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Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

George loyalists suspended

New Delhi: In a jolt to Samata Party chief George Fernandes, three legislators from his Bihar camp were suspended from membership of the party with immediate effect, reports our special correspondent.

Fernandes was forced to agree to the suspensions of Ganesh Paswan, Bhai Virender and P. K. Sinha to save the Samata from an impending split. But his loyalists are very upset that he allowed arch rival Nitish Kumar to consolidate his sway on the Bihar unit.

Kumar’s supporters had passed a resolution in Patna on April 13 demanding the expulsion of five Fernandes loyalists. The five include the three suspended today and Lok Sabha MPs Raghunath Jha and Brahmanand Mandal.

The decision to suspend the trio followed hectic discussions between Fernandes and Kumar early this week and a series of subsequent meetings between the Samata chief and party leaders. It was also decided that a disciplinary action committee would be set up to look into allegations of both factions and suggest remedial action.

But the suspension decision was taken without waiting for the disciplinary panel report. A statement issued by party general secretary and Fernandes confidant Anil Hegde said the suspension “has been done on the recommendation of Samata Party’s Bihar state council and the state executive committee”.

Sinha clears air on US ties

New Delhi: Foreign minister Yashwant Sinha on Saturday played down differences between India and the US on Iraq and said there was no possibility of Washington tying to intervene in Delhi’s “internal affairs”, reports our special correspondent.

“Let me make it clear that we neither need to panic over possible US intervention in our internal affairs nor should there be concern that our relations with the US are on the verge of collapse,” Sinha said.

The foreign minister made it clear that India cannot remain silent “simply out of fear of incurring the displeasure of others”. He expressed confidence that Indo-US relations were based on “a whole host of objective factors and these factors continue to bring our countries closer”.

Sinha said India’s “middle path” stand on Iraq was chosen after “considerable deliberations”. “There are some in our country who believe that india should have been in the trenches fighting the US and the UK troops with the Republican Guards of Saddam Hussein. There are others who would like us to be a vassal state and subordinate our thought and action to the rich and powerful.”

But India would go to neither extremes, the foreign minister said.

Probe call into custody escape

Mumbai (PTI): Bombay High Court on Saturday directed the Maharashtra government to file its reply in response to a petition seeking a CBI inquiry into the disappearance of Pota detenue Sayed Khwaja Yunus from police custody.

The petition, filed by Yunus’ father, urged the court to direct the state and city police to produce the accused dead or alive and explain under what circumstances he had disappeared from custody. Yunus, an accused in the Ghatkopar blasts, escaped from custody when a jeep carrying him to Aurangabad for investigations met with an accident on January 7.

MCC warning

Sasaram (PTI): Over 100 armed MCC activists kidnapped 12 labourers and demolished a statue in Jamuhar village in Rohtas district, police said. The labourers were released after a warning to stop work at a stone-crushing factory.

Powerloom fast

Dharmapuri (PTI): Over 1,000 textiles and powerloom workers observed a one-day token fast on Saturday, demanding withdrawal of excise duty on textiles.

Labourer buried

Jammu (PTI): One woman labourer was buried alive and another injured when earth caved in while a road was being constructed at Kalaka colony, sources said.

Jawan suicide

Bhiwani (PTI): A CRPF jawan, facing trial for the murder of his wife for dowry, hung himself in the district jail here. His parents are also facing trial in the case.

Leopard killed

Shimla (PTI): A 30-year-old woman killed a leopard with a sickle after the animal attacked her in a forest in Mandi district on Saturday. Nirmala Devi, who was returning after collecting fodder, saw the animal pouncing on a 13-year-old boy, who jumped into a ravine to save himself. The leopard then attacked Nirmala, injuring her in the neck, shoulders and legs. A determined Nirmala fought back, hitting the leopard with her sickle till the animal died.

The Amar Jyoti (eternal flame) would be constructed and lit at the historic Cellular Jail in Port Blair as a mark of respect to freedom fighters who had dedicated their lives for the nation, petroleum minister Ram Naik has said.

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