SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Foreign policy challenges for govt
New Delhi, May 24
Is S M Krishna the right person to step into the shoes of Pranab Mukherjee, his predecessor in the External Affairs Ministry and the Congress party’s man for all seasons?

Andhra cops gun down dreaded Maoist leader
Hyderabad, May 24
The Maoist movement received a big blow today when its top leader and central committee member Patel Sudhakar Reddy was killed in a police encounter in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh.

Guerrillas expanding clout in new areas
Raipur, May 24
Maoist guerrillas in Chhattisgarh have started expanding their base to new forested areas in the state's Raipur and Dhamtari districts, according to worrying police intelligence inputs.

Maoists using kids as human shields
Raipur, May 24
The Maoists are forcibly taking away children from villages and using them as human shields against security forces, alleges a Chhattisgarh legislator, whose constituency is badly hit by the extremist insurgency.

Foreign policy challenges for govt
New Delhi, May 24
Is S M Krishna the right person to step into the shoes of Pranab Mukherjee, his predecessor in the External Affairs Ministry and the Congress party’s man for all seasons?

UPA allies scapegoat of Cong’s failure: Advani
Ahmedabad, May 24
Communists and other allies of the UPA, who were “blackmailing” the Congress, have been punished by the electorate and the Congress has got benefit in the process, senior BJP leader LK Advani said today. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi (right) greets BJP leader LK Advani in Gandhinagar on Sunday.
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi (right) greets BJP leader LK Advani in Gandhinagar on Sunday. — PTI



Avika Gor of serial ‘Balika Vadhu’ fame waves during the grand summer camp at Internation Public School in Bhopal on Sunday.
Avika Gor of serial ‘Balika Vadhu’ fame waves during the grand summer camp at Internation Public School in Bhopal on Sunday. — PTI


EARLIER STORIES

Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee at her house in Kolkata on Sunday.
Trinamool Congress chief and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee at her house in Kolkata on Sunday. — PTI

Mamata threatens to resume stir in Singur
Kolkata, May 24
Accusing the state government of “quietly” renewing land lease to the Tatas, the Trinamool Congress (TC) today threatened to resume its movement in Singur for return of 400 acres of land forcibly acquired from farmers.

LS debacle: Blame game on in CPM
Kolkata, May 24
The CPM state committee today reviewed the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections and also discussed the strategy to be adopted in the forthcoming municipal polls, which is going to held on June 28, against the TMC-Congress combine.

In Madhya Pradesh, bickering spells doom for BJP
Bhopal, May 24
A much sharper picture has started emerging about what went wrong with the BJP in the parliamentary polls in the heart of India - Madhya Pradesh.

A kid holds a placard during a health awareness event in Hyderabad on Sunday.
A kid holds a placard during a health awareness event in Hyderabad on Sunday. — AFP
Bollywood director Kalpana Lazmi adjusts a Japi (a traditional hat) presented to her in Nagaon (Assam) on Sunday.
UNDER COVER: Bollywood director Kalpana Lazmi adjusts a Japi (a traditional hat) presented to her in Nagaon (Assam) on Sunday. — PTI

PM, CMs should be directly elected, says Chouhan
Bhopal, May 24
Advocating simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls across the country, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said that the country’s Prime Minister and CMs of the state should be directly elected by people. “For strengthening democracy further, it is absolutely necessary to hold the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the country simultaneously,” Chouhan said at a function organised to mark the Madhya Pradesh Toursim Day.

Joshi gets rewarded for turning the tables on BJP
Jaipur, May 24
The inclusion of Rajasthan Congress chief CP Joshi into the newly sworn-in Manmohan Singh government is being seen here as a reward for this psychology professor, who teamed up with CM Ashok Gehlot to usher in a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the Congress in the Assembly as well as the Lok Sabha polls.

Rajasthan
Cong, BJP hunting for new state chiefs
Jaipur, May 24
Even as lobbying has intensified for the post of the state Congress chief after induction of CP Joshi in the Union Cabinet, the BJP too is looking for a new state president after back-to-back setbacks for the party in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections.

Rains cool parts of North
New Delhi, May 24
Rains drenched parts of northern and eastern region today providing relief to denizens from the searing heat even as some districts in Rajasthan baked at over 45 degree celsius throwing normal life in disarray. Mercury dipped by several notches in Uttar Pradesh, Orrisa and Himachal Pradesh thanks to hailstorms and incessant rains that cooled the states.


Children cool off from water spilling out of a broken Delhi Jal Board water supply pipe at near Nizamuddin Bridge in New Delhi on Sunday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui
Children cool off from water spilling out of a broken Delhi Jal Board water supply pipe at near Nizamuddin Bridge in New Delhi on Sunday.

Security to 100 VIPs may be cut
New Delhi, May 24
Security to nearly 100 VIPs, including former Union Ministers Shivraj Patil and Natwar Singh, is likely to be downgraded when the Home Ministry carries out a review of threats to them.

HIV positive kids react to the camera during the ‘Global AIDS Week of Action’ programme in Hyderabad.
HIV positive kids react to the camera during the ‘Global AIDS Week of Action’ programme in Hyderabad. — Reuters
A woman prays after taking a holy dip in Ganges on occasion of Bargadahi Amavasya in Allahabad on Sunday.
A woman prays after taking a holy dip in Ganges on occasion of Bargadahi Amavasya in Allahabad on Sunday. — PTI

Chiru finds fault in party symbol
Says ‘Rail Engine’ was not properly visible on EVMs
Hyderabad, May 24
Smarting under disastrous electoral debut, Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi now wants to change his party’s election symbol to improve visibility.

Thackeray family feud now out in the open
Mumbai, May 24
The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have both been electorally routed in Mumbai and in parts of Maharashtra in the recent general elections, but this has not stopped the Thackeray family from bringing its internal bickering out into the open. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has blamed his cousin and MNS chief Raj Thackeray for the Shiv Sena's poll debacle. But Raj has wasted no time in hitting back at Uddhav.

Muslim student moves SC again over sporting beard
New Delhi, May 24
The Supreme Court's judgement refusing a Muslim student's plea to sport beards in educational institutions by observing it would not permit "Talibanisation of the country" has been challenged by the aggrieved youth by way of a fresh petition.

Mumbai to have India’s tallest building
Mumbai, May 24
New York has the Empire State Building, Kuala Lumpur as the Petronas Towers and Mumbai will boast of an iconic structure, promises the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

Six months after 26/11, going hi-tech still a dream for cops
Mumbai, May 24
Despite losing 14 personnel and having chinks in their armour exposed in the November 26 terror strikes, the city police are still to acquire most of the weaponry and equipment they had sought to tackle similar attacks in the future.

26/11 Trial
‘Send miliants’ bodies to Pak’
Mumbai, May 24
The bodies of nine slain terrorists lying in a city morgue since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks should be sent to Pakistan or disposed off as per Muslim rites, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said today.

2 Labour Commission officials fined
New Delhi, May 24
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has levied a penalty of Rs 25,000 each on Delhi’s Deputy Labour Commissioner VS Arya and Assistant Labour Commissioner Subash Chandra for “purposely” misleading the commission, dereliction of duty and adopting corrupt practices in their office.

‘Milk adulteration threatens India’s nutritional needs’
New Delhi, May 24
Rampant adulteration of milk poses a major threat to India's nutritional needs, researchers and experts said Saturday.

Assam to be cleft-lip free by 2012
Guwahati, May 24
Hira Suthradhar, a daily-wage labourer from Kathiatoli in Nagaon district of Assam, never even dreamt that he would ever see the cleft lip of his 3-year-old son, Suman repaired as the cost involved was beyond his means.

Human skeletons found
Guwahati, May 24
Constructions labourers stumbled upon as many as 14 human skeletons since Thursday, while doing the spade work at the site for construction of a housing colony for urban poor at the Fatasil Ambari area in the heart of the city.

Egyptian mummy needs urgent care
Hyderabad, May 24
The ravages of time have begun to take their toll on Nasihu, a young Egyptian girl from the remote past resting in a state museum here. More than 4,500 years after her death, Nasihu, daughter of the VIth Pharaoh, now faces the risk of slipping into history for ever in the absence of specialised conservation.

Five die in accidents
Jaipur, May 24
Five people, including three youths, were killed while one was injured in separate mishaps in Rajasthan on Sunday. Two persons were crushed to death while another was injured this morning when a truck rammed into a divider where they were waiting for a bus near Goner Road here, police said.





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Foreign policy challenges for govt
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24
Is S M Krishna the right person to step into the shoes of Pranab Mukherjee, his predecessor in the External Affairs Ministry and the Congress party’s man for all seasons?

Seventy seven-year-old Krishna certainly fits the bill if one goes by his profile and administrative skills as the Chief Minister of Karnataka and the Governor of Maharashtra.

But then, the foreign office is not the place where one can indulge in experimenting with his own innovative ideas. It obviously is going to be a trial by fire for India’s new foreign minister.

In his brief interaction with the media yesterday, the US-educated Krishna indicated that he would accord the highest priority to strengthening relations with India’s neighbours.

The biggest challenge also comes to him from dealing with the neighbouring nations, what with the Taliban rapidly advancing in Pakistan undermining the authority of the civilian government and Sri Lanka grappling with the humanitarian crisis in the wake of the protracted war against the LTTE.

How will the new foreign minister calibrate India’s policy towards Pakistan? That a dialogue with Pakistan in the immediate future is out of question became evident yesterday itself when he stated that Pakistan must dismantle the terror infrastructure on its territory.

Senior officials point out that India has given a third dossier of evidence to Pakistan last week on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks and it is time for Islamabad to bring to book the perpetrators of the mayhem.

Until Pakistan takes sincere and credible against the masterminds of the Mumbai carnage, there is hardly possibility of business as usual between the two countries.

The handsome gains made by the DMK in the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu means the situation in Sri Lanka would always remain on New Delhi’s radar. The humanitarian crisis in the wake of the conflict, particularly the plight of innocent Tamil civilians, has been a big cause of concern for New Delhi and a visit by Krishna to the island nation shortly may well be on the cards.

Nepal will also have to be a priority of the new UPA government. The political crisis in the Himalayan nation appears to have ended at least for now with the installation of Madhav Kumar Nepal as the Prime Minister.

In Bangladesh, despite a friendly regime being at the helm of affairs, the internal political confusion has meant that India’s security concerns remain ignored. Bangladesh also continues to be a safe haven for the insurgent groups like ULFA, whose top leaders are holed up in the country.

Border talks with China are not getting anywhere despite umpteen rounds of talks between the Special Representatives of the two countries. Beijing continues to persist with its anti-India stand at most international forums. No one has forgotten how it sought to stonewall a consensus in favour of giving waiver to India for undertaking nuclear commerce at the nuclear suppliers’ group (MSG) meeting in Vienna in September last year.

India’s ties with the US will certainly be a high priority area but the foreign office mandarins candidly admit that the relationship with the only super power will never be the same again as was witnessed during the George Bush era. The two countries will, however, remain committed to the much-touted nuclear deal.

President Obama’s telephone call to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday does indicate that he also desires a strong relationship with New Delhi but his well known views on non-proliferation issues and outsourcing make India wary of him.

At the same time, however, the US appears keen to involve New Delhi in the implementation of its new Af-Pak strategy. New Delhi may also come under pressure from Washington to reduce its troop strength along the border so that Pakistan could concentrate more on the fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to be in India in July and preparations for the visit have already begun.

Washington’s growing proximity with Beijing means alarming bells for New Delhi as India seeks to occupy its rightful place in the comity of nation as a growing political and economic power.

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Andhra cops gun down dreaded Maoist leader
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 24
The Maoist movement received a big blow today when its top leader and central committee member Patel Sudhakar Reddy was killed in a police encounter in Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh.

Carrying a reward of Rs 12 lakh on his head, Reddy alias Suryam was among the most-wanted Maoist leader in the country involved in several major offences.

A shrewd military strategist, 45-year-old Reddy was involved in the assassination bid on former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu at the foothills of Tirupati in October 2003 and the killings of former Home Minister K Madhav Reddy and IPS officer Umesh Chandra and scores of greyhounds police personnel at Balimela on AP-Orissa border in 2008.

The encounter took place in Lavvala forest area of Warangal district, which was once the bastion of Maoists.

Along with Reddy, another top Naxalite K Venkataiah died in the gun battle. The Warangal district superintendent of police V C Sajjannar said the encounter took place when police were conducting combing operations following a tip off that some Maoists were holding a meeting in the area.

When cornered, the Maoists opened fire and the police had to return the fire in self-defence, leading to the death of two Maoists.

The police seized an AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol and other ammunition from the spot, he said.

The police claimed that the personnel engaged in combing operations spotted a group of about 20 armed Maoists. The remaining Maoists managed to escape deep into the forests.

However, civil liberties leaders K Balagopal and B Ramulu and revolutionary writer P Vara Vara Rao cried foul and alleged that it was a fake encounter.

The police had arrested Sudhakar Reddy at Nasik in Maharashtra four days ago and killed him in cold blood on Sunday, they alleged. They also demanded a judicial probe or a CBI inquiry into the encounter killings.

A postgraduate gold medallist from Osmania University, Sudhakar Reddy, a native of Gadwal in Mahbubnagar district, began his career as Radical Students Union (RSU) leader in 1982 and held several positions in the Maoist party before being shifted to Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and

Maharashtra. At the time of death, he was in-charge of the Maoist activities in Karnataka.

A front ranker in the party’s central military commission and a hi-tech planner of several militant operations using his laptop, Reddy executed killings of several high-profile leaders and police officers.

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Guerrillas expanding clout in new areas

Raipur, May 24
Maoist guerrillas in Chhattisgarh have started expanding their base to new forested areas in the state's Raipur and Dhamtari districts, according to worrying police intelligence inputs.

The banned leftist insurgent outfit, Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), which roughly comprises 50,000 cadre in the state, including 15,000 female members, commands since the late 1980s the interior tracts of the state's southern mineral-rich Bastar region spread over about 40,000 sq km.

However, fresh intelligence inputs received by the police reveal that the CPI-Maoist has been expanding to new areas in the state exploiting local issues.

"The growing impact of the Maoists outside their traditional base of Bastar was evident on May 10, when they carried out a deadly attack for the first time ever in Dhamtari district and killed 12 policemen and a civilian," a senior intelligence officer told IANS.

"Earlier, the Maoists were restricted to Bastar's five districts - Dantewada, Bijapur, Narayanpur, Kanker and Bastar - besides the western district of Rajnandgaon close to Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra, but now they have developed new bases in Dhamtari and even in Raipur district," the official said on condition of anonymity.

He said they also had intelligence inputs of the Maoists building up bases in Raipur district's diamond-rich areas of Devbhog as well as Mainpur and Gariaband - a cause of alarm for the police. The authorities will have to urgently check the spread of the Maoists in Raipur district otherwise the situation will become similar to Bastar in a few years, he said.

Maoist insurgency broke out in India in 1967. The insurgency, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as one of the gravest threats to the country's internal security, has killed over 1,500 people alone in Chhattisgarh since the state came into existence in November 2000 carved out from Madhya Pradesh. — IANS

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Maoists using kids as human shields

Raipur, May 24
The Maoists are forcibly taking away children from villages and using them as human shields against security forces, alleges a Chhattisgarh legislator, whose constituency is badly hit by the extremist insurgency.

“The Maoists are forcibly picking up boys and girls from their houses and schools in the interiors to use them as shields in the war against (security) forces,” Mahesh Gagda, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Bijapur, told here.

Gagda, 33, who has Z-plus security cover due to the Maoist threat, says nearly 100-odd villages in his constituency are now considered rebel strongholds, adding that the rebels run a parallel administration in the region.

“The Maoists have completely halted development in about 100 villages out of 272 villages that form the Bijapur constituency,” Gagda said. Bijapur is part of the mineral-rich Bastar region, which is spread over 40,000 sq km in the state’s southern part.

“Kids in Bijapur are carrying arms, even AK-47s. The Maoists deliberately make them carry arms under school dress or ordinary clothes to dodge police security and frisking. Maoist leaders always keep armed kids around themselves and whenever they want to kill anyone, they use the weapon being carried by the kids,” Gagda said.

“The Maoist menace has reached its flashpoint in Bijapur. They are forcibly recruiting both boys and girls in their rank and file and generally girls are been sexually exploited,” he said.

With schools being targeted by Maoist rebels for recruitment of children as human shields and child soldiers, Gagda said he would ask the BJP government to open more residential schools in insurgency-hit areas where police escort can be provided to the students.

The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPM) has a separate unit for the child soldiers, called Krantikari Adivasi Balak Sangh. In April, the Chhattisgarh government extended the ban on the Maoists and its six frontal organisations, including the Sangh, till 2010.

The Maoist insurgency has been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as one of the gravest threats to the country’s internal security. In Chhattisgarh, over 1,500 people have been killed in the insurgency since the state was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in November 2000. — IANS

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UPA allies scapegoat of Cong’s failure: Advani

Ahmedabad, May 24
Communists and other allies of the UPA, who were “blackmailing” the Congress, have been punished by the electorate and the Congress has got benefit in the process, senior BJP leader LK Advani said today.

Referring to the Left parties’ debacle in the Lok Sabha polls, he said: “The communists became scapegoat of Congress’ failures”.

Advani was here to attend a function organised by the state BJP to thank voters of Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad for electing party candidates in the recently concluded elections.

Giving his first formal reaction to the Lok Sabha polls after results came out on May 16, Advani said: “I have been asked about the verdict of electorate in the Lok Sabha polls. I think the main factors are that people have punished Communists, who according to them were blackmailing the Congress.”

“People have also voted out smaller parties which were aspiring to get power at the Centre with their limited strength. People have voted for bipolar polity having two main parties,” Advani said.

“This is in fact an endorsement of the BJP's stand that there should be two dominant parties at the national level,” he said adding: “The Jan Sangh and the BJP’s creation was meant to break the dominance of single dominant party in the polity of the country and the BJP has done this.”

"We wished that people of the country had also punished the Congress for its failure on various fronts, including economy, security and governance,” he said.

On the black money issue, Advani, who would be the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, said when he had raised the issue, Congress leaders, including the Prime Minister, had ridiculed him. “Subsequently even Manmohan Singh said if voted to power, the Congress would bring back the money stashed away in foreign banks. They have made a lot of promises to the electorate. Now, as the Opposition, we will remind them of these promises and would ask them to fulfil them,” Advani said.

He said he would pursue his suggestion regarding concurrent elections of Lok Sabha and assembly. “I have made a suggestion regarding holding of Lok Sabha and assembly polls simultaneously. I will pursue it with the government and other parties,” he said. — PTI

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Mamata threatens to resume stir in Singur

Kolkata, May 24
Accusing the state government of “quietly” renewing land lease to the Tatas, the Trinamool Congress (TC) today threatened to resume its movement in Singur for return of 400 acres of land forcibly acquired from farmers.

“When we were busy with Lok Sabha elections, the Left Front government quietly renewed lease of the land to the Tatas at Singur. We will resume our agitation for return of the 400 acre after six of our MPS take oath on Tuesday,” TC chief Mamata Banerjee said here.

The state government had renewed the lease in Singur though the Tatas had not announced any plan to resume work, she claimed, adding: “The Tatas also holds unutilised land in Gujarat and Orissa”.

“It is unacceptable to us that some people will go on increasing their land holding while another section will not have enough to eat,” Banerjee said.

Earlier, the Tata's Nano project, planned at Singur, was shifted out of the state following strong protest from the Trinamool Congress.

Meanwhile, stopping short of demanding Central rule in West Bengal, Mamata today said the CPM-led Left Front government had lost moral right to remain in power, as it was “corrupt” and indulging in “unconstitutional” activities. — PTI

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LS debacle: Blame game on in CPM
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 24
The CPM state committee today reviewed the party’s debacle in the Lok Sabha elections and also discussed the strategy to be adopted in the forthcoming municipal polls, which is going to held on June 28, against the TMC-Congress combine.

At the meeting, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacherjee came under fire for mishandling the Singur and Nandigram issues, Rizwanur Rahman’s mysterious death case and several other important matters.

At one stage, there were heated exchanges and the two different groups were involved in the blame-game, holding each other responsible for the party’s poor performances in the polls, party sources said.

But the committee finally agreed that the politburo’s several decisions like on the withdrawal of support from the UPA, expelling the senior member and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee from the party and the attempts of the formation of the Third Front with Mayawati, Deve Gowda, Naveen Patnaik, Chandrababu Naidu, etc, were unacceptable to the people, which had been reflected in the election results.

At the same time, some regional issues like that of Singur and Nandigram were equally responsible for which the both the state government and the party had been held cautioned.

Several leaders also criticised the arrogance, high-handedness and corrupt practices of some ministers, powerful leaders and workers. They believed this had not only tarnished the party’s clean image, but also made it unpopular.

Party secretary Biman Bose said before the elections they had been receiving hopeful assessment reports from most of the districts. However, the party failed to check those reports and take appropriate steps accordingly.

Bose reminded the party workers about the veteran Jyoti Basu’s advices and asked them to go to the people and regain their faith and confidence.

After the meeting, it was stated officially that the CPM would not field any candidates in the municipal polls in three different subdivisions of the hills, namely, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling since no free and fair polls could be held there.

But in the remaining 16 other municipalities, the party would fight jointly with other front partners against the TMC and Congress candidates.

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In Madhya Pradesh, bickering spells doom for BJP
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

Bhopal, May 24
A much sharper picture has started emerging about what went wrong with the BJP in the parliamentary polls in the heart of India - Madhya Pradesh.

Arrogance, overconfidence, negative campaigning and heavy internal sabotage resulted in the BJP putting up a ‘bad show.’ Of the 29 Lok Sabha seats, the saffron party has managed to secure 16, down by nine from the tally of 2004 polls.

The Congress, which secured only four seats last time, has surprised everyone by increasing its tally to 12. The three-fold increase is by default - thanks to chaos in the rival BJP camp. The Bahujan Samaj Party also took advantage of this, capturing one seat (Rewa).

Since beginning, the BJP was overconfident, as only five months ago it had secured 143 out of 230 seats in the assembly elections. The saffron party thought that the parliamentary polls would also be a cakewalk. But its calculations went wrong, and it lost many seats, primarily because of infighting and selection of wrong candidates.

Everyone was expecting the Congress would do better this time. But the party itself was not confident of reaching the figure of 12. The ‘Hand’, say pundits, has grabbed extra seats not because of any hard work. There was infighting within the Congress too, but it got advantage of the sabotage activities in the rival camp.

The Congress did better because of another important factor - the return of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to its fold. The party bagged six of the 10 Lok Sabha SC and ST seats. The remaining four went to the BJP. In 2004, the BJP had bagged nine and the Congress one. The results also indicate that the RSS network among the tribals too is on wane in the Malwa region.

The BJP could not take advantage of fiery ‘sanayasin’ Uma Bharti, who was busy this time campaigning outside Madhya Pradesh, asking votes for LK Advani, the man whom she hated till recently. Nowhere, regional or national issues, like price rise and terrorism, mattered. The fine line between the victory and defeat was ultimately drawn by the local politics dominated by caste factors.

The height of the BJP arrogance was witnessed in sensitive reserved Dhar constituency. Before polling, Ranjana Baghel, minister for women and child development, slapped a tribal woman when she complained about the non-implementation of a government welfare scheme.

The echo of the slap was heard all over the state, leading to strong protests against Baghel by women activists. Ultimately, her husband, Mukam Singh Kirade, paid the price for his wife’s mistake - as the BJP nominee, he lost the poll to two-time Congress MP, Gajendra Singh Rajukhedi.

And a classic case of “BJP versus BJP” was witnessed in the state’s financial capital --- Indore. The state industry minister, Kailash Vijayvargiya, and the party MLA from Indore-2, Ramesh Mendola, openly worked against the BJP’s veteran leader, Sumitra Mahajan. The "tai" managed to win because of her clean image for the seventh time, but with the lowest margin (about 11,000 votes) of her electoral life by defeating Congress nominee, Satyanarayan Patel.

During the past, the Congress was losing its grip over tribal electorate. It has now won four of the six tribal seats. In the Malwa region, the Congress won Ratlam and Dhar. The BJP could win only in Khargone which was declared a tribal seat following delimitation.

In Ratlam, union minister of state for Agriculture, Kantilal Bhuria (Congress), defeated the BJP’s Dileep Singh Bhuria. Former Congress leader, Dileep Singh Bhuria, got defeated mainly because of loss of face among voters, as he had been hopping from one party to another. In the Mahakoshal region, both the tribal seats — Mandla and Shahdol — were won by the Congress.

In Hoshangabad, the state Congress chief, Suresh Pachouri’s confidant, Uday Pratap Singh, won because the BJP’s mass leader Sartaj Singh (former MP) worked against the party nominee, Rampal. Sartaj Singh was upset, as he was not made a minister after he won the assembly poll.

Infighting within the Congress camp also stopped it from winning more seats. In Sagar, former Hockey hero Aslam Sher Khan was worried from day one about losing the “election match” as his own party team members were attempting to post a goal against him. And Khan lost it, merely because he was dubbed as an “outsider.”

The most unique campaigning was witnessed in Ujjain (SC), where a lightweight Congress nominee, Premchand Guddu, defeated the BJP’s top gun, six-time winner Dr Satyanarayan Jatia. Guddu just described Jatia as “Shriman Satyanashi” and asked voters: “why Jatia has failed to make Ujjain like Indore…worse, we get tap water once in a week…wake up and vote for a change.”

In Guna and Gwalior, even after six decades of independence, nothing matters, more than the charisma of the erstwhile royal Scindia family. While in Guna, Jyotiraditya, son of late Madhavrao Scindia, won for the third time, in Gwalior, his father’s younger sister and BJP nominee, Yashodhara Raje Scindia, secured the seat second time.

To occupy the PM’s slot, LK Advani was depending a lot on the heart of India. But MP ditched him.

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PM, CMs should be directly elected, says Chouhan

Bhopal, May 24
Advocating simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly polls across the country, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said that the country’s Prime Minister and CMs of the state should be directly elected by people. “For strengthening democracy further, it is absolutely necessary to hold the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the country simultaneously,” Chouhan said at a function organised to mark the Madhya Pradesh Toursim Day.

“Direct elections for the post of Prime Minister and Chief Ministers should also be held,” he said. Noting that time has come for engaging people in a national debate to think over the issue, the Chief Minister said that a lot of time and money was being wasted in holding polls frequently.

“The time and money thus saved can be utilised for the development of the nation and welfare of the people,” he said. Chouhan also advocated the state funding of elections to check the growing expenses on polls resulting in parties emphasising on collecting donations which have its own after-effects.

“The state funding will lead to transparency in public life,” he said. Earlier, Chouhan praised the state tourism department for taking various steps for promoting tourism in the state. To encourage private investment in the tourism sector, the state government will organise a meet at Khajuraho in October by showcasing Madhya Pradesh's potential in the tourism sector.

Addressing the function, state tourism minister Tukoji Rao Pawar insisted on the need to raise awareness about the potential of tourism in Madhya Pradesh. He said that the department will soon establish its offices in Pune and Bangalore to attract tourists in Madhya Pradesh and added that it is also planning to set up an office in Bangkok as that area has lot of tourism potential. Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Chairman Dhruv Narayan Singh, Toursim Secretary Iqbal Singh Bains and Tourism Expert SK Mishra also addressed the function. — PTI

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Joshi gets rewarded for turning the tables on BJP
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, May 24
The inclusion of Rajasthan Congress chief CP Joshi into the newly sworn-in Manmohan Singh government is being seen here as a reward for this psychology professor, who teamed up with CM Ashok Gehlot to usher in a dramatic reversal of fortunes for the Congress in the Assembly as well as the Lok Sabha polls.

Joshi had hit the national headlines after he lost the Assembly election from Nathdwara constituency by a single vote. Though he lost from his home town he ensured the return of the Congress to power in the state.

His elevation to the Central politics hasn’t surprised anybody as he shares a good rapport with AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi. Political analysts feel that the cabinet berth to Joshi in the big league of 19 ministers has increased his stature in the party. “Neither warhorse Sis Ram Ola nor senior Congress leader Girija Vyas could make it to the cabinet in the first go.

Joshi’s leadership skills were first tested in the Assembly elections last December when he headed the party into the polls. He proved his political mettle by charting the course of the party’ return to power after a gap of five years.

He held various key portfolios in the Gehlot government between 1998 and 2003.

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Rajasthan
Cong, BJP hunting for new state chiefs
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, May 24
Even as lobbying has intensified for the post of the state Congress chief after induction of CP Joshi in the Union Cabinet, the BJP too is looking for a new state president after back-to-back setbacks for the party in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections.

State BJP chief Om Prakash Mathur’s detractors are demanding his resignation after the humiliating defeat of the party in the parliamentary elections, which saw the party’s tally coming down to paltry 4 from 21 last time. There are total 25 LS seats in Rajasthan. The names of former Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria and Rajya Sabha MP Ramdas Aggarwal are doing the rounds for the job. Former BJP minister Ghanshyam Tiwari could have got the responsibility if he had not lost the poll from Jaipur urban seat.

Meanwhile, after reporting to the BJP high command on the party’s drubbing in Rajasthan, Mathur has adopted aggressive posture against his detractors. Replying to the demand for his resignation by a section of senior party leaders, Mathur asked them to introspect as those who had raised fingers against him and former CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia are the ones who enjoyed power during the party’s five-year rule. He went on to add, “I was the first to claim responsibility for the party’s defeat in the Assembly elections. I don’t need anyone’s advice.”

It may be mentioned here that a section of BJP leaders at a meeting in Jaipur had demanded that Raje and Mathur be held responsible for the party’s poor performance in the elections and be replaced.

On the other hand, the race for the post of the state Congress chief has also hot up after CP Joshi’s induction in the Manmohan Singh government. Leading the race is former transport and power minister Chandrabhan. The Congress would prefer a Jat leader in view of the political requirement for the post. Chandrabhan, a Jat, is also a confidant of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. However, he may not be acceptable to other senior Jat leaders of the state.

Former state Congress chief BD Kalla may also get the top job in case the Jats fail to bury the hatchet. The Congress won all seven LS seats in New Delhi where Kalla was the party observer. Also he played a peacemaker between the party high command and disgruntled Jat leaders before the Assembly elections.

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Rains cool parts of North

New Delhi, May 24
Rains drenched parts of northern and eastern region today providing relief to denizens from the searing heat even as some districts in Rajasthan baked at over 45 degree celsius throwing normal life in disarray.

Mercury dipped by several notches in Uttar Pradesh, Orrisa and Himachal Pradesh thanks to hailstorms and incessant rains that cooled the states.

Duststorms, too, lashed several places in Rajasthan where mercury peaked at 45.4 degree celsius in Bikaner, 45.3 in Jaisalmer and 45 in Ganganagar.

Day temperatures fell up to four degree celsius in Uttar Pradesh with state capital Lucknow recording 37.8, holy city Varanasi 38.8 and Allahabad 39.3 degree celsius respectively.

Maximum temperatures plummeted by four degree celsius in Gorakhpur, which received 17 mm of rains.

Bringing respite from the scorching heat, rains lashed many parts of coastal and interior Orissa as the depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified.

The deep depression, which lay nearly 350 km south-east of Paradip, is likely to intensify further into a cyclonic storm and cross West Bengal and Bangladesh coast tomorrow. — PTI

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Security to 100 VIPs may be cut

New Delhi, May 24
Security to nearly 100 VIPs, including former Union Ministers Shivraj Patil and Natwar Singh, is likely to be downgraded when the Home Ministry carries out a review of threats to them.

Both Patil and Singh enjoy Z-plus security.

Ahead of the review meeting, which will be held soon, Home Ministry officials have carried out an exercise and made recommendations for reduction of their security cover.

The recommendations could affect a large number of VIPs enjoying state security, regarded in most cases as a status symbol. Nearly 350 people have such security in the national capital.

During a meeting between Home Ministry officials and security agencies the threat assessment of all politicians came under the scanner and it was suggested that security of several politicians and retired bureaucrats be scaled down.

The names of former Delhi police commissioner K K Paul, retired bureaucrats V K Duggal and Ashok Chaturvedi, besides former CBI director Vijay Shankar figure in the list, official sources said. The review meeting will by chaired by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. — PTI

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Chiru finds fault in party symbol
Says ‘Rail Engine’ was not properly visible on EVMs
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 24
Smarting under disastrous electoral debut, Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi now wants to change his party’s election symbol to improve visibility.

The Praja Rajyam Party’s present symbol-Rail Engine-was not properly visible on the electronic voting machines and the voters were confused, Chiranjeevi said.

“Besides its poor visibility on the EVMs, the symbol resembles others like road roller and bull dozer. Voters were confused and this has cost us dearly,” the actor said, analysing the reasons for his party’s poor performance in the recent elections.

The fledgling party would seek a change in the poll symbol while applying for recognition from the Election Commission. Having garnered 16 per cent vote share, the PRP is now eligible for recognition as a regional party.

The PRP was allotted the rail engine symbol after a protracted legal battle since it was not a recognised party as per the Representation of People Act.

On the factors responsible for his party’s dismal show in the elections, the matinee idol of Telugu cinema said the failure to take the message of “social justice” to grassroots, paucity of time, inadequate organisational structure and mistakes in the selection of some candidates had caused the debacle.

He said he would take up a massive exercise to revamp the party at all levels and prepare it to face the future elections. “We have failed to convert enormous goodwill into votes. Even if 50 per cent of the people who turned up for my road shows had voted for PRP, the situation would have been different,” he said.

Even though the party did not fare very well in the recent general elections, it will continue with its social justice agenda, Chiranjeevi said.

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Thackeray family feud now out in the open

Mumbai, May 24
The Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) have both been electorally routed in Mumbai and in parts of Maharashtra in the recent general elections, but this has not stopped the Thackeray family from bringing its internal bickering out into the open. Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has blamed his cousin and MNS chief Raj Thackeray for the Shiv Sena's poll debacle. But Raj has wasted no time in hitting back at Uddhav.

Raj Thackeray said: “I have a question for Uddhav Thackeray. You voted for Mahesh Jethmalani. Is he a Marathi? Do you think Marathis will benefit by voting for Mahesh Jethmalani?”

He said this while addressing his party workers here last Friday in the wake of the comments by Uddhav Thackeray that the votes of the “Marathi manoos” had been taken away that due to presence of the MNS, the votes were split in the recent elections.

“I have not stolen the votes of anybody, its the people who have supported us... Balasaheb Thackeray has all the right to say anything about me and I will not debate against him... I will also ask Uddhav Thackeray as to whom did he vote in this election. If it is Mahesh Jethmalani, then is he a Marathi? If not then how can they allege that I have stolen the votes of Marathi?” said Raj Thackeray.

Stung by this direct attack, Uddhav raked up the Ramesh Kini's murder case in which Raj was one of the accused. Uddhav reminded Raj that Jethamalani had helped him get acquitted and that too in the murder of a Marathi.

“You say I voted for a non-Marathi candidate like Mahesh Jethmalani but it was Jethmalani with whom Sena chief Bal Thackeray was in constant contact with, to acquit you in the murder case of Ramesh Kini, a Marathi,” Uddhav Thackeray added.

Sena chief Bal Thackeray has already declared that he's broken all ties with his nephew Raj. And now the Thackeray cousins licking their electoral wounds are locked in a bitter verbal slugfest.

The MNS, a splinter group of the Shiv Sena, has played spoilsport for the National Democratic Alliance in their strongholds Mumbai and Thane. Out of its 12 nominees, three candidates of the MNS had come up second while the remaining bagged the third spot in the election.

While Shiv Sena bagged 11 seats, the BJP managed just nine of the total 48 constituencies in Maharashtra. — ANI

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Muslim student moves SC again over sporting beard

New Delhi, May 24
The Supreme Court's judgement refusing a Muslim student's plea to sport beards in educational institutions by observing it would not permit "Talibanisation of the country" has been challenged by the aggrieved youth by way of a fresh petition.

In his petition Salim, a student, has sought a review of the judgement and submitted that the observations on "Talibanisation" had caused incalculable damage to the country's image and the judiciary, besides, hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community.

The student submitted through counsel Abdul Karim Ansari that the judgement needed to be reviewed afresh as the core issue of a Muslim's right to sport a beard as guaranteed by Article 25 was violated by the school.

Article 25 provides every citizen the right to practice his or her religion.

Salim, a student of Nirmala Convent Higher Secondary School, a government-recognised minority institution in Madhya Pradesh, had earlier challenged the institution's rule which prohibited students from sporting a beard in the school.

After the Madhya Pradesh High Court upheld the validity of the rule, Salim appealed in the apex court which dismissed his plea and observed that secularism could not be overstretched and that "Talibanisation" of the country could not be permitted.

Justice Markandeya Katju, who was part of the bench with Justice R V Raveendran, had observed, "We don't want to have Talibans in the country. Tomorrow a girl student may come and say that she wants to wear a burqa, can we allow it?" The apex court then said a minority institution had its own set of rules and rights provided by Article 30 of the Constitution and the same could not be breached by any person.

"If there are rules, you have to follow them. You can't say that I will not wear a uniform, I will wear only a burqa," the bench had observed.

Challenging the said observations and judgement, Salim in his fresh petition submitted, "Observations of the judge regarding wearing of beard and burqa have done incalculable harm and damage to the country's prestige and image of its highly respected judiciary.

“These irrelevant and uncalled for observations have also triggered an avoidable debate on the right of the Muslim minority raising questions in the process on the manner and method of court functioning, besides hurting the feelings and sentiments of the community," the review petition stated. — PTI

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Mumbai to have India’s tallest building
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 24
New York has the Empire State Building, Kuala Lumpur as the Petronas Towers and Mumbai will boast of an iconic structure, promises the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA).

The body has called pre-qualification bids for the construction of the building that would be 101 floors high and carry an antenna atop its terrace to make it the tallest structure in the country.

The height of the structure is pegged at 526 metres just below Burj Dubai and New York’s Freedom Tower making it the world’s third tallest building.

Only the choice of the site to house the proposed tower seems curious - Wadala in Central Mumbai next to the truck terminal servicing the city. The area is dotted with slums and access via the main Central and Western Railway lines is in poor shape. However, MMRDA officials who briefed the media insist that the area is gentrifying rapidly.

“There are residential complexes and an INOX theatre and Wadala is centrally located close to Dadar,” an MMRDA official said.

The reason for locating the building here seems to be the availability of land in space-starved Mumbai. The MMRDA has 115 hectares of land of which 35 hectares will be reserved for the building.

The project is expected to cost Rs 4,000 crore and be completed in five years time.

According to the bid documents put out by the MMRDA, the project has been conceived on a design, build, own, operate and transfer (DBOOT) model. It will have a build up area of 60 lakh sq m and house offices and commercial establishments.

Companies bidding for the project would have to have a track record of constructing buildings above 400 metres in height and should have constructed at least two major infrastructure projects. Bidders are also expected to have a net worth of at least $400 million. The winning bidder may also be asked to rope in an Indian partner, say sources.

MMRDA officials say, major companies from different parts of the world have already gotten in touch ever since the project was announced five months ago. The Ashok Chavan government has already agreed to relax rules so as to allow the proposed structure.

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Six months after 26/11, going hi-tech still
a dream for cops

Mumbai, May 24
Despite losing 14 personnel and having chinks in their armour exposed in the November 26 terror strikes, the city police are still to acquire most of the weaponry and equipment they had sought to tackle similar attacks in the future.

Assault rifles, armoured bullet-proof vehicles, an amphibious vehicle, bullet-proof jackets, night vision goggles are among the items on the city police wishlist which runs up an estimated bill of over Rs 100 crore.

The police had also sought advanced equipment for the bomb detection and disposal squad. A mobile bomb defusal unit in which bombs can be safely detonated is expected to be delivered soon while a bomb detection vehicle which scans for explosives using X-rays is undergoing trials with the city police.

"So far the weaponry we have ordered has not been delivered since we have to order them from western countries," a senior city police official said. — PTI

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26/11 Trial
‘Send miliants’ bodies to Pak’

Mumbai, May 24
The bodies of nine slain terrorists lying in a city morgue since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks should be sent to Pakistan or disposed off as per Muslim rites, special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said today.

The identity of these terrorists had already been established hence their bodies might be sent to Pakistan, Nikam told here.

“But if the Pakistan government refuses to accept them, then the bodies should be disposed off in accordance with Muslim tradition,” he said.

The independent witnesses had already identified the bodies of terrorists in test identification parade conducted by the city magistrate. Hence, the bodies could be disposed off as they are not required in the trial, Nikam said. — PTI

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2 Labour Commission officials fined
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 24
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has levied a penalty of Rs 25,000 each on Delhi’s Deputy Labour Commissioner VS Arya and Assistant Labour Commissioner Subash Chandra for “purposely” misleading the commission, dereliction of duty and adopting corrupt practices in their office.

The CIC order came earlier this month when Information Commissioner Sailesh Gandhi was presented with a dispatch register showing the corrupt practice of leaving vacant lines for filling in missing serial numbers at a later date.

The two had been asked to provide appelant M. Fakaruddin information regarding what action was taken against the management of M/s Kruzer Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd on (Fakaruddin’s) application dated August 27, 2007, under Section 29 of ID Act.

According to the order passed by Gandhi, the two officers purposely did not provide the appellant with the information for more than 320 days and then also tried to mislead the commission by projecting that the information had actually been sent by mail way back in June 2008 and then again in November 2008.

However, what came to light during the perusal of the dispatch register was that in it various serial numbers had been left vacant and the corresponding lines left blank. It was therefore easy to surmise that a practice of making subsequent entries at later dates without disrupting the sequence of serial numbers was being followed in the office.

The commission ordered that a sum of Rs 5,000 each be deducted from the salary of both Arya and Chandra for five months and be deposited with the commission.

The commission also recommended a disciplinary action against the two for not providing information without any reasonable cause, persistently not furnishing information within the period specified under sub-section (1) of section 7 and malafidely denying the request for information.

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‘Milk adulteration threatens India’s nutritional needs’

New Delhi, May 24
Rampant adulteration of milk poses a major threat to India's nutritional needs, researchers and experts said Saturday.

A week ahead of World Milk Day on June 1, the Indian Dietetic Association (IDA) in collaboration with Tetra Pak organised a national awareness seminar at the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry here.

Experts conducting research on milk adulteration and nutrition converged to discuss “a crisis like situation” brewing from rampant adulteration and a need for a strong policy framework for the same.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who was the chief guest at the event, said: “We have a huge challenge before us. We need more laboratories to test milk. India being largely a vegetarian society relies on milk rather than meat for its nutritional needs.”

Anuja Agarwal, president, IDA, spoke about instances of adulteration and contamination of milk. “Consumers are paranoid about the contamination of other food products but continue to ignore milk probably because of the sanctity attached to it.”.

VK Batish, head of the dairy microbiology division of National Diary Research Institute, Karnal, emphasised the need for enhancing shelf life of milk.

“Milk preservation is the key to driving increased milk consumption today. Owing to lack of scientific knowledge, thousands of litres of milk is wasted,” he said.

“Innovative ways of ensuring longer shelf life” was required, he said. — IANS

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Assam to be cleft-lip free by 2012
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 24
Hira Suthradhar, a daily-wage labourer from Kathiatoli in Nagaon district of Assam, never even dreamt that he would ever see the cleft lip of his 3-year-old son, Suman repaired as the cost involved was beyond his means.

Today Suman along with 200 others, who were born with cleft lip/palate in Assam, are smiling as their physical disorder had been removed by Operation Smile (India) surgeons at a free-treatment camp facilitated by the Assam government here in January-February this year.

Assam Health Minister Dr Himanta Bishwa Sharma said Operation Smile, the International Mission for People with Cleft Lip/Palate today sealed an agreement with the Assam Government to make Assam the first cleft lip/palate -free state in the country by the end of the year 2012. A formal agreement was inked between Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Operation Smile (India) chairman Ranjit Borthakur here .

“We have a backlog of over 30,000 persons with cleft lip/palate in Assam, which will be made cleft -lip free by 2012 by conducting six such free Operation Smile camps a year and by setting up two permanent treatment centres at Guwahati and Dibrugarh with capacity to treat 3,000 patient a year .These centres should be ready by August this year,” Sharma said. The Chief Ministerlaid the foundation stone of one centre at Guwahati today.

“Thanks to the wonderful surgeons roped in by Operation Smile (India), we could bring the smile back to about 200 persons mostly children from below poverty line (BPL) families, in the last free camp. We have started another free camp here till May 29 to remove the disorder in another 175 affected persons”, he said

Operation Smile has provided 80 highly-skilled surgeons from different countries for the camp. The Assam government is spending about Rs1 crore per 200 patients attending the camp to bear the cost of the treatment and to provide free food and lodging, journey expenditure to patients and their attendants.

The Assam government in association with Operation Smile (India) will conduct another round of camp in December to treat 200 more patients and the biggest ever such free camp in the country in February-March next year to treat 1,000 patients at one go.

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Human skeletons found
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 24
Constructions labourers stumbled upon as many as 14 human skeletons since Thursday, while doing the spade work at the site for construction of a housing colony for urban poor at the Fatasil Ambari area in the heart of the city.

Six of the skeletons were recovered yesterday while eight skeletons dug up on Thursday from the site where a construction company based in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh engaged cores of labourers to clear the area.

Recovery of skeletons have already scared away some of the construction workers even as the authorities here are groping for an explanation to the presence of such a huge number of skeletons within the city areas.

The Assam government on Sunday ordered a probe into the recovery of skeletons. Meanwhile, the GMC authorities have asked the contractors engaged in the housing project to hand over bones to the police, in case more skeletons were being found.

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Egyptian mummy needs urgent care
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, May 24
The ravages of time have begun to take their toll on Nasihu, a young Egyptian girl from the remote past resting in a state museum here. More than 4,500 years after her death, Nasihu, daughter of the VIth Pharaoh, now faces the risk of slipping into history for ever in the absence of specialised conservation.

Nasihu is one of the six Egyptian mummies preserved at different museums in India. This mummified visitor from the far-away lands is kept in a special enclosure at Andhra Pradesh State Museum at Public Gardens here. But the existing facilities at the museum are not enough for its long-term preservation.

The mummy, dating back to 2,500 BC, was bought by Nazeer Nawaz Jung, son-in-law of Mir Mahboob Ali Khan, the VIth Nizam ruler of the erstwhile Hyderabad in 1920s. It is said that he had paid Ł1,000 for it and later gifted it to the VIIth Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan.

Mir Osman Ali Khan, in turn, donated it to the Hyderabad Museum which was opened in 1930.

However, the museum’s methods of preservation seem to be inadequate for the prized possession. The wrapping around the mummy has started to peel with cracks appearing at several places. The outer crust of the mummy, with colourful motifs painted over it, too, has started disintegrating at several places.

The museum officials had recently shifted it to a new enclosure. But, they say the rare treasure requires immediate expert attention.

Worried over its decay, the state authorities are seeking the help of Egyptian experts for its conservation. The Chief Restorer at Cairo museum, Dr Nasri Yousuf Iskamder, has been requested to offer his services. “We are contacting the Indian embassy in Egypt to seek the help of Cairo museum officials,” the Director of Archaeology and Museums P Chenna Reddy said.

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Five die in accidents

Jaipur, May 24
Five people, including three youths, were killed while one was injured in separate mishaps in Rajasthan on Sunday. Two persons were crushed to death while another was injured this morning when a truck rammed into a divider where they were waiting for a bus near Goner Road here, police said.

The deceased, all labourers, were identified as Preetam Singh (65) and Amar Singh (40), they said, adding, condition of the injured was stated out of danger.

In another accident at Bhilwara district, 267 kms from here, three persons were killed on spot when the motorcycle they were riding in collided head on with a truck near Badnaur village, police said. Victims, identified as Udairam (25), Arjun (19) and Omprakash (20), were heading towards Badnaur from Ajmer while the truck was on its way to Jodhpur from Maharashtra, they said. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Lapang’s trial of strength today
SHILLONG:
Meghalaya Chief Minister DD Lapang, heading a Congress-led coalition of regional parties and Independents, will face the trial of strength on the floor of the assembly on Monday. The Business Advisory Committee of the assembly has decided to hold a day-long sitting of the assembly to facilitate the trial of strength as well as the Speaker’s election. Lapang was given 15 days time to prove his majority by Governor RS Mooshahary after two months of President’s rule. — PTI

New homes for ‘Slumdog’ kids soon
MUMBAI:
Star kids Azharuddin Mohammad Ismail and Rubina Ali Qureshi, who lost their shanties in a demolition drive, are all set to get new homes. The Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority (MHADA) has promised that the young stars would have new houses before the monsoons. Amarjeet Singh Manhas, chairman of MHADA had given a proposal to the state government in February to provide houses to the children’s families. The proposal was pending because of the elections and code of conduct, an official said. Azharuddin’s makeshift house was demolished by the BMC on May 16 while Rubina's shanty was pulled down on May 20 by the Railway authorities. — PTI

3 die in HPL plant
HALDIA (WB):
Three contract workers died in a mishap at a unit of the Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd (HPL) in East Midnapore district on Sunday. Describing the deaths as an “unfortunate accident”, the HPL authorities said the workers had gone inside the process chamber Saturday night. A spokesman of HPL said detailed inquiry was in progress and initial findings indicated that the persons were employed by a contractor firm. The spokesman said there was no gas emission in the plant as it had been shut down since May 8. District Magistrate SD Chhoten Lama said the bodies were sent for post-mortem. — PTI

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