Monday, January 31, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush listens as his father, former President George Bush, speaks on his behalf during campaigning in Milford, New Hampshire, on Saturday
Republican Presidential candidate George W. Bush listens as his father, former President George Bush, speaks on his behalf during campaigning in Milford, New Hampshire, on Saturday. — Photo AP

UK ‘to impose’ 10,000 bond on Asian entrants
LONDON, Jan 30 — Visitors to Britain from the Indian sub-continent will have to deposit a 10,000 if immigration officials suspect that they intend to settle illegally, a media report said today.

Convert LoC into border: experts
COLOMBO, Jan 30 — A practical solution to the Kashmir issue lies in freezing the Line of Control as international border with "minor adjustments" along the LoC "as a face saving offer", say several strategists on both sides of the divide.

Lanka, LTTE massing forces for war
COLOMBO, Jan 30 — The Sri Lankan Government has ordered fresh defence equipment from the USA to step up operations against the LTTE, while the Tamil Tiger group made hectic war preparations, even as both parties geared up for a fresh round of peace talks under third party facilitation of the Norwegian government.



EARLIER STORIES
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Battle for Grozny square on
MOSCOW, Jan 30 — Russian warplanes pounded rebel targets in Grozny today as Moscow’s troops battled against heavy sniper fire from Chechen fighters to try to reach the heart of the breakaway region’s ruined capital.

Honour killings ‘on rise’ in Pak
ISLAMABAD, Jan 30 — "Please don’t send me to my parents, they will kill me,’’ screamed 15-year old Tahira Yasmin, but the court did not listen to her.

Girl rescued after 9 years
TOKYO, Jan 29 — A 19-year-old Japanese girl was rescued after more than nine years of confinement at her abductor’s home, and reunited with her family, police said on Sunday.

USA snubs China on arms sale
BEIJING, Jan 30 — China has failed to get a us assurance on the sale of sophisticated arms and equipment to Taiwan even as China emphasised that Taiwan was the "core issue" in the Sino-US relationship.

Top music award for Spice Girls
LONDON, Jan 30 — The Spice Girls, one of Britain’s biggest pop sensations since the Beatles, are to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award by a grateful record industry, organisers have said.
Top




 

UK ‘to impose’ 10,000 bond on Asian entrants

LONDON, Jan 30 (PTI) — Visitors to Britain from the Indian sub-continent will have to deposit a 10,000 if immigration officials suspect that they intend to settle illegally, a media report said today.

The bond will not be returned by the Home Office unless the visitor leaves on or before their departure date.

Should the applicant fail to leave, the money will be forfeited, The Sunday Telegraph said.

The Home Office said only under exceptional medical circumstances would the cash be returned if someone outstayed their visa validity.

According to the daily, ministers believe the project is vital to stop bogus visitors from coming to Britain with the intention of not returning home. The plan envisages to reinstate the right of appeal.

"It is noticeable that the Home Office is proposing to run this project on the Asian subcontinent, not in Australia. There is little doubt this will be discriminatory. For a start it will target poor people because their families will not be able to find the money to put up the bond," Ms Ashika Thanki of the Newham Monitoring Project, a campaigning organisation for ethnic minorities in London, said.

Besides, it will also place women who are visiting this country to meet a prospective husband under a debt to their relatives here which would make it hard for them to then go and report any abuse. This will be regarded as discrimination, Ms Thanki said.

The Home Office, however, dismissed her claims, saying only relatively wealthy people could afford the cost of travel and that if the bond was seen to be insignificant, it could be viewed simply as the price to be paid for securing entry into UK.

"The prospective loss of the bond money must be a real incentive to the sponsor to encourage the visitor to abide by his immigration conditions," a spokesman of the Home Office said.

Mr Ashok Kumar, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and Cleveland East, said he saw no harm in launching a pilot scheme. "We will have to evaluate the results very carefully before adopting this."

Officials believe it could be "sensible" to initially locate the project at two visa issuing posts in either India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. If successful, the scheme would then be expanded to cover other countries.

The Home Office is determined to be seen to be taking action against illegal immigrants, especially after the latest figures showed a record increase in asylum seekers.

LOS ANGELES (AP): The Immigration and Naturalisation Service cannot indefinitely hold immigrants who have been ordered deported for crimes but remain in the USA because their native countries refuse to accept them, a federal judge has ruled.

US district court Judge Terry J. Hatter’s ruling impacts 130 legal immigrants being held at detention centres.

The immigrants, who hail from such countries as Vietnam, Cambodia and Cuba have already served their sentences.

Judge Hattar said the policy violates the immigrants’ rights to due process. He said holding immigrants because they posed a flight risk or danger was not a sufficient reason to detain them for the rest of their lives.Top

 

Convert LoC into border: experts

COLOMBO, Jan 30 (PTI) — A practical solution to the Kashmir issue lies in freezing the Line of Control (LoC) as international border with "minor adjustments" along the LoC "as a face saving offer", say several strategists on both sides of the divide.

While the two countries have made several efforts at avoiding conventional conflict through a host of confidence building measures (CBMs), experts have advocated a review and additional steps to keep a nuclear strike at bay.

A senior Pakistani analyst, requesting anonymity, at a recent workshop here, agreed that it would be in the interest of both India and Pakistan to convert the LoC into the international border and resume bilateral dialogue at the earliest to defuse tension in the region.

With nearly 55 per cent of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir state already in the hands of Pakistan and China, Indians are not ready to concede further on this front and equally vehement is the popular opposition to the right of self determination in Kashmir.

Yet, they might be willing to settle for the conversion of the LoC into the international border with "minor adjustments in the LoC to straighten out the divide as a face saving measure," said Major Gen Ashok Krishna (retd), co-director of Delhi-based Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS).

The entire range of CBMs needs to be reviewed taking into account the low intensity conflict, which could flare up into a high intensity one and result in a nuclear war, cautioned Lt Gen Talat Masood, who retired as Pakistan’s Secretary for Defence Production in 1990.

Mobilising public opinion and a political will is an important ingredient of the process, said General Masood, suggesting that it could be achieved by resuming political communication and a direct debate between the fundamentalist organisations of India and Pakistan.

He also suggested initiating a direct dialogue between the intelligence agencies of the two countries so that their perceptions would be understood better.

Holding an extreme opposite view is former Indian Deputy Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen Satish Nambiar (retd), who advocates snapping diplomatic ties with Islamabad, declaring Pakistan a terrorist state and fighting it out to the last.

"If Pakistan considers that confrontation is the path that needs to be followed, by all means let them have confrontation and bear the consequences of adopting such a path," maintains General Nambiar. Top

 

Lanka, LTTE massing forces for war

COLOMBO, Jan 30 (PTI) — The Sri Lankan Government has ordered fresh defence equipment from the USA to step up operations against the LTTE, while the Tamil Tiger group made hectic war preparations, even as both parties geared up for a fresh round of peace talks under third party facilitation of the Norwegian government.

Amid reports of fresh arms sales from the USA Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga early this week conducted a detailed review of the army’s recent reverses against the LTTE and finalised future strategy to be adopted to militarily marginalise the rebel group.

During her meeting with top army and police officials, she said that she would give peace every chance but asserted that the peace process would not be at the expense of the security forces, a report in the Sunday Times, which was approved by the official censors, said today.

As a part of the build up, the Sri Lankan Government has ordered several million dollars worth of defence equipment from the USA and worked out plans to recruit 15,000 more army personnel to streamline its offensive operations.

The fire tracking equipment to identify LTTE mortar locations is seen here as an important development as half of Sri Lankan’s army’s casualties in the past three year’s were due to long distance mortar fire by the LTTE.

For its part the Tamil Tiger group too is busy preparing for yet another all-out war against the army, Bishop of Jaffna Thomas Sounderanayagam, who recently visited LTTE held areas said.Top

 

Battle for Grozny square on

MOSCOW, Jan 30 (Reuters) — Russian warplanes pounded rebel targets in Grozny today as Moscow’s troops battled against heavy sniper fire from Chechen fighters to try to reach the heart of the breakaway region’s ruined capital.

Interfax news agency quoted the military headquarters on the eastern edge of the capital as saying that Russian troops were locked in fierce fighting as they struggled to move closer to the strategic Minutka Square in the Centre of Grozny.

Russian media said Chechen snipers in tall buildings around the square were slowing the troops, which had been fighting for Minutka for 11 days. Russia said it had blocked the square along its southern edge.

Interfax reported that Russian warplanes had flown more than 210 sorties against rebel targets, among the highest daily totals since the fighting began in September.

The agency said the bombs, aimed at Chechen positions in Grozny and surrounding areas, destroyed a rebel headquarters.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted officials in Mozdok, Russia’s main regional army base just outside Chechnya, as saying that 75 fighters had downed weapons and surrendered to Russian commanders over the past 24 hours.

Russia’s new spokesman on Chechnya said a breakthrough was close in Grozny yesterday after 54 rebels surrendered there and in the nearby village of Staraya Sunzha to local prosecutors and to militia commanded by the pro-Moscow Chechen leader Bislan Gantamirov. A rebel spokesman dismissed that claim.

However, rebel spokesman Movladi Udugov denied the reports. "Firstly, the report that in the Chechen capital fighters had laid down their weapons is an absolute lie, there is no truth in it. It’s a propaganda," Mr Udugov said by satellite telephone from a region in southern Chechnya.Top

 

Honour killings ‘on rise’ in Pak

ISLAMABAD, Jan 30 (UNI) — "Please don’t send me to my parents, they will kill me,’’ screamed 15-year old Tahira Yasmin, but the court did not listen to her.

That was Tahira’s last scream: she had joined 266 girls and women who were victims of so-called honour killing in Punjab in the first 11 months last year.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRPC) has reported, that about 600 women were burnt to death or killed for family honour in Pakistan while 713 were raped, mostly gang-raped or kidnapped. In police custody they mostly faced gangrape at the hands of policemen, it says.

The HRCP report, released in Lahore this week clarified that the figures of killings were based on Lahore’s national newspaper reports but not all cases were reported by the Press. "This means the quantum of violence against women is much higher than is known to the public."

It said "in the beginning of the 1990s, a woman was raped every three hour, now she is raped every two hour. These papers reported 597 cases of rape throughout Pakistan. Punjab accounted for half of them. Of them 286 were gangraped." A large number of the victims were just very young girls. No first information reports (FIR) were filed in the cases of honour killings.Top

 

Girl rescued after 9 years

TOKYO, Jan 29 (AFP) — A 19-year-old Japanese girl was rescued after more than nine years of confinement at her abductor’s home, and reunited with her family, police said on Sunday.

"She said she had never left the second floor of the man’s home during all those years," said the police official in Niigata, central Japan.

The woman, whose name is withheld by police, went missing on her way from school in November 1990.

She was found yesterday when hospital officials visited the home of the 37-year-old man to take him into custody at the request of his mother, who said he was "acting strange," according to the official.

"His mother was surprised to hear that the girl was living in their house as she had never met her," said the official, who identified himself as the deputy head of the section dealing with the case.

"The woman also said she had never met his mother."

The woman was reunited with her family at a nearby police station later yesterday, he said.

"When she met her mother, she immediately said ‘mother!’ but the mother took sometime to recognise her daughter who was only a child when she last saw her," the official said.Top

 

USA snubs China on arms sale

BEIJING, Jan 30 (PTI) — China has failed to get a us assurance on the sale of sophisticated arms and equipment to Taiwan even as China emphasised that Taiwan was the "core issue" in the Sino-US relationship.

During the just-concluded Washington visit of Deputy Chief of General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Xiong Guangkai, the US clearly told Beijing that arms sales to Taiwan would continue despite its disapproval.

"We made clear that we will continue our sale of defensive arms to Taiwan so as to provide, in the terms of the Taiwan relations act, a sufficient defence capability," US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy Walter Slocombe told reporters in Washington.Top

 

Top music award for Spice Girls

LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) — The Spice Girls, one of Britain’s biggest pop sensations since the Beatles, are to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award by a grateful record industry, organisers have said.

But a big question hung over the award — would former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell join up again for just one night with the group that she split from in May 1998 at the height of their success?

The group, who preach "girl power’’ and have adopted former British Premier Margaret Thatcher as their feisty role model, were hailed by British Phonographic Industry Chairman Rob Dickins.

"The Spice Girls have smashed most worldwide record books in their own way as much as the Beatles did in the sixties,’’ he said yesterday on announcing the lifetime achievement award.

The award, which has in the past been given to the Bee Gees, the Eurythmics and Fleetwood Mac, is to be handed out on March 3 at the Brits, the record industry’s annual "love-in’’ where the great and the good are rewarded for their big hits of the year.

The four remaining Spice Girls said they were "honoured and thrilled’’ to get the prestigious accolade.

"We are overjoyed to have been asked to accept this award. We are still young and have, we hope, many more years to enjoy being part of the great British music scene,’’ they said in a statement.

Offering an olive branch to Geri Halliwell, they said: "Spice Girls started out as five and we feel this award is in recognition of the great achievements of all five.’’

The quartet, who fill the gossip columns of British tabloids with their love lives and antics, won the dubious award from the readers of Smash Hits magazine.Top

 
WORLD BRIEFS

British hospitals in shocking state
LONDON: Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair looked set for a new barrage of criticism on Sunday after a damning report into conditions in hospitals across the country, the Observer newspaper reported. The weekly said accident and emergency departments were massively overstretched and in some cases seriously ill elderly patients were being kept waiting on trolleys for treatment for more than two days. — AFP

Bangladesh clears anti-arson bill
DHAKA:
Bangladesh Parliament on Sunday passed a new controversial law aimed at curbing terrorist activities and other crimes even as the main opposition alliance gave a call for a nationwide strike this week against it. The Public Safety (Special Provision) Bill-2000 was adopted by voice vote after several amendments. The Bill limits trial-period to 90 days from the date of arrest. The offender will not be given bail during trial.— PTI

US-based Chinese scholar freed
PHILADELPHIA:
Nearly six months after he was detained in China on charges of smuggling state secrets, a US-based researcher has arrived back in America. Song, a librarian at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania and an authority on China’s Cultural Revolution was detained on August 7 and later charged under China’s vague secrets law. His release came unexpectedly and removed an irritant from US-Chinese relations. — AP

Egypt relaxes divorce law
CAIRO:
A northern Egyptian woman has filed the first divorce since Parliament approved a bill enabling women to divorce their husbands for incompatibility. Waffa Mossaad Gabr, a mother of two from the northern area of Tanta said she had no particular complaint against her husband but "hated living with him." The new legislation will replace a law that allows a woman to divorce only in specific cases such as mistreatment by her husband. — AFP

Women to enter Italian army
ROME:
Italy has opened its armed forces to women, the last member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to do so. Television reports said on Saturday that a regulation approved in cabinet ensured both sexes would be treated equally in recruitment and promotion. It is planned to ultimately have ten per cent of the armed forces composed of women volunteers. — DPA

Crackdown on Basque separatists
BILBAO:
The police has arrested eight suspects as part of a massive operation against international go-betweens for the Basque separatist terrorist group ETA, the Spanish interior ministry has announced. Those arrested on Sunday included Gorka Martinez, an official in charge of international relations for the Herri Batasuna party, ETA’s political wing. — AFP

21 bus passengers drown in river
BEIJING:
A bus plunged into a river in China’s southern province of Gaungdong after it swerved to avoid a lorry, killing 21 people, a local newspaper reported on Sunday. The paper said the bus conductor survived after jumping out of the vehicle before it hit the water, but 21 other people inside the bus drowned. — AFP
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