SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

Sibal for 25 pc quota for poor students
New Delhi, July 2
The government is considering changes in the admission procedures to premiere institutes like IITs and IIMs to secure the mental and physical health of children, and end the flourishing racket of the coaching industry.

Cabinet clears amended Right to
Education Bill

New Delhi, July 2
The Union Cabinet today cleared the “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2008”, paving the way for its passage in the Budget session of Parliament.

Focus on farm productivity
New Delhi, July 2
The economic report card of the government is clear that the agriculture sector, the backbone of India’s economy, is facing challenges on various fronts and there is a need for renewed focus on improving productivity and stepping up growth of allied and non-farm activities to improve value additions. It also stresses that consequences of climate change on Indian agriculture needs to be factored in the strategy for development of the sector.



EARLIER STORIES


Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, along with Ministers of State KH Muniyappa and E Ahamed, gives final touches to the Railway Budget in New Delhi on Thursday.
Union Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee, along with Ministers of State KH Muniyappa and E Ahamed, gives final touches to the Railway Budget in New Delhi on Thursday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Economic Survey
Address land acquisition disputes
New Delhi, July 2
The Economic Survey for the year today asked the government to focus on road infrastructure development in the country with the stress on resolving land acquisition disputes.

Tipaimukh Controversy
Remarks aimed at keeping
anti-India lobby in check

New Delhi, July 2
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni taking a belligerent stand against Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty for his reported remarks on the controversy over the Tipaimukh hydroelectric multipurpose project is merely aimed at keeping the anti-India lobby in good humour, highly placed sources here feel.

10 years after Kargil
Kargil residents now take no chances, have bunkers ready
The words “1999 ke baad mein (After 1999)” are now an inseparable part of the conversation of the residents here. The reference point to all changes in their lives start from the India-Pakistan conflict of June-July 1999. Private bunkers, schools providing affordable education, Internet cafes, mobile phones, television towers and other infrastructure has come up since the Indian Army reclaimed the icy peaks overlooking the Drass-Kargil-Batalik axis.

Residents in Kargil have constructed private bunkers and children have been trained to use such bunkers. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal
Residents in Kargil have constructed private bunkers and children have been trained to use such bunkers.

Krishna to visit Australia soon
New Delhi, July 2
Even as attacks continued on Indian students Down Under, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna yesterday said he would be visiting Australia soon.

3 killed in communal clash in Mysore
Bangalore, July 2
Three persons, including a young boy, were killed in Mysore in Karnataka today in a communal clash triggered off by the desecration of a mosque. The three, including 14 year old Zubair, died of stab wounds following the clash in the Udayagiri suburb of Mysore.

Four children, woman hacked to death
Shillong, July 2
Four children and a 25-year-old woman were hacked to death by unidentified assailants in a remote village in the ethnic violence-affected North Cachar Hill district of Assam on last evening, while they were coming back from a paddy field. Three others were injured in the incident, according to the report received here.

Militant activity up along B’desh border: BSF
Shillong, July 2
There is concern about increased cross-border activities of Muslim Fundamentalist Outfits called MFOs in security parlance along the India-Bangladesh border though there has been a ‘decline’ in economic migration and cross- border movement of militants based in Bangladesh across certain hostile unfenced portions of the border.

Rajasthan
Ahead of poll, BJP still headless
Jaipur, July 2
Though there are only four days left for the Budget Session of the Assembly to start, the opposition BJP seems to be in total disarray.

CPM opposes fuel price hike
New Delhi, July 2
The government decision to substantially raise petrol and diesel prices, has evoked protest from the Left quarters with the CPM “Strongly opposing it” and demanding its withdrawal.

Uproar in RS over fuel price hike
New Delhi, July 2
The petroleum price hike triggered uproar in the Rajya Sabha with almost the entire Opposition staging a walkout on the issue. Describing the hike as “totally unwarranted”, they demanded an immediate rollback in petroleum prices.

Govt ‘insulting’ pillars of democracy
New Delhi, July 2
The BJP has accused the government of betraying a clear tendency of “arrogance of power”. Reacting to the government decision to increase petrol and diesel prices, deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said here today, “There is a common thread in the events that have unfolded these last 2-3 days.”

Ahmedabad blasts accused held
Bhopal, July 2
An accused in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts case has been arrested by Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) here.

Sikkim CM to get award
Gangtok, July 2
Already basking in the glory of a record fourth-term mandate in the Assembly polls, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling has being selected for an international award for leadership and good governance. He would be presented a gold medal and citation by Universal Peace Foundation (UPF), an international NGO, in recognition of his distinguished public service spanning about 25 years, an official release said today.

Cong, TMC win civic poll in West Bengal
Kolkata, July 2
After the recent Lok Sabha polls, the CPM has suffered yet another major setback in the state’s civic elections in which the Trinamool Congress and the Congress alliance has won a landslide victory by defeating the Left Front candidates.

TN House seeks relief for displaced Tamils
Chennai, July 2
Tamil Nadu Assembly yesterday passed a unanimous resolution calling for providing medicines and food to the nearly three lakh internally displaced Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

Judges don’t need to make assets public: CJI
NEW DELHI:
Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan on Thursday said there was no need to put the assets of judges in public domain as it would send a “wrong message” to litigants. “Judges do declare their assets at the time of taking oath. All their details are with the registrar. There is no need for the assets to be disclosed before the public as that will send a wrong message to litigants,” Justice Balakrishnan said. — PTI

Tyeb Mehta dead
MUMBAI:
Noted Indian painter Tyeb Mehta died on Thursday of a cardiac ailment at a hospital here. He was 84. The artist succumbed to a heart attack at the Asian Heart Institute hospital, his wife, Sakina Mehta said. — IANS

 





Top








 

Sibal for 25 pc quota for poor students
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The government is considering changes in the admission procedures to premiere institutes like IITs and IIMs to secure the mental and physical health of children, and end the flourishing racket of the coaching industry.

Admitting today in the Economic Survey tabled in the Lok Sabha that the mad rush for admission to major institutes was helping private coaching institutes thrive, the government said it needed to bring changes in the admission modalities to ease pressure on parents and students.

“Pressure on students may affect their physical and mental development. There is a need to streamline admission procedure to such institutions while maintaining the quality of student intake,” said the economic survey, adding that intake should be based on entrance exams that test the aptitude of students to grasp knowledge and not the knowledge itself.

Pitching heavily for the reforms announced recently by union HRD minister Kapil Sibal, the survey attaches urgency to immediate deregulation of the sector and its management by professional regulators. The hint is to the proposed regulating body that would subsume existing government regulators like the UGC.

“We need urgent replacement of bureaucratic controls in education and public private partnerships to ensure universal primary education,” says the Survey, hinting at a future policy to allow registered non profit societies and publicly listed education companies to enter the sector, subject to “regulation that promotes quality and reasonable pricing.”

In a way, the survey clarifies that time has come for India to have private players in education. It admits clearly, “The number of institutes could be increased through the entry of private players while ensuring that they are professionally regulated so that their curriculums and degrees are internationally accepted.

The Survey further cautions education societies acquiring land from the government at concessional rates to pass on the benefits to the students. Also, the government appears committed to rating educational institutions and service providers, with clear references to the evolution of related policies.

Meanwhile, Sibal today said 25 pc quota for poor was a must in schools under the Right to Education Act, which would be introduced in the Lok Sabha in the budget session. Responding to apprehensions raised on the front by certain school principals he met today to talk reforms, Sibal said the government would work out a compensatory policy for schools but there was no way around the provision of 25 per cent quota for EWSs.

The minister is about to set up a body, with educationists on board, to deliberate on the proposed school reforms including making Class Xth exams optional in CBSE schools. Though many principals like Abha Sahgal of Sanskriti School said there was a need to debate the “optional” issue before it was implemented, Sibal said the move was on.

“It is like telling your boss that you have applied for another job,” said Sahgal, cautioning on the “optional” front. She, however, like many other principals, said the idea was great but needed to be firmed up well before being implemented.

Top

 

Cabinet clears amended Right to Education Bill
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The Union Cabinet today cleared the “The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Bill 2008”, paving the way for its passage in the Budget session of Parliament.

The bill, currently, pending in the Rajya Sabha, is the enabling legislation to notify the 86th Constitutional Amendment made in December 2002 to provide “free and compulsory education” to all children in the age group of 6 to 14 years. Once enacted, it would require all states to make neighbourhood schools available within three years and also reserve 25 per cent of their seats for the poor students.

Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal today said the government would ensure the availability of funds to states for the implementation of the law and that 25 per cent quota for poor students was a must. The HRD ministry took the bill to the Cabinet, upon the advice of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. The draft law can now be brought to Parliament with some amendments which the Parliamentary Standing Committee had earlier proposed. The said amendments were earlier cleared by the last government in the Union Cabinet meeting on February 23. The fresh cabinet clearance by the UPA-2 would ease the bill's introduction in the Lok Sabha and was technically required.

The committee was keen that the government had a re-look at the provision that no proof of age would be needed for admission to a school. It also wanted the ministry to reconsider the provision that no student would be expelled or held back in any class until the elementary education was complete. “Age is an important criterion for children to encourage competition and grow,” the panel had said, asking the government to allow affidavits as proof of age if actual proof was not available.

“We have accepted some amendments,” Sibal said. The committee had also observed that in the absence of a method to evaluate the child, he would not feel motivated to improve. It asked the government to fix a minimum grading level to promote children to the next class instead of recommending a blanket promotion. It was also eager that the government keep the “expulsion option” open for habitual offenders.

In its present form, the draft law says no child would be denied admission for lack of age proof or harassed, expelled or held back in any class.

Top

 

Focus on farm productivity
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The economic report card of the government is clear that the agriculture sector, the backbone of India’s economy, is facing challenges on various fronts and there is a need for renewed focus on improving productivity and stepping up growth of allied and non-farm activities to improve value additions. It also stresses that consequences of climate change on Indian agriculture needs to be factored in the strategy for development of the sector.

The Survey says the supply side the yield of most crops has not improved significantly and in some cases fluctuated downward. The scope for increase in the net sown area is limited and farm size has been shrinking. In case of certain crops like sugarcane, extreme variabilty in acreage and production over the years has been a matter of concern. In case of pulses, production has not kept pace with requirement, leading to rise in prises given that its availability in international markets is limited

The Survey has pegged production of foodgrains at 229.85 millions tones during 2008-09 in accordance with third advance estimates for the year. This is an improvement of 1.97 MT over the production estimated in second advance estimate but the output at this level is marginally lower than final estimates of 230.78 MT for 2007-08.

The Survey is clear there is a need for renewed focus on improving productivity, especially in the light of limitations on increasing net sown area and the shrinking farm size. It also calls for maintaining current focus on developing rural infrastructure like rural roads for providing connectivity, essential for movement of agricultural produce.

The farm credit flow during 2008-09 increased to 2,64,455 crore, up from Rs. 2,54,657 crore in 2007-08.

The MSP for Kharif crops were raised in 2008-09 and so was MSPs of Rabi crops of 2008-09 ( to be marketed in 2009-10). The higher MSP for Rabi Marketing Season 2008-09 led to a record procurement of 22.68 MT wheat.

Top

 

Economic Survey
Address land acquisition disputes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The Economic Survey for the year today asked the government to focus on road infrastructure development in the country with the stress on resolving land acquisition disputes.

It said that there were huge gaps in the development of infrastructure and there was an urgent need to address the issues of disputes in land acquisition, rehabilitation, and problems of law and order in states. The survey tabled in Parliament said, "There are still significant gaps that need to be bridged ... The implementation of NHDP has been faced with a number of constraints that include delays in land acquisition and removal of structures”. It added that the law and order problems in states and poor performance of some contractors, was also an issue.

It said even though the national highways comprise only 2 per cent of the total length of roads, they account for about 40 per cent of the total traffic and the National Highways Development Project (NHDP), implemented by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), remains mired in problems. Of the 33,639 km under the NHDP only 11,037 km of NH could be four-laned as on March 31, 2009. Civil work for the rest of 16,412 kms was still to be awarded. "Phase I & II of the NHDP envisaged 4/6 laning of about 14,330 kilometeres of national highways, at a total estimated cost of Rs 65,000 crore.

These two phases consist of the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ)...Nearly 98 per cent works on GQ have been completed by March 2009 and the NS and EW corridors are expected to be completed by December 2009," the Survey said.

Top

 

Tipaimukh Controversy
Remarks aimed at keeping anti-India lobby in check
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni taking a belligerent stand against Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty for his reported remarks on the controversy over the Tipaimukh hydroelectric multipurpose project is merely aimed at keeping the anti-India lobby in good humour, highly placed sources here feel.

The sources pointed out that the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and some anti-India elements were seeking to turn the heat over the controversial project on the Sheikh Hasina Government, which is perceived to be friendly towards India, in the wake of the Indian envoy’s remarks and Moni’s statement might have been aimed at dousing the flames.

They pointed out that Chakravarty had been misquoted to some extent in the Bangladeshi media as far as his remarks on the Tipaimukh Dam controversy were concerned.

It was on June 21 at a seminar on South Asian connectivity that the Indian envoy sought to dispel the impression that the project would harm Bangladesh’s interest in any manner. In this context, he did use the expression that “so-called water experts” were alleging that India had violated the international law. However, he did not make any allegation to the effect that these experts belonged to a ‘particular group’ having ‘India phobia’ in his speech, made in the presence of the Bangladesh Foreign Minister. But Moni chose not to react to the speech for days together.

It was only after the BNP demanded the withdrawal of Chakravarty and sought to exploit the issue for its own political ends that Moni reacted yesterday, saying Chakravarty might not have acted within his limits. She also stated that many bilateral problems are resolved through discussions on the basis of bilateral relations beyond the international laws.

The sources said Moni had perhaps cleverly silenced those who were unnecessarily trying to drag the Indian envoy into domestic politics of Bangladesh over the Tipaimukh Dam controversy.

“The fact is that the Tipaimukh Dam is a project which will mutually benefit both India and Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the use of water resources, their sharing, management and exploitation always lends itself to political rhetoric in our neighbourhood, be it Bangladesh or Nepal,” they added.

The sources said the BNP, after its rout in the elections in Bangladesh, was again trying to emerge as a rallying point vis-a-vis the Awami League Government and India always becomes a favourite whipping boy in the internal politics of our neighbouring countries.

Top

 

10 years after Kargil
Kargil residents now take no chances,
have bunkers ready
Ajay Banerjee writes from Kargil

The words “1999 ke baad mein (After 1999)” are now an inseparable part of the conversation of the residents here. The reference point to all changes in their lives start from the India-Pakistan conflict of June-July 1999.

Private bunkers, schools providing affordable education, Internet cafes, mobile phones, television towers and other infrastructure has come up since the Indian Army reclaimed the icy peaks overlooking the Drass-Kargil-Batalik axis. A close association exists between the Army and the locals. Unlike the Kashmir valley, the Army here is not seen as an “enemy”.

The village of Goma Kargil, overlooking the Suru, a tributary of the Indus, is within the range of fire of Pakistani posts on the Line of Control. Ten years ago when the Pakistani forces started there intrusion, this was the first place to be hit by shelling. Most of the civilians were moved by the civil authorities to Trespone, 20 km away, on the Kargil-Zanskar road.

After the war, residents have taken the initiative to build shelters or bunkers in the basement to save themselves from shelling. The Tribune team was led to one such bunker by a local resident and his two friends, who were quite pleased to have created a secure place for their families. We asked him the obvious:“When was the bunker built?” “Sir, we planned it after ’99 and it was completed in 2001,” replied the villager in whose house the bunker was built.

Built of stone that is locally available in abundance, each of the bunkers can house up to 15 persons in case of an emergency. Children and women have been taught how to use it. A lantern is kept for emergency even though power connections are provided. No part of the bunker is visible from the outside.

“Since the village grows some of the finest apricots, there was no question of leaving the place,” explains Mansoor, who has witnessed the effect of shelling on homes and shops.

After the Kargil Conflict, the Army opened schools under the Sadbhavana project for children where the fee for the girls is 50 per cent less than the regular fee. Some 960 students are enrolled and Army buses roll out each morning to fetch children.

The telephone connectivity was provided after 1999 and so was the television tower of Doordarshan. Since people here speak Balti language and were part of what is called Baltistan, which is spread across both sides of the border, Pakistan used its broadcasting assets in Skardu to run a psychological war. aThings have changed so much that the government telecom operator, BSNL, now links its network through satellites to connect this place in case of any breakdown.

Top

 

Krishna to visit Australia soon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
Even as attacks continued on Indian students Down Under, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna yesterday said he would be visiting Australia soon.

He confirmed that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would meet his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani on the margins of the NAM Summit in mid-July in Egypt. He said foreign secretaries of the two countries would also meet prior to that on the sidelines of the NAM engagements but the date of their meeting was yet to be worked out.

At his first formal meeting with the fourth estate, Krishna preferred to interact only with news agency journalists and those from the visual media.. Krishna said foreign secretaries had been mandated by their leaders in Russia recently to meet and take stock of the action taken by Pakistan to deal with terrorism against India emanating from its soil.

Top

 

3 killed in communal clash in Mysore
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 2
Three persons, including a young boy, were killed in Mysore in Karnataka today in a communal clash triggered off by the desecration of a mosque. The three, including 14 year old Zubair, died of stab wounds following the clash in the Udayagiri suburb of Mysore.

Tensions erupted over the desecration of the Alima mosque in the Kyathamaranahalli locality when worshippers reportedly found the carcass of a swine on the premises. Karnataka Home Minister VS Acharya and DGP R Srikumar have both rushed to Mysore in view of the riots breaking out in the historical city.

Mysore DSP SP Aggarwal said , “It is better now. The situation was much worse in the morning”, Aggarwal said.

It was learnt that as the news of the death of the boy spread, members of a community killed a labourer, who was on his way to work. Infuriated by this, rioters of the other community killed one person of the first community. the police carried out cane charge and lobbed teargas shells to disperse the clashing mobs. While there were allegations that 14-year-old Zubair was killed in the police firing, Aggarwal disputed this and said preliminary observations showed that the boy died of stab wounds.

Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa said the incidents were “unexpected”, but the situation was “now under control”.

Top

 

Four children, woman hacked to death
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Shillong, July 2
Four children and a 25-year-old woman were hacked to death by unidentified assailants in a remote village in the ethnic violence-affected North Cachar Hill district of Assam on last evening, while they were coming back from a paddy field. Three others were injured in the incident, according to the report received here.

A security source informed that the killings occurred at Semkhor village under Maibong police station. All victims were from the Dimasa tribe community. The slain persons identified as Karong Thonglo (25), Lambo Langthasa (6), Warsi Thonglo (2), Depola Langthasa (10), Senring Langthasa (3).

Violence incidents have been occurring despite the heavy presence of security forces in the hill district. The government suspects hands of warring Dimasa and Naga militants’ behind the killings. CM Tarun Gogoi claims that the killings of innocent tribesmen is part of design of militants to trigger a wide scale violence in the troubled hill district.

Meanwhile, the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum (IPF) states “The most probable reason for conflict among different tribes living in the hill district is the unjustified decision of the political leadership of now suspended North Cachar district autonomous council to change the district nomenclature of North Cachar Hill district to Dima Hasao Raji (that means hill kingdom of Dimasa tribe) last year. That created mistrust among different communities”.

“The North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council was established under the Sixth Schedule of the constitution to safeguard and promote the rights and interests of all tribal communities and certainly not for the Dimasa community alone,” the IPF said.

Top

 

Militant activity up along B’desh border: BSF
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Shillong, July 2
There is concern about increased cross-border activities of Muslim Fundamentalist Outfits called MFOs in security parlance along the India-Bangladesh border though there has been a ‘decline’ in economic migration and cross- border movement of militants based in Bangladesh across certain hostile unfenced portions of the border.

Border Security Force (BSF) Deputy Inspector General Ravi Gandhi said the activities of the MFOs were on the rise especially along the Dhubri sector of India-Bangladesh border along the unfenced river portion of the border.

The BSF has started the process of raising two new battalions for augmenting deployment along the Bangladesh border in Shillong, Tura and Dhubri sectors to mount vigil against MFOs’ movements as well as to check cross-border movement of insurgents especially from ULFA, NDFB, Black Widow and Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF).

“These militants often try to cross over the border along the thickly forested hostile unfenced portions in Tura sector in Meghalaya. They often follow the trail of migratory elephant herds to cross the border. However, the movements of militants of late had decreased after we mounted vigil and killed many in last few weeks,” the official said. He also claimed that illegal economic migration of people from Bangladesh had also declined after the BSF adopted the ‘push back’ method to thwart illegal migration.

Total 41 km of 211 km Bangladesh border in Tura sector and 47 km out of 264 km in Shillong sector have been fenced so far while fencing construction is in progress in another 129 km. The Meghalaya government is yet to give its nod for the construction of fencing along 135 km of the border. The total length of India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya is 475 km.

The official further said that fencing had been sanctioned for 89 km out of 134 km Bangladesh border in Assam. Work has been completed in 46 km and is in progress in 31 km.

Top

 

Rajasthan
Ahead of poll, BJP still headless
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 2
Though there are only four days left for the Budget Session of the Assembly to start, the opposition BJP seems to be in total disarray.

The BJP is yet to recover from the humiliating defeat it received at the hands of the ruling Congress in the recent Lok Sabha elections. The party was reduced to a mere four seats as against 21 out of 25 LS seats in the state in 2004. While state BJP chief Om Prakash Mathur has already put in his papers, the face of the party’s poll campaign, former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia, is conspicuous by her absence in the state for the last about a month. Raje has spent most of her time out of the state since the party’s shock defeat in the LS polls. Interestingly, there had been times when even senior BJP leaders from the state could not contact her.

At a time when the Opposition should be evolving a strategy for the forthcoming Assembly session, the BJP leaders are lobbying hard for the post of the state BJP chief. In such a scenario, the state BJP appears headless ahead of the crucial Assembly session.

While the names of senior BJP leaders like Gulab Chand Kataria, Ramdas Aggarwal and Ghanshyam Tiwari are already doing the rounds for the top job, now the Jat leaders have also staked their claim on the post. Sources in the BJP said the Jat leaders were eyeing the key post, citing caste composition of the electorate in Rajasthan. Prominent among those who are aspiring for the position are BJP MLA Digambar Singh, former Union Minister Subhash Maharia, state BJP general secretary Rampal Jat and former general secretary Satish Poonia. A recent statement of Rampal Jat has further spurred rumours about the Jat leaders joining the race for the post. In his statement, Rampal said, “Every ninth person in the state is a Jat.”

However, officially the party has denied that claims to the top post are being made on the caste basis.

Among these leaders, Digambar Singh, who hails from east Rajasthan, enjoys the support of Vasundhara Raje and is being seen as the frontrunner if the party decides to appoint a Jat leader on the post.

Top

 

CPM opposes fuel price hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The government decision to substantially raise petrol and diesel prices, has evoked protest from the Left quarters with the CPM “Strongly opposing it” and demanding its withdrawal.

Reacting to the hike, the CPM politburo issued a statement within minutes of the government announcement.

Opposing the hike, the CPM stated, “The government has shown its contempt for Parliament by taking such a decision on the very eve of the Budget Session,” adding that, “The hikes are unjustified and unwarranted because the international price of crude oil is still much lower than at their peak last year.”

The leading Left party said, “These price hikes will have a cascading impact leading to all round price rise.”

Top

 

Uproar in RS over fuel price hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The petroleum price hike triggered uproar in the Rajya Sabha with almost the entire Opposition staging a walkout on the issue. Describing the hike as “totally unwarranted”, they demanded an immediate rollback in petroleum prices.

The issue was raised during Zero Hour with members from the Opposition-the BJP, the CPM, the AIADMK and the SP, saying that the people were anguished over the action of the government on the eve of the Budget Session.

The Opposition called the decision to increase the fuel prices as a “mockery” of democracy and when Deputy Chairman K Rahman Khan rejected their demand that the government should be asked to respond, members from BJP, CPM, AIADMK and SP staged a walkout.

Prasanta Chatterjee from the CPM said the government had effected the increase at a time when the country was in the grip of recession and demanded its withdrawal as the hike would only push up the prices of essential commodities.

BJP’s Venkaiah Naidu questioned the urgency behind the decision.

Top

 

Govt ‘insulting’ pillars of democracy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 2
The BJP has accused the government of betraying a clear tendency of “arrogance of power”. Reacting to the government decision to increase petrol and diesel prices, deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said here today, “There is a common thread in the events that have unfolded these last 2-3 days.”

The government decision to hike fuel prices on the eve of the Budget session, the slapping of an engineer by Congress MP M Jagannath and the attempt by a UPA minister to influence a Madras High Court judge in a murder case indicated that “all three pillars of democracy were under attack”, she added.

She said, “Whatever this government may do in the next 100 days. But these 40 days, have proved that power has gone to the head of this government. Congress MP’s act of slapping a bank manager was an insult to the executive while the minister’s calling up a judge was an assault to the judiciary.”

“Now, announcing a petrol price hike on the eve of Parliament session amounted to denigrating Parliament,” the BJP leader claimed. She said the petrol hike was a betrayal of “aam aadmi”.

Top

 

Ahmedabad blasts accused held

Bhopal, July 2
An accused in the Ahmedabad bomb blasts case has been arrested by Madhya Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) here.

Mohammed Irfan, alias Kareli, wanted in connection with 17 serial blasts in Ahmedabad and other cities, was arrested from the Karond area here, police sources said today. The ATS found Irfan at Karond where he was waiting for two of his associates. — PTI

Top

 

Sikkim CM to get award

Gangtok, July 2
Already basking in the glory of a record fourth-term mandate in the Assembly polls, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling has being selected for an international award for leadership and good governance. He would be presented a gold medal and citation by Universal Peace Foundation (UPF), an international NGO, in recognition of his distinguished public service spanning about 25 years, an official release said today.

UPF-Asia regional chief Chung Sik Young would confer the award on Chamling, here on July 6. — PTI

Top

 

Cong, TMC win civic poll in West Bengal
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 2
After the recent Lok Sabha polls, the CPM has suffered yet another major setback in the state’s civic elections in which the Trinamool Congress and the Congress alliance has won a landslide victory by defeating the Left Front candidates.

Of the total 16 municipalities where the elections were held on Sunday, 13 went to the Opposition and the CPM-led Left Front some how could retain only the two municipalities namely Gangarampur (west Dinajpur) and Rajarhat-Gopalpur in the north 24-parganas. However, they also won the Malbazar in Jalpaiguri district only by a margin of one seat.

Interestingly, after over four decades, the Marxists have now lost their bastions in the north 24-parganas industrial townships at Dum Dum, South Dum Dum, Madhyamgram , Asansol, Kulti in Burdwan and Howrah’s Uluberia. Both Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee were happy that their victory trend of the Lok Sabha elections had been extended to the civic polls.

But now there was reversal of the verdict and the TMC -Congress vote not only made inroads to the Marxists-known citadels but they also entrenched into the new domain at Dankuni (newly formed civic board), Mahestala and Sonarpur -Rajpur. In Kaliaganj, Islampur in Raiganj and Sainthia in Nadia.

Both Mamata and Pranab are jubilant at their victory and declared they would also be fighting jointly in the coming civic elections in Kolkata , Bidhannagar and 83 other municipalities in May-June next year.

Mamata said they would observe their victory celebration on July 21 in Kolkata by dedicating the “victory” in memory of those 13 youth Congress leaders who were killed in the police firing in the Esplanade area on July 21, 1996. Both the TMC and the Congress formally demanded the Chief Minister’s resignation as the two consequent election results had revealed that the Left Front government had lost the people’s mandate.

Mamata said if Buddhadeb had any respect for democracy he should immediately step down and take a fresh mandate. But neither the Chief Minister nor the CPM state secretary Biman Bose made any public statement in response to Mamata Banerjee’s demand.

However, the senior central committee member, Abdul Rezzek Mollah, who is also the state’s Land Reforms Minister, said the results showed that the people had faith in the state government.

“Our voters and supporters have started leaving us since we could not deliver any goods during our 32 years in power”, the minister said. .

State Transport Minister Subhas Chakraborty, who belongs to the anti-Chief Minister’s lobby, said he was apprehending bad results but he did not imagine such a disaster. He said if there has been no change in the present situation, the party might suffer similar defeat in the coming elections.

A large section of leaders in the CPM have been unhappy with the style of functioning of the Buddhadeb government and also party secretary Biman Bose.

Top

 

TN House seeks relief for displaced Tamils
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 2
Tamil Nadu Assembly yesterday passed a unanimous resolution calling for providing medicines and food to the nearly three lakh internally displaced Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

Referring to the allegations of opposition parties that more than 30 thousand Tamil people, mostly women and children, were massacred by the Sri Lankan army during its war against the LTTE and their demand to approach the International Court of Justice seeking trial against Sri Lankan President Rajapakse for his war crimes, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi told the State Assembly that it was more important to save the remaining Tamils in the island than to punish Rajapakse.

He said the only way to help Tamils in the present situation was through the Rajapakse government. "In order to help our brothers and sisters in the island nation, we should not come out with hard-hitting remarks against Sinhalese. Because, in the present scenario, we could only reach Tamils through them," he said.

Reacting to the speeches of the opposition members that a separate Tamil homeland for Tamils would be the only solution, the DMK chief, who promised to work for it during the election campaign, said only an autonomous state for Tamils was possible now.

"We have founded movements and framed policies only for the welfare of the people. When people suffer during our struggle to achieve our objective, we should suspend the struggle for some time", he reasoned.

He said "at the moment, we can demand for equal rights for Tamils, equal status for Tamil language in the island and devolution of powers, besides exploring ways for the livelihood of Tamils".

Quoting the conclusion of his novel, based on the life of a Tamil king who ruled the island, before losing to the European rulers, he said "after surrounded by numerous enemies, the hero escapes in a horse and no one knows where he is. The same story seems to be repeating now", he said in an indirect reference to claims and counter claims on LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Top

 
BRIEFLY

Shiney’s judicial custody extended
Mumbai:
A local court on Thursday extended the judicial custody of Shiney Ahuja till July 16, who was arrested for allegedly raping his maid. Shiney was produced before the Andheri metropolitan magistrate court as his judicial custody got over. The actor had filed a bail application before the sessions court last week, which will come up for hearing on Friday. — PTI

Top

 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |