SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Balochistan Issue
No dossier from Pak, says India
New Delhi, July 24
As the controversy over the India-Pakistan joint statement refused to die down, New Delhi today denied that Pakistan Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani had handed over any dossier to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their meeting at Sharm El Sheikh, alleging India’s involvement in the unrest in Balochistan.

Leaders react sharply to US stand on Kalam frisking
New Delhi, July 24
Cutting across party lines, leaders today reacted sharply to the US Transportation Security Administration's statement that frisking of former President Abdul Kalam was "in compliance" with American regulatory requirements.

IAF lost 7 pilots due to safety systems delay
Chandigarh, July 24
Inordinate delay in procurement of operational safety systems by the IAF led to the loss of seven pilots and as many combat aircraft in the intervening period.


EARLIER STORIES



Papua New Guinea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration Samuel Aba (R) with India’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shashi Tharoor before their meeting in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Graft Case
Homes of Jharkand ex-CM Koda, three former ministers raided
Patna, July 24
The investigative wing of the Jharkhand cabinet’s vigilance department carried out simultaneous raids on Friday at the official and ancestral house of former chief minister Madhu Koda and three ex-ministers of his erstwhile cabinet. Koda is now an independent member of the Lok Sabha from the Singhbum constituency.

Mamata skips Pranab’s lunch over acquisition bill
New Delhi, July 24
Sulking over the proposed introduction of Land Acquisition Amendment Bill and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee today skipped the lunch which leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee threw for the MPs on the Parliament House premises.

Cong names Tytler chief of Bihar unit
New Delhi, July 24
The Congress party has apparently rehabilitated its controversial leader, Jagdish Tytler, by appointing him in charge of the Bihar unit. He replaces Iqbal Singh and is expected to play an active role in reviving the party’s base in that state. Singh was appointed lieutenant governor of Pondicherry earlier this week.

Rs 500-crore telecom satellite okayed
New Delhi, July 24
The government has given its approval for the development of a Rs 500-crore advanced communication satellite to provide telecom links with small Ku-band terminals operating across the country.

Centre defends defence pact
New Delhi, July 24
The government today strongly defended the end-user monitoring arrangement reached with the US for defence procurements in the face of mounting criticism of the accord both by political parties and the intelligentsia.

Delhi Metro Mishap
HC notice to Gammon India
New Delhi, July 24 
The Delhi High Court today issued notice to Gammon India, a contractor in Delhi Metro Rail project, on a petition filed by the family members of victims of the July 12 mishap, seeking compensation.

BJP cautious over Modi verdict
New Delhi, July 24
The BJP has reacted with caution and restraint on the Gujarat High Court verdict allowing the apex court-appointed SIT to investigate the role of state Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others, including his cabinet colleagues and senior officers, for their role in the Gujarat riots of 2002.

Stripping Incident
NCW seeks report from Bihar
New Delhi, July 24
Expressing shock at the alleged stripping of a woman in public, the National Commission for Women today sought a report from the Bihar government and asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to ensure such incidents do not take place.

 





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Balochistan Issue
No dossier from Pak, says India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
As the controversy over the India-Pakistan joint statement refused to die down, New Delhi today denied that Pakistan Premier Yousaf Raza Gilani had handed over any dossier to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during their meeting at Sharm El Sheikh, alleging India’s involvement in the unrest in Balochistan.

Official sources also sought to rebut the charge that India had lost considerable ground diplomatically by allowing Balochistan to figure for the first time in an India-Pakistan joint statement. They argued that Gilani had rather put an internal matter of his country on the India-Pakistan table by getting the reference to Balochistan incorporated in the joint statement.

The sources acknowledged that a ‘limited dialogue process’ at the foreign secretary level had begun with Pakistan. The pace and progress of the process hinged on the action Pakistan takes in the coming days to address India’s concerns on the issue of terrorism.

It’s quite clear that the UPA government is on the defensive as it grapples with the building storm over the joint statement that was adopted at Sharm El Sheikh last week.

The attempt being made by government managers is to highlight the fact the Kashmir does not figure for the first time in an India-Pakistan statement while the Balochistan issue has been internationalised.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is said to be consulting his top aides on how the government would deal with recent controversies over foreign policy matters when they are debated in Parliament next week. UPA chairperson and Congress President Sonia Gandhi has also asked senior party leaders to ensure full backing to the government’s foreign policy initiatives on the floor of Parliament.

On a report in a leading Pakistan daily that Pakistan had given a dossier on Balochistan to India, the sources said Islamabad was obviously trying to create confusion. “May be they (Pakistan) had prepared some dossier but Gilani would himself have found that it was very weak,’’ they added, recalling that Islamabad had given dossiers in 2006 to the US, Britain and France alleging India’s involvement in Balochistan but all these major powers had laughed off the suggestion.

Senior officials of the External Affairs Ministry feel that the Indian media was also playing right into the hands of the Pakistan propaganda machine, which has become overactive after the Sharm El Sheikh encounter between the two Prime Ministers.

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Leaders react sharply to US stand on Kalam frisking

New Delhi, July 24
Cutting across party lines, leaders today reacted sharply to the US Transportation Security Administration's statement that frisking of former President Abdul Kalam was "in compliance" with American regulatory requirements.

BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy wondered "whether such things are happening due to the 'kneel down before US' policy of the UPA government".

"Government should give a thorough reply on this matter. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will have to give a clarification on the issue," the former civil aviation minister said.

He also sought to know whether the government is properly maintaining its protocol list or not.

Terming the incident of Kalam being frisked by staff of a US airlines as "sad", NCP MP Supria Sule said," there is a protocol and airlines have to follow the guidelines enforced by the operating country".

Congress MP JP Agrawal said, "if it (following protocol in frisking) is not in their (US) law, they should bring amendments into it."

BJP MP Vinay Katiyar and former Minister of State for External Affairs Digvijay Singh even called for a similar treatment to US dignitaries if the Americans do not follow protocol for Indian VIPs.

"There is a greater threat of terrorism in our country than in the US. If the US airline companies do not follow protocol for our dignitaries, we may also do the same to their dignitaries," Katiyar said.

Singh, Independent MP from Bihar, said, "we will face this problem as long we do not use protocol as a weapon of diplomacy.

"When I was in foreign ministry, we have done it and then our foreign minister was not frisked. We will have to adopt a policy if such things happen to our dignitaries, the same treatment will be meted out to their dignitaries as well," Singh said.

Rajya Sabha member from Congress Rajiv Shukla, however said, "the civil aviation ministry is competent to take whatever action is required. Let us leave it to them. They have already lodged an FIR."

Earlier, the US body had argued that TSA requires all passengers and their accessible property to be screened for any goods listed on the prohibited items list.

"There are reports that the government of India has an official list of VIPs and their spouses that are exempted from pre-board screening procedures. However, such a list does not mirror US requirements for passengers that are exempted from pre-board screening when travelling aboard the US commercial aircraft," it said.

"While travelling from an international location to the US on a US commercial aircraft, former heads of state and other VIPs are screened according to the same screening procedure as for any other passenger," it added. — PTI

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IAF lost 7 pilots due to safety systems delay
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Inordinate delay in procurement of operational safety systems by the IAF led to the loss of seven pilots and as many combat aircraft in the intervening period.

The IAF had lost three pilots and four aircrafts up to December 1999, the beginning of the process for procurement of the system, due to pilot disorientation. During January 2000 to March 2008, four more pilots and three aircrafts, costing about Rs 282 crore were lost due to the same reason.

Revealing this, the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General has pointed out that the installation of the vital systems, procured from a foreign vendor for Rs 37.42 crore and delivered between December 2006 and January 2008 had also not commenced.

The procurement of 35 such “vital” systems, which was to increase operational effectiveness on dark nights and enhance safety of aircraft by reducing the pilot’s workload and enabling him to concentrate on navigation, target acquisition and weapon delivery, took more than eight years to complete.

The integration of the system onto the aircraft was to be done by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The fitment of the system was to coincide with the Navigation Weapon Aiming Sub-System (NAVWASS) upgradation that was being undertaken by the HAL. The entire fleet was to be equipped with this system.

A feasibility study in December 1998 before conclusion of the contract had identified the avionics bay area of the aircraft for fitment of the system. However, despite this and two more subsequent feasibility studies conducted till 2002, the placement of the system in the aircraft remained inconclusive. It was only by 2003, nearly four years after the conclusion of the supply contract, that a suitable area in the aircraft could be identified for placement. This delay led to the postponement of the delivery, which was to have been completed by June 2002.

Further, the contract concluded in 1999 provided that IAF would be able to obtain Transfer of Technology for indigenous licensed production of the system. Though a proposal for setting up the production facilities was initiated in January 2000, no further progress was achieved, leaving the IAF dependent on foreign vendors.

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Graft Case
Homes of Jharkand ex-CM Koda, three former ministers raided
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 24
The investigative wing of the Jharkhand cabinet’s vigilance department carried out simultaneous raids on Friday at the official and ancestral house of former chief minister Madhu Koda and three ex-ministers of his erstwhile cabinet. Koda is now an independent member of the Lok Sabha from the Singhbum constituency.

The search operation in nine different places in Ranchi, Chaibasa, Palamu and Garhwa was still on till the time of filing this report at 6 pm. Preliminary reports said many incriminating papers were seized from the homes of these politicians. The squad conducting the raid also seized a country made pistol along with some bullets from the Ranchi house of Bandhu Tirkey, who was HRD minister in the Koda cabinet.

The other ex-ministers whose houses were raided are independent MLA Bhanu Pratap Shahi, who was health & family welfare minister, and Kamlesh Singh, who held the water resources department portfolio in the Koda ministry.

When contacted by The Tribune, chief of the Vigilance department’s investigation wing Neyaz Ahmed, a DG rank IPS officer, said the search operations at the houses of the four politicians were conducted in connection with a case filed against them at the Ranchi vigilance police station about two weeks ago. He said the case, under different sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, that also included charges of possessing disproportionate assets, was filed at the behest of the special vigilance court. One Rajesh Sharma had filed a complaint petition against Koda and his ex-cabinet colleagues in the court of the Special Judge Vigilance, Ranchi, charging them with amassing huge wealth, misuse of official property and indulging in corrupt practices, he added.

While hearing the petition the court asked the vigilance department’s investigation wing of to conduct a probe into these charges. On the basis of the court’s directive the vigilance sleuths carried out a preliminary inquiry and found the allegations to be substantially true. Following this a regular case was lodged against them and a notice was served to Koda and his former colleagues to reply to the charges within two weeks. However, of the four accused only Koda and Shahi bothered to reply though after the stipulated deadline. The other two, Tirkey and Singh, had still not replied to the notice, said Ahmed.

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Mamata skips Pranab’s lunch over acquisition bill
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
Sulking over the proposed introduction of Land Acquisition Amendment Bill and Resettlement and Rehabilitation Bill, Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee today skipped the lunch which leader of the Lok Sabha and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee threw for the MPs on the Parliament House premises.

Hers’ was the only party that went unrepresented at the goodwill bash, which marked the introduction of the Finance Bill in the Lower House today. Not that it made a significant difference, with government sources reiterating that the twin bills mooted by the Rural Development Ministry would be introduced in Parliament in the current session in any case.

Once brought, they would be referred to the Standing Committee on Rural Development, which can then record the apprehensions of Mamata, who is particularly opposed to the 70: 30 clause in the Acquisition Bill. The clause, she feels, does not provide for the protection to farmers from eviction and is open to exploitation. With little choice on the front now, TMC sources said today they would put across their views on the subject when the bills come up for discussion in the House, adding that they would “vote accordingly”.

Meanwhile, the coming week will witness cracker of a session, with urgent issues of national importance like drought and foreign policy to come up for discussions in the Lok Sabha. While the drought-like situation would be debated on July 28, the other issue will be taken up the next day.

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Cong names Tytler chief of Bihar unit
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
The Congress party has apparently rehabilitated its controversial leader, Jagdish Tytler, by appointing him in charge of the Bihar unit. He replaces Iqbal Singh and is expected to play an active role in reviving the party’s base in that state. Singh was appointed lieutenant governor of Pondicherry earlier this week.

Tytler was dropped as the party candidate for the Northeast Delhi seat in the recent Lok Sabha elections. This was done in the wake of an incident in which a reporter hurled a shoe at Home Minister P Chidambaram to protest against the CBI’s ‘clean chit’ to Tytler over his alleged involvement in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

The former minister’s political career has seen several twists and turns. He was given the party ticket from Northeast Delhi but the shoe-hurling incident once again brought into focus the case in which Tytler was an accused. As the matter threatened to snowball into a major political issue, fearing reprimand from the Sikh community in the Punjab elections, a nervous Congress persuaded Tytler and co-accused Sajjan Kumar to withdraw from the electoral fray.

The Congress is now preparing for the assembly polls in the state that are due next year and Tytler’s appointment comes at a time when a majority of leaders in the Bihar Congress unit feel the party should go it alone and not have any truck with Lalu Prasad Yadav’s RJD.

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Rs 500-crore telecom satellite okayed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
The government has given its approval for the development of a Rs 500-crore advanced communication satellite to provide telecom links with small Ku-band terminals operating across the country.

The clearance for the design and development of GSAT-11 communication satellite, which is planned to be realised in 30 months, came at the meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh late last night.

The GSAT-11 is an advanced communication satellite which will be a high capacity multi-team Ku/Ka-bank spacecraft.

An official release said, "The launch of GSAT-11 will augment the Ku-band capacity considerably for telecommunication services in the country".

With 16 beams in Ku-band and frequency reuse factor of 4, it can provide 10 GHz effective bandwidth equivalent to about 22 transponders of 36 MHz, it said.

GSAT-11 employs a new 1-4K Bus. This craft is configured with two sided large solar array panels generating around 11 KW of DC power. The craft structure is designed for a lift-off mass of about 4,500 kgs with a dry mass of 2100 kg.

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Centre defends defence pact
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News service

New Delhi, July 24
The government today strongly defended the end-user monitoring arrangement reached with the US for defence procurements in the face of mounting criticism of the accord both by political parties and the intelligentsia.

“The arrangement clearly provides for joint consultations on verification of the equipment…we are not permitting automatic access to our military bases or facilities,” official sources here said.

The accord reached during the recent visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to India attracted sharp criticism from the Opposition parties in Parliament with members in both Houses describing it as a sell-out.

The sources said the fears of the Opposition were entirely misplaced. The accord provided a win-win situation for India. “What we are trying to do is to systematise our defence procurements for the future.” Replying to a question, sources said there was no discussion on the comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT) with Hillary during the visit.

On the joint statement adopted by the G-8 countries vowing to ban transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technologies to countries which are not signatories to the NPT, they said India was confident that those nations which had entered into nuclear agreements with India would fulfil all their obligations. “What we want is that there should be no discrimination against us…we got a clean waiver from the NSG,” they added.

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Delhi Metro Mishap
HC notice to Gammon India

New Delhi, July 24 
The Delhi High Court today issued notice to Gammon India, a contractor in Delhi Metro Rail project, on a petition filed by the family members of victims of the July 12 mishap, seeking compensation.

Justice Rewa Khetrapal directed the company to file its response by August 20 when the matter would be taken up for further hearing. The court passed the order on a joint petition filed by family members of four persons who lost their lives in the mishap.

Six persons, including an engineer, were killed and more than 12 others injured when an under-construction over-bridge of the Delhi Metro collapsed on July 12 in south Delhi.

The petitioners pleaded before the court that the family of the deceased should get a compensation of Rs 50 lakh each while injured persons should be given Rs 25 lakh each. — PTI

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BJP cautious over Modi verdict
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 24
The BJP has reacted with caution and restraint on the Gujarat High Court verdict allowing the apex court-appointed SIT to investigate the role of state Chief Minister Narendra Modi and 62 others, including his cabinet colleagues and senior officers, for their role in the Gujarat riots of 2002.

BJP deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj restricted her comment to saying, “High Court is not the final court. We still have the Supreme Court. The matter is not over as yet.”

The High Court rejected the petition of a former BJP MLA Kalu Malivad seeking to stay the SIT investigations against Modi and others. Malivad is one of the accused.

The apex court took cognisance of a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, whose husband Ehsan Jafri, a former Congress MP, was burnt alive in his house in Gulbarg colony in Ahmedabad on February 27 by the rioting mob. His urgent phone calls to the state police and administration to save him went unheeded. She and 39 others had alleged in the complaint that Modi, his cabinet colleagues, police officials and senior bureaucrats aided and abetted the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Malivad had asked the Gujarat High Court to restrain the SIT from arresting persons named in the complaint, including Modi. Now the SIT is free to question Modi and other accused and if there is a prima facie evidence to register cases against Modi and anyone else, the SIT may find him guilty of aiding and abetting the riots.

The Supreme Court had earlier ordered the setting up of six fast-track courts to hear nine major riot cases and also directed protection to the witnesses.

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Stripping Incident
NCW seeks report from Bihar

New Delhi, July 24
Expressing shock at the alleged stripping of a woman in public, the National Commission for Women today sought a report from the Bihar government and asked Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to ensure such incidents do not take place.

NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas said she was “shocked to see TV footage” of the incident and had asked for a report with regard to the incident when the 22-year-old woman was allegedly stripped by a group of people in Patna yesterday. The woman, a resident of Jasidih in Jharkhand, was allegedly engaged in flesh trade and had picked up a quarrel with one Rakesh, a suspected pimp, over sharing of money, the police said.

She then took Rakesh’s mobile demanding more money.

Rakesh started shouting that she had stolen his mobile phone after which a group of people beat up the woman and allegedly tore her clothes. — PTI

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