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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

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N A T I O N

BJP mulls filling up parliamentary posts
Names of Naidu, Swaraj, Sumitra doing rounds
New Delhi, June 1
The BJP has bought some time by authorising here yesterday its re-elected parliamentary party leader LK Advani to choose his team in the Upper House and his deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.

Cabinet Mole Case
MEA denies info under RTI
New Delhi, June 1
It may sound ironical but the information declassified by the US government and put in public domain is still tagged as confidential by the Ministry of External Affairs as is evident in a case pertaining to the mole in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1972.

CBI: Political link in plot to kill Anna Hazare
Mumbai, June 1
Political circles in Maharashtra are agog with speculation following revelations that politicians from Western Maharashtra may be linked in a plot to murder noted social activist and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.


EARLIER STORIES

Day One in the 15th Lok Sabha

The newly elected MPs arrive at Parliament House on Monday. The session began with the swearing-in of the members.

Takam Sanjay
(Arunachal Pradesh)

Shatabdi Roy
Trinamool Congress, West Bengal
Sachin Pilot
Congress, Rajasthan
The newly elected MPs arrive at Parliament House on Monday. The session began with the swearing-in of the members.
Jaya Prada
Samajwadi Party, Uttar Pradesh
Shatrughan Sinha
BJP, Bihar
Shruti Chaudhary
Congress, Haryana
Jyoti Mirdha
Congress, Rajasthan 
The newly elected MPs arrive at Parliament House on Monday. The session began with the swearing-in of the members. Tribune photos: Mukesh Aggarwal

AIIMS staffer, two others held for ‘paper leak’
Ghaziabad, June 1
An AIIMS woman staffer and two girls have been detained after the police allegedly recovered a set of question papers suspected to be that of AIIMS entrance test from them, the police said today.

LS all ready for Madam Speaker
Looks for gender-neutral terms to address the chair
New Delhi, June 1
With Meira Kumar, the first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha waiting in the wings, the lower house appears caught in a dilemma- how to address the chair, hitherto referred to as “Mr Speaker, Sir.”

Now, Sonia to focus on party matters
New Delhi, June 1
Having completed the painstaking task of government formation, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said she will now turn her attention to party organisation matters.

Bihar Cong to take action against ‘erring’ members
Patna, June 1
The Bihar unit of the Congress today initiated the process of disciplinary action against leaders alleged to be involved in anti-party activities during the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls.The Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee has constituted a five-member committee to probe into the allegations that some party candidates campaigned against the official nominees during the general polls.

Advani meets RSS chief
New Delhi, June 1
BJP leader LK Advani today met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and discussed the reasons behind the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and strategies for its revival.

Shillong jailbreak: One shot, 3 recaptured
Guwahati, June 1
In a swift operation, the Meghalaya police shot dead the kingpin of yesterday’s sensational Shillong jailbreak incident, Fullmoon Dhar, a dreaded criminal, and captured three others during an operation inside thick forest in Jaintia Hill district today.

Mumbai Near-miss
Jet pilot given clean chit
Mumbai, June 1
Officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation today began investigating the near collision of aircraft belonging to Jet Airways and Air India on Sunday morning.

Air India contract workers go on strike
New Delhi, June 1
Demanding better pay package and medical benefits, nearly 300 contractual security and commercial workers of Air India boycotted work today and staged a demonstration at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.

Pilot Training
HAL, Canadian firm joins hands
Bangalore, June 1
The foundation stone for a new helicopter pilot training centre - Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (Hatsoff for short), was laid in Bangalore on Monday. A 50:50 joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Canadian-based simulation leader CAE, the centre is scheduled to be operational by the middle of next year.

Burney takes up plight of another Indian prisoner
New Delhi, June 1
After getting Kashmir Singh, who spent nearly 35 years in a Pakistani jail, released, Human Rights activist Ansar Burney has highlighted the case of another Indian, Gopal Das, who is languishing in a Lahore jail for the past 23 years.

35 killed as bus falls into Chambal bed
Jaipur, June 1
Thirty-five persons were killed and 10 injured when a bus carrying them fell into dry riverbed of Chambal in Dholpur district of the state near Madhya Pradesh border today. Dholpur collector PC Kishan said, “Twenty seven bodies have been taken out till now while the injured have been admitted to the nearby hospitals. Those critically injured have been referred to SMS Hospital, Jaipur.”

 





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BJP mulls filling up parliamentary posts
Names of Naidu, Swaraj, Sumitra doing rounds
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
The BJP has bought some time by authorising here yesterday its re-elected parliamentary party leader LK Advani to choose his team in the Upper House and his deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.

Advani, who was elected unanimously with an overwhelming number of party leaders from both Houses proposing his name for the position has now got a couple of days during which members of the 15th Lok Sabha are being sworn in, to decide who should lead the BJP in the Rajya Sabha and in turn, who should be his deputy in the Lok Sabha.

The general buzz in the party is that with BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley a suitable candidate for the post in the House of Elders, proposing the name of former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu, his election to the post is a near certainty and Advani has just to put his seal of approval to this proposal.

Similarly, most party members agree that when the flavour of the season in the 15th Lok Sabha is woman empowerment, Sushma Swaraj is the best choice for Deputy leader’s position in the Lok Sabha. Therefore she is the frontrunner for the post.

The party has also to decide as to whose name should be offered for the post of Deputy Speaker. While one section believes that Jaswant Singh is ideally suited to chair the House, another section in the party pointed out that Jaswant Singh had been a Cabinet minister in the NDA government. Beside’s he has just now vacated the post of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha after his election to the Lok Sabha. In terms of protocol, the post of Deputy Speaker is equivalent to a Minister of State. Therefore Jaswant Singh is not the right choice.

Instead, the name of former MoS in the Vajpayee government Sumitra Mahajan, who has consistently been winning from Madhya Pradesh and also been on the panel of presiding officers in successive Lok Sabhas is ideally suited for this position.

But then that would mean both the important posts going to women and that is an issue Advani has to weigh before he takes a decision, said a party source.

Moreover, for the free hand given to Advani by BJP president Rajnath Singh and the parliamentary party, RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat has come here to hold consultations on organisational matters with the BJP leaders, particularly Advani and Rajnath and is likely to be here for two days.

After the electoral debacle, Sangh has been suggesting a complete revamp of the BJP before it goes for organisational elections later this year. And the decision about these parliamentary posts will also be taken keeping the long-term revamp of the BJP that the Sangh has in mind, a party insider said.

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Cabinet Mole Case
MEA denies info under RTI

New Delhi, June 1
It may sound ironical but the information declassified by the US government and put in public domain is still tagged as confidential by the Ministry of External Affairs as is evident in a case pertaining to the mole in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1972.

After the directions of Central Information Commission (CIC) to provide information in the case, the MEA has accepted that records of discussions of meetings between the then Minister of External Affairs Swaran Singh and US Secretary William Rogers on October 5, 1972 were available but refused to disclose them claiming confidentiality.

The information was sought by Anuj Dhar, author of the book “CIA’s Eye on South Asia” which carries details of the case, under the RTI Act.

But it was rejected by the ministry saying it did not take into cognisance reports of foreign governments, newspapers and books as those were unsubstantiated.

“While the ministry is claiming confidentiality clause, the US government has declassified the memorandum of conversation between Singh and Rogers titled ‘Indian Allegations Regarding CIA Activities’,” Dhar said.

The spy case created furore after it came to light that a senior Indian minister was allegedly leaking crucial information on cabinet meetings to CIA.

If the ministry had the information, why did it refuse earlier, Dhar asked. “This answer could have been given as reply to my application. Why did they need instructions from the CIC to do the same?” he said.

He said the US government had declassified memorandum of conversation between Singh and Rogers on the issue of Indian allegations regarding CIA activities in the country.

The declassified document provided by Dhar has summary of discussions between the two leaders where Rogers criticised the Indian government for making public statements about the activities of CIA in India. — PTI

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CBI: Political link in plot to kill Anna Hazare
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 1
Political circles in Maharashtra are agog with speculation following revelations that politicians from Western Maharashtra may be linked in a plot to murder noted social activist and anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare.

The possible role of the politicians came to light when the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested two hired killers from Bihar who allegedly murdered a Congress leader in 2006. Parasmal Jain and Dinesh Tiwari, who were arrested by the CBI, have reportedly revealed that a politician who headed a sugar co-operative and distillery in Western Maharashtra had paid Rs 25 lakh through middlemen to the hired killers to bump off Hazare.

The activist, who won the Magsaysay award, had exposed several instances of corruption involving politicians earlier this decade. The CBI was brought into probe the case as the local police were unable to solve the murder of Congress leader Pawan Raje Nimbalkar in June 2006. Nimbalkar along with his driver Samad Qazi were killed off the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and their car abandoned in a lonely place.

The agency which took up the probe last year, picked up two hitmen. Jain and Tiwari allegedly recorded a statement before a magistrate last week where they claimed to have received money to kill Hazare.

The social worker had been crusading against distilleries and co-operatives run by politicians that evade taxes by understating output and tampering with records.

So far the police haven’t revealed the identity of any politician but the grapevine has it that one of them with links to the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party may have been named by the two alleged killers.

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AIIMS staffer, two others held for ‘paper leak’

Ghaziabad, June 1
An AIIMS woman staffer and two girls have been detained after the police allegedly recovered a set of question papers suspected to be that of AIIMS entrance test from them, the police said today.

Senior Superintendent of Police (Ghaziabad) Akhil Kumar said they have sent a team to AIIMS to cross check whether the set of papers seized from the trio were the same set which is being used for the entrance test being held today.

“We have detained three persons, including one Meena Aggarwal who is an AIIMS staffer, last night. We are interrogating all of them,” Kumar said.

However, the entrance test began this morning as scheduled, AIIMS Spokesperson YK Gupta said.

The girls were seen at Aggarwal’s place last night with their families, he said adding they were supposed to sit for the entrance test today.

Aggarwal is a resident of Ghaziabad and according to the parents of girls, she allegedly demanded Rs 10 lakh for each person, he said.

“It might be a case of cheating. She might be cheating these girls of real papers. She was extracting money from them. But we cannot say with certainty now. Our teams are in AIIMS to cross check,” he said.

Gupta said the entrance exam is being conducted at nearly 100 centres across the country. “We are waiting for the documents seized by the Ghaziabad police and any further action will be taken only after ascertaining their genuineness,” he said. Gupta said the police has informed the institute that one of those detained was an employee of AIIMS. — PTI

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LS all ready for Madam Speaker
Looks for gender-neutral terms to address the chair
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 1
With Meira Kumar, the first woman Speaker of the Lok Sabha waiting in the wings, the lower house appears caught in a dilemma- how to address the chair, hitherto referred to as “Mr Speaker, Sir.”

It’s obviously time for “Madam Speaker” to become a norm, with the newly-elected members actively debating the matter in between the oath taking ceremony today. Many members said they had not anticipated the development so soon, given the fact that veteran Congressman Kishore Chandra Deo’s name had been doing the rounds until a few days ago.

But with the turn of events inspired by political exigency, things stand changed much to the pleasure of 61 women MPs, who were particularly pleased with Meira’s elevation to the Chair. In a sense, this House would be truly historic, as it also has the highest number of woman MPs ever. Most of them were heard talking about the ways to address Meira Kumar, “the Speaker”.

What followed was a hunt for gender-neutral terms for the chair, with members settling down for “Adyaksha Mahodaya” in Hindi and “Madam Speaker” in English. A lot of thought earlier also went into this matter, which was discussed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The forum reportedly drew up a list of all the terms used in Parliamentary dealings and find ways of replacing them with gender-neutral terms.

The issue was earlier encountered when the House of Commons in the UK had its first woman Speaker in Betty Boothroyd (1992 to 2000). It was, however, not resolved. In India, Meira, who resigned from the Council of Ministers yesterday, is set to share the distinction with Betty, who was also earlier an MP.

Nominations for the Speaker’s post would be invited till 12 noon tomorrow and scrutiny would held till 4 pm, to pave way for the June 3 election. Guarded as usual, Meira just smiled when asked today how she felt about the feat. She took her oath in Hindi and met all the opposition and treasury MPs before leaving.

The government hopes to get 13 nominations for her, with most parties in concurrence of her candidature. RLD's Raghuvansh Prasad Singh welcomed it today, saying: “We are very happy. Meira is fit to represent the interests of the weaker sections."

But the BJP seems cut up about the issue, as it was hoping to be the first to name Sumitra Mahajan as deputy Speaker. Congress preempted the move by bringing up Meira as the potential Speaker and putting BJP on the back foot on the woman issue.

The saffron camp now has no choice and is having second thoughts about whether to nominate Sumitra as deputy speaker, though Sumitra has a strong case, being a seven-time MP.

Meira's predecessor Somnath Chatterjee had got 18 nominations in the 14th LS, one of the highest so far.

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Now, Sonia to focus on party matters
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 1
Having completed the painstaking task of government formation, Congress president Sonia Gandhi today said she will now turn her attention to party organisation matters.

With a number of senior office-bearers moving to the government as ministers, the Congress organisation has several vacancies that need to be filled on an urgent basis.

Well aware of this task ahead, the Congress president told a group of mediapersons today that organisation changes are high on her priority list. “Now that the government formation is over, I will focus on the party matters,” she said, adding that, so far, she was unable to devote any time to these issues.

As Sonia begins her talent hunt, her son is expected to assist her in this task and the party’s most powerful general secretary Rahul Gandhi, who has been credited with bringing about radical changes in the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI).

Although he had initially maintained a low profile, preferring to concentrate on these two bodies, he is acquiring a greater role in party matters. He was a chief campaigner in the recent elections, was responsible for the party’s decision to go it alone in Uttar Pradesh.”

Congress media department chief Janardan Dwivedi had last week spoken of possible changes in the AICC set-up and even suggested that “one-person, one-post” formula would be adhered to this time. He said besides streamlining the party organisation, they would also be launching a membership drive and work towards the completion of organisational elections by December 2010.

Stating that there will soon be an organisation reshuffle,Dwivedi maintained, “There will be an effort made to see that those who work in the government concentrate on it and those who work in the party do organisational work.”

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Bihar Cong to take action against ‘erring’ members

Patna, June 1
The Bihar unit of the Congress today initiated the process of disciplinary action against leaders alleged to be involved in anti-party activities during the just-concluded Lok Sabha polls.The Bihar Pradesh Congress Committee has constituted a five-member committee to probe into the allegations that some party candidates campaigned against the official nominees during the general polls.

Jyoti, chairperson of the probe committee, said they had decided to write letters to all the Lok Sabha candidates, asking them to name party’s office-bearers, leaders, MLAs, ex-MLAs, MPs and ex-MPs who campaigned against them during the polls. — PTI

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Advani meets RSS chief

New Delhi, June 1
BJP leader LK Advani today met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and discussed the reasons behind the party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and strategies for its revival.

“I had a long and productive discussion with Bhagwat about the election results... I thanked the RSS for its help in the elections,” Advani said. — PTI

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Shillong jailbreak: One shot, 3 recaptured
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 1
In a swift operation, the Meghalaya police shot dead the kingpin of yesterday’s sensational Shillong jailbreak incident, Fullmoon Dhar, a dreaded criminal, and captured three others during an operation inside thick forest in Jaintia Hill district today.

The police informed that Fullmoon Dhar was killed in an encounter and three of the six other under trials who had fled with him were captured during the operation by the police. The operation was still on to trace the three other under trial prisoners at large.

The seven under trial prisoners led by Fullmoon Dhar, who was accused in rape and killing of two women early this year, fled from Shillong Jail yesterday by pointing small arms at guards. The ease with which the dreaded criminals could walk out of the prison smacked off an inside job.

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Mumbai Near-miss
Jet pilot given clean chit
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 1
Officials of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation today began investigating the near collision of aircraft belonging to Jet Airways and Air India on Sunday morning.

Pilots of both the aircraft and Air Traffic Controllers who were in charge of handling the two aircraft were questioned by DGCA officials who were in Mumbai to conduct the probe, sources said. The officials, however, didn’t find the Jet Airways aircraft pilot at fault and gave him the clean chit.

Data from the cockpit voice recorder or black box of both the aircraft were decoded to determine the sequence of events that led to the near collision. Preliminary investigations indicate that the air traffic controller (ATC) had given the all-clear signal to the Jet Airways pilot to begin take off procedures from the secondary runway 14/32. However, the Air India aircraft on the main runway 09/27 also began rolling forcing the ATC to ask it to abort flight. The Jet Airways pilot also aborted flight simultaneously as a precautionary measure.

DGCA officials told reporters here that they were investigating the communication gap between the ATC and the Air India pilot. Reports by the DGCA will take several weeks to be produced. But for the moment both the ATC and the Jet Airways pilot have been given a clean chit, say officials. So far, the names of the three people haven’t been released.

Meanwhile, air traffic controllers have been quoted as saying that they were short-staffed after several of their team members were transferred out of Mumbai.

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Air India contract workers go on strike

New Delhi, June 1
Demanding better pay package and medical benefits, nearly 300 contractual security and commercial workers of Air India boycotted work today and staged a demonstration at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.

"We have been working for the past five years but we are being paid meagrely. Also we have been denied any facility like medical insurance and provident fund which are provided even to the lower-level employees of a private company," said Jit Singh, chairman of the Indian Airlines Limited -Airport Services Limited (IAL-ASL) Employees Union.

He claimed that contractual workers at Amritsar, Jaipur and other airports were also on strike since yesterday afternoon.The Air India management, however, said there was no impact on its flights.

The airline is planning to take stern action against the agitating employees and may even terminate their contract, a senior official said. — PTI

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Pilot Training
HAL, Canadian firm joins hands
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, June 1
The foundation stone for a new helicopter pilot training centre - Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (Hatsoff for short), was laid in Bangalore on Monday. A 50:50 joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Canadian-based simulation leader CAE, the centre is scheduled to be operational by the middle of next year.

Speaking on the occasion, HAL human resources director Sanjeev Sahi said the facility would be the first of its kind in India. “Hatsoff will offer level D simulator training to helicopter pilots as well as maintainers. By partnering with CAE we are ensuring leading edge simulation technology in order to play a key role in training and producing skilled and mission-ready helicopter crews. HAL is committed to enhancing the safety of helicopter operators in India and to provide comprehensive service to military and civil clients of the Dhruv copter”.

Martin Gagne, chairman of the Hatsoff board and CAE group president (military simulation products, training & services), said the facility would cater to the critical need of enhancing safety and mission readiness of helicopter crew.

“We are proud to partner with HAL to create a training centre of excellence offering high-quality simulation-based helicopter training programmes to pilots and technicians in India and the neighbouring region. The centre will provide customised training in locations convenient to our customers”, he said.

The centre will be equipped with a CAE-built full-mission simulator featuring the Canadian firm’s revolutionary rollon/rolloff cockpit design (simulation of cockpits representing various helicopter types). When fully operational, Hatsoff will be able to train up to 400 chopper pilots each year. The centre will offer training to civil and military customers operating four helicopter types - the military variant of the HAL-built Dhruv, the latter’s civil variant, Bell 412 and the Eurocopter Dauphin.

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Burney takes up plight of another Indian prisoner

New Delhi, June 1
After getting Kashmir Singh, who spent nearly 35 years in a Pakistani jail, released, Human Rights activist Ansar Burney has highlighted the case of another Indian, Gopal Das, who is languishing in a Lahore jail for the past 23 years.

Former Federal Minister of Human Rights in Pakistan, Burney was quick to write to Minster of External Affairs SM Krishna and Minister of Home Affairs P Chidambaram informing them about Das and requesting to help him in locating his family. Burney, who spotted Das in Lahore, said the Indian prisoner is languishing in the name of Nasim Gopal. — PTI

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35 killed as bus falls into Chambal bed
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, June 1
Thirty-five persons were killed and 10 injured when a bus carrying them fell into dry riverbed of Chambal in Dholpur district of the state near Madhya Pradesh border today. Dholpur collector PC Kishan said, “Twenty seven bodies have been taken out till now while the injured have been admitted to the nearby hospitals. Those critically injured have been referred to SMS Hospital, Jaipur.”

The mishap occurred when the bus driver lost control and the vehicle, which was on its way from Dholpur to Morena in MP, fell into the dry riverbed of Chambal from the height of 125 feet after breaking the bridge’s railings.

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