SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Anti-Gay Law
Now, Azad blocks repeal talks

New Delhi, June 29
When it comes to the anti-gay law, the government is just not in a mood to reconcile. Barely two days after the Home Ministry voiced its urge to work for the repeal of Section 377, IPC, which criminalises same-sex relationships, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today stood in the way, citing the need of wider parliamentary and public debate before the “hugely sensitive matter” was resolved.

Connect with people: Prez to politicians
Mumbai, June 29
President Pratibha Patil shares a light moment with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and others at the unveiling of the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji at the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Monday. President Pratibha Patil today said politicians need to connect with people. Addressing a function at the Maharashtra secretariat where she inaugurated a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the President said people's expectations from the politicians were getting higher.

President Pratibha Patil shares a light moment with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and others at the unveiling of the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji at the Vidhan Bhavan in Mumbai on Monday. — PTI



EARLIER STORIES

Cong evasive on Sibal’s proposals
New Delhi, June 29
Voluble utterances by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister Veerappa Moily on education and legal reforms appear to have put the Congress in a spot of sorts. Party’s spokespersons are choosing to remain evasive while answering media’s queries on Sibal’s revolutionary education reform ideas as also views attributed to Moily on repealing the controversial Section of the IPC that criminalises homosexuality.

M’rashtra poll: BJP groping for issues
New Delhi, June 29
With elections to the Maharashtra legislative assembly barely three months away, the BJP is still groping for issues, which could excite and enthuse voters, who rejected the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the parliamentary poll less than two months ago.

Missing Kids in UP
Pressure of studies, scolding by parents main causes
Lucknow, June 29
The main cause for children going missing in large numbers in Uttar Pradesh is not abduction or child trafficking but scolding by parents and teachers and lack of interest in studies.

1st NSG hub operational in Mumbai today
New Delhi, June 29
Seven months after the 26/11 terror attacks, the first NSG regional hub will become operational in Mumbai tomorrow while hubs at Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata will start functioning from July 1.

India hopes Pak will protect minorities
New Delhi, June 29
India is hopeful that Pakistan will take measures to protect its citizens, including minorities who are forced to pay ‘jaziya’ by elements allegedly representing the Taliban in the Battagram district of North West Frontier Province.

Bhutan PM arrives today
New Delhi, June 29
Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley will become the first head of a foreign state to visit India during the second term of the UPA government when he arrives here tomorrow on a four-day visit.

Grand old IAF warrior dead
New Delhi, June 29
Group Captain Gurdial Singh Paul (93), a grand old retired Air Warrior who served the Indian Air Force (IAF) from its formative years, died here on Saturday. Gurdial is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and three grand children.

3 vaccine producers to procure H1N1 seed virus from WHO
New Delhi, June 29
India today braced itself for the second wave of the H1 N1 virus (swine flu), expected to deadlier than the first, with the government putting vaccine production on the fast track and stocking 50,000 bottles of the antiviral syrup, Tamiflu, for infected children.

4 witnesses identify Kasab 
Mumbai, June 29 
Four witnesses today identified 26/11 attacks accused Ajmal Kasab in a trial court, saying he had injured them by firing bullets from his AK-47 rifle at the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus last year even as the Pakistani gunman showed little emotions.

India, Pakistan foreign secys likely to meet in Egypt
New Delhi, June 29
The much-awaited meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan to primarily discuss the steps taken by Islamabad to address New Delhi’s concerns on terrorism is likely to take place on July 13 or 14 on the margins of the NAM Summit at the Egyptian sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

Monsoon may hit tomorrow
New Delhi, June 29
Some cheer can be expected on the monsoon front in the next 48 hours. The Met Department has predicted arrival of the monsoon in Delhi and neighbouring Haryana “around July 1” and parts of Punjab in the coming two to three days.

Raj Thackeray gets bail
Mumbai, June 29
Complying with an order by the Bombay High Court, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray today surrendered before the court at Kalyan near Mumbai in connection with assault on North Indian migrants, who were appearing for railway examinations last year.

Reddy unveils agenda for next 100 days
New Delhi, June 29
Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy has hiked his demand from Rs 100,000 crore to Rs 150,000 crore for the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) as part of his initiative for the next 100 days’ agenda of his ministry.





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Anti-Gay Law
Now, Azad blocks repeal talks
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
When it comes to the anti-gay law, the government is just not in a mood to reconcile. Barely two days after the Home Ministry voiced its urge to work for the repeal of Section 377, IPC, which criminalises same-sex relationships, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today stood in the way, citing the need of wider parliamentary and public debate before the “hugely sensitive matter” was resolved.

Never mind the decades-long debate on the law that goes back to the British times in 1860 and was, hence, essentially British. Ironically, while the latter have moved on, legalising same-sex marriages in the UK, India is still pitching for discussions on the matter.

Sounding every bit a politician he is, Azad began today by deflecting queries on what he, as Health Minister, thought of the said law, even if the matter needed a debate in Parliament. “I don’t think individual opinions should prevail in this case. It’s a huge issue, with the law having its pros and cons. I don’t think people know all about its positives and negatives. A consensus across party lines is a must,” Azad told The Tribune. His Minister of State Dinesh Choudhry of the TMC also said “meeting of minds” was important.

The Health Minister, in fact, did a Shivraj Patil by citing the need to look at the issues of culture and morality along with harassment and HIV/AIDS when debating Section 377, IPC, which has made detection and treatment of homosexuals almost impossible.

The Tribune has learnt that NACO officials earlier briefed Azad on the issue. In the case filed by Naz Foundation, which has challenged the anti-gay law in the Delhi High Court, NACO submitted an affidavit saying Section 377, IPC, was a major deterrent in treatment strategy.

But Azad remained non-committal on the matter, distancing himself from the stand to de-criminalise homosexuality, which his predecessor Anbumani Ramadoss took so publicly.

Meanwhile, the euphoria created by the Home Ministry’s initiative to resolve the matter stood shattered today, with both the law and health ministers raising apprehensions on the issue, which has major political overtones. The government will obviously want to play it safe, lest support bases are disturbed. That explains Moily's statement to take religious groups, especially the Church, along.

The irony, however, is that whereas in the last UPA government, Home Minister Shivraj Patil was opposed to the repeal of the law and had contested the Health Ministry’s stand in the court, this time the situation is reverse -- Home Minister P Chidambaram wants to talk repeal but the Health Minister appears cold to the idea.

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Connect with people: Prez to politicians
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 29
President Pratibha Patil today said politicians need to connect with people. Addressing a function at the Maharashtra secretariat where she inaugurated a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the President said people's expectations from the politicians were getting higher.

"People are becoming impatient for development and progress. Development projects should be speeded up," the President said in her speech delivered in Marathi. She went on to say elected representatives have to take lead in eradicating social evils like child marriage, female foeticide and dowry.

At the function, the President gave away the best parliamentarian awards instituted by the Maharashtra government.

Patil stated that democratic India stood as a beacon of hope for its neighbours. "Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai said some time ago Asian and African nations had to learn from India's experience.”

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Cong evasive on Sibal’s proposals
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Voluble utterances by HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and Law Minister Veerappa Moily on education and legal reforms appear to have put the Congress in a spot of sorts. Party’s spokespersons are choosing to remain evasive while answering media’s queries on Sibal’s revolutionary education reform ideas as also views attributed to Moily on repealing the controversial Section of the IPC that criminalises homosexuality.

In an attempt to wriggle out of the tricky situation, the party’s leadership has apparently instructed its spokespersons to remain non-committal on government’s policy matters and individual ministers’ statements.

Criticism has been levelled at Sibal’s vision for education reforms not just from outside the party, but also within the Congress. While the opposition BJP has opposed the move to make Class X examination optional and constituting a common board for Class XII, former allies, the Left, felt that states should have been consulted. Congress’ Tamil Nadu ally- the DMK-has also expressed reservations at the HRD Minister’s announcements.

Sibal is facing substantial criticism from within the party with several Congressmen saying that the HRD Minister should have consulted party members and taken the leadership into confidence before committing. In fact, a particular minister has been openly criticising him for exceeding his brief. Party men have also been now asked to convey their grievances on government’s policy announcements and conduct of individual ministers to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Sources say there is more resentment against Sibal’s proposal of setting up campuses of foreign universities. “There is resentment in the party on foreign universities’ issue,” a senior party leader admitted. After all it is not really a secret that many politicians have interests in the education sector.

Officially, the party’s line is that discussions were going on in the government with teachers and scholars and till such time the party would not like to comment on the issue. “Discussions are on. There is no final draft … When the final draft is made we will react,” Congress spokesman Shakeel Ahmed said.

Likewise the issue related to Section 377, where again the party spokesperson chose to remain mum on whether or not the Congress supported the idea. “It will be discussed by the government after consulting everyone, religious and social leaders,” Ahmed said. Perhaps understanding the sensitivity of the issue, Moily in the meantime has said that a decision on repealing the controversial Section would be taken only after considering concerns of all sections of society, including religious groups like the church and the legal fraternity.

On Monday he told a TV channel that his comment had been misinterpreted.

Asked if he thought he had commented on the gay law in haste, Moily said he had only spoken on the need to reform certain sections of the IPC and not specifically Section 377.

“No, I think it was misinterpreted. If you see on TV, the question was “Do many sections of IPC need re-thinking? And I said yes there is a need. Then they asked specifically about 377. I said we are examining it. I have not applied my mind to it yet’, Moily told a TV channel.

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M’rashtra poll: BJP groping for issues
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
With elections to the Maharashtra legislative assembly barely three months away, the BJP is still groping for issues, which could excite and enthuse voters, who rejected the BJP-Shiv Sena combine in the parliamentary poll less than two months ago.

The party going through a crisis of confidence, caused by its recent debacle in the elections to the Lok Sabha, is not sure what issues to formulate for the poll.

The party is going to hold a two-day brain-storming session in Mumbai on July 11 and 12 to thrash out issues and strategies for the forthcoming poll, said a senior party leader from Maharashtra. BJP President Rajnath Singh will be presiding over the session.

The choice of issues, strategy and leadeship has been racking the BJP ever since it was defeated in the general election, for all its hype and hoopla. Since that debacle, several BJP leaders have written to the President questioning the leadership on all these three counts. The whole thing was again raised at the party’s national executive held earlier this month. But no one seems to have come up with any idea that could click with the voters and in such a state of self-doubt, the BJP is now heading towards the Maharashtra assembly elections.

The BJP has a 20-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra where the Sena is the senior partner, contesting 171 seats, leaving 117 for the BJP. In the last assembly elections, which the Congress-NCP combine won, BJP won 54 seats and Shiv Sena 66. Later Narayan Rane left the Sena along with seven or eight other MLAs, leaving very little difference between the Sena and the BJP in the Maharashtra assembly. But the BJP sources said the seat share would largely remain the same.

After the general election, where the BJP did very badly in the Mumbai-Thane belt comprising of 60 assembly segments, the party blamed it all on Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which cut into the BJP-Shiv Sena vote base. This time, however, the BJP hopes that people will have seen through the game and on their own shift back to the NDA.

But that, in effect, is the only ray of hope the NDA is banking upon. For the rest, “The voter thinks differently, has different priorities and a frame of mind when voting for parliamentary poll and state assembly elections,” said this Maharashtra leader.

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Missing Kids in UP
Pressure of studies, scolding by parents main causes
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 29
The main cause for children going missing in large numbers in Uttar Pradesh is not abduction or child trafficking but scolding by parents and teachers and lack of interest in studies.

This is an alarming fact that has been acknowledged in an affidavit submitted on behalf of the DGP, UP police, in the Allahabad High Court.

After interviewing 401 recovered children, the police reached the conclusion that parents had scolded 29 per cent of them and 17 per cent had either been ill-treated by teachers or had lost interest in studies, forcing them to run away.

These eye-openers have been documented in ‘Latest Status of Missing Children - Directions’ in the April 24 interim order of Justices Amar Saran and DR Azad of the Allahabad High Court in the ongoing Vishnu Dayal Sharma vs State of UP case of 2006.

An affidavit dated March 2009, filed on behalf of the DGP, in the case mentions that of the 10,365 missing children between 2005-09, 8,615 children have been recovered and 1,750 are still to be traced. This includes 1,293 male and 457 female children.

While appreciating the police’s pro-active effort to trace the children, the court has been emphasising on identifying the root causes of this phenomenon to put some effective mechanism into place from preventing the vulnerable child from voluntarily running away or falling in the hands of traffickers or being abducted.

It was in this context that the court in its order of November 7, 2008, had directed the police to examine some of the returned/recovered children to know why they had gone missing. In pursuance of that order, the 
police interviewed families of 401 returned children.

The main causes mentioned were scolding by parents (115), harsh treatment by teachers in studies (9) and disinterest in studies (61). A small proportion had gone away because of love affairs (19). Only 30 children had been lured away by child traffickers and only two children were forcibly abducted, while 101 had gone missing for “unspecified reasons”.

On January 30, 2009, the court again sought details on the children’s age, their socio-economic backgrounds and a probe into “unspecified reasons”. Of 101 children disappearing due to “unspecified causes,” there was more than one cause.

In all 32 children had disappeared due to scolding by parents, 32 had gone away after they were branded as “loafers” by their parents. In 22 cases, they ran away due to disinterest in studies, and in one case due to disinterest in work.

In six cases, the cause was economic difficulties; in one solitary case it was the lure of Bollywood and in five cases it was due to love affairs.

There was only one case of abduction by deceit, and another of forcible abduction. In 16 cases, mentally challenged children had disappeared and in 12 cases they simply lost their way. In one case, the child had died and in another drowned. In one case, there was a quarrel with her husband and just one child had disappeared due to criminal propensities.

The court has appreciated the effort of the police in getting to the bottom of the problem. “We should record our appreciation of the police officers concerned for getting this exercise conducted efficiently, as carrying out such a socio-legal probe after interviewing the family of a returned/ recovered child is unconventional work for the police officers, but they have discharged it well,” the April 24 order states.

Interestingly it was this case and not the Nithari scandal that had forced the UP police to conduct a count of its missing children and shed light on the issue.

Vishnu Dayal Sharma, a retired postal department employee living in Agra’s Mohan Girara village, has been looking for his son Krishna Gopal since February 22, 2005.

On that day, his son had left his maternal uncle Banwari Lal’s house in Jagdishpura, 4 km away from where he went to school, never to return. The case listed as “Criminal Misc Writ Petition No 15630 of 2006” has become path-breaking in more ways than one.

The case is the first holistic look at the issue of missing children, linking it with poor quality of education, token involvement of parents in monitoring schools, sham child- labour abolishing programs and rehabilitation of child labour families among many others.

The court has ensured the accountability of these various departments by seeking updates on directives from each one of these departments at every date. The case is now scheduled for hearing on July 3. 

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1st NSG hub operational in Mumbai today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Seven months after the 26/11 terror attacks, the first NSG regional hub will become operational in Mumbai tomorrow while hubs at Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata will start functioning from July 1.

"After the Mumbai terror attack, a need was felt to have the presence of NSG in other metros also for effective and quick response in countering such incidents. Thus, four regional hubs were sanctioned and are being raised and operationalised at Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata," according to an official statement here. It said the Centre has also sanctioned two NSG regional centres to be established at Kolkata and Hyderabad. The existing hubs at Kolkata and Hyderabad will subsequently be merged with the regional centres.

The new NSG hubs have been established at Marol (23 acres) in Mumbai, Nedunkundram (85 acres) in Chennai, Trimulghery (22 acres) in Hyderabad and Badu (20 acres) in Kolkata. "Pre-fabricated and permanent structures are being constructed to station NSG commandos at these locations.

The National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC) has been assigned the construction work," the statement added. After the Mumbai terror attacks, the Cabinet had approved setting up of the NSG hubs in the metropolitan cities to quickly mobilise commandos in case of a terrorist strike. "With the establishing of the hubs, the response time of the NSG for countering any terrorist action would be reduced very significantly," said the statement. 

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India hopes Pak will protect minorities
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
India is hopeful that Pakistan will take measures to protect its citizens, including minorities who are forced to pay ‘jaziya’ by elements allegedly representing the Taliban in the Battagram district of North West Frontier Province.

Reacting to reports that the Taliban was targeting minority communities like Hindus, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor said, “We would hope that the Pakistani government would take necessary measures to protect people from extractions of a group like Taliban. We do expect Pakistan to look after all its people, after all they are citizens of Pakistan. Since Pakistan is in effect in war with Taliban in its own territory, I think it is safe to assume that Pakistan will have no sympathy for such demands from such people.”

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Bhutan PM arrives today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley will become the first head of a foreign state to visit India during the second term of the UPA government when he arrives here tomorrow on a four-day visit.

Thinley, who comes here to felicitate the new government, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday and discuss an entire array of bilateral issues, including expanding economic and trade ties and development partnership between the two countries.

Thinley's visit comes barely a fortnight after External Affairs Minister SM Krishna visited his country. 

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Grand old IAF warrior dead
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Group Captain Gurdial Singh Paul (93), a grand old retired Air Warrior who served the Indian Air Force (IAF) from its formative years, died here on Saturday. Gurdial is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and three grand children.

He was cremated near Brar Square today. A wreath was placed on behalf of the IAF by Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station, Race Course, Air Commodore Ajit S. Bhonsle.

He was born on November 3, 1916, in Chittavatni in Pakistan. He joined the RAF and was commissioned to the IAF at AF Station, Tambram. In 1943, during the World War II, he visited UK for training, sailing from Mumbai to Durban to Southampton on the Elle de France, encountering German U-boat in the Atlantic.

He spent time at various stations of the RAF in London, Cranfield, and Branham. He had the privilege to serve in the same Squadron as the actor, Clark Gabel.

At times, Gurdial flew over occupied France and Germany on air reconnaissance flights and on more than one occasion, had close encounters with the German Messerschmitt. Gurdial retired from the Air Force in 1971 as Station Commander, Race Course, New Delhi.

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3 vaccine producers to procure H1N1 seed virus from WHO
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
India today braced itself for the second wave of the H1 N1 virus (swine flu), expected to deadlier than the first, with the government putting vaccine production on the fast track and stocking 50,000 bottles of the antiviral syrup, Tamiflu, for infected children.

Till now the health ministry had no stocks of the pediatric syrup after having exhausted the 200 bottles the WHO supplied last year. However, today the stock was replenished after Heterodrugs donated 50,000 bottles costing Rs 2 crore free of cost to the government.

Convinced that India had so far succeeded in preventing the outbreak the influenza that was in most cases “imported” from other countries, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said the government had “done wonders” with the prevention strategy.

“As against the industrialised countries that have reported many more infections and deaths, we have only 104 cases on record and no death so far. Of the total cases 95 have been imported (68 from the US alone) and only nine are indigenous who contracted the infection from travellers,” he said, adding a potential epidemic had been averted due to timely public health measures.

So far 61 patients have already been treated and discharged, leaving only 45 on treatment. Of these, nine are children aged one to 15 years. However, today saw the maximum number of new infections- 11 - being confirmed in a single day, taking the tally of positive cases in India beyond 100.

The government, though in a self-congratulatory mode, admitted there was no room whatsoever for complacency with Azad confirming 16 new sample testing labs for the virus would be operational by July 1, when in-flight announce-ments would also commence on international flights on facts about swine flu and the need to report symptoms.

“I have written to the civil aviation ministry to have announcements on the flu made on board planes so that people can report infections,” the minister said, adding the country would import four thermal scanners to be installed initially at Delhi airport to assist in detecting the flu.

Most important, however, is the progress made on vaccine front. Health ministry joint secretary in charge of prevention Vineet Choudhry said the government had issued licenses to three local vaccine manufacturers - Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech and Panacea Biotech - to import seed virus from WHO and run it through the required regulatory tests to confirm the vaccine was safe.

“We can also speed up regulatory processes if necessary. Once the testing is complete the vaccines will be produced and provided on priority to care givers who are involved in handling (H1N1) patients,” he told The Tribune.

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4 witnesses identify Kasab 

Mumbai, June 29 
Four witnesses today identified 26/11 attacks accused Ajmal Kasab in a trial court, saying he had injured them by firing bullets from his AK-47 rifle at the Chhatrapati Shivaji railway terminus last year even as the Pakistani gunman showed little emotions.

Over 25 witnesses have identified Kasab as one of the terrorists who had fired indiscriminately at people.

Asked to identify the person who had fired at CST, Ansar Allahbus Saudagar pointed at Kasab, who was sitting in the dock with his head down. "I heard a loud noise at CST and saw two persons firing. The taller one (Abu Ismail) was firing at the policemen while the shorter person (Kasab) was firing at people," Saudagar said.

Another witness, Harshada Sarulkar also identified Kasab as the person who had fired at her. 

Sangeeta and her husband Niranjan were the other witnesses to identify Kasab saying they were injured when he had fired bullets at them. Sangeeta was also injured by splinters of a hand grenade thrown by slain terrorist Ismail.

Two doctors also deposed as witnesses. One of them Baban Shinde, attached to Byculla police hospital, said Kasab was brought to the hospital for blood and DNA tests. 

Another doctor, Rajesh Patil, said the police had brought Kasab to Nair Hospital when he was on duty for a "handwash" test. — PTI

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India, Pakistan foreign secys likely to meet in Egypt
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
The much-awaited meeting between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan to primarily discuss the steps taken by Islamabad to address New Delhi’s concerns on terrorism is likely to take place on July 13 or 14 on the margins of the NAM Summit at the Egyptian sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

Official sources said the two countries were still discussing the date for the meeting between Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and his Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir.

“Although no decision has so far been taken, it is highly unlikely that the meeting will take place before the NAM engagements,” they added.

The two foreign secretaries were directed to meet and take stock of Pakistan’s action against elements working against India from its soil when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on June 16.

It was decided that the two leaders would review the outcome of the meeting between their foreign secretaries when they meet on the margins of the NAM Summit. Zardari has, meanwhile, pulled out of the NAM Summit and Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani will represent Pakistan at the meeting.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had last week met his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Italy and insisted that Pakistan live up to its commitment not to allow the misuse of its territory for anti-India activities.

While Pakistan is keen for the resumption of the composite dialogue between the two countries, paused since the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, New Delhi says the peace process could be revived only if Islamabad demonstrates its commitment to check the export of terrorism from its territory.

Though India acknowledges that Pakistan has launched a massive offensive against the Taliban and Al-Qaida, apparently under the Western pressure, its grudge is that Islamabad has not shown the same zeal in fighting anti-India forces. Much on the resumption of the dialogue would depend upon the meeting between the two Prime Ministers in Egypt.

The sources, meanwhile, described as ‘speculative’ reports in the media that the format of the India-Pakistan dialogue, as and when it resumes, would be different from the one initiated in January 2004 when the two countries identified eight outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir, Peace and Security, Siachen and Sir Creek.

The dialogue has more or less remained suspended in the past two years, first due to the domestic turmoil in Pakistan and then the Mumbai incidents. However, the dialogue between 2004 and 2007 was the most intense and rewarding for the two countries, during which they came close to finding a settlement of the Siachen and Sir Creek issues. These three years also saw a considerable reduction in tension and a substantial increase in people-to-people contacts and economic links. 

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Monsoon may hit tomorrow
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Some cheer can be expected on the monsoon front in the next 48 hours. The Met Department has predicted arrival of the monsoon in Delhi and neighbouring Haryana “around July 1” and parts of Punjab in the coming two to three days.

IMD Director SC Bhan says conditions are favourable for monsoon rains to arrive in the the Capital and parts of Haryana on around July 1. “Subsequently parts of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kahsmir will also get rains in the coming two to three days,” he says.

However, these rains are expected to be “moderate and not very heavy”.

As per the IMD, southwest monsoon further advanced on Monday into remaining parts of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and west Bengal and Sikkim, entire Bihar, Jharkhand, many parts of east Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand and some parts of east Rajasthan and west Uttar Pradesh.

The northern limit of southwest monsoon is currently passing through Udaipur, Jaipur, Dholpur, Etawah, Lucknow, Kheri, Dehradun and Uttarkashi.

Conditions are now favourable for further advance of southwest monsoon over some more parts of Rajasthan, remaining parts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and entire Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir during the next 48 hours.

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Raj Thackeray gets bail
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 29
Complying with an order by the Bombay High Court, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray today surrendered before the court at Kalyan near Mumbai in connection with assault on North Indian migrants, who were appearing for railway examinations last year.

Raj Thackeray was later released on a surety of Rs 1 lakh.

Granting him bail, the court asked Thackeray not to make any speeches that could provoke enmity between people. He was further asked not to influence prosecution witness.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena's lawyer Rajendra Shirodkar later told reporters that the bail was sought on grounds that investigations in the case were complete. “We told the court that the police would not require Raj's custody for further investigations," Shirodkar said.

According to public prosecutor Ajay Misar, chargesheet would be filed after obtaining sanction from the state government. 

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Reddy unveils agenda for next 100 days
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Urban Development Minister S. Jaipal Reddy has hiked his demand from Rs 100,000 crore to Rs 150,000 crore for the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) as part of his initiative for the next 100 days’ agenda of his ministry.

Reddy unveiled here today an ambitious plan for urban development in the next five years and claimed that an amount of Rs 100,000 crore sanctioned by the Government of India in its budget last year that seemed very handsome at the outset was falling considerably short as states and other urban local bodies were coming up with their demands.

He said the JNNURM that was launched on December 3, 2005, by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with an allocation of Rs 50,000 crore from the Centre and a matching amount from the states and other urban local bodies, initially envisaged developing infrastructure in 65 major cities.

“The response to the JNNURM has been spontaneous. As a consequence, projects costing Rs 95,385 crore have already been sanctioned that are under various stages of implementation,” he said.

Unveiling future plans, he said 28 more cities were being added to the list of 65 and explained that initially cities with population of 10 lakh and above qualified for infrastructure development under the JNNURM.

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