SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Shiv Sainiks lathicharged
Mumbai, June 24
Around 40 persons were injured in different parts of Mumbai’s suburbs as the police lathicharged Shiv Sena activists, who were protesting the increase in electricity charges by the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Infrastructure.

Multi-crore statues of Maya, Kanshi to
be unveiled

Lucknow, June 24
Chief Minister Mayawati is scheduled to inaugurate multi-crore rupees projects of memorials and statues of herself, her mentor Kanshi Ram and Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar on July 3.

Army chief visits LAC
Guwahati, June 24
The chief of the Army Staff, Gen Deepak Kapoor, today visited the 4 Corps (Gajraj Corps) headquarters at Tezpur in north Assam to take stock of the overall activities across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the Chinese Frontier in Arunachal Pradesh as well as the security scenario in Assam, where the Army is engaged in prolonged counter-insurgency operations.



EARLIER STORIES

Naxalite Menace – IV
Activists out to discredit Salwa Judum
Everyone knows in the Bastar region that the Maoists are the real villains. They are indulging in bloodbath, destroying public and private property, attacking security forces, looting weapons from police stations and levying tax.

An aerial view of a Salwa Judum relief camp in Bastar.
An aerial view of a Salwa Judum relief camp in Bastar.

Ban on Naxals eyewash: Lalu
Patna, June 24
The outlawed extremist outfit, CPI (Maoist) has found a new ‘sympathiser’ in RJD chief Lalu Yadav.

In Rajasthan, tigers still roar
Jaipur, June 24
Here is some good news for wildlife enthusiasts. The number of tigers as also herbivores in the state has gone up this year. The number of tigers has shot up from 32 in 2008 to 44 in 2009, excluding two cubs.

Rath Yatra begins amid tight security
Puri, June 24
The Rath Yatra festival of Lord Jagannath got off to a colourful start today with the presiding deities of the 12th century temple here taken out in a grand procession, even as thousands of devotees gathered to have a glimpse of the grand spectacle amid unprecedented security.


Three richly decorated chariots parked in front of the Jagannath temple in Puri on Wednesday. — PTI
Three richly decorated chariots parked in front of the Jagannath temple in Puri on Wednesday.

Railways’ Turnaround
New OSD’s litmus test: To match Lalu’s man
New Delhi, June 24
The comparison is on at the Rail Bhawan. All eyes are now on Gautam Sanyal, the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Left may misuse Anti-Maoist Act: Mamata
Kolkata, June 24
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee today demanded that the Centre should provide adequate protections against the misuse of the “anti-Maoist Act” by the state governments.

Cut-off goes up at DU colleges
New Delhi, June 24
With its first cut-off out today, competition at Delhi University (DU) has increased by another 2 to 3 per cent.

Ash booked for illegal land deal
Nashik, June 24
A police complaint has been registered against Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai and several others, including Suzlon company Chairman Tulsibai Tanti, for illegal purchase of land for setting up a windmill at Nandurbar district in North Maharashtra.

Boost for Dharavi development
Mumbai, June 24
The Maharashtra government has decided to accelerate the process to develop the huge slum cluster of Dharavi, said to be India’s largest shanty town.

Arrested drug lord has links with B’desh radicals
Guwahati, June 24
The arrested drug lord, Pakhi Miyan alias Samsul Haque Talukdar, was the kingpin in providing marketing channel to opium and ganja produced through illegal cultivation of poppy seeds and ganja in the bosom of mighty Brahmaputra River by Muslim Fundamentalist organisations (MFOs) having roots in Bangladesh.

India to assist Lanka in demining
New Delhi, June 24
With the war in the island nation over, India today offered to Sri Lanka its assistance in the demining activity as the first step towards permitting the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return safely to their homes.

Bengali sisters finalists of German reality show
Kolkata, June 24
Earlier it was Shilpa Shetty who won the reality show Big Brother on foriegn land, now it is the turn of two Bengali sisters to do the same in Germany. It is Bollywood dance that has led two teenage Bengali NRI sisters on the threshold of winning a popular reality television show in Germany.

Woman alleges gang rape
New Delhi, June 24
In the second incident of gang rape reported in the capital in as many days, a 22-year-old woman has alleged that three men assaulted her in her east Delhi home, the police said today.

5 freed from abductors; one dead
Bhind (MP), June 24
One of the six kidnapped by dacoits from a government irrigation site in the district on Sunday was found dead while the rest have been rescued jointly by the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh police.

Smoking linked to brain damage: Study
New Delhi, June 24
There is a direct link between smoking and brain damage, according to new research conducted by Debapriya Ghosh and Dr. Anirban Basu from the Indian National Brain Research Centre (NBRC).





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Shiv Sainiks lathicharged
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 24
Around 40 persons were injured in different parts of Mumbai’s suburbs as the police lathicharged Shiv Sena activists, who were protesting the increase in electricity charges by the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Infrastructure.

The Shiv Sena had called for its activists to gather at the offices of the power utility across Mumbai suburbs and prevent entry and exit of company workers. After Reliance Infrastructure officials called for the police assistance, attempts to remove the protesters turned violent.

According to the police control room, offices of the company were stoned by the protesters and two vehicles belonging to the company were set afire.

A number of Shiv Sena leaders were taken into custody following the protests. According to the police, Shiv Sena leader Subhash Desai, former MP Suresh Prabhu, and former minister Gajanan Kirtikar were arrested.

After lathicharge, the Shiv Sena activists descended on the Western Express Highway and attempted to block traffic. However, the protesters were removed by force, the police said.

The Shiv Sena has asked power consumers not to pay electricity bills.

An article in party mouthpiece Saamna asked its activists to take on utility company officials who attempted to disconnect supply of those who refused to pay the bills.

Though the party has been protesting outside the offices of the Tata

Power Company and the BEST that supply power to Mumbai and its suburbs, the protesters ire was concentrated on Reliance, which is accusing of increasing power tariffs the most. Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena has warned of the protests intensifying.

Party MP Sanjay Raut told the mediapersons that all power utilities functioning would “have to roll back the power hikes if they wanted to remain in Mumbai.”

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Multi-crore statues of Maya, Kanshi to be unveiled
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 24
Chief Minister Mayawati is scheduled to inaugurate multi-crore rupees projects of memorials and statues of herself, her mentor Kanshi Ram and Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar on July 3.

According to sources in the state government, among the monuments to be inaugurated on that day are Rs 6.68 crore worth statues of Mayawati and Kanshi Ram at several locations in the city.

Around sixty larger than life size marble elephants, the symbol of the BSP, built at the Ambedkar Memorial at the cost of Rs 52 crore would also be unveiled to the public.

Some of these statues have been ready for some time but could not be unveiled due to the model code of conduct and later as a result of the adverse environment following the reverses suffered by the BSP in the Lok Sabha polls.

However, with a PIL now pending in the apex court challenging the misuse of such huge public funds (collectively approximately Rs 10.70 billion) and asking for a stay on its inauguration it remains to be seen whether the public function would finally be held.

BJP spokesperson HN Dikshit today criticised the Chief Minister’s move to install her statues by misusing public funds. “It is perhaps unprecedented anywhere in the world that in a democracy a head of a state or central government has installed his/her statue while still in office from money drawn from the public exchequer”.

He said any elected government could spend public money only under heads allocated in the Budget. “There was no proposal in the two Budgets passed by the BSP government of spending money on installing the Chief Minister’s statues. Nor was this matter discussed in the Vidhan Sabha. Therefore it is a matter of grave irregularity that public money was spent on these statues in such an unauthorised manner,” highlighted a BJP leader.

The UP culture department’s Budget for 2009-10 shows that in 2008-09 it had allocated an astronomical amount of Rs 1,94,20,79,000 for building statues of “great leaders” all of which was spent.

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Army chief visits LAC
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 24
The chief of the Army Staff, Gen Deepak Kapoor, today visited the 4 Corps (Gajraj Corps) headquarters at Tezpur in north Assam to take stock of the overall activities across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the Chinese Frontier in Arunachal Pradesh as well as the security scenario in Assam, where the Army is engaged in prolonged counter-insurgency operations.

Defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said the Army Chief was accompanied by Lt Gen VK Singh, GoC-in-C Eastern Command during a day-long visit. Gen Kapoor held discussion with the GoC 4 Corps Lt Gen KT Parnaik and other defence officers.

The Army Chief hailed the high standard of professionalism and dedication to duty shown by all ranks of Gajraj Corps braving difficult and challenging conditions which had lead to near stability, normalcy and peace in Assam. He further exhorted all ranks to be prepared to meet any internal or external challenge.

The Gen also appreciated that all operations in the Corps Zone were being carried out in a befitting manner to create an environment for peace, stability and progress in insurgency-hit Assam.

The Army Chief visit to take stock of activities along the LAC in Arunachal Pradesh assumes significance in view of Defence Ministry’s latest overtures to improve its infrastructure and resources in bases close to Chinese Frontier.

The Congress MP from Arunachal West constituency, Takam Sanjay said Defence Minister AK Anthony had agreed to position two more divisions of the Army in Arunachal Pradesh to augment security in the bordering state.

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Naxalite Menace – IV
Activists out to discredit Salwa Judum
Our Roving Editor Man Mohan writes from Narayanpur

Everyone knows in the Bastar region that the Maoists are the real villains. They are indulging in bloodbath, destroying public and private property, attacking security forces, looting weapons from police stations and levying tax.

But the common man is not able to understand why a band of intellectuals, human rights and social activists from all over the country are keen to discredit the tribal movement (Salwa Judum) against Maoists without knowing the ground reality.

Can’t they see Maoists killing tribals, who four years ago had dared to start a spontaneous people’s movement against red terror and fled from their villages to escape gruesome violence?

“Intellectuals and so-called human rights activists have been peddling fiction as fact about tribals’ movement against Maoist violence,” Chhattisgarh’s Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan told The Tribune.

“Has anyone wondered why they approached the Supreme Court to ban the Salwa Judum but not the Maoists,” asked Ranjan. “Well, their action explains their agenda… anyway, their Maoist friends’ party - CPI (Maoist) - has now been declared a terrorists outfit by the Centre,” Ranjan pointed out.

In June 2005, thousands of tribals fled from the jungles to escape Maoist violence and took shelter in police stations and police camps, and later stayed in Salwa Judum relief camps set up by the state government.

In June 2006, the politburo of the CPI (Maoists) described the Salwa Judum as the greatest setback which the revolutionary movement had faced since 1972, and resolved to crush and discredit the people’s movement at all levels.

It decided to contact Indian and International ‘study teams’ through their friends in the media, judiciary, human rights organisations, civil liberty, cultural groups and ‘friendly’ NGOs to step up propaganda against Salwa Judum.

It is argued by many that Salwa Judum members are being armed by the state and are being used as a private militia or vigilante group. But every resident of the relief camp is not a Salwa Judum member.

Those who have been given arms are Special Police Officers (SPOs) selected amongst relief camp dwellers and surrendered Maoists against whom there were no criminal charges. The SPOs were appointed under the Police Act, 1861, and later under the Chhattisgarh Police Act. Not all SPOs are armed.

There are cases of ‘highhandedness’ against many SPOs, who in a fit of anger after losing their family members retaliated against the Maoists. Over 3,541 SPOs have been removed on charges of indiscipline and minor misconduct. Many SPOs are in jail.

There are also allegations by human rights activists that Salwa Judum supporters, SPOs and security forces have attacked and burnt villages. They have been asking for the removal of security forces, ban on Salwa Judum and disbanding of relief camps. The case related to these demands is still pending in the Supreme Court. The National Human Rights Commission has done a detailed inquiry in the matter.

State DGP Vishwa Ranjan said, “I would like the citizens to ponder over this: Can you send back thousands of tribals who are afraid of going to villages with previous experience of Maoist violence; should the government stop relief to the people staying in relief camps; can one really stop a movement against CPI (Maoist), an anti-democratic and repressive organisation, which believes in capturing power through protracted peoples’ war.”

“It is also worth pondering whether ordinary citizens have any right to fight back to retain their freedom,” the DGP said, observing that “it is high time for a national movement to start to crush red terror and their friends.”

“It will be now interesting to see the stand adopted by Maoists’ so-called friends -- will they continue to oppose Salwa Judum to give Naxal terrorists a clear field to operate,” the DGP wondered.

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Ban on Naxals eyewash: Lalu
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, June 24
The outlawed extremist outfit, CPI (Maoist) has found a new ‘sympathiser’ in RJD chief Lalu Yadav.

Reacting on the Centre’s decision to brand this ultra Left organisation as an extremist outfit and imposing a ban on it, Lalu said it was just ‘eyewash’. Without naming the Congress, he said merely putting a ban on such organisations would not solve any problem. Nor the Naxal menace could be contained by bullets, he added.

According to Lalu, the root cause of the Naxal problem was poverty and unless and until steps were taken to improve the economic conditions of people living below the poverty line in the villages, the problem will not be solved. He also advocated bringing the supporters and sympathisers of the Naxal organisations into the main stream.

Talking to mediapersons here, Lalu recalled putting a ban on the Naxal outfits like the Maoists Communist Centre and CPI-ML (party unity) in Bihar during his and his wife’s chief ministerial regime.

“But that did not serve any purpose. They just change the name of their outfit that has been outlawed and start their activities under a new banner,” Lalu said.

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In Rajasthan, tigers still roar
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, June 24
Here is some good news for wildlife enthusiasts. The number of tigers as also herbivores in the state has gone up this year. The number of tigers has shot up from 32 in 2008 to 44 in 2009, excluding two cubs.

A recent wildlife census reveals that the Ranthambore National Park has the maximum number of big cats at 36 followed by four in the Sawai Man Singh Sanctuary adjacent to the park, three in the Sariska Tiger Reserve and one in the Keoladeo National Park. Apart from it there are two cubs as well at the Ranthambore Park.

The fresh wildlife census conducted on May 8-10 has also hinted at the rise in number of the herbivores in the state’s forests and sanctuaries. Wildlife officials feel that the increase in herbivores’ population in the Ranthambore National Park and the Sariska Tiger Reserve bodes well for tigers, leopards and panthers.

The census, whose data is being compiled and assessed, indicates that the number of cheetals, sambhars and black bucks has increased in the entire Sariska range, besides the Darrah Sanctuary in Kota.

However, the good news has also brought along a bad news. The rise in number of tigers at the Ranthambore has led to territorial fights between the big cats, which is posing a threat to their lives.

The findings of a panel probing into death of a tigress at Ranthambore revealed that the tigers often resort to intense fighting for territory and three tigers have already lost their lives in such battles of supremacy during the last couple of years. The committee headed by assistant principal chief conservator of forest AC Chaubey has now suggested shifting of at least five tigers from the park to some other place. It has also recommended carving out more space for the big cats by developing corridors between the Ranthambore and Keoladeo parks, besides developing the Darrah Sanctuary in Kota.

The Wildlife Department plans to shift two tigers from Ranthambore to Sariska before the onset of monsoon, while the talks are also on for relocating a tiger to the Panna National Park in Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, in view of the overcrowding at the Ranthambore National Park, the state government has identified 21 more villages for relocation to create room for the tigers at the park. Out of these 21 villages, the government has already relocated Indala village, comprising 33 families. Apart from it, around 40 villages have also been identified in the Karauli area, where efforts are being made to create amiable space for the tigers. The government intends to expand the core critical habitat for tigers at the park from the current 400 square km to 1,100 sq km.

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Rath Yatra begins amid tight security

Puri, June 24
The Rath Yatra festival of Lord Jagannath got off to a colourful start today with the presiding deities of the 12th century temple here taken out in a grand procession, even as thousands of devotees gathered to have a glimpse of the grand spectacle amid unprecedented security.

In a rhythmic movement, the deities of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra and Lord Jagannath were taken out in a grand procession called 'pahandi'. The deities adorned the gigantic chariots, which had been stationed at the 'Simhadwara' (Lion's gate) before being pulled by devotees.

The annual celebrations began this morning with a set of rituals. The temple was thrown open to public yesterday for darshan of the deities.

More than 5,700 security personnel are on duty for the Rath Yatra following an alert by the Central intelligence agencies even as Coast Guards carried out an extensive patrolling on the sea.

Besides 2,187 personnel of the Orissa Special Armed Police, two companies of the Rapid Action Force, a quick response team and 1,800 home guards have been pressed into duty, IGP (Central zone) S K Upadhay said. — PTI

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Railways’ Turnaround
New OSD’s litmus test: To match Lalu’s man
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
The comparison is on at the Rail Bhawan. All eyes are now on Gautam Sanyal, the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) of Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The big question doing rounds of the building which houses the headquarters of the public sector behemoth is whether Sanyal would be able to fill in the large boots of Sudhir Kumar, the OSD of the former Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

Kumar is credited with scripting the fairytale turnaround which the Indian Railways has seen over the past five years. And which also helped Lalu to make the parting shot of leaving the one of the world’s largest network of rail lines with a surplus of almost Rs 90,000 crore in the five years that he was at the helm.

It is no mean thing that Lalu was invited for guest lectures at the IIMs and IITs. For it was the commendable turn around and his (Sudhir Kumar’s) policies which saw the Indian Railways make profit year after year despite bringing down the fares.

The Bihar-cadre IAS officer was hand-picked by Lalu to advice him on running the ministry. The Indian Railways runs about 13,000 trains each day, including passenger trains, over a network of 63,000 km and ferries some 17 million passengers and two million tonnes of cargo each day between 7,000 stations.

The first litmus test for Sanyal would be the Rail Budget, which is set to be presented in the Lok Sabha on July 3. Officials in the ministry say it would be interesting to note whether the road map laid out by Lalu and his team finds any favour from Didi (Mamata) and her advisers.

If the initial reaction from Mamata is any indication then that might not happen. When asked specifically what she had to say to Lalu’s comments that he was leaving the railways with a surplus of Rs 90,000 crore over five years, Mamata replied that she would first have to check the facts and only then would comment.

Officials point out that with Mamata set to play a bigger role in West Bengal’s politics, the onus of running the ministry efficiently and keeping it in black would fall on some of the new officers who have taken charge at the Rail Bhawan, which includes Sanyal also.

They feel that it would be prudent to follow the policies of the previous regime which not made rail travel cheaper but with efficient policies also filled the coffers of government.

However, if the reports emerging from the Rail Bhawan are to be believed then one of the schemes which earned huge profits is set to see the change.

Tatkal Bookings, which earned a staggering over Rs 600 crore for the ministry last financial is all set to be cut down on the available quota and also on the premium on the tickets which are purchased by the passengers at the last minute.

Although it is still not clear whether Sanyal would be directly involved in the making of the budget, Sudhir Kumar had an unconventional role to play in the budget exercise.

Being a product of Delhi School of Economics, Kumar was specially brought in to help the financial commissioner in improving the fiscal health of Indian Railways.

He was an astute policy maker who would try and include the minister’s views and prune the demands to suit the finance of the ministry.

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Left may misuse Anti-Maoist Act: Mamata
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, June 24
Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee today demanded that the Centre should provide adequate protections against the misuse of the “anti-Maoist Act” by the state governments.

She apprehended that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee might apply the Act ( Prevention against unlawful activities) in West Bengal against his political rivals.

In tomorrows cabinet meeting, Mamata would formally raise the issue. She said she had already discussed the issue with Mukherjee who also expressed the same apprehension and they were pondering over the inclusion of necessary provisions in the Act against its misue by the states.

The Railway Minister reiterated that the Maoists in West Bengal were nothing but a factional group of the CPM which had been now engaged in a shadow war at Lalgarh and several other parts over controlling of power in the party. She said she saluted those genuine Marxists who had fought for the poor tribals and their needs at Lalgarh and elsewhere. These poor people had been neglected and ignored by the Left government for over 32 years.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of the CPI-Maoists organisation, Gour Chakraborty, who was arrested last night from the Park Street area, was produced at the Calcutta chief metropolitan magistrate’s court today. He had been remanded in the police custody till July 7.

There were protests and demonstrations inside the court against Chakraborty’s arrest. A section of students belonging to various universities also protested against the operations of the para-military operations at Lalgarh. Forward Bloc leader Ashoke Ghose reiterated today in the past during the Congress regime at the Centre they all fought against the decision of banning of any political parties and it was disgraceful that now the Chief Minister was welcoming the Centre’s ban on the CPI-M. RSP leader Debabrata Bandopadhyya and CPI general secretary Monju Mojumdar also expressed their resentment on the Chief Minister’s stand. Chief Secretary AM Chakraborty today visited the disturbed areas at Lalgarh and its adjoining areas in Bankura and west Midnapore for making an on the spot study of the situations there.

He said their main attention now was on the restoring of pace and normalcy by flushing out the Maoists from the area. The police and the administration had been asked to work accordingly. But the forces’ operation against the Maoists would continue. He said unless the Maoists were surrendering their arms, no peace talks could be arranged.

Lalgarh tribals hold rally

Lalgarh: Agitating tribals in this troubled area today held a big procession carrying traditional arms, and vowed to continue resistance to the weeklong security operations launched to flush out Maoists amid allegations that the forces were ransacking homes and even throwing away food. — PTI

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Cut-off goes up at DU colleges
Akhila Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 24
With its first cut-off out today, competition at Delhi University (DU) has increased by another 2 to 3 per cent.

The cut-off clearly indicated that colleges situated at the north campus of the university were still the first choice of students. The cut-off for BCom (Hons) in Shri Ram College of Arts and Commerce (SRCC) saw 1 per cent increase at 95.25 from the last year’s 94.5 per cent. The college had 450 applicants with more than 95 per cent marks applying for the course. The cut-off for economics (Hons) also saw an increase of 1 per cent at 93.5 per cent.

“The university had increased 7,000 seats before the beginning of the academic session. That can be one of the reasons for increased attraction among students,” said Gurpreet Tuteja, Deputy Dean, DU.

In humanities, cut-offs for philosophy (Hons) went sky high with Hindu College at the North campus fixing it at 85 from the last year’s 74 per cent.

In SGTB Khalsa, the cut-off for history (Hons) went 3 per cent higher. The cut-off for this year was 67 per cent.

Women’s college Miranda House increased its benchmark for BA (programme) to 82 per cent from 75 per cent of the previous year.

“This year CBSE results were good and that reflected on the university cut-off. Numbers of students who scored more than 90 per cent was much higher. The overall cut-off has increased by a percent in our college,” said Shri Ram Arora, Principal, Hansraj College. On the other hand, off-campus colleges saw cut-offs for some courses falling down as well. Minimum required marks at Dayal Singh College for BCom (Hons) went down a per cent at 87.92, this time.

Lady Shri Ram had its cut-off coming down a notch for Hindi and Philosophy at 65.5 and 83 per cent, respectively.

In science stream, there is an increase of 1 to 2 per cent in courses like physics and chemistry (Hons).

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Ash booked for illegal land deal

Nashik, June 24
A police complaint has been registered against Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai and several others, including Suzlon company Chairman Tulsibai Tanti, for illegal purchase of land for setting up a windmill at Nandurbar district in North Maharashtra.

The complaint was lodged last night by Anand Lala Thakare, who alleged that his land was purchased and illegally transferred in Suzlon company’s name.

The actress is a shareholder in the company. — PTI

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Boost for Dharavi development
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 24
The Maharashtra government has decided to accelerate the process to develop the huge slum cluster of Dharavi, said to be India’s largest shanty town.

The redevelopment proposal, which has been hanging fire for the past several years, has finally been given the green signal by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. The master plan prepared by architect Mukesh Mehta, who was appointed for the project, was cleared last week. The

Maharashtra government will now shortlist five consortia of builders who will finally develop the slum cluster.

Fourteen consortia of builders, including HDIL, Indiabulls, Emaar, Unitech, DLF and

Akruti, had submitted technical bids for the project. The shortlisted five consortia would carve up the 144 hectare slum cluster between themselves. The project could go ahead even with three consortia if required, say officials.

The project was struck after slum dwellers demanded bigger homes than the 300 sq ft promised by the government. However, the government has decided to increase the size of homes by an extra 100 sq ft but has made it mandatory for buyers to pay the construction cost for the additional space to the developer.

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Arrested drug lord has links with B’desh radicals
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 24
The arrested drug lord, Pakhi Miyan alias Samsul Haque Talukdar, was the kingpin in providing marketing channel to opium and ganja produced through illegal cultivation of poppy seeds and ganja in the bosom of mighty Brahmaputra River by Muslim Fundamentalist organisations (MFOs) having roots in Bangladesh.

Miyan has several cases of heinous crimes registered against him. He is a key accused in September 12, 2006, murder of Revenue Intelligence Officer TK Dutta in Guwahati, killing of a journalist Muslimuddin Ahmed and an Asom Gana Parishad leader Habibur Ali.

Special Public Prosecutor Siddhartha Bhattacharyya who handled the TK Dutta murder case informed, “Following the murder of the Revenue Intelligence official, Pakhi Miyan had fled to Bangladesh where he came in contact with some Muslim fundamentalists who were involved in illegal cultivation of poppy and ganja in inaccessible isles of the Brahmaputra River.”

“These MFOs which are suspected to finance militants in Bangladesh as well as in Assam, produced opium and ganja, but didn’t have access to organised marketing network to reach national and international buyers. Pakhi Miyan provided them that in lieu of safe shelter,” he said.

“Pakhi Miyan came to radar in early 2000s after he had started transporting huge consignment of opium that originates from the infamous ‘Golden Triangle’ and finds ways to the market through Myanmar and North East India,” Bhattacharrya said.

Dutta had got wind of Miyan’s ingenious ways of drugs trafficking using LPG bullets and auctioned and repainted vehicles of defence forces. He had also managed to seize some of his huge consignments.

The drug lord who was recaptured by a joint team of Assam and West Bengal police from Durgapur in West Bengal on Sunday last, had fled from judicial custody on December 22 night from Guwahati Medical College Hospital.

He was initially arrested on April 19, 2008, by the West Bengal police under the NDPS Act, 1958, and handed over to Assam police later.

A senior Assam police official informed that after he fled from judicial custody, Miyan had taken refuge in Bangladesh before shifting to Siliguri and then Durgapur in West Bengal. He also contested Assembly election in Assam in 2006 from Jamunamukh LAC in Nagaon district on the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ticket. He lost the election and was subsequently expelled from the NCP.

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India to assist Lanka in demining
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News service

New Delhi, June 24
With the war in the island nation over, India today offered to Sri Lanka its assistance in the demining activity as the first step towards permitting the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return safely to their homes.

Colombo also clarified to New Delhi that it was not contemplating putting up any military structure at Katchchativu when External Affairs Minister SM Krishna underlined at a meeting with a visiting high-powered delegation from the island nation the need for adhering to the understanding reached in October 2008 on matters relating to fishing.

The Sri Lankan delegation included Basil Rajapaksa, senior adviser and brother of the President Mahenda Rajapaksa, defence secretary Gothbaya Rajapakse and Lalith Weetunga, secretary to the President.

Talking to the mediapersons after the meeting with the delegation, Krishna said he had reviewed several issues related to bilateral relations and developments in the island country. He also raised the question of rapid settlement and rehabilitation of IDPs in Northern Sri Lanka.

He was assured by the representatives of the Sri Lankan government that the authorities would make every effort to ensure the return of the IDPs to their homes and to dismantle the camps in the timeframe of 180 days. India was committed to helping in resettlement and rehabilitation process, Krishna told the delegation.

“We also discussed issues relating to the course of political events in Sri Lanka. I was assured that it is the intention of the government of Sri Lanka to implement the proposal which would be an advance on the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, designed to devolve considerable power to the Sri Lankan provinces,’’ the Indian minister said.

He also requested the Sri Lankan delegation that as a humanitarian gesture, Colombo should allow the ship captain Ali to off load the relief items on board meant for IDPs in Norther Sri Lanka. The request was promptly accepted and these would now be routed to Sri Lanka through the Indian Red Cross.

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Bengali sisters finalists of German reality show

Kolkata, June 24
Earlier it was Shilpa Shetty who won the reality show Big Brother on foriegn land, now it is the turn of two Bengali sisters to do the same in Germany. It is Bollywood dance that has led two teenage Bengali NRI sisters on the threshold of winning a popular reality television show in Germany.

Debarati Mandal, 18, and Nabaneeta Mandal, 14, would be seen dancing in the finals of the “Germany’s next Showstar” contest to be broadcasted on Germany’s Pro Sieben channel today.

“The channel invited us for participating as they wanted an Indian performance to be a part of their show. We were confident that we would reach the finals as we were performing with an Indian theme. Everyone here knows Bollywood these days. If they don’t know anyone else, they at least know about Shahrukh Khan,” Debarati told here over the telephone from Frankfurt.

Altogether 585 groups were in competition during the preliminary stage of the talent hunt show that began from May 4. About 20 of them were shortlisted for the semi-finals and later 10 managed to get into the finals.

However, for the sisters, who named their group ‘Indian Rhythms’, it wasn’t just popular Bollywood numbers like ‘Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’ and ‘Mera Piya Ghar Aaya’ that help them won the hearts of the European audiences.

“I think the judges and audience found our Indian costumes to be very exotic for their eyes. We wore either lehengas or saris. We also used handkerchiefs the way Punjabis play with it when they dance,” the elder sister, who has just finished her twelfth class exams, said.

Talking about the songs, she said she consciously picked up songs that represent Indian cinema. “We didn’t take up indi-pop or disco-type songs, as they don’t reflect the traditional Indian culture. In all our performances, we tried to give Germany a taste of what India and its cultural heritage is all about,” she said.

The sisters were born and brought up in Germany, after their father Mihir Mandal left Kolkata following a job offer from Lufthansa Airlines in the early 1990s. The family has since then been settled in the suburbs of Gross-Gerau near Frankfrut.

“Germany’s next Showstar” is a talent hunt show where participants were solicited from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Contestants had to show their talent in a field of their choice before the judges within a stipulated timeframe of about 2-3 minutes. The winners of the contest will accompany DJ BoBo for a live concert in Europe. — PTI

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Woman alleges gang rape

New Delhi, June 24
In the second incident of gang rape reported in the capital in as many days, a 22-year-old woman has alleged that three men assaulted her in her east Delhi home, the police said today.

According to the woman, three men, including her husband’s friend, raped her when she was alone at her Bholanath Nagar residence in east Delhi Tuesday evening.

“I was alone when they entered the house on the pretext of meeting my husband. They raped and threatened of dire consequences if I made a noise,” the woman said in her police complaint. “I came back at night from work and found her crying on the terrace. She told me about the incident after which I called the police,” her husband added. The medical report of the victim has confirmed rape. — IANS

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5 freed from abductors; one dead

Bhind (MP), June 24
One of the six kidnapped by dacoits from a government irrigation site in the district on Sunday was found dead while the rest have been rescued jointly by the Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh police.

The body has been identified as that of Suresh Maheshwari of Bhind and it was found about 100 metres from the Kanera Irrigation Project site, the kidnap site. The five hostages were found at Gohra village under Kheda Rathod Police Station area of Agra district yesterday, the police said here today.

Earlier, the dacoits set them free in the jungles of Kheda Rathod after both police from the two states exerted pressure on the kidnappers, the police said. The hostages reached a school in Gohra village around 4 am yesterday where villagers after arranging food for them informed the police officials about their safe release.

The five persons, who were rescued from the clutches of dacoits are: a site engineer of an Indore-based private firm Sharad Jhanwar (32), mechanic Dilip Ojha (35), gunman Santosh Pachouri, driver Salim and Abhimanyu Tripathi of Gorakhapur, the police said.

According to the hostages, the dacoits thrashed Maheshwari with butts before dumping him in the jungle near the site, as, being diabetic, he was unable to run rapidly with them, the police said.

A gang of eight dacoits, including a woman, had kidnapped them from the project site in Kachhpura village in the district’s Chambal region on June 21, it said.

The villagers near the site had put up an armed confrontation for about 30 minutes to deter dacoits, but dacoits managed to escape with the captives.

Meanwhile, market remained closed yesterday in Bhind in protest against Maheshwari’s killing by dacoits as local people charged the police for showing apathy as his body was found only 100 metre from the site. Had the police been serious in the matter, Maheshwari would have been found earlier and his life could have been saved, the demonstrators alleged. — PTI

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Smoking linked to brain damage: Study

New Delhi, June 24
There is a direct link between smoking and brain damage, according to new research conducted by Debapriya Ghosh and Dr. Anirban Basu from the Indian National Brain Research Centre (NBRC).

The researchers discovered that a compound, NNK, which is found in all forms of tobacco, provoked white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells, leading to acute neurological damage. NNK is a procarinogen, a chemical substance that becomes carcinogenic when it is altered by the metabolic process of the body.

The study found NNK it could enter the body through chewing and second-hand smoking. These findings will be published in the July issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry. — IANS

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BRIEFLY

2 militants killed
IMPHAL:
Two unidentified militants were killed in an encounter with police commandos in Imphal West district of Manipur on Wednesday. The commandos were conducting a search operation at Mondum area. As they stepped up operation, they were fired upon by the militants and in the ensusing encounter two militants were killed on the spot. — PTI

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