SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Fissures in Third Front?
TRS to attend NDA rally in Ludhiana today
Hyderabad, May 9
Delivering a big blow to the Third Front, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has decided to attend an NDA rally at Ludhiana tomorrow and send a strong signal about its readiness to join the BJP-led coalition at the Centre after elections.

TRS switch leaves Left red faced
New Delhi, May 9
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K Chandrasekhar Rao has left the Left and other proponents of the Third Front red faced by deciding to attend the last public rally of the NDA being held in Ludhiana tomorrow.

Compulsory voting not practical: Seshan
Hyderabad, May 9
Disagreeing with BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani’s proposal of making voting compulsory in the country, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) TN Seshan said it was impractical to implement it.

Navy chief downplays Chinese presence in Indian ocean
Shillong, May 9
Downplaying Chinese naval exercises with Southeast Asian countries in the Indian Ocean, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today said it did not mean that they were establishing bases.

Anil Ambani’s Chopper Case
Borge wasn’t threatened by anyone: Police
Mumbai, May 9
Investigators probing the death of Air Works technician Bharat Borge, who found pebbles in the fuel tank of industrialist Anil Ambani’s helicopter, said they had not found any evidence of him being threatened by anyone prior to his death.

Sri Lanka evacuating Hindus from homeland:VHP
Tiruchi, May 9
The VHP today charged that the Sri Lankan government was evacuating Tamil-speaking Hindus from the war zone and converting those areas into colonies of Sinhalese-speaking Buddhists.


Polling officials check and pack electronic voting machines ahead of the last phase of elections in Kolkata on Saturday.
Polling officials check and pack electronic voting machines ahead of the last phase of elections in Kolkata on Saturday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi with British Rabindra Resercher William Radhic at the birth anniversary celebration of Rabindra Nath Tagore at Santinikatan in West Bengal on Saturday.
West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi with British Rabindra Resercher William Radhic at the birth anniversary celebration of Rabindra Nath Tagore at Santinikatan in West Bengal on Saturday. — PTI

LTTE eyeing west coast to enter India: Navy
Panaji, May 9
The LTTE, pushed to a narrow stretch in Sri Lanka by its army, was trying to infiltrate into India through the western coast, a senior Navy officer said today.

East West Corridor Project
Terror-struck contractors threaten to
pull out

Guwahati, May 9
Uncertainty looms large over East West Corridor Project stretch in Assam with terror-struck contractors threatening to pull out of the job worth Rs 800 crore citing lack of adequate security to their men and machines.

Mulayam reprimands Azam on home turf
Lucknow, May 9
Rebel Samajawadi party leader Mohammad Azam Khan’s days in the party appeared to be numbered. Today in his hometown of Rampur, party President Mulayam Singh Yadav publicly reprimanded him for indulging in anti-party activities.

EC justifies its decision to send teams to Bihar
New Delhi, May 9
The BJP today criticised the Election Commission for sending fact finding teams to Bihar to probe alleged poll irregularities in six parliamentary constituencies, but the electoral body justified its decision saying “commission cannot ignore the complains made to it.”

Polls claim another life in WB, toll 9
Kolkata, May 9
One person was killed in Howrah district today as violence continued in West Bengal after the second phase of Lok Sabha polls on Thursday, raising the toll to nine.

Fathers crave to meet kids in custody of estranged wives
New Delhi, May 9
Indian American scientist Ravi Chandran has been searching desperately for his son Aditya in India for more than a year after his ex-wife “abducted” the child, now six-year-old, and brought him to India in 2007.

IIT student held for on-line credit card fraud
Ahmedabad, May 9
The cyber crime cell of the city police has arrested a student, of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai’s extension centre in Gandhinagar, for his involvement in on-line credit card frauds, the police said.





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Fissures in Third Front?
TRS to attend NDA rally in Ludhiana today
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 9
Delivering a big blow to the Third Front, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has decided to attend an NDA rally at Ludhiana tomorrow and send a strong signal about its readiness to join the BJP-led coalition at the Centre after elections.

Following an invitation from Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, TRS President K Chandrasekhar Rao and his senior party colleagues would participate in the Ludhiana rally, indicating re-alignment of political forces in the post-poll scenario.

“We have already made it clear that we will join hands with any party or formation that supports formation of separate Telangana state. We are sure that the NDA has bright chances of coming to power,” TRS MP Vinod Kumar said.

Justifying his party’s decision to attend the NDA rally despite being part of the Third Front, he pointed out that the BJP had already promised to deliver Telangana state within 100 days of the NDA coming to power at the Centre while the SAD was among the first to declare support for the statehood cause.

“Our only goal is to achieve statehood for Telangana. We will back any party that will help in reaching the goal,” the TRS leader said.

Ironically, the TRS is part of the four-party opposition alliance in Andhra Pradesh, christened as “Maha Kootami” (Grand Alliance), comprising Telugu Desam Party, CPI and CPM. The sub-regional party’s move to get closer to the NDA for a possible post-poll alliance has upset the apple cart of the Third Front of which the TDP and Left parties are the prime movers.

“The Third Front is yet to take proper shape while the question of UPA returning to power does not arise. Under these circumstances, the NDA is the best bet,” the TRS ideologue Prof Jayashankar said.

Even in the just-concluded elections in Andhra Pradesh, the TRS was a reluctant ally of the TDP-Left combine. It made some hard bargaining for seats and later went on to violate the seat-sharing agreement by putting up its candidates against allies in some constituencies.

The TRS had contested nine Lok Sabha seats, out of 17 in Telangana region, and 45 Assembly seats out of 119. Aided by a strong undercurrent of statehood sentiment in the region and the combined opposition strength, it is expected to put up a good performance.

The assessment of the TRS leadership is that a split mandate was inevitable both at the Centre and in the state. “We will hold the key to the shape of the next government. We will call the shots,” a senior TRS leader said.

The TRS has already set a pre-condition for continuing in the opposition alliance that a resolution be passed on the first day of the first Assembly session favouring creation of a separate state.

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TRS switch leaves Left red faced
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 9
Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) president K Chandrasekhar Rao has left the Left and other proponents of the Third Front red faced by deciding to attend the last public rally of the NDA being held in Ludhiana tomorrow.

NDA sources had reported that Rao, demanding a separate state of Telangana had accepted the invitation to attend the Ludhiana rally, which is being attended by all top leaders of the NDA led by their prime ministerial candidate LK Advani. Apart from Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal supremo Prakash Singh Badal, the list of invitees include Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar. Shiv Sena acting president Udhav Thackeray and Gorkhaland protagonist Bimal Gurung.

While the sharing of platform by Nitish Kumar, the secular icon of the NDA, with Modi may set the tongues wagging in the UPA circles and cause an embarrassment both to the Congress and the Left as they have been furiously wooing Nitish, Chandrasekhar Rao’s decision to abandon the TDP-led Mahakutumbi in Andhra and the Third Front at the Centre has left the Left speechless.

Sources in the Left virtually confirmed the report about KCR saying his men in Delhi have already proceeded to Ludhiana to make arrangements for his reception there. Of course the Left pleads that this gives them and the TDP an opportunity to wriggle out of their commitment to support his demand for Telangana. “When he has broken his side of the commitment, how can he expect any commitment from the other side,” observed a CPM source.

All the same even TRS sources felt embarrassed over this and felt that he should have waited at least the election results before switching sides.

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Compulsory voting not practical: Seshan
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 9
Disagreeing with BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani’s proposal of making voting compulsory in the country, former Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) TN Seshan said it was impractical to implement it.

“Compulsory voting is not possible in India since no government can punish more than one crore people at a time if they do not vote,” he said.

Seshan, who is widely credited with reforming the way elections are conducted in the country, made a public appearance here after a long gap.

Delivering a keynote address on “The State of Governance in India - Who is Responsible?”, organised by the FICCI Ladies’ Organisation

(FLO), Seshan called for amendments in the election expenditure rules and regulations.

“The election expenditure has become a big joke. It should be borne by the government so that the money power can be prevented,” the former CEC said.

“However, it is the responsibility of Parliament to amend rules and regulations. The CEC can only act as an umpire and see that rules are implemented well,” Seshan, who was at the helm of the poll panel between 1990 and 1996, said.

Ridiculing the election-expenditure rules and regulations, he said, “An MP candidate told me that he had spent Rs 8 crore though the expenditure limit was Rs 1.5 lakh during my tenure as the CEC.”

He called for more open and fair elections in order to improve the standard of governance in the country.

“The simplest way state governments can put an end to the influence of money power during polls is by bearing the entire cost of the elections so that it can monitor the expenses,” Seshan said.

In his inimitable style, the former CEC spoke about the sorry state of affairs in the country and held the legislative, executive and the judiciary equally responsible for it.

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Navy chief downplays Chinese presence
in Indian ocean

Shillong, May 9
Downplaying Chinese naval exercises with Southeast Asian countries in the Indian Ocean, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today said it did not mean that they were establishing bases.

“Navies are meant to do such things. They have to make friends across various regions. Such exercises do not mean they are establishing bases,” Mehta told reporters here in reply to a question.

Asked about the passage of Chinese naval ships through the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aden on an anti-piracy mission in the last week of April, Admiral Mehta said, “They were on an anti-piracy mission for the first time.”

“Navies are meant to operate far from coasts. We too have been in the South China sea for the past two months, and by this month end we are sending our western fleet to operate in the Mediterranean and the North Sea.” Stating that India too has friends in the Indian Ocean like Mauritius, Maldives, Malaysia and Singapore, he said, “But there is a need to build perceptions. People have to have a friendly disposition towards you, so that at the time of requirement you could get help from them.” — PTI

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Anil Ambani’s Chopper Case
Borge wasn’t threatened by anyone: Police

Mumbai, May 9
Investigators probing the death of Air Works technician Bharat Borge, who found pebbles in the fuel tank of industrialist Anil Ambani’s helicopter, said they had not found any evidence of him being threatened by anyone prior to his death.

“We have taken the statement, recorded by Borge prior to his death, with the Crime Branch of the city police but nowhere is it indicated that he faced pressure from anyone,” GRP Assistant Commissioner of Police Prakash Sawant said.

Borge was found dead on railway tracks near suburban Vile Parle station on April 28.

“We have also recorded the statements of his family members in Satara but they have only stated that he sounded tense when he spoke to them last,” Sawant said.

There was no evidence to suggest that he had been threatened by anyone. It seemed like he was under a great deal of stress due to the police probe into pebbles being found in Ambani's chopper, the police official said.

Two employees of Air Works, an aircraft maintenance firm, were arrested by Crime Branch for allegedly putting the pebbles in the gearbox. However, GRP officials said they found no evidence of the duo having abetted Borge’s death. “We have not closed investigations in the case but we still have to figure why Borge changed his routine on the day of his death,” Sawant added. — PTI

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Sri Lanka evacuating Hindus from homeland:VHP
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Tiruchi, May 9
The VHP today charged that the Sri Lankan government was evacuating Tamil-speaking Hindus from the war zone and converting those areas into colonies of Sinhalese-speaking Buddhists.

VHP leader Ashok Singhal also alleged that Hindu temples were being demolished and Buddhist monasteries were being built in their place. He said only a BJP government could protect the rights of Hindus living in the island nation.

The Congress-led government could not prevent the genocide of Tamil-speaking Hindus in Sri Lanka and the massacre of Tamil people itself was the fallout of the wrong foreign policy of the Centre, he said.

The VHP leader said lakhs of Hindus had been driven out of their traditional homeland in Sri Lanka and living in foreign countries and added that the situation in Sri Lankan resembled the same at Bangladesh. The present Congress government had failed to act like former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who carved out a separate nation for the suffering people, he said.

All the countries around India had been plunged into serious crisis and China had successfully gained a strong foothold in Sri Lanka, he said and added that this was due to the wrong foreign policy pursued by the UPA government guided by AICC president Sonia Gandhi, who had not come forward to protect Hindus.

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LTTE eyeing west coast to enter India: Navy

Panaji, May 9
The LTTE, pushed to a narrow stretch in Sri Lanka by its army, was trying to infiltrate into India through the western coast, a senior Navy officer said today.

“As the Navy is closely monitoring the Tamil Nadu coast, we realised that people from Sri Lanka, including LTTE cadres, were trying to illegally enter from the west coast,” Vice-Admiral SK Damle, flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Naval Command, told here.

He was speaking on sidelines of a passing out parade organised by Indian Navy at ‘INS Mandovi’ near here.

Damle said the police and other security agencies have informed the Navy that the LTTE was also making attempts to infiltrate from other areas.

He, however, clarified that the problem was not of today. “This possibility was always there and we have been on high alert to foil any illegal entry attempt,” he said adding that the Navy had not come across any LTTE ship in Indian waters.

To a question, Damle said, “We are making sure that our coastal borders are secured and no unauthorised elements come into our country. As far as the Lankan navy is concerned they are acting on their own for their security.” — PTI

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East West Corridor Project
Terror-struck contractors threaten to pull out
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 9
Uncertainty looms large over East West Corridor Project stretch in Assam with terror-struck contractors threatening to pull out of the job worth Rs 800 crore citing lack of adequate security to their men and machines.

The major road contractors — Gammon India, Valecha Engineering, TBL and Continental Engineering Corporation — working in the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) project in insurgency-ravaged North Cachar (NC) Hill district have been under threat from tribal insurgents since they had been awarded the project by the NHAI about 30 months back.

About 150 km of the corridor falls under N C Hills district from Maibong to Lumding. The contractors allege that the state government of Assam, despite repeated requests, has failed to provide adequate security even after insurgents killed and kidnapped several of their men. The work on the project has remained stranded for over one year now.

The four major contractors are now considering an absolute withdrawal from the project and have conveyed it to the Assam government and the NHAI authorities.

“The development of the entire NC Hills area is in jeopardy due to the insurgency. The insurgent groups are controlling the area and are asking for money, which we cannot pay. The insurgent groups then resort to either kidnapping, killing or threatening to kill contractor’s personnel if money is not paid”, said S Y Warty of Gammon India.

Dinesh Valecha, Director of Valecha Engineering, said, “There are series of events that have occurred in the last couple of years. On two occasions, engineers and other staff of Gammon India were shot dead. Valecha Engineering Limited staff were kidnapped and held for 46 days. Continental Engineering Corporation has also suffered similar problems on their two projects.”

“In such a situation it is impossible to retain and mobilise the personnel of required qualification and experience to the work sites,” said Hsiung Chiang of Continental Engineering Corporation.

The contractors are apparently not satisfied with the latest assurance given by the Assam government to provide security to facilitate resumption of work in the project given that tribal Black Widow militants have shown renewed belligerence in the hill district forcing the Railway to cancel all train service despite heavy deployment of security forces. The contractors last met the Assam government and NHAI officials at a meeting held here couple of days back.

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Mulayam reprimands Azam on home turf
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 9
Rebel Samajawadi party leader Mohammad Azam Khan’s days in the party appeared to be numbered. Today in his hometown of Rampur, party President Mulayam Singh Yadav publicly reprimanded him for indulging in anti-party activities.

Addressing an election rally in Rampur in support of SP candidate Jaya Prada, Yadav finally made his displeasure known by questioning how Khan opposing the party’s official candidate was going to strengthen the party.

While all high profile leaders of the party including Abu Azmi, Jaya Bachchan, Nafisa Ali were present on the dais, Khan was conspicuous by his absence.

While the feud between the two national general secretaries of the party - Amar Singh and Mohammad Azam Khan, has been in the news for months now, it is the first time that the party chief has openly sided with Amar Singh and criticised Khan for his anti party activities.

This comes two days after Amar Singh had threatened to quit the party after May 13 if the party president did not intervene in this very public mud-slinging competition between the two leaders.

Hinting at a secret understanding between him and the Congress, Yadav at today’s rally reminded Khan that in 2004 it was he who had seconded the name of Jaya Prada for the Rampur seat as he had then thought she would be able to defeat the Congress. “Then why did he become so angry after she won?” remarked Yadav.

Giving his blessings to Jaya Prada, he appealed to the voters of Rampur to come out and show the respect that a woman candidate deserves.

Today’s very public snub to the so-called Muslim face of the party on his home turf has left Azam Khan with little space to maneouver his way back to his old stature in the party, feel observers.

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EC justifies its decision to send teams to Bihar

New Delhi, May 9
The BJP today criticised the Election Commission for sending fact finding teams to Bihar to probe alleged poll irregularities in six parliamentary constituencies, but the electoral body justified its decision saying “commission cannot ignore the complains made to it.”

“A large number of complaints were received from various political parties, including the BJP, BSP, JDU, INC, RJD demanding re-poll in constituencies ... the commission cannot ignore complaints that have been made to it,” a release from the EC said.

Earlier, a delegation of NDA leaders met the Commission today and submitted a memorandum to it in context of six teams of commission officials having been sent to Bihar to look into complaints of alleged malpractices in few constituencies which went to poll on April 16 and April 30. — PTI

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Polls claim another life in WB, toll 9

Kolkata, May 9
One person was killed in Howrah district today as violence continued in West Bengal after the second phase of Lok Sabha polls on Thursday, raising the toll to nine.

The police said 50-year-old Chandu Malik was killed in a bomb attack at Udaynarayanpur area, about 60 km from here, under Uluberia Lok Sabha constituency.

CPM MP from Uluberia Hannan Mollah claimed that Malik was a supporter of the Marxist party and he had earned the wrath of Trinamool Congress-Congress combine for actively working for the CPM in the area.

In Bagnan area of Howrah, two villagers, including a 15-year-old student, were killed after bombs hit them at separate places yesterday, the police said. The CPM claimed that the victims were supporters of the party.

Another youth was shot dead at Chandipur under Uluberia constituency immediately after polling ended on May 7 and CPM claimed he too belonged to their party. — PTI

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Fathers crave to meet kids in custody
of estranged wives

New Delhi, May 9
Indian American scientist Ravi Chandran has been searching desperately for his son Aditya in India for more than a year after his ex-wife “abducted” the child, now six-year-old, and brought him to India in 2007.

“After the divorce, I was given full custody of Aditya by the New York Court on September 14, 2007, but she (wife Vijayasree Voora) abducted the child and came to India, and now she is moving from one place to another to avoid arrest,” Chandran said at a press meet organised by NGOs here.

Chandran left his job with a pharma company in the US to look for his son in India. He has shifted to Hyderabad.

Chandran says he has been knocking on every door, begging everyone to find his son. “I really don’t understand why people think that a father cannot love his kid. I just can’t sleep thinking of my son. He has not been admitted to any school for more than 21 months,” he sobbed.

He has scoured numerous places, including schools, and visited many police stations to trace his son.

Vijyayasree had filed a petition in the Madras High Court in November 2007 for sole custody of the child, which was dismissed.

In February this year, the Supreme Court of India ordered the Karnataka police to find Aditya.

Kumar V Jahgirdar, president of NGO Children's Rights Initiative For Shared Parenting (CRISP), said: “It is very unfair that we give an advantage to the mother in custody cases and easily cancel the visitation rights of the father. We get a large number of calls from India and abroad from fathers seeking help to be able to meet their kids.”

“I understand the grief of a father who has not been able to see his kids after divorce so I made it a mission to help such people,” Jahgirdar said. He himself is fighting for custody of his daughter. His ex-wife has married cricketer Anil Kumble.

“As the school of my daughter is near my house, I just wanted that I should be able to keep her on weekdays, and they could keep her on weekends. But they have not agreed and the case is in the Supreme Court,” Jahgirdar added.

Sayed Maqdoom, a Canadian citizen of Indian origin, committed suicide on April 9 in Bangalore after not being allowed to meet his child regularly. He was fighting for custody of his son and was frustrated after his wife filed a false dowry case against him.

“I am shocked with the Indian system. My brother has died fighting to see his son. He died at the age of 33. Now I just pray that no such father should die craving to see his child,” Maqdoom's sister Sabina said.

Maqdoom had made a video clip of himself while committing suicide. His wife had apparently married thrice earlier before meeting him.

Rajiv Kocher is another father who has lost visitation rights to his child.

“Despite the court orders I was not allowed to see my kid, so one day I could not control myself when I saw my child in the court and ran away with him and kept him with me for a week and then returned him. But later on I found that my ex-wife has slapped a number of charges against me and now I am in hiding and can't even see my kid,” Kocher said. — IANS

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IIT student held for on-line credit card fraud

Ahmedabad, May 9
The cyber crime cell of the city police has arrested a student, of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mumbai’s extension centre in Gandhinagar, for his involvement in on-line credit card frauds, the police said.

According to a statement issued by the cyber crime cell one Ashish Ravindran Nathan, student of computer engineering, was arrested yesterday from a garden in the satellite area here on charges of conducting on-line credit card frauds.

The statement said Nathan was operating in the city since October last year and has till date duped 25 persons of around Rs seven lakh. — PTI

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