SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Reserve 25 pc seats for poor, Sibal tells private schools
Cleared by RS, Right to Education Bill to come up in LS on Friday
New Delhi, July 21
The government today made it clear that all private, unaided schools in the country will have to set aside 25 per cent of their seats for poor students. Putting to rest all doubts in this regard, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal today said schools that did not make the quota provision for poor would stand to lose their lease. 

Centre in a bind over ‘displeasing men’
New Delhi, July 21
The gender debate has gripped UPA-proposed National Mission for Women’s Literacy, with the government still undecided on what it should call the mission.

President Pratibha Patil receives a book ‘Why not I’ from a visually impaired girl, Siddhi Desai, in New Delhi on Tuesday. The book is written on the life of Siddhi. President Pratibha Patil receives a book ‘Why not I’ from a visually impaired girl, Siddhi Desai, in New Delhi on Tuesday. The book is written on the life of Siddhi. — PTI



EARLIER STORIES

26/11 trial adjourned
Mumbai, July 21
The special court hearing the trial regarding the 26/11 terror attacks today adjourned proceedings till Wednesday on a plea by the prosecution. Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam pleaded before the court seeking more time, saying the prosecution needed time to file its reply about the confession of Mohammad Ajmal Amir, alias Kasab. Nikam’s plea came an hour after the proceedings began today.

Taregana gets a makeover 
Girls get training to observe the solar eclipse through a telescope in Patna on TuesdayPatna, July 21
But for the celestial spectacle in the form of a total solar eclipse, Taregana (Masaurhi), a small subdivisional town in this district, may not have drawn so much attention from the state administration, let alone the national and international media. Scientists and tourists alike from across the world are gathering here for a glimpse of the phenomenon.

Girls get training to observe the solar eclipse through a telescope in Patna on Tuesday. PTI

IAF jet, Doordarshan to film solar eclipse
New Delhi, July 21
A fighter jet and transport plane of the Indian Air Force will film the eclipse tomorrow in addition to ground-based trackers. The IAF pilots will ferry astrophysicists and a team of Doordarshan.

Maoists threaten to kill PM, Sonia
Ranchi, July 21
The outlawed CPI-Maoist, named a terror outfit by the central government last month, has now issued a threat to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and dared Home Minister P Chidambaram to visit Jharkhand.

Naxal attack: Police station, outpost stop functioning
Rourkela (Orissa), July 21
Five days after a policeman was killed by Maoists at Lathikata block in Sundergarh district, panic still prevails in the area with the residents alleging that a police station and an outpost have stopped functioning due to fear of Naxals.

BCI rule on age limit challenged in HCs
Chandigarh, July 21
Rules framed by the Bar Council of India (BCI), specifying 30 years as the upper age limit for admission to the three-year Bachelor of Laws degree course has been challenged in various high courts across the country.

Israel to support farm projects at Sirsa, Karnal
Chandigarh, July 21
Israel has pledged support to a project for growing olive at Sirsa ( Haryana). Technology transfer and funds to the tune of Rs 15 crore have been offered to two projects, one at Sirsa and the other at Karnal, for growing fruits and vegetables more economically, said Ambassador of Israel to India, Mark Sofer, here on Tuesday. The Sirsa project would concentrate on olives, citrus fruits and mangoes. “This is just the beginning,” he stressed.

Indo-Pak joint statement was bad drafting, says Menon
New Delhi, July 21
With disquiet even within the Congress over the understanding reached between India and Pakistan at Sharm el-Sheikh, the government today admitted the controversial joint statement adopted by the two countries could be considered a case of bad drafting.

Jayant Advani to join politics; BJP hails move
New Delhi, July 21
Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani’s son is raring to join politics and the BJP will welcome it. Jayant Advani, who personally handled and supervised father Advani’s campaign in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency in the last general election, had expressed his desire to enter politics and even pitch for his candidature in the near future, while speaking to reporters at a social gathering recently.

Appointment of arson suspect not linked to case: UP govt
Lucknow, July 21
The Uttar Pradesh government today denied any connection between the appointment of BSP leader Intezar Abdi as head of the Sugarcane Farmers Association with ministerial rank and the arson at the house of UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi on July 15. According to a government release the decision to appoint Abdi as chairman of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Ganna Kisan Sansthan was a “routine matter,” which had been taken on July 14 itself and the official order released a day later on July 15.

TDP MLA’s arrest leads to protests
Statewide agitations in AP
Hyderabad, July 21
The arrest of an opposition MLA, TV Rama Rao, in a molestation case has triggered a political storm with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) launching a statewide agitation today to protest against the police action.

Cong, TMC to jointly contest WB polls
Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee along with noted author and social worker Mahasweta Devi during the Trinamool Congress rally in Kolkata on Tuesday. Kolkata, July 21
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee and West Bengal Congress in charge Keshav Rao today declared that the two parties would jointly contest the Assembly polls in the state and “bring to an end the prolonged CPM misrule”.


Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee along with noted author and social worker Mahasweta Devi during the Trinamool Congress rally in Kolkata on Tuesday. — PTI

SC notice to ED in black money case
New Delhi, July 21
The Supreme Court yesterday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to respond to a plea for custodial interrogation of Pune-based businessman Hasan Ali Khan. The ED had registered a complaint against him under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for stashing funds worth Rs 36,000 crore in a secret Swiss bank account.

Police seeks arrest of five Army personnel
Jaipur, July 21
Following some startling revelations made by the accused in the Army Recruitment Scam, the Ajmer police has written to the Army, seeking arrest of five of its personnel for their alleged involvement in recruitment of sepoys at the holy town.

AP gets cracking on acid attackers
Hyderabad, July 21
Alarmed over the growing incidents of acid attacks on women, the Andhra Pradesh government has formulated a special legislation to deal with such crimes and ensure stringent punishment to the guilty.

Bahuguna moves High Court, seeks quashing of FIR
Allahabad, July 21
Uttar Pradesh Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi today moved the Allahabad High Court, seeking a CBI inquiry into the arson at her house in Lucknow and quashing of the FIR lodged against her in Moradabad district accusing her of having made derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati.





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Reserve 25 pc seats for poor, Sibal tells private schools
Cleared by RS, Right to Education Bill to come up in LS on Friday
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
The government today made it clear that all private, unaided schools in the country will have to set aside 25 per cent of their seats for poor students.

Putting to rest all doubts in this regard, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal today said schools that did not make the quota provision for poor would stand to lose their lease. "If schools do not reserve the seats, their lease will have to be cancelled," the minister told the Rajya Sabha where the matter came up for discussion a day after the house passed the ambitious Right to Education Bill.

Taking questions on the subject, Sibal said all private schools that reserve 25 per cent seats, would be compensated. Such compensation would be based on the per-child expenditure on education that the government incurs. Roughly, the amount adds up to just about Rs 2,800 annually - a sum that appears too inadequate for the private schools, where both services delivered and fee charged are much higher than in the government set up.

But that is of little concern to the government, which seems determined to push the quota provision, and said today the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education had provisions to penalise schools that faltered on this count.

That apart, most of the private school managements are already anxious about fulfilling the promise, citing financial constraint. Even more worried are schools that got land at concessional rates from the government. The bill says such schools would have to reserve 25 per cent of their seats for the poor in any case and would not stand to be compensated.

Passed by the Rajya Sabha without a division of votes yesterday, the Right to Education Bill that gives life to the 86th Constitutional Amendment is expected to come up for discussions in the Lok Sabha on July 24.

Once the Lower House passes the bill, free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14 years - a provision that was up till now a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy - would become a fundamental right.

The bill was yesterday passed with some amendments suggested by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on HRD. These include - 50 per cent reservation for women in school management committees and a provision that teacher vacancy in any school should never exceed 10 per cent. 

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Centre in a bind over ‘displeasing men’
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
The gender debate has gripped UPA-proposed National Mission for Women’s Literacy, with the government still undecided on what it should call the mission.

A month after President Pratibha Patil declared in Parliament that the National Literacy Mission would be recast as the National Mission for Women’s Literacy, the HRD Ministry is expected to take a call on the issue tomorrow when minister Kapil Sibal chairs a crucial meeting on the subject.

Deeply aware of the consequences of ignoring men in a programme that seeks to educate women, the government is likely to settle for a broader title for the mission, while keeping intact its focus on women. That could well mean an altogether new title which differs from the one the President had announced before the joint session of Parliament on June 17.

For the government, the choice will not be easy considering the political nature of the decision. But there certainly is a growing realisation within the ministry that gender interests will have to be balanced if the literacy mission has to be designed for delivery.

Asked if males would be excluded from the title of the proposed Women’s Literacy Mission, the ministry, in its reply to the Lok Sabha yesterday, said, “The prime focus of the mission will be on women and they will constitute a major component of the clientele. However, males will not be excluded from its ambit.”

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26/11 trial adjourned
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 21
The special court hearing the trial regarding the 26/11 terror attacks today adjourned proceedings till Wednesday on a plea by the prosecution.

Special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam pleaded before the court seeking more time, saying the prosecution needed time to file its reply about the confession of Mohammad Ajmal Amir, alias Kasab. Nikam’s plea came an hour after the proceedings began today.

According to the prosecutor, the prosecution could produce whatever evidence it had in the case despite Kasab’s confession yesterday.

Kasab, who took the stand today as well, made a number of statements which the court barred the media from publishing.

Meanwhile, the special public prosecutor told reporters that Kasab had only partially admitted to his guilt and hence the trial was likely to continue.

Nikam added the prosecution would be presenting further evidence to expose the terrorist infrastructure used to carry out attacks on

India. Nikam felt that Kasab’s motive behind confession was to escape

with a lesser punishment. “Kasab has not told the entire story. He

has partially admitted his guilt,” Nikam said.

He further added that Kasab was blaming his dead colleagues in a bid to escape the blame himself.

Incidentally, Kasab’s lawyer insisted that the arrested terrorist has not confessed before the court. “His statement should not be taken as a confession,” the lawyer said.

'Kasab’s statement not confession'

Mumbai: The special court today said the Pakistani gunman’s statement pleading guilty before it was not a confession but an admission of guilt.

Judge ML Tahaliyani said Kasab’s statement before the court was “broadly speaking not a confession but an admission of guilt.” Tahaliyani’s observation came after Kasab concluded his version of events related to November 26 terror strikes.

The court would need to verify whether Kasab was genuinely pleading his guilt as there were many charges against him, Judge Tahaliyani said. The court could then accept or reject his statement or accept his plea and continue with the trial, the judge said. — PTI

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Taregana gets a makeover 
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 21
But for the celestial spectacle in the form of a total solar eclipse, Taregana (Masaurhi), a small subdivisional town in this district, may not have drawn so much attention from the state administration, let alone the national and international media. Scientists and tourists alike from across the world are gathering here for a glimpse of the phenomenon.

Ever since NASA scientists declared Taregana to be the place for the longest and clearest view of the total solar eclipse on July 22 morning, the village has been in the news. Not surprisingly, the state administration soon swung into action and has spruced up the place by repairing approach roads, cleaning choked drains and replacing worn out power transmission cables and the transformer to ensure electricity supply.

Several temporary toilets and water tanks have been put up for the convenience of the tourists and scientists. Since Masaurhi does not have any hotel the administration will be providing accommodation in the newly constructed government referral hospital as well as in two privately-run schools.

Subdivisional magistrate Birendra Kumar Sinha said the rooftop of the referral hospital had been selected as the best site for viewing the eclipse. However, entry to this place would be restricted. About 40 scientists are expected to record the event from here. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar will also be present along with his cabinet colleagues to watch the spectacle, he said.

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IAF jet, Doordarshan to film solar eclipse
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
A fighter jet and transport plane of the Indian Air Force will film the eclipse tomorrow in addition to ground-based trackers. The IAF pilots will ferry astrophysicists and a team of Doordarshan.

A Mirage-2000 fighter jet and an AN-32 transport aircraft will be flown by IAF pilots to assist scientists from Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology, to carry out the experiments, an IAF spokesperson said today.

A Mirage will fly out from Gwalior while the AN-32 will fly from Agra. The flights will be headed in an easterly direction. Scientists from Noida-based Vigyan Prasar, Udaipur-based solar observatory and Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Astrophysics will participate in the experiments and the filming.

The rear ramp of the AN-32 will be kept open and oxygen masks will be used during the flight.

This year's eclipse will be visible in parts of India from Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east. The eclipse corridor will pass close to Gwalior airbase.

The last time IAF pilots did such a feat was in 1995, chasing the umbra shadow during the total Solar eclipse on October 24. Air Marshal S Mukerji, Air Officer-in-charge Personnel (AOP) at the Air Headquarters, was the then Commanding Officer of IAFs now-phased out Mig-25 squadron based in Bareilly.

Then the flight was at Mach 2.5 speed and at altitude of 80,000 feet. Despite a top speed of Mach 3.2, it was not quick enough to catch-up with the umbra shadow that notched Mach 5, on that occasion. This time such a high speed chase would not be needed.

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Maoists threaten to kill PM, Sonia

Ranchi, July 21
The outlawed CPI-Maoist, named a terror outfit by the central government last month, has now issued a threat to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and dared Home Minister P Chidambaram to visit Jharkhand.

"Home Minister P Chidambaram says the government will end Maoism in the country. His statement will remain a dream. It is not possible to end the Maoist movement... If Chidambaram has the courage, he should come to Jharkhand," the CPI-Maoist said in a press note issued here late Monday.

It also threatens Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

"Both the PM and Sonia Gandhi will meet a fate like former Prime Minister, late Rajiv Gandhi," said the release issued by Anup-ji, a member of the Jharkhand state central committee of the CPI-Maoist. — IANS

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Naxal attack: Police station, outpost stop functioning

Rourkela (Orissa), July 21
Five days after a policeman was killed by Maoists at Lathikata block in Sundergarh district, panic still prevails in the area with the residents alleging that a police station and an outpost have stopped functioning due to fear of Naxals.

The Banki police station and Chandiposh outpost have reportedly stopped functioning since last three days.

“When the police itself close police station fearing Maoists, then what will happen to ordinary people,” a resident of Banki police station area said.

However, the police said functioning of these two centres were temporarily suspended for repair and maintenance work.

Banki police station staff have been directed to function in Lathikata police station campus, while Chandiposh outpost has started functioning in Lahunipada police station, they claimed. — PTI 

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BCI rule on age limit challenged in HCs
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Rules framed by the Bar Council of India (BCI), specifying 30 years as the upper age limit for admission to the three-year Bachelor of Laws degree course has been challenged in various high courts across the country.

While the matte is pending before the courts, the Andhra Pradesh High Court recently granted an interim stay on the operation of the particular rule. “Upon perusal of the (admission rules), we are of the prima facie opinion that the same do not confer any power on the Bar Council of India to prescribe the maximum age limit for pursuing legal education,” interim orders passed by the high court state. The petition was filed by private law colleges.

“Accordingly, we suspend the operation of clause 28 of the said rules,” the order, a copy of which was received by the Directorate of Sainik Welfare Punjab here last week, added.

Clause 28 of Schedule III to the Rules of Legal Education, 2008, has prescribed 30 years as the upper age limit for general category candidates seeking admission to the three-year LLB course and 35 years for ST/SC/OBC candidates.

The admission rules had adversely affected armed forces personnel as also those from other walks of life. Serving as well as retired armed forces officers will not be able to take admission to law courses either while in service or post-retirement. Law is perused by military personnel to enhance their professional skills or for switching over the services’ legal departments or as a post-retirement rehabilitation avenue wherein they can practice in courts or get re-employment as legal officers.

The issue was taken up with the BCI by the Directorate of Sainik Welfare, Punjab, last month. While stating that education was a fundamental right, the directorate strongly recommended that the age criterion be amended in a manner to make it eligible for ex-servicemen to undergo the three-year degree course in law irrespective of age.

A large number of retired armed forces personnel practice as advocates in lower courts, high courts and the Supreme Court. Owing to their background, many of them specialise in service matters related to the military, like courts martial, promotions, postings, statutory complaints, etc.

In its reply to the directorate this week, the Bar Council, through its joint secretary JR Sharma, has stated that the course has been challenged in various high courts and the Bar Council is filing a Special Leave Petition for transfer of the matters to the Supreme Court so that the issue may be decided finally by the apex judicial body.

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Israel to support farm projects at Sirsa, Karnal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Israel has pledged support to a project for growing olive at Sirsa ( Haryana). Technology transfer and funds to the tune of Rs 15 crore have been offered to two projects, one at Sirsa and the other at Karnal, for growing fruits and vegetables more economically, said Ambassador of Israel to India, Mark Sofer, here on Tuesday. The Sirsa project would concentrate on olives, citrus fruits and mangoes. “This is just the beginning,” he stressed.

Ambassador Sofer, on his first working visit to the city, also called on the Punjab Chief Minister on Tuesday and offered to collaborate in areas of water management, agriculture and horticulture. “ Israel too suffers from acute scarcity of water and has large, arid zones,” he pointed out while describing how his country achieved self-sufficiency in food and overcame shortage of water.

Organic pesticides is another area, he said, where Israel has acquired a certain expertise and an Israeli company is setting shop in Hyderabad to cater to the Indian market.

The counsellor, science and agriculture, at the Israeli mission in New Delhi, Dr Avri Bar Zur, felt there is a growing market in Haryana and Punjab for mechanical agricultural equipment. “ Farmers in Haryana told me it is becoming increasingly difficult for them to get farm-labour from other states,” he recalled and said that mechanisation could save them both cost and time.

While India has a large domestic market to cater to, fresh olive, vegetables and fruits can still be exported to gulf countries, Japan or the USA, they pointed out.

Indo-Israeli civilian trade has grown at mind-boggling speed, Ambassador Sofer pointed out, during the last 17 years since 1992 when India first officially recognised the state of Israel. “Although ours is a small country with the population just about half of Delhi, the volume of trade between the two countries is almost half of the volume between India and all Latin American countries,” said the Ambassador with satisfaction.

A free-trade agreement that is being worked out, he hoped, would treble the trade in the next few years.

While the Ambassador was not able to visit Panjab University this time, Israel is exploring possibilities of instituting scholarships, initiating joint research and in an exchange of faculty between Indian and Israeli universities. Four Indian

Vice-Chancellors recently visited Israel and more academic exchanges are in the offing, he said.

Bollywood bonding

Even 30 years ago, in Jerusalem there was a cinema hall, which screened only Indian films, remembers the Ambassador. This was long before diplomatic ties were established between the two countries and when Israelis could not visit India because the state of Israel was recognised by India only in 1992. Indians and Israelis form a mutual admiration society, says Sofer, who remembers watching the flick, Om Shanti Om at home.

Indians are unbelievably warm and hospitable, the Ambassador said, adding, “In no other country have I come across such warmth among people.” Asked if he has had any nightmare in India, Ambassador Sofer, who will be completing two years in the country in October, said, “ I am yet to get the hang of driving on Indian roads,” adding diplomatically, “ You seem to have a different set of traffic rules.”

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Indo-Pak joint statement was bad drafting, says Menon
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
With disquiet even within the Congress over the understanding reached between India and Pakistan at Sharm el-Sheikh, the government today admitted the controversial joint statement adopted by the two countries could be considered a case of bad drafting.

“One can argue how good or bad the drafting was...you can say it is bad drafting, but the meaning is clear,” Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said, reacting to a strong criticism of the statement adopted after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani. “With Pakistan it is not a T-20 match,” Menon said in a lecture here this evening for Parliamentarians on ‘Foreign Policy: Challenges and Opportunities’.

Earlier in the day, Parliament had also witnessed a storm over yesterday’s end-user monitoring agreement reached with the United States for defence procurements. The Manmohan singh government may have to do a lot of explaining in the coming days on both the India-Pakistan joint statement as well as the agreements signed with the US during Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India.

Menon, who himself was part of the Prime Minister’s team which drafted the India-Pakistan statement, asserted that India would not budge an inch on the issue of terrorism with Pakistan. The resumption of the composite dialogue with Pakistan was contingent upon Pakistan taking action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks and dismantling the terrorist infrastructure on its soil.

Ever since Manmohan Singh reached the agreement with Gilani, he has been under attack from the BJP with Leader of the Opposition LK Advani describing the joint statement as capitulation to Pakistan. Yesterday, even Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi hesitated to endorse the joint statement.

The government has been putting a brave face in the face of mounting criticism from the Opposition. The Prime Minister himself had stated on the floor of the Lok Sabha on Friday that India had not diluted its stand vis a vis Pakistan by delinking the resumption of dialogue from the issue of terrorism. He said the formulation only meant that Pakistan should not wait for the dialogue process to resume but to start acting against terrorists operating from its territory.

The reference to Balochistan in the joint statement has also led to some unease in Congress circles. Menon also spoke about this controversy. According to him, the Pakistani premier raised the Balochistan issue during the talks with Manmohan Singh. India agreed to its inclusion in the joint statement “since we have nothing to hide”.

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Jayant Advani to join politics; BJP hails move
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani’s son is raring to join politics and the BJP will welcome it. Jayant Advani, who personally handled and supervised father Advani’s campaign in his Gandhinagar Lok Sabha constituency in the last general election, had expressed his desire to enter politics and even pitch for his candidature in the near future, while speaking to reporters at a social gathering recently.

He also impressed how he had succesfully organised and led his father’s election campaign in his Lok Sabha constituency.

Responding to queries about Jayant Advani’s interest in politics, BJP deputy leader in the Lok Saba Sushma Swaraj welcomed it and said, “He is an Indian citizen and has a right to join politics as any other Indian citizen above the age of 21, we will welcome it if he joins politics,” Swaraj said.

Interestingly it was Advani’s daughter Pratibha who showed some zest for politics. She has been seen with her father on many important occasions and as a TV journalist has also demonstrated her keen interest in politics. But when it comes to claiming the legacy, a son always seems to have a greater claim, commented political observers.

They also pointed out the similarity between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and LK Advani in this respect. In Sonia’s case, too, daughter Priyanka showed much more promise and a natural felicity towards politics, but Sonia preferred son Rahul Gandhi to Priyanka.

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Appointment of arson suspect not linked to case: UP govt
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 21
The Uttar Pradesh government today denied any connection between the appointment of BSP leader Intezar Abdi as head of the Sugarcane Farmers Association with ministerial rank and the arson at the house of UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi on July 15. According to a government release the decision to appoint Abdi as chairman of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Ganna Kisan Sansthan was a “routine matter,” which had been taken on July 14 itself and the official order released a day later on July 15.

An official spokesperson denied Abdi had been “rewarded” for his alleged role in burning down Joshi’s house. “He had assumed office on July 15 even before the house was burnt down”, the release stated. The spokesperson also denied Abdi’s name had been included in the FIR filed in the case.

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TDP MLA’s arrest leads to protests
Statewide agitations in AP
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 21
The arrest of an opposition MLA, TV Rama Rao, in a molestation case has triggered a political storm with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) launching a statewide agitation today to protest against the police action.

“This is a clear case of political vendetta. Our legislator has been implicated in a false case to intimidate the opposition,” TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu said while giving a call for the statewide protests. TDP activists held demonstrations across the state, condemning the arrest and demanding withdrawal of the case against their legislator.

Rama Rao, who represents Kovvur Assembly constituency, was arrested yesterday on charges of molestation and sexual harassment of students of a nursing college run by him at Nidadavolu in West Godavari district.

A CID team picked up the Dalit MLA from his residence at Kovvur and produced him before a court in Eluru, which remanded him in judicial custody till August 3. The arrest was based on a complaint by five nursing students, hailing from Kerala, accusing him of sexual harassment and intimidation. The students had met the state Home Minister, P Sabita Indra Reddy, early this month, along with their parents, and lodged the complaint.

The MLA was taken to a hospital at Guntur after he complained of chest pain. The doctors declared his heart condition as stable after conducting a series of tests. The local TDP leaders, however, maintained that the MLA was sick and needed proper medical care. The opposition leader was later shifted to a central jail in Rajahmundry. 

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Cong, TMC to jointly contest WB polls
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 21
Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee and West Bengal Congress in charge Keshav Rao today declared that the two parties would jointly contest the Assembly polls in the state and “bring to an end the prolonged CPM misrule”.

Addressing the “martyr’s rally” -- observed in the memory of 13 Youth Congress workers killed in police firing the same day in 1993 in Esplanade area -- here, the duo alleged that the state government had lost the faith of the people, a fact that was evident from the CPM drubbing in the recent Lok Sabha polls.

Mamata called upon the state people to teach the ruling party another lesson by another defeat in the Assembly polls, due in 2011. Also, the TMC chief dedicated the party’s win in the general election to the YC “martyrs”.

Today’s “mammoth” rally, the count of those present claimed by Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee to be over 10 lakh, apparently surpassed all recent records of gathering in the state. But, at the same time also created trouble for the locals and commuters, especially the office-goers. The public meeting paralysed the entire traffic and transport network in the city. The rally, attended among others by all newly elected TMC and Congress MPs, was arranged in Esplande area between 1 pm and 4 pm.

Mamata apologised to the public later for the inconvenience caused to them due to the traffic bottlenecks.

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SC notice to ED in black money case
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 21
The Supreme Court yesterday asked the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to respond to a plea for custodial interrogation of Pune-based businessman Hasan Ali Khan. The ED had registered a complaint against him under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) for stashing funds worth Rs 36,000 crore in a secret Swiss bank account.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam asked Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam to respond within two weeks on behalf of the ED and listed the matter for further hearing after three weeks.

The SG said he would seek instructions from the Directorate and file his comments. The plea was made by senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, former Punjab police chief KPS Gill and others who have filed a PIL seeking a directive to the government to take steps and bring back black money stashed in foreign banks. 

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Police seeks arrest of five Army personnel
Perneet Singh/Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 21
Following some startling revelations made by the accused in the Army Recruitment Scam, the Ajmer police has written to the Army, seeking arrest of five of its personnel for their alleged involvement in recruitment of sepoys at the holy town.

Ajmer Superintendent of Police (SP) Hariprasad Sharma has shot off missives to the Army Headquarters, Defence Ministry and the head of the Army recruitment in the state, seeking their cooperation in arrest of these officials. “We have written to the army for arrest of three Majors and two Subedars - Major rank personnels - who are suspected to be involved in the scam,” he said. The police had interrogated two army officials a couple of days back to inquire into their involvement in the scam. Also all recruitment-related documents are also being scrutinised.

Assistant Superintendent of Police Rahul Prakash said a case had been registered against these five army officials while notices had been issued to 8 other army officials for interrogation purpose.

The police, in a joint operation with the Military Intelligence, had unearthed the scam with the busting of a gang on July 13. The police had arrested eight persons and recovered cash and some documents from their possession. The gang was active in Ajmer in view of the army recruitment camp in the city between July 11 and 19. The gang headed by one ex-armyman Abhilash Singh was using undergarments of a particular company as a code to get their candidates identified among others by the doctor and physical instructor while appearing in the physical and medical tests. They used to take Rs 15,000 at the time of giving undergarment and the balance after final selection. The accused belong to Jodhpur, Jhunjhunu and Bhilwara districts of Rajasthan. The police action came after one youth from Nasirabad town in Ajmer complained on July 12 that he had not got job even after making payment to the agents.

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AP gets cracking on acid attackers
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 21
Alarmed over the growing incidents of acid attacks on women, the Andhra Pradesh government has formulated a special legislation to deal with such crimes and ensure stringent punishment to the guilty.

A draft legislation has been sent to the Union Home Ministry seeking its consent before preparing a Bill to be introduced in the coming Budget Session of the Assembly, official sources said.

The proposed law envisages stringent punishment for acid attackers, including life imprisonment and also recovery of the treatment costs from them. The Supreme Court had recently observed that the acid attackers must be given the most stringent punishment. In absence of a separate law to deal with acid attacks, the police book the attackers under IPC sections of attempt to murder or murder.

The government felt the need for a more stringent legislation to deal with the heinous crime. It has also received memoranda from various women’s organisations calling for a strict law to deal with the offenders. The government’s move comes against the backdrop of a string of acid attacks on women by jilted lovers. In the recent cases, two married women were seriously injured when frustrated lovers poured acid on them in Guntur district.

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Bahuguna moves High Court, seeks quashing of FIR

Allahabad, July 21
Uttar Pradesh Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi today moved the Allahabad High Court, seeking a CBI inquiry into the arson at her house in Lucknow and quashing of the FIR lodged against her in Moradabad district accusing her of having made derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati.

According to Joshi's counsel Umesh Narain Sharma, the UPCC chief has expressed dissatisfaction over the BSP government's decision to get the Lucknow incident investigated by the CB-CID and requested the court to order a CBI inquiry in view of the need for "an independent agency".

The petition, in which the Centre, the state of UP along with Chief Minister Mayawati and police authorities have been made respondents, also sought quashing of the FIR registered at Majhola Police Station of Moradabad and a stay on the investigation in the case. — PTI 

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