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THE TRIBUNE
Sunday, January 10, 1999

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Sonia makes VHP
see red

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has demanded a white paper on the recent anti-Christian incidents and also on the activities of Christian missionaries during the past two years.

Then Defence Minister ‘knew of Bhagwat’s past’
NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — Congress leader and former Defence Minister Sharad Pawar was “fully aware” of the antecedents of the sacked Navy chief Vishnu Bhagwat.


7 ministers quit Apang govt
ITANAGAR, Jan 9 — Arunachal Pradesh plunged into a crisis today when all ministers belonging to the Nyishi community resigned from the Gegong Apang ministry.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee presenting the National Amity Award to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah in New Delhi on Saturday. — photo by T. C. Malhotra

No threat to minorities,
says PM

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said the attacks on minorities were a matter of concern but added that this did not mean that minorities were under threat in the country.
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‘Famine-like situation in Chhattisgarh’
BHOPAL, Jan 9 — A famine like situation is prevailing in Chhattisgarh region of Madhya Pradesh, forcing agricultural labourers to migrate to other places in search of jobs, state BJP President Nand Kumar Sai has said.

Gujarat: BJP calls for restraint
NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — In an appeal to parties not to blow Gujarat's incidents "out of proportion", the BJP today said it was damaging the country’s image abroad.

Bajrang Dal to take ‘Fire’ to court
NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — The Bajrang Dal will move the court against the controversial movie ‘Fire’ and a recently-published book, ‘So That You Can Know Me’, an anthology of Pakistani women writers, saying these “hurt Hindu sentiments”.

Air Defence Artillery poised to meet any threat
NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — “Air Defence Artillery of the Indian Army is well poised to meet any air threat in the battlefield and to protect vital and strategic civil military installations”, said Lt-Gen Amitava Mukherjee, Director-General.

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Sonia makes VHP see red

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (UNI, PTI) — The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has demanded a white paper on the recent anti-Christian incidents and also on the activities of Christian missionaries during the past two years.

VHP senior general secretary Acharya Giriraj Kishore said the white paper should also mention how Christian missions had in the past two years used inducement as a major tool to convert Hindus and also the exact number of such converts.

The Acharya alleged that they had information that Christian missionaries had an "evangelisation plan" under which the message of Jesus would be sent to every Hindu home by AD 2000.

They were getting "massive funds" from Christian nations for the purpose and even the Union Home Ministry had admitted that more than Rs 1400 crore had been pumped into India through these missions a few years ago in the name of education but the money was spent for conversion, he added.

Attributing the sudden tension among Hindus to increase in incidents of conversion, the VHP leader told Ennadu Television in an interview that the Indian Constitution forbade conversion by way of inducement, fear or fraud. "We will not allow any mission to cheat, allure or induce any Hindu into changing his religion," he declared.

He, however, said he had no objection to their going to church, or offering namaz any number of times. "We will consider them as Christian-Hindu or Muslim-Hindu, but they should not leave their heritage or change their way of life."

Holding Christian missions responsible for the Gujarat incidents, the acharya said they (Christian) had an upper hand in spreading propaganda and even the media was swayed by them into thinking that it was the VHP which had perpetrated atrocities. Describing the missionaries as "traitors" he said he did not find any difference between "traitors and dacoits".

Denying that there was any disharmony between the HVP and the BJP Acharya Giriraj said it was "media speculation." He was referring to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's recently reported criticism of VHP working president Ashok Singhal's statement on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.

"I do not believe that the Prime Minister had really criticised Singhalji. He would not comment without hearing the other side. Still if he may have criticised, he may have done it for want of full information or it may have been his compulsion."

Accusing Congress President Sonia Gandhi of "evangelising" top posts in the party organisation, he said that after Mrs Sonia Gandhi took over as party chief, Mr VN Gadgil was removed as party spokesman by a "converted Christian Ajit Jogi."

"In Andhra Pradesh she appointed Raj Shekhar Reddy as the party's state unit chief. Senior Congress leader Pranab Mukerjee was relegated to the background. When Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister, she got PC Alexander into the Prime Minister's office. When the question of Lok Sabha Speaker came up, she tried to get PA Sangma re-elected. Her personal secretary V Geogre enjoys maximum clout. Mr Oscar Fernandes and Ms Margaret Alva have been controlling the Indian overseas Congress. She (Mrs Sonia Gandhi) is instrumental in appointing AK Antony as Kerala Chief Minister in place of K Karunakaran."

On Ayodhya, the Acharya said that by 2001 stone carving work would be over and the next plan chalked out. "Courts or no courts, we are going ahead with our plans. This much is sure that the place is Ram Mandir and no court can decide that matter."

He said they would "force Parliament" to make law. "If you can make law in Shah Bano case, why not in the case of Ram mandir," he asked.

Meanwhile, Senior Janata Dal leaders today said the emergence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi on the centrestage of the country's polity could be a factor for recent attacks on Christians.

"I do not rule this out. It could be a major factor," party president Sharad Yadav told reporters in reply to a question whether the fact she was a Christian could have led to the attacks on Christians.

He was talking to newspersons after leading a procession of the "Dalit Sena", criticising the Vajpayee Government and the BJP's sister organisations" for the attacks in Gujarat.

"I would not only refuse to rule this out but also say that it is one aspect of the larger conspiracy of the fundamentalists forces against the minorities," Janata Dal Parliamentary Party leader and Chairman of the Dalit Sena Ram Vilas Paswan said.

Raising slogans, the protestors demanded immediate dismissal of the Gujarat government and the banning of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the Hindu Jagran Manch. Top


 

Then Defence Minister ‘knew
of Bhagwat’s past’

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (PTI) — Congress leader and former Defence Minister Sharad Pawar was “fully aware” of the antecedents of the sacked Navy chief Vishnu Bhagwat whose promotion did not have the sanction of Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), ‘India Today’ magazine said, quoting Defence Ministry records.

In 1990 as Rear Admiral, Bhagwat was charged with making copies of two confidential letters from a file and also accused of making intemperate remarks against his senior officers, the magazine’s Editor Prabhu Chawla wrote in the weekly’s latest edition.

Later, the then Navy Chief J.G. Nadkarni even wrote to the Defence Minister suggesting that the services of Bhagwat be terminated for his alleged misdemeanours.

Pawar decided to drop action against Bhagwat when Defence Secretary N.N. Vohra informed him that I. Ramdas, who succeeded Nadkarni, had reprimanded the Naval officer.

It said according to Defence Ministry records, Bhagwat’s was perhaps the only appointment in the history of the Navy in which neither the Chief of Naval Staff nor the ACC had any say.

In September 1996 when Admiral V.S. Sekhawat retired as Navy chief, the then Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav named Bhagwat as the new chief because he was the senior-most vice-admiral.Top


 

‘Famine-like situation in Chhattisgarh’

BHOPAL, Jan 9 (UNI) — A famine like situation is prevailing in Chhattisgarh region of Madhya Pradesh, forcing agricultural labourers to migrate to other places in search of jobs, state BJP President Nand Kumar Sai has said.

Talking to reporters here after the two-day state BJP executive meeting here yesterday, he said more than 50,000 persons from the region had already migrated to other places as relief work was not being carried out properly.

Mr Sai said the state government should take immediate steps to start relief work in the region and also suspend the recovery of loans.

Stressing the need for increasing the irrigation potential, in a resolution passed at the meeting, the party pointed out that several irrigation projects remained incomplete due to shortage of funds.

Referring to the party's defeat in the recent assembly elections, Mr Sai said the meeting had expressed serious concern over the irregularities and manipulations in the voters' list. He claimed that the names of several voters had been deleted from the voters' list and he was exploring the legal aspects to take the issue to the court.

Saying that several BJP candidates had lost the elections by a slender margin, the state BJP President said about 40 candidates were contemplating to file election petitions.

The political resolution said the farmers were facing problems due to the irregular power supply and the incidents of atrocities against the women and weaker sections were on the rise. It said the state government was taking no action against the menace of single digit lotteries even after those affected by it had committed suicide. The resolution also alleged that the Congress Government was resorting to vindictive action against BJP workers in the state.Top


 

7 ministers quit Apang govt

ITANAGAR, Jan 9 (PTI) — Arunachal Pradesh plunged into a political crisis today when all the seven ministers belonging to the Nyishi community, resigned from the Gegong Apang ministry, accusing the Chief Minister of non-performance.

The ministers, who took the step when Apang was on a visit to Lohit district, resigned in response to a call by the Nyishi Elite Society, the apex body of the community’s intellectual and youth organisations, and the all-Nyishi students union.

At a press briefing here, they squarely blamed the Chief Minister for their resignations saying he had "failed" to rise to expectations of the people in general and the Nyishi community in particular.

Of the seven, four are Cabinet Ministers — Mr Kameng Dolo (PWD, Building), Nabam Tuki (Transport and Civil Aviation), Mr Hari Natung (Health and Family Welfare), and Mr Medhi Dodum (Horticulture).

Mr Takam Sanjay (Law and Justice), Mr Kahfa Bengia (Textile and Handicraft), and Mr Bida Taku (Sports and Youth Affairs) are the ministers of state who quit the 37-member Apang ministry.

In their resignations sent to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, the ministers said the Nyishi community was disillusioned by the government’s "inaction" and they resigned in response to a call by the community’s youth organisations.

"Our hopes have been belied," they said at the news conference.

In a pointer to re-alignment of political forces in the state, Mr Takam Sanjay said more members of the Apang ministry would quit soon.

Mr Apang is to complete his fourth successive term as Chief Minister next year.
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No threat to minorities : PM
Tribune News Service and PTI

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (PTI) — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said the attacks on minorities were a matter of concern but added that this did not mean that minorities were under threat in the country.

Although the reported incidents in Gujarat (attacks on Christians) were causing concern, it should not be construed that minorities were under threat, he said, adding that he would visit Gujarat to see himself what has happened there.

He was speaking at a function here after giving away the 1998 National Amity Award to Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah.

He also expressed surprise over the media assessment, saying that he noticed distortions in the reports carried by national and local dailies on the Gujarat incidents.

In a special gesture, Dr Abdullah returned the award for providing relief to victims of recent attacks in Gujarat and Karnataka.

Presenting the award, which carries a purse of Rs 1 lakh and a citation, the Prime Minister praised the role of Dr Abdullah in fighting the proxy war and commended the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

The awards have been instituted by the foundation for Amity and National Solidarity and presented annually.

However, after returning the purse Dr Abdullah sought to distinguish the role of the RSS stating that it was an ideology not based on caste, colour or creed.

He said there could be some people in the organisation who are bad but to state all were so, was not proper.

In his remarks, Mr Vajpayee said that the States were duty bound to ensure that such attacks do not take place.
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Gujarat: BJP calls for restraint
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — In an appeal to parties not to blow Gujarat's incidents "out of proportion", the BJP today said it was damaging the country’s image abroad.

"A mala fide campaign of disinformation against the BJP-led coalition was being carried out by the Opposition, but it will not be successful", the BJP vice-president, Mr K.L. Sharma said.

Mr Sharma contended that the Opposition was exaggerating the incidents in Gujarat since only 13 villages had been affected in the state.

In a veiled attack on the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mr Sharma said that she should have met people from all sections of society during her visit to Dangs village and met people of one community as "this indicated that she was for only one particular community".

"As the Congress President she should have met all sections or else a wrong meaning would be conveyed", Mr Sharma pointed out. The BJP, too, had condemned the incidents and the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, was visiting the affected areas to assess the situation.

Stating that the BJP was opposed to forcible conversions and that there were laws to check this, Mr Sharma urged the National Minorities Commission to make public its report on the incidents in Gujarat.

When asked about the damaging of the cricket pitch, the BJP leader expressed hope that the Pakistan team's tour of this country would go ahead as per the schedule following the government’s assurance to provide security.

The BJP also welcomed the Government’s decision to reduce the price of diesel.

In Coimbatore, church leaders expressed their willingness to have a free and frank dialogue with leaders of other faiths, particularly Hindus, in the backdrop of recent events in Gujarat.

CSI moderator and Bishop of Coimbatore William Moses told reporters here today that "the leaders will do anything and everything possible to maintain peace and healthy relations with the communities of all faiths in the country,"

A team of the church leaders, who had met and presented the facts to President K. R. Narayanan after visiting the affected areas, have urged for a thorough and impartial inquiry by the Central and state governments and also by National Commission on Human Rights and the Minorities Commission into the incidents, he said, adding it also urged for suitable action against those making inflammatory statements inciting communal hatred.

"The constant refrain of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal is that the so-called Christian missionaries are engaged in forcible conversion of tribals and others to Christianity," he said.

"Firstly, it should be understood that no foreign missionaries are even allowed visa for missionary work in India. Secondly, Indian Christians engaged in Christian services are not at all involved in activities of forcible conversion," Moses said.
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Bajrang Dal to take ‘Fire’ to court

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (UNI) — The Bajrang Dal will move the court against the controversial movie ‘Fire’ and a recently-published book, ‘So That You Can Know Me’, an anthology of Pakistani women writers, saying these “hurt Hindu sentiments”.

Bajrang Dal National Convener Surendra Kumar Jain said here today that cases would be filed shortly against the producer-director of ‘Fire’ for certain expressions which could “vitiate the mind of the people”.

Regarding the book, a UNESCO collection published by Harper Collins and edited by Yasmin Hameed and Asif Aslam Farrukhi, he said it had derogatory references to Lord Rama’s wife Sita.

On page 78, the book says: “Instead of being exiled for the second time, Sita has bowed down before fate and accepted life with Ravana.” Dr Jain said “This derogatory reference to Sita will not be tolerated as it implies that she had shared life with Ravana. The Bajrang Dal will initiate action against this.”

The Bajrang Dal has also filed an FIR against four publishers and an artist of a poster in Andhra Pradesh which depicted a “Brahmin” lying on the ground with hands and feet tied and Jesus Christ coming to free him of bondage, he said.

“Such posters and literature is being distributed in the country with the purpose of hurting Hindu sentiments, the Bajrang Dal will not tolerate such acts,” Dr Jain warned.Top


 

Air Defence Artillery poised to meet any threat
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — “Air Defence Artillery of the Indian Army is well poised to meet any air threat in the battlefield and to protect vital and strategic civil military installations”, said Lt-Gen Amitava Mukherjee, Director-General (ADA), while addressing a press conference on Friday with regard to the 5th Raising Day of Air Defence Artillery which falls on January 10.

As the air defence equipment is expensive and requires substantial funds, our thrust areas are to utilise indigenous technology base to design and develop air defence equipment and carry out upgradation of the existing weapon systems by exploiting the technology available.

To keep pace with the highly sophisticated and intricate ground-to-air and air-to-ground battle of future wars, the air defence technology/strategy is undergoing continuous upgradation in terms of improved weapon systems, increased target handling and multilayered detection capability. The development of “Akash” and “Trishul” surface-to-air missiles as part of integrated missile plan were a step in that direction, added General Mukherjee.

The main components of air defence essentially consist of detection of the air target by radars, its identification as friendly or otherwise, appropriate weapon assignment and finally the engagement by a suitable weapon system.
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Oldest man in Nagaland?

KOHIMA, Jan 9 (PTI) — Is 125-year-old Aolepden of Nagaland the oldest living man in the world? According to an official bulletin, Aolepden was born in 1874, two years after the arrival of the American missionary, Dr E W Clark at Molungkimong.

A resident of Aonokpu village of Mokokchung district Aolepden is at present in good health. The bulletin said Aolepden did his early schooling at Impur Mission School and was staying at his native village since 1921.
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Coldest day in 28 years

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 (PTI) — Experiencing the coldest day in about three decades, Delhiites today shivered under intense cold wave conditions as the day temperature dipped to 11.6C following heavy snowfall in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Met officials said today the day temperature was the lowest in the past 28 years in the Capital.

They said the lowest temperature of 10.1C was recorded earlier on January 26, 1971, which was the coldest day since 1950.
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PPCC clarifies
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 9 — The Punjab Pradesh Congress President, Mr Amarinder Singh, today clarified that only the state unit’s vice-president was authorised to declare the team of office-bearers at the district level.

In a statement here, he said the clarification became necessary in the wake of reports which carried the names of DCC office-bearers declared unauthorisedly.
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in brief
  Compulsory environment education
AMRAVATI: The Centre has decided to make ‘environment education’ compulsory from the next academic year as part of its efforts to increase awareness about environment, Minister for Environment and Forests, Suresh Prabhu, has said. Though the government had taken the decision earlier, it could not compel the states but only motivate them to implement it, Mr Prabhu said, while inaugurating a new building of the Botany Department at the Amravati University here on Friday Evening. — PTI

New Ambassador to Colombia
NEW DELHI: Mr H K Singh, presently Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations in Geneva, will be the country’s new envoy to Colombia. Mr Singh, who succeeds Mr Pramathesh Rath, is expected to take up his assignment shortly, a Ministry of External Affairs release said here on Friday. — TNS

Mishra to file defamation case
PATNA: Former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra will file a defamation suit against former CBI Director Joginder Singh for “Character assassination” and “distorting facts” about him (Mishra) in his recently released book, “Inside CBI”. Mr Mishra also chief patron of the Bihar Jan Congress (BJC), told newspersons here on Friday that the former CBI Director in his book had tried to establish a nexus between him, RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav and former Acting Director of the Animal Husbandry Department, Dr Ram Raj Ram, by “distorting facts”. — PTI

World heritage site
SILIGURI: UNESCO is likely to recognise Darjeeling Himalayan Railway (DHR) as world heritage site. UNESCO observer Dr Robert Lee, who was in Darjeeling to discuss the matter, said on Friday that the decision was likely to be taken by the end of this year. Dr Lee said his report on the DHR would be positive as it fulfils all conditions required for the honour. The DHR would be the second railway to be recognised by UNESCO, the first being an Austrian railway, Dr Lee said. — PTI

Saraswati award for Lata
NASIK: Melody queen Lata Mangeshkar, Vedic expert Dr Yugal Kishore Mishra and social worker Sahakar Maharshi Bhusaheb Thorat have been selected for the 1998 “Saraswat Puraskar” for their contribution in their relevant fields. The award, instituted by city-based Kailash Muth, carries a cash prize of Rs 25,000 each, a silver idol of Saraswati and a shawl. The award would be presented at a function to be held here on January 18. — PTI
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