SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Oppn slams Maya on ‘statue politics’
Lucknow, June 26
If Mayawati believes that she has overcome legal hurdles by hurriedly dedicating scores of statues of Dalit icons to the people, including six of her own, she may be mistaken.

Naxalite Menace - VI
Bastar — India’s Swat valley
“This is India’s Swat valley,” a top police officer said, pointing towards Bastar’s dense forest cover all around from a hill top near Akash Nagar, about 40 km from Dantewada. “The Maoists’ writ runs here,” he admits.

PC says sorry to Kandhamal victims
Phulbani (Kandhamal), June 26
“I am sorry," Home Minister P Chidambaram today told Kandhamal riot victims during a visit to one of the relief camps here.

Countering Terrorism
India-US to strengthen ties
New Delhi, June 26
With the security situation in Af-Pak region remaining worrisome, India and the United States today discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in countering terrorism and broaden their partnership on a variety of global and bilateral issues.

National Security Adviser MK Narayanan with his US counterpart James Jones ahead of their meeting in New Delhi on Friday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal
National Security Adviser MK Narayanan with his US counterpart James Jones ahead of their meeting in New Delhi on Friday.







EARLIER STORIES

The police detains one of the SFI activists protesting against fee hike in corporate schools and colleges in Hyderabad on Friday.
The police detains one of the SFI activists protesting against fee hike in corporate schools and colleges in Hyderabad on Friday. — PTI

Political compulsions keep them together
Mumbai, June 26
After several weeks of grandstanding aimed to unsettle their allies more than their opponents, the political parties in Maharashtra are putting in place plans to cement their respective alliances ahead of the Assembly polls this year.

Help wipe out ragging menace, Prez to Guvs
New Delhi, June 26
Following a meeting with Raj Kachroo, father of ragging victim Aman Kachroo, President Pratibha Patil today wrote to all Governors and Lt Governors to help in eliminating the menace of ragging from educational institutions in their respective states and UTs. She sought everyone’s help in the area, considering a fresh academic session is about to start.

Sibal’s reforms stir political circles
New Delhi, June 26
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s 100-day agenda for education reforms today stirred the Indian political circles, with sworn enemies like the BJP and the Left coming together to question the government’s “intent” behind sweeping announcements on a subject that is on the concurrent list.

EC seeks powers to de-register parties
Mumbai, June 26
The Election Commission has sought powers from the Centre to de-register political parties which don't contest elections, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said today.

Naga militants torch 115 houses
Guwahati, June 26
Suspected Naga militants burnt down 115 houses and shot dead one person during a raid on a remote Dimasa tribe village in the violence-ravaged North Cachar Hill district on Thursday evening. Two persons, including a 75-year-old lady, were injured in the attack.

Sanction sought to prosecute Varun
Lucknow, June 26
BJP MP from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi is apparently getting no respite. For his alleged hate speeches the Pilibhit DM has forwarded prosecution sanction orders to the state government for approval.

Environment Clearances
Jairam for more transparency
New Delhi, June 26
The Environment Ministry today specified conditions before promoters lay down foundation stones for projects.



Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday. — PTI
Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Friday.

Assam Governor cremated
Jaipur, June 26
Assam Governor and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Shiv Charan Mathur was cremated with full state honours here today.

Stephen’s will miss Wilson
New Delhi, June 26
Both students and faculty at the St Stephen’s College are in a state of shock at the death of their favourite longest serving principal Anil Wilson.

International Day Against Drug Abuse
De-addiction programmes eyewash: Drug users
New Delhi, June 26
On International Day Against Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking, drug users gathered outside Shastri Bhavan here to reject the “sham” programmes for addiction and demand meaningful involvement in policies.

Electoral Debacle
Parties set to realign in AP
Hyderabad, June 26
With the four-party opposition alliance, headed by the TDP, falling apart following the electoral debacle, the stage is set for re-alignment of political forces in Andhra Pradesh.





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Oppn slams Maya on ‘statue politics’
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Mulayam: Rule similar to Emergency

Comparing the present times in the state with those of Emergency, Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav said just like then innocent persons were being jailed and killed. On the 34the anniversary of the Emergency today the former Chief Minister said, “During the Emergency, democracy was under threat and now, once again, democracy is being threatened in UP.”

Lucknow, June 26
If Mayawati believes that she has overcome legal hurdles by hurriedly dedicating scores of statues of Dalit icons to the people, including six of her own, she may be mistaken.

Virtually every single political party is planning to take up this issue of a sitting chief minister installing her statues from public funds in a big way.

The PIL which is pending in the apex court has pleaded for a CBI probe and asked for the court’s detailed guidelines for the state and the centre government so there is a clear cut procedure through which statues of leaders are installed in the future.

Calling the inauguration of statues and memorials by the Mayawati government as gross misuse of public fund, Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav today threatened to demolish the statues of Chief Minister Mayawati if he returns to power in Uttar Pradesh.

His party observed “Shok Diwas” today instead of July 3 when the programme was originally scheduled. Braving the humid weather, SP workers turned out in large numbers wearing black badges to hold “condolence meetings” at district headquarters decrying the death of the government.

Speaking to this reporter from New Delhi, Supreme Court lawyer Ravikant, who has filed a PIL in the apex court on this matter, said advancing the date of the inauguration function was clearly done to hoodwink a possible adverse verdict from the apex court.

According to him the matter was listed for July 13. However, when he had come to know that the state government was planning to inaugurate the statues on July 3, he had filed an affidavit for urgent hearing.

“Yesterday, the Registrar of Supreme Court had decided to take it up for mentioning on June 29 when a fresh date was to be given. Panicking at this development, the Uttar Pradesh government counsel must have alerted Lucknow. Within hours the chief minister pre-empted the move by inaugurating the statues.”

“It is wrong in law as a incumbent CM has built this statues of herself out of public money in complete violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. This is an arbitrary use of power for the benefit and glorification of a single individual, unheard of anywhere in India”, pointed out Ravikant.

He underlined another interesting aspect. The installation of 60 elephants, the symbol of the ruling party, was a violation of the Election Commission’s model code of conduct. “When an election is announced in the future, the elephants would have to be covered as they are the symbol of a national party,” argued Ravikant.

BJP spokesperson H N Dikshit said Mayawati unveiled the statues in such a underhand manner when the matter was in the court. “The BJP would soon decide its future course of action to lodge its protest loudly and strongly”, he said.

Congress spokesperson Subodh Srivastav said that a meeting would be held in the state capital on Saturday to decide how to effectively take up this matter of misuse of public funds.

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Naxalite Menace - VI
Bastar — India’s Swat valley
Our Roving Editor Man Mohan writes from Dantewada (Chhattisgarh)

“This is India’s Swat valley,” a top police officer said, pointing towards Bastar’s dense forest cover all around from a hill top near Akash Nagar, about 40 km from Dantewada. “The Maoists’ writ runs here,” he admits.

“The final fight to flush out Maoists from this part of Red Corridor will be far tougher than ongoing assault on the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat valley,” he felt. The Naxalism is annually claiming more lives in affected states than insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East.

The police do not have sufficient knowledge about Naxals’ actual strength and fire power. An attempt was made to carry out an aerial surveillance with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles of the Air Force (IAF).

But the IAF withdrew from the scene when Naxals shot at one of its helicopters, killing a flight sergeant. Efforts are being made to take the Air Force’s help once again to pinpoint Naxal targets.

Maoists has fired at two civilian helicopters hired by the police to rescue trapped security personnel and pick up bodies of those killed in encounters or landmines.

Last year, a small civilian aircraft crashed in Bastar. The wreckage was located four months later as the Naxals did not initially let search parties enter the forest, fearing that their bases might be exposed.

Some time ago, the police were alarmed to find a rocket and small-range missile manufacturing unit in Bhopal, said Dantewada’s longest-serving SP Rahul Sharma, who was shifted to Raigarh on Thursday.

The Naxal-controlled Bastar forest is littered with landmines. There are underground concrete bunkers, not visible from the sky. Lush green tree tops provide a natural camouflage to Maoists’ movement and their training camps.

Driving down nearly 400 km on the national highway from Raipur to Kirandul (40 km from Dantewada), through scenic forest, hills and streams, one begins to wonder whether it was the same area that was regularly hitting headlines because of the Maoist violence and attacks on security forces.

"Just leave the main road and go few kilometers inside and you will face the reality,” a dhabha owner near Jagdalpur said. This correspondent got the same warning as he crossed Dhamtari, Kanker, Makdi, Keskal, Kondagaon, Bastar town, Jagdalpur, Dantewada, Bacheli, Kirandaul, Narayanpur and Orcha.

One passes by Geedam, 100 km from Jagdalpur, where the Naxals last year looted weapons from a police station. Like a Wild Wild West story, hundreds of Maoists had descended in the main bazaar, firing guns, ordering people to stay indoors, while they ransacked the police station. Today, the police station looks like a fort.

Nearly 70 per cent of Bastar is under Maoist control. But the whole of Chhattisgarh, known as the bowl of rice, is reeling under red terror. The Naxalites run a parallel government in the area and vow to continue their war against the state. The war that they call “people's struggle”.

Bastar’s dense jungle of bamboo, sal, teak, sheesam and high hills, valleys, streams, waterfalls and natural caves is considered to be the Maoists’ centre of gravity. It is part of ‘Red Corridor’ (Maoists call it as Dandakaranya Zone) that runs from Nepal border down to Andhra Pradesh. In southern Bastar, the Maoists have declared the Chintainer area as their capital.

Nearly 10,000 cadres of the CPI (Maoist) are operating in Chhattisgarh that include local guerrilla squads and ‘Jan Militia’ units. Over 5,000 Naxalites are reported to be based in Bastar only. They are armed with sophisticated weapons like rocket launchers, AK-47 rifles, grenades, pistols, landmines, ordnance factory-built INSAS rifles that they loot from security men. “The landmines are Maoists’ favourite weapon,” said SP Rahul Sharma.

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PC says sorry to Kandhamal victims

Phulbani (Kandhamal), June 26
“I am sorry," Home Minister P Chidambaram today told Kandhamal riot victims during a visit to one of the relief camps here.

The Home Minister, who is on a two-day visit to Orissa, met the victims living in relief camps set up after a series of communal clashes following the killing of 85-year-old VHP leader Swami Laxmananda Saraswati in August last year.

"I am sorry that certain things happened last year and you have been brought to these camps. But you must go back to your villages. I am here to tell you, don't fear," he said.

Condemning the incident, Chidambaram asked them to start life afresh, build the churches and practice their religion.

"Whatever happened was wrong. Build your churches and practice your dharma," he said.

When some refugees spoke of fear of the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, the Home Minister assured then that the guilty would be "prosecuted and punished." "All those who have indulged in this ghastly crime will be prosecuted and punished," he said.

The Home Minister visited Mandaika, Rahikola, Tinigia and Tikabali camps in the district providing shelter to about 1500 people. Chidambaram, who is on his first visit to Orissa after the Lok Sabha polls, listened to the plight of the victims living the camps. — PTI

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Countering Terrorism
India-US to strengthen ties
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
With the security situation in Af-Pak region remaining worrisome, India and the United States today discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in countering terrorism and broaden their partnership on a variety of global and bilateral issues.

Visiting US National Security Adviser James Jones met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, apart from holding wide-ranging talks with his host and National Security Adviser MK Narayanan.

Jones, who is said to be a key lieutenant of President Barack Obama, is understood to have briefed his Indian interlocutors on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he had visited before reaching New Delhi yesterday.

He reassured the Indian leadership that the US was committed to cooperating with India in dealing with terrorism so that another Mumbai-like attack was not repeated. The two sides also did the groundwork for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Delhi in the second half of July.

Jones’ visit comes amid growing regional concern over the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US has already announced its decision to increase aid to Pakistan to fight the terror groups, particularly in the restive Swat valley. However, India’s contention is that Pakistan has in the past always used the aid given by Western powers to bolster its conventional military power against India.

A US Embassy statement said Jones outlined President Obama’s desire to move quickly in the months ahead to make tangible progress on a range of bilateral issues, which affected the futures of the two countries. A broad range of bilateral and regional issues figured during the talks, including the post-election situation in Iran and the Indo-US cooperation in energy, economic and defence fields.

Jones conveyed to the Prime Minister, President Obama’s invitation to visit the White House this fall, which would provide the two leaders an opportunity to continue the discussions they had during the G-20 meeting in London.

Summing up his visit, Jones said, “President Obama views the US-India relationship to be of foremost importance in advancing our common interests. In addition to broadening our partnership on a variety of global and bilateral issues, we will work together closely on regional security matters.”

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Political compulsions keep them together
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 26
After several weeks of grandstanding aimed to unsettle their allies more than their opponents, the political parties in Maharashtra are putting in place plans to cement their respective alliances ahead of the Assembly polls this year.

Leaders of the ruling Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), who were challenging each other to break away, have decided to pipe down at least for the moment and discuss seat-sharing arrangements. Both outfits have been at loggerheads ever since the NCP emerged with a larger share of seats in the Maharashtra Assembly than the Congress in the 2004 Assembly polls.

Since then, the Congress surged ahead after Shiv Sena-leader-turned-Congressman Narayan Rane weaned away several of his supporters from his old party and got them elected on Congress tickets. The NCP, too, suffered a setback in the Lok Sabha polls with its candidates losing in its old strongholds of Konkan and Western Maharashtra.

However, both parties are not prepared to give up their claims on several crucial seats across Maharashtra. Former Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, now part of the Cabinet, who wants the Congress to split with the NCP, has piped down. “A decision on this will be taken by the party High Command,” Deshmukh told reporters in Kolhapur. He further insisted that he was only voicing the opinion of party workers who wanted the Congress to break the alliance.

Meanwhile, the Congress has raised the demand through media that it wanted to contest 166 of the 278 seats in the state Assembly. Only before the last Lok Sabha polls, NCP leader Sharad Pawar had insisted that the Congress play a junior partner in the alliance. But the NCP’s poor showing in the parliamentary polls, where it bagged just eight of the 48 seats in the state, seems to have silenced its leader.

On the other side, the Shiv Sena and the BJP have decided to work out an action plan. Rather than break away, both outfits are worried that Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) may cut into their votes. BJP leader Gopinath Munde said in Mumbai both parties were working together to check the MNS. “We have to ensure that our votes are not split like in the Lok Sabha elections,” Munde said.

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Help wipe out ragging menace, Prez to Guvs

New Delhi, June 26
Following a meeting with Raj Kachroo, father of ragging victim Aman Kachroo, President Pratibha Patil today wrote to all Governors and Lt Governors to help in eliminating the menace of ragging from educational institutions in their respective states and UTs. She sought everyone’s help in the area, considering a fresh academic session is about to start.

In her letter, Patil said repeated incidents of ragging indicated that the perverse practice had not only become rampant but had acquired hideous proportions, costing students their sanity and life. “Such disorderly, aggressive, and inhuman conduct on the part of senior students inflicting physical cruelty and mental torment on freshers has outraged the society at large,” the President said. — TNS

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Sibal’s reforms stir political circles
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal’s 100-day agenda for education reforms today stirred the Indian political circles, with sworn enemies like the BJP and the Left coming together to question the government’s “intent” behind sweeping announcements on a subject that is on the concurrent list.

The BJP dismissed the agenda as anti-aam aadmi and a clever ploy, whereby, the government wanted to absolve itself of the responsibility in the higher-education sector. The Left wondered as to why Sibal was in such a tearing hurry and how could he ignore India’s diversity when proposing centralised structures like one board for school education.

The latter concern also being voiced by eminent educationist Prof Yashpal, who said he feared second-class foreign universities coming to India and making education a business proposition.

“Why should a university set up shop in India to teach our students? Their scholars can do that,” said the man who just gave direction to India’s higher education in his report submitted to the government on June 24. Yashpal, however, supported Sibal on the need to end class X exams.

But the opposition camps were largely cross with the minister. “This is a move to cut Indian education from its roots and allow backdoor entry of Macaulay concepts into our education,” former Education Minister Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP questioned Sibal’s decision to allow foreign universities to enter India, and also commercialise education through the PPP models.

“This is not acceptable,” said Joshi, urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the “matters seriously and prevent damages to education.” The saffron party was in fact so rattled by the ideas of autonomous commission for higher education, centralised board and end of class X exams, it decided to convene a meeting of the Education Ministers of NDA-ruled states to debate the issue. NDA convener Sharad Yadav will coordinate the effort.

But before that happens, Joshi assumed charge of the anti-Sibal brigade today, questioning deregulation of education without the promise of quality. “Who will eventually control the institutes - corporates or foreigners? Sibal’s agenda is a recipe for confusion. It sidelines the aam aadmi and ignores the marginalised students,” Joshi said. He perhaps had no idea of the loan subsidy scheme for poor students, which the government announced yesterday, he said.

Taking a cue from the central leadership, Karnataka government also rushed to oppose Sibal’s idea of a centralised board and end of class X exams. Already, the Left-ruled states of West Bengal and Kerala have denounced Sibal’s agenda as impractical, rubbishing “one-board for school education” and “class X exam scrapping” ideas. They obviously want to be taken on board before any reforms are passed.

Back in the capital, the CPM backed its states, with leader Nilotpal Basu asking, “Why is there such a tearing hurry? Education is on the concurrent list. It will have an impact on the future of the country. You can’t have such a centralising approach in a diverse country as India. You need consultations with states and other stakeholders. Surely, what Sibal promised cannot be done in 100 days.”

“Class X exams are unnecessary for those who want to continue in the same school till class XII. A general exam system can be designed for others who want to go to colleges after class X. I am for a GRE exam that can be taken six times a year to enable students to improve their ratings for university admission,” Prof Yashpal said.

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EC seeks powers to de-register parties

Mumbai, June 26
The Election Commission has sought powers from the Centre to de-register political parties which don't contest elections, Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla said today.

“We have power to register the party but don't have the power to de-register. We have asked the government for this power," Chawla told reporters here. There are around 1,200 registered parties in the country, Chawla said, adding half of them don't contest the polls. “That is why in our reform proposals, we have suggested deregistering such parties," he said. — PTI

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Naga militants torch 115 houses
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 26
Suspected Naga militants burnt down 115 houses and shot dead one person during a raid on a remote Dimasa tribe village in the violence-ravaged North Cachar Hill district on Thursday evening. Two persons, including a 75-year-old lady, were injured in the attack.

The incident occurred in such a remote area that the police from Maibong could reach the incident site only this afternoon. Deputy Commissioner S Jagannathan informed the media that suspected militants swooped down on Digerkro village about 40 km off Maibong town of the district on Thursday evening and set ablaze 115 houses.

One person identified as Nidesh Haflongbar (19) was killed as the armed raiders opened indiscriminate fire. One of the injured was identified as Jarma Naiding (75) who was admitted to Maibong hospital today. The village was largely abandoned and residents had already been shifted to nearby Hajedisa village.

Following Thursday’s incident the death toll in militants’ attacks on Dimasa and Zeme Naga villages since March 19 has gone up to 49 while about 7,000 people from both the communities are till lodged in six relief camps so far set up by the administration.

The district administration is awaiting release of fund by the state government for creating the necessary infrastructure in nine identified villages which will be converted into clusters of Dimasa and Zeme Naga villagers to provide security against marauding ultras. It will require shifting of 10,000 people from 50 villages to the proposed clusters.

The shifting of villagers to protected clusters is being planned to facilitate all-out counter-insurgency operation against remote depopulated areas. Moreover, it is difficult to provide round-the-clock security cover to each of the vulnerable villages located in remote areas sans proper motorable roads.

The passenger train service through the violence-hit hill district was resumed only yesterday after the gap of 75 days since it had been suspended on April 11 last under the threat from militants.

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Sanction sought to prosecute Varun
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 26
BJP MP from Pilibhit Varun Gandhi is apparently getting no respite. For his alleged hate speeches the Pilibhit DM has forwarded prosecution sanction orders to the state government for approval.

On March 29 in the midst of the general election it was the district administration of Pilibhit that had imposed NSA against Varun. Last evening through a special messenger sanction has been sought to prosecute the first time MP.

If approved, it would pave the way for filing a chargesheet against Varun in the hate speech cases. The prosecution sanction is a mandatory before filing a chargesheet under Section 153 A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion).

Three criminal cases have been registered against Varun for his alleged hate speeches during the election campaign in Pilibhit on March 7 and 8 ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

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Environment Clearances
Jairam for more transparency
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
The Environment Ministry today specified conditions before promoters lay down foundation stones for projects.

Criticising the tendency of project promoters, both in the public sector and private sectors, to have foundation stones laid for projects even before environment and forest clearance are obtained, Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said this tendency to treat environmental and forests clearances as a mere formality would no longer be acceptable.

Citing the example of proposed 2x200MW Gundia hydel project of the KPC in Hassan district, Ramesh said he had written to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyuppappa saying that the process as laid down by law should be followed and not considered a routine formality.

The foundation stone for the project was laid down on May 26 even though environment and forestry clearance from the Centre was not obtained, the minister said. Quoting NGOs and civil society orgnisations, he said the proposed project would drown almost 1900 acres of thick forests in the already-endangered western ghats along with fauna.

While granting environmental clearances, four conditions will be stipulated. An annual environmental statement as mandated under the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, and copy of the clearance letter will be made public by the project proponent.

Besides this the status of compliance of the stipulated environmental clearance conditions, including results of monitored data will have to be made public by the project proponent, as also six-monthly reports on the status compliance of the stipulated environmental clearance conditions including results of monitored data.

The ministry is also in the process of setting up a National Green Tribunal which will deal with matters related to environment and forests on the civil side. Ramesh said the earlier proposed national environment tribunal was restricted to hazardous waste.

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Assam Governor cremated
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, June 26
Assam Governor and former Rajasthan Chief Minister Shiv Charan Mathur was cremated with full state honours here today.

Mathur breathed his last at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi, where he suffered cardiac arrest yesterday. He had fallen ill earlier this month and was admitted to the hospital on June 18. He was 83. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.

His son Pradeep Mathur lit the funeral pyre. Prominent among those who paid their tributes to Mathur included Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj CP Joshi and former Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat.

Mathur became the Chief Minister of the state twice; his first tenure was between July 14, 1981, and February 23, 1985, while his second term lasted from January 20, 1988, to December 4, 1989.

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Stephen’s will miss Wilson
Akhila Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
Both students and faculty at the St Stephen’s College are in a state of shock at the death of their favourite longest serving principal Anil Wilson.

Wilson succumbed to pancreatic cancer in the capital yesterday. Even though Wilson was no more a part of college administration presently, his contribution towards making the college gender sensitive and a place for all sections could still be felt.

“Wilson was the longest serving principal of the St Stephen’s College. He was an able administrator. The respect and gratitude that he commanded extended much beyond the college,” said principal of St Stephen’s College Valson Thampu.

Adding that Wilson had introduced radical changes in the college, Thampu said the initiative that he took by converting two boys’ wings in the college hostel into girl’s wings finally culminated this year, with the college offering equal number of residential seats to girls and boys.

The present principal remembered Wilson as someone with “brilliant communication skills. “His (Wilson) untimely departure is sad. Wilson would be solely missed by the college,” said Thampu.

Wilson served St Stephen’s College for 16 years from January 1991 to January 2007, when he was made the Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University.

The Sports Department of the college missed Wilson’s proactive participation in new initiatives and remembered his love for sports.

“He played cricket with us and at the 125-years celebration at the college, he acted in a one-act play,” head of the Sports Department at St Stephen’s SK Chakraborty.

It was in the times of Wilson when the college started holding trails for sports quota admissions. “Sports quota admissions could not only be done on the basis of the certificates. So, I proposed to Wilson that we should have sports trials,” said Clement from the college Sports Department.

One of the senior people Jadunath, popularly known as Bhaiyyan, works at the college canteen. He had served Wilson coffee for many years. “He used to come and have coffee at my canteen every morning. He behaved with everyone with respect and never misbehaved with any staff whether rich or poor,” said Bhaiyyan.

The former students of the college said they used to frequently visit Wilson’s residence that was situated at the college campus itself. “On Holi, we would all go to his residence and he used to get sweets for everyone when he could not even recognise the coloured faces. It was a big security to have him around all the time,” said Vishal Sangwan, a former student.

A memorial meeting for Wilson would be organised at the St Stephen’s College campus in the beginning of the coming academic year.

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International Day Against Drug Abuse
De-addiction programmes eyewash: Drug users
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
On International Day Against Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking, drug users gathered outside Shastri Bhavan here to reject the “sham” programmes for addiction and demand meaningful involvement in policies.

Protesting torture and cruelty in de-addiction centres, the drug users called upon the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to “clean up” drug treatment and introduce evidence-based services in consultation with those who do drugs.

“UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon had last year called on member states to ensure access to health and social services for people struggling with addiction and that no one is stigmatised or discriminated against because of their dependence on drugs. This message seems to have been forgotten. We are here to remind various agencies of their responsibility towards persons who are dependent on drugs ” said RK Raju, president, Drug Users’ Forum.

“Opium-dependent patients must have the benefit of Methadone and Buprenorphine - medicines that are on WHO’s list of essential drugs. It is time to promote and ensure wider access to drug substitution therapy that reduces HIV and other blood-borne infections related to injecting, lessens illicit drug use and improves health,” recommends M Suresh Kumar, Chennai-based psychiatrist who has been treating drug users for over 20 years.

Barring premier centres like the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS, most of the government clinics do not offer opiate substitution.

“Many drug users have died in private centres running without any regulations or monitoring, because of physical torture and/or lack of timely medical attention,” complained Tripti Tandon of the Lawyers’ Collective, an NGO that advocates for rights of people dependent on drugs. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act tasks the government with setting up treatment facilities, but this responsibility has largely been ignored. “Schemes of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment are not binding on private centres. There is a need to regulate treatment and protect the health and safety of drug users,” she urged.

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Electoral Debacle
Parties set to realign in AP
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 26
With the four-party opposition alliance, headed by the TDP, falling apart following the electoral debacle, the stage is set for re-alignment of political forces in Andhra Pradesh.

The partners of "Mahakootami"(grand alliance), comprising the TDP, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the CPI and the CPM, are drifting away from each other after the grouping failed to make an impact in the simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and the assembly.

While some are searching for new allies, the others are planning to go it alone in the future elections.

Blaming the TDP and the Left parties for non-cooperation in the elections, the TRS has severed ties with the alliance and made it clear that it will fight the future polls on its own.

On their part, the Left parties are exploring possibility of forging an alliance with actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi fledgling Praja Rajyam Party (PRP). In the process, the TDP appears to have been isolated.

Responding positively to the Left overtures, Chiranjeevi said his party was not averse to working with the communist parties provided the TDP was kept out of the proposed alliance.

The coming elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), scheduled in August, will witness re-alignment of political forces, affecting the opposition grouping in its present form.

The ruling Congress, on its part, made it clear that it would fight the polls on its own as it did in the recent assembly elections.

Soon after the poll drubbing, the daggers were out in the opposition camp with each party blaming the other for the poor performance. First, it was the TRS, which blamed the TDP and the Left parties for the reverses, saying the promised vote transfer from the alliance partners did not take place at the grass-root level.

Later, it was the turn of the CPI to hold the TDP and the CPM responsible for the poll reverses. The CPM too blamed the TDP for its poor show in the elections.

While the Left parties drew blank, the TDP managed to win just six Lok Sabha seats and the TRS two. The ruling Congress bagged 33 out of the total 42 LS seats from the state. The performance of the opposition parties was poor in the assembly as well. The TDP had won 91 followed by the TRS 10, the CPI 4 and CPM one. The Congress stormed back to power for a second successive term, winning 156 seats on its own.

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