SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


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

Railways to spend Rs 73k cr on two freight corridors
New Delhi, July 31
Indian Railways will spend over Rs 73,000 crore on two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) under construction from Dankuni to Ludhiana (Eastern DFC) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Terminal (JNPT) to Dadri (Western DFC).

HC seeks submission from party, NGO 
New Delhi, July 31
The Delhi High Court today asked the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and an NGO, which has sought cancellation of its election symbol for installing elephant statues at public places at government expense, to submit their written arguments on whether the party obtained any unfair advantage by the constructions.

SC appoints panel to probe 2006 Meerut fire mishap
New Delhi, July 31
The Supreme Court (SC) today appointed a one-member commission headed by its former judge SB Sinha to inquire into the 2006 Meerut fire tragedy in which 64 people died and directed the UP Government to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh in addition to Rs 3 lakh already paid to each to the family members of the deceased.


EARLIER STORIES



28 civil service aspirants held for violence
New Delhi, July 31
At least 28 civil service aspirants were arrested for a violent protest against the aptitude test in the entrance examination, the police said today.

Rs 5 lakh cr required for ongoing projects
New Delhi, July 31
Indian Railway will need Rs 5 lakh crore to complete all sanctioned projects for which it is mobilising additional resources, including private investment, FDI and private-public partnership.

5,000 more ticket vending machines 
New Delhi, July 31
The Railways is planning to install over 5,000 more automatic ticket vending machines across the country while providing Wi-Fi facility at “A1” and “A” category stations and in 50 rakes of important trains in Rajdhani/ Shatabdi/ Duranto category.

CBI registers 23rd case in coal block allocation 
New Delhi, July 31
The CBI on Thursday registered its 23rd case against a Madhya Pradesh-based private company in the ongoing probe into coal block allocations.

Govt can be dismissed over spying: Oppn
New Delhi, July 31
The Opposition today stalled the Question and Zero Hour proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the second day in a row, demanding a judicial probe and a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on allegations of snooping at the residence of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

UPSC row: 3-member panel submits report
New Delhi, July 31
The three-member committee set up by the government to resolve the ongoing row over UPSC's preliminary test pattern submitted its report today. The government said it was studying the report and its recommendations and would share it with Parliament tomorrow.

Nehchal Singh Sandhu Dy NSA Nehchal Sandhu resigns
New Delhi, July 31
Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Singh Sandhu, an appointee of the Congress-led UPA regime, today resigned due to ‘personal reasons’. His resignation was “accepted with regret” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Nehchal Singh Sandhu

Modi govt set to amend labour laws
New Delhi, July 31
Seeking to provide both the employer and the employee with a win-win situation, the Narendra Modi government cleared proposals to amend three labour laws which it plans to bring in Parliament in the ongoing Budget session.

Govt ‘open’ to GM crops despite RSS hurdle 
New Delhi, July 31
The future of genetically modified (GM) crops under the Narendra Modi regime appears to be secure. Top BJP sources said the government continues to be favourable towards research and new technologies in agriculture and allied fields, including GM crops that are facing stiff opposition from the RSS — the party’s ideological fountainhead.

‘We gave befitting reply to Pak after beheading incident’
New Delhi, July 31
Outgoing Army chief General Bikram Singh today said India had given a befitting reply to Pakistan after the beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani troops in 2013 along the LoC. “It (the response) had been done. That was a tactical operation which had been undertaken by local commanders,” he told mediapersons just before demitting office.

General Bikram Singh sees no war with China
New Delhi, July 31
Measuring his words carefully, outgoing Army Chief General Bikram Singh today said he did not foresee a war with China but he evaded a similar direct opinion on future conflicts with Pakistan saying that was a ‘very active’ border.

Discusses WTO impasse with Jaitley
New Delhi, July 31
US Secretary of State John Kerry today met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and discussed India's stance on the ongoing WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement talks which are set to conclude at Geneva later in the day.

Kerry visits IIT, walks out impressed with students
New Delhi, July 31
US Secretary of State John Kerry interacts with students at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI"Very exciting" and "excellent" were the words used by US Secretary of State John Kerry as he visited two laboratories at the Indian Institute of Technology here today and interacted with students.






US Secretary of State John Kerry interacts with students at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI

Lt Gen Campose relinquishes WC charge
Chandigarh, July 31
A ceremonial send-off to Western Army Commander Lt Gen Philip Campose. Tribune photo Lieutenant General Philip Campose today relinquished charge as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command. He is scheduled to take over as Vice Chief of the Army Staff at Army Headquarters tomorrow from Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who has been elevated as the Army Chief.


A ceremonial send-off to Western Army Commander Lt Gen Philip Campose. Tribune photo

Lt Gen Hira is Vajra Corps commander
Chandigarh, July 31
Lieutenant General Narinder Pal Singh Hira assumed charge as the General Officer Commanding of the Jalandhar-based Vajra Corps today. He has also taken over as the Colonel of the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment from General Bikram Singh who retired as the Army Chief today. Lt Gen Hira replaces Lt Gen Ashwini Kumar Bakshi, who superannuated from service today.

NCB destroys heroin worth Rs  700 crore
Mohali, July 31
Narcotic Control board officials with heroine at Baliyali village in Mohali on Thursday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu The Chandigarh Zonal Unit of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) today destroyed 351.073 kg heroin worth around Rs 700 crore near Patiala ki Rao River at Baliayali village. The drug was destroyed at Rainbow Environment Private Limited under the supervision of high-level committee headed by RP Singh, deputy director general, northern region, NCB.

Narcotic Control board officials with heroine at Baliyali village in Mohali on Thursday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Six killed in Tehri cloudburst 
Mussoorie, July 31
Six persons were killed and one injured following a landslide triggered by the cloudburst that struck Jakhnyali (Nautar) village in Ghansali tehsil, nearly 55 km from Tehri, around 2 am, Tehri district disaster management control centre spokesman said today.

Curfew relaxed for 6 hours in Saharanpur, 1 held under NSA
Saharanpur, July 31
The Saharanpur administration gave six-hour relaxation in curfew in the town on Thursday after violence broke out here on Saturday.

BJP to contest 9 seats in Bihar bypoll
Patna, July 31
The BJP-led NDA today announced seat-sharing for 10 Assembly bye-elections in Bihar where the party will contest nine seats, leaving one for its ally the LJP.

Toll rises to 41, nine pulled out alive
Mumbai, July 31
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is racing against time to rescue more than 120 people still trapped in debris following yesterday’s landslide at Malin village in Pune’s Ambegaon taluka.

Give copy of Rajesh Khanna’s will to his former companion: HC 
Mumbai, July 31
The Bombay High Court has asked Twinkle, daughter of the late Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna, to give a copy of probate proceedings and the probated will of her father to his former companion Anita Advani.

Flutter in J&K defence circles
Jammu, July 31
Outgoing Army chief General Bikram Singh’s comments on Lance Naik Hemraj Singh, who was beheaded by Pakistan’s Border Action Team (BAT) on January 8 last year in Poonch sector, have created a flutter in defence circles in Jammu and Kashmir.

Encephalitis grips Assam
Guwahati, July 31
Nearly 277 persons have lost their lives in Assam this year due to Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Encephalitis-like diseases that have affected 24 out of the total 27 districts of the state. Alarmed by the situation, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has asked the Health Department to bring sufficient medicines and take adequate measures to check the deadly disease from claiming more lives in the state.

Bangalore bandh hits normal life 
Bangalore, July 31
BSF jawans guard as members of Kannada organisations take part in a protest in Bangalore on Thursday. PTI A 12-hour bandh in the country’s IT hub to protest against the rising cases of sexual offences against women and children called by Kannada outfits today evoked a good response.


BSF jawans guard as members of Kannada organisations take part in a protest in Bangalore on Thursday. PTI 








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Railways to spend Rs 73k cr on two freight corridors
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
Indian Railways will spend over Rs 73,000 crore on two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs) under construction from Dankuni to Ludhiana (Eastern DFC) and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Terminal (JNPT) to Dadri (Western DFC).

Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha, in a reply, said two DFCs — Eastern (1,839 km-long Dankuni-Ludhiana section) and Western (1,499 km-long JNPT-Dadri section) — had been sanctioned.

In Eastern DFC, construction work is underway on the Mughalsarai-Sonnagar section. Civil contract has been awarded on the 343-km Khurja-Kanpur section and work has started.

In Western DFC, civil contract has been awarded on the 625-km Rewari-Palanpur section and work has started. Construction of 25 major bridges between Vaitarana and Bharuch has been completed.

The estimated completion cost of construction of the two, excluding land and the Sonnagar-Dankuni section — to be implemented through public private partnership (PPP) — is Rs 73,392 crore (Rs 26,674 crore for Eastern DFC and Rs 46,718 crore for Western DFC). The cost of land is estimated at Rs 8,067 crore (Rs 3,684 crore for Eastern DFC and Rs 4,383 crore for Western DFC).

Western DFC is being funded by loan from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which has extended 77 per cent (Rs 38,772 crore) of the project cost.

World Bank is funding the 1,183 km section from Ludhiana to Mughalsarai of Eastern DFC. It has extended Rs 13,625 crore in loan, which is 66% of the project cost.

Further, the 122 km stretch of the Mughalsarai-Sonnagar section in Eastern DFC is funded by Gross Budgetary Support and the cost is Rs 3,679 crore. The 534 km stretch of the Sonnagar-Dankuni section of Eastern DFC is to be implemented through PPP.

The balance excluding debt is funded through budgetary support from the government. Land for DFC projects is being acquired under the Railway Amendment Act (RAA), 2008. Of the 10,667 hectares to be acquired for the project, award under 20F of the RAA 2008 declared up to June 2014 is 9,641 hectares (5,600 hectares for Western DFC and 4,041 hectares for Eastern DFC).

Western DFC is targeted to be commissioned in 2018 and Eastern DFC in 2019, excluding the Sonnagar-Dankuni section.

The project implementation schedule, timelines and milestones have been drawn up and are being monitored on a regular basis. For better coordination, state-level coordination committees with respective state governments have been formed to avoid delay in land acquisition and other related issues.

The big plan

* The government has sanctioned two Dedicated Freight Corridors — 1,839 km-long Dankuni-Ludhiana Eastern DFC and 1,499 km-long Jawaharlal Nehru Port Terminal-Dadri Western DFC

* The construction cost of the two is estimated at Rs 73,392 crore (Rs 26,674 cr for Eastern DFC and Rs 46,718 cr for Western DFC)

* Western DFC is set to be commissioned in 2018 and Eastern DFC in 2019, excluding the Sonnagar-Dankuni section.

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HC seeks submission from party, NGO 

New Delhi, July 31
The Delhi High Court today asked the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and an NGO, which has sought cancellation of its election symbol for installing elephant statues at public places at government expense, to submit their written arguments on whether the party obtained any unfair advantage by the constructions.

A bench of Justice Manmohan sought the written submissions on the issue whether the party obtained any unfair advantage in election by erecting the statues at state expense as this point had not been decided by the Election Commission (EC) on the NGO’s plea.

“The issue has not been decided. It has to be decided first,” the court said and listed the matter for hearing on October 14. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, suggested that the court may decide the issue as “there is no doubt that elephant statues were erected at state expense.”

The EC had rejected the NGO’s plea for cancellation of BSP’s election symbol for using state funds to erect the statues, saying the then Mayawati government in UP, despite repeated requests, had not furnished the desired information about the exact number and location of statues of elephant.

Meanwhile, the counsel appearing for BSP contended that a similar issue is pending before the SC, to which Bhushan responded that the issue in the apex court pertains to “misuse” of government funds. “Here the issue is that the symbol is giving them an unfair advantage in elections,” Bhushan said.

The NGO has said BSP’s symbol be cancelled as the Mayawati government had spent crores of rupees to install statues of elephant in the state. — PTI 

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  SC appoints panel to probe 2006 Meerut fire mishap

New Delhi, July 31
The Supreme Court (SC) today appointed a one-member commission headed by its former judge SB Sinha to inquire into the 2006 Meerut fire tragedy in which 64 people died and directed the UP Government to pay a compensation of Rs 5 lakh in addition to Rs 3 lakh already paid to each to the family members of the deceased.

A Bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra asked the commission to submit its report by January 31, 2015.

The SC also directed the state government to pay Rs 2 lakh to the seriously injured and Rs 75,000 to persons who suffered minor injury in the incident which took place on April 10, 2006. “We direct, as an interim measure, that the legal representatives of the deceased shall be paid Rs 5 lakh more and the seriously injured persons would be paid a further sum of Rs 2 lakh each and the persons who have suffered minor injuries would be paid an additional sum of Rs 75,000,” it said.

It directed the government to deposit the amount before the District Judge, Meerut, within two months who may nominate an Additional District Judge, on making summary enquiry, shall pay the amount to the legal representatives and the victims within a month from the date of deposit. — PTI

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  28 civil service aspirants held for violence

New Delhi, July 31
At least 28 civil service aspirants were arrested for a violent protest against the aptitude test in the entrance examination, the police said today.

The students were arrested after Wednesday night's clash with the police in Mukherjee Nagar and Timarpur areas which led to at least 25 people, including 11 policemen, being injured.

The aspirants also burnt down two buses, a police van and a police booth during their continued protest demanding scrapping of the Civil Service Aptitude Test (CSAT).

Holding candles, around 400-500 aspirants walked towards the Bara Hindu Rao Hospital, when police tried to stop them. The aspirants started pelting stones at the police personnel, who resorted to a baton charge, injuring many students.

Police said all the students and policemen who were admitted to hospitals have been discharged after treatment. — IANS

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Rs 5 lakh cr required for ongoing projects
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
Indian Railway will need Rs 5 lakh crore to complete all sanctioned projects for which it is mobilising additional resources, including private investment, FDI and private-public partnership.

Informing the Lok Sabha about the expected cost of the ongoing projects, Railways Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said keeping in mind the various pending projects announced by previous governments, he had refrained from announcing any new projects in the Railway Budget this year.

There are 362 major ongoing railway projects across the country having a throw-forward of Rs 1.82 lakh crore.

He said 113 out of the 362 new lines, gauge conversion and doubling projects have been included in railway budgets during 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14.

In his response to the supplementary questions raised by members, the minister said the public sector undertaking had a huge throw-forward of ongoing projects and a limited overall availability of funds.

“As such, it is not possible to allocate adequate funds to the projects on a regular basis, which is a prerequisite to fixing timelines and schedules,” he said.

The minister pointed out that various projects were announced by his predecessors but would not take off since no funds were ever allocated for them.

In a reply, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said to provide rail connectivity to capitals of Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram, Byrnihat-Shillong, Jiribam-Imphal, Dimapur-Kohima and Bhairabi-Sairang, new line projects had been taken up respectively by the railways.

Fund crunch

* Railways Minister DV Sadananda Gowda said the organisation had a huge throw-forward of ongoing projects but limited funds

* There are 362 major ongoing railway projects across the country having a throw-forward of ~1.82 lakh crore

* Various projects were announced in the past but these failed to take off since no funds were ever allocated, he said.

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5,000 more ticket vending machines 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
The Railways is planning to install over 5,000 more automatic ticket vending machines across the country while providing Wi-Fi facility at “A1” and “A” category stations and in 50 rakes of important trains in Rajdhani/ Shatabdi/ Duranto category.

In a reply to a question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said while automatic ticket vending machines operated by smart card were already functional, it was proposed to add another 5,000 such machines across all zonal railways.

Of these, 2,000 will be coin operated and 3,000 by smart cart. The procurement will start from this financial year.

The railways proposes Wi-Fi facility at “A1” & “A” category stations and in 50 rakes of important trains in Rajdhani/ Shatabdi/ Duranto category. This is in addition to Wi-Fi facility in three rakes of Howrah-New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani Express as a pilot project.

The provision of Wi-Fi in 50 rakes is estimated to cost Rs 55 crore.

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CBI registers 23rd case in coal block allocation 

New Delhi, July 31
The CBI on Thursday registered its 23rd case against a Madhya Pradesh-based private company in the ongoing probe into coal block allocations.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) conducted searches in various places in Indore and Satna in Madhya Pradesh.

The agency booked Revati Cement Pvt Ltd, its director Chinmay Palekar, and its promoters Umesh Sara and Kailash Sara in the first information report on charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct.

The 36th screening committee members have also been booked in the FIR.

“It has been alleged that 36th screening committee deliberately did not follow the guidelines and showed undue favour to the company,” said a CBI official.

The government officials were charged with abusing their official positions.

The agency registered the fresh case in connection with the allocation of the Thesgora-B/Rudrapuri coal block.

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in a 2012 report that the process had cost the national exchequer a loss of Rs.1.86 trillion.

The government auditor said the allocation process was flawed and possibly fraudulent.

Including this fresh case, the CBI has till now registered 23 FIRs and five preliminary inquiries in coal allocation cases, of which it has filed closure reports in four FIRs and two chargesheets. —IANS 

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Govt can be dismissed over spying: Oppn
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
The Opposition today stalled the Question and Zero Hour proceedings in the Rajya Sabha for the second day in a row, demanding a judicial probe and a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on allegations of snooping at the residence of Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Terming it an attempt to politicise the issue, the demands were rejected by the government. However, insisting on a debate on the matter, Congress-led Opposition benches called “bugging” of a minister’s phone “a breach of privilege” over which the government could “even be dismissed”.

“Snooping”, if proved, would mean “violation of the constitutional oath of secrecy” which could result in disqualification of Modi and his council of ministers, Opposition leaders argued.

They also cited the examples of resignations of US President Richard Nixon and former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar, who had to quit after allegations of phone tapping allegations, to prove their point.

Explaining the arguments put forth by him and his colleagues in the House, Congress’s Rajya Sabha member Ashwani Kumar told The Tribune that snooping amounted to compromising the secrecy of ministerial functions.

“Snooping of ministers could amount to violation of constitutional oath of secrecy. The violation of this obligation could disqualify the ministers concerned. So, a purposive debate on the issue is imperative,” he said.

“It is a violation of members’ privilege...That is why we want discussion. The issue is so serious that the government can be sacked. If there was no tapping why are you shying away from discussion,” Kumar said, supporting his colleague Pramod Tiwari, who raised a point of order on the issue, arguing that when “phones of ministers and MPs are tapped, secrecy is breached.”

“People’s faith in the Council of Ministers has been shaken. To help restore that faith, a judicial committee to probe the matter should be constituted,” he said. Without naming Modi, Tiwari also alleged “some people had a history of tapping phones of ministers in states”.

Supporting him, KC Tyagi (JD-U) said history had seen fall of governments in the US and India on such issues. “It is not a small issue. US President Nixon and Indian Prime Minister Chandrashekhar had resigned on this issue (of phone tapping).”

Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said if telephones of senior ministers of the Cabinet were being tapped it would not be surprising if the same was not happening with others — LoP, members of other political parties.

“The Home Minister may have made the statement that Gadkari’s phone is not being tapped but there are reports that say his own phone is being tapped. Someone senior to the Home Minister should come in the House to clarify,” he said.

Opposition leaders alleged that not just Gadkari, phones of Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Prakash Javadekar were also under surveillance.

Countering the allegations BJP’s Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi called them “unfounded” and “uncalled for”, especially when the House had many important issues to discuss such as flood and loss of lives in Pune.

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UPSC row: 3-member panel submits report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
The three-member committee set up by the government to resolve the ongoing row over UPSC's preliminary test pattern submitted its report today. The government said it was studying the report and its recommendations and would share it with Parliament tomorrow.

The panel was set up by the government after widespread protests in the Capital by UPSC aspirants who alleged bias against Hindi medium students vis-ŕ-vis English medium. The protests had started on June 27 leading to ruckus in Parliament.

The protesters are seeking scrapping of CSAT (Civil Service Aptitude Test) which they allege is drafted to suit Engilish medium students and put those from villages and Humanities background to an inconvenience. Until 2010, the UPSC preliminary test comprised an optional paper and another of general studies. From 2011, UPSC introduced CSAT with two compulsory papers CSAT-I and CSAT-II. This pattern stressed general awareness and aptitude skills more than the subject knowledge which was in the earlier format given maximum weightage. In the new system general awareness and aptitude weightage is more.

CSAT-II includes questions on quantitative analysis, logical reasoning and English language comprehension and protestors feel it creates hurdles in their way to qualifying for Mains.

Hindi and non-Math background students are saying the CSAT has been designed on the basis of Common Admissions Test (CAT) for MBA leading to decline in the number of non-English and non-Mathematics background students from making it to Mains.

A major grudge of protesters, however, relates to shabby drafting of Hindi version paper. The government also has evidence that Hindi questions are being generated by UPSC using Google translator which is creating errors and confusion. For instance, one error was - a steel plant in English version of the paper was literally translated in the Hindi version as "steel ka paudha".

Hindi vs English

* The government said it was studying the report and would share it with Parliament on Friday

* The panel was set up by the government after widespread protests in the Capital by UPSC aspirants who alleged bias against Hindi medium students vis-ŕ-vis English medium.

* The protesters are seeking scrapping of (Civil Service Aptitude Test). 

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Dy NSA Nehchal Sandhu resigns
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Singh Sandhu, an appointee of the Congress-led UPA regime, today resigned due to ‘personal reasons’. His resignation was “accepted with regret” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sources said Sandhu, a 1973-batch Bihar cadre IPS officer and a former Director of Intelligence Bureau (IB), had offered to quit when the BJP-led NDA regime was voted to power, but was told to carry on. Sandhu had worked closely with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, also a former IB Director. Source said Sandhu had been tasked with coordinating important infrastructure development works along the Chinese frontier. The decision to let Sandhu go may have been a tough one for the government. He was an expert in counter-terrorism and had spent considerable years working in strife-torn areas. A statement said Nehchal Sandhu resigned due to ‘personal reasons’. “The PM accepted his resignation with regret and expressed appreciation for Sandhu’s outstanding service to the country in a career spanning over 40 years - as a police officer, Director of IB and Deputy National Security Adviser,” it added.

In November 2010, Sandhu became the first Sikh to head IB, where he spent 35 years. Among his key achievements at the IB was Abu Jundal’s deportation from Saudi Arabia.

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Modi govt set to amend labour laws

New Delhi, July 31
Seeking to provide both the employer and the employee with a win-win situation, the Narendra Modi government cleared proposals to amend three labour laws which it plans to bring in Parliament in the ongoing Budget session.

The Union Cabinet has cleared amendments to the Factories Act, the Apprentices Act and the Labour Laws (exemption from furnishing returns and maintaining registers by certain establishments) Act to make them more compatible and beneficial for labourers and employers.

“The Cabinet has given its approval (for the amendments). The amendments would be beneficial for the labourers. We expect that it will be tabled in the present session of Parliament,” Labour Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said here today.

It is learnt that the amendments to the Factories Act, 1948 would have provisions for adequate safety for women working on night shift and provide transport after work. Certain norms have also been relaxed to ensure women were able to work in night shifts.

Some of the other proposed changes in the Act include improved safety of workers, doubling the provision of overtime from 50 hours a quarter to 100 hours in some cases and from 75 hours to 125 hours in other work of public interest and others.

According to an amendment proposed in the Apprentices Act, it will now not be compulsory for an employer to absorb 50 per cent of the apprentices as permanent employees.

Another amendment to the Act will enable to add 500 new skills and vocations in the industry, including those related to the IT sector. One of the amendments to the Factories Act states that now employees can avail leave with pay after completing 90 days in job. The earlier stipulation was 240 days.

Minister of State Labour and Employment Vishnu Deo Sai had also said that the amendment to the Factories Act was to make it more compatible to the requirement of the present scenario in industrial sector.

However, trade unions rued about this “unilateral approach” taken up by the government and said whatever reported amendments have been done, they did not have any knowledge about it and they came to know about it through news reports.

The Central Trade Unions are likely to meet soon to decide action programme against such “hasty employer friendly amendments” in the name of development, they added. — PTI

In the offing

* It is learnt that the amendments to the Factories Act, 1948 would have provisions for adequate safety for women working on night shift and provide transport after work

* According to an amendment proposed in the Apprentices Act, it will now not be compulsory for an employer to absorb 50% of the apprentices as permanent employees

* One of the amendments to the Factories Act states that now employees can avail leave with pay after completing 90 days in job. The earlier stipulation was 240 days

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Govt ‘open’ to GM crops despite RSS hurdle 
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
The future of genetically modified (GM) crops under the Narendra Modi regime appears to be secure. Top BJP sources said the government continues to be favourable towards research and new technologies in agriculture and allied fields, including GM crops that are facing stiff opposition from the RSS — the party’s ideological fountainhead.

The ratification of a recent decision by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) on field trials of some varieties of GM crops, with requisite safety regulations in place, can be expected soon, said sources. The GEAC had recently cleared nearly 15 proposals for confined field trials of rice, wheat, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton.

Developments following a meeting between affiliates of the RSS—the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh— and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday seemed to have indicated that the clearance by the central biotech regulator for field trials may have been put on hold.

Sources say the government is conducive to GM technology but it wanted to build a “right environment and take all sides along” before moving further on the contentious issue. The BJP’s poll promise talks of not allowing GM foods without full scientific evaluation of its long-term effects on soil, production and biological impact on consumers.

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‘We gave befitting reply to Pak after beheading incident’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
Outgoing Army chief General Bikram Singh today said India had given a befitting reply to Pakistan after the beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani troops in 2013 along the LoC.

“It (the response) had been done. That was a tactical operation which had been undertaken by local commanders,” he told mediapersons just before demitting office.

After the incident, he had said during a press conference that the Army would retaliate at a time and place of its choosing. He had given the statement six days after the incident in which Pakistan’s Special Forces and terrorists beheaded Lance Naik Hemraj Singh and mutilated the body of another Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh along the LoC in Poonch sector of J&K.

On possibility of a skirmish with China, Gen Singh said: “I don’t foresee any war with China. We have comprehensive rules of engagement with China. We have robust mechanisms in place and there is an understanding at the macro level.”

India is raising a specialised Mountain Strike Corps at the cost of Rs 64,000 crore aimed at matching China’s rising military might. He said units of the Mountain Strike Corps to be deployed along the China border.

On being asked if he held the same opinion for the western front (Pakistan), the General said: “No the western front, you know very well there is an LoC (Line of Control). It has traditionally been a very active border and at the tactical level, there is firing from across the border.”

Asked about transgressions on the China border, he said, “On our northern borders, even we are carrying out patrolling and the patrolling by our troops and PLA soldiers is done in an area which is disputed.” “Both have claims to that area so when patrols come in over there, there is a face-off which is dealt with as per the rules of engagement,” he added.

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General Bikram Singh sees no war with China
Says India gave befitting reply to Pak after beheading incident
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 31
Measuring his words carefully, outgoing Army Chief General Bikram Singh today said he did not foresee a war with China but he evaded a similar direct opinion on future conflicts with Pakistan saying that was a ‘very active’ border.

On possibility of a skirmish with China, General Singh said: “I don’t foresee any war with China. We have comprehensive rules of engagement with China. We have robust mechanisms in place and there is an understanding at the macro level.”

India is raising a specialised Mountain Strike Corps at the cost of Rs 64,000 crore aimed at matching China’s rising military might. He said units of the Mountain Strike Corps would be deployed along the China border. On being asked if he thought the same for the western front (Pakistan), he said: “No. It has traditionally been a very active border and at the tactical level, there is firing from across the border.”

The General reiterated that India had given a befitting reply to Pakistan after the beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani troops in 2013 along the LoC.

“It (the response) had been done. That was a tactical operation which had been undertaken by local commanders,” he told mediapersons just before demitting office.

After the incident, he had said that the Army would retaliate at a time and place of its choosing. 

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Discusses WTO impasse with Jaitley

New Delhi, July 31
US Secretary of State John Kerry today met Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and discussed India's stance on the ongoing WTO's Trade Facilitation Agreement talks which are set to conclude at Geneva later in the day.

Kerry was accompanied by US Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker who has already expressed disappointment over India's stand at the ongoing TFA negotiations for easing customs rule for free movement of goods.

"We had a good discussion. India is a big market. We also discussed issues related to WTO," an official privy to the meeting said. India has been maintaining that it will not ratify the TFA, which is dear to developed world, until a solution is found on public stock holding for food security. TFA aims at simplifying customs procedure, increasing transparency, reducing transactions cost. — PTI

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Kerry visits IIT, walks out impressed with students

New Delhi, July 31
"Very exciting" and "excellent" were the words used by US Secretary of State John Kerry as he visited two laboratories at the Indian Institute of Technology here today and interacted with students.

Kerry, who is here for the 5th Indo-US strategic dialogue, took time out of his schedule and visited the Applied Microbiology Laboratory and Bio-process lab.

Professor RK Shevgaonkar, Director of the IIT, Delhi, told PTI that the American Embassy had specifically mentioned the laboratories that Kerry wanted to visit.

Dressed in a blue suit, Kerry interacted with students there and asked a number of questions about the processes involved, education fee, patent system and also if they would get a job in India or would they have to go out.

Kerry was very pleased to see a research project on bio-degradable plastic.

As a student explained the project to him, Kerry said, "Very exciting. It would be a huge contribution to the world. Very exciting. Fantastic." Kunal Gupta, who is part of the project, said he was proud that Kerry visited his institute.

"I am very proud to be part of an institute which is recognised in the US as well. They (US) have done a lot of research which is much ahead of us and Kerry's visit to the institute makes us feel very good," Gupta said.

Kerry also visited the lab which was using algae to clean water and to produce biomass. — PTI

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Lt Gen Campose relinquishes WC charge
Will take over as Vice Chief of Army Staff in Delhi tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Lieutenant General Philip Campose today relinquished charge as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command. He is scheduled to take over as Vice Chief of the Army Staff at Army Headquarters tomorrow from Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who has been elevated as the Army Chief.

Lt Gen KJ Singh, a cavalry officer, will take over as the Western Army commander tomorrow.

Lt Gen Campose, who is also Colonel of the Mechanised Infantry, was given a warm farewell by officers and troops at Command Headquarters, Chandimandir, today. He laid a wreath at the Veer Smriti war memorial to pay tributes to martyrs and was presented a guard of honour.

He had taken over as the Western Army Commander from Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra in July 2013. His impetus was towards enhancing operational readiness of the Command by promoting best practices based on modern technology and revamping the security mechanism in the Jammu region to enhance alertness and foil infiltration bids and terrorist attacks, a statement issued here said.

Besides operational issues, he also focused on infrastructure development, improving living standards and empowerment of all ranks, welfare of ex-servicemen and widows. Additional funds were also allotted to the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme to improve the functioning of clinics.

He also had close interaction with the administrations of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh on matters relating to rehabilitation of ex-servicemen, mitigation of grievances related to pension, land for girls hostel in Chandigarh for wards of servicemen and resolving of land issues.

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Lt Gen Hira is Vajra Corps commander
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Lieutenant General Narinder Pal Singh Hira assumed charge as the General Officer Commanding of the Jalandhar-based Vajra Corps today.

He has also taken over as the Colonel of the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment from General Bikram Singh who retired as the Army Chief today. Lt Gen Hira replaces Lt Gen Ashwini Kumar Bakshi, who superannuated from service today.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasala, Lt Gen Hira was commissioned in the Sikh Light Infantry in December 1978. He commanded an infantry battalion in active counter-insurgency operations as part of Operation Rhino in Assam and later commanded an infantry brigade and an infantry division on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

He has done all important tri-services professional courses, including the Defence Services Staff College, Higher Command and the National Defence College.

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NCB destroys heroin worth Rs  700 crore
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 31
The Chandigarh Zonal Unit of Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) today destroyed 351.073 kg heroin worth around Rs 700 crore near Patiala ki Rao River at Baliayali village. The drug was destroyed at Rainbow Environment Private Limited under the supervision of high-level committee headed by RP Singh, deputy director general, northern region, NCB.

Singh said requisite approval had been taken from the respective courts and the Punjab Pollution Control Board to dispose of the drug. “We brought here 357 kg heroin, five kg charas and 100 gram opium but today we destroyed 351.073 kg heroin only. The remaining drug will be destroyed soon,” he said.

NCB zonal director Dr Kaustubh Sharma said most of the drugs were recovered from border areas of Punjab. “Today’s stock was recovered from the neighbouring states, including Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Some of the recoveries were made around 10 years ago,” he said.

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Six killed in Tehri cloudburst 
Ajay Ramola
Tribune News Service

Mussoorie, July 31
Six persons were killed and one injured following a landslide triggered by the cloudburst that struck Jakhnyali (Nautar) village in Ghansali tehsil, nearly 55 km from Tehri, around 2 am, Tehri district disaster management control centre spokesman said today.

The incident occurred when mud debris came down with tremendous force, flattening the houses. Around six persons, including two children, were buried under the debris. The landslide was triggered by the incessant rains lashing the region for the past 10 hours. The rescue work started around 5 am. Five bodies have been recovered so far. Those, who lost their lives, have been identified as Mangani Devi (65), Lajju Devi (65), Mangaleshwari Devi (35), Ritika (15) and Debu (8). The body of the deceased Rajesh Nautiyal (65) is still missing.

The injured, Vinod, has been rushed to a medical centre for further treatment. Local disaster management team along with the CISF and fire brigade men is conducting the rescue and search operation.

As many as 12 cattle are reportedly buried under the debris, while around 12 houses and four cowsheds have been damaged.

Inhabitants of the affected village said that chances of more people buried in the debris were remote as some people had fled to safer place just before the landslide.

The cloudburst has also damaged water supply lines and washed away agricultural land of Jakhnyali (Nautar) village, said the villagers who are demanding immediate rehabilitation due to the threat of more landslides.

Incessant rains

* Landslide was triggered by the cloudburst that struck Jakhnyali (Nautar) village in Ghansali tehsil in wee hours

* Mud debris fell with tremendous force and damaged several houses burying around six persons, including two kids

* The landslide was triggered by the incessant rains lashing the region for the past 10 hours.

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Curfew relaxed for 6 hours in Saharanpur, 1 held under NSA
Shiv Kumar Sharma

Saharanpur, July 31
The Saharanpur administration gave six-hour relaxation in curfew in the town on Thursday after violence broke out here on Saturday.

This effort of the administration failed to build confidence among the residents of this violence-hit town.

The relaxation in curfew was given from 10 am to 4 pm in the town, including in Hindu and Sikh dominated areas located in New Saharanpur and Old Saharanpur, a Muslim dominated area. Earlier, the curfew was lifted in two phases from Monday to Wednesday.

During relaxation, all establishments in markets remained closed except for a few shops. Residents preferred to stay indoors. The curfew relaxation passed off peacefully with no untoward incident being reported from any part of the city.

Sources said representatives of trade unions told the local administration that they would not be able to muster courage to open their shops until they were provided adequate security. They apprehended that they might be attacked again. The traders also repeated their demand of compensation for damage.

Meanwhile, two members of the National Minority Commission comprising Farida Khatoon and Ajayab Singh met to prominent persons of the Muslim community, including additional kazi Nadim Akhtar, and administration officials at local circuit house today.

Members of the Commission also visited Gurdwara Singh Sabha and held a meeting with representatives of Sikhs.

Moharm Ali Pappu booked under NSA, arrested

The police booked former Sabhasad of Municipal Corporation of Saharanpur, Mohram Ali alias Pappu under National Security Act in connection with the violence and arrested him.

District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari and SSP Rajesh Kumar Pandey said Mohram Ali was arrested yesterday. They said that he was today produced in a court where he was sent in jail. It is alleged that he was Mohram Ali who instigated the crowd for violence delivering a hateful speech near Kutubsher police station on Saturday morning.

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BJP to contest 9 seats in Bihar bypoll

Patna, July 31
The BJP-led NDA today announced seat-sharing for 10 Assembly bye-elections in Bihar where the party will contest nine seats, leaving one for its ally the LJP.

The BJP has left the Parbatta Assembly seat in Khagaria district for Ramvilas Paswan’s party and announced its candidates for nine seats which would go to the polls on August 21. The Rashtriya Lok Samata Party of Union Minister Upendra Kushwaha, an ally of the BJP, drew a blank.

The JD(U), RJD and Congress yesterday officially announced their alliance and seat-sharing arrangements as part of which JD(U) and RJD would contest four seats each while Congress got two seats.

According to the list for Bihar made available by the party office here, Rashmi Verma will contest from Narkatiaganj, Rampreet Paswan (Rajnagar, SC), Ramnivas Prasad (Jale), Kanhaiya Singh (Chapra), Avdhesh Kumar (Hajipur), Rajesh Singh (Mohiuddinnagar), Nabhay Choudhary (Bhagalpur), Ramnarayan Mandal (Banka) and Niranjan Ram (Mohania. — PTI

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Toll rises to 41, nine pulled out alive
NDRF still to rescue over 120 trapped in debris
Shiv Kumar
Tribune NewsService

Mumbai, July 31
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) is racing against time to rescue more than 120 people still trapped in debris following yesterday’s landslide at Malin village in Pune’s Ambegaon taluka.

Sources said the NDRF today pulled out nine more persons alive and recovered 41 bodies from the disaster site. “Rescue efforts have been hampered by adverse weather conditions as heavy rain continues to lash the area,” a statement from the state government said. 

“The situation is very bad, but miracles do happen,” NDRF head Alok Avasthy toldreporters here. The NDRF has deployed 378 personnel apart from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to search forsurvivors. “Thermal imaging equipment that can detect signs of life underseveral feet of debris have also been deployed,” officials said.

Efforts to deploy sniffer dogs to trace signs of life failed as heavy rain made it difficult for them to work, the officials said. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh along with Vinod Tawde, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Legislative Council, visited the disaster site and announced an assistance of ~2 lakh to the next of kin of those killed in the disaster.

District officials said nearly 70 houses were buried under the debris. Most of victims were asleep when a nearby hill crumbled onto their houses following heavy rainfall. Residents in the tribal hamlet were into paddy cultivation and the entire hillside was denuded of trees for paddy cultivation.

3 labourers killed in Assam

Silchar/Karimganj: Three labourers werekilled while search was on for two others as a landslide hit their camp in aremote forest in Assam'sCachar district, the police said on Thursday.

Bodies of three labourers were recovered on Wednesday evening and search was on for the other two, the police said. Five persons on Sunday had gone to the forest and set up a temporary camp.Incessant rainfall triggered the landslide on Monday night overrunning theircamp and buried them there, the police said. — PTI

12 villages cut-off in Odisha

Malkangiri (Odisha): Landslide in Odisha has cut off about a dozen villages on the Bonda hills in Malkangiri from the district headquarters for the past four days, officials said. Communication to the hills had been snapped since Monday. - PTI

M’rashtra to set up NDRF-like force

* The Maharashtra Government has decided to set up a disaster response force on the pattern of the National Disaster Response Force

* Sources say two companies of the force will be set up with 428 personnel

* The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting following a landslide in Pune

* One company of the force would be stationed to cover the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions

* A panel has been constituted to oversee recruitments for the force

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  Give copy of Rajesh Khanna’s will to his former companion: HC 

Mumbai, July 31
The Bombay High Court has asked Twinkle, daughter of the late Bollywood superstar Rajesh Khanna, to give a copy of probate proceedings and the probated will of her father to his former companion Anita Advani.

Justice RD Dhanuka, who yesterday allowed Advani to secure a copy of the will, also declined to stay his order for enabling an appeal.

The late actor’s two daughters, Twinkle and Rinkie, who are his legal heirs, had earlier moved the High Court to get his will probated (validated). Twinkle is married to actor Akshay Kumar.

Advani, who claims to have lived in with Khanna at his iconic suburban bungalow Ashirwad during the last two years of his life and looked after him, has challenged genuineness of the will, saying that he was not in the position to sign it at the time due to ill-health.

Advani, through her lawyer Manohar Shetty, has sought revocation of probate alleging that the will has been forged.

Senior counsel Janak Dwarkadas, who appeared for Twinkle, opposed Advani’s plea seeking copy of the will, saying that she was neither a family member nor an heir. However, the court held that no harm would be caused to Khanna’s legal heirs if a copy was given to Advani. — PTI

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Flutter in J&K defence circles
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 31
Outgoing Army chief General Bikram Singh’s comments on Lance Naik Hemraj Singh, who was beheaded by Pakistan’s Border Action Team (BAT) on January 8 last year in Poonch sector, have created a flutter in defence circles in Jammu and Kashmir.

Defence sources, who felt that the outgoing Army chief perhaps did so to bolster his post-retirement prospects, say, “why at the first place he kept quiet for so long to divulge Army’s retaliation to this particular incident on the LoC and why he divulged it today on the day of demitting office.”

“Had the outgoing Army chief divulged it soon after retaliatory action, it would have also given some kind of consolation to Dharamwati— martyred soldier’s wife,” they said.

On the fateful day, Lance Naiks Hemraj and Sudhakar Singh were brutally killed, their bodies mutilated and former’s head was taken away by Pakistan’s BAT after it breached the LoC and intruded 450 metres inside the Indian Territory in the Balnoi area.

Soon after the incident, family members of Hemraj, including his wife Dharamwati, back home in Mathura had went on a hunger strike demanding that the head of her husband be brought back.

The family had called off their six-day-old fast only after a visit by UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and assurances by Gen Bikram Singh that steps would be taken to get back the severed head. “The outgoing Army chief should have avoided making comments on this issue on the day of his retirement. We all know that Special Forces are meant for carrying out such tactical operations and the Army keeps them under the wraps for obvious reasons,” said the sources.

If the comments were so unavoidable then they should have been made soon after the Army avenged the brutal killings of its troopers, they added. His comment to the queries on Hemraj was unwarranted, they said.

In New Delhi today when asked if India had given a befitting reply after the January 8 beheading incident, the outgoing Army chief reportedly said: “It has been done. Please understand that when we use force, that use is from tactical to operational to strategic levels. When I mention that during that incident, it was aimed at operations at the tactical level, which have been undertaken. I think this has been done by the local commander, the chiefs have nothing to do with it”.

Soon after the incident, Gen Bikram Singh had said during a press conference that the Army would retaliate at a time and place of its choosing. He had given the statement six days after the incident.

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Encephalitis grips Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 31
Nearly 277 persons have lost their lives in Assam this year due to Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Encephalitis-like diseases that have affected 24 out of the total 27 districts of the state. Alarmed by the situation, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has asked the Health Department to bring sufficient medicines and take adequate measures to check the deadly disease from claiming more lives in the state.

An official of the Health Department said so far, 1,683 persons had been affected by the disease this year and out of those 277 had lost their lives. Immunisation and prevention being only ways to tackle the disease, the Health Department has launched awareness drive to make people how to protect themselves from mosquitoes carrying the virus. 

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Bangalore bandh hits normal life 
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 31
A 12-hour bandh in the country’s IT hub to protest against the rising cases of sexual offences against women and children called by Kannada outfits today evoked a good response.

The protesters led by Vatal Nagaraj, known for his aggressive stance in protecting the Kannada language and Kannada culture, met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Home Minister KJ George and demanded severest punishment for sexual offenders.

Commercial establishments in most of the areas of the city remained closed. Buses operated by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation plied but with fewer passengers. Auto-rickshaws also stayed off the road which looked deserted and bereft of the usual hustle and bustle of a working day.

Government offices and banks functioned perfunctorily. Most educational institutions observed the day as a holiday. Essential services were available as they were exempt from the bandh called by the Kannada Okoota, an umbrella body of several Kannada organisations led by Nagaraj. Shopping malls also remained closed, as also cinema theatres which cancelled morning shows.

IT companies in Bangalore, while keeping their offices open, allowed staffers to work from home also.

Security in the city was beefed. Despite the police deployment, at least two incidents of stone pelting on the BMTC busses were reported.

The bandh comes after the public outrage over the alleged recent gang-rape of a six-year-old girl at Vibgyor High School that spilled into the streets and drew all-round condemnation with the government and police coming in for criticism.

Later in the evening, the state government announced forming an experts committee to look into amendments to the law related to sexual assault cases and enhancement of its punishment. The committee headed by former Law Minister MC Nanaiah has been asked to submit its report within three months.

The organisations calling for the bandh also sought a ban on the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) demanding unification of Marathi speaking areas of Karnataka with Maharashtra and arrest of people who had recently erected a board in a village near Belgaum showing the area as part of Maharashtra.

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