SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE
TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Naxalite Menace - VII
Maoists finding new ways to kill the ‘enemy’ 

Maoists are finding new ways to kill the “enemy”. And, in the past two years, the Maoists have damaged public property worth about Rs 4,000 crores in Chhattisgarh. Red terrorists are now making various kinds of bombs to target security forces and tribals who oppose them.

Govt no to all-women literacy mission
Name to be changed to ensure gender equality
New Delhi, June 27
The government is all set to rest the apprehensions created by President Pratibha Patil’s announcement of recasting the National Literacy Mission as a National Mission for Female Literacy.

Evaluation office to keep tabs on key policies soon
New Delhi, June 27
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told his Cabinet colleagues recently that “equity, innovation and public accountability must be the watchword of our government”, he meant every word of it.


EARLIER STORIES

Centre mulls lifting ban on homosexuality
New Delhi, June 27
Gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals take out a first-ever gay rights parade to mark the 40th anniversary of their global movement for their rights in Bhubaneswar The Centre is considering repealing a controversial section of the penal law which criminalises homosexuality. A meeting will be convened soon for evolving a consensus on repealing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, official sources said today. The meeting to be chaired by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram will discuss the controversial section of the IPC which bans sexual relationships among people of the same gender, official sources said.

Gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexuals take out a first-ever gay rights parade to mark the 40th anniversary of their global movement for their rights in Bhubaneswar on Saturday. — PTI

Majority of deemed varsities ‘delude’ students
New Delhi, June 27
Critical about mushrooming growth of deemed universities, a government appointed committee has said majority of these institutes delude students and the status should be withdrawn if they fail to fulfil the accreditation norms in three years.

India never a threat to Pak: Army Chief 
Hyderabad, June 27
Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor presents wings to cadets at the Combined Graduation passing out parade at Air Force Academy, Dundigal, in Hyderabad Allaying Pakistan’s apprehensions over positioning of troops along the border, the Chief of Army staff General Deepak Kapoor today said India never posed a threat to anyone despite having superior forces.






Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor presents wings to cadets at the Combined Graduation passing out parade at Air Force Academy, Dundigal, in Hyderabad on Saturday. — PTI

Environmentalists protest field trials on GM rice
Hyderabad, June 27
Environmentalists are up in arms against field trials on genetically modified (GM) rice, saying they could prove dangerous to public health.

Make judiciary transparent: Prez
Mumbai, June 27
President Pratibha Singh Patil on Saturday emphasised the need for reforms to make the judiciary transparent, effective and people-oriented.

Plane wing hits wall, escapes disaster
Siliguri/Mumbai, June 27
A Delhi-bound Kingisher Airlines flight with 190 persons on board escaped a major disaster when its wing hit a wall built on a grass-covered bunker shortly before take-off at Bagdogra airport near here today.

Gill denied visit  to Lalgarh
Kolkata, June 27
Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill, presently the Prime Minister’s security adviser on the anti-terror, today was denied visit to Lalgarh. He had flown down to the city for studying the Maoists insurgency at Lalgarh and other places in the state. But the police did not allow him to visit Lalgarh.

Manipur declared drought-hit
Guwahati, June 27
Insufficient rainfall in the region has taken its toll in Manipur that was today declared drought-affected by the government.

The outsider tag 
Guwahati, June 27
How does it feel to be asked for a passport while travelling in your own country? Well, many of us won’t like it. But for those from the north-east, it’s a routine query when they venture out to other parts of the country --- Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai or Allahabad.

Manipur declared drought-hit
Guwahati, June 27
Insufficient rainfall in the region has taken its toll in Manipur that was today declared drought-affected by the government.

Girl burnt alive
Muzaffarnagar, June 27
A teenaged Dalit girl was allegedly burnt alive after she resisted a rape attempt by two youths at a village in the district, the police said on Saturday. According to the complaint filed by the victim’s father, his daughter Pinki was kidnapped by three persons, including a woman, in Kachchi Ghahri village on Friday. 





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Naxalite Menace - VII
Maoists finding new ways to kill the ‘enemy’ 
Our Roving Editor Man Mohan writes from Dantewada (Chhattisgarh)

Maoists are finding new ways to kill the “enemy”. And, in the past two years, the Maoists have damaged public property worth about Rs 4,000 crores in Chhattisgarh.

Red terrorists are now making various kinds of bombs to target security forces and tribals who oppose them. The most popular ones are tiffin boxes and “pressure” bombs.

Perhaps the Naxals in Chhattisgarh have borrowed the idea from Kashmiri militants, who have used tiffin boxes, transistor sets, toys, mobile phones and bags loaded with explosives to bomb several cities, including New Delhi.

Tiffin box bombs are now being left by Maoists in Bastar’s towns, villages and tribal haats (weekly markets). They have claimed many innocent lives.

Pressure bombs are crude explosive devices that operate like landmines. They are placed under the bodies of security men and others killed by Maoists through ambush and landmines. When the police and relatives come to recover the bodies, 
they explode.

Since 2007, the Maoists have killed over 700 people, including members of security forces, women and children, and injured 500 people in gun firing, through landmines and innovative tiffin box and pressure bombs in Salwa Judum relief camps, villages and jungles.

In the past two years, about 650 properties, including banks, were looted and over 550 houses and other establishment like school and panchayat buildings burnt during this period.

From 2000 to 2008, the Maoist have destroyed various infrastructure which include roads (72), banks (18), public and buildings of forest department (60), schools (87), panchayat bhawans (61), hospitals (2), public distribution stores (32), Border Roads Organisation’s vehicles (25), private companies’ vehicles (74), electricity poles (56), railway station and railway lines (24).

Maoists’ Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee and Chhattisgarh Committee operate in this state. There are nearly 100 local groups, local guerrilla squads, 20 area committees, 12 special guerrilla cells, 10 divisional committees and seven “military” companies.

They have reportedly acquired weapons made in Russia, America and China from arms suppliers and other militant outfits through the porous India-Nepal border or the north-eastern border touching Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Various Naxal units called “dalams” in the local language are using lethal foreign arms, including the US-made SMG Thomson guns, AK-47 rifles and a number of Russian and Chinese rifles and pistols. They have also been found to be using old, but effective, .303 rifles for sniper operations.

Since the beginning of this year, there has been a sharp rise in the Maoist attacks on public and private property. The killings have increased.

Maoists have been operating for nearly three decades in Chhattisgarh and other states through which the Red Corridor passes. But recent years have recorded a spurt in the Naxal violence, destruction of public and private property, attacks on security forces, jails breaks, looting of weapons from polices stations and levying of “tax”.

The Naxals’ initial appeal to stop tribals’ harassment by the police, forest department, contracts and traders had helped them win the people’s hearts. “The Naxals kept on enlarging their ‘territory’ by organising kangaroo courts (jan adalats) for instant justice and resorted to terror tactics, boycott and subversion of elections, attacks on police and propaganda,” said Superintendent of Police Rahul Sharma, who shifted from Dantewada to Raigarh on Thursday.

“At many places, the same tribals who had welcomed them as Red Heroes are now revolting against them,” said Sharma, who belongs to Batala (Punjab).

Naxalism has become a way of life in Bastar’s jungles. Red terror has spread over the decades, thanks to the state administration’s apathy and corruption.

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Govt no to all-women literacy mission
Name to be changed to ensure gender equality
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 27
The government is all set to rest the apprehensions created by President Pratibha Patil’s announcement of recasting the National Literacy Mission as a National Mission for Female Literacy.

Caught on the wrong foot for its “women-exclusive” and “gender-biased” literacy agenda, the Human Resource Development Ministry seems to have made up its mind to take the men on board. The stormy first national consultation on the issue held in the capital last week revealed the first bout of reservation the community had to the idea of an all-women’s literacy mission in times when 25 per cent men were still illiterate; more so, when men continue to dictate women’s choices in most of the cultural settings.

In the first indication that the government could actively reconsider changing the title of the mission announced by the President on June 4, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said recasting of the NLM would take into account the role and participation of men. “The mission will take the men along, but will have a special focus on women,” he said.

The change in the national literacy agenda is one of the items on Sibal’s 100-day agenda, announced in the capital two days ago. The minister’s assurance to males came after educationists and community representatives registered strong protests to the UPA’s announcement of reshaping the existing mission as a national mission for female literacy.

Participants in the first national consultation, held recently to secure inputs for the new mission document, said the country could ill-afford to neglect men when talking female literacy. Most of the delegates were worried that an exclusive mission for female literacy could result in shifting financial resources away from programmes dedicated for male literacy.

They favoured the continuation of the National Literacy Mission, with an appendage - “special focus on women”. That’s precisely what Kapil Sibal also hinted when he rolled his 100-day agenda in the capital the other day.

He was earlier briefed by the ministry officials, who admitted to The Tribune that neglecting male interests in a policy initiative on literacy could be counter-productive.

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Evaluation office to keep tabs on key policies soon
Anita Katyal
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 27
When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told his Cabinet colleagues recently that “equity, innovation and public accountability must be the watchword of our government”, he meant every word of it.

The UPA government is currently fine-tuning a policy which will make it mandatory for all officials to specifically demonstrate that every new programme they want approved includes fresh innovative ideas, has an element of public accountablity built into it and is inclusive in nature. Any project proposal which fails to meet this requirement will not be considered.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will show the way in accountability by setting up an independent evaluation office for monitoring the government’s flagship programmes like the Bharat Nirman and the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme.

A draft proposal on the new policy has been prepared and is currently being vetted by Cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar, who is expected to unveil it within the next couple of weeks.

Bureaucrats are known to be set in their ways and are averse to any change. The Prime Minister, who is well-versed with the functioning of the bureaucracy, apparently wants to shake up babudom and push officials into changing their mindsets. UPA sources explained this radical policy, once implemented, will force officials to switch gears and think differently.

“Each time an official draws up a proposal for a new scheme, he will necessarily have to show how it benefits the marginalised sections of society..he will be forced to think of the other half,” remarked a UPA minister, adding that this is in consonance with this government’s emphasis on ensuring that the fruits of development percolate down to the rural poor, minorities, women and all disadvantaged sections of society.

It was clarified that not all proposals will necessarily need to meet these requirements, stating that this new yardstick will particularly be applicable to social sector and economic programmes.

UPA sources said the government’s second term will focus primarily on social sector reforms and improving governance since the scope for moving any further with economic reforms is very limited at this stage. Pointing to the government’s priorities as listed in the President’s address to parliamentarians last month, senior government officials said the emphasis is now on improving delivery systems through administrative reforms and liberating education and health sectors which are presently over-regulated.

“Just as we did away with the licence-permit raj in the economic field , we need to do the same in the education and health sectors which are regulated by a host of bodies like the University Grants Commission, Medical Council of India and so on,” a UPA minister explained, adding that a beginning in this regard has been made by new Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

Similarly, the government wants to usher in radical changes in governance by restructuring the upper echelons of the government and bringing in greater accountability through a public data policy which provides for the placement of all information in the public domain. 

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Centre mulls lifting ban on homosexuality

New Delhi, June 27
The Centre is considering repealing a controversial section of the penal law which criminalises homosexuality.

A meeting will be convened soon for evolving a consensus on repealing Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, official sources said today. The meeting to be chaired by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram will discuss the controversial section of the IPC which bans sexual relationships among people of the same gender, official sources said.

While Chidambaram and Law Minister Veerappa Moily are understood to be in favour of repealing the provision of the IPC, the response of Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is awaited.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked the ministries of home and health to resolve the differences over the issue and give a comprehensive response to the Delhi High Court, which is hearing a petition challenging arrests under the law. — PTI

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Majority of deemed varsities ‘delude’ students

New Delhi, June 27
Critical about mushrooming growth of deemed universities, a government appointed committee has said majority of these institutes delude students and the status should be withdrawn if they fail to fulfil the accreditation norms in three years.

The committee on 'Renovation and Rejuvenation of Higher Education', headed by Prof Yashpal, has found that academicians are concerned over the fact that a majority of the 125 deemed universities are not established with any educational purpose.

"What has raised concern of the academic world is the fact that the majority of these institutions are not established with any educational purpose and they end up only deluding the students," the committee said in its report.

Holding that there has been considerable misuse of deemed university status, the committee has recommended that grant of the status should be put on hold till unambiguous and rational guidelines are evolved.

"The institutions, which have somehow managed to secure such status should be given a period of three years to develop as a university and fulfil the prescribed accreditation norms failing which the status given to them would be withdrawn," the committee suggested in its report submitted to the HRD Ministry this week.

The committee has suggested that institutes wishing to get the status should demonstrate special capabilities as was "originally intended" and should be rigorously evaluated.

Though, the deemed universities do not have affiliating powers, many of them have a number of campuses spread throughout the country, the committee said.

While only 29 institutions were granted the deemed university status between 1956 to 1990, about 63 institutes got the status in just 15 years. — PTI 

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India never a threat to Pak: Army Chief 
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 27
Allaying Pakistan’s apprehensions over positioning of troops along the border, the Chief of Army staff General Deepak Kapoor today said India never posed a threat to anyone despite having superior forces.

“It is their own perception of threat but India has never been a threat to Pakistan despite having superior forces,” the General said here, reacting to a statement made by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on troop deployment  along the border.

“From our side, we would like to live as peaceful neighbours,” he told newsmen after reviewing the Combined Graduation Parade of the Indian Air Force cadets at the Air Force Academy at Dindigul near here.

Answering a question, the Army chief said adequate troops were positioned along the border with Pakistan.

“We will be happy if Pakistan fights terror not only on its western borders but also on the eastern border (with India),” Gen Kapoor said.

Asked about possible threat from China, he said, “We have reasonably good relations with that country  and there is no question of any  kind of threat.”

Stating that there were some problems in terms of the unresolved border dispute, Gen Kapoor said a mechanism had been put in place with top leaders on both sides trying to settle the border dispute with China. “Hopefully, it gets resolved soon,” he said.

On the question of shortage of officers in the Indian Army, he said they were planning to increase the tenure of short service commission officers to fill the gap to an extent.

Plans were afoot to open second training academy for Army officers which would materialise soon, Gen Kapoor said but did not specify where it would be set up. The Commandant of the Air Force Academy, Dindigul, Air Vice-Marshal KJ Mathews was also present.

Earlier, the Army chief reviewed an impressive combined graduation parade and awarded the President's Commission to the flight cadets on behalf of the President. A total of 173 Flight Cadets passed out from Air Force Academy as flying officers to share the responsibilities of safe skies.

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Environmentalists protest field trials on GM rice
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 27
Environmentalists are up in arms against field trials on genetically modified (GM) rice, saying they could prove dangerous to public health.

The activists of Greenpeace, an international NGO working in the area of environmental protection, have raided a genetically modified rice field trial site of Bayer Crop Science at Chinnakanjarla village near Hyderabad.

The 1,440 sq m field is growing a herbicide-tolerant rice variety, the activists said.

They claimed that Bayer Group had said way back in 2004 that it had discontinued GM research in India. “The current field trial shows they have not done so”, said Jai Krishna of Greenpeace.

“There is no data available on bio-safety of GM rice even after repeated requests made to authorities under the Right to Information Act,” he said.

The Greenpeace activists claimed that the genetically modified rice being tested near Hyderabad was the same variety, which had led to contamination in Europe, leading to imposition of a ban by the European Union on export of GM food crops.

The group pointed out that the company sells Glufosinate herbicide, which is classified in the EU as toxic for reproduction. The company encourages rice farmers to purchase its herbicide to eliminate weeds that grow alongside rice but this herbicide is also known to damage rice crop.

“So the intent behind testing a herbicide-resistant GM rice is to encourage farmers to grow GM rice resistant to this herbicide and also get the farmers to purchase herbicide sprays for their rice fields,” the activist said.

He pointed out that GM rice field trials in basmati rice growing areas were halted in 2007 after the European Union and other countries rejected imports of rice contaminated with unauthorised GM strains.

The commerce ministry had requested the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) not to approve field trials of GM crops in Basmati rice growing states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and western Uttar Pradesh.

“The environment minister Jairam Ramesh has gone on record that his ministry would not encourage GM food crops. We have pointed out the hazard and it is now his responsibility to curb the herbicide and keep our fields safe,” Jai Krishna said.

The Greenpeace volunteers planted scarecrows and painted the words “Bio Hazard” on a wall near the field trial site. They also installed a warning sign and gave away information brochures to the locals on the dangerous experiments that the company was conducting in the midst of their farmlands.

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Make judiciary transparent: Prez

Mumbai, June 27
President Pratibha Singh Patil on Saturday emphasised the need for reforms to make the judiciary transparent, effective and people-oriented.

“Judicial reforms could include revising many of our legal codes and laws which are outdated and old as well as strengthening the institutional aspects of the judiciary,” the president said.

The exercise would require the government, the legislature and the judiciary to work together to make justice dispensing “people-oriented”, Patil said, while inaugurating the Maharashtra Judicial Academy (MJA) at Uttan, today.

The president said the present era of information and communication technology brought with it a “higher level of scrutiny” of all institutions and their performance.

“The people are constantly judging the conduct and delivery of the services of institutions. They respect and repose great hope in the judiciary. Hence, it is important for the judiciary to remain in the high esteem of the people, to be seen as being capable of maintaining high standards of probity and good functioning,” the president urged.

Expressing concern over the huge backlog of cases afflicting the Indian Judicial system (there are an estimated 20 million cases pending in courts across the country), she called for devising innovative approaches - like Alternative Dispute Settlement Mechanism - to tackle the issue.

“This mechanism is not new to us and similar to the panchayat justice system prevalent in villages. The modern-day mediation also strives for a solution acceptable to all parties, it’s a voluntary process, rarely reopened, reduces the possibility of corruption and is cost-effective,” she said.

Towards this end, she expressed her happiness that the MJA would have a Mediation Centre and Training Institute that would impart relevant tools for effective mediation of national and international disputes.

She called upon the MJA to give lot of focus on cyber laws, environmental laws and intellectual property rights while stressing the need for gender sensitivity.

The MJA, set up by the Bombay High Court, will provide training to higher and the lower judicial services, aim to upgrade their skills and broaden their knowledge base.

The President, on a three-day visit of Mumbai, inaugurated the MJA and the training centre in the presence of Governor SC Jamir, Bombay High Court Chief Justice Swantater Kumar, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and other dignitaries. — IANS

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Plane wing hits wall, escapes disaster

Siliguri/Mumbai, June 27
A Delhi-bound Kingisher Airlines flight with 190 persons on board escaped a major disaster when its wing hit a wall built on a grass-covered bunker shortly before take-off at Bagdogra airport near here today.

The aircraft an Airbus 320 carrying 184 passengers and 6 crew members was taxing on the runway at 3 pm prior to its take off when its right wing hit the wall, Baghdogra Airport Director K.K. Bhowmik said.

There was no fuel leakage or any other untoward incident, he said. — PTI

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Gill denied visit  to Lalgarh
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, June 27
Former Punjab DGP KPS Gill, presently the Prime Minister’s security adviser on the anti-terror, today was denied visit to Lalgarh. He had flown down to the city for studying the Maoists insurgency at Lalgarh and other places in the state. But the police did not allow him to visit Lalgarh.

Gill said he had been requested by the PMO for studying the Maoists insurgency problems in the state and accordingly, after returning to Delhi he was to submit a report to the PMO. Gill was in Punjab during the hot days of the terrorists activities and he had been credited for successfully tackling the terrorism in that state.

State Home Secretary A Sen, however, said there was no information either from the PMO or the Home Ministry about Gill’s visit to Lalgarh. And the government did not grant permission to him for visiting Lalgarh.

Meanwhile, the anti-Maoists action force today captured the Ramgarh police station without facing much resistance, though there were intermittent landmine attacks on the force from the Maoists side.

The operation was launched today around 8 am when the joint forces in four groups started moving into the jungle through four different sides for capturing the Ramgarh police station. 

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Manipur declared drought-hit
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 27
Insufficient rainfall in the region has taken its toll in Manipur that was today declared drought-affected by the government.

The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

The Cabinet also discussed various steps to be taken to tackle the situation in different parts of the state.

It also decided on setting up nurseries for paddy plants in 1,000 hectares at a cost of Rs 2.7 crore.

The state has received 475 mm of rainfall so far this year compared to 739.5 mm of rain by June end last year.

The overall situation in rest of North-East remains alarming, according to estimates of the Regional Meterological Centre here.

The rainfall deficit in Assam has been calculated at 30 per cent this year. Meghalaya has recorded the highest rainfall deficit of 76 per cent while deficit in Manipur is at 46%, Arunachal Pradesh 36%, Mizoram 44%, Nagaland 56% and  Tripura 27%.

Though rain and thundershowers may occur in different parts of the region, the monsoon forces may not be strong enough to cause sustained rainfall over the region.

Meanwhile, the Assam State Kishan Sabha has warned the current dry spell would hit the state’s agrarian economy hard.

It has also asked the state government to take up necessary measures to tide over the adversity.

In many districts of Assam, farmers have not been able to sow paddy so far this year due to dry spell.

The state has only 6 per cent of its cultivable land under irrigation facility leaving the farmers at the mercy of the rain god.

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The outsider tag 
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 27
How does it feel to be asked for a passport while travelling in your own country? Well, many of us won’t like it. But for those from the north-east, it’s a routine query when they venture out to other parts of the country --- Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai or Allahabad.

The feeling of alienation in your own motherland causes a lot of pain, say residents of ‘Seven Sisters’ --- common name for a cluster of seven states in the north-eastern region of India. They even dub it as ‘racial discrimination’. However, there are few, a bit liberal and open-minded, who say the behaviour exhibited by the ‘mainland Indians’ is a result of ignorance about the north-east in general.

Says Hasina Khabhih, a widely travelled tribal woman from Meghalaya who heads Impulse NGO Network that deals with women rights: “I am often asked to produce my passport at reception desks of hotels in majority of Indian cities. Initially, it was quite hurting as most of the people don’t even know where Meghalaya is. But now I have become quite accustomed to it. It doesn’t bother me anymore.”

Poor knowledge about our region often results in lot of confusion, says the editor of “The Nagaland Page”, Monalisa Changkija. “Like many of my community members, I have too faced many awkward situations. But I don’t feel it is racial discrimination. The people really don’t know much about the Mongoloid race. They don’t know that we dress differently, have different culture and tradition,” she asserts, adding that more light needs to be shed on the north-east and its people.

Director of Information of Publicity (DIPR) in Mizoram, LR Sailo, agrees. “Sometimes it feels bad to be mistaken for a foreigner in your own country. But it stems from poor knowledge about the region. I feel the government must do its but to make people more aware about this part of the country,” he adds.

A senior journalist from Imphal in Manipur, Sabhapati Samom, clearly remembers how during college days they were branded as ‘Chinkis’ in New Delhi. “You have to laugh it off and take it in your stride,” he said. 

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Manipur declared drought-hit
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 27
Insufficient rainfall in the region has taken its toll in Manipur that was today declared drought-affected by the government.

The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting presided over by Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

The Cabinet also discussed various steps to be taken to tackle the situation in different parts of the state.

It also decided on setting up nurseries for paddy plants in 1,000 hectares at a cost of Rs 2.7 crore.

The state has received 475 mm of rainfall so far this year compared to 739.5 mm of rain by June end last year.

The overall situation in rest of North-East remains alarming, according to estimates of the Regional Meterological Centre here.

The rainfall deficit in Assam has been calculated at 30 per cent this year. Meghalaya has recorded the highest rainfall deficit of 76 per cent while deficit in Manipur is at 46%, Arunachal Pradesh 36%, Mizoram 44%, Nagaland 56% and  Tripura 27%.

Though rain and thundershowers may occur in different parts of the region, the monsoon forces may not be strong enough to cause sustained rainfall over the region.

Meanwhile, the Assam State Kishan Sabha has warned the current dry spell would hit the state’s agrarian economy hard.

It has also asked the state government to take up necessary measures to tide over the adversity.

In many districts of Assam, farmers have not been able to sow paddy so far this year due to dry spell.

The state has only 6 per cent of its cultivable land under irrigation facility leaving the farmers at the mercy of the rain god.

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Girl burnt alive

Muzaffarnagar, June 27
A teenaged Dalit girl was allegedly burnt alive after she resisted a rape attempt by two youths at a village in the district, the police said on Saturday.
According to the complaint filed by the victim’s father, his daughter Pinki was kidnapped by three persons, including a woman, in Kachchi Ghahri village on Friday. 

The youths attempted to rape her, failing which they set her on fire, he said. The victim received severe burn injuries and died on the way to a hospital, the police said, adding the three accused have been taken into custody. — PTI

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