SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


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

Oppn leads protest to Prez door
NDA apprises Pratibha Patil of apprehensions about independent foreign policy

NDA leaders during their protest at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi New Delhi, July 28
The Opposition NDA has expressed apprehension that India is no longer pursuing an independent foreign policy.

NDA leaders during their protest at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal 

house in Session
Honour killings deplorable: PC

New Delhi, July 28
Pointing out that the government was willing to examine whether honour killings could be separately defined in the law, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said it was an issue for which “we should hang our heads in shame".


EARLIER STORIES

RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and Left party MPs protest against price rise at Parliament in New Delhi
RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav and Left party MPs protest against price rise at Parliament in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

Soon, autonomous body to monitor TV content
New Delhi, July 28
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, when countered with a united demand by MPs for regulating content on TV, said yesterday the government would soon have an independent and credible regulatory mechanism for monitoring content on television.

Rahul presses for package for UP
New Delhi, July 28
AICC general-secretary Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to press for implementation of a central government report for a package of Rs 8,000 crore for development of the backward Bundelkhand region.

Weak monsoon to affect rice crop
New Delhi, July 28
Insufficient rains due to the weak monsoon this kharif season may adversely affect paddy production in important rice-growing states, including Punjab and Haryana, by around 15 to 20 per cent, Rajya Sabha MP and eminent agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan has pointed out.

India differs on Harvard Centre’s findings on NREGA
New Delhi, July 28
Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain today informed the Rajya Sabha that the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies had observed that the potential of NREGA is not fully implemented because the scheme had led to inflation and undermines self-selection of poor.

Caring an act of faith: Prof Baxi
New Delhi, July 28
Former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University, and currently professor of Warwick University in the UK Prof Upendra Baxi says candidly: “Is the idea of a caring state an oxymoron? The Constitution of India speaks of Bharat, a legendry term, and it is ironical that modern leaders of Bharat send the ‘praja’ or the populace into the wilderness, to exile.”

No Indian interference in Balochistan: Kabul
New Delhi, July 28
Amid Pakistan’s attempt to cash in on the reference to Balochistan in the India-Pakistan joint statement, Afghanistan has dismissed Islamabad’s charge that India was backing insurgency in Pakistan’s restive province.

Debate on foreign policy today
New Delhi, July 28
There is suddenly a cloud of suspicion and misgiving over the much awaited debate in the Lok Sabha on the controversial Indo-Pak agreement, scheduled for tomorrow, with the government agreeing to the Left demand to precede this by a short duration discussion on price rise.

Deal for SU-30s deprives industry of Rs 2,711 crore
Chandigarh, July 28
The mighty SU-30s are the pride of the IAF, but their procurement has generated some turbulence. A deal to procure 40 such aircraft has apparently deprived the Indian industry of Rs 2,711 crore in offset benefits. This has happened because the Ministry of Defence and the IAF failed to go in for an offset clause as stipulated in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).

Govt-Gujjar talks inconclusive
Jaipur, July 28
The talks between the state government and the Gujjars over the vexed reservation issue remained inconclusive even as the Gujjar leadership decided to continue their Mahapadav (sit-in) at Penchla Mod in Karuali district to press for their demand.

Bill proposing death for bootleggers passed
Gandhinagar, July 28
The Gujarat assembly today unanimously passed the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment Act) 2009 bill that proposes death sentence or life imprisonment for those found guilty of manufacturing and selling illicit liquor in case of death of those who consume the brew in the state.

Publisher booked for carrying Prophet’s picture
Lucknow, July 28
The Lakhimpur Khiri district administration has filed an FIR against the publisher, Govind Prakashan, and seized 621 copies of an explosive book carrying the picture of Prophet Mohammad. The case has been filed under Sections 153-A and 295 of the IPC.

UP Governor takes charge
Lucknow, July 28
Banwari Lal Joshi was today sworn in as the 28th Governor of Uttar Pradesh at a simple ceremony held at Gandhi Sabhagar at Raj Bhawan today.

Congress insists on CBI probe
Lucknow, July 28
The Congress today reiterated to its demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the attack on the house of Uttar Pradesh party chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who was arrested July 15 for making derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati.

Flood fear haunts Bihar again
Patna, July 28
A record water discharge into the Kosi river from Nepal has revived fears of a repeat of last year's devastating floods in Bihar. The state government has sounded a high alert as the increasing water levels pose a threat to the river's embankment, officials said Tuesday.

Army for political solution to strife in Assam
Dimapur, July 28
The Army believes that the permanent solution to the vexed insurgency problem and recurring bouts of ethnic strife in North Cachar Hills district of Assam can be arrived at only through political process.

Main accused let off in scribe murder case
Guwahati, July 28
A district and sessions court today acquitted Mridul Phukan, a former ULFA militant, the main accused in the sensational murder of senior journalist Parag Kumar Das, the executive editor of leading Assamese daily "Asomiya Pratidin", due to lack of evidence, hence kicking off resentment across the state. Das was shot dead in the heart of Guwahati in  May 1996.

Cops use batons to disperse women in Lalgarh
Kolkata, July 28
Though no untoward incident took place at Lalgarh today during the visit of two Central ministers Mukul Roy and Sishir Adhikery, as soon as they returned to Kolkata, the police lathicharged and fired tear gas shells at a women procession. The protesters were demanding immediate withdrawal of paramilitary forces from schools and other institutions that they had been occupying for the last one month, thus, affecting educational interests of the children.

Actress Leela Naidu dead
Mumbai, July 28
Actress Leela Naidu, who mesmerised audiences with her classic beauty in films like "Anuradha" and "Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke", died here today after a prolonged bout of influenza. She was 69. The actress, who came into the spotlight after winning the Miss India title in 1955, was later featured in the Vogue magazine along with Maharani Gayatri Devi in the list of 'World's 10 Most Beautiful Women'. Born to renowned scientist Ramaiah Naidu and an Irish mother, Leela began her career with Hrishikesh Mukherjee's National Award winning film "Anuradha" in 1960 opposite Balraj Sahni.

A motorcyclist rides over the outstretched hands of schoolchildren during a function at a school in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu Motorcyclist rides over children’s hands
Chennai, July 28
In a shocking school event, a motorcyclist rode on outstretched hands of children and over a wooden plank placed on a girl’s stomach in Villupuram district, forcing a minister’s wife who was the chief guest to stop the show. The event, held at an elementary school in Villupuram district, 162 km from Chennai, evoked strong criticism from child rights activists.



A motorcyclist rides over the outstretched hands of schoolchildren during a function at a school in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu. — PTI

‘Dalits’ remain a backward lot: Study
Bangalore, July 28
‘Dalit’ children are made to sit separately when midday meals are served to students in village schools in Madhya Pradesh. If they protest they are threatened and even thrashed by teachers.

Youth reunited with family after 13 years
Thiruvananthapuram, July 28
The story of reunion of this Gujrati lad with his family after 13 years is no less than a Bollywood flick. In a real-life story of family reunion, an 18-year-old youth from Gujarat has traced his parents after spending more than a decade in a charity home in Kerala.





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Oppn leads protest to Prez door
NDA apprises Pratibha Patil of apprehensions about independent foreign policy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
The Opposition NDA has expressed apprehension that India is no longer pursuing an independent foreign policy.

A delegation of NDA leaders led by Leader of Opposition LK Advani called on President Pratibha Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here today and submitted a memorandum questioning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wisdom in signing the Indo-Pak agreement with Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at Sharm Al-Sheikh on July 16.

The NDA has also objected to the Indo-Pak joint statement delinking terror from proposed composite dialogue between the two countries. The memorandum makes a mention of the recent visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the EUMA India has signed with the USA and said it suggested that India had succumbed to the US pressure in agreeing to talk to Pakistan sans the terror issue and admitting to its involvement in Balochistan.

The delegation comprised Advani, NDA convener Sharad Yadav, Shiv Sena leader Anantrao Geete, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Ratan Singh Ajnala, BJP president Rajnath Singh, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and M Venkaiah Naidu. They all signed the memorandum.

Earlier, when Swaraj on Friday disclosed NDA’s intent to meet the President on the issue, Sharad Yadav had ruled out his or his party’s participation citing differences with the BJP on the issue of Indo-Pak amity. He stated nothing on why and how he changed his stand overnight.

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house in Session
Honour killings deplorable: PC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Pointing out that the government was willing to examine whether honour killings could be separately defined in the law, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said it was an issue for which “we should hang our heads in shame".

Replying to a calling attention notice in Rajya Sabha on the honour killings, the Home Minister said he was willing to look into whether the Special Marriage Act requires any changes so that such crimes could be dealt with effectively.

He said though there was no separate law to deal with the crime, these cases have to be treated as murders.

He added that the caste panchayat that did not have the recognition under the law, also have to be treated as accomplices abetting honour killings.

The solution to the problem was in giving exemplary punishments to the guilty. He also urged the state governments to go for fast track trials of such cases. Earlier, members cutting across party lines expressed their concern on the increasing incidents of alleged honour killings. They sought special laws to deal with the increasing number of such crimes.

Chidambaram said while the burden of evidence generally lies with the prosecution, the government could see whether at some point of time, it could be shifted to the accused.

Earlier, Tarlochan Singh (Ind) said incidents of honour killings were no less than what were being perpetrated by Taliban in Pakistan.

Initiating the discussion, Brinda Karat said it was unfortunate that despite increasing number of cases the government was not ready to make a separate law to deal with the problem.

She quoted a judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court which, she said, had expressed concern over the state remaining a mute spectator for large number of petitions from young boys and girls seeking protection. She also demanded simplification of the Special Marriage Act.

Najma Heptulla (BJP) said in Islam a marriage was not recognised unless the consent of boy and the girl was obtained. She said in the case of alleged honour killings, the issue was suppressed by the police because they were also connected to castes. 

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Soon, autonomous body to monitor TV content
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni, when countered with a united demand by MPs for regulating content on TV, said yesterday the government would soon have an independent and credible regulatory mechanism for monitoring content on television.

Soni was replying to a short debate in the Rajya Sabha in which members were demanding an independent regulatory authority to keep a control on the content on television. The debate was the out come of a protest by MPs against a reality show ‘saach ka saamna’ being telecast by Star TV.

Soni said, “I appreciate the self regulatory body since there is no other regulatory mechanism so far… discussions are on, whatever we arrive at by way of legislation or an Act needs some more time. Give me some more time.”

MPs cutting across party lines have been demanding action from the ministry. Parliamentarians have also been demanding that several other shows and tele-serials needed to be censored as they were misleading or offensives.

There should be a regulatory body and I agree, said Soni, who has met the body of broadcasters. Participating in the debate Rajiv Shukla of the Congress said there had to be a regulatory authority. A body comprising only media or the broadcasters just cannot run it. He said any move to had body like Press Council of India would be ineffective. He was critical of the television rating agency that gave out TRP figures each week.

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Rahul presses for package for UP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
AICC general-secretary Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to press for implementation of a central government report for a package of Rs 8,000 crore for development of the backward Bundelkhand region.

BSP chief Mayawati had declared 47 districts as drought-hit and asked the Centre for Rs 80,000-crore package, apparently to bolster her position in the state and counter the Congress. With drought relief emerging as the new ground for the Congress-BSP tug-of-war for supremacy in Utter Pradesh, this was the Congress’ way to neutralise the BSP’s effort to corner the UPA government at the Centre.

Accompanied by a delegation of the Congress leaders, Gandhi also urged for a separate Bundelkhand authority for overall development of the region in Uttar Pradesh. The delegation comprised MPs, MLAs and leaders from both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Union Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain and PCC office-bearers from both the states were part of the delegation. Later, the Congress MPs met the Prime Minister separately to apprise him about the situation in Utter Pradesh.

Following the meeting at the residence of the Prime Minister, Digvijay Singh said, “The delegation wanted the implementation of a central report, which had recommended a package of Rs 8,000 crore for Bundelkhand along with the creation of a separate Bundelkhand Development Authority for the development of the area.”

“We pointed out to him that because it concerns two states the overall strategy for the development of Bundelkhand should be drawn up together. All funds should be channelised through that (authority) so that the poverty can be eradicated at the earliest,” Singh added.

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Weak monsoon to affect rice crop
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Insufficient rains due to the weak monsoon this kharif season may adversely affect paddy production in important rice-growing states, including Punjab and Haryana, by around 15 to 20 per cent, Rajya Sabha MP and eminent agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan has pointed out.

Speaking to The Tribune, Swaminathan said Punjab and Haryana, with a rain deficiency of 49 and 64 per cent, respectively, till last week, should now try and make the most of whatever scattered rains they received in the coming days to save the paddy crop, and also to enrich the underground water table.

Notably, the kharif season, which contributes about 80 per cent of the total annual rice production, is very important in the country from the food security point of view. “Most of the rice-growing areas in the country have received deficient or scanty rains. But slippage in Punjab and Haryana, which contribute most of the rice for the public distribution system (PDS), is serious,” he said.

Though Punjab and Haryana may minimise losses by good irrigation facilities, the resultant affect on groundwater may not be favourable for the coming Rabi season. As per the third advance estimate, Kharif rice production in 2008-09 was 86 million tonne. And if there is a 15 per cent decline in production this year, the output could be about 73 million tonne.

“In Punjab, Haryana and western UP, the rice yield is likely to be down by 15 to 20 per cent. But it also depends upon our farmers, who are very hardworking and have the ability to take advantage even from adverse circumstances. Moreover, less rain also means lesser pests and insects. Also, top dressing of fields with fertilisers can now give good results,” he said.

Swaminathan, who also delivered a lecture on “Monsoon management and agricultural progress in an era of climate change” to the MPs in the evening, has three suggestions to tackle the current situation: saving present crop and improving productivity through top dressing of fields; collecting all groundwater, enriching aquifers for the Rabi crop and saving each grain from storage loss.

The MP said the most precious asset the country had was its 55 million tonne buffer stock of food grains, which needed to be treasured by creation of ultra modern storage facilities.

The farmers in Punjab, said Swaminathan, could also go in for cultivation of short-duration crops of maize and pulses to counter the bad monsoon. “It’s time we learn how to prepare for bad monsoon — both drought and floods — and maximise the effect of the good monsoon.” 

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India differs on Harvard Centre’s findings on NREGA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Jain today informed the Rajya Sabha that the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies had observed that the potential of NREGA is not fully implemented because the scheme had led to inflation and undermines self-selection of poor.

Jain, however, said the Ministry of Rural Development was not in agreement with this observation, as the objective of the NREGA was to supplement and not to substitute employment opportunities, including agriculture. The UPA government’s 100-day employment guarantee was to ensure that rural households could demand employment during the lean agricultural season. 

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Caring an act of faith: Prof Baxi
Charu Singh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Former Vice-Chancellor, Delhi University, and currently professor of Warwick University in the UK Prof Upendra Baxi says candidly: “Is the idea of a caring state an oxymoron? The Constitution of India speaks of Bharat, a legendry term, and it is ironical that modern leaders of Bharat send the ‘praja’ or the populace into the wilderness, to exile.”

Professor Baxi was talking on the ‘Difficult relationship between justice and care’ at the Rosalind Wiltson memorial lecture.

Baxi added: “There are four basic inter-related notions of justice, care, responsibility and rights. Care, however, is a very specific virtue, it is concrete. Can acts of care be bonding? Mother Teresa cared for the living dead in Kolkata. For her an act of care was an act of worship. In certain cases, care is linked with grace.”

Baxi continued along the same vein, “Mahatma Gandhi spoke in a different vein, where God emerges as a personification of the impoverished. He reminds me of a great Rabbi and for him the material needs of others are spiritual needs that should 
be fulfilled.”

“Caring is intrinsically an act of faith, an act of magnanimity of spirit, it is the serving of Gods poor,” said Baxi, “It is important to go back to Uncle Marx to understand Mother Teresa’s deep caring.” Baxi further informs that, “Care is not something you can just do. What we have today is a whole variety of institutionalised care professionals and we all operate in complex bureaucracies. Care givers as professionals are not always altruistic, they have invested a lot of care in getting the correct credentials and degrees etc. and expect decent returns on this investment.”

Baxi further opined, “Is media a caring profession or is university teaching and school teaching a caring profession, medicine certainly is, but is the legal profession caring at all? There are some caring professions and others that are potentially caring. However, all these professions are striking that is they often go on strike and many have complicated trade unions. Many professions, when they fail to adopt the language of care, they adopt the language of responsibility.”

“Is the Indian government’s attitude at all caring? Take for instance the Prime Ministers response to a particular situation, when the second generation children of the Bhopal tragedy wrote a letter in their blood to the PM for help, they were turned down, so where is the care? Further, there is also the issue of social responsibility of professionals. The four notions of care, justice, rights and responsibility deserve major attention in the Indian context. This needs to be worked on and exhaustively researched.”

Soli Sorabjee, who was also present on the occasion, commented that, “There maybe a care drain in India, but many people are at least responsible in the early part of their careers. However, we are not a totally careless, indifferent society and caring for others is a natural human reaction for many. Schools play an important role in inculcating caring attitudes in children and help prevent the care drain.”

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No Indian interference in Balochistan: Kabul
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
Amid Pakistan’s attempt to cash in on the reference to Balochistan in the India-Pakistan joint statement, Afghanistan has dismissed Islamabad’s charge that India was backing insurgency in Pakistan’s restive province.

Visiting Afghanistan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta pointed out that this was not a new claim by Pakistan. India had never used the Afghanistan territory against Pakistan. Islamabad’s claim of India’s involvement in Balochistan was absolutely false, he said during his official talks with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.

Spanta called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and also held talks with National Security Adviser MK Narayanan on wide range of issues, including bilateral issues and international developments.

In a joint statement, India and Afghanistan underlined terrorism as “the most important security threat facing the region” and resolved to intensify cooperation in combating it. They would also set up a partnership council to enhance developmental ties.

“The two ministers reaffirmed the abiding determination of the two governments to work for making South Asia an abode of peace, prosperity, moderation and cooperation,” the joint statement said. “They highlighted terrorism as the most important security threat facing the region and reiterated their resolve to combat it,” it added.

In his discussions with Spanta, Prime Minister Singh expressed “India’s support for the aspiration of the Afghan people to build a peaceful, prosperous, democratic, and pluralistic nation.” He also conveyed “his best wishes” to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other leaders of Afghanistan for the forthcoming elections next month and hoped it would strengthen the democratic process in Afghanistan.

The two countries would establish an India-Afghanistan Partnership Council. The step was being seen as a decision reflecting India’s resolve to continue with the reconstruction of Afghanistan. The council would comprise separate groups on political consultation, capacity development, education, power and water, culture, trade, industry, health, and agriculture.

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Debate on foreign policy today
Faraz Ahmad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 28
There is suddenly a cloud of suspicion and misgiving over the much awaited debate in the Lok Sabha on the controversial Indo-Pak agreement, scheduled for tomorrow, with the government agreeing to the Left demand to precede this by a short duration discussion on price rise.

The foreign policy debate sought by the NDA will cover the entire gambit of recent foreign policy issues, including Indo-Pak agreement on keeping terrorism out of the ambit of “composite dialogue,” India agreeing to Pakistan accusing it of fomenting trouble in Balochistan, the Indo-US EUM agreement etc.

The debate had assumed even greater significance in view of the recent reluctance of the Congress to stand alongside Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and defend his actions in Pakistan with conviction and articulation.

Only yesterday, the PM’s party had claimed that all doubts and suspicions would be removed after his statement tomorrow. The Prime Minister is expected to make a brief intervention.

But now the proposed discussion on price rise preceding foreign policy debate leaves very little time for the latter. The government has allocated two-and-a-half hours for price rise discussion and same time for foreign policy debate.

NDA members were not too happy with the development wondered how price rise was included in tomorrow’s list of business when it was not decided earlier in the Business Advisory Committee (BAC).

On his part CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta who moved an adjournment motion today as the Question Hour struck said, “When we raised the issue of price rise today the minister (Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal) said it can be taken up after Question hour tomorrow.”

The government, however, maintained that there was ample time for both the important debates to be taken up tomorrow.

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Deal for SU-30s deprives industry of Rs 2,711 crore
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The mighty SU-30s are the pride of the IAF, but their procurement has generated some turbulence. A deal to procure 40 such aircraft has apparently deprived the Indian industry of Rs 2,711 crore in offset benefits. This has happened because the Ministry of Defence and the IAF failed to go in for an offset clause as stipulated in the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).

In order to arrest declining force levels, the IAF concluded a contract worth Rs 9,000 crore with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in March, 2007, for the supply of 40 aircraft. These were to be delivered in phases between 2008-11.

While revealing this in its latest report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has also pointed out that the IAF did not have any funds allocated for this acquisition and funds were diverted from other programmes. Further, the delivery schedules have been pushed from 2011 to 2012. Against eight aircraft to be delivered in 2008-09, only two were delivered till February, 2009.

The DPP classifies acquisitions as Buy-Indian, Buy and make with Transfer of Technology (ToT) or Buy-Global. Offset clause is applicable in the latter two cases. The MoD and IAF categorised the procurement as Buy-Indian on the grounds that the procurement was a repeat order for equipment developed through ToT.

The CAG termed this categorisation as incorrect. Buy-Indian implied that the indigenous content is a minimum of 30 per cent when an Indian vendor integrates the systems. In the said contract, however, the indigenous content was just five per cent, with 95 per cent of the material being imported.

The MoD maintained that categorisation of the procurement was discussed by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and it was decided to procure the aircraft in the Buy-Indian category taking into account the urgency of procurement, indigenous content and price link and insistence of the offset clause would have delayed negotiations and negated price advantages.

The CAG termed the ministry’s contentions as unacceptable as adherence to the DPP was mandatory. It pointed out that the advice of the Defence Offset Facilitation Agency was not obtained in the matter. Moreover, the DAC was not empowered to supersede provisions of the DPP.

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Govt-Gujjar talks inconclusive
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 28
The talks between the state government and the Gujjars over the vexed reservation issue remained inconclusive even as the Gujjar leadership decided to continue their Mahapadav (sit-in) at Penchla Mod in Karuali district to press for their demand.

All eyes are now on Governor SK Singh who has to take a call on the reservation Bill pending with him for the last one year. The Bill provides five per cent reservation to the Gujjars and three other castes, besides 14 per cent quota to Economically Backward Classes (EBCs).

However, the reservation to the EBCs could not be provided without a constitutional amendment. In such a scenario there is now talk of the government bringing a fresh Bill segregating the Gujjar quota from that of the EBCs. However, for that it will have to wait for the Governor’s next move.

Meanwhile, talking to the media after the meeting, Bainsla said he was open to further talks to the government over the issue. On the other hand, Rajasthan Home Minister Shanti Dhariwal said both the sides agreed on various demands relating to the issue and the only bone of contention was the  time frame.

The Gujjars were insisting that the state government should specify the time frame in which it will get 5 per cent quota implemented, but the former said it would first talk to the Governor, besides consulting legal and constitutional experts, before announcing any deadline for meeting the community’s key demand.

“It is for the Governor to decide as to what will be the fate of the Bill pending with him and subsequently the state government will decide its future course of action. The clear picture will only emerge after the Governor’s decision on the Bill,” he added.

He said the state government has also agreed to the Gujjars’ demand for CBI probe into Lalsot incident. During the Gujjar agitation last year, a violent clash between the Gujjars and Meenas occurred in Lalsot. The government has also agreed to provide jobs on compassionate grounds to 21 family members of the Gujjars who lost their  lives during the agitation last year.

Later, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said they would meet the Governor tomorrow to discuss the issue with him. He said the state government is committed to providing quotas to both the Gujjars as well as the EBCs.

In another related development, Assembly Speaker today suspended three BJP MLAs for one year for creating ruckus over the reservation issue in the House. These MLAs are Gyandev Ahuja, Bhawani Singh Rajawat and Ramlal Gurjar. The state’s Budget and a couple of other Bills were also passed amid uproarious scenes in the House. Later, the Speaker adjourned the Budget Session indefinitely in view of the pandemonium created by the Opposition MLAs. Reacting to the Speaker’s action against its MLAs, the BJP has decided to boycott all government functions in the coming days. 

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Bill proposing death for bootleggers passed

Gandhinagar, July 28
The Gujarat assembly today unanimously passed the Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment Act) 2009 bill that proposes death sentence or life imprisonment for those found guilty of manufacturing and selling illicit liquor in case of death of those who consume the brew in the state.

The new bill follows the death of 136 people after consuming illicit brew in Ahmedabad since July 5.

The Gujarat government proposed an amendment to the Bombay Prohibition Act 1949 proposing harsher punishment for those who manufacture and sell illicit liquor resulting in the death of consumers.

The new bill was tabled in the assembly by the Minister of State for Home, Amit Shah and, after an hour-long discussion, the members unanimously passed the amended bill, which is now called 'Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment Act) 2009'.

The amended bill has also proposed imprisonment of seven to ten years for those found guilty of manufacturing, selling or distributing country liquor in cases where it does not result in the death of any consumer.

Shah told the house that the prohibition policy was proposed by Mahatma Gandhi to the British rulers in 1915.

The Congress party during the British rule had promised Mahatma Gandhi that the party would implement prohibition in Gujarat after independence. It was enacted in Gujarat from 1950.

The Bombay Prohibition Act 1949 had undergone amendments in 1964, 1978, 2003 and 2005. The Bombay Prohibition (Gujarat Amendment Act) 2009 also makes it mandatory for the police to send the seized consignment of country liquor to the Forensic Science Laboratory in Gujarat for testing before suitable charges are filed against the culprits. The seized vehicle in which the liquor was carried would be auctioned and the proceeds deposited in the state government treasury, the amended bill states. — IANS

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Publisher booked for carrying Prophet’s picture
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 28
The Lakhimpur Khiri district administration has filed an FIR against the publisher, Govind Prakashan, and seized 621 copies of an explosive book carrying the picture of Prophet Mohammad. The case has been filed under Sections 153-A and 295 of the IPC.

Earlier, the newly-appointed chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Minorities Commission SMA Kazmi had issued a showcause notice to the state government for the picture published in a reportedly officially prescribed textbook of BEd course run by Ram Manohar Lohia Awadh University based in Faizabad.

However, the state government official spokesperson clarified that the book had not been officially prescribed.

Authored by retired university professor Karan Singh and published by Lakhimpur-based Govind Prakashan, the book is entitled “Udayimaan Bhartiya Samaj ke Shikshak” (Teachers in emerging Indian society).

The decision to send a notice to the state government came after Islamic scholars and the clergy raised a hue and cry over the publication of the picture describing it as “blasphemy”.

Islamic scholars and clerics, including Naib Imam of Lucknow and head of Firangi Mahal, Lucknow’s oldest Islamic seminary, Maulana Khalid Rasheed attended a meeting convened at the Islamic Centre yesterday. President of the All India Shia Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Athar was also present.

“The picture of the Prophet needs to be removed from the book, before it is brought back into circulation in the market,” Maulana declared.

Some time back a Danish cartoonist, who sought to sketch the Prophet had created a huge uproar in Lucknow, where a minister in the Mulayam Singh Yadav government had also declared a prize of Rs 50 crore for the Danish cartoonist head.

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UP Governor takes charge
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 28
Banwari Lal Joshi was today sworn in as the 28th Governor of Uttar Pradesh at a simple ceremony held at Gandhi Sabhagar at Raj Bhawan today.

Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court Chandramauli Prasad administered the oath of office and secrecy.

Joshi, who is also the Governor of Uttarakhand, will continue to hold the charge of Uttarakhand till his successor Margaret Alva takes over.

He replaces T V Rajeswar whose term expired on July 7. He was given a warm send off yesterday.

Chief Minister Mayawati, her cabinet colleagues, Leader of Opposition Shivpal Yadav, Congress Legislature Party leader Pramod Tiwari, BJPLP leader Om Prakash Singh along with senior bureaucrats and police officers attended the swearing-in ceremony of the new Governor.

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Rita's House Attack
Congress insists on CBI probe

Lucknow, July 28
The Congress today reiterated to its demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the attack on the house of Uttar Pradesh party chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who was arrested July 15 for making derogatory remarks against Chief Minister Mayawati.

"If the probe is not ordered we will launch a statewide protest. We want to expose the Mayawati government on the issue of the state sponsored act of violence, corruption and misgovernance," Akhilesh Pratap Singh, Congress spokesperson, told IANS.

Joshi was arrested July 15 and charged under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on charges of making derogatory remarks against Mayawati. She was granted bail by a Moradabad court July 18.

Her Lucknow house was allegedly set on fire on the night of July 15 by a group of ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) workers because she made remarks that offended Mayawati both as a woman and a Dalit. — IANS

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Flood fear haunts Bihar again

Patna, July 28
A record water discharge into the Kosi river from Nepal has revived fears of a repeat of last year's devastating floods in Bihar. The state government has sounded a high alert as the increasing water levels pose a threat to the river's embankment, officials said Tuesday.

The state government has alerted top officials, including engineers, to keep a close watch on the newly repaired structures on the river banks, an official of the water resources department said.

"The government has sounded a high alert in the Kosi region following a record water discharge into the Kosi river from Nepal," he said.

Rajeshwar Dayal, engineer-in-chief of the water resources department, has been camping at the Kosi barrage site at Birpur to monitor the situation. Officials of the newly set-up flood fighting force have also been deployed at the site.

The disaster management department has directed district officials to alert people living between the two embankments of the Kosi and help them to move to safer places, official sources said.

After heavy rains in Nepal in the last two days, the discharge of water into the Kosi river was recorded at 312,000 cusecs till Tuesday morning. It is said to be the maximum discharge into the river in the last five years. — IANS

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Army for political solution to strife in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Dimapur, July 28
The Army believes that the permanent solution to the vexed insurgency problem and recurring bouts of ethnic strife in North Cachar Hills district of Assam can be arrived at only through political process.

“The solution to the problems in the district has to be political. We can only control it and prepare the ground for the political process,” said Brigadier NK Misra, based in the Army’s 3 Corps headquarter at Rangapahar near here.

Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary GK Pillai will arrive in Assam on Thursday to make an assessment of the situation in the state. He is also scheduled to visit North Cachar hills on Friday.

The situation in the strife-torn district is improving gradually. The Army has moved into the interior areas of the district, leaving security of the railway track and national highway to the state police and para-military forces.

“The situation is slowly improving because of better coordination in operation and intelligence sharing among the Army, the police, the CRPF and the civil administration. We meet every evening to discuss strategy for the next day. The Army is now moving into the interior areas in order to help the civil administration rebuild confidence among various communities,” Brigadier Misra said.

The North Cachar Hills district, which has witnessed a series of violence mainly perpetrated by the banned Jewel Garlosa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah - DHD(J) - which is better known as Black Widow, falls under the jurisdiction of 3 Corps of the Army. As many as four infantry battalions of the Army are currently deployed in the district in addition to one battalion of the Assam Rifles, 25 companies of the CRPF and 10 platoons of the Assam Police.

“The police and para-military forces have sanitised 3-km stretch along the railway track to ensure safe running of trains. We have now fanned out our troops to the interiors to help the civil administration to reach out to the remote villages,” Brigadier Misra said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi informed the state assembly that ethnic clashes between the Dimasa and Zeme tribes had left at least 63 dead since March. Nearly 13,000 persons from both communities had been rendered homeless and were now lodged in 32 relief camps across the district.

“The Army is also trying to help the administration to shift people from vulnerable villages to 12 proposed clusters that will have round-the-clock security till peace returns. The Army is also ready to provide logistical support to the administration to set up more police stations in the district,” Brigadier Misra said.

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Main accused let off in scribe murder case
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 28
A district and sessions court today acquitted Mridul Phukan, a former ULFA militant, the main accused in the sensational murder of senior journalist Parag Kumar Das, the executive editor of leading Assamese daily "Asomiya Pratidin", due to lack of evidence, hence kicking off resentment across the state. Das was shot dead in the heart of Guwahati in  May 1996.

The district and sessions judge of Kamrup (Metro) gave his verdict today. The Assam police had handed over the case to the CBI two years after the murder.

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Cops use batons to disperse women in Lalgarh
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 28
Though no untoward incident took place at Lalgarh today during the visit of two Central ministers Mukul Roy and Sishir Adhikery, as soon as they returned to Kolkata, the police lathicharged and fired tear gas shells at a women procession. The protesters were demanding immediate withdrawal of paramilitary forces from schools and other institutions that they had been occupying for the last one month, thus, affecting educational interests of the children.

During their talks with the people at Lalgarh, both ministers and Trinamool Congress (TMC) opposition leader in the Assembly Partha Chatterjee also demanded that the police personnel occupying the educational institutions should vacate them so that normal classes could begin forthwith.

They also demanded the state government should immediately start development programme in the area instead of deploying paramilitary forces in the name of joint operation against the Maoists. Chatterjee said the problem of the Maoists should be tackled politically and the state government should also adopt some short-term and long-term development programme in the neglected areas. The two ministers declared they would impress upon the Centre for sanctioning various development schemes at Lalgarh, which, they felt, could solve the Maoists problems in the area to a large extent.

Setback for Cong-TMC ties

The unity stand of the Congress and the TMC suffered a set back today following their disagreement over the selection of candidates at the two Assembly by-elections at Sealdah and Bowbazar scheduled to be held on August 18. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee was aggrieved that their legitimate demand for fighting from both seats had been denied. She was also annoyed that the Congress had set up unitarily the municipal board at Uluberia today by making a back-door seat adjustment with the CPM against TMC’s claim. 

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Actress Leela Naidu dead

Mumbai, July 28
Actress Leela Naidu, who mesmerised audiences with her classic beauty in films like "Anuradha" and "Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke", died here today after a prolonged bout of influenza. She was 69. The actress, who came into the spotlight after winning the Miss India title in 1955, was later featured in the Vogue magazine along with Maharani Gayatri Devi in the list of 'World's 10 Most Beautiful Women'.

Born to renowned scientist Ramaiah Naidu and an Irish mother, Leela began her career with Hrishikesh Mukherjee's National Award winning film "Anuradha" in 1960 opposite Balraj Sahni.

She made her international debut with the Merchant Ivory film "The Householder" in 1963 where she played Shashi Kapoor's rebellious young bride. Leela became a favourite with art-house filmmakers with movies like "Ummeed" and "Yeh Raaste Hain Pyar Ke", which saw her paired opposite Sunil Dutt.

But her career was short lived as she quit acting after starring in the Merchant Ivory production "The Guru" in 1969 to settle down with hotelier Tikki Oberoi. The marriage ended in a divorce and Leela later married her childhood sweetheart and poet Dom Moraes and stayed with him in Hong Kong for about 10 years. — PTI 

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Motorcyclist rides over children’s hands

Chennai, July 28
In a shocking school event, a motorcyclist rode on outstretched hands of children and over a wooden plank placed on a girl’s stomach in Villupuram district, forcing a minister’s wife who was the chief guest to stop the show.

The event, held at an elementary school in Villupuram district, 162 km from Chennai, evoked strong criticism from child rights activists.

The show, organised recently in connection with birth anniversary celebrations of former Chief Minister K Kamaraj, began with students displaying their Karate skills followed by the motorcyclist riding on the hands of children from classes one to five, lying on the ground. Later, the rider drove the two-wheeler over a wooden plank placed on a schoolgirl’s stomach.

However, the show came to an end after the wife of Tamil Nadu Higher Education Minister K Ponmudi, the chief guest on the occasion, asked the school authorities to stop the event, a member of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA), said.

School authorities claimed the event was organised after obtaining the PTA’s consent.

They said students were trained to take part in the event and none had sustained any injuries.

The state government has sought an explanation from Villupuram Chief Educational Officer (CEO).

Disapproving such events, Ponmudi said a circular would be sent to all the schools not to encourage it. — PTI

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‘Dalits’ remain a backward lot: Study
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 28
‘Dalit’ children are made to sit separately when midday meals are served to students in village schools in Madhya Pradesh. If they protest they are threatened and even thrashed by teachers.

In Rajasthan ‘Brahmins’ do not permit a wedding procession of ‘dalits’ to pass through areas dominated by the former. In a village in Murshidabad district in West Bengal it was found ‘dalits’ were not allowed to fetch water from the common tap and they were served food in separate vessels during a feast.

These are some of the findings of a study conducted for the central government by the Bangalore-based National Law School of India University (NLS).

Speaking to this reporter, Prof S Japhet, director of the university’s Centre for Study of Social Exclusion & Inclusive Policy, noted: “We faced hostility from ordinary people in Rajasthan and MP. However, what was more disappointing was the resistance shown by both judicial officers and the police to answer our queries. They thought our objective was to expose them”.

24 villages, two each in two districts of six states - Rajasthan, MP, UP, West Bengal, Karnataka and Andhra - were taken up for the study, whose objective was to evaluate the impact of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 in eradicating the scourge of “untouchability”. Eight sets of people including the law enforcers (judiciary and police) and the victims (the ‘dalits’) were questioned by researchers for the purpose of the study.

The study observed “there seems to be progress in certain areas to religious disabilities - for example, in many states all ‘untouchables’ were allowed entry into temples.” It, however, added “notable instances of ‘caste’ based discrimination still exists in the religious sphere, giving cause and reason to better implement beneficial legislation like the Protection of Civil Rights Act”.

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Youth reunited with family after 13 years

Thiruvananthapuram, July 28
The story of reunion of this Gujrati lad with his family after 13 years is no less than a Bollywood flick. In a real-life story of family reunion, an 18-year-old youth from Gujarat has traced his parents after spending more than a decade in a charity home in Kerala.

Bharat, who had run away from a hostel at Amraiwadi in Gujarat while he was studying in class two, had grown up at Gokulam Balasadanam near Perinthalmanna town in Kerala's Malappuram District all these years before he reunited with his parents a month back.

Bharat's mother Bharati Ben and her two other sons visited the Sadanam yesterday to share their joy with other inmates of the charity home.

According to Krishnadas, one of the patrons of the home, Bharat was saved from the clutches of a beggar at the railway station in Malappuram by a samaritan.

"We are extremely happy that Bharat has been able to find his parents. It is his choice to continue in the Sadanam. Though born to Gujarati parents, he is as good as a native Malayali now," told Krishnadas. — PTI

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