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Nation at a Glance

Bihar employees call off strike

Patna: Government offices got back to business on Saturday after striking non-gazetted employees reached an agreement with the authorities late on Friday night, reports our correspondent.

The three leading associations of over three-and-a-half lakh employees called off their 43-day strike after the agreement proposal was sent to the Election Commission for approval. The commission's sanction is mandatory as dates have been announced for the Assembly elections in Bihar.

Sources said all but one of their seven-point demands have been accepted. The agreement will be made public only after the poll panel's approval.

While the government has deferred a decision on increasing the retirement age from 58 to 60, merger of 50 per cent of the dearness allowance with the basic pay will begin from this month.

The government has reportedly agreed to sanction earned leave and travel allowance for about 300 days of strikes held in the past. The demand of assured career promotion will be taken up soon by a special committee.

'The employees' worries of the last seven years are over now and we have decided to resume work after arriving at a respectable agreement with the government,' Bihar Sachivalaya Seva Sangh general secretary Anil Kumar Singh said.

The Election Commission had issued two ultimatums to the employees to end the strike and threatened punitive action. It had also made preparations for alternative manpower to conduct the Assembly elections.

Indian faces Thai scam heat

Bangkok (TNA): Thai law officials are seeking extradition of an Indian-origin official of a Thai bank from Canada in connection with a scam.

Rakesh Saxena had been one of the principal players in the embezzlement of the Bangkok Bank of Commerce, attorney Trakul Winitnaiphak said on Friday.

After the conviction of a former president of the bank, Kriki Jalichandra, he was working to get the extradition of Saxena, who had fled to Canada, the attorney said.

Although Saxena never held a formal role and acted in an advisory capacity in the bank, he was implicated in the embezzlement, Winitnaiphak said, adding that he was confident of securing Saxena's extradition.

4 held with explosives

Mumbai (PTI): Four persons carrying weapons and explosives were arrested outside Mahalaxmi railway station on Saturday.

The anti-terrorist squad of the city police arrested the four from a taxi parked outside the station. Explosives, six countrymade revolvers and four crude bombs were seized from them, the police said.

Tortoises seized

Allahabad (PTI): Three persons carrying 129 live tortoises were arrested in the Nahar Patti area on Saturday. An investigation is on to find out from where the tortoises were being brought and where they were being taken to, police said.

Smoke kills kids

Jammu (PTI): Two children died of asphyxiation and three other family members fell unconscious from smoke emanating from an earthen fire pot left burning in their room overnight. When members of Abdul Rasheed's family in Seri village of Doda district did not come out of their house till 11.30 am on Saturday, the villagers broke open the door, sources said. The unconscious family members were taken to a hospital, where doctors declared two-year-old Yasmeen and two-month-old Mohmmad as brought dead.

Gold thief nabbed

Morena (PTI): An employee of a gold merchant at Chandni Chowk in New Delhi was arrested from Kuktheri village near here for allegedly stealing two gold bricks worth Rs 12.5 lakh. Pramod was given two gold bricks by his employer to hand them over to a businessman. But he fled to his native village in Madhya Pradesh with the gold bricks, police said.

Bribery arrest

Hyderabad (PTI): Anti-corruption bureau sleuths caught a forest guard accepting bribe at his home in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh. The guard, posted in Salur forest range, had demanded money to allow a person to take firewood from the forest, a release said. The person lodged a complaint with the bureau.

Pushpa Maheshri, an English teacher, has won Texas' Teacher of the Year award for 2004. She came to the US 31 years ago from Akola in Maharashtra and has been teaching for 15 years.

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