|N A T I O N|
|Operation clean-up by Nepal
KATHMANDU, Dec 26 After admitting to the "possibility of a security lapse" at Kathmandus Tribhuvan International Airport prior to the departure from here on Friday of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Delhi which was later hijacked, authorities here have immediately begun cleaning up their act.
Terrorists must not be freed
NEW DELHI, Dec 26 Noted defence analysts, including members of the National Security Council Advisory Board, are of the opinion that the government should not concede the hijackers demand to release jailed Harkat-ul- Ansar leader Maulana Masood Azhar or other terrorists.
Ustad Amjad Ali Khan presenting "Mastermind India '99" trophy to Ajai Banerji at the City Palace in Jaipur recently. PTI photo
Move to give BJP new
Kalyan seeks JPC probe against PM
Visitors entry to IGIA
is computer madam
Lawmakers in dilemma over
Phalodi riots: 2 officials removed
BJP moratorium on controversial
Operation clean-up by Nepal
KATHMANDU, Dec 26 (UNI) After admitting to the "possibility of a security lapse" at Kathmandus Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) prior to the departure from here on Friday of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 to Delhi which was later hijacked, authorities here have immediately begun cleaning up their act.
With immediate effect, the Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister has ordered the closing down of all shops contracted for business on the TIA premises. These include the money-changer outlet, the duty-free shop, restaurant and various other retail outlets for food and beverages in the departure lounge.
The ministry, meanwhile, decided that alternate arrangements should be immediately put in place for operating the restaurant by a government agency as against the current practice of contracting it to a local hotel.
Similar arrangements would shortly be effected for the other outlets also, whereby they would in future be run by the government and not contracted to private parties, as ministry spokesman here said.
These immediate steps were taken in view of reports that unauthorised personnel had easy access to even restricted areas within the sprawling TIA complex which is currently undergoing renovation-cum-expansion.
Meanwhile, the Indian Airlines manager for Nepal, Lalchand, today denied that IA staff in the Kathmandu office had been "suspended, arrested and taken to Delhi for interrogation" as reported by an Indian television news network this afternoon.
"Though IA flights
to Kathmandu remain suspended for the time being
following Fridays hijacking, we are very much in
place and presently trying to reconstruct the sequence of
events that day," said the weary IA manager.
Terrorists must not be freed
NEW DELHI, Dec 26 (UNI) Noted defence analysts, including members of the National Security Council Advisory Board, are of the opinion that the government should not concede the hijackers demand to release jailed Harkat-ul-Ansar leader Maulana Masood Azhar or other terrorists.
"We should not forget that militancy in Kashmir saw a revival in 1990 following the release of some top militants in lieu of the then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeeds abducted daughter, Prof Brahma Chellany of the Centre for Policy Research said.
Strategic experts said the hijacking of the Indian Airlines Kathmandu-Delhi flight was not an isolated act of terrorism but part of the larger warfare being waged in Kashmir. "Giving into pressure would only bleed India further," they said.
The analysts see a clear connection between the beating back of Pakistani troops in Kargil and the spurt of terrorist acts, including the hijacking of the Indian Airlines airbus A-320, in Kashmir.
Maintaining that the government had become "complacent" after the Kargil victory, Dr Savita Pande of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) said "this was a major mistake.
Stating that India had to take the responsibility for safeguarding its interests, she said there was no point blaming lax security at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu for the hijacking. When India faced a perilous security situation, it was for the government to take necessary safeguards aboard its aircraft, she said.
"The authorities should look into how Indian Airlines issued four tickets in the same name. This is a lapse, she said.
"The government had become complacent after the Kargil victory. That was a mistake. We cannot fight a motivated enemy only by firefighting operations. We need to have a national base policy on terrorism, identifying the indigenous patterns of terrorism and appropriate responses Dr Pande said.
Prof Chellany also felt that the country would not keep expending scarce resources on anti-terrorist measures and needed to "take the battle to the springboard of terrorism.
"Even spending billions of dollars on anti-terrorism measures cannot buy you security so long as you keep defending yourself at home. The Pak-Taliban terrorism nexus needs to be broken by whatever means, he added.
The fact that the hijackers made their demands known only in Kandahar, which was a "safe haven for Islamic militants, was significant, he observed.
Besides thinking through a national policy on tackling terrorism, the authorities also needed to revamp the security procedures, specially at "high visible targets" like airplanes, the analysts said.
While Dr Amitabh Mattoo of Jawaharlal Nehru Universitys School of International Studies suggested on-board frisking by airline staff on Indian Airlines and Air India like in Israeli or Sri Lankan airliners, Dr Pande suggested stationing of commandos in disguise.
"We have to see the
hijacking in context of the larger pattern of terrorism
in Kashmir, which is supported by the Pakistani
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)", said the Deputy
Director of the IDSA, Mr Uday Bhaskar.
Hijackers came on PIA plane?
KATHMANDU, Dec 26 (AFP) Four of the five armed hijackers of an Indian plane arrived here on a flight from Pakistan and amid gross security lapses walked unchallenged onto the jet shortly before takeoff, Nepalese inquiry sources said today.
The four arrived from Karachi in southern Pakistan on a delayed Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight on Christmas eve and transferred onto the New Delhi-bound Indian Airlines plane less than an hour later, the source said.
The PIA plane had been due to arrive on Friday morning at Tribhuvan International airport, but was delayed by heavy fog and finally landed 57 minutes before the departure of the Indian Airlines plane.
"The four hijackers, who had travelled from Karachi, were allowed to board flight IC-814 without undergoing immigration and security formalities," the source from the investigating committee said, asking to remain anonymous.
He said the four crossed the tarmac to walk onto the plane, thus bypassing security checks.
Investigators believe one man, named as S.A. Qazi, a Kashmiri with a Nepalese passport, managed to check in the four other hijackers, identified as three Kashmiris and an Afghan, onto the ill-fated flight.
Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Pakistans Airport Security Force (ASF) said no weapons reached Kathmandu on the PIA flight thought to be taken by hijackers.
No unidentified passengers or baggage was abroad the PIA flight PK-806, said a senior ASF official, quoted by the state run television.
"The Indian Airlines counter at the airport has grossly neglected its duty in issuing four boarding passes through one S.A. Qazi," said a source with the Civil Aviation Security Investigation Committee.
Qazi managed to get the boarding passes stamped and cleared for the four arriving from Karachi and transferring to the Indian Airlines flight, he said.
UNI adds: Civil Aviation sources here today dismissed as "kite-flying" the theory that the hijackers of the Indian Airlines flight IC-814 had boarded the airbus A-300 at Kathmandus Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) immediately after alighting from a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane parked alongside on the tarmac.
The sources pointed out that PIA operates only one flight to Kathmandu which originates from Karachi and on Friday PK-806 arrived in TIA at 9.30 am and left as PK-807 an hour later at 10.30 am.
Move to give BJP new image
CHENNAI, Dec 26 The compulsions of being a ruling party and its emergence as a major political player in the country has prompted the BJP to chart out a course that will give it a new image that is in keeping with the times of the next century.
An exercise to this effect has already been initiated under the leadership of the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and the partys national council session at Chennai from December 27 to 29 is expected to release a document that would aim at rearranging the priorities and focus of the party and spruce up its image as an outfit that is geared to govern the country efficiently in the coming years.
According to party spokesperson, Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, the session will review the progress made by the country in the past 50 years, identify the task before the nation, the government, the party and before the people and document the course that the party has to adopt keeping in view the ground realities.
According to party sources, the new road map would capitalise on the moderate image of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and his widespread acceptability in the country and the party would try to adjust itself to the expectations of the people.
In other words, the party is likely to tone down its stand on "Hindutva" and shed its "hardened image" and acquire a more acceptable face.
The governments success in pushing through a number of economic measures in Parliament and its acceptance with the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance and the opposition Congress has also convinced the party to adopt a route that is based on consensus.
The national executive of the party, which will meet on December 27, is also expected to take up amendments to the constitution of the BJP as suggested by a 10-member committee headed by Jana Krishnamoorthi.
According to Mr Naidu, one of the important suggestions made by the committee is to have organisational elections once in three years instead of the present two years.
Being a much larger party today, the organisational elections, right from that of the Block President to the national president takes as much as six months giving little time for the incumbents to carry out their tasks.
The amendment if passed would increase the term of the national president of the party to three years.
With the BJP President, Mr Kushabhau Thakres term coming to an end later next year, it remains to be seen whether the amendments would give him an extended innings at the helm of party affairs. Since Mr Thakre has said that he in not interested in another term, there are also possibilities of the national council session informally throwing up the name of the next President.
The Jana Krishnamoorti report has also suggested that there should be no second term for BJP presidents, including those at the mandal level.
Kalyan seeks JPC probe against PM
KANPUR, Dec 26 (UNI) The Rastriya Kranti Party (RKP) chief and former UP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh today demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to inquire into the charges against Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in the wheat import deal and telecom scam.
Addressing a public meeting organised by his supporters here, Mr Kalyan Singh said he had suggested to Mr Vajpayee the formation of the JPC to look into the charges during his meeting with him in Lucknow some time ago, but the Prime Minister had taken the suggestion as "unfriendly.
He told reporters later that he was unable to understand why Mr Vajpayee should run away from a probe.
The former Chief
Minister clarified that he was not at all interested in
toppling the Ram Prakash Gupta government in UP. However,
he predicted that the Gupta government would fall due to
its own incapabilities and political shortsightedness.
Visitors entry to IGIA banned
NEW DELHI, Dec 26 (UNI) Entry to the terminal at the Indira Gandhi International Airport has been banned for visitors till January 15, a senior police official said today.
This is part of the heightened security measures being taken in the wake of the hijacking of the Indian Airlines plane which was flying from Kathmandu to Delhi, Mr R.S. Gupta, Special Commissioner of Police in-charge of airport security and operations told UNI.
"Tawaifs" daughter is computer madam
MUZAFFARPUR, Dec 26 (PTI) The dark, dingy, desolate world of sexworkers here at downtown Chhaturbhuj Sthan is witnessing a revolution of sorts with more and more of them learning the latest version of personal computers.
Amidst glaring signboards which read "Dilruba Nagpurwaali", "Shabnam Qawwal", "Golden Fairy" stands out a sober poster with "Aditi" printed on it in black and white, along the winding, narrow bylanes of kothas of at least 300 sexworkers.
Aditi is frequented by girls, mainly in the age group of 12 to 30. Here, the women learn to work on computers as well as stitch and embroider purses, sofa-covers and the like.
Shagufta, 24, a visitor to Aditi since the age of 18, says, "My mother did not want me to enter her profession but there were few options as I was treated as an outcast as I am a "tawaifs daughter."
"When Aditi opened its centre here and we came to know it imparts vocational training of some sort, I insisted on coming here. My mother allowed me to come here after she was convinced about the intentions of this centre," says an enthusiastic and strikingly beautiful Shagufta.
The co-ordinator of the centre, Shri Paramhans, associated with it ever since its inception, has braved death threats for continuing the task before him.
Paramhans says "We have withstood the teething problems. Once the tawaifs were convinced, things became easier. More and more of them willingly send their daughters to the centre for vocational training."
Roshan Begum, 40, and a mother of five, says "what we earn during our peak years, between 13 and 35, cannot be equated with the earnings from any other profession. When it comes to our daughters, we feel we can stop them from being mired in the dirty profession."
Roshans sons, aged three and five, go to school during day and spend evenings at the night centre, run by the same NGO.
One of the founder members of the NGO, Ganesh Prasad Singh, says "it is important to provide an alternative to boys who are forced to loiter around the streets while their mothers are busy with the customers. If they are not engaged in a constructive work, they are most likely to grow up into anti-social elements."
Earlier, most of the girls here found it difficult to continue studies after school, mainly due to financial and social constraints. Now, most of them have enrolled themselves with the IGNOU for graduation degrees. At the initiative of the NGO, a study centre was opened near here recently. Now we can pursue our studies while earning, says Manju, a BA (second year) student.
Shagufta and Manju, who were in Delhi recently to participate in Handicrafts Mela at Dilli Haat, said the entire stock of our embroidered jute bags was sold off by the second day of the mela".
The computer at the centre is used by the girls to maintain accounts, type out study material, improvise on embroidery designs and play games like solitaire.
Shahida Begum, 40, says "earlier after our youth declined, we used to coerce girls into prostitution and sold them off to dalaals for living. But things have changed now. The girls from the age of 13 can stitch and embroider and work on compooters which enables them to earn a decent living.
Lawmakers in dilemma over
NEW DELHI, Dec 26 (PTI) As the countrys population crosses the one billion mark, a proposed Bill seeking to bar people having more than two children from becoming lawmakers has triggered an interesting debate.
Will a two-child norm for lawmakers actually solve the key issue of population? Does the state have the right to interfere in something as personal as ones choice to procreate?
While Rajya Sabha MP Shabana Azmi says that focusing on the two-child norm only means shying away from the real issue, veteran Congress leader Margaret Alva says politicians have a social responsibility and that the first step towards it is by setting an example.
"What we are saying is that policy-makers and administrators should start by setting an example and having some limitation", says Ms Alva.
But Shabana Azmi says: "It is unconstitutional and further violates the right of women, majority of whom do not make decision on family planning".
"Among the 543 MPs, there are about 380 MPs who have more than three children and it would be unfair to prevent those MPs from entering the fray in future", says Nina Puri, president of the Family Planning Association of India, adding that "Let the political leadership set an example but it should be voluntary".
However, Prof Harbans Mukhia of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) says: "Its too ridiculous to talk about it as a law. Around the world we have seen that it is womens education, their economic independence and raising family income that have controlled the growth of population," noting that this is providing a fake solution to a genuine problem.
BJP Vice-President J.P. Mathur, whose party was keen on the Bill, says: "We wanted it to be some sort of an indication of a will and for others to take advice". Agreeing that only a thousand MPs and legislators are too small a size to create an impact, Mr Mathur says: "We planned it to go down to the panchayat level so as to create a wider impact but unfortunately most party MPs did not accept the proposal."
"In any sane society, people are allowed to have the number of children they want. What is important is that we offer information on spacing, safe motherhood, and mix of contraceptives, among other things," says Shabana Azmi.
"Bangladesh has halved its fertility rate yet it remains the poorest country in the world whereas the same is not true of China because of simultaneous investments in education and social sector services", says the cinestar-turned politician.
"In the same vein, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh says: "This kind of authoritative and dictatorial policy cannot be thrust upon people". He, however, says that family planning is very important and that more children will create more unemployment and awareness on small family norms must be created.
"Around the world, it is empowerment of women and education that has led to the zero population growth and not law," says Prof Mukhia citing Tamil Nadu as an example where the above factors have brought down the population growth rate to zero per cent.
The 79th Constitution Amendment Bill was first introduced in the Rajya Sabha in 1992 at the recommendation of a special committee of the National Development Council (NDC). The committee, presided by the then Premier P.V. Narasimha Rao decided that a proposal be moved for disqualifying persons violating small family norms from holding elective offices.
If the amendment Bill is passed in Parliament and brought into effect, the disqualification would apply even to panchayats by virtue of Article 243 F (1) of the Constitution of India. And it will also be applicable to municipalities by virtue of Article 243 V (1).
The Bill, which was
recommended by the standing committee attached to the
Ministry of Human Resource Development in 1995, cannot be
retrospective and would only have a prospective effect,
meaning that it would apply to those wishing to contest
elections from a given time, says Mr Mathur.
Phalodi riots: 2 officials
JAIPUR, Dec 26 The Rajasthan Government has removed the Superintendent of Police, Jodhpur (Rural), Murad Ali Abra and Circle Officer, Phalodi, Kant Chandra from their respective posts by a midnight order on Saturday.
Both these officers had come under cloud for their role during the communal clash at Phalodi early this week.
In a memorandum to the Governor, Mr Anshuman Singh, on Friday the BJP had demanded immediate removal of these officers from their respective posts as "people have lost confidence in them" and threatened to launch an agitation if this demand was not immediately met."
The Governor had assured the Leader of Opposition, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, and other BJP leaders, who called on him to submit the memorandum that he would talk to the state government on Saturday and would let them know about steps, being planned on Sunday. The government, however, removed the two officers on Saturday itself.
It may be recalled that Phalodi had witnessed a communal clash over the transportation of cows and calves from Phalodi to Patna presumably for slaughter. Former Shiv Sena chief of Rajasthan Murli Dhar Bohra, was killed and 33 others, including 14 policemen injured.
The Minister for Water Supply, Mr Ram Singh Bishnoi, admitted before newsmen at Jodhpur on Saturday that the police and administration were lax in their duties which aggravated the situation at Phalodi.
Meanwhile, Phalodi town remained under curfew for the sixth consecutive day today with relaxation for five hours, between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. No untoward incident has been reported form the town.
Eight persons were
arrested in connection with the murder of Murdhar Bohra
yesterday. Ten others were arrested on charges of arson
and damage to property. The number of persons arrested
has risen to 36.
BJP moratorium on controversial issues
HYDERABAD, Dec 26 (PTI) The BJP has declared a five-year moratorium on all controversial issues, BJP General Secretary K N Govindacharya said here today.
Leaders who would be at the helm of the party after five years would take appropriate decision on the issues concerned, he told a press conference.
The BJP, being the dominant constituent of the National Democratic Alliance, would adhere to the National Agenda for governance adopted by it, Mr Govindacharya emphasised.
To a query, he said there was no parallel between the "shilanyas" ceremony for a Ram mandir at Halmodi village in Gujarat and the construction of a Ram mandir in Ayodhya.
The construction of the temple in Gujarat was just like the construction of thousands of temples coming up in various parts of the country, he said.
The national executive
and council meeting of the BJP, beginning in Chennai
tomorrow, would discuss the final draft of
recommendations for bringing changes in the partys
constitution, he said, adding that the final draft had
been submitted to the party President.
KOZHIKODE, Dec 26 (UNI) In what is considered to be the first of its kind in the country, a youth has developed a freezer-coffin, that could prove to be a boon to those who want to preserve the body of a deceased till the arrival of relatives from far-off places.
Mr Vijaya Kumar, a mechanic, hailing from Ponnani in Malappuram district of Kerala, has built the portable corpse preserver at a cost of Rs 80,000.
The cooling system is the same as in any deep freezer, using two compressors and it has provision for three hours back up in the case of power failure. It could also be operated on a 2 kv generator.
He said the 150-kg preserver could be easily taken into an ambulance and moved like a wheelchair. It also has a wheel lock to prevent jerking, while being carried in a vehicle.
RANCHI: The Jharkhand Janata Dal (United) on Sunday announced to hold a "jan adalat" (peoples court) here tomorrow against the alleged corruption and irregularities in the Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA). According to a party press note, 10 questions regarding personal assets and schemes passed would be put to the RRDA Vice-Chairman, Mr Ashok Goel. UNI
3 killed in house
killed in collision
12 injured in
informers houses burnt
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