SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Rahul: CPM not pro-poor
Kolkata, May 2
Not letting his outburst against his political opponents lose steam, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today alleged that the CPM leaders no longer had any sympathy left for the poor and minority community members.

AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi meets supporters during an election campaign rally at Domkal in Murshidabad, West Bengal AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi meets supporters during an election campaign rally at Domkal in Murshidabad, West Bengal, on Saturday. — PTI

A win-win situation for Karuna’s son
Madurai, May 2
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's son Azhagiri seems to be comfortably placed in this temple town against the CPM, which has so far not raised the triumph card of the AIADMK alliance, the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. As the Communists are focusing on economic issues, nepotism and corruption, the DMK is seeking votes promising a prosperous future and development of the temple city.





EARLIER STORIES



STAR POWER: Actor and BJP leader Hema Malini and party candidate from Patna Saheb Lok Sabha seat Shatrughan Sinha at an election rally in Bakhtiyarpur, Bihar
STAR POWER:
Actor and BJP leader Hema Malini and party candidate from Patna Saheb Lok Sabha seat Shatrughan Sinha at an election rally in Bakhtiyarpur, Bihar, on Saturday. — PTI

I was kept in dark on demolition: Kalyan
Lucknow, May 2
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh today blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for keeping him in "dark" about Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. Claiming that the BJP had hatched a conspiracy against him to throw him out of the party, Singh said, "Senior BJP leaders said no demolition would take place.

It’s all caste politics here
Jaipur, May 2
The Congress and the BJP may be making tall claims that they have not acted on caste lines while allotting tickets for Lok Sabha polls in Rajasthan, but one look at their list of nominees belies all their claims.

Nitish rules himself out for PM’s post
Patna, May 2
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said he did not nurse any prime ministerial ambition, saying he was happy fulfilling the people’s mandate for serving the state. “I have no delusions about becoming the Prime Minister. I have got the people’s mandate to serve Bihar and I will respect it. I am happy with that,” he said.

Sharad plugs for Left
Speculation on JD-U future course
New Delhi, May 2
Even as the political circles have been speculating about the future political course of the major NDA ally, the JD-U, its president Sharad Yadav hinted his preference for the Left in any eventuality, though he maintained simultaneously that the JD-U was steadfastly standing with BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani.

For party men in TN, it’s biryani time
Non-veg hotels do brisk business as campaigning picks up
Coimbatore, May 2
It is brisk business for most of the non-vegetarian hotels in Tamil Nadu. Gone are the days when party cadres worked till late nights, painting the party symbols after sipping cups of tea. Now, most of the parties provide workers packets of biryani and mineral water.

Rajasthan: Women’s might prevails in desert land
A total of 23 women are in the fray for 25 seats
Nagaur/Ajmer, May 2
With as many as 23 women candidates, including five of the Congress and three of the BJP in the fray for 25 seats, the fair sex is all set to make its presence felt in the Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan this time.

MGR’s films make a comeback to woo voters
Madurai, May 2
Even two decades after his death, the films of Tamil Nadu's matinee idol and darling of the masses, MGR, is attracting huge crowds in the southern and western districts and influencing the people to vote the party he founded.

Poll Platter
In Barmer, opium intake on new high
Barmer, May 2
Come poll season and consumption of opium witnesses a sharp increase in this border district of Rajasthan. Otherwise, too, opium ceremonies - called ‘riyans’ in local parlance - are common in Barmer. But, the number of these ceremonies surges during elections.

Rise in cattle smuggling to B’desh worries Army
Guwahati, May 2
The Indian Army, on the job to check proliferation of Muslim Fundamentalist Organisation (MFOs) near India-Bangladesh border in Assam, has raised concern over spurt in cattle smuggling from India to Bangladesh across the porous border.

Scribe helps last Mughal emperor’s kin
Kolkata, May 2
Impoverished Sultana Begum, the great grand daughter-in-law of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, who runs a tea stall in Howrah district would receive Rs two lakh from the sale proceeds of a coffee table book written by a journalist.

Train Crash
Police: Likelihood of Naxal hand
Chennai, May 2
Preliminary investigations into the April 29 mysterious train mishap here point to the likelihood of a suicide mission by Naxalites, top police officials probing the case said here today.

Kasab not a minor: Court
Mumbai, May 2
Paving the way for start of trial, a special court here today ruled that Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from last year's terror attack here, was an adult, rejecting his claim that he was a minor — a status that could have saved him from the gallows.





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Rahul: CPM not pro-poor
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 2
Not letting his outburst against his political opponents lose steam, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi today alleged that the CPM leaders no longer had any sympathy left for the poor and minority community members.

Addressing an election meeting at Domjur in Murshidabad district, about 200 km from here, Rahul accused the CPM and other Left parties of indulging in “dirty politics” with a sole aim to remain in power in the state.

On the second round of his poll campaign in West Bengal today, Gandhi addressed two meetings - the other at Behrampore (Murshidabad). Union External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, too, was present at both the occasions where supporters, despite the hot and humid weather, turned up in large numbers.

Also, the Gandhi scion charged the BJP with “playing communal cards for political mileage”. At both the meetings, the Congress leader called upon the people to defeat the BJP and the Left parties and once again bring back the UPA to power.

“The UPA, under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, can only guarantee a stable and secular government, ensure peace, progress and over all development,” Rahul said.

Taking a dig at the Left Front government’s past performances, Gandhi said, “The CPM have been, during their prolonged rule, only interested about themselves and their party. They have for long been ignoring the needs of the poor and minorities. They did not even properly spend Central funds allotted to them under various schemes for poor and other development works.”

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A win-win situation for Karuna’s son
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Madurai, May 2
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's son Azhagiri seems to be comfortably placed in this temple town against the CPM, which has so far not raised the triumph card of the AIADMK alliance, the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.

As the Communists are focusing on economic issues, nepotism and corruption, the DMK is seeking votes promising a prosperous future and development of the temple city.

Most of the people believe that Azhagiri could improve the temple city with his clout and influence. This attitude seems to be working in favour of the ruling party, which is very happy that the CPM had failed to take up the burning Sri Lankan Tamils issue, which alone could hamper the DMK's prospects.

However, the DMK workers point out that the CPM could not take up the issue suddenly, since the party itself had stayed away from the Sri Lankan Tamils Protection Movement, in which the CPI was a member. As the Communists had not taken part in the anti-Centre protests on the issue, people would not be influenced, even if they take up the issue at the last moment, they feel.

Karunanidhi's grand daughter Kayalvizhi, is attracting women voters and Azhagiri himself is closely mixing with the public. He touches a personal card with the voters, when he holds their hands and says, "I am Kalaignar's son. Till now, I was asking votes for other candidates. Now, I am seeking votes for myself".

Most of the people, immediately respond with the words, "Sir, I know you and I will definitely vote for you".

Erasing his image as a hot-tempered man, Azhagiri avoids being rattled when people complain about the administration. The delimitation exercise is a blessing for him since most of the rural areas have been removed and the DMK is traditionally strong in urban areas.

The only rural area in the constituency is Melur, where agriculture is the major occupation. Farmers in Melur have been affected ever since the CPM-led government in Kerala has taken a tough stand in the Mullaiperiyar dam row.

As the state unit of the CPM had supported its own party government in Kerala, people in Melur are angry with the CPM. Vaigai cleaning project and underground drainage project are long-time demands of the people, who hope that Azhagiri would be able to deliver on his promises.

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I was kept in dark on demolition: Kalyan

Lalu: He is a convict

PATNA: RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav on Saturday attacked former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, calling him “a convict” in the Babri Masjid demolition case. “He (Kalyan) is a convict in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He is not a member of the SP. Is he a member of SP?” Lalu said, when his opinion was sought on the former UP CM’s call to Muslims to defeat the BJP. Just before the Lok Sabha polls, Kalyan had quit the BJP to join hands with his erstwhile bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav and has been campaigning for the latter’s Samajwadi Party candidates in Uttar Pradesh. — PTI

Lucknow, May 2
Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh today blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for keeping him in "dark" about Babri Masjid demolition in 1992. Claiming that the BJP had hatched a conspiracy against him to throw him out of the party, Singh said, "Senior BJP leaders said no demolition would take place. I believed them... It was a conspiracy against me by the BJP leaders. It was a conspiracy to oust me. I was kept in the dark (about the demolition)." Singh further asserted that the BJP did not consider him a suitable party member as he came from backward class.

Singh's statement came in contrast with his own statement last month in which he took upon himself the "total" responsibility for Babri Masjid’s demolition, as the then CM of UP in 1992.

"I will leave no stone unturned to defeat the BJP. I will work for the complete destruction of the BJP and stop all possibilities of the formation of a BJP-led government at the Centre," he had said.

Just before the Lok Sabha polls, Kalyan Singh had quit the BJP to join hands with his erstwhile bete noire Mulayam Singh Yadav and has been campaigning for the latter’s Samajwadi Party candidates in Uttar Pradesh.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters in Patna today, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav called Kalyan Singh "a convict" in the Babri Masjid demolition case. "He (Kalyan) is a convict in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. He is not a member of the SP. Is he a member of SP?" Lalu said, when asked to comment on the former UP CM’s call to Muslims to defeat the BJP. — ANI

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It’s all caste politics here
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, May 2
The Congress and the BJP may be making tall claims that they have not acted on caste lines while allotting tickets for Lok Sabha polls in Rajasthan, but one look at their list of nominees belies all their claims.

Both parties have opted for the candidates having caste influence in their respective constituencies. The glaring example of it is Dausa Lok Sabha constituency where eyeing a strong 3.25-lakh Meena votes the Congress and the BJP have fielded Meena candidates. So much so that the Congress got a Meena IPS officer to take voluntary retirement from his job and contest the elections from Dausa on the party ticket.

The BJP shifted Ajmer MP Rasa Singh Rawat out of the constituency and fielded him from neighbouring Rajsamand seat as Beawar Assembly segment of Ajmer having significant number of Rawat voters has now been included in Rajsamand after delimitation.

Similarly, the BJP has roped in Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla, who spearheaded violent agitation seeking ST status for Gujjars in 2007-08, to cash in on anti-Meena sentiment in Tonk-Sawai Madhopur seat from where the Congress has fielded Union minister Namo Narayan Meena.

As far as the number of tickets is concerned, Jats, the most politically aware community, has got lion’s share in both parties. The Congress allotted six tickets to the Jats, while the BJP gave them four. The two parties gave four tickets each to the Rajputs.

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Nitish rules himself out for PM’s post

Patna, May 2
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today said he did not nurse any prime ministerial ambition, saying he was happy fulfilling the people’s mandate for serving the state.

“I have no delusions about becoming the Prime Minister. I have got the people’s mandate to serve Bihar and I will respect it. I am happy with that,” he said.

Kumar was responding to reporters’ queries about his prime ministerial ambitions a day after party spokesman and Rajya Sabha member Shivanand Tiwari told journalists that he was fit for the top job. Tiwari had, however, clarified that as of now LK Advani was the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA.

Asked about RJD president Lalu Prasad’s criticism of the RSS, which he described as a ‘band of dissolute persons’, Kumar said, “This reflects his (Lalu’s) frustration. I cannot comment on what he said in the same language.”

On Lalu calling former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Kalyan Singh “a convict” in the Babri Masjid demolition case, Kumar said, “How can he say so? Kalyan Singh is an ally of Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav and is in the Fourth Front of which both Lalu Prasad and Ramvilas Paswan are constituents.” — PTI

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Sharad plugs for Left
Speculation on JD-U future course
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
Even as the political circles have been speculating about the future political course of the major NDA ally, the JD-U, its president Sharad Yadav hinted his preference for the Left in any eventuality, though he maintained simultaneously that the JD-U was steadfastly standing with BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani.

Sharad held a press conference here today and praised the Left for all good things that were done in the five years of the UPA government.

The JD-U president said, “If the Left parties had not been there, the country would have been ruined.”

Yadav was ostensibly referring to the recent attack on the Left in West Bengal by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said “The Communists played an important role in preventing the UPA government from opening up insurance and banking sectors.”

Attacking the PM, the JD-U leader said, “The only thing Manmohan has done during his five years in the office is the Indo-US nuclear deal.”

Sharad demonstrated his preference for the Left amidst reports that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been in touch with the Congress for a post-poll tie-up. Sharad’s public statements in support of the Left clearly indicate that in the event of abandoning the NDA while Kumar would prefer the Congress for the sake of saving his government in Bihar, the party president would prefer to go along with the Left.

He, however, dismissed suggestions that this could be a precursor to the JD-U looking for greener pastures in the post-poll scenario.

Instead, he insisted that the NDA led by the BJP would come to power with a thumping majority.

This is not the first occasion that growing proximity between the Left and the JD-U has come to the fore. On March 15, CPM politbureau member Sitaram Yechury had visited Sharad at his residence and had an hour-long meeting.

Recently, CPI general secretary had praised Nitish for the good work he was doing in Bihar.

Simultaneously, Sharad also showed some exasperation with the BJP and criticised it for speaking out of turn and projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a prime ministerial candidate.

He said it does not augur well for the BJP to speak like this after projecting Advani as the prime ministerial candidate.

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For party men in TN, it’s biryani time
Non-veg hotels do brisk business as campaigning picks up
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Coimbatore, May 2
It is brisk business for most of the non-vegetarian hotels in Tamil Nadu. Gone are the days when party cadres worked till late nights, painting the party symbols after sipping cups of tea. Now, most of the parties provide workers packets of biryani and mineral water. While some of the functionaries prefer to cook and supply biryani, many order biryani packets from the nearby hotels. Chicken biryani is preferred to mutton since it is cheaper, although some of the candidates provide mutton biryani packets too. Some of the functionaries provide money to the workers, who visit the nearby hotels and have the dish of their choice.

“I usually buy 25 kg chicken. But after the election campaign started, I have started buying 60 kg, which too is not enough on Sundays. The number of people visiting the hotel has also increased and it is hard to find an empty table in the afternoon,” a hotel owner at Karur said.

Cool drink shops too are doing good business with workers coming in large numbers for a glass of sugar cane juice, fruit juice, soft drinks or buttermilk. Compared to last year, the business is almost double, a shop owner in Coimbatore said. One of the cadres said, “Since we work hard from early in the morning, we are drained of the energy. Hence, non-vegetarian food is preferred. Although water bottles are supplied, fruit juices and buttermilk is refreshing.”

However, a 60-year-old party worker rued, “When we were young, we used to work till late night, painting the party symbols, erecting banners, affixing posters and decorating the area with our party flags and festoons. We did not expect anything from the party. Now, the party cadres want all facilities, non-vegetarian food, soft drinks and good accommodation. We loved our party leader and principles. Now, most of the cadres do not know what is in their party’s manifesto.”

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Rajasthan: Women’s might prevails in desert land
A total of 23 women are in the fray for 25 seats

Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Nagaur/Ajmer, May 2
With as many as 23 women candidates, including five of the Congress and three of the BJP in the fray for 25 seats, the fair sex is all set to make its presence felt in the Lok Sabha elections in Rajasthan this time.

Nagaur Lok Sabha seat in the heart of royal land will be the one to witness the might of women power at its best, as both the Congress and the BJP have fielded women candidates in this male-dominated Jat bastion. While the Congress’ has put up 37-year-old MBBS Jyoti Mirdha, granddaughter of veteran party leader Nathu Ram Mirdha, the BJP has opted for Bindu Chaudhary, daughter of a former Congress MP RR Chaudhary.

Promising to carry forward her grandfather’s legacy, Jyoti is banking on her last name to make it to the Lok Sabha. “Lineage will play a decisive role in the elections,” she admits.

On the other hand, her rival Bindu Chaudhary is hoping to cash in on her 10-year stint as the district Congress chief. In the neighbouring Ajmer Lok Sabha seat, BJP’s firebrand leader Kiran Maheshwari is engaged in an exciting electoral contest with the Congress’ young turk Sachin Pilot. Though Ajmer has been a BJP stronghold for long, it would not be easy for Maheshwari to emerge victorious. Even as Pilot will have the advantage of sizable Gujjar and Muslim population in the constituency, the BJP will need to woo Jats and other castes, as its traditional vote bank of Rawats has shifted to Rajsamand LS seat post-delimitation.

Chandresh Kumari from Jodhpur royal family is another prominent woman in the fray from Jodhpur Lok Sabha seat. She has been pitted against two-time BJP MP Jaswant Singh Bishnoi.

Chairperson of National Commission for Women and senior Congress leader Girija Vyas is also contesting elections from Chittorgarh Lok Sabha seat against sitting BJP MP Srichand Kripalani.

Apart from Mirdha, the Congress has fielded two more political greenhorns in the form of Urmila Jain from Jhalawar and Sandhya Chaudhary from Jalore-Sirohi. While Urmila, wife of Congress minister Pramod Jain, has been pitted against former CM Vasundhara Raje’s son Dushyant Singh, Sandhya is facing another first-timer, BJP’s Devji M Patel. Veteran Congress leader Buta Singh has turned the contest into a triangular one in her seat.

The BJP’s third woman candidate is Kiran Yadav from Alwar Lok Sabha seat. Wife of former MP and sitting Behror MLA Jaswant Singh Yadav, Kiran is hoping to cash in on strong presence of Yadav community in the constituency. Political observers attribute the increase in number of women contestants to their rising participation in the poll process. Women had outnumbered men in voting in 24 out of 200 seats in the Assembly polls last year.

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MGR’s films make a comeback to woo voters
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Madurai, May 2
Even two decades after his death, the films of Tamil Nadu's matinee idol and darling of the masses, MGR, is attracting huge crowds in the southern and western districts and influencing the people to vote the party he founded.

Even when MGR was alive, he used to release his films for re-run at election time and that used to be an effective campaign for his party.

The AIADMK is still following the same method and many cinema theatres are screening his box-office hits now. Some of the films, being screened are "Ulagum Sutrum Vaaliban", "Chakravathi Thirumagal", "Aayirathil Oruvan" and "Idhayakkani".

The film "Ulagum Sutrum Vaaliban"(Youth, who goes around the world) was produced and directed by the matinee idol and released after he founded the AIADMK. It opens with the unfurling of the AIADMK flag and a title song heralding the party's victory.

In the film "Aayirathil Oruvan", MGR stars with AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa. The film, which revolves around liberating a group of people, working as slaves in an island, strikes a parallel with the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. The film has a popular hit song on freedom which translates as "Let people live freely like birds; let them dance like sea waves".

The other film "Idhayakani" opens with a song in a tea estate and the "two leaves" symbol is prominently displayed in the scene.

Theatre managers say the films of MGR fetches as much profit as any other new Tamil movie and during election time, AIADMK cadres working in the area watch the films, increasing the profit.

Distributors close to the AIADMK party, distribute the films at a lesser price during poll time and this would be an added incentive, a theatre owner here said. Though, several film stars are campaigning for various parties in the state, they may not be a match to the unfading influence of MGR's films.

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Poll Platter
In Barmer, opium intake on new high
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Barmer, May 2
Come poll season and consumption of opium witnesses a sharp increase in this border district of Rajasthan.

Otherwise, too, opium ceremonies - called ‘riyans’ in local parlance - are common in Barmer. But, the number of these ceremonies surges during elections. ‘Doda’, which is powdered form of dried poppy fruit, is dissolved in water, after which jaggery, saffron and milk are added to the mixture for consumption during the ceremony. The people consuming ‘doda’ get a high, which lasts for a few hours, but it is highly addictive.

Barmer has 22 state-recognised retail outlets which sell ‘doda’. Apart from the legal outlets, huge quantity of ‘doda’ or opium fruit is smuggled from Chittorgarh district and Madhya Pradesh prior to the elections. Interestingly, the high cost of ‘doda’, Rs 50,000 per kg, doesn’t seem to bother anyone.

The government figures of ‘doda’ consumption in Barmer are mind-boggling. According to official figures, 15,000 kg of ‘doda’ is consumed in the district every month and its consumption increases by over 30 per cent during the elections.

Though the political parties don’t speak out openly regarding holding ‘riyans’ in villages to ensure heavy turnout at the rallies, the locals claim that the opium ceremonies do serve as a crowd puller for the politicians. “Any political outfit which wants to garner support in rural areas of Barmer has to hold ‘riyans’ for the local people,” said Padam Singh, a resident of Ramderiya in Barmer.

When contacted, District Excise Officer HS Chaudhary said they were putting up ‘nakas’ and conducting raids to curb the inflow of opium into the district during the elections.

In October 2007, senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh had landed in a soup after he reportedly served opium-laced drinks to his guests, which included some political leaders as well, during a lunch hosted at his ancestral home in Barmer.

Later, following the orders of the Jodhpur NDPS court, Jaswant Singh and nine other politicians were booked in the case. These included then Rajasthan ministers Ghanshyam Tiwari, Narpat Singh Rajvi and Madan Dilawar; three MPs Raghuveer Singh Kaushal, Lalit Kishor Chaturvedi and Kailash Meghwal; then BJP MLAs Jogeshwar Garg and Shankar Singh Rajpurohit; and then chief whip of the BJP Legislature Party Mahavir Prasad Jain. However, the charges against him could not be proved.

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Rise in cattle smuggling to B’desh worries Army
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 2
The Indian Army, on the job to check proliferation of Muslim Fundamentalist Organisation (MFOs) near India-Bangladesh border in Assam, has raised concern over spurt in cattle smuggling from India to Bangladesh across the porous border.

An army source based in western Assam said the force had, on several occasions, apprised the government about the danger being posed to the security because of the rise in cattle smuggling across the unfenced sector on India-Bangladesh border in Dhubri sector.

The Army maintains that cattle brought from states like Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal for smuggling into Bangladesh through the border in Dhubri sector of western Assam should be stopped at Sri Rampur check-gate at the inter-state boundary between Assam and West Bengal by the police.

The cattle are smuggled to Bangladesh mainly through the 32-km long stretch of unfenced river border in Dhubri sector and it becomes almost impossible for a few BSF personnel in a particular border post to check cattle being taken across the river to Bangladesh by smugglers who are well armed too.

“In view of MFOs based in Bangladesh striking coordination with the outlawed ULFA militants in Assam, you never know how many boys are going for training across the border along with the cattle,” said a senior Army official.

Meanwhile, the Border Security Force (BSF), manning India-Bangladesh border in Assam and Meghalaya, has geared up vigil against smuggling activities and managed to seize cattle worth about Rs 50 crore since 2007 till date.

The sharp rise in cattle smuggling in last few years is attributed to mushrooming of slaughter houses across the border in Bangladesh which has increased its volume of processed beef export to Gulf nations.

The BSF and the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) have had many rounds of talks to sort out issues related to border fencing, cross-border insurgency, infiltration, smuggling of fake currency, weapons, narcotics and of cattle between the two countries. Still the problem persists.

India and Bangladesh share a total 4,096-km frontier across West Bengal and north eastern states. More than 2,400 kilometres of the border have been fenced with barbed wire by India during the past eight years under $1.2 billion project. In Assam, 197 kms of the total 263-km border has been fenced so far.

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Scribe helps last Mughal emperor’s kin

Kolkata, May 2
Impoverished Sultana Begum, the great grand daughter-in-law of the last Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, who runs a tea stall in Howrah district would receive Rs two lakh from the sale proceeds of a coffee table book written by a journalist.

“Sultana Begum, the Mughal heiress, was running a tea stall at Cowies Ghat slum, near Foreshore road, in Howrah district when I spotted her,” said journalist Shivnath Jha, who together with wife Neena wrote the ‘Prime Ministers of India : Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’, a coffee table book on 14 Prime Ministers.

Jha had got some unverified information that the woman running the tea stall was the great grand daughter-in-law of the last Mughal emperor and was sure of it after making several enquiries.

“After seeing her I thought of rehabilitating her as she is the descendant of Bahadur Shah Zafar,” he told reporters here.

He and his wife have launched ‘Andolan Ek Pustak Se’ to publish one book a year to honour descendants of families which made India proud. The scribe’s movement has been launched under the aegis of ‘Bismillah : The Beginning Foundation’, a Ghaziabad-based body formed to protect families of great musicians, academicians and artists who were in distress. — PTI

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Train Crash
Police: Likelihood of Naxal hand

Chennai, May 2
Preliminary investigations into the April 29 mysterious train mishap here point to the likelihood of a suicide mission by Naxalites, top police officials probing the case said here today.

"Ramming a train at 90 km/hr (into the goods train)... there are all chances of the incident being a suicide mission. We are also probing whether the person jumped off the train at the last minute. We are keeping our options open to take the investigation in all possible angles," a senior official of the CB-CID wing, which is investigating the case, told PTI.

He said the investigators were also looking into the possible involvement of Naxalites in the incident, though the Naxals were generally not known to use such modus operandi.

The investigation agency was keeping all options open to probe a possible Naxal hand into the incident since one of the deceased was found with a mark in Telugu tattooed on his hand and his body was yet to be claimed, he said. — PTI

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Kasab not a minor: Court

Mumbai, May 2
Paving the way for start of trial, a special court here today ruled that Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from last year's terror attack here, was an adult, rejecting his claim that he was a minor — a status that could have saved him from the gallows.

The court also rejected Kasab's plea to seek medical opinion of experts of his own choice, saying such an opportunity was given to him earlier but his lawyer did not opt for it.

Judge ML Tahaliyani said he had accepted the evidence of Arthur Road Jail superintendent Swati Sathe and Dr V Ramamurthy of Nair Hospital, who said Kasab had informed them that he was 21.

The judge also considered the medical tests (bone and dental) reports of Kasab which said he was an adult , above 20 years.

“I am made to believe by the witnesses examined that the accused was 21 years at the time of attack and his date of birth is Sept 13, 1987, as mentioned by him to the jailor and the doctor who examined him,” the judge said. On a prosecution plea, the court had ordered an inquiry to determine Kasab's age. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

BJP attacks PM on Quattrocchi
NEW DELHI:
The BJP on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for justifying the decision to withdraw the name of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors payoff case, from CBI’s list of wanted persons and said his “morally unacceptable defence” marks a “new low” for the office of the PM. BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley alleged that the government and CBI had "colluded" with Quattrocchi and allowed him to go scot free despite "voluminous evidence" against him in the Bofors case. — PTI

Orissa heat wave claims 18 lives
BHUBANESWAR:
Constantly rising mercury has claimed 18 lives in Orissa’s capital Bhubaneswar. As the temperature touched 43 degrees, many people suffered heat stroke in the state. Orissa has not seen rainfall since last August. Due to rising temperature, sand and the soil have become completely dry, resulting in no cloud formation above the region. The cycle is completed by steep rise in the temperature. The meteorological centre sees no respite from the heat. It, however, has predicted that these conditions would prevail for the coming days. — ANI

Livestock deaths cause panic in M’rashtra
Mumbai:
Reports of livestock like chicken, goats and pigs perishing has created panic in the town of Jalgaon in northern Maharashtra. After local officials intimated the state government of nearly 2,000 livestock dying in the past 10 days, health officials have been rushed to Jalgaon. Officials say there is no sign, so far, of the animals dying due to either swine flu or bird flu. — TNS

Sukhoi black box found
JAISALMER:
An IAF team has recovered the black box of Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet that crashed near Rajmathi village here on Thursday killing a pilot. The black box was recovered from the wreckage of the aircraft on Friday. It is expected to detect the exact cause behind the crash, sources said on Saturday. — PTI

5 die battling forest fire
KOTDWAR GARHWAL:
As many as five villagers battling a forest fire were burnt alive and seven others injured in Gagalsuin village in the district, officials said on Saturday. A magisterial inquiry has been ordered into the case. The fire broke out on Friday in a patch of forest managed by the village panchayat in the district locals decided to tackle the situation themselves. — PTI

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