 16
City BJP unit has alleged that Congress candidate Dhiru Gajera from Surat has been employing children to campaign for him for the Lok Sabha elections on April 30. BJP leaders have alleged that Gajera paid the children a pittance after making them work for the entire day.

Cong worried over price rise
New Delhi, April 16 The spiralling prices of essential commodities despite the decline in the rate of inflation has become a matter of concern for the Congress leadership in this election season even as the BJP seeks to make political capital out of the issue.




EARLIER STORIES

People line up to cast their votes as a security personnel stands guard at a polling booth in Madangundi village, about 150 km north of Ranchi
People line up to cast their votes as a security personnel stands guard at a polling booth in Madangundi village, about 150 km north of Ranchi, on Thursday. — Reuters

Pollution no poll issue in Raigarh
Raigarh, April 16

In Raigarh, home to around several sponge iron plants in very close vicinity, including the mother of them all - Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) - environmental pollution has never been a political or a poll issue, either for the BJP or the Congress.

Bahadur Sonkar’s Death
Post-mortem report suggests otherwise 

Lucknow, April 16
Contrary to the state government’s claim the post-mortem report of slain Indian Justice Party Jaunpur candidate Bahadur Sonkar virtually confirms that he was first hit on the forehead and then hung on the tree causing his death.

‘Stricter laws against him if he violates undertaking’
Lucknow, April 16
UP Chief Minister Mayawati warned to impose still “stricter laws” against Varun Gandhi if he violated the undertaking given to the Supreme Court today.

Footwear flung at Advani
Bhopal/New Delhi, April 16
The'footwear missile' struck again. This time the target was senior BJP leader LK Advani, who was going up to the podium to address a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh today when a former party office-bearer lobbed a slipper at him.

Bandh leaders to be held guilty of damage to property
New Delhi, April 16
Ruling that leaders who call for agitations would be “deemed to be guilty of abetment” of damage to public property, the Supreme Court today authorised high courts to take suo motu action to investigate riots cases and award compensation.

Police didn’t help me out: gangrape victim 
Mumbai, April 16
The 23-year-old student of Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), who was allegedly gangraped by her six companions, said she tried to lodge a complaint the very next day of the incident, but could not do so due to the police’s non-cooperation.

SG Abbas Kazmi Kasab gets new lawyer
Mumbai, April 16
The Special Sessions Court set up to try Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the November 26 terror attacks in the city, has appointed SG Abbas Kazmi to represent him. Kazmi’s appointment comes a day after Anjali Waghmare, the lawyer appointed for the purpose by the government, was removed on the grounds of conflict of interest.

SG Abbas Kazmi 

Prem Bhatia Award for Neerja Chowdhury
Chandigarh, April 16
Neerja Chowdhury, a syndicated columnist, has received the Prem Bhatia Award for the best political reporting for the year 2009. Chowdhury receives the award for combining a social conscience with exceptional commitment to her profession. According to a release issued by the foundation, Chowdhury fought for social causes and was the first and only Civil Rights correspondent for an Indian newspaper, serving The Statesman from 1982 to 1987.







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Noose tightened on criminals: Poll Commissioner

New Delhi, April 16
As polling for the first phase of the 15th Lok Sabha elections began today, an Election Commissioner said the poll panel had not been able to contain money power in the election process, though the noose had been tightened on criminal elements, relatively speaking.

Election Commissioner SY Qureshi admitted that money had been exchanging hands during the campaign.

"We believe we have failed in doing that (stopping cash for votes). Money power is (something) we have not been able to control," Qureshi said in reply to a question on the news channel CNN-IBN.

"Only when we observe something happening through media do we come down heavily. Lots of money is changing hands. We have not been able to control it," he said.

The Election Commissioner denied charges of going overboard in ensuring security in the polls, saying making appropriate security arrangements is the constitutional mandate of the body. — IANS

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Cong using kids for poll campaign in Surat: BJP 

Surat, April 16
City BJP unit has alleged that Congress candidate Dhiru Gajera from Surat has been employing children to campaign for him for the Lok Sabha elections on April 30.

BJP leaders have alleged that Gajera paid the children a pittance after making them work for the entire day.

"Making children work for election propaganda and that too for the whole day for a nominal amount is not good. No political party should promote such things. This is unacceptable," BJP leader Kishore Vankawala said.

Over 50 children were seen shouting slogans, distributing pamphlets and posters for Gajera during an election rally a couple of days ago in the old city area here. The children, mostly belonging to the labour class, wore Congress scarves and proceeded along with Gajera's rally across the city, the BJP leader alleged.

One of them, Ehsaan Sheikh (10), said he had been promised Rs 80 and food by Congress party workers for distributing pamphlets and shouting slogans.

"Party workers asked people in my area (Bhatena) to join in the campaign for money and food. They even offered the same for children if they joined the rally," Ehsaan said.

I was playing with my friends, when my parents asked me to go and work. I do not know to whom the money will be paid, but we have been offered food and cold drinks," he added. — PTI 

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Cong worried over price rise
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 16
The spiralling prices of essential commodities despite the decline in the rate of inflation has become a matter of concern for the Congress leadership in this election season even as the BJP seeks to make political capital out of the issue.

At the Congress press briefing here today, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi was on the defensive when confronted with a spate of questions on the increase in the prices of items like sugar, fruit and vegetables.

“We are aware of the fact that taking advantage of the ongoing electoral exercise, certain sections are creating artificial shortage of some commodities, leading to black-marketing and hoarding. This, however, is a highly temporary phenomenon,” Singhvi said.

With the first phase of voting concluding this evening, the Congress is only hoping that the price rise does not become a major issue in the elections. The BJP, however, is trying to exploit the issue to its advantage in the elections.

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Pollution no poll issue in Raigarh
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Raigarh, April 16
In Raigarh, home to around several sponge iron plants in very close vicinity, including the mother of them all - Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) - environmental pollution has never been a political or a poll issue, either for the BJP or the Congress.

Independent agencies have attempted to fight against air, ground and water pollution in the area but without much redressal. Ramesh Aggarwal and Rajesh Tripathi of people’s organisation Jan Chetna claim that despite visibly serious effects, till date no official survey has been conducted on health and environmental impacts of these plants.

But a risk appraisal study conducted some time back by Hyderabad-based Cerana Foundation says that there is a “significant cancer risk and an elevated non-cancer toxic risk to a population of 1.9 lakh in a 10-km radius around the JSPL plant.

“Similar cancer and non-cancer risk contours would exist for other sponge iron plants, which would be in direct correlation to their air pollution control devices. There would also be crop yield loss around sponge iron plants,” the report concludes.

Financial assistance doled out by owners of these industries make politicians insensitive towards violation of environmental laws. Four-times MLA from Raigarh Ram Kumar Aggarwal is candid enough to admit that money power of industrialists has made both the BJP and the Congress silent on the issue of environmental pollution.

“They are scared. All they will speak on is development activities that have taken place in the area ever since these industries started mushrooming here,” he says.

But the local population is agitated; they blame industry pioneers for showing way to others and not creating environment awareness among them. Tripathi says there is a good reason for people’s anger. “They believe that the bigger industries may have tried to keep their own space clean because they are in the limelight but have not done enough for the rest of the area. The general feeling is that despite having political power and money they have not tried to ensure that other smaller and medium industries also follow the rules.”

The fact is that all open areas in Raigarh city are coated with a sheet of black dust and situation worsens as one venture on the national highway towards the cluster of sponge iron plants.

Huge mounds of solid industrial wastes line the road. Reserved forests along the roadside resemble war zones with plants and leaves coated with unusual amounts of fly-ash and dust. The river Kelo, said to be the lifeline of the city, is a ghost of its earlier self.

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Bahadur Sonkar’s Death
Post-mortem report suggests otherwise 
Shahira Naim

Lucknow, April 16
Contrary to the state government’s claim the post-mortem report of slain Indian Justice Party Jaunpur candidate Bahadur Sonkar virtually confirms that he was first hit on the forehead and then hung on the tree causing his death.

A copy of the post mortem report made available by the Indian Justice Party state president Kalicharan Sonkar clearly mentions a “lacerated wound. (2.0 cm X1.0 cm) skin deep on junction of forehead and hairline 6 cm above front next to nose”. The cause of death is “asphyxia as result of ante mortem hanging”.

Explaining the significance of the post mortem report retired IG and dalit activist S.R. Darapuri said, “in all probability the deceased was first hit on the head rendering him unconscious and then picked along with his bedding by the assaulters. After throwing the bedclothes on the way they hung him in that state from the tree causing his death”. According to the report Sonkar’s vital organs were ‘congested’. “This happens when a living person is hanged. So obviously he was not dead when he was hanged. But he could have been unconscious.” ,he added

Meanwhile, the IJP president Kalicharan accused the ruling party of being involved in the murder. “Why have the Circle Officer and Station Officer who were threatening my candidate not been removed  so far?”

It was only when the national president of the party Udit Raj met the Deputy Election Commissioner R Balakrishnan in New Delhi that two senior observers were appointed to oversee the Jaunpur election, claimed Kalicharan.

He said that another IJP candidate Raj Kumar Padaiya contesting from Jalaun withdrew his candidature on the day Sonkar died after he received a threat from an anonymous caller insistent on his withdrawal or be prepared to meet the same fate. 

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‘Stricter laws against him if he violates undertaking’
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, April 16
UP Chief Minister Mayawati warned to impose still “stricter laws” against Varun Gandhi if he violated the undertaking given to the Supreme Court today.

Recalling a similar undertaking given by former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh to the apex court to ensure the safety of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, Mayawati said he was also from the BJP and despite the undertaking the structure was demolished and the undertaking was of no consequence.

Apprehending further disturbance in public order due to the release of Pilibhit BJP candidate Varun Gandhi Mayawati clarified that if the undertaking was violated in any manner she would not hesitate to take strict action as her government would not let anyone take her government for a ride “whether he is a Gandhi or a member of the royal family”.

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Footwear flung at Advani

Bhopal/New Delhi, April 16
The'footwear missile' struck again. This time the target was senior BJP leader LK Advani, who was going up to the podium to address a public meeting in Madhya Pradesh today when a former party office-bearer lobbed a slipper at him.

The man, identified as Pawas Agarwal, threw a 'khadaun' or a wooden toe-knob sandal at Advani, saying he was "a fake iron man" and did not deserve to be the BJP's prime ministerial candidate. The incident took place in Katni district, 350 km from Bhopal. The sandal missed Advani, but he became the latest target of a series of 'shoe-throwing' incidents in the country.

A former Katni district president of the BJP, Agarwal was taken into custody by the police. Agarwal told mediapersons that Advani was "nakli lauh purush" (a fake iron man). "He has no ideology. On the one hand, he asks for votes in the name of Ram and on the other hand, pays obeisance to (Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali) Jinnah," he said.

The incident came close on the heels of a shoe being thrown at Home Minister P Chidamabram by journalist Jarnail Singh at a press conference at the AICC headquarters and an elderly man repeating the act at a public meeting of Congress leader Navin Jindal at Kurukshetra.

This unhealthy trend in Indian politics has come in for sharp criticism from different political parties.

“This is condemnable…any process in a democracy which involves violence or aggression should not be supported at any cost,’’ Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.

Condemning the chappal-throwing incident, BJP spokesman Arun Jaitley was of the view that the media should also stop giving publicity to elements, who indulge in such acts. — IANS, TNS

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Bandh leaders to be held guilty of damage to property
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 16
Ruling that leaders who call for agitations would be “deemed to be guilty of abetment” of damage to public property, the Supreme Court today authorised high courts to take suo motu action to investigate riots cases and award compensation.

The recommendations of Justice KT Thomas and the FS Nariman Committees, set up by the apex court, “shall immediately became operative as guidelines,” a three-Judge Bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat said. The committees had been set up in the wake of the Gujjars agitation to press for reservation.

“Wherever a mass destruction to property takes place due to protests or thereof, the high court may issue suo motu action and set up a machinery to investigate the damage caused and to award compensation related thereto. Where there is more than one state involved, such action may be taken by the Supreme Court,” the Bench, which also included Justices LS Panta and P Sathasivam, said.

In each case, the high court or Supreme Court, as the case may be, appoint a sitting or retired high court judge or a sitting or retired district judge as a claims commissioner to estimate the damages and investigate liability.

Observing that it was difficult to prove abetment of the offence with the help of direct evidence, the court said this flaw could be remedied to a great extent by making an additional provision in the Prevention of Destruction to Public Property (PDPP) Act.

The amendment could specify categories of leaders of the organisation which “make the call for direct actions resulting in damage to public property, shall be deemed to be guilty of abetment of the offence.

“At the same time, no innocent person, in spite of his being a leader of the organisation shall be made to suffer for the actions done by others. This requires the inclusion of a safeguard to protect such innocent leaders,” the court said.

Noting that destruction of public property had become “so rampant” during direct actions called by organisations, the court said that in almost all such cases the top leaders who really “instigate” such action would keep themselves in the background. This resulted in ordinary or common members or grassroots-level followers becoming vulnerable to prosecution proceedings.

“In many such cases, the leaders would really be the main offenders being the abettors of the crime,” the Bench said. It clarified that the guidelines would be valid till the time suitable amendments were made to the existing laws.

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Police didn’t help me out: gangrape victim 

Mumbai, April 16
The 23-year-old student of Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS), who was allegedly gangraped by her six companions, said she tried to lodge a complaint the very next day of the incident, but could not do so due to the police’s non-cooperation.

The victim, a US national who was gangraped on April 11, had on the next day gone to the Rajawadi hospital in suburban Ghatkopar to undergo medical tests. “I was medically examined by a doctor there who then referred me to some police in the hospital. However, the police did not help me out,” the victim said in her statement to the police.

The victim further stated that she was traumatised by the incident and thus refused to approach the police again.

“After speaking to my mother and friends, I felt supported and comfortable to come to the police station and register a complaint,” the victim said.

The victim, who hails from Idaho in United States, had come to India in October, 2008, and was pursuing a course in Gender and Development at the TISS. — PTI 

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Kasab gets new lawyer
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 16
The Special Sessions Court set up to try Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the November 26 terror attacks in the city, has appointed SG Abbas Kazmi to represent him.

Kazmi’s appointment comes a day after Anjali Waghmare, the lawyer appointed for the purpose by the government, was removed on the grounds of conflict of interest.

Judge ML Tahilyani of the Special Court stated that Kasab's request for a lawyer from Pakistan had not yeilded any response from the neighbouring country. Kasab's trial will now begin from tomorrow.

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Prem Bhatia Award for Neerja Chowdhury

Chandigarh, April 16
Neerja Chowdhury, a syndicated columnist, has received the Prem Bhatia Award for the best political reporting for the year 2009. Chowdhury receives the award for combining a social conscience with exceptional commitment to her profession. According to a release issued by the foundation, Chowdhury fought for social causes and was the first and only Civil Rights correspondent for an Indian newspaper, serving The Statesman from 1982 to 1987.

The award for the best reporting on environment has gone to Gargi Parsai, senior correspondent of The Hindu. Both awards will be presented at the 14th Prem Bhatia Memorial Lecture which will be delivered on May 8 by eminent scholar and author Dr Ayesha Siddiqa at the India International Centre, New Delhi. — TNS

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BRIEFLY

Pro-Eelam cadres seal govt offices
CHENNAI:
Cadres of suspected pro-Eelam outfits today locked and sealed three central government office premises, including the income tax office, in the city, police said. According to police, the gates of Sastri Bhavan and Aaykar Bhavan, both at Nungambakkam and of the Head Post Office at Mount Road were found locked and sealed. Police said they suspect it to be the handiwork of cadres of pro-Eelam outfits, apparently upset over the ceasefire not being implemented in the Northern part of the island nation. — PTI

DD to pay 10 lakh for plagiarism
MUMBAI:
The Bombay High Court asked Doordarshan to shell out Rs 10 lakh as compensation for plagiarising a part of well-known documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan's 1975 film. Patwardhan had dragged DD to court, alleging that the government broadcaster used part of footage from his film 'Waves of Revolution' in a 2003 short film entitled '26th June 1975'. Patwardhan's film was about students' movement in Bihar, led by Jaiprakash Narayan, prior to the emergency. DD acquired rights to the film, and telecast it in 1977. In 2003, DD telecasted a film, entitled '26 June, 1975', on 26 June, 2003 that used footage from Patwardhan's film, without his permission. The judge also restrained DD from re-screening '26 June, 1975'. — PTI

Yatra season from April 27
GARHWAL:
The pilgrimage to the holy Gangotri and Yamnotri will begin from April 27 while the two shrines of Kedarnath and Badrinath will be opened for public from April 30 and first of May respectively. The opening of the shrines mark the beginning of the ‘Char Dham’ pilgrimage during which pilgrims from all over the country as well as neighbouring Nepal throng the Himalayan region for ‘darshan’, Badrinath-Kedarnath temple committee spokesperson O P Dimari said. — PTI

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