SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N

26/11
India hands over more proof to Pak
New Delhi, August 1
Maintaining relentless pressure on Pakistan to act against terror emanating from its soil, India today handed over to Islamabad another detailed dossier of evidence on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Shortage of officers in paramilitary too
Chandigarh, August 1
It is not just the armed forces but also the central paramilitary forces that are facing the problem of manpower shortage. At a time when the country is facing challenges to internal security, the paramilitary forces are seriously short of officers in the lower rung.

Ghalib’s poetry finds pictorial expression
Hyderabad, August 1
The immortal poetry of Ghalib finds an aesthetic pictorial expression in a rare combination of artwork “Muraqqa-e-Chughtai” released by Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari here today.

4 killed in CPM-TMC clash
Kolkata, August 1
Four persons were killed following clashes between CPM and TMC workers during a drive launched by the police in and around the city today against the plying of the old public transport vehicles as per the Calcutta HC’s order.



EARLIER STORIES

Schoolchildren tie bands to senior citizens as they celebrate Friendship Day at an old-age home in Ahmedabad on Saturday.
Schoolchildren tie bands to senior citizens as they celebrate Friendship Day at an old-age home in Ahmedabad on Saturday. — PTI

BJP lauds scrapping of MCOCA against Pragya
New Delhi, August 1
The BJP heaved a sigh of relief at the decision of a Maharashtra MCOCA court to drop MCOCA charges against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and their co-accused in the Malegaon blast cases.

Gujjar Quota
Congress, BJP vie for credit
Jaipur, August 1
With the Governor giving his assent to the Bill, providing 5 per cent quota to the Gujjars and 14 per cent to Economically Backward Classes (EBCs), the Congress and the BJP are now vying with each to take the credit for it.

Lalgarh situation not yet stable: Chidambaram 
New Delhi, August 1
Noting that Maoists still have "pockets of influence" in Lalgarh, the government today said the situation in the strife-torn area in West Bengal was not stable but maintained that paramilitary forces could not be deployed there indefinitely.Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said the state police would have to take responsibilities for maintaining law and order in the Naxal-hit area in West Midnapore district.

Guv's removal sought
Following his assent to the Bill, providing 5 per cent quota to the Gujjars and 14 per cent to EBCs, the BJP today demanded removal of Rajasthan Governor SK Singh, accusing him of acting as an "agent" of the ruling Congress and causing "undue" delay in clearing the Bill.

Season of political exodus in AP
Hyderabad, August 1
A season of political migrations has descended on Andhra Pradesh. The restive “migratory birds” are preparing to leave their camps in search of greener pastures in other parties.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao addresses mediapersons after taking charge at the External Affairs Ministry in
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao addresses mediapersons after taking charge at the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi on Saturday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Industrial security force in M’rashtra 
Mumbai, August 1
Reacting to criticism that diverting police personnel for private security duties was affecting the effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies, the Maharashtra government has decided to set up the Maharashtra Industrial Security Force on the lines of the Central Industrial Security Force.

Warring Assam tribes submit demands
Guwahati, August 1
The warring Dimasa and Zeme Naga tribes yesterday submitted separate demands before Union Home Secretary GK Pillai, who was here to review the over all situation in the state, including that in the strife-torn North Cachar Hill district, for solution to conflicts.

Polluting vehicles off Kolkata road
Kolkata, Aug 1
Commuters here had a tough time Saturday as taxis and auto rickshaws kept off the roads while police started seizing commercial vehicles over 15 years old in accordance with a court order. 

Relief work stepped up as floods hit Bihar
Patna, August 1
Around one lakh people were affected as the swollen Bagmati breached its embankment near Tajpur in Bihar's Sitamarhi district today, prompting Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to order a high-level probe into the breach and deployment of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel.

Dacoits loot train
Kolkata, August 1
Passengers of three air-conditioned coaches of Barbil-Howrah Janshatabdi Express were tonight looted of cash and valuables by armed dacoits between at a Maoist-infested place on the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand.

No prayers in protected monuments
New Delhi, August 1
Amid a standoff between ASI and worshippers here, Government today made it clear it would not allow prayers in monuments protected by the heritage body except in 12 structures where they were being offered for years.

PC: Enough evidence to nail Saeed
New Delhi, August 1
Making two important assertions on terrorism, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said India had given enough evidence to Pakistan to prosecute Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Also, he said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act would be amended and its application would be made restricted.

SC stays HC verdict against sentence remission
New Delhi, August 1
The Supreme Court yesterday stayed a September 2008 verdict of the high court that had quashed the remission of sentence granted by the Punjab government to five convicts.

Kerala NCP chief sacked
Thirunvanathanpuram, August 1
NCP Kerala unit chief K Muraleedharan has been expelled from the party for “working against organisational interests”. The decision was taken by Sharad Pawar on Friday. — PTI

 





Top








 

26/11
India hands over more proof to Pak
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
Maintaining relentless pressure on Pakistan to act against terror emanating from its soil, India today handed over to Islamabad another detailed dossier of evidence on the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Riffat Masood was called to the foreign office by TCA Raghavan and handed over the dossier, consisting of a seven-page summary regarding investigations and the legal processes involved, as well as annexures running into nearly 60 pages. This is the fifth dossier India has provided to Pakistan linking Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militants with the Mumbai carnage. It had provided dossiers earlier on January 15, March 13, May 20 and June 9.

An External Affairs Ministry statement said Islamabad had provided to India a dossier on July 11 providing an update on investigations in Pakistan into the Mumbai attacks. Islamabad had also sought in it further evidence from New Delhi. In response, India has provided a detailed dossier to the Pakistan High Commission.

Official sources said it was a comprehensive dossier covering all the questions raised by Islamabad in its 36-page document of July 11. The dossier was adequate for Pakistan to now act sincerely against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

The sources said the dossier contains the English translation of some of court documents in Marathi that were given to Islamabad earlier. It also contains names of the Pakistani companies mentioned on some of the equipment recovered from those who carried out the attacks. It also has transcripts of wireless intercepts during the attacks in which the name of Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, the key plotter of the Mumbai mayhem, figures repeatedly.

The latest dossier was finalised yesterday by the Home Ministry, which subsequently handed it over to the External Affairs Ministry.

In the July 11 dossier, Islamabad had admitted that that the 26/11 attacks were ‘planned, funded and facilitated’ in Pakistan by LeT activists.

The Indian dossier was also discussed at a meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held with his senior Cabinet colleagues and top officials to assess the security scenario within the country as also in the neighbourhood. Home Minister P Chidambaram, Defence Minister A K Antony, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, new Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and the three services chiefs were present at the meeting.

Earlier in the day, Nirupama took charge of her new assignment, succeeding Shiv Shankar Menon. 

Top

 

Shortage of officers in paramilitary too
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
It is not just the armed forces but also the central paramilitary forces that are facing the problem of manpower shortage. At a time when the country is facing challenges to internal security, the paramilitary forces are seriously short of officers in the lower rung.

Figures placed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Parliament this week disclose that key paramilitary forces like the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Central Industrial Security Force and the high-profile National Security Guards (NSGs) are facing a shortage of officers to the tune of 42 per cent. Comparatively, the Army has a deficiency of about 27 per cent.

The problem, paramilitary officers point out, is two-fold. The first concerns service conditions and the second is that the recruitment has not kept pace with the massive expansion the forces are undergoing.

The ITBP, a relatively small force of 25 battalions that has the highest deficiency rate among the paramilitary forces, is being expanded to 42 battalions, which is almost double its earlier strength, a senior officer pointed out. The recruitment of officers, which is largely through the Union Public Service Commission, is a long process which can take up to two and a half years, he added.

Officers also said the existing training infrastructure was not adequate to meet the manpower demands of an expanding force and they had to go slow on recruitments to avoid overloading the system. The training infrastructure over a period of time is to be upgraded and expanded.

Another factor is the tough service conditions. Deployed extensively across the country on internal security duties and counter terrorist operations, most paramilitary forces are massively over-stressed.

Unlike the Army, paramilitary forces do not have the concept of peace stations where troops can be rotated to give them a break. Only recently, the Border Security Force (BSF), which has a shortage of 19 per cent in its officer cadre, has taken a step in this direction. It has identified key locations points at several places for establishing what would ostensibly be “peace-time stations” for its battalions.

Even the elite National Security Guards, which is a purely deputation force comprising officers and men drawn from the armed forces and other paramilitary forces, has a deficiency of over 37 per cent in its officer cadre and about 10 per cent in the ranks. Highly trained, the NSG is the nodal agency for handling hostage situations, aircraft hijacking and terrorist situations in urban areas.

The shortage of officers in the paramilitary forces is no doubt a cause of concern as they are not only deeply involved in internal security but also have the mandate for being nodal agencies for handling various kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made.

Top

 

Ghalib’s poetry finds pictorial expression
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 1
The immortal poetry of Ghalib finds an aesthetic pictorial expression in a rare combination of artwork “Muraqqa-e-Chughtai” released by Vice-President Mohammed Hamid Ansari here today.

‘Muraqqa-e-Chughtai’, revived and re-published by Andhra Pradesh Urdu Academy, blends the beauty of Ghalib’s words with paintings of an illustrious artist Abdul Rahman Chughtai. “To render a couplet into a painting is like capturing the imagination. Chughtai has given ample evidence of his excellence by absorbing in his colours the entire range and depth of Ghalib’s metaphor,” the Vice-President said.

Considered a masterpiece when it was first published here in 1928, the work has been reprinted by the state Urdu Academy.

Ansari recalled how the last ruler of Hyderabad State Mir Osman Ali Khan had patronised and encouraged various forms of arts and said Chughtai had brought alive the thoughts of Ghalib with his brush.

“The academy deserved accolades for realising the importance of the objective of the great and skilled artist of India and for reviving this everlasting masterpiece which had almost lost its sheen under the dust of so many passing years,” he said.

Fired by Ghalib’s imagination, Ghazal became the power and destiny of Urdu.

Ghalib discovered the image and the destiny of Ghazal and introduced it to the world as he had the wherewithal to facilitate realization of all the poetic possibilities and potential of Urdu, he said.

After a gap of 81 years, the Urdu Academy has re-published the book, which has a foreword by Sir Mohammad Iqbal, the poet of East. Andhra Pradesh Governor N D Tiwari, who also spoke in Urdu, said Ghalib’s poetry had transcended the barriers of time and continued to stir up the heartstrings of the young and old alike. “This work is a happy marriage of harmony in colour with the lyrical muse,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, state Chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy said his government was taking all steps for promotion of Urdu language and welfare of minorities.

Urdu Academy chairman Rahimuddin Ansari, Minorities Welfare Minister Mohammed Ahmedullah, former Minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Secunderabad MP Anjan Kumar Yadav, MIM MLA Virasat Rasool Khan, Chief Editor of local Urdu daily “Rehnuma-e- Syed Vikaruddin and others were present on the occasion. 

Top

 

  4 killed in CPM-TMC clash
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, August 1
Four persons were killed following clashes between CPM and TMC workers during a drive launched by the police in and around the city today against the plying of the old public transport vehicles as per the Calcutta HC’s order.

In several parts of the city, protesting transport operators also clashed with the police. In two separate incidents in the southern part, the police lathi-charged and fired tear gas shells to disperse workers belonging to the CITU and the TMC.

Though most private buses, mini-buses, taxis and the autos were off road today, the state government brought into service several buses and trams to avoid inconvenience to public. However, this measure fell short in meeting the expectations. State Chief Secretary AM Chakraborty told the media that the drive against the running of the disbanded vehicles would continue till the Supreme Court did not reverse the High Court’s decision.

The police said today during the clash one TMC worker was killed due to canning in South 24-Parganas. In another incident in the Mahestala area, one Congress supporter was gunned down allegedly by a CPM workers.

Top

 

BJP lauds scrapping of MCOCA against Pragya
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
The BJP heaved a sigh of relief at the decision of a Maharashtra MCOCA court to drop MCOCA charges against Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and their co-accused in the Malegaon blast cases.

BJP spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy claimed here today that the dropping of MCOCA charges against the sadhvi and the former Army colonel had smashed the fictional myth about the Hindu terror. He said, “We welcome dropping of charges under the MCOCA against the Malegaon blast accused by the Mumbai special court,” Rudy said.

He mocked the charges levelled against the sadhvi and the Lt Col and said an “11,000-page charge sheet against the sadhvi and the Lt Col failed to prove the MCOCA charges.”

The BJP expressed satisfaction that “the case will now be tried in an ordinary court.” Rudy explained that “the MCOCA charges were dropped on two counts. One, that the accused were not a part of any organised crime syndicate. Second, there was no prior charge sheet against them,” he said. The decision of MCOCA judge YD Shinde came as a big relief for the BJP. Ever since Pragya Singh Thakur was arrested by the Maharahstra ATS then led by Hemant Karkare, the BJP has been uneasy and in a dilemma over what stand it should take in respect of these Hindutva enthusiasts.

Top

 

Gujjar Quota
  Congress, BJP vie for credit
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, August 1
With the Governor giving his assent to the Bill, providing 5 per cent quota to the Gujjars and 14 per cent to Economically Backward Classes (EBCs), the Congress and the BJP are now vying with each to take the credit for it.

Addressing a press conference at the CMO yesterday, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claimed that 14 per cent reservation for the EBCs was his government’s brainchild. “We were the first to set the ball rolling by writing a letter to the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, requesting him to pave the way for reservation on economic basis, on May 25, 2003.

We consistently followed the issue as a result of which the then NDA government and later the UPA government set up a commission to look into the matter. We have also been advocating a constitutional amendment for the purpose. The previous BJP regime simply incorporated our idea in the Gujjar Reservation Bill,” he added.

Gehlot expressed happiness that Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to provide reservation to the economically backward people, irrespective of their caste. He said the gazette notification in this regard will be issued in a day or two. He also announced that a panel headed by the Chief Secretary will look into the implementation of the Bill. “The panel will decide on the criteria to be adopted for providing reservation to upper castes on an economic basis,” he added.

Apparently taking a dig at the previous BJP government, Gehlot said unlike previous years, the Gujjar agitation this time has come to an end without shedding a drop of blood. “In the past two years, the state had witnessed violent Gujjar agitations in which 90 people lost their lives in 21 incidents of firing,” he added.

The CM also accused the then BJP regime of inciting the Gujjars by dubbing the protesters as “anti-social elements”. He said his government kept all channels of dialogue with the Gujjars open right from Day One which resulted in amicable solution to the problem.

Earlier in the day, Gujjar leader Kirori Singh Bainsla met Leader of Opposition Vasundhara Raje Scindia at her residence here. Speaking on the occasion, Raje said: “I welcome the Governor’s assent to the Bill, though I wonder why it was kept pending for almost a year.” 

She said they had been insisting right from the beginning that the Bill should be signed in its present form, the Congress was against it, stating that 14 per cent EBC quota will need constitutional amendment. However, now the Congress has taken a turnaround and agreed to approval of the same Bill, she added.

Top

 

  Lalgarh situation not yet stable: Chidambaram 

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram addresses a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday. — PTI

New Delhi, August 1
Noting that Maoists still have "pockets of influence" in Lalgarh, the government today said the situation in the strife-torn area in West Bengal was not stable but maintained that paramilitary forces could not be deployed there indefinitely.

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said the state police would have to take responsibilities for maintaining law and order in the Naxal-hit area in West Midnapore district.

"Even seven weeks after the paramilitary forces were deployed at the request of state government in Lalgarh, the situation has still not stabilised. Maoists still continue to have pockets of influence and are suspected to be behind some of the recent acts of violence," he told reporters.

Chidambaram said the Centre had made it clear to the state government that paramilitary forces were available for deployment but "such deployment couldn’t be for an indefinite period" and the state police had to take the responsibility of maintaining law and order.

On a separate Gorkhaland state, the minister said the Centre had invited the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for a tripartite discussion on August 11 to find a solution to the issue. — PTI

Top

 

  Guv's removal sought

Following his assent to the Bill, providing 5 per cent quota to the Gujjars and 14 per cent to EBCs, the BJP today demanded removal of Rajasthan Governor SK Singh, accusing him of acting as an "agent" of the ruling Congress and causing "undue" delay in clearing the Bill.

Addressing a press conference at the state BJP headquarters, Deputy Leader of BJP legislature party Ghanshyam Tiwari alleged that the Governor worked as "political agent" of the Congress and ultimately sanctioned the reservation Bill which was passed during the previous Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government and was pending with him since July last year.

Tiwari said the Governor should clarify as to why he put the Bill on hold for such a long time. "He should reveal how many law experts he consulted during the period," he said.

The BJP leader demanded that the the Bill be included in the Ninth Schedule, so that it cannot be challenged in court.

He said now that the Bill has been given assent by the Governor, it is the state government's responsibility to get it included in the Ninth Schedule at the earliest. He threatened an agitation if the government failed to do so.

Tiwari said that the Bill which accords 5 per cent reservation to the Gujjar community and 14 per cent reservation to the EBCs (Economic Backward Classes) was in the interest of the state and society.

Top

 

Season of political exodus in AP
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 1
A season of political migrations has descended on Andhra Pradesh. The restive “migratory birds” are preparing to leave their camps in search of greener pastures in other parties.

The Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) are facing imminent exodus from their ranks. Following poor performance by the two parties in the recent Assembly elections, many senior leaders are planning to switch loyalties in return for better political prospects.

Veteran actress and senior TRS leader Vijayashanti has created ripples in political circles by sending clear signals of her intention to leave the party and join the ruling Congress.

Known in film circles as “Lady Amitabh” for her gutsy roles in action movies, Vijayashanthi, who represents the Medak Lok Sabha constituency, is seen as No. 2 in the party. However, after the elections, she has been keeping herself away from the party activities.

The veteran actress has been holding consultations with TRS rebels, including former MLC HA Rehman on her future strategy.

Sensing her political moves, particularly in the wake of her recent meeting with Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, the TRS has reconstituted its politburo by omitting Vijayashanthi from the decision-making body.

The TRS has only two MPs in Lok Sabha, the other one being KCR himself. As such, Vijayashanti would not lose her membership under the anti-defection law.A host of TRS rebels, whose number has been swelling by the day, are also set to join the Congress in the first week.

The PRP is also facing exodus of leaders. After the exit of its founding member Dr P Mitha, veteran actor Krishnam Raju announced his decision to quit the party. 

Top

 

Industrial security force in M’rashtra 
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 1
Reacting to criticism that diverting police personnel for private security duties was affecting the effectiveness of the law enforcement agencies, the Maharashtra government has decided to set up the Maharashtra Industrial Security Force on the lines of the Central Industrial Security Force.

Personnel for the proposed force would be drawn from private security agencies and ordinary citizens and would be trained in law enforcement, commando training and use of fire arms, according to state government sources here.

Once the new paramilitary force is set up, private citizens and corporate houses would not be assigned police personnel. Currently around 2500 police personnel have been assigned as personal security officers to various citizens and companies. These people would be relieved for police work once the new force comes into being, say sources.

The Maharashtra State Industrial Security Force was mooted after the November 26 terrorist attack last year. Senior police officers had told then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh that the allotment of police personnel for security duties was affecting police investigations.

The Maharashtra Cabinet is likely to pass an ordinance next week to enable the new force to be set up.

According to Home Minister Jayant Patil, the Maharashtra government has earmarked Rs 25 crore to kick start the force. "We will train 10,000 guards for deployment," Patil said. He added that the personnel of the new force will work in co-ordination with the existing police set up.

Over a period of time more than 1.5 lakh people would be recruited under the new force, according to Patil. The Maharashtra government is in touch with retired army officials to set up a training programme for them.

Top

 

Warring Assam tribes submit demands
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 1
The warring Dimasa and Zeme Naga tribes yesterday submitted separate demands before Union Home Secretary GK Pillai, who was here to review the over all situation in the state, including that in the strife-torn North Cachar Hill district, for solution to conflicts.

Fed up with the ‘dominance and highhandedness’ of the majority Dimasa tribe, the Zeme Nagas have demanded a separate district of their own. The Zeme Council demanded creation of a separate district for the non-Dimasa tribes of the district in a memorandum submitted to the Home Secretary.

“Since Dimasas are bent on renaming North Cachar Hill district as Dima Hasao Raji, the only viable solution to the ongoing strife lies in creation of two districts out of the present one,” Samsadinbe Jeme, president of the Zeme Council, Assam, said after meeting Pillai at the Raj Bhavan here today.

On the other hand, the Jadikhe Naisho Hosom (JNH), the apex body of the Dimasa tribals claimed that majority of people were in favour of renaming the hill district as Dima Hasao Raji. “We are only asking for a new name for the district, nothing less, nothing more. The proposal for change of nomenclature was carried out only after receiving inter-ethnic consensus,” D Naiding, president of the JNH, said.

Top

 

  Polluting vehicles off Kolkata roads

Kolkata, Aug 1
Commuters here had a tough time Saturday as taxis and auto rickshaws kept off the roads while police started seizing commercial vehicles over 15 years old in accordance with a court order. 

Protesting vehicle operators damaged six buses and put up road blocks, police said. "The situation is generally peaceful. 

There is a strong police arrangement. The only disturbance was reported from the Tollygunge area under Regent Park police station, which is under the jurisdiction of the West Bengal police," Kolkata Police Deputy Commissioner (detective department) Jawed Shamim told IANS here.Shamim said two vehicles - an auto rickshaw and a taxi - had been seized so far.

 "Practically, no auto rickshaws are plying. Only a few green autos hit the streets," he said, on the first day of the Calcutta High Court-imposed ban on old commercial vehicles which are the principal source of high air pollution in the city.

The decks were cleared for the government to seize the buses, mini buses, taxis and auto rickshaws after the Supreme Court Friday refused to stay the high court order banning commercial vehicles built before 1993.

Police and Rapid Action Force personnel were deployed in large number to prevent disturbances, as security personnel moved alongside motor vehicles department officials to identify the banned vehicles on the city streets. 

Nearly 4,000 private buses, 6,800 taxis and more than 95 per cent of the total fleet of 65,000 auto-rickshaws have been barred from the Kolkata Metropolitan Area following the court order.Meanwhile, following main opposition Trinamool Congress chief and Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee's accusation that government departments like the police as also the Kolkata Municipal Corporation were running vehicles over 15 years old, Police Commissioner Goutam Mohan Chakraborty said the city police have decided not to deploy such vehicles. 

Taxi Bachao Committee (Save Taxis committee) president Bimal Guha told IANS that though about 6,800 of the 37,000 taxis that ply in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area come under the ban, "5,800 taxi owners have already applied for replacement."But the government has failed to make available the replacement vehicles by talking to Hindustan Motors. So, about 1,000 taxis are not plying," Guha said.

"The court has not banned two-stroke LPG mode autos. But the government is insisting that only autos with four-stroke engines will be allowed. So, almost the entire fleet of autos is off the roads," said auto union leader Tapan Agasthi.

Jyotiraditya Guha, a college student, who had to cling dangerously to the footboard of an overcrowded bus Saturday, shuddered to think of the scene from Monday. "Saturday and Sunday are government holidays. So fewer people are out on roads. 

The situation will be really bad from Monday. I don't know how I will travel," he said.Banerjee had said the withdrawal should be done in phases, noting that one million people comprising the transport operators, workers and their families will be affected by the ban.

"I support the environmental concerns. But the economic condition of these people will also have to considered. Maybe the government can try out using LPG cylinders in these vehicles to meet the emission norms," he said.

The Calcutta High Court in July 2008 ordered a ban on commercial vehicles registered before Jan 1, 1993 from Kolkata Metropolitan Area, which includes parts of North and South 24-Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts.

The ban was originally supposed to come into effect on December 31, 2008, but was put off till July 31, 2009, following a government plea. — IANS

Top

 

  Relief work stepped up as floods hit Bihar

Patna, August 1
Around one lakh people were affected as the swollen Bagmati breached its embankment near Tajpur in Bihar's Sitamarhi district today, prompting Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to order a high-level probe into the breach and deployment of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel.

The river breached its embankment in a stretch of 40 - 50 metres at Tajpur under the Runnisayedpur block, inundating vast areas and several villages in eight panchayats of the district, official sources said.

As reports of swirling waters of Bagmati breaching the embankment reached him, Kumar held a high-level meeting with state water resources minister Vijendra Yadav, principal secretary (Water Resources) M R Nayak, besides principal secretary (Disaster Management) and other senior officials.

He ordered immediate deployment of the NDRF in the affected areas to step up relief and rescue operations, an official spokesman said.

The NDRF personnel would reach the site within hours with necessary equipment, the spokesman said.

Kumar said the breach repair works were being carried out by the experts, including the engineers of the flood-fighting cells, on a "war-footing".

An estimated one lakh people were hit by the floods, the sources said, adding reports of four to five children being swept away in the swift currents were being verified. Road communication between Muzaffarpur and Sitamarhi was likely to be affected as flood waters submerged the National Highway near Koati, about 17 km from here, they said.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that the breach occurred due to digging near the embankment last night and the river swelled over a period of time because of sharp erosions.

Flood fighting continued at the breach-site and the engineers expected to plug the breach shortly, they said.

Divisional Commissioner, Tirhut, S M Raju, District Magistrate Sitamarhi and other senior officials reached the spot to oversee the relief and rescue operations.

The Water Resources Minister accompanied by Principal Secretary of the department and disaster management officials, airdashed to Sitamarhi to take stock of the
situation. — PTI 

Top

 

Dacoits loot train

Kolkata, August 1
Passengers of three air-conditioned coaches of Barbil-Howrah Janshatabdi Express were tonight looted of cash and valuables by armed dacoits between at a Maoist-infested place on the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand.

South Eastern Railway sources said a five-member gang, most of them carrying firearms, of dacoits boarded the train as passengers and after committing the robbery fled by pulling the emergency chain at Maoist-hit Kanimouli jungle between Chakulia station in Jharkhand and Gidhni station in West Bengal at 6.30 pm.

Ornaments, cash and laptop sets from passengers travelling in coach numbers C-1, C-2 and C-3 were looted by the dacoits during a 10-minute attack, the sources said.

They said several passengers were manhandled when they refused to part with their valuables but no one was seriously injured.

According to eyewitnesses, four of the dacoits were carrying firearms while another was carrying a dagger.

When the train reached Kharagpur, the passengers staged demonstrations and lodged a complaint with the Government Railway Police. — PTI

Top

 

  No prayers in protected monuments

New Delhi, August 1
Amid a standoff between ASI and worshippers here, Government today made it clear it would not allow prayers in monuments protected by the heritage body except in 12 structures where they were being offered for years.

“We have made it very clear that such prayers in protected monuments will not be allowed,” Home Minister P Chidambaram told reporters when asked to comment on Friday prayers being offered at a mosque in Qutub Minar, a monument protected by Archaeological Survey of India. He said the Centre had made this clear yesterday, when such attempts were made and law was enforced.

“In the Jamali Kamali mosque, a protected monument, that was enforced yesterday,” Chidambaram said making an appeal to people not to violate the norm laid down as early as January 1981. However, he said, there were 12 places of worship --- five leading monuments and seven where prayers have been offered on Fridays --- where de facto prayers have been allowed. — PTI

Top

 

  PC: Enough evidence to nail Saeed
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 1
Making two important assertions on terrorism, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said India had given enough evidence to Pakistan to prosecute Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Also, he said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act would be amended and its application would be made restricted.

On Hafiz Saeed, who was released recently following a Lahore court order, the Home Minister said we had told Pakistan that there was enough evidence, and that it was now up to Islamabad to act. “We have also prepared replies to the Pakistan questionnaire… The evidence provided in the three previous dossiers, in our view, was sufficient to investigate the role of Hafiz Saeed,” the Minister said.

The Home Ministry, after finalising the Indian response (a seven-page document) yesterday, handed it over to the Ministry of External Affairs, which would further hand it over to the Pakistan High Commissioner. On July 28, a defiant Pakistan had said it would not arrest Saeed until adequate proof of his involvement in the Mumbai carnage was provided.

On bringing amendments to the AFSPA, Chidambaram said it was UPA government’s pre-poll promise, an assurance that was under consideration now. “Its application would be limited,” the Home Minister replied to a specific query on the act being limited to certain districts of J&K. Sources indicated that major changes, including no shooting on mere suspicion, were likely to be implemented in the Act.

Top

 

SC stays HC verdict against sentence remission
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 1
The Supreme Court yesterday stayed a September 2008 verdict of the high court that had quashed the remission of sentence granted by the Punjab government to five convicts.

A Bench comprising Justices RV Raveendran and GS Singhvi passed the order on a petition by the state government challenging the HC verdict.

Interestingly, the convicts had been acquitted by the HC while setting aside their conviction and life imprisonment awarded by the Additional Sessions Judge, Barnala, on January 29, 1986. The state government challenged their acquittal, upon which the apex court awarded a 10-year jail term to each of them for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

After getting them convicted, the state government granted remission to several prisoners, including these five, in 1998-99 and released them.

Top

 
BRIEFLY

5 dead due to ‘food poisoning’
ALIGARH:
Five persons died and 40 others fell ill due to “suspected” food poisoning in the district, official sources said. The incident took place earlier this week at Kokila village in the district. The victims complained of illness after allegedly consuming bread made of adulterated oil and flour at a feast organised by a villager, official sources said. — PTI

Maoist violence
JAMSHEDPUR:
Maoists set a truck on fire and damaged a large number of auto-rickshaws on Saturday, the second day of agitation in protest against price hike of essential commodities. The bandh evoked mixed response in the Naxal-affected Kolhan region comprising east and west Singbhum, and Saraikela-Kharswan districts. — PTI

Top





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