SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Parliament passes Finance Bill
Pranab defends high deficit
New Delhi, July 29
Parliament today passed the Finance Bill, 2009 with the Rajya Sabha returning the bill after unanimously passing it. With this the budgetary process for 2008-09 has been completed. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this week.

Missing Babri Dispute Files
CBI probe may prove inconclusive
Lucknow, July 29
The CBI enquiry being conducted into the 23 missing files of the Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi dispute is not likely to yield anything worthwhile as the seven documents demanded by the Allahabad High Court do not appear to be part of these files.

Antony says no contract with Russia on Gorshkov
New Delhi, July 29
Several controversies and five years after India announced that a Russian sea-based aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, will be added to the Naval fleet, Defence Minister AK Antony today said: “We have not signed any contract (with the Russians) only negotiations are going on.”




EARLIER STORIES

Division among SCs in Bihar complete
‘Mahadalits’ hold protest against Paswan
Patna, July 29
With the "Mahadalits" (the downtrodden among the Dalits) in Bihar shouting slogans against Ram Vilas Paswan and burning his effigy on the streets of the state capital today, the division in Scheduled Castes appears to be complete in the state.

JD(U) workers during a protest against LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan in Patna on Wednesday. — A Tribune photograph
JD(U) workers during a protest against LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan in Patna on Wednesday.

249 protected monuments under encroachmentt
New Delhi, July 29
The government said today 249 centrally protected monuments and archaeological sites were under illegal encroachment. Union Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy told Parliament that there were several instances of illegal encroachments at centrally protected monuments due to factors like rapid urbanisation, increasing pressures on land and commercialisation.

Former cricketer and Congress MP from Moradabad Mohammad Azharuddin congratulates his supporters after Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi was granted an interim bail in Moradabad on Wednesday.
Former cricketer and Congress MP from Moradabad Mohammad Azharuddin congratulates his supporters after Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi was granted an interim bail in Moradabad on Wednesday. — PTI

Unqualified docs in Delhi govt hospitals?
New Delhi, July 29
An application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information about doctors working in government hospitals in Delhi has brought to light a possible scandal involving appointment of unqualified doctors as junior specialists.

‘No one rank, one pension for officers’
Chandigarh, July 29
There would be no one rank-one pension (OROP) scheme for retired commissioned officers of the armed forces. Nor would there be any further improvement in the pension of officers after some recent modifications.

HC’s no to stay on ‘Sach Ka Samna’
New Delhi, July 29
The Delhi High Court today dismissed two petitions seeking a stay on the controversial TV show 'Sach Ka Samna', saying that “moral policing is not its function”.

Charismatic royal, style icon Gayatri Devi dead
Jaipur, July 29
Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, once listed among the World’s ten most beautiful women by Vogue magazine, died after prolonged illness at Santokba Durlabhji Hospital here on Wednesday. She was 90. Gayatri Devi had recently undergone endoscopy after a blockage was detected in her intestine. Dr SC Kala, who was attending on her, said she was suffering from paralytic ileus, a condition when one’s intestines don’t move. She also had respiratory pneumonia. “She recovered from her gastrointestinal problems but was detected with a lung infection yesterday. Her condition deteriorated this morning and she succumbed to her illness,” he said.

Tribune journalists get excellence award
Chandigarh, July 29
Two journalists working for The Tribune are recipients of this year’s Karpoor Chandra Kulish Award for Excellence in Print Journalism. Prabhjot Singh, Chief of Bureau at Chandigarh and Shahira Naim, Special Correspondent at Lucknow are likely to receive the award from the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar at a function in New Delhi later this week.

2 TMC leaders killed in clash
Burdwan (WB), July 29
Two Trinamool Congress leaders, including a headmaster of a primary school, were killed and four others injured today allegedly by CPM cadres at Kharjuli Natungram in this district, the police said.

Kingfisher warns staff of bad times
Mumbai, July 29
Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines today announced higher than expected losses and warned employees of delayed salaries and "embarrassment from vendors".

Centre to focus on road development: Kamal Nath
New Delhi, July 29
Aimed at bettering the BJP-led NDA regime’s much-hyped highway programme, Union Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath today laid out the agenda for launching one of the biggest highways development programmes ever initiated in the country. With this, the Congress-led UPA government also wants to better its record in the field during its second tenure at the Centre, as previous Road Transport Minister TR Baalu was seen as a “stumbling block”.

Black Widow ready for talks with govt
Guwahati, July 29
The outlawed Black Widow militant group, which is accused of triggering prolonged spell of violence in North Cachar Hill district of Assam, has expressed its willingness to sit for dialogue with the government.

Instant search & seizure permissible in drug cases: SC
New Delhi, July 29
A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court today held a search and seizure operation could be conducted by a police officer in cases involving narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS) without informing his immediate superior.

Global warming to hit India’s wheat bowl: Pawar
New Delhi, July 29
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar yesterday said global warming would have an adverse impact on India’s wheat bowl -primarily the states of Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

This season it won’t be the apple of your eye
Chandigarh, July 28
It’s pure economics at play, scripting a success story for Himachal’s apple growers this year. The low apple production has meant that the apple growers get the highest ever remuneration for their produce. This in spite of the fact that the quality of the apples leaves much to be desired.

Slugfest spills out of AP Assembly
Hyderabad, July 29
The political slugfest between the ruling Congress and the main Opposition TDP legislators today spilled over to the forecourt of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly building where they resorted to competitive demonstrations and slogan-shouting.

Swine Flu Scare
Don’t panic, no need to shut down, schools told
New Delhi, July 29
On a day when India recorded 23 new swine flu cases, including one each in Chandigarh and Gurgaon and five in Delhi, the government told authorities not to panic and advised them against shutting down schools. Several private schools, especially in Delhi and Maharashtra, have been considering closures due to swine flu detection in some of the students. A meeting of school principals in this regard was held in the capital today.

19 students fined Rs 50,000 each for ragging
Allahabad, July 29
In a bid to stem ragging, the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A), has slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each on 19 female students for allegedly harassing first year students.

AICTE chairman, asst director suspended
New Delhi, July 29
The stain of corruption today led to the suspension of top officials of All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), including its chairman RA Yadav and assistant director, Planning and Coordination Bureau, Sri Om Dalal.

Malayali actor Rajan Dev passes away
Kochi, July 29
Noted Malayali actor Rajan P Dev died at a private hospital here this morning following liver problems.





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Parliament passes Finance Bill
Pranab defends high deficit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
Parliament today passed the Finance Bill, 2009 with the Rajya Sabha returning the bill after unanimously passing it. With this the budgetary process for 2008-09 has been completed. The bill was passed by the Lok Sabha earlier this week.

Replying reply to a question during the debate on the bill, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee stoutly defended the 6.8 per cent fiscal deficit as part of the government’s short-term strategy to achieve a high trajectory growth even in a year of economic slowdown.

He said the risk undertaken by him not to submit to the prescriptions of the Fiscal Responsibility & Budget Management (FRBM) Act for this year seemed to have had a “positive impact”. The downtrend in the manufacturing sector had been arrested and core sector industries had already begun “moving in the right direction’, he added.

“With this the country will be able to achieve the set goals”, said Mukherjee, adding the RBI, which normally adopted “a bit of conservative approach,” had also scaled up the growth rate to over 6% of GDP. Multilateral institutions like the IMF and the World Bank had also concurred with this assessment, he stated.

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Missing Babri Dispute Files
CBI probe may prove inconclusive
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 29
The CBI enquiry being conducted into the 23 missing files of the Babri Masjid-Ramjanambhoomi dispute is not likely to yield anything worthwhile as the seven documents demanded by the Allahabad High Court do not appear to be part of these files.

According to highly places sources in the CBI, after initial search five of the 23 files have already been found in the very Home Department in the state secretariat which had furnished a report to the Chief Secretary that these files were untraceable.

A report of the then Home Secretary Javeed Ahmad dated June 6 (2009) had listed these files as missing. This report was part of the annexure of the main affidavit filed by Chief Secretary Atul Gupta before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on July 7 that is hearing the Ayodhya title suits.

CBI sources point out that these 23 files mentioned in the Home Secretary’s report that are the subject matter of their investigation were created between the years 1989 and 1993.

“Prima facie they do not contain the seven documents relating to 1949 and immediately thereafter which the High Court had directed the government to produce following a 2002 application of the Sunni Wakf Board, the main Muslim party to the dispute. Tracing these files is an exercise in futility, as they seem to have no bearing on the main court case,” said a senior CBI official on condition of anonymity.

The Chief Secretary filed the affidavit before the High Court when his appearance had been made mandatory after several directions by the High Court over the years to produce these documents had brought no results.

The Home Department’s report that is part of the affidavit lists 23 files and mentions that an officer on special duty (OSD) of the state Home Department’s Communalism Control Cell late Subhash Bhan Sadh last took the files away. The Chief Secretary had informed the court on July 7 that the officer had died in an accident in Delhi.

Chief Minister Mayawati recommended a CBI enquiry into the case on July 10. The full bench of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on July 14 reiterated a CBI probe and asked the central agency to submit its report within two months and an interim report by August 24.

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Antony says no contract with Russia on Gorshkov
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
Several controversies and five years after India announced that a Russian sea-based aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, will be added to the Naval fleet, Defence Minister AK Antony today said: “We have not signed any contract (with the Russians) only negotiations are going on.”

A final decision on the contract will be taken after we verify everything including the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. Nothing has been decided the minister said as he attempted to put a lid on the controversy which started last week when the CAG “ripped through” the ministry of defence for paying some Rs 10,000 crore more than what was due for the aircraft carrier.

Antony’s statement was made to a supplementary question raised by T Shiva of Tamil Nadu in which he also admitted, “I agree Russia has asked for a substantially huge amount.” The CAG report had said that "second-hand" carrier will be 60 per cent costlier than a new one and there is the risk of further delay in its delivery.

In his reply Antony put forward something which may have missed the audit books of the CAG: “Very few countries manufacture such carriers and as per the international relations prevailing in 2004, no country other than Russia was ready to give us a warship of this kind.” Russia agreed to gift the carrier to us. (India had to pay for the re-fit and the fighter jets that would be on the deck of the warship) Russia failed to calculate the cost of the re-fit.

In a way Antony may be right the NATO countries have the capability to make such warships and they were not keen to arm India.

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Division among SCs in Bihar complete
‘Mahadalits’ hold protest against Paswan
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 29
With the "Mahadalits" (the downtrodden among the Dalits) in Bihar shouting slogans against Ram Vilas Paswan and burning his effigy on the streets of the state capital today, the division in Scheduled Castes appears to be complete in the state.

By creating a new category among Dalits, called Mahadalits that includes all castes classified as Scheduled Castes other than Paswan and Ravidas (Chamaar) and launching a special drive for their development and political empowerment, the government of Nitish Kumar has succeeded in isolating the LJP Chief, Ram Vilas Paswan, as the leader of just his own caste.

Paswan, undoubtedly, was the tallest Dalit leader of Bihar for the last two decades or so. Even after the rise of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, only the Ravidas community of this state shifted its support towards the Bahujan Samaj Party. Paswan remained the most popular leader among all other categories of Dalits here till the last Assembly election in 2005. But soon after coming to power in the state, the Nitish-led government, apparently as a part of its well-planned political agenda, created a new category of Dalits and named it as Mahadalits on the plea that they were the most downtrodden among the Dalits. The state government earmarked special funds for their development and also empowered them politically. Paswan and his party were dead opposed to this move right from the beginning and charged the Nitish government with dividing the Dalits.

But the state government continued with its agenda to champion the cause of Mahadalits by announcing different schemes for theirsocio-economic and political development. Now the result is for everyone to see. All the Dalits, other than Paswans, have become so hostile towards the leader who led them all this while that they are taking out big processions and shouting slogans against him -their one-time Messiah.

They have also branded the LJP chief as anti- Mahadlit who only espoused the cause of his own caste during his long stint in different governments at the Centre. Needless to say that Nitish Kumar is the new Messiah of Mahadalits in Bihar and his party is all set to garner their votes in the coming election. Perhaps, that is the reason Paswan does not want to break his ties with Lalu Yadav who has also been reduced to a mere caste leader in Bihar politics now.

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249 protected monuments under encroachmentt
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
The government said today 249 centrally protected monuments and archaeological sites were under illegal encroachment. Union Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy told Parliament that there were several instances of illegal encroachments at centrally protected monuments due to factors like rapid urbanisation, increasing pressures on land and commercialisation.

The minister submitted a state-wise list which showed that a total of 249 monuments were under illegal encroachment. Uttar Pradesh topped the list with the largest number of such illegal infringements of centrally protected sites followed by Karnataka.

In the ‘Chandigarh circle’, eight protected sites have encroachment upon. These include a mound known as Mud Fort in Abohar district in Ferozepore, Prithviraj Chauhan Fort in Hansi, Hisar, ancient site Theh at Polar in Siwan in Kaithal district, ancient site Khokra Kot in Rohtak district, Ther Mound in Sirsa, Gateways of Mughal Sarai at Gharaunda, ancient site known as Jarasandh ka Kila at Asand in Karnal district and a Mughal Kos Minar in the Ambala city.

The Archaeological Survey of India protects and maintains 3,675 protected monuments and sites spread over in different parts of the country, including the rural and the backward regions. As per the need and subject to availability of resources, the ASI undertakes conservation, preservation, maintenance, development of environs and creation of tourist related amenities at the centrally protected monuments and sites.

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Unqualified docs in Delhi govt hospitals?
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
An application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking information about doctors working in government hospitals in Delhi has brought to light a possible scandal involving appointment of unqualified doctors as junior specialists.

The information emerging as a result of the RTI application paints a grim picture as regards functioning of the Health and Family Welfare (H&FW) Department, Delhi. It does not rule out the possibility of such a practice being in place for a long time and many unqualified doctors may now be occupying senior positions in Delhi hospitals.

The application was filed by MK Jain seeking information about action taken against two junior doctors (junior specialists) working with the Government of Delhi who did not have any recognised degree. The information so obtained brought to light the fact that the department had been allegedly colluding to employ people not having degrees recognised by the Medical Council of India (MCI).

Despite a letter from the MCI stating that it did not recognise degrees of a particular university presented in the two specific cases, the department has not taken any action against them and they continue to serve in government hospitals.

Information Commissioner Sailesh Gandhi, who heard the appeal, has in fact now written to the Principal Secretary (H&FW) JP Singh directing him to inquire into the matter and send a report to the commission before August 15.

Incidentally, after the RTI application was filed in June, 2008, information was also sought from the MCI regarding the degrees submitted in the said cases. In August last, the H&FW Department got a reply from the MCI saying the “MD (radio-diagnosis) qualification granted by Bundelkhand University in respect of students being trained by MLB Medical College, Jhansi, is not recognised by the council”.

Since then, the file regarding the issue has been floating around in the H&FW Department. However, there is no word as regards the action taken on the serious issue.

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‘No one rank, one pension for officers’
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
There would be no one rank-one pension (OROP) scheme for retired commissioned officers of the armed forces. Nor would there be any further improvement in the pension of officers after some recent modifications.

The recommendations of the high-level committee led by the cabinet secretary that looked into the disparities in pension of ex-servicemen that have been forwarded to and accepted by the government, do not include OROP for officers, highly placed Defence ministry sources revealed.

This revelation is contradictory to Defence Minister AK Anthony’s recent statement reported in certain sections of the media that the recommendation of OROP for officers, too, had been accepted.

Modifications carried out in pension regulations post Sixth Pay Commission (SPC) implementation have brought in parity in the pension of personnel below officer rank (PBOR), but officers have been left out. The government letter notifying the recommendations of the committee is expected to be issued shortly.

Pensions of pre-2006 PBOR will now be computed by taking into account the top end of Fifth Pay Commission scales and notionally configuring it within the SPC pay bands instead of basing the same on the minimum of the new scales.

This implies that a jawan who retired before 2006 and was getting a basic pension of Rs 3,700 would now be granted a basic pension of approximately Rs 5,500.

Upgrading the pensions of pre-06 lieutenant generals to Rs 36,500 per month is also among the accepted recommendations.

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HC’s no to stay on ‘Sach Ka Samna’

New Delhi, July 29
The Delhi High Court today dismissed two petitions seeking a stay on the controversial TV show 'Sach Ka Samna', saying that “moral policing is not its function”.

A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice AP Shah suggested the petitioners to approach the central government over it. "It is for the government to decide whether the programme should be banned or not. It is not the function of the court... There are far more serious problems in this country which we have to settle," the Bench said.

Two petitioners, Deepak Maini and Prabhat Kumar, had approached the court seeking a stay on the show being telecast on Star Plus channel alleging that the programme was against the values of the Indian society.

Rejecting it, the court said, “Our culture is not so fragile that it would be affected by one TV programme.” — PTI

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Charismatic royal, style icon Gayatri Devi dead
Tribune News Service/PTI

Jaipur, July 29
Rajmata Gayatri Devi of Jaipur, once listed among the World’s ten most beautiful women by Vogue magazine, died after prolonged illness at Santokba Durlabhji Hospital here on Wednesday. She was 90.

Gayatri Devi had recently undergone endoscopy after a blockage was detected in her intestine. Dr SC Kala, who was attending on her, said she was suffering from paralytic ileus, a condition when one’s intestines don’t move. She also had respiratory pneumonia. “She recovered from her gastrointestinal problems but was detected with a lung infection yesterday. Her condition deteriorated this morning and she succumbed to her illness,” he said.

Gayatri Devi was flown in from London in an air ambulance on July 17. She was being treated for gastric disorder at the King Edward’s Hospital there.

Ever since she was admitted to the Santokba Durlabhji Hospital here, secrecy was being maintained about her health and only her close family members were allowed to see her. She was being kept in a private room. Though her condition had shown some signs of improvement a few days back, the doctors were tightlipped about the tentative date of her discharge from the hospital.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom descended on the Pink City, as the word about the Rajmata’s death spread. Tourism Minister Bina Kak was among the first to visit the hospital. Kak said she was the brand ambassador of Rajasthan. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot also expressed grief over her demise, saying her contribution to areas like education, tourism, art and culture will always be remembered. Her body has been shifted to the City Palace. The cremation will take place tomorrow. Born on May 23, 1919, as Princess of Cooch Behar, Gayatri Devi became the third Maharani of Jaipur after marrying Sawai Man Singh II. Prince Jagat Singh (1949-1997) was her only child.

Maharani Gayatri Devi was one of the few royals whose liberal outlook took her well beyond the traditionally limited activities of a Queen mother and won unprecedented success in the political arena which was the envy of even former US President John F Kennedy.

Celebrated for her classical beauty and who became something of a fashion icon in her adulthood, Gayatri Devi, styled as the Rajmata, was known for her strong character and was a particularly avid equestrienne. She was the third Maharani of Jaipur from 1939 to 1970.

It was a tragic irony that the 90-year-old royal passed away just a day after actress and beauty Leela Naidu died in Mumbai after a prolonged illness. The prestigious fashion magazine Vogue had named Gayatri Devi as one of the 10 most beautiful women in the world along with Leela.

After Gayatri won the Jaipur seat in the Lok Sabha in 1962, Kennedy introduced her during an event as "the woman with most staggering majority that anyone has ever earned in an election." She tasted victory in the world's largest landslide poll win bagging 192,909 votes of 246,516 cast and the achievement was endorsed by the Guinness Book of Records.

Gayatri Devi contested as the candidate of Swatantra party of C Rajagopalachari, the last and only Indian Governor-General of India.

She continued to hold this seat in 1967 and 1971 running against the Congress. This enraged the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who retaliated in 1971 by abolishing the privy purses, and stopping all royal privileges, breaking the treaties agreed upon in 1947.

Gayatri Devi was accused of breaking tax laws, and served five months in Tihar Jail in Delhi during the Emergency. She retired from politics after that experience.

Born on May 23, 1919, as Princess Gayatri Devi of Cooch Behar, she was the third Maharani of Jaipur from 1939 to 1970 through marriage to Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II. To her friends and family she was more commonly known as Ayesha.

Early in her life, her uncle's death led to her father ascending the throne. Gayatri Devi studied at Shantiniketan and later in Lausanne, Switzerland, where she travelled with her mother and siblings, then studied secretarial skills in London School of Secretaries; Brilliantmont and Monkey Club London.

When she married the Maharaja, she entered the glittering life of City Palace of the pink city, and had to adjust to the unfamiliar customs and to life with wives of other royals.

Gayatri Devi had one child, Prince Jagat Singh of Jaipur. She started schools for girls' education in Jaipur, most prominent of which is the Maharani Gayatri Devi Girls’ Public School. She also promoted the dying art of blue pottery.

In 2006, India's first 3D documentary movie "Rajmata Gayatri Devi's Legacy", based on her life, was made by the students of Arena Multimedia in Jaipur. Rajmata, who has faced tragedies as great as her former triumphs, herself inaugurated the movie through the medium of a digital art exhibition on November 16, 2006.

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Tribune journalists get excellence award
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 29
Two journalists working for The Tribune are recipients of this year’s Karpoor Chandra Kulish Award for Excellence in Print Journalism. Prabhjot Singh, Chief of Bureau at Chandigarh and Shahira Naim, Special Correspondent at Lucknow are likely to receive the award from the Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar at a function in New Delhi later this week.

The theme for this year’s award, instituted by Rajasthan Patrika, was terrorism and the jury went through 173 entries including 18 international entries. Ten reports were singled out for ‘Merit Award’ while the KCK International Award, 2009 has gone to senior journalist Harinder Baweja.

The jury singled out Prabhjot Singh’s report, “ Lunch hours, evenings are chosen for terror strikes” and Naim’s report, “ Azamgarh: District in discomfort” , both the reports published in The Tribune, for the award.

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2 TMC leaders killed in clash

Burdwan (WB), July 29
Two Trinamool Congress leaders, including a headmaster of a primary school, were killed and four others injured today allegedly by CPM cadres at Kharjuli Natungram in this district, the police said.

The 56-year-old headmaster and Trinamool leader Samsur Rehman was stabbed to death in a field allegedly by a group of 30 CPM workers, it said.

Another party leader Jafar Ali, 50, who was assaulted with batons and stabbed, died at the Bardhaman Medical College and Hospital.

Four others were also admitted to the hospital, where the condition of 60-year-old Qutubuddin Mandal was stated to be serious.

Local Trinamool leaders have filed FIR against 25 persons, including CPM’s Burdwan zonal committee secretary Ratan Jalani.

CPM MLA Pradipta, however, claimed there was no political angle in the clash. “It is a village feud.” All the accused are absconding, the police said.

Leader of Opposition Partha Chatterjee said he would visit the village tomorrow and submit a written complaint to Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi. — PTI

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Kingfisher warns staff of bad times
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 29
Vijay Mallya's Kingfisher Airlines today announced higher than expected losses and warned employees of delayed salaries and "embarrassment from vendors".

The airline announced that it has suffered a loss of Rs 240 crore in the April-June quarter as against a loss of Rs 158 crore for the same period last year. The airline’s income from operations fell to Rs 1,313 crore against Rs 1,398 crore during the same period last year as it returned 20 of the 89 aircraft in its fleet as part of restructuring its operations.

The increased loss comes about despite falling prices of fuel. The airline's expense on Aviation Turbine Fuel fell 53 per cent to Rs 414 crore during the quarter.

Mallya later told reporters that Kingfisher Airlines had a debt of Rs 6,000 crore and was looking for diluting equity rather than raise more debt to continue operations. The airline plans to raise Rs 500 crore worth of equity in the coming days.

Meanwhile, in a letter to employees, Kingfisher's executive vice-president Hitesh Patel asked them to brace for delayed salaries and face up to embarrassing moments from vendors who haven't been paid yet.

“Along with all other airlines, we are in a tight situation regarding finances. You can expect to be in embarrassing situations with our vendors; your salaries may be delayed.... Please remember, even as you read this mail, the chairman is out there, fighting a lonely and difficult battle to manage funds so that the salaries can be paid on time,” the mail read.

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Centre to focus on road development: Kamal Nath
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
Aimed at bettering the BJP-led NDA regime’s much-hyped highway programme, Union Road Transport Minister Kamal Nath today laid out the agenda for launching one of the biggest highways development programmes ever initiated in the country. With this, the Congress-led UPA government also wants to better its record in the field during its second tenure at the Centre, as previous Road Transport Minister TR Baalu was seen as a “stumbling block”.

Nath said: “We have set a target to build 7,000 km of road length annually. And in one year alone, we will build more roads than the total got constructed by them (NDA) during its five-year rule.”

Replying to the debate on road transport and national highways in the Rajya Sabha today, he said the ministry would award road projects for a length of 15,000 km amounting to one lakh crore rupees (USD 20,677 miillion) as part of its annual work plan this year. Separately, there is a plan to build some 15,000 km of expressways with an independent expressway authority.

Notably, the UPA government, during its first tenure, was criticised for having gone slow on road development as compared to the previous NDA regime (1999-2004). The Minister said work awarded in the first two-three years was important, as it would determine the success of the highway programme. For achieving the target, he said, stress needed to be laid on capacity building, both within NHAI and also of concessionaires, contractors and technical consultants.

Welcoming the suggestions from MPs on various issues, he informed the House that the toll policy would be revised so as to address concerns raised by the members. On land acquisition, the Minister sought the cooperation of state chief ministers. Nath also announced that the ministry would carry out an exercise for renumbering the national highways so as to facilitate easy identification. Importantly, the Minister also said that the government had approved 1,200 km of national highways and 4,500 km of state highways, amounting to Rs 7,300 crore, in Naxal-affected districts spread across eight states.

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Black Widow ready for talks with govt
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 29
The outlawed Black Widow militant group, which is accused of triggering prolonged spell of violence in North Cachar Hill district of Assam, has expressed its willingness to sit for dialogue with the government.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said today the outfit had even submitted the list of arms and ammunition in its possession for verification by the government. He said the proposal for talks sent by the DHD (J) militants would be discussed with home secretary GK Pillai, who is scheduled to arrive in the state tomorrow for a two-day visit to take stock of the situation in the troubled state in general and strife-torn North Cachar Hill district in particular. The Black Widow was recently banned by the Centre. The outfit was responsible for bringing works to a grinding halt on both the east west corridor project of the National Highway Authority of India and the Lumding-Silchar Gauge Conversion Project of the Northeast Frontier Railway.

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Instant search & seizure permissible in drug cases: SC
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 29
A five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court today held a search and seizure operation could be conducted by a police officer in cases involving narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS) without informing his immediate superior.

“…In special circumstances involving emergent situations the recording of the information in writing and sending a copy thereof to the official superior may get postponed by a reasonable period, that is, after the search, entry and seizure," the bench, headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, clarified.

However, total noncompliance of requirements of subsections 1 and 2 of section 42 of the NDPS Act, 1985 "is impermissible," the bench ruled in a criminal appeal filed by one Karnail Singh against the Haryana government. The other judges on the bench were justices RV Raveendran, DK Jain, P Sathasivam and JM Panchal.

The clarification had been necessitated in view of the two conflicting judgments of the apex court on the subject. “…Delayed compliance with satisfactory explanation about the delay will be acceptable compliance of section 42. To illustrate, if any delay may result in the suspect escaping or the goods or evidence being destroyed or removed, not recording in writing the information received, before initiating action, or not sending a copy” may not be treated as violation of section 42, the court observed.

However, this would not be permissible if the information was received when the police officer was in the police station with sufficient time to take action, the court said.

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Global warming to hit India’s wheat bowl: Pawar
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar yesterday said global warming would have an adverse impact on India’s wheat bowl -primarily the states of Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

In reply to a special discussion on the nation’s drought and flood situation, Pawar in the Lok Sabha accused the Prime Minister’s Office of overseeing the adverse effects of global warming to our wheat bowl.

Except the paddy crop, whose area of cultivation had fallen drastically, the figures for rest of the major crops in the country were high as compared to the corresponding period last year.

He said wheat cultivation of 252 lakh tonnes this year had crossed all-time records ever since the Independence, Pawar said.

Similarly, Pawar said, the rice harvest of 319 lakh tonnes was also unprecedented.

However, he conceded that a reduction of over 6 million hectares of land under paddy cultivation was a matter of concern, adding that measures would be taken to tackle the problem.

The minister said there was no need to be panicky the Indian Meteorological Department has predicted 101 per cent rain in August as against 82 per cent in July.

Pawar said further course of action would be decided after August only.

The minister said the country was well stocked up with wheat and rice to last 13 months. There was also a back up of 15 lakh tonnes seeds for alternative cropping and all states had funds earmarked for them under the National Agricultural Development Scheme.

Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lalan of the JD(U), during the discussion, sought an economic package for drought-hit farmers and setting up of task force on irrigation. He demanded joint action by the Agriculture Ministry and Power and Water Resources Ministries. While praising food-for-work schemes in villages, he stressed upon the need for co-ordination between the Centre and states.

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This season it won’t be the apple of your eye
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
It’s pure economics at play, scripting a success story for Himachal’s apple growers this year. The low apple production has meant that the apple growers get the highest ever remuneration for their produce. This in spite of the fact that the quality of the apples leaves much to be desired.

With a major chunk of the apple produce being picked up by the agri-corporate like Adani Agri Fresh, Concord, Dev Bhoomi Cold chain and Reliance, very few apples will reach the open market this year. This gap in demand and supply is most likely to affect the retail prices of apple in the open market. Already, apple is retailing at Rs 120 per kg in the open market.

The severe drought conditions in the apple growing areas between December and February, and again in May-June, have played havoc with the apple production in Himachal. There has been virtually no snowfall in several apple growing areas and the mite attack at various orchards has affected the crop production, especially in the lower reaches of the apple growing areas.

As a result, apple production this year is expected to be almost 50 per cent of what it was last year - from 5.10 lakh metric tonnes to 2.5 lakh metric tonnes this year.

The erratic climatic conditions have also adversely affected the quality of apples. Orchardists in the hill state agree that the apple is much smaller in size than and not as attractive as last year. “But the rates that the apples are fetching this year are very attractive. The ‘red gold’ variety is now fetching up Rs 800 to Rs 1,000 per 20 kg (one box) as compared to Rs 500 per box last year. Similarly, ‘royal delicious’ variety is fetching up Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,400 per box as compared to Rs 1,100 per box last year,” said RS Chauhan an orchardist in village Kiari, Kotkhai.

Sanjay Mahajan, general manager, Adani Agrio Fresh, says, “In spite of the low production, the prices are very high this year. We, too, will have to hike our procurement price to match with the prices being offered by private commission agents and apple trader, if we want to increase our total procurement. We are hoping to procure 30,000 metric tonnes of apple this season, as against 20,000 metric tonnes procured last year,” he said.

While the production is low, agri-corporate are expected to procure a major chunk of the apple produce. As against 20 per cent of the total apple produce being procured by Adani, Reliance, Dev Bhoomi and Concord last year, these companies are now looking at procuring more quantity this year and could take away 30 per cent of the total produce.

Since these corporate will pick up the best quality of the apples by paying higher prices, only the leftover apples will be available in the open market, and that too at much higher prices.

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Slugfest spills out of AP Assembly
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 29
The political slugfest between the ruling Congress and the main Opposition TDP legislators today spilled over to the forecourt of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly building where they resorted to competitive demonstrations and slogan-shouting.

The war of words between the treasury benches and the Opposition first broke out inside the House over Legislative Affairs Minister K Rosaiah’s allegedly disparaging remarks against senior TDP member G Muddukrishnama Naidu. After the House was abruptly adjourned for the day amid uproarious scenes, the slogan-shouting TDP members marched through the lobbies and then staged a sit-in near the entrance. They turned their ire against the Speaker N Kirankumar Reddy for an “autocratic and biased” approach.

As the Opposition demonstrators squatted opposite the Congress Legislature Party office and raised their pitch, the ruling party MLAs rushed out of their office and started raising counter-slogans, targeting the TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu. The Assembly premises reverberated with slogans and counter-slogans for over 20 minutes. As the confrontation appeared to spin out of control, the policemen formed a human cordon and prevented an ugly situation. Later, senior Congress legislators pacified their agitated colleagues and ensured that they withdrew to their office. The leaders of the two warring parties held a series of media conferences to drive home their points.

The trouble started with the septuagenarian Rosaiah?s outbursts against Muddukrishnama Naidu, calling him a “shameless fellow”. This triggered protests from the opposition benches.

Soon after the Zero Hour today, the TDP MLA sought to re-open the issue and demanded apology from the Minister who was, however, not present in the House. The Speaker assured that he would examine the records and, if necessary, expunge the objectionable remarks. Not satisfied with the Speaker’s assurance, the angry TDP members kept raising slogans and later trooped into the well of the House.

The Leader of the Opposition Chandrababu Naidu said the Speaker should have summoned Rosaiah to the House and asked him to apologise. The Speaker pulled up the TDP members who continued to stall the proceedings and insisted on their demand.

After his repeated attempts to restore order went in vain, the Speaker adjourned the House for the day. Later, the TDP members accused the Speaker of trying to “muzzle the voice of the opposition”.

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Swine Flu Scare
Don’t panic, no need to shut down, schools told
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
On a day when India recorded 23 new swine flu cases, including one each in Chandigarh and Gurgaon and five in Delhi, the government told authorities not to panic and advised them against shutting down schools. Several private schools, especially in Delhi and Maharashtra, have been considering closures due to swine flu detection in some of the students. A meeting of school principals in this regard was held in the capital today.

In the first set of guidelines issued to all educational institutes, the government categorically ruled out the necessity of closure and said schools should avoid excursions in the first place and should allow home quarantine of students for 7 to 10 days in case flu-like symptoms are diagnosed. “No school should insist on medical certificate in this regard,” the government said.

The joint working group in the health ministry on Wednesday reviewed the situation and said, “Given the current magnitude of the spread of Influenza A H1N1 infection and the fact that the virus is fairly mild, closure of educational institutions on account of any student/staff member falling ill with flu-like symptoms is not recommended. In the first place, the schools should discourage the excursions of the students to the affected countries. If students had proceeded to affected countries on unavoidable tours, then on their return, the ones with visible symptoms should be advised to abstain from attending school and be allowed to stay at home for a period of 7 to 10 days.”

The guidelines are most categorical about the need for schools to allow any student or staff member showing flu like symptoms such as fever, cough, running nose and difficulty in breathing, to be at home for a week to 10 days, the gestation period for the virus. Institutions should not insist on production of medical certificate by the student and staff, said a ministry official.

The government also told schools to monitor the health status of such students and staff who might have come in contact with a suspected case of Influenza A to see whether they develop flu like symptoms. In case they do so, they should be allowed to stay home, the guidelines states. In case of students staying in hostels, the educational institutions have been asked to not only monitor the health status of the students, but also that of care providers. “It has to be ensured that the caretakers wear face masks and wash hands regularly. It might not be advisable to send the boarders back to home, as it would spread infection further,” the ministry said, asking people to encourage reporting of cases.

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19 students fined Rs 50,000 each for ragging

Allahabad, July 29
In a bid to stem ragging, the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (IIIT-A), has slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each on 19 female students for allegedly harassing first year students.

“The action has been taken in view of the Supreme Court’s judgement, whereby all centres of higher learning had been instructed to curb the menace of ragging by way of stringent and exemplary punishments,” spokesman of the IIIT-A, Pankaj Mishra, said.

Mishra said the matter came to light last week, when the warden of the girls’ hostel Shveta Singh reported the matter to IIIT-A Director MD Tiwari, who decided to impose the fine on girls of B. Tech II year and withdraw scholarships of those among them who were getting it.

He, however, asserted that the alleged ragging incident “involved no physical or mental torture, a fact acknowledged by the warden herself” and that the girls, while admitting to have called their juniors for a talk, insisted that it was a “friendly matter”.

Meanwhile, the IIIT-A administration has asked the freshers to come forward and put their side of the story.

“Depending on the feedback, further course of action may be decided,” Mishra added. All 19 female students had been instructed to deposit their fines by August 14, he said. — PTI

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AICTE chairman, asst director suspended
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
The stain of corruption today led to the suspension of top officials of All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), including its chairman RA Yadav and assistant director, Planning and Coordination Bureau, Sri Om Dalal.

The two were among four AICTE officers booked by the CBI on July 17 for corruption in grant of approvals to engineering and management institutes across India. Of the remaining accused, HC Rai, adviser in the council’s planning and coordination bureau, has been sent packing to his parent cadre (he had been on deputation for long), while Rabinder Randhawa, a deputy director, faces termination of her contract.

Initiating departmental proceedings against the tainted officers, the government today said action was necessary against them to ensure they didn’t exert influence to either block or impact CBI investigations into the corruption case that had disgraced the technical education sector.

The order of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in this regard today said, “The chairman of AICTE, Prof RA Yadav, who is under investigation for a criminal offence, has been placed under suspension today so that there is no possibility of investigation being influenced by his continuation in office.”

The only top AICTE man to be arrested for graft, member secretary K Narayan Rao, has been deemed to have been suspended from the date of his arrest on July 17. The CBI took him in after he was found accepting Rs 5 lakh from an agent of a Hyderabad college. This money was the first instalment of Rs 20 lakh bribe agreed upon for the deal.

The government, which will conduct its own vigilance enquiry into the corruption by AICTE officers, has meanwhile appointed Prof SS Mantha, vice-chairman of the council as temporary in charge of the chairman’s office. It is yet to name someone who could fill in for the member secretary - a charge that will presumably go to a joint secretary in the Ministry of HRD.

As regards investigations, they are moving along three lines - whether the accused have partnerships and family interests in the existing technical institutes in the country; whether they have benami properties and lockers, etc in the name of others, where they could stock the kickbacks from alleged deals.

Interesting also will be to track down the role of HC Rai, who was given a special charge as adviser in the planning bureau. Sources told The Tribune today that top AICTE management had bent rules to pull out the PGDM (post-graduate diploma in management) - a much sought-after course -- from the Approval Bureau and handed it over to Rai, who was then responsible for granting approval for the same all over India. Never had this happened in the past.

As for Yadav, he has been charged earlier with clandestinely running a management college - Shri Balwant College in Sonepat. Yadav is alleged to have family interests in this institution - a matter the CBI will investigate, along with the baffling trend in AICTE where several officers continue to be on contract or deputation for years, some for over 14 years in violation of service rules.

The MHRD has already set out to identify and transfer many such deputationists back to their parent cadres besides reviewing the contracts of others. Among them could be AICTE regional officer in Chandigarh SP Singh whose contract has run for longer than usual, ministry sources said.

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Malayali actor Rajan Dev passes away

Kochi, July 29
Noted Malayali actor Rajan P Dev died at a private hospital here this morning following liver problems.

He was 58 and is survived by his wife, son and a daughter.

Dev had been admitted to the Lakeshore hospital four days back after he vomitted blood at his residence at Angamally in Ernakulam district, family sources said.

Dev began his career as a stage artiste in the 1970's and won the Best Actor award twice. He later switched over to films and portrayed villain and character roles with ease. He acted in over 142 Tamil, Kannada and Telugu films. — PTI

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