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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Gujarat Riots
Trials to take a year: Raghavan

New Delhi, May 1
Voicing happiness over the Supreme Court order on the Gujarat riots cases, apex court- appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) chief RK Raghavan today hoped that the trials of the cases in question would be concluded in less than a year.

Cong, BJP hail decision
New Delhi, May 1
The Congress and the BJP have welcomed the SC decision to lift the stay on the trial of Gujarat riot cases.

Kodnani faces murder charge in
Naroda Gam riot case

Ahmedabad, May 1
Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani faced a murder charge in the chargesheet filed in the Naroda Gam case today by the Supreme Court-constituted Special Investigation Team(SIT) probing certain post-Godhra riot cases in the state afresh.

Swine flu virus gets new name
New Delhi, May 1
Between yesterday and today, the deadly flu virus spreading inexorably across the world has three new things to its credit-two freshly-affected nations; 183 additional reported cases and a new name -Influenza A (HIN1) given by WHO.

Retail supply of Tamiflu banned
New Delhi, May 1
In view of the spread of Influenza A H1N1 virus, India today banned the retail sale of anti-viral drug Oseltamavir, commonly known as Tamiflu. So far, Oseltamavir is the only known and most effective treatment and preventive drug for the new strain of virus, spreading from humans to humans.

Lankan battle turns into CD war in
Tamil Nadu

Coimbatore, May 1
Lakhs of CDs being circulated on the Sri Lankan war by Tamil nationalist groups, accusing the Congress-led government at the Centre of playing a major role in the massacre of Tamil population in the island, have become a major threat for the bright prospects of the Congress in the May 13 Lok Sabha elections.





BJP Patna Saheb candidate Shatrughan Sinha during an election campaign in Patna.
BJP Patna Saheb candidate Shatrughan Sinha during an election campaign in Patna. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

A polling official counts sealed electronic voting machines after the polling in Ahmedabad.
A polling official counts sealed electronic voting machines after the polling in Ahmedabad. — PTI

Varun Gandhi’s parole extended till
May 14

New Delhi, May 1
The Supreme Court today extended the parole of BJP leader Varun Gandhi, booked under the National Security Act for his alleged hate speeches, till May 14.

Remark on Quattrochhi
SC to hear contempt plea against Modi
New Delhi, May 1
The Supreme Court today said it would hear next week a contempt petition against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for reportedly making a statement that the apex court and the Congress-led government at the Centre had conspired to throw him behind the bars. A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan posted the matter for next week after counsel Prashant Bhushan made a plea for an urgent hearing.

Army officers to reach Col rank after 15 yrs
New Delhi, May 1
The Indian armed forces will now have younger officers commanding the men. Officers can now be selected to the rank of Colonels after 15 years of commissioned service and not 20 years as was the norm earlier. This means commanding officers in future will be as young as 37-38 years of age, sources said, while confirming the move that has been okayed by the Ministry of Defence. A formal order has been issued the sources said.

Left playing dirty politics: Manmohan
Howrah, May 1
Sharing the dais with Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee at an election meeting here today, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, accused the Left parties of playing dirty politics, which was helping the BJP.

BJP to highlight price rise
New Delhi, May 1
The BJP has decided to focus its election campaign for the coming two phases on price rise. A decision to this effect was taken by none other than the party’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani.

Discounts fail to enthuse Lucknow voters
Lucknow, May 1
Despite restaurants, water resorts and even a leading multinational apparel brand giving hefty “discounts on democracy”, Lucknow registered just 35 per cent polling.





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Gujarat Riots
Trials to take a year: Raghavan

Case File

n SC puts stay on the trial of the 2002 Godhra riot cases on November 21, 2003
n Forms SIT on March 26, 2008, with former CBI director RK Raghavan as its head
n Appoints CD Satpathy, ex-DG of UP police, and three Gujarat IPS officers, Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha, Ashish Bhatia, as its other members

New Delhi, May 1
Voicing happiness over the Supreme Court order on the Gujarat riots cases, apex court- appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) chief RK Raghavan today hoped that the trials of the cases in question would be concluded in less than a year.

"I cannot give a fixed deadline. I can only say that no time will be lost. I am hoping that these (trials) will come to a conclusion in about less than a year," he told reporters here. He was responding to questions after the Supreme Court lifted the stay on the trials of the 2002 Gujarat riots cases and directed the setting up of fast-track courts for holding them on a day-to-day basis. The court had stayed the trials on November 21, 2003.

Raghavan, a former CBI director, said, "I am certainly happy with the judgement. I think it is going to facilitate the work of the SIT in Gujarat. I look forward to further work in that direction.”

Noting that it is "very humbling" to know that the apex court has reposed "so much trust in me", he said he was aware of the nature of his responsibilities and that he would ensure "due protection" to the witnesses.

Raghavan said, "I am quite conscious of the honour and the nature of my responsibilities, and I hope that I will be able to discharge my duty to the satisfaction of the victims in general.”

The former CBI chief said that the SIT had submitted two reports on the status and details of the investigations, which included arrest of some of the accused.

The apex court had on March 26, 2008, constituted SIT, which besides Raghavan as its head has former DG of UP police CD Satpathy and three IPS officers from Gujarat -- Geeta Johri, Shivanand Jha and Ashish Bhatia -- as its members.

The SIT was asked to "inquire and investigate" cases relating to Godhra carnage in which 59 people were killed and subsequent riots in places like Godhra, Gulbarg Society in Ahmedabad, Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patiya and Sardarpura.

Raghavan said it was difficult to state whether Godhra incident was a conspiracy.

"It is very difficult to respond in just one sentence. In all the nine cases, why Godhra only, that we are handling, we have taken into account the work done by teams of Gujarat police. We have not ignored their work. We have taken them into account and then come to certain conclusions. Possibly once the court trial begins, we will get to know more about it," he said.

About the charge of conspiracy under section 120-B of IPC not being included, Raghavan said it would not be proper for him to comment on the issue. "Ultimately all this will be examined by the courts, which propose to look into them. It is not proper on my part to explain why a particular section was not included or was included," he said. — PTI

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Cong, BJP hail decision
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 1
The Congress and the BJP have welcomed the SC decision to lift the stay on the trial of Gujarat riot cases.

While the BJP termed the apex court’s decision as vindication of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying that early settlement of the cases would for once and all take care of the “false propaganda” against his government in Gujarat, the Congress chose to interpret it as a trial of Modi and his government.

Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal asserted that the Gujarat government and Chief Minister Narendra Modi were now “on trial”. BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, while welcoming the apex court’s decision, said the order of the SC would bring justice to the victims of Godhara train carnage and riots after the carnage and clear the air.

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Kodnani faces murder charge in Naroda Gam riot case

Ahmedabad, May 1
Former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani faced a murder charge in the chargesheet filed in the Naroda Gam case today by the Supreme Court-constituted Special Investigation Team(SIT) probing certain post-Godhra riot cases in the state afresh.

Kodnani, who was forced to resign and is now behind bars, is one of the prime accused in the Naroda Gam riots in which 11 persons were killed during the communal clashes in 2002.

"We have submitted a chargesheet against the accused in a local court here. The charges have been framed under IPC Sections 120 (B) for criminal conspiracy, 302 for murder, 307 for attempt to murder, 395 and 397 for loot and 143 to 147 for rioting," a senior SIT official said.

The chargesheet was filed in the court of metropolitan magistrate GM Patel.

The official said all the accused, including Kodnani and VHP leader Jaidip Patel, were present in the court when the chargesheet was filed.

According to SIT sources, besides Kodnani and Patel the chargesheet was also filed against suspended police officer VS Gohil and one Pankaj Parikh in the case.

The chargesheet said Maya and Patel had led a mob during the 2002 riots which killed 11 people.

Kodnani and Patel are behind bars while VS Gohil, who was a police inspector of Naroda in 2002, and Parikh are out on bail.

Kodnani is also a prime accused in the Naroda Patia massacre in which over 90 people were killed.

A separate chargesheet for Naroda Patia massacre would be filed by SIT in a few days, the agency sources said.

Earlier, Kodanani and Patel's anticipatory bails were granted by the sessions court but later cancelled by the High Court and they had surrendered before the agency. Subsequently, after their remand, they were sent to judicial custody in Sabarmati jail. — PTI

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Swine flu virus gets new name
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 1
Between yesterday and today, the deadly flu virus spreading inexorably across the world has three new things to its credit-two freshly-affected nations; 183 additional reported cases and a new name -Influenza A (HIN1) given by WHO. The European Commission, however, will henceforth refer to the flu as “Novel Flu Virus”.

Triggered by pork industry producers, whose sales have been hit hard by the virus, the name change was described by Indian health authorities today as a move to dissociate pigs from the infection.

“The WHO and CDC Atlanta today notified the new name for the virus. The idea is to make it clear to the world that this new infection has nothing to do with pigs. It is not said to have originated in pigs and therefore there is no reason either to stop eating well-cooked pork products or even to cull pigs, as has reportedly been done in Hyderabad,” health ministry officials today said.

With the infection today spreading to 11, as against nine countries until yesterday, and cases of infection soaring to 331 against 148 yesterday, India stepped up surveillance across all international airports today. So far 17,949 travellers have been screened at the airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Goa, Amritsar, Cochin, Ahmedabad, Trichy and Srinagar, with no suspected case reported.

Good news is that the world managed to sustain level-5 pandemic alert phase of the flu, which could not cross over to level 6, the real pandemic level.

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Retail supply of Tamiflu banned
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 1
In view of the spread of Influenza A H1N1 virus, India today banned the retail sale of anti-viral drug Oseltamavir, commonly known as Tamiflu. So far, Oseltamavir is the only known and most effective treatment and preventive drug for the new strain of virus, spreading from humans to humans.

Health ministry officials today said the drug would be available only in government hospitals through the public health system. It is in fact in the best interest of people to have the drug only upon proper diagnosis and prescription. World health experts have already warned against overuse of the drug, which should be consumed only when necessary to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to it.

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Lankan battle turns into CD war in Tamil Nadu
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Coimbatore, May 1
Lakhs of CDs being circulated on the Sri Lankan war by Tamil nationalist groups, accusing the Congress-led government at the Centre of playing a major role in the massacre of Tamil population in the island, have become a major threat for the bright prospects of the Congress in the May 13 Lok Sabha elections.

A CD titled "Final battle" released by Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement coordinator P Nedumaran is creating waves in the region and is being screened in every village here.

Images of children crying for food, people moving like cattle from one place to another fearing shell attacks, women crying with blood wounds and mangled bodies make a powerful impact on the villagers. After these images, the commentator”s voice asks "Who is behind the genocide of our bretheren?" Then the images of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi with a sword in hand, a smiling Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shaking hands with Sri Lankan president Rajapakse follows.

The CD narrates the decision of the Union government to repair the Palalay airport in the island and how the war planes using the new strip are pounding the Tamil areas, killing thousands of civilians. It accuses the Centre of providing financial assistance, training and radars to the Sri Lankan army and supporting the island government's move in every possible way.

Paper-cuttings of Sri Lankan ministers and defence officials praising India's role in the war are shown as evidences. Amid wails of women and children, the photographs of Congress candidates are shown with the appeal "defeat these betrayers in the elections".

These CDS are in circulation in all 15 constituencies where Congress nominees are contesting. The Congress leaders describe the CD campaign as a "bundle of lies" and "a conspiracy" to defeat them and are seeking police action against the producers and distributors of the CDs.

However, Tamil nationalist groups assert that the Congress party was afraid to face the truths contained in the CDs and were using undemocratic ways to stop the campaign.

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Varun Gandhi’s parole extended till May 14

New Delhi, May 1
The Supreme Court today extended the parole of BJP leader Varun Gandhi, booked under the National Security Act for his alleged hate speeches, till May 14.

The order was passed by a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan before which the Uttar Pradesh government accused Varun of violating the undertaking furnished by him for securing the interim bail.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for state government alleged that Varun did not furnish his whereabouts to Pilibhit district magistrate on two occasions that is on April 16 to 20 and April 23 to 25. He alleged that during this period, the BJP leader was in Uttar Pradesh, but did not inform the authorities in Pilibhit.

However, Varun’s counsel and senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi denied the allegations. Pilibhit constituency would go to polls on May 13 during the last and fifth phase of parliamentary elections. — PTI

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Remark on Quattrochhi
SC to hear contempt plea against Modi
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 1
The Supreme Court today said it would hear next week a contempt petition against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for reportedly making a statement that the apex court and the Congress-led government at the Centre had conspired to throw him behind the bars. A Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan posted the matter for next week after counsel Prashant Bhushan made a plea for an urgent hearing.

“The Supreme Court has once again remembered Narendra Modi. A Minister in the government and a SC advocate, Kapil Sibal, had said about 15 days ago that Narendra Modi should prepare himself for going to jail. And exactly 15 days later this SC noose is put around my neck. What does this mean?... CBI is busy trying to free a family friend of Sonia Gandhi (Quattrochhi). Freedom for a foreigner and jail for a patriot,” the petition quoted Modi as having said on April 28.

According to the petition, Modi had made the statement in response to a Supreme Court order the previous day directing the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe a complaint by one Jakia Nasim Ahesan.

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Army officers to reach Col rank after 15 yrs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 1
The Indian armed forces will now have younger officers commanding the men. Officers can now be selected to the rank of Colonels after 15 years of commissioned service and not 20 years as was the norm earlier. This means commanding officers in future will be as young as 37-38 years of age, sources said, while confirming the move that has been okayed by the Ministry of Defence. A formal order has been issued the sources said.

The Ajai Vikram Singh Committee had suggested a reduction in age profile of the commanders. Now, after much deliberation, it has been decided to allow officers to be “full Colonels” earlier than they should have. The post of Colonel will remain a selection post and it will not be a mandatory promotion. As of today, an officer who joins as a Second Lieutenant is gradually promoted as a Captain , Major and Lt-Colonel, respectively. The promotions are mandatory and an officer becomes a Lt-Colonel after 13 years of service. As a Colonel after 15 years will offer a great career move. Defence Minister AK Antony had promised that he would do everything for the forces. Some sections also say that the move has been made as the ratio of regular officers and Short-Service Commissioned officers was being altered to have more of the short-service officers.

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Left playing dirty politics: Manmohan
Tribune News Service

Howrah, May 1
Sharing the dais with Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee at an election meeting here today, the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, accused the Left parties of playing dirty politics, which was helping the BJP.

They betrayed us at a critical moment when their support was much needed to the UPA, he said. Singh asked the people to defeat the CPM and other Left parties to end their authoritarian role in politics.

The PM alleged that the ongoing attempts by some vested interests to form an alternative Third Front was nothing but a ploy for usurping power at the cost of the country’s interests. He warned that these vested interests would be destroying the country’s stability, peace and progress, which only the UPA government could ensure.

The PM was addressing his first election meeting in the state today at the Dumurjola stadium, which was sponsored jointly by the Congress and Trinamool Congress. Mamata Banerjee and the external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee also addressed the meeting.

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BJP to highlight price rise
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 1
The BJP has decided to focus its election campaign for the coming two phases on price rise. A decision to this effect was taken by none other than the party’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani.

According to sources in the BJP, Advani recently summoned the campaign managers of the party and asked them to specifically focus their attention on rising prices.

Consequently, several campaign hoardings were pulled down and fresh hoardings highlighting the current price of milk and sugar being put up at vantage points, said party sources. Advani informed his campaign managers that he too will largely focus on price rise in the coming weeks.

The decision to focus specifically on price rise has caused some problems to the party, sources said, because the price of sugar and milk seems to be rising faster every day than the BJP can cope with.

“When we made our hoardings and ad films, sugar was selling at Rs 28 a kg. So we anticipated and put it at Rs 30 a kg. By the time we got the clearance from the Election Commission and were ready to put it up, sugar price had gone upto Rs 32. We again made changes. But by the time we were in a position to put up the hoardings, the price again went up to Rs 34 a kg. Now I have asked my men to revisit each hoarding and physically make the corrections,” said a harried BJP leader supervising the whole exercise.

Interestingly, Advani and the BJP started their campaign by raising the issue of terrorism and also inflation. But that was the time inflation figures were dipping and the party had to rework its campaign on how the inflation figures were going down but the prices of essential commodities were going up.

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Discounts fail to enthuse Lucknow voters
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 1
Despite restaurants, water resorts and even a leading multinational apparel brand giving hefty “discounts on democracy”, Lucknow registered just 35 per cent polling.

As an incentive to draw out voters on the polling day, at least four leading restaurants of the city were offering 10 to 15 per cent discounts by simply showing one’s marked finger.

According to Nitin Mohan, a proprietor of one of these restaurants in Gomti Nagar offering a 10 per cent discount, not a single person has come forward since yesterday claiming a discount. “The idea was to offer an incentive to the voter to step out of their house and vote. I also saw this as my corporate responsibility and contribute to raise awareness. But the result has been far from encouraging,” complained Mohan.

However, city’s first water resort offering 50 per cent discount turned out to be a grand success. “Yesterday around 500 persons availed the special democracy discount,” said their media coordinator Vinod Maheshwari.

In 2007 assembly polls, the water resort had first offered a 10 per cent discount on polling day and this time increased the discount five times to further induce potential voters.

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BRIEFLY

7 teachers, 2 girls drown 
Ahmedabad:
Nine women, including seven schoolteachers, drowned on Friday in the sea near Chorwad in Junagadh district, the police said. The incident happened when teachers of Rajkot-based Genius International School and their daughters had gone for a picnic to Chorwad, officials said. “Seven teachers and two girls drowned when they went to take bath in rough sea near Chorwad,” DSP Mahinder Pawar said. Villagers and police have fished out all the bodies, which have been sent for postmortem. — PTI

BJP alleges rigging
New Delhi:
BJP’s West Itanagar sitting MP Kiran Rijju from Arunachal Pradesh has demanded a repoll in 59 polling booths of Itanagar western parliamentary constituency. Both the sitting MPs from Arunachal Pradesh are from BJP. Rijju accompanied by BJP spokesman Paraksh Javadekar called on the Election Commissioners and submitted a memorandum alleging large-scale rigging and misuse of official machinery by the Congress-led state government. — TNS

3 poll officials removed
Ranchi:
Three top officials in Jharkhand have been removed from their posts in the wake of widespread Naxal violence in Latehar district disrupting the first phase polling on April 16, official sources said. Those given the marching orders are Latehar’s Deputy Commissioner Sarvendu Tathagat, Deputy Inspector General of Police Nandu Prasad and Superintendent of Police Hemant Toppo. While Tathagat has been asked to join the personnel department, both Prasad and Toppo have been asked to report to the state police headquarters. — PTI

Maoists return loot
ORISSA:
In an unusual incident, Maoists who looted cell phones and cash from polling officials here during first phase of elections returned them along with an apology letter. The ultras have sent back four mobile phones and cash Rs 7,000 to the Kalimela Block Development Officer's (BDO) office along with an apology letter, District Collector, Nitin Bhanudas Jawale said here on Friday. The letter, bearing the name of Malkangiri Divisional Committee, CPI (Maoist), said the red rebels did not intend to harm and loot the polling officials, Jawale said. "Some of our cadre did it without the knowledge of our central committee and we are sorry for the act," the Collector, quoting the letter, said.— PTI

BSP candidate gets notice
MUZAFFARNAGAR:
A BSP contestant from Uttar Pradesh's Bijnore Lok Sabha constituency has got a notice from the election authorities for violation of model code for his alleged remarks against BJP leader Varun Gandhi, official sources said on Friday. The notice has been issued to BSP candidate Shahid Siddiqui for allegedly making objectionable comments against Varun Gandhi in an election meeting in Bijnore few days ago, Assistant Returning Officers of Bijnore SB Singh said. The notice was issued following a complaint lodged by lawyer Sandeep Bahal, he said. — PTI

Delivery outside hospital
MUZAFFARNAGAR:
A Dalit woman had to deliver a child outside a government primary health centre here as she was not allowed inside due to "absence" of medical staff, her family alleged. Poonam was brought to the centre by her husband Sunil Kumar yesterday after she went into labour. But as no doctor or nurses were present, she was forced to deliver on the floor outside the premises, they alleged, demanding strict action against the staff. The health centre incharge, Sharan Singh, however, claimed the doctor and nurses had gone to attend a Polio meeting at another village when the incident occurred. — PTI

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