SPECIAL COVERAGE
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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Cyclone toll 81
Kolkata, May 26
Cyclone Aila, which ripped through 13 West Bengal districts, claimed more lives as it reached North Bengal today where it rained heavily triggering landslides in Darjeeling and taking the death toll to 81.

Cyclone-hit residents move to safer places after collecting relief material on the outskirts of Siliguri in West Bengal on Tuesday.
Cyclone-hit residents move to safer places after collecting relief material on the outskirts of Siliguri in West Bengal on Tuesday. — Reuters/AFP 

Aila — what’s in a name
New Delhi, May 26
Cyclone Aila that unfolded in a symphony of sound and fury over Kolkata, battering Bangladesh and coastal West Bengal, is actually the name of a fish belonging to the Dolphin category.


EARLIER STORIES

Mamata assumes charge in Kolkata 
Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on her way to take stock of cyclone-hit areas in Kolkata.Kolkata, May 26
Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee today officially took over as the Railway Minister at a makeshift arrangement at Sealdah DRM’s office here in the presence of Railway Board and ministry officials.




Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on her way to take stock of cyclone-hit areas in Kolkata. — AFP

Lalu to work for party revival in Bihar
Patna, May 26
Having failed to make an entry into the Union cabinet and his party getting a severe drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, the RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has now decided to pitch his tent in Bihar and revive his party. Lalu also announced that his party’s electoral alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan led LJP would remain intact and the duo would contest the next Assembly polls in Bihar, scheduled next year, jointly.

Pak, Chinese FMs greet Krishna
New Delhi, May 26
Among a string of congratulatory messages received by new External affairs minister SM Krishna, were crucial messages sent across by Pakistan and China, respetively, both seeking to “work” with India on bilateral and pending issues.

No breakthrough yet in Mumbai airport heist
Mumbai, May 26
One day after armed gunmen made off with 145 kg of gold and silver coins from the cargo terminal of the Mumbai airport, the police are yet to apprehend the culprits. “We are working on a number of leads, but no one has been arrested so far,” said senior inspector of the airport police station Somnath Ghuge.

Assam Blasts
NDFB chief among 19 accused
Guwahati, May 26
The CBI has named 19 persons, including the fugitive founder chairman of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Ranjan Daimary, in the charge sheet in the October 30 last serial blasts that left 88 dead and 540 injured in Assam.

Over 90 pc clear CBSE Class X in region
Chandigarh, May 26
While there has been a slight increase in the overall pass percentage in the All India Secondary School Examination (Class-X) held by the CBSE this year, the performance of government schools has slipped noticeably over the past three years.

Rly revenue up, but 3 ex-ministers out
New Delhi, May 26
In the period between May 1-10, railway revenue earnings went up by 2.38 per cent. Ministry officials on Monday said total approximate earnings of the Railways on originating basis during the period were Rs 2,207.96 crore compared to Rs 2,156.63 crore in the same period last year, registering an increase of 2.38 per cent.

Relief for doctors
SC allows another counselling for PG courses
New Delhi, May 26
In a major relief to meritorious doctors seeking admission for postgraduate courses in government medical colleges across the country under the central quota, the SC today allowed the Union Government to hold another round of counselling that is expected to benefit about 1,000 candidates.

UP minister quits
Lucknow, May 26
BSP state president and Cooperative Minister Swami Prasad Maurya today resigned from the state cabinet. Following Maurya's resignation, Panchayati Raj Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha has been given additional charge of the Cooperative Department. 






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Cyclone toll 81

A villager carries his children.
A villager carries his children. — Reuters/AFP 

Kolkata, May 26
Cyclone Aila, which ripped through 13 West Bengal districts, claimed more lives as it reached North Bengal today where it rained heavily triggering landslides in Darjeeling and taking the death toll to 81.

The highest number of 20 deaths occurred in South 24 Parganas district followed by 16 in North 24 Parganas, seven in Howrah, five each in Kolkata and Hooghly, three each in Birbhum and Murshidabad, two in Nadia, one each in Bankura, East Midnapore, Cooch Behar and Malda, official sources said.

“Ten bodies were dug out of debris of landslides in Darjeeling and six others died in mudslides at Kurseong,” Additional District Magistrate, Darjeeling, P Zimba, said.

The hill station of Darjeeling remained cut off from Siliguri in the plains as both Hill Cart Road and Pankhabari Road from the north Bengal town remained blocked by landslides at Ghoom and at 100 other places, SP Rahul Srivastava said. Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakraborty, however, put the toll at 64.

“The cyclone has weakened and lost much of its intensity last night and now has turned into a depression over the North Bengal, lying close to Siliguri today and further weaken and totally wither away,” Regional Meteorological Centre director GC Debnath said.

The IAF has kept its transport aircraft and helicopters of the Eastern fleet on standby for deployment at short notice. A 200-member Army contingent, including doctors, were rescuing and evacuating people in the two Parganas districts, a defence statement said.

The relief provided included food and medicines. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who visited parts of cyclone battered South 24 Parganas instructed officials to initiate relief and rescue operation on a war-footing, Chakraborty said.. — PTI

CPM seeks help  from Centre

New Delhi: The CPM on Tuesday asked the central government to urgently provide all necessary assistance to the West Bengal government to carry out relief and rehabilitation operations in the state hit by Cyclone Aila. The CPM Politburo expressed “deep concern at the loss of life and property caused by the cyclone and conveyed its “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the bereaved. — TNS

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Aila — what’s in a name
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
Cyclone Aila that unfolded in a symphony of sound and fury over Kolkata, battering Bangladesh and coastal West Bengal, is actually the name of a fish belonging to the Dolphin category.

And the name Aila was given by Maldives - a member country of the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre, which has the responsibility of christening all cyclones that hit India, Pakistan, Oman, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand in the North Indian Ocean region.

The next one to follow Aila has been named Phyan while the one that preceded was called Bijli, a name given by India. Unlike their counterparts in the West, meteorologists in the region have decided to name cyclones that hit the North Indian Ocean region not after persons (remember Rita, Katarina) but abstract objects.

As per officials, naming a cyclone gives it an identity. Several cyclones go down in the history due to the destruction they cause and assigning a name, rather than a number or the date, helps the public to become fully aware of their development and aids meteorologists to maintain their records and track them.

All storms in the world are assigned names by regional meteorological centres in the US, India, Japan, Australia and Madagascar for their respective areas in the beginning of the year.

According to M Mohapatra, director, Cyclone Warning, while cyclones these days are assigned names in a well thought of manner, earlier it was not so. 

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Mamata assumes charge in Kolkata 
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 26
Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee today officially took over as the Railway Minister at a makeshift arrangement at Sealdah DRM’s office here in the presence of Railway Board and ministry officials.

Instead of flying to New Delhi to assume charge traditionally at Rail Bhavan, Mamata stayed back in the city to take stock of yesterday’s Aila cyclone victims in Kolkata and 24 Parganas, the areas which gave her party a landslide victory in the Lok Sabha polls.

The Railway Minister spent the entire day yesterday in conducting rescue and relief operations in the affected places along with TMC and Congress workers. She also spoke to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee over the phone, seeking central assistance for the cyclone victims.

Singh had already announced an ex gratia payment of Rs 2 lakh to the next of those killed — about 81 persons. Over 50,000 others have been affected.

Meanwhile, CPM activists too carried out rescue operations, with party secretary Biman Bose directing (party) workers to launch a massive relief operation in cyclone-hit areas.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee sent four ministers — Asim Dasgupta, Abdul Rezzak Molla, Kanti Ganguly and Subhas Naskar — to take stock of the situation. Bhattacherjee himself visited the Jayanagar area and reviewed the relief and rehabilitation operations at a meeting at Nimpit’s Ramakrishna Mission.

Carries special train to cyclone-hit area

Soon after taking over as the Railway Minister, Mamata Banerjee took a special train to Kakdweep in Sagar Islands, the area said to be worst hit by the cyclone. She carried along enough stock of foodgrain and other relief material for the victims. Besides the newly elected TMC MPs and other party leaders, Mamata was accompanied by senior Railway officials.

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Lalu to work for party revival in Bihar
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, May 26
Having failed to make an entry into the Union cabinet and his party getting a severe drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls, the RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has now decided to pitch his tent in Bihar and revive his party. Lalu also announced that his party’s electoral alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan led LJP would remain intact and the duo would contest the next Assembly polls in Bihar, scheduled next year, jointly.

Both Lalu and Paswan have been addressing marathon election meetings for the last couple of days in Fatuha assembly constituency in the outskirts of Patna seeking votes for the LJP nominee Punit Rai in the By-election. The by-election, necessitated following the demise of JD(U) MLA, is scheduled on May 28.

This election campaign close on the heels of Lok Sabha polls, apparently, gave a chance to both Lalu and Paswan to make a public appearance after being politically vanquished in Bihar. Lalu could not have found a better platform to convey his feelings and message to the people of Bihar and also his aggrieved party workers. It was from this platform, Lalu announced his plans to stay in Bihar and serve the people.

According to him, Bihar had no major role to play in the government formation at Delhi this time because of the defeat of the RJD-LJP alliance in the state. Claiming that becoming a minister in the UPA government was a non-issue for him, Lalu said that his party had given unconditional support to the Congress-led secular government to keep the communal BJP at bay. However, he would keep protecting the interests of Bihar at the Centre.

Notwithstanding the presence of only four MPs from his party, the RJD President said that his presence alone was capable enough to raise matters related to the interest of Bihar.

Lalu also expressed his anguish over his defeat from Pataliputra seat by saying that people who work sincerely usually get defeated and those who only fly the kites and brag win. Clarifying his bitterness further, he said that in capacity of a Union minister he had really worked hard for the development of the state but Nitish Kumar had just befooled the people. 

Lalu also charged the NDA government in Bihar with misusing the state machinery to get him defeated. “I did not lose the polls, I was defeated by the state power”, Lalu said repeatedly in many of his election meetings at Fatuha. Warning his rivals not to bask in the glory of their victory, the RJD supremo said that he would now spend all his time in reviving his party and have a regular interaction with the common masses during his visits to the villages. 

Asking the party workers and RJD supporters not to get disheartened with the poll outcome, Lalu said that he had weathered many political storms and by his experience he can say that today’s winner will be a loser tomorrow.”

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Pak, Chinese FMs greet Krishna
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
Among a string of congratulatory messages received by new External affairs minister SM Krishna, were crucial messages sent across by Pakistan and China, respetively, both seeking to “work” with India on bilateral and pending issues.

Pakistan foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said his country wants to resolve all bilateral issues with India through dialogue in a peaceful and cooperative environment. Besides Pakistan, the Chinese foreign minister Yang Jiechi has also sent his best wishes to Krishna and expressed his desire to work closely to “push forward” bilateral ties.

The Chinese minister added, “I am ready to work closely to implement the important consensus reached by leaders of both the countries and push forward the continuous, stable and sound development of bilateral relations.”

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No breakthrough yet in Mumbai airport heist
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 26
One day after armed gunmen made off with 145 kg of gold and silver coins from the cargo terminal of the Mumbai airport, the police are yet to apprehend the culprits. “We are working on a number of leads, but no one has been arrested so far,” said senior inspector of the airport police station Somnath Ghuge.

The police had thrown roadblocks across the city and were trying to trace the Tata Indica car in which the gunmen had driven in. However, the vehicle was not traced till late this afternoon and gunmen, too, had disappeared into thin air.

The value of the gold and silver coins that were stolen has been pegged at around Rs 55 lakh. The consignment was being shipped on behalf of Pidilite Industries Ltd, which was forwarding the parcels to the company's Hyderabad office.

The police said they have tapped their contacts in the underworld to trace anyone attempting to sell the gold coins to fences, who deal in the stolen goods.

Meanwhile, the police are looking at the possibility of various gangs being involved in the heist. Various gangs operating in Mumbai have their own areas of operation in the vicinity, said the police. Though, incidents of passengers’ luggage being robbed have virtually come to a halt, since the privatisation of the airport. The police said the underworld operators have not been completely eliminated.

The operations of a prominent travel and tour operator suspected to be involved with jihadi outfits had been curtailed after warnings from the intelligence agencies.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up at the cargo terminal. Sources said the surveillance cameras and other equipment may be installed to keep an eye on the visitors.

The contractors operating at the airport have been targeted by the various outfits like the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Shiv Sena and the underworld to enable jobs for their members.

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Assam Blasts
NDFB chief among 19 accused
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, May 26
The CBI has named 19 persons, including the fugitive founder chairman of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) Ranjan Daimary, in the charge sheet in the October 30 last serial blasts that left 88 dead and 540 injured in Assam.

Though the investigation into the case is yet to be over, the CBI filed the charge sheet in the court of the Special Judicial Magistrate here yesterday to ensure that the five accused in detention are not granted bail by the court that earlier gave 150 days to the investigating agency to file the charge sheet, according to an official source.

On October 30 last, three blasts devastated Guwahati, another 3 blasts rocked Kokrajhar town, two blasts went off at the Barpeta road and one blast occurred at Bongaigaon in Assam, killing total 88 persons, including 53 in Guwahati, 20 in Kokrajhar and 15 in Barpeta road.

During the course of investigation so far, CBI has found founder chairman of the banned NDFB Ranjan Daimary as the mastermind of the entire plot that was aimed at establishing his supremacy in the outfit and demoralise its pro-talks faction leaders.

Out of the 19 named in the charge sheet, almost all are members of the banned NDFB, while the odd man out is one Raju Sarkar, in whose name the Maruti 800 car, used to trigger the blast near the Baptist Church in Guwahati, was purchased. Five of the accused- Ajay Basumatary, Nilim Daimary, Prabhat Boro, Jayanti Brahma, Raju Sarkar -are now in custody.

The charges have been framed under various sections of the IPC, the Explosive Substances Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The serial blasts were the most devastating insurgency-related incident that has hit Assam till date. 

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Over 90 pc clear CBSE Class X in region
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 26
While there has been a slight increase in the overall pass percentage in the All India Secondary School Examination (Class-X) held by the CBSE this year, the performance of government schools has slipped noticeably over the past three years.

The results of candidates in the CBSE’s Panchkula zone, comprising the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Jammu and Kashmir, were declared today.

The overall pass percentage was 90.18, up from 89.07 per cent last year. With a pass percentage of 92.25, girls outperformed boys whose success rate was 88.82 per cent.

As many as 1,19,014 candidates had appeared from the states in the Panchkula zone. This figure was 1,10,368 last year and 1,01,366 the year before, according to the CBSE.

In government schools, the pass percentage this year was just 65.30 per cent. This was 71.34 per cent in 2007 and 66.69 per cent in 2008.

There performance of Kendriya Vidyalayas has been almost consistent over the last three years, though there has been a slight dip in the scores.

The pass percentage for these schools was 96.68 in 2007, 96.29 in 2008 and 96.01 in 2009.

Independent schools have also shown a downward trend, with the success rate sliding from 92.38 per cent in 2007 to 91.68 per cent last year and 91.47 per cent this year.

The best performance among different categories of schools has been by Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, with a score of 96.92 per cent. These schools had improved their performance last year with 97 per cent as compared to 96.77 per cent in 2007, but saw a slight dip this year.

CBSE’s joint secretary D.R. Yadava said the result sheets were being dispatched to outstation schools, while non-government schools of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula could collect them from the the CBSE office. 

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Rly revenue up, but 3 ex-ministers out
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 26
In the period between May 1-10, railway revenue earnings went up by 2.38 per cent. Ministry officials on Monday said total approximate earnings of the Railways on originating basis during the period were Rs 2,207.96 crore compared to Rs 2,156.63 crore in the same period last year, registering an increase of 2.38 per cent.

What better certificate of merit does a minister want other than the figures and numbers in black and white that speak for themselves. However, the man described as the architect of turnaround of the Railways, former Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, received such a drubbing in these general elections that he re-discovered himself as a complete persona non-grata in the new UPA government. And while Lalu failed to make it to the ministry, his two junior ministers - R Velu and Naranbhai Rathwa - could not even make it to Parliament this time.

Not so long ago that the turnaround story of the Railway was a much celebrated event in which renowned business institutions from across the world participated. Architect of this success story Lalu Prasad Yadav was hailed as international management guru.

But people thought otherwise.

Lalu lost from Pataliputra, one of the two seats he contested. He was defeated there by one-time associate Ranjan Prasad Yadav, who contested on the JD(U) ticket. Lalu Prasad defeated BJP’s Rajiv Pratap Rudy in Saran with a margin of 52,000 votes but his party fared so badly in his home state of Bihar that he was reduced to irrelevance in the UPA.

PMK’s R Velu was defeated in Arakkonam constituency by a margin of over 1.1 lakh votes. Apparently Velu’s track record as a successful Railway Minister did not impress the voters. Likewise in Chotte-Udepur, Naranbhai Rathwa was defeated by a margin of over 26,000 votes.

Lalu, who had been giving lectures to professors and students from Harvard, Wharton, Boston University and American Defence Institute, now wants to devote time to revive the party which was drubbed so badly in the just-concluded Lok Sabha elections.

The Congress is not missing him. In fact, party members are glad that Lalu is out, primarily because of his style of functioning.

Party sources say Lalu was in complete control of his ministry so much so that even his two ministers of state were completely out of the loop as far as working of the ministry was concerned.

They did not have even the copy of the Rail Budget in advance let alone be participants in important decisions and policies, officials say, adding that at best they used announcements made at the national-level and by giving them a regional spin tried to woo the public.

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Relief for doctors
SC allows another counselling for PG courses
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 26
In a major relief to meritorious doctors seeking admission for postgraduate courses in government medical colleges across the country under the central quota, the SC today allowed the Union Government to hold another round of counselling that is expected to benefit about 1,000 candidates.

A Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Deepak Verma passed the order on a petition by a candidate who said a number of states were deliberately holding their counselling late so that they could cut into the 50 per cent central quota as well.

The Centre and the respective states are supposed to admit students for PG medical courses such as MD, MS, PG Diploma and MDS on a 50-50 basis, thus equally sharing the 7,600 seats which works out to 3,800 seats each.

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UP minister quits
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, May 26
BSP state president and Cooperative Minister Swami Prasad Maurya today resigned from the state cabinet. Following Maurya's resignation, Panchayati Raj Minister Babu Singh Kushwaha has been given additional charge of the Cooperative Department. 

Kushwaha had also been given charge of the family Welfare Department, which was till now being held by the Chief Minister.

Maurya, who was the leader of the house in the Council, had contested Lok Sabha poll from Kushinagar seat, but lost to Congress candidate RPN Singh. 

Meanwhile, a non-bailable warrant had been issued against Maurya for failing to appear before the court in connection with a 22-year-old case lodged against him in Rae Bareli. 

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