SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

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DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Centre rejects Varun plea on NSA
New Delhi, April 25
The Congress could not have found itself better placed, politically, on the issue of revoking the National Security Act (NSA) on Varun Gandhi. Rejecting the BJP Pilibhit candidate’s plea to remove the NSA charges against him today, the Home Ministry cited statute, saying it could not revoke or even intervene in the matter of a law invoked by the state government.

CPM confused over support to Cong
New Delhi, April 25
No matter who thinks what, Prakash Karat seems to have made up his mind on the issue of support to former ally, the Congress. But the intra-party disconnect on the issue seems far from over, even though an ever-sterner CPM general secretary today firmly rebutted the “Congress is not out” statement attributed to senior party leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Tamil crisis may hit Cong-DMK combine hard
New Delhi, April 25
The Congress is perhaps underestimating the adverse impact the Sri Lankan Tamil issue may have on the poll prospects of the DMK-Congress combine in Tamil Nadu. Political observers, who till earlier this week were giving the DMK-Congress alliance a respectable figure of 10 to 14 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, have now toned it down.



EARLIER STORIES



Maran slaps legal notice on Jaya
Chennai, April 25
Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran today slapped a legal notice on AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa for alleging irregularities in use of his phones for uplinking programmes of Sun TV, threatening to sue her for defamation if she did not tender an apology.

Pak ultra says he wanted to return after seeing reality
Taliban not among 56 infiltrated militants: Army
Srinagar, April 25
The Army today tried to set at rest speculations over the number of militants who infiltrated into the valley this year and put their number at 56-odd. It also produced an arrested Pakistani militant, among the 31 militants who had infiltrated through the Gurez sector in March, before the media to substantiate its claims.

Tamil residents of Dharavi, a shanty town, burn a poster of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse during a protest in Mumbai
Tamil residents of Dharavi, a shanty town, burn a poster of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse during a protest in Mumbai. — Reuters

27 held for trying to burn Indian, Lankan flags
Chennai, April 25
Twenty seven persons, owing allegiance to two little known pro-Sri Lankan Tamils outfits, from Chennai, Coimbatore and Erode were arrested today for attempting to burn the national flags of India and Sri Lanka.

SC: Stop pay recovery from demoted employee
New Delhi, April 25
If ignorance is bliss, being an illiterate is paying at times. The Supreme Court has directed the Bihar government to stop recovery of the excess amount paid to an employee, who was reverted to the level of a Routine Clerk 10 years after being given the first time-bound promotion on a provisional basis.

Only 33 pc Lt Gens to get HAG-plus status
New Delhi, April 25
Last night’s orders of the Ministry of Defence with regards to placing a select-few of senior most officers of the armed forces in a higher pay bracket than others, has left the forces baffled. It now poses a challenge to devise a formula that will identify the posts on which more salary can be given.

BSF well equipped to face terror: DGP
Agartala, April 25
The Border Security Force (BSF) is well equipped to face any terrorist or Taliban attack from across the border, BSF Director General M L Kumawat has said today. “The western border is well guarded, well fenced, well equipped and well manned to face any kind of terrorist or Talibani attack from other side of the border,” Kumawat said, adding that Talibans and other anti-Indian elements were using the soil of Pak-occupied Kashmir to create menace.

Tamil Eelam only way out, says Jayalalithaa
Salem (TN), April 25
Hardening her stand on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa tonight firmly backed a separate Tamil Eelam in that country saying it alone would end the decades long ethnic strife there.

Bus owner molests girls, held
Mumbai, April 25
The owner of a bus contracted by a school here allegedly molested several girl students - all under eight years of age - as they returned home from school, police said today. The accused, Ramakant Kasurde (50), has been arrested.





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Centre rejects Varun plea on NSA
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
The Congress could not have found itself better placed, politically, on the issue of revoking the National Security Act (NSA) on Varun Gandhi.

Rejecting the BJP Pilibhit candidate’s plea to remove the NSA charges against him today, the Home Ministry cited statute, saying it could not revoke or even intervene in the matter of a law invoked by the state government.

While that is the truth --- under rules, the Centre cannot supervise or review the cases where states have invoked preventive detention laws like the NSA, TADA etc --- the turn of events suits the Congress perfectly. It can now list legal provisions to defend its move of turning down Varun’s plea, while at the same time pocketing a chance to share with the BSP the political bounties of this development.

Given the fact that the Muslim-dominated belt in Uttar Pradesh is going to polls shortly, the ruling Congress would have suffered a setback had it been in a position to take a call on Mayawati’s decision to slap the NSA on Varun.

But rules have come to the aid of the party, which can now hope to cash on the polarisation of Muslim votes in UP, courtesy the alleged hate speech of Varun.

No wonder the BJP was quick to slam the Congress today for turning down Varun’s request, terming the move as a ratification of the vindictive and vote bank politics of the Congress.

“The Congress-led government has ratified and manifested its conventional vindictive and vote bank politics by rejecting Varun Gandhi’s plea. We will fight his case in the Supreme Court,” Prakash Javadekar, BJP spokesperson said today.

He also warned the Congress of political losses on account of its decision, adding that, “The Congress and the UP government led by Mayawati have set a wrong precedent by clamping the NSA on their political opponents.”

The Congress, for its part, has the rule book to blame for the move that suits it well in Uttar Pradesh. As a senior party leader today pointed out, “There is no way whereby a law invoked by the state government could have been revoked by the Centre, unless of course the statute of such a law provides for the same.” The NSA does not accord such authority of review to the Centre.

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CPM confused over support to Cong
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
No matter who thinks what, Prakash Karat seems to have made up his mind on the issue of support to former ally, the Congress.

But the intra-party disconnect on the issue seems far from over, even though an ever-sterner CPM general secretary today firmly rebutted the “Congress is not out” statement attributed to senior party leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Karat insisted there were no two opinions in the party on the matter of support to the Congress. “There is no conflict on the issue at all. I have read the text of the statement by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. He just said the party was not committing anything at the moment and was working to defeat the Congress and the BJP,” Karat today told The Tribune in a telephonic conversation.

He dismissed the conclusion that Buddhadeb’s statement was contradictory to the CPM’s stand on the issue, and said the CPM had all along given a call for the formation of a non-Congress, non-BJP government at the Centre.

But back in New Delhi, senior party leader Sitaram Yechury added to the confusion by saying today that the issue of who would support whom was “right now irrelevant.” Another senior Communist leader Nilotpal Basu said the Left could not unilaterally decide on the matter. In the same vein, he said the Left was not for support to a Congress-led government.

With the confusion reigning over the party’s real stand on the matter, the final word would have to be Prakash Karat’s, who today stuck to his earlier statement — “We have mentioned that we will not support the Congress-led government. They can offer outside support to us,” he said.

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Tamil crisis may hit Cong-DMK combine hard
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
The Congress is perhaps underestimating the adverse impact the Sri Lankan Tamil issue may have on the poll prospects of the DMK-Congress combine in Tamil Nadu.

Political observers, who till earlier this week were giving the DMK-Congress alliance a respectable figure of 10 to 14 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, have now toned it down. They claim that the situation may deteriorate further for the ruling combine in the state in days to come, maybe even to the extent of the AIADMK and its allies making a clean sweep.

The reason, they say, is the way the Congress-led government at the Center has reacted to the crisis. Adding to this is an unforeseen problem in the form of the scheduled date of elections in the state. Tamil Nadu will go to polls on May 13 and political observers have a reason to believe that it is a long time to go and till then this issue will simmer and may worsen the situation for the Congress-DMK combine.

Congress sources say the party has gone with the DMK against the wishes of the state leadership, which was for an alliance with the AIADMK. Apparently state party leaders have now also conveyed that Congress president Sonia Gandhi may find it difficult to campaign in Tamil Nadu in the present circumstances. Besides, Jayalaithaa has made right alliances, the caste arithmetic is in her favour and added with the Sri Lankan issue it could be a win-win situation for Amma and her allies. By making right noises about the Tamil civilian issue, this side has already gained a substantial edge. In contrast is the Congress, which till last week appeared to be almost in a denial mode, thereby giving the impression that the Sri Lankan Tamil issue was no poll issue in Tamil Nadu. It was only after situation got out of hand that the party indulged in some “political posturing” and issued a statement.

Party sources say the Congress was under severe pressure from the DMK to make a strong statement and save the DMK-Congress combine from losing out completely to the formidable alliance of the AIADMK and its allies.

The carefully balanced statement issued on Wednesday stated that, “the Congress had always advocated the fulfilment of legitimate aspirations of the Tamil-speaking minority of the Sri Lanka within the framework of united and federal Sri Lanka”. It added that any lasting solution to the ethnic strike in Sri Lanka would be possible through democratic and political means and not through military campaigns.

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Maran slaps legal notice on Jaya

Chennai, April 25
Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran today slapped a legal notice on AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa for alleging irregularities in use of his phones for uplinking programmes of Sun TV, threatening to sue her for defamation if she did not tender an apology.

In his notice sent through his advocate, Maran said he would seek Rs 10 crore in damages and claimed that contrary to Jayalalithaa’s allegation, CBI had not probed the alleged irregularities in uplinking of programmes of the satellite Television channel SUN TV, owned by his brother Kalanidhi Maran, when he was the Union IT and Communications Minister.

J Ravindran, Maran’s advocate, refuted allegations made by Jayalalithaa at a public meeting at Virudhunagar on April 23, terming them as “totally baseless, imaginary and false” and made with ‘mala fide intention’ to defame Dayanidhi Maran.

“The defamatory allegations made by Jayalalithaa are nothing but motivated and false knowing fully well that no such thing had ever happened,” he said. Jayalalithaa had made several allegations against Dayanidhi Maran and had said the CBI, which enquired into them, had stopped it abruptly after the patch-up between the families of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and the Maran brothers. — PTI

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Pak ultra says he wanted to return after seeing reality
Taliban not among 56 infiltrated militants: Army
Kumar Rakesh
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 25
The Army today tried to set at rest speculations over the number of militants who infiltrated into the valley this year and put their number at 56-odd. It also produced an arrested Pakistani militant, among the 31 militants who had infiltrated through the Gurez sector in March, before the media to substantiate its claims.

Saqib Moinullah Shah, a resident of Dirbala district in North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, said his group included militants from the Hizbul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Harkat-ul Mijahideen. The Talibans were not part of their group. He joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and trained in Mansera in the PoK before setting off for “jehad” in Kashmir. Brig-General Staff of 15 Corps, Brig Gurmeet Singh, said they had killed 12 militants of this group so far since last month, while six other militants and two porters were buried in an avalanche.

Saqib had managed to move to a general area with a guide and moved around for 12 days before the Army picked him up. He claimed he wanted to return to Pakistan, as he found social conditions in Kashmir completely different from what was told to him. “I was influenced by a Hizbul leader, who came to preach in my district. He and other Kashmiri militants said there was a reign of terror in the valley, as Muslims were not allowed to offer prayers and their women’s were raped. I saw here nothing like this and paid Rs 1,000 to the guide’s brother for my return,” he said in Urdu.

However, the actual strength of this group was much larger as it included many guides, porters and snow beaters. Saqib said the group’s strength was over 100.

Brig Gurmeet Singh said most of the guides and porters were likely to have returned to Pakistan, as they were paid only after the execution of their job.

Asked whether Taliban militants were mixing with jehadi groups working in Kashmir, Saqib said they trained separately and concentrated on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Army also produced stockpiles of arms and ammunition, which it had seized either in encounters with these infiltrating militants or on the disclosures of Saqib.

Brig Gurmeet Singh said the Army had intelligence on each of the infiltrating militant and they would hunt down all of them. “They are in a bad shape and many of them are suffering from frost bites,” he said.

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27 held for trying to burn Indian, Lankan flags

Chennai, April 25
Twenty seven persons, owing allegiance to two little known pro-Sri Lankan Tamils outfits, from Chennai, Coimbatore and Erode were arrested today for attempting to burn the national flags of India and Sri Lanka.

Fifteen activists of the Tamil Desiya Viduthalai Iyakkam (Tamil Nationalist Liberation Movement) and Tamil Desa Poduvudamai Katchi (Tamil National Socialist Party) gathered in front of Shastri Bhavan here, which houses various Central government offices, including the passport office and tried to set the flags afire before they were arrested, the police said.

Eight persons belonging to Tamil Nationalist Socialist Party were arrested at Coimbatore when they attempted to burn the Sri Lankan national flag near the district collectorate. Police foiled the activists’ attempt to burn the Sri Lankan and Indian flags at the Collectorate, as tight security has been put in place following prior information.

Police overpowered the activists who had a Sri Lankan flag dipped in kerosene and recovered it, besides an Indian tricolour. At Erode also, four persons belonging to the organisations were arrested for attempts to burn the flags.

In a press release, the outfits alleged that despite repeated pleas from Tamil Nadu to press Colombo for a ceasefire, the Government of India had not done enough to prevent the “killings” of Lankan Tamils. — PTI

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SC: Stop pay recovery from demoted employee
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 25
If ignorance is bliss, being an illiterate is paying at times. The Supreme Court has directed the Bihar government to stop recovery of the excess amount paid to an employee, who was reverted to the level of a Routine Clerk 10 years after being given the first time-bound promotion on a provisional basis.

A Bench comprising Tarun Chatterjee and VS Sirpurkar delivered a judgment this week, ruling in favour of one Paras Nath Singh, who had lost his case twice in the Patna High Court - once before a single Judge and then before a Division Bench.

Singh had joined Bihar’s Department of Planning and Development as an Orderly and was promoted to the post of Machine Boy on August 29, 1972. He was made a Routine Clerk on June 13, 1974 and he continued in this position for 21 years (till April 15, 1995) before being given a “provisional” first time-bound promotion with 11 years retrospective effect (from June 13, 1984).

Ten years later, the government cancelled his time-bound promotion on September 19, 2005 and ordered recovery of Rs 1.01 lakh in instalments - Rs 5,000 a month. After failing to get relief from the HC, he knocked at the doors of the apex court, seeking to stall the recovery.

And he won the case at least partially with the apex court directing the state government to stop the recovery despite an undertaking given by Singh at the time of the provisional promotion that he would return the excess salary arising from the elevation in the event of cancellation.

“…the appellant was only a Class IV employee in the state of Bihar and almost an illiterate person and did not know the implications of giving such an undertaking and in the absence of any fraud and misrepresentation attributed to the appellant and the amount being not so excessive…we are of the view that a lenient view should be taken,” the Bench ruled.

However, the amount already recovered from Singh need not be returned to him, the Bench said. Singh has since retired.

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Only 33 pc Lt Gens to get HAG-plus status
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 25
Last night’s orders of the Ministry of Defence with regards to placing a select-few of senior most officers of the armed forces in a higher pay bracket than others, has left the forces baffled. It now poses a challenge to devise a formula that will identify the posts on which more salary can be given.

Last night, the ministry, in its notification said only 33 per cent of the Lieut Generals and their parallel ranks of Air Marshall and the Vice Admiral in the IAF and the Navy, respectively, will get the enhanced Higher Administrative Grade (HAG)-plus status.

The number of the officers getting the enhanced grade is not “substantial” as some sections of the media had reported in the past, said a well-placed official.

Already the Vice chiefs of the services and officers at the GoC-in-C-level have been placed in the “apex” grade that is at a par with a secretary to government of India. Excluding them, there are about 62-64 serving Lieut Generals, 14-15 Air Marshalls and another 13-14 Vice Admirals. The letter implies only about 35-odd officers across the three services will get the new HAG-plus grade and the others will not get it.

There are two options to identify who gets it. One is to earmark posts and the officer gets the enhanced pay only if he is working on that post. The other is to give it as per seniority hence giving it only to 33 per cent.

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BSF well equipped to face terror: DGP

Agartala, April 25
The Border Security Force (BSF) is well equipped to face any terrorist or Taliban attack from across the border, BSF Director General M L Kumawat has said today.

“The western border is well guarded, well fenced, well equipped and well manned to face any kind of terrorist or Talibani attack from other side of the border,” Kumawat said, adding that Talibans and other anti-Indian elements were using the soil of Pak-occupied Kashmir to create menace.

Kumawat, who is on a three-day visit to the state which shares a 856-km long porous border with Bangladesh, has told reporters that BSF would have to remain alert and cautious to check infiltration as Pakistani terrorists are now using Bangladesh to enter India.

After the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government came to power in Bangladesh, relation between BSF and BDR had improved, the BSF DG said.

After the recent BDR mutiny, Bangladesh government sought assistance from BSF so that the belligerent groups could not cross the border to enter Indian territory, he said. — PTI

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Tamil Eelam only way out, says Jayalalithaa

Salem (TN), April 25
Hardening her stand on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa tonight firmly backed a separate Tamil Eelam in that country saying it alone would end the decades long ethnic strife there.

“We have been asking for a ceasefire. It is not enough. Sri Lankan Tamils should get justice and lead a normal life.They should get all rights that are available to Sinhalese.For this, a separate Eelam is the only way,” Jayalalithaa said in a major shift in her party’s stand on the issue.

Stating that a separate Eelam was the only way to find a permanent solution to the ethnic issue, she told an election meeting here that “I will definitely do it. To form a separate Eelam, vote for AIADMK-led alliance.”

AIADMK’s manifesto had said it would press for a separate Eelam if moves for devolution of powers in Tamil-dominated provinces failed to give equal status to the Tamils.

But her remarks today reflect a change in the party’s position on the issue which has come to occupy the centrestage in the run-up to the May 13 Lok Sabha polls with political parties raising the pitch apparently worried about the electoral fallout of the humanitarian crisis in the war zone. — PTI

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Bus owner molests girls, held

Mumbai, April 25
The owner of a bus contracted by a school here allegedly molested several girl students - all under eight years of age - as they returned home from school, police said today. The accused, Ramakant Kasurde (50), has been arrested.

“Bus owner Ramakant Kasurde was arrested today following a complaint filed by parents of the victims accusing him of molesting the girls in the bus while dropping them home from school,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Milind Marambe said. The complaint was lodged by over 25 parents on April 17 after they informed the school about the alleged abuse.

According to the police, Kasurde operated three buses to pick up and drop school children from neighbourhoods around Dadar in South Central Mumbai. Every evening after school hours, the accused would occupy a rear seat in the bus and molest the minor girls, police said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Shahrukh smokes, lobby fumes
PANAJI:
Puffing away on a cigarette to absorb the tension of an IPL cricket match has put Bollywood super star and owner of Kolkata Knight Riders team Shahrukh Khan in a spot with the anti-smoking lobby. The National Organisation for Tobacco Eradication (NOTE), has protested against the filmstar who was shown on TV smoking during an IPL match on April 21 in South Africa. NOTE has asked the South African National Council Against Smoking (NCAS) to consider the issue seriously and ban smoking in the stadium during IPL matches. “I chatted with them and sent details and to Supersport, who are the broadcasters. I am soliciting an agreement that they will not show anyone smoking," Peter Ucko from NCAS has informed NOTE. — PTI

Man convicted for helping JeM militants
NEW DELHI:
A Delhi court on Saturday convicted a man from West Bengal for providing logistic support to five Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who had attacked the make-shift temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya in 2005. Abdul Bakai Mandal, a resident of North Pargana district, was held guilty under various provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act by Additional Sessions Judge Pratibha Rani. The court would hear the arguments on quantum of sentence on April 27. The five JeM terrorists were killed in a gun battle with the CRPF when they had made an attempt to attack the make-shift temple at Ayodhya. — PTI

EC notice to Digvijay for ‘threatening’ Mayawati
New Delhi:
The Election Commission (EC) on Saturday slapped a notice on senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh for violating the model code of conduct by allegedly threatening to use the CBI against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati. At a public meeting held on April 20 at Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh, Digvijay Singh had reportedly said if Mayawati attempted to harass Congress workers, she should understand that the case against her was pending with the CBI and the Congress could get back, though it did not want to misuse the probe agency. — PTI

Pappu Yadav held for code violation
Patna:
RJD MP and murder convict Pappu Yadav was on Saturday arrested in Bihar's Purnia district for violating the model code of conduct by campaigning for his mother, who is contesting the Madhepura seat, without permission, police said. Yadav, barred from contesting elections due to his conviction in a murder case, was arrested by police from Safdalpur village in Purnia, about 400 km from Patna, when he was busy in a road show for his mother Shanti Priya Devi. — IANS

2 held for murder
Akola:
Two persons have been arrested in connection with the murder of a 27-year-old history sheeter here, police said on Saturday. Mahadeo alias Bablya Amruta Jagtap and his relative Sachin Krishnarao Pawar, who had fled to Nagpur, were arrested on Friday, they said. — PTI

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