|Monday, March 6, 2000,
Orissa ministry sworn in
Absconding suspended judge moves
SC ruling on terrorist-damaged
Clinton mania grips Agra
Cong undecided on LS motion
Decision on AJTs in final
Gujarat not under
Reshuffle of officials
likely in Bihar
"Bluestar" left Sundarji
Sheila seeks action against cops
Ultras invited to seminar in
change our lives
Sahmat flays fatwas against film
Mithun may make it to RS from WB
8-year-old boy strangled
Orissa ministry sworn in
BHUBANESWAR, March 5 (UNI) A 25-member BJD-BJP ministry headed by Mr Naveen Patnaik was sworn-in at a simple function in Raj Bhavan here today.
Orissa Governor M M Rajendran administered the oath of office and secrecy to Mr Patnaik and 24 ministers. They included 14 Cabinet Ministers, six Ministers of State with independent charge and four Ministers of State.
The BJD was represented by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, nine Cabinet Ministers, three Ministers of State (independent charge) and three Ministers of State. Five Cabinet Ministers,three Ministers of State with independent charge and one Minister of State were inducted into the ministry from the BJP.
This would be the fourth coalition government in the history of the Orissa Assembly elections. The last coalition government was installed in 1971 by the Swatantra-Utkal Congress and the Jharkhand led by Mr Biswa Nath Das.
Mr Patnaik, who resigned from the post of Union Mines and Minerals Ministry yesterday, would be the 21st Chief Minister of the state.
Of the total 14 Cabinet Ministers sworn in today, four made a debut, while the rest had held ministerial posts in the Biju Patnaik government(1990-1995).
Mr Samir Dey, Mr Aurobinda Dhali and Mr Kanak Vardhan Singhdeo, all BJP were holding the Cabinet berth for the first time, while Mr Ananda Acharaya was the only member from the BJD to get a Cabinet berth for the first time in his political career.
The BJD and the BJP each had three Ministers of State with independent portfolios. Similarly, out of the four Ministers of State, three belonged to the BJD and one to the BJP.
All 10 ministers of state were joining a ministry for the first time.
Two former Chief Ministers Giridhar Gamang and Hemanand Biswal were among the leaders and top bureaucrats present at the swearing-in ceremony.
Absconding suspended judge moves HC
MUMBAI, March 5 (PTI) A week after being declared a proclaimed offender, absconding suspended Judge Jaysingh Wadhu Singh has challenged the police action to book him under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) 1999, in the High Court urging for personal liberty.
The petition, which also challenges the vires of the Act, is likely to come up before a Division Bench next week.
Eight respondents to the petition, include Maharashtra Government, Chief Secretary to the state administration, the Commissioner of Police and other officials.
In the petition filed on March 3, the Judge prayed for striking down MCOCA provisions invoked against him and urged for an interim direction to the police not to arrest him until his petition was finally disposed of.
He said the apex court, on January 13, had rejected his appeal against the order of High Court which did not grant him anticipatory bail on December 17 last. The Supreme Court had opined that matters which had not been agitated before the High Court could not be raised in the apex court.
In his defence, the judge said the police claimed to have intercepted telephonic conversations between him, lawyer Liyakat Ali Shaikh (now deceased) and another accused Chota Shakeel, which were recorded violating MCOCA and other laws. So the evidence collected against him should not be relied upon.
SC ruling on terrorist-damaged vehicles
NEW DELHI, March 5 (PTI) In a major ruling affecting vehicles plying in terrorist-infested areas in the country, the Supreme Court has held that an insurance company was not liable to compensate owner of the vehicle damaged by terrorists.
Upholding a decision by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S. Saghir Ahmad and Mr Justice D.P. Wadhwa said general insurance policies did not cover the risk of a vehicle destroyed by acts of terrorism.
The NCDRC was fully justified in its conclusion that New India Insurance Company Ltd was not liable for the loss suffered by the vehicle owner at the hands of Bodo activists, who completely destroyed his trucks by setting them on fire and killed one of the drivers, the Bench said.
On March 23, 1989, two trucks of Mr Muralidhar Sarangi, insured by the company, were carrying goods to Assam and were attacked at Thaplaijhara in Kokrajhar district by Bodo terrorists.
When Sarangis claim for compensation with the insurance company was rejected saying the policy did not cover the terrorist action. He moved the state Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (SCDRC).
The SCDRC directed the insurance company to pay to Mr Sarangi the amount assessed by the surveyors in respect of both trucks while recording that the action of Bodo terrorists in damaging and completely destroying the trucks in question by fire would amount to a "malicious act" contemplated by the policies of insurance.
The New India Insurance Company Ltd challenged the order of the SCDRC before the NCDRC which on November 11, 1993 allowed their appeal and held that the loss caused to the trucks by the act of Bodo terrorists was not covered by the terms of the insurance policies. Mr Sarangi appealed against this order in the Supreme Court.
The Bench headed by Mr Justice Ahmad said the contention of the parties had to be examined on merits keeping in view the fact that TADA (now repealed) was enforced in Assam from May 5, 1988, and the whole of Kokrajhar district was declared a "disturbed area" within the meaning of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958.
The Insurance Company says "Mutiny assuming the proportions of or amounting to popular uprising, military rising or usurped power or any act of any person acting on behalf of or in connection with any organisation with activities directed towards the overthrow by force of the government de dure or de facto or to the influence of it by terrorism or violence or by the direct or indirect consequence of the said occurrences".
The Bench agreeing with the contention said these acts of terrorism by Bodo activists, though not established by direct evidence that these were intended to overthrow the government, have completed the authorities to declare the whole area as "disturbed area" and also to enforce TADA.
Referring to provisions under TADA, the apex court said, when read in the light of the statutory provisions as also the attending circumstances of this case, it was clear that provision (B) endorsement No. IMT 21 of the insurance policies did not cover the risk complained of.
Clinton mania grips Agra
AGRA, March 5 (PTI) The local administration in the city of the Taj seems to have a single-point agenda these days the forthcoming visit of US President Bill Clinton.
Civic bodies, the police and almost all government departments have been instructed to pull up their socks and get ready to welcome the US President, while roads which the VIP motorcade is expected to take on March 22 are being spruced up.
Certain sections of the roads around Kheria Air Force Station and the Taj Mahal area were being re-laid and even lamp posts and trees along them were being painted to make Agra tidy so that Mr Clinton carried back a positive impression, official sources said.
The city administration was spending nearly Rs 2.5 crore to give a facelift to the city and the spruce-up drive was on full-swing to meet the March 10 deadline, they said.
Mr Clintons visit may speed up the completion of the flyover under construction near Bhagwan cinema, a landmark on the Delhi-Agra road, as it would be needed should the US President prefer to travel by road.
Cong undecided on LS motion
NEW DELHI, March 5 (PTI) The Congress remained non-committal today on bringing an adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha against the Bihar Governors action of installing an NDA Government in the state even as it termed the move "unconstitutional" which would encourage horse trading.
"Wait. We will decide the strategy on Monday or Tuesday," party spokesman Ajit Jogi told reporters when asked whether the Congress planned to bring forward any such motion.
AICC General Secretary Mohsina Kidwai, who also addressed the press conference, alleged that Governor V.C. Pandes action was "unconstitutional" and would only encourage horse trading.
She, however, dismissed reports that there was any possibility of a split in the 23-member Congress legislature party.
"These reports are baseless. Our group of 23 MLAs is intact and I am confident that they (NDA) would not be able to take away even a single member."
Disputing suggestions that the delay on the part of the Congress in extending support to the RJD to form a new Government had led to the installation of the NDA Government by the Governor, she said there was neither any delay on the part of the Congress nor any time limit fixed by the Governor.
Decision on AJTs in final stage
BANGALORE, March 5 (PTI) The Centre has reached the final stage of taking a decision on the purchase of Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft, Defence Minister George Fernandes indicated today.
"We have reached the final stage of deciding on the aircraft and the terms on which we are going to get it", he told reporters here.
The issue of purchasing AJTs has been hanging fire since 1984, he said, adding that a committee headed by him had been formed to get the aircraft without any delay.
Asked why "no heads have rolled" after the Subrahmanyam Committee report on Kargil, Mr Fernandes said, "the question should be addressed to the committee as to why they have not identified which heads should roll".
The report was in the process of being implemented.
On the governments decision to order a probe by the Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Comptroller and Auditor General into defence deals during the last 15 years, he said "it is not politically motivated. Nor is anybody being targeted (by ordering the inquiry)."
Gujarat not under Centres pressure
BARODA, March 5 (PTI) The Centre has not exercised any pressure on the Gujarat Government to rescind the order allowing its employees to take part in RSS activities, state Home Minister Haren Pandya said today.
There is no constitutional provision by which the Union Government can intervene in the decision made by the state government, he told PTI over phone.
assumes significance in view of Prime Minister Atal
Behari Vajpayees decision to convene a meeting of
leaders of NDA constituents tomorrow on the Opposition
demand for a censure discussion on the RSS controversy in
a bid to break the week-long standoff in the Lok Sabha.
Reshuffle of officials likely in Bihar
NEW DELHI, March 5 (PTI) The newly-installed NDA ministry in Bihar is likely to bring in a "large scale reshuffle" of civil and police officials soon, Samata Party president Jaya Jaitly indicated here today.
"We strongly favour stern action against those police and civil officials at all levels for their continued role in political activities and even in extending support to the RJDs bandh call," Ms Jaitly told reporters.
"The matter has been discussed with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and he has assured (us) of doing the needful," she said.
Chief Minister was not in favour of any large-scale
reshuffle. But sensing sabotage right from
"daroga" (police station in-charge) level and
upwards, he said such officials were being
identified," Ms Jaitly said.
"Bluestar" left Sundarji "changed"
NEW DELHI, March 5 (PTI) Operation Bluestar, launched to flush out militants from the historic Golden Temple in 1984, had left Gen. Krishnaswamy Sundarji, who led it, a "changed" man, according to his wife Vani.
"After Operation Bluestar, he was a changed man. Sombre, his laughter all but gone," writes Vani Sundarji in the introductory chapter on the late Generals book Of Some Consequence - A Soldier Remembers", released recently.
"I have been trained to fight an enemy, not to tackle our own kind," Vani quoted her husband as telling her when she expressed her concern.
Penning opinion about her husband Sundar in the chapter A Man called Sundarji, Vani recalls "He shrugged away my conern (post Bluestar), assuring me that I will get over it. But he never did".
The book, otherwise a collection of essays by the General, dwells on various aspects of his tenure in the Army. The late Army chief, however, could only complete a fraction of the chapters and breathed his last before coming to controversial topics like "Bluestar", "Operation Brasstacks" and "Bofors scandal".
Vani also recalls her husband telling once that he would "write about Bluestar, and other matters, in good time".
"Khushwant Singh urged him to write about the operation, so that the truth would be known for posterity," Vani writes, adding "Sadly that time never came".
Vani recalls that the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi summoned Sundarji to New Delhi from Chandimandir (headquarters of Western Army Command) late at night on June 3, 1984.
"When he returned home, all he said to me was it is a tough one," she writes in an apparent reference to the start of the operation.
Though the late General did not live to give his comments on the Operation Brasstacks, Asias biggest ever combined armour, mechanised, artillery and air power war-game undertaken in February-March 1986, his wife sheds some light on his role in the exercise which almost brought India and Pakistan on the verge of a war.
Even now 13-years later "I am still asked questions about it", Vani writes. She says in November 1999, the Pakistani defence attache in New Delhi, a Brigadier asked her "As General Sundarjis wife, you should know if Brasstacks was only an exercise, or was there more to it".
She writes, "I told him it was merely an exercise, my friend".
But she recalls that even at the height of Pakistans suspicion during Operation Brasstacks, "Kinnows and mangoes from General Zia (Zia-ul Haque)" did not stop coming.
Sheila seeks action against cops
NEW DELHI, March 5 (UNI) Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today requested Delhi Lt Governor Vijai Kapoor to take immediate appropriate action against the police officials responsible for the brutal attack on lawyers during a peaceful demonstration here on February 24.
"I am personally aware that hundreds of lawyers were injured at the hands of the police and several had broken bones and received eye injuries. One amongst them is likely to lose an eye. I am sure you too are aware of the barbarity of the incident, Mrs Dikhsit said in a letter to the Lt Governor.
Earlier, a delegation of lawyers from the Delhi Bar Association had met the Chief Minister and apprised her about the police action on the day of the demonstration.
Meanwhile, Delhi Bar
Association honorary secretary Rajiv Khosla said
thousands of lawyers would form a human chain around
India Gate on Tuesday. A massive demonstration would be
held on March 19 when US President Bill Clinton arrives
in the Capital.
Ultras invited to seminar in Geneva
SHILLONG, March 5 (UNI) Move is afoot to bring militants in India, particularly from Jammu and Kashmir and north-eastern region, to the international seminar on "non-state actors and landmines scheduled to begin in Geneva, on March 24.
The two-day conference to be organised by "Switzerland Campaign to Ban Landmines" would try to enlighten the non-state actors (NSA) about the devastation caused by landmines and advise them to give up the use of such lethal weapons.
The Indian Institute of Peace, Disarmament and Environmental Protection (IIPDEP) Chairman, Dr B. Kurvey, who was here to attend a seminar on "anti-personnel landmines" held yesterday, told UNI that ULFA militants would be invited to the conference in Geneva. He said some militant activists from Jammu and Kashmir would also participate in it.
Asked, if groups like the NSCN had been invited, Dr Kurvey said since most of these outfits had their representatives in Geneva, there was every possibility of their joining the conference.
Water cant change our lives
VRINDAVAN, March 5 (PTI) Even as a search is on for an apt locale for the shooting of the controversial film "Water", the subjects of the film do not favour its production saying that it is not going to change their situation.
Majority of the 5,000 Bengali widows living in around 85 widows ashrams in this pilgrim city are totally against the making of "Water" as they feel "the film is not going to change their situation in life".
"The script of the film anyway caters to the elitist perception of the life of Bengali widows," says Ahilya Devi, a widow from Bengal who has been living in Vrindavan for the last 20 years.
"The film should only be made if it changes the course of our life for otherwise it will just be a commercial venture on the part of Deepa Mehta," she says.
"If the makers of the film come to Vrindavan, they would not need any professional actresses to do the part of a neglected widow as there are many real ones roaming on the streets," she says, however, adding that "even though the controversy surrounding the film has publicised our plight, the film, if and when made, is not going to help us much".
Agrees another widow Malti Chatterjee: "Neither is the exodus of widows from Bengal and other states to Varanasi and Vrindavan going to stop, nor will the treatment meted out to us by the so-called saviours of religion get better if the film is made".
"The film is just going to be a commercial venture, which will cash in by depicting our plight as a widow," she says, noting that in this holy town "we have to face any number of difficulties and exploitation, a downslide whose only solution lies in death and not films."
Many among them discount reports of sexual exploitation of the widows at the hands of priests and the locals, one of the basic themes of the film "Water". "Sexual exploitation might be there in the 1930s, the era in which the story of "Water" is based, but now with people becoming more aware and educated, such cases are unheard of," says Anusuiya Roy, who manages the Amaar Bari widows ashram here.
"Vrindavan is such a small place that everybody knows everybody here, with the result that we know everything that goes on here. But since I took over charge of a widows ashram I have not heard about a single case of forcing widows into prostitution," she says.
"We have got our priorities all wrong. For what Vrindavan and Varanasi need is a way to clean its environment and solving the innumerable social and health problems of the people living there," says Michael Duffy, Director, Friends of Vrindavan.
Sahmat flays fatwas against film stars
NEW DELHI, March 5 (UNI) The recent fatwas of five Muslim seminaries against popular Hindi film stars such as Shabana Azmi and Shah Rukh Khan have been criticised as a disturbing development and an exceeding of their brief by the religious organisations.
In a statement here yesterday, the socio-cultural organisation "Sahmat" said the fatwas which sought to censure the professional conduct of film artistes on the basis of religious reasons were one of a piece with similar attacks on artistes from the fundamentalists witnessed recently.
"The religious organisations are exceeding their brief since in a democratic society there is no room for such intimidation. We wish to assert that the organisations should desist from issuing such statements and confine their activities to religious affairs alone, Sahmat said.
The five seminaries of
Hyderabad had declared that Muslim film stars Shabana
Azmi, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan who had
performed acts of polytheism during shooting for films
must renew their faith as what they had been enacting was
against their religion.
Mithun may make it to RS from
CALCUTTA, March 5 Bollywood star, Mithun Chakraborty, is likely to be a Rajya Sabha member from West Bengal. He prefers to contest the forthcoming Rajya Sabha election from the state as an independent candidate, though the Trinamool Congress leader, Railway Minister, Ms Mamata Banerjee had approached him to be their candidate.
The four Rajya Sabha seats from the state will fall vacant this month. Of these, three seats as per strength of the CPM in the Assembly will go to the CPM and the remaining fourth seat will go to the candidate who will secure at least 49 first preferential votes. In the present Rajya Sabha, the fourth seat is being held by the Forward Bloc member, Mr Gurudas Das Gupta. But as per agreement of the Left front partners, this time that seat would be left to the RSP.
Mr Jyoti Basu wants that the RSP should nominate a strong candidate for that seat and accordingly, the party is in the search of a candidate.
The Congress has already suggested to the former party state unit president, Mr Somen Mitra to become a candidate. Ms Mamata Banerjee, however, came forward to persuade, Mithun to contest.
8-year-old boy strangled
GREATER NOIDA, March 5 An eight-year-old boy was strangled near L.G. Company, Surajpur, in Greater Noida.
According to the police, the victim, identified as Vicky, son of an employee of L.G. Company, had been missing under mysterious circumstances since the past 10 days and a complaint in this regard was lodged with the local police.
A passer by saw the body and reported the matter to the police.
lynched by mob
8 NLFT ultras
Minister to lead
IUML leader dead
4 children burnt
torture victim: NHRC
to get award
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