|Wednesday, March 15, 2000,
Assembly session today
Replica of throne to be gifted to
Lawyers continue fast to seek
Clinton to face protests
Cong changes candidate in MP
No quota for safai karamcharis:
India takes up visa issue with Pak
Conference on imaging
Actor faints after award eludes
Spinal injury centre to be
Bihar Assembly session today
PATNA, March 14 (PTI) The RJD government headed by Ms Rabri Devi will seek a vote of confidence on Thursday in the Bihar Assembly, a task it is likely to accomplish without much difficulty given the edge it has in the numbers game.
The RJD, which claimed the support of 162 MLAs when it made a fresh claim to form the government after the exit of the Nitish Kumar government last week, has the committed support of the 23-member Congress which has also decided to join the government after the Chief Minister wins the trial of strength.
While the BSP (5) and the CPM (2) have declared outside support to the RJD government, the others who are backing it are the RCP (2), the MCP (1) and others (6).
The CPI and CPI-ML which have six members each are likely to abstain during the vote which would also help the government because it will bring down the half way mark in a House with an effective strength of 322.
RJD sources claimed that some Independents, who had declared their support to the NDA earlier, may also side with the government now.
On the first day of the two-day session tomorrow, vote-on-account for 2000-2001 and the related Appropriation Bill will be presented in the House. The third supplementary budget for 1999-2000 is also slated for tomorrow.
UNI adds: Former Chief Minister and NDA leader Nitish Kumar had said their legislators would play the role of an aggressive Opposition.
However, RJD President Laloo Prasad Yadav expressed confidence that the victory margin in the confidence vote would be much higher than expected.
Meanwhile, the lone Cabinet minister in the Rabri Devi government, State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ramchandra Purve said the vote of confidence would be placed by the Chief Minister in the pre-lunch session of the Assembly on March 16.
He said the state legislative council had also been convened for a day on March 22 to adopt the Financial Bills.
Replica of throne to be gifted
NEW DELHI, March 14 A gold-plated replica of the throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the cynosure of all eyes at the opening of the month-long exhibition on Piety and Splendour Sikh Heritage in Art at the National Museum here this evening.
The replica of the throne made under the supervision of art historian and Padamshri, Prof B.N. Goswamy, would be gifted to the Punjab Government. Announcing this after inaugurating the exposition, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee said efforts had been made from time to time to retrieve the art objects from the British. He said that although he could not say whether the throne of Maharaja Ranjit Singh existed in its original splendour, a replica had been made.
Professor Goswamy told TNS that the throne has been made by a team of about 16 persons in about six weeks.
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badals absence at the function was explained by Minister for Urban Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa. The minister said the Chief Minister could not make it to the function due to preoccupation in the Assembly.
The exposition, which marks the finale of the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa, has on display over 200 art objects including paintings, manuscripts and drawings, fire arms and jewellery, textiles and old and new medals. These have been sourced from the national museum, the crafts museum, the Chandigarh museum and other museums in Patiala and Amritsar.
The organisers are considering taking the exhibition to Chandigarh, Patna, Nanded, Bidar, Dwarka, Puri and Hastinapur.
The exhibition also has a section on water colour portraits of the Gurus.
Mr Vajpayee hailed the organisers decision to take the exhibition to various parts of the country. He said this would inspire citizens and help the young generation imbibe the right values.
The Prime Minister also released a book authored by Professor Goswamy. The book will serve as a catalogue.
Mr Vajpayee said the best way to pay a tribute to Guru Gobind Singh was to follow the path shown by him.
The Assistant Director (Exhibitions), National Museum, Mr Raghu Raj Singh told TNS that the throne was said to have cost Rs 1 lakh.
According to the caption along with the exhibit, the original throne is in England and is on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The caption further states that the replica has been made in India with due permission and active support of the Indian Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Mr Ananth Kumar, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism, said the exhibition had been arranged under the stewardship of Professor Goswamy in a record time of three months. He said the exhibition would play a significant role in creating awareness about Sikh heritage.
The Chief Minister of Delhi, Mrs Shiela Dikshit, said if the exhibition was taken out of the Capital, it would be a befitting tribute to Guru Gobind Singh.
Mr V.N. Singh, director
of the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Chandigarh,
described the exhibition as "excellent and well
presented." He said the Chandigarh museum had
contributed 75 works, including miniature paintings for
Lawyers continue fast to seek action
NEW DELHI, March 14 (UNI) Lawyers today began the second phase of a relay fast to demand suspension of police officials responsible for the February 24 crackdown as the agitation entered its 20th day.
Among the participants were Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association Priya Hingorani, Secretary of the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) Anoop Bagai, Secretary of the Delhi Bar Council (DBC) Sanjay Jain, Secretary of the New Delhi Bar Association (NDBA) A.U. Khan and Secretary of the Shahdara Bar Association (SBA) Surender Sharma.
At least 12,000 advocates from all over the country were marching towards Parliament House to present a memorandum to the Prime Minister in protest against controversial amendments to the Civil Procedure Code and proposed changes in the Advocates Act.
Lawyers claim the police crackdown on protestors was unprovoked, brutal and inhuman. The coordination committee of various bar associations has decided to observe February 24 every year as black day.
Agitating lawyers are demanding that officials responsible for the February 24 crackdown be suspended immediately. Among those being held responsible are Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranab Nanda, Assistant Commissioners of Police T.S. Bhalla and Vijay Malik. Lawyers are also demanding the transfer of Joint Commissioner R.K. Niyogi.
Also sitting on fast today were Additional Secretary (Civil) of the Delhi Bar Association (DBA) Sanjiv Nasiar, Additional Secretary (Criminal) of the DBA Murari Tiwari, and Secretary of the Debt Recovery Tribunal Bar Association M.S. Saluja.
DBA Secretary Rajiv Khosla was unable to join the fast as he is still in hospital.
In a related development, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Arun Jaitley, today said the government was actively considering the demands of agitating lawyers and an amicable solution could soon come about.
Bansal calls for talks with
NEW DELHI, March 14 Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, MP from Chandigarh, has appealed to the government to hold talks with the agitating lawyers.
Mr Bansal said that the government should not stand on prestige but go in for discussions with the striking lawyers and bring an early end to the dispute.
Yesterday, the MP had made a similar suggestion while raising the matter in the Lok Sabha during Question Hour.
Meanwhile, a motion of Mr Bansal to amend the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha yesterday, was rejected.
Mr Bansal had proposed that the criteria for eligibility of a person to be appointed as member of the dispute settlement appellate tribunal be that of a one who is or has been or is qualified to be a judge of a high court.
Clinton to face protests
NEW DELHI, March 14 (PTI) When the US President comes here on March 19, not only a red carpet welcome but also a series of protests, including strikes, effigy burning and demonstrations planned by the "red brigade" awaits him.
The proposed "protest action" by the Left wing organisations, including the PWG, would be confined not only to Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur and Mumbai, which are on the Presidents itinerary, but will be spread across the country.
According to Mr Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary of CPI (ML-Liberation), the partys two MPs will boycott President Clintons address to the joint session of Parliament on March 29.
"Our students, youth, trade union and women wings are being mobilised in a big way. On the day of "holika dahan" on March 19, party activists would burn Clintons effigies across the country. There would be protest march in all state Capitals," Mr Bhattacharya said.
Mr Clinton, he said, "Embodied US imperialist attitude towards India. The USA is meddling in the region and wants to pit India against Pakistan. They are also preparing the groundwork to make India sign the CTBT, which is discriminatory." the CPI (ML) "red flag" Secretary, Mr K.N. Ramachandran, said, "Mr Clinton would be welcomed with a Kerala "hartal" on March 20, all India "black day" on March 21st, march to Parliament on the 22nd when he addresses Parliament, all India protest day on 23rd and Andhra bandh on March 24, while he would be seen off possibly with a Mumbai bandh on March 25."
Four Left groups, including a Front organisation of the PWG have come together to organise joint programmes against the visit while at the national level, New Democracy, Red Flag, Unity Initiative and Kanyu Sanyals Communist Organisation of India (ML) have joined hands.
Mann: Clinton must address Sikh issue
NEW DELHI, March 14 (UNI) Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, today said that US President Bill Clinton should address the "unresolved problems of the Sikhs, besides the issues of Kashmir and the North-East during his five-day visit to the country next week.
"While the Sikh dissent has been suppressed by the bullet, the Kashmir valley and North-Eastern states are witnessing rebellion in one form or the other for past 50 years," Mr Mann regretted, adding that "all these troubled areas have been crying for political solution.
The Indian Government has adopted an "obnoxious" practice of treating every peoples dissent against denial of their political, social and economic rights as "law and order problem since Independence, he observed.
"This has instead further complicated the day-to-day governance as the peoples movement often take to arms and refused to be swept under the carpet," Mr Mann said. In the case of Sikhs, Mr Mann said the prevailing peace in Punjab was inadvertently "miscontrued as the problem was over" even as hundreds of Sikh youths were still languishing in jails charged under TADA and other "black laws".
The Akali leader
criticised Home Minister L.K. Advani for his announcement
in Parliament that the Centre would supply sophisticated
arms to Naxalite-dominated belts in the states of Andhra
Pradesh and Bihar among others to sternly deal with the
Clintons Jaipur visit finalised
JAIPUR, March 14 The programme of US President Bill Clintons visit to Rajasthan was finalised at a high-level meeting between Rajasthan and US officials on Monday.
Mr Clinton will arrive at Jaipur by a helicopter from Agra on March 22. The helicopter will land at Hotel Raj Vilas where the President plans to stay during his visit to the states Capital.
Mr Clinton will be accompanied by his daughter and mother-in-law.
84 riots victims plea to Clinton
KANPUR, March 14 (UNI) The November 1984 Riots Victims Association here has sought the intervention of President Bill Clinton for the grant of "adequate" relief from the government for the Sikh victims of 1984 riots.
In a letter to the US
President recently, the association president Manjit
Singh Anand and general secretary Ajit Singh Ahluwalia
requested Mr Clinton to take up the issue of the relief
to the riots victims with the Government of India, during
his visit to the country later this month.
Gas victims demand apology from Clinton
NEW DELHI, March 14 (PTI) After Queen Elizabeth and Pope John Paul II, it is now US President Bill Clintons turn to "apologise".
An organisation of the victims of Bhopal gas tragedy has demanded a public apology from Mr Clinton for the "genocide" perpetrated by the US-based multinational Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in December 1984, and "exemplary damages" to those affected by the worlds worst industrial disaster.
The Bhopal Action Group (BAG) has also urged the President to ensure that "erring officials" of the UCC, including its then Chief Executive Officer, Mr Warren Anderson, be handed over to the Indian courts to stand trial.
Meanwhile, activists of two other organisations, Zahreeli Gas Kand Sangharsh Samiti and Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan are planning major demonstrations in the Capital during the Presidents visit with a view to "draw world attention on the plight of the gas-affected."
"We call upon you to apologise to the residents of the city of Bhopal for the barbaric act of genocide perpetrated by the USA based UCC," BAG convenor and Supreme Court advocate Anees Ahmed said in a letter to Mr Clinton, handed over to the US Embassy here.
Over 25,000 persons had lost their lives and about five lakh were partially affected due to the leakage of the deadly methyl iso cyanide (MIC) from the storage tank of the UCC-owned pesticides unit in the night intervening December 2 and 3, 1984.
The BAG has also urged Mr Clinton to declare compensation and damages worth $ 400 million for the gas-affected people of the city, out of which at least 30 per cent should be earmarked for the establishment of state of the art medical facilities.
Cong changes candidate in MP
NEW DELHI, March 14 In a last-minute change the Congress party decided to field Mr Bhagat Ram Manhar, former MP, as the official candidate for the Rajya Sabha election from Madhya Pradesh in place of Mr Shivkumar Deharia.
Although names of both candidates figure as they filed nominations, Mr Deharia who is said to be a protege of the party spokesman Mr Ajit Jogi, would withdraw, party sources said. Sources said the candidature of Mr Deharia ran into problems after there were some adverse reports against him.
The Congress has fielded former Union Ministers, Mr Arjun Singh and Mr Hansraj Bhardwaj, and media baron Mr Prafulla Maheshwari, as the other candidates in Madhya Pradesh.
Meanwhile, there was considerable resentment in the Andhra Pradesh Congress over the denial of ticket to a party loyalist and its being granted to Telugu film director Dasari Narayana Rao.
Although the Congress has votes to ensure election of two candidates, the other being Mr K.M. Khan, there are reports that Mr Rao may face a tough task. Of the six vacancies that will arise in Andhra Pradesh, the ruling Telugu Desam can bag four and Congress two. However, with the TDP fielding five candidates, an interesting situation has developed which can be averted only if the ruling party decides to withdraw a candidate to have a unanimous election.
In Rajasthan, the decision to deny ticket to Mr K. Natwar Singh and Mr Ram Niwas Mirdha had more to do with the local Jat politics, party sources said. Although Mr Balram Jakhar was also said to be keen to secure a nomination, his case was affected by the criteria of denying RS nominations to those who lost in the recent Lok Sabha elections.
Similarly, in Bihar, the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, decided to nominate Dr Faguni Ram, who was associated with Rajiv Gandhi in place of former party Chief Mr Sitaram Kesri. Mrs Gandhi went to Mr Kesris residence to convey her decision and also to mollify him.
Explaining the rationale
behind the selection of candidates, many of whom were new
faces, party sources said that the Congress chief has
effected a generation change and also attempted to
balance nominations among various classes.
No quota for safai karamcharis: govt
NEW DELHI, March 14 (PTI) The government has rejected the recommendations of a national commission to have separate reservation for safai karamcharis within the existing reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs, STs).
"It has not been found feasible because reservation on the basis of occupation may be legally questionable since occupation alone may perhaps not be a valid test for backwardness," the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment said in its action-taken memorandum on the second report of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis for 1995-96.
The memorandum, tabled in Parliament, also said that it had not been found feasible to have a separate reservation for them from the existing reservation for SCs and STs in Parliament, state legislature and other elected bodies.
It said though the government was committed to eradicating existing hereditary, obnoxious and inhuman occupation of manually removing night soil and filth, it was not possible to expand the definition to include those engaged in other activities.
On the recommendation for conducting a resurvey to identify safai karamcharis and their dependants, it said there was no justification in it as a countrywide survey had been completed recently.
The memorandum rejected a recommendation regarding amendment to the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 imposing stringent punishment like death sentence or life imprisonment saying state governments were not in favour.
On the suggestion for a transparent mechanism for the inclusion communities in the SC/ST list, it said the government exercised all possible care and caution while processing various claims in a fair manner.
On a suggestion for a comprehensive Bill on reservation both for appointments and seats in educational institutions, it said the University Grants Commission (UGC) issued necessary guidelines for admissions every year for SC/ST students.
Cong to oppose cut in
NEW DELHI, March 14 The Congress today decided to oppose Budget proposals hike in the prices of commodities issued through public distribution system and reduction in subsidies on urea and fertilisers.
"The Congress has decided to oppose the anti-farmer and anti-people Budget which aims at dismantling the public distribution system, the party spokesman, Mr Ajit Jogi said today.
At the general body meeting of the Congress Party in Parliament (CPP) held today to discuss the general budget, party MPs, he said, felt it was "directionless and rudderless".
They said that the budget failed to address the basic problems and attacking fiscal deficit which rose from last years projected 4 per cent to 5.6 per cent.
Congress MPs were of the opinion that the Budget neglecting the social sectors and allocation for poverty alleviation had been drastically reduced.
The party had yesterday proposed to move cut motions on subsidy cut on the issue price of PDS. The Congress move comes on the heels of the pressure being mounted by the allies of the BJP who have been advocating rollback of subsidies slash on PDS rice and urea.
Meanwhile, the All-India Mahila Congress today held a demonstration in the Capital to protest against the price hike and women Congress Parliamentarians submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister urging him to reconsider the price hike.
The memorandum signed by the Mahila Congress, Chief Mrs Chandresh Kumari, and its Vice President, Ms Mabel Rebello, also demanded that there should no further hike in the prices of LPG and kerosene and ensure food security for all women in the country.
Several hundred people
took part in the demonstration and later courted arrest.
The rally was attended by party MPs, including Mr Ahmed
Patel, Mrs Prabha Rau, senior leaders like Mr Moti Lal
Vora, Mr V Narayanaswamy and MLAs of Delhi.
India takes up visa issue with Pak
NEW DELHI, March 14 (UNI) The government has "taken up strongly" with Pakistan the reported denial of visas to pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir who wished to go to Pakistan as part of the Indian jathas under the bilateral protocol on visits to religious shrines, 1974.
Minister of State for Home Vidya Sagar Rao told the Lok Sabha in a written reply that the government felt that Pakistans actions were contrary to this protocol.
Minister of State for Home I.D. Swami said in another reply that the Finance Ministry had constituted a high-level committee with representatives from different departments to go into the entire gamut of issues pertaining to the security dimension of Indian currency. The Currency and Coinate Division has set up a six-member fact-finding committee under the convenership of Reserve Bank of India Deputy General Manager V.R. Gaikwad for examining fake notes seized in the country to enable the government to take remedial measures vis-a-vis printing and security features.
The RBI has been advised to go into a publicity campaign to apprise the people of the security features in genuine notes.
While the CBI has
created a special unit for exclusive investigation of
counterfeit notes, the Border Security Force has alerted
its troops on the borders to ensure there is no
smuggling. According to available information, Peshawar
in Pakistan is one of the centres where fake Indian
currency notes are printed. He said a total of Rs
60,402,691 had been seized in fake currency during the
last three years from 1997.
Opposition stalls work in Mrashtra House
MUMBAI, March 14 (UNI) Amid vociferous demands by the Opposition to clarify the governments stand on the issues of arrest of Mumbai Samajwadi Party President Abu Asim Azmi for his alleged anti-national remarks, payment to cotton and onion growers and retention of the prices of essential commodities, the Maharashtra Assembly was adjourned for four times today.
Shiv Sena and BJP members disrupted the proceedings from the beginning at 10 a.m. and within three minutes the Speaker, Mr Arjun Gujarathi, adjourned the House for three hours. The Opposition also staged a walk-out against the Speaker.
When the House reassembled at 1 p.m. the Speaker took up question hour, opposition members entered the House with a funeral procession chanting "Ram naam satya hain" as a mark of protest in favour of their demands.
Shiv Sena member Subhash
Wankhede was wrapped in a white cloth and lifted on the
shoulders by his party members as a body, rushed to the
front benches and later in the well, shouting slogans and
Cong set to get all 3 RS
JAIPUR, March 14 With BJP not fielding any candidate for biennial Rajya Sabha elections the stage is set for all three seats going to the Congress unopposed from Rajasthan.
Industrialist R.P. Goenka, former MP Mool Chand Meena and former pradhan Jamna Barupal filed their nominations here today as Congress nominess.
The selection of candidates by the ruling party has, however, baffled political observers as claims of the three Jat heavy-weights, Ram Niwas Mirdha, Natwar Singh and Balram Jakhar, were ignored by the high command.
Insiders say that in view of the fact that there were three Jat contenders and the number of seats available was also only three, all of them could not be accommodated. The high command decided to send Ram Niwas Mirdha to the Cooperative Dairy Federation as chairman.
With Mirdha accommodated it was expected that Natwar Singh would get one seat as Jakhar did not meet the condition said by the high command for the selection of candidates.
The condition was that no one defeated in last Lok Sabha poll would be nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Jakhar had lost from Sikar in the last elections.
Jakhar is, however, reported to have opposed Natwar Singhs nomination too on the same very ground.
The BJP yesterday
decided not to field any candidate for the Rajya Sabha
elections in Rajasthan as there were not even the
remotest chances of its candidate winning. The ruling
Congress party has 155 members in the 200 member state
legislature, the BJP has only 30.
Conference on imaging
NEW DELHI, March 14 A three day conference on "Imaging in the new millennium" is scheduled to begin here on Thursday.
The conference is being organised by Ganga Ram Hospital and the Indian Medical Associations Academy of Medical Specialities will highlight the changing trends in the diagnosis of diseases by use of radiological and imaging techniques.
Sources in the CT and MRI department of the hospital told TNS here on today that several radiologists, imaging experts, physicians and surgeons are expected to attend the conference.
The participants will deliberate on crucial areas of conventional radiology, digital radiography, advances in the field of ultrasound, mammography, nuclear medicine and developments in the field of CT Scan and MRI Imaging.
Actor faints after award eludes him
KOCHI, March 14 (UNI) A Narayanan actor Kalabhavan Mani, who was a frontrunner for the Kerala state award for the best actor, swooned after learning that the award had eluded him.
Kalabhavan Mani, who was admitted to the Chalakudy Government Hospital in Thrissur district, told UNI on the phone that the award committee had "erred" in its choice. "The so-called intellectuals comprising the award committee would not be able to consider a poor artiste like me for the best actor award". What had been given to me was just waste food, he added.
While Mohan Lal was
adjudged the best actor for his performance as a
Kathakali artiste in Shaji N. Karuns
"Vanaprastham", Mani was chosen for a special
award for his role as the blind hero of Vinayans
"Vasanthiyum Lakshmiyum Pinne Njanum".
Spinal injury centre to be
NEW DELHI, March 14 Italian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Rino Serri and Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Maneka Gandhi will dedicate the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre (ISIC) to the nation here on Wednesday.
An autonomous body, the ISIC was started in 1983 by Major H P S Ahluwalia and the then Defence Secretary, Mr H C Sarin. A state of art super speciality hospital, the centre was set up under a memorandum of understanding signed between the Indian Government and the Government of Italy.
As per the MoU, four regional centres will be set up at Mohali, Bareilly, Jabalpur and Bhubaneshwar. The Italian Government has agreed to provide a grant of lira 3 billion for these centres.
Dr H.S. Chhabra, Deputy
Medical Director of the ISIC, said the regional centres
would also provide treatment of locomotor disabilities as
cerebral palsy, polio and congenital deformities of the
to Clinton on tiger habitats
4 robbers beaten
amok, damages property
ISRO to build 3
10 cr for
renovation of Red Fort
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