|N A T I O N|
Flood situation grim in
watching Centre on Srikrishna report
|Probe Jaya's charge, demands CPI
JAIPUR, Aug 23 Deputy-leader of the CPI in the Rajya Sabha Gurudas Das Gupta today demanded "a parliamentary probe" into the allegations made by AIADMK chief Jayalalitha that the Director of Enforcement Directorate had been shunted out after hefty bribe.
Try poll malpractice cases promptly: Gill
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 Chief Election Commissioner M.S. Gill has voiced serious concern over the large number of pending election petitions in the high courts and the Supreme Court and said such lengthy delays in the disposal of cases could encourage candidates to indulge in electoral malpractices with impunity.
SC commutes death sentence to life term
NEW DELHI, Aug 22 The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of a triple murder convict to life imprisonment.
Fernandes dismisses reports on PMs illness
NEW DELHI, Aug 22 George Fernandes has dismissed as absolutely rubbish reports that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was suffering from prostate cancer but admitted he was under tremendous mental and physical fatigue.
Dharna against quota for SCs
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 Activists of the Arakshan Samapti Abhiyan sat on dharna to press for ending reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Capital today.
People for educated legislators
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 A majority of people in India feel that a minimum educational qualification should be made mandatory for candidates standing for Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections, a survey conducted in 20 centres of the country says.
Tour operatorsconvention ends
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 The three-day convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators ended here yesterday with a call for setting up a national tourism authority.
Flood situation grim in Malda
CALCUTTA, Aug 23 (PTI) Army and civil defence personnel continued rescue operations in flood-hit Malda for the second day today, even as the overall flood situation in the district and Murshidabad further worsened with the Ganga flowing above its "extreme danger level".
State Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta, who reviewed the situation with officials here, said over one lakh marooned had so far been shifted to safer places from Bhutnichar and Kaliachak areas in Malda district.
Seventeen persons lost their lives in the current spate of floods in Malda district where 7.52 lakh of a total population of 26 lakh had been affected. However, Mr Dasgupta put the death toll at eight, with two more deaths still unconfirmed.
He said eight members of a relief party were rescued when a civil defence boat capsized midstream of the swollen Ganga between Ashwinitola and Bhutnichar last night. Two countryboats nearby came to their rescue and shifted them to safer places.
Finance Minister said the state government today decided to raise the relief grant to Rs 10 crore for Malda district where rice, wheat, tarpaulin sheets had been rushed. A medical team had also been asked to visit the affected blocks immediately, he added.
Eight persons have died in the recent flood in north Dinajpur district while nine blocks were seriously affected, the District Magistrate said.
Altogether 294 villages and 15 municipal wards were affected in the flood. About 60,000 houses were damaged and 3000 hectares of agricultural land submerged, he said.
Meanwhile, reports from Malda said that the flood situation in the district continued to be grim with the water level of the Ganga, Fulahar and Mahananda rising. Over eight lakh persons were affected.
All 15 blocks in the district were inundated and the Army was called to rescue the marooned. The army rescued the affected people from Kaliachak II and Manikchak blocks, District Magistrate M.V. Rao said.
Laden had role in J&K
NEW DELHI: India has many-sided concerns in the situation arising from American bombings in Afghanistan and Sudan. the countrys vital interest in the fight against fundamentalist-inspired terrorism undoubtedly tops the agenda, but no less important is the need to forge the right instruments to combat this hideous monster. Of course, international ethics and institutions such as the United Nations cannot be bypassed in the process.
For India, Kashmir is the acid test in the fight against transborder Pakistan-based terrorism. The interesting point is that Osama bin Laden, the Saudi millionaire, who is sought to be the target of the lethal American action, was, in fact, planted by the CIA to organise training camps for terrorists in Afghanistan during the war against erstwhile Soviet Union and also had a dominant role in the transborder terrorism in Kashmir.
In fact, the entire training-cum-command structure of war in Afghanistan was directly set up by Pakistan army intelligence, a joint handiwork of the ISI and the CIA. Laden performed a key role in building up this training-cum-command structure, which became the mainstay of Talibanisation of Afghanistan.
It needs to be stressed that the infrastructure of Islamic fundamentalism in the sub-continent has been the joint creation of the USA and Pakistan. The former provided it with huge funds and sophisticated weapons, while Pakistans main input has been the manpower with radical and fanatical Islamic mould the focus being war in Afghanistan.
Part of these arms found their way to Jammu and Kashmir through the ISI which simultaneously set up the infrastructure of training, funding and weaponisation of proxy war in Kashmir. In fact, it can be said that Islamic fundamentalist infrastructure had two facets, one for Afghanistan and another for Kashmir, in the eyes of Pakistan and the ISI.
Now that Washington has been forced to directly take on one wing of radical Islamic infrastructure in Afghanistan, will it also mean reversal of American policy of near connivance of Pakistan in the terrorist campaign in Kashmir, currently led by mercenaries belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba, an outfit close to Laden whose base at Khost was the target of Thursdays missile attack by the USA?
Harkat-ul-Ansar, later officially declared and banned as a terrorist outfit by the USA, and now Lashkar-e-Toiba, promoted and used as main instruments of its proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan, were born during the construction of training and command structure of Taliban militia in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Comprising fanatical and radical elements of Taliban movement, both Harkat-ul-Ansar and Lashkar-e-Toiba were taken over by Pakistans ISI for its operations in Jammu and Kashmir. There were reports to suggest that Washington connived at diversion of fundamentalist elements towards Kashmir, only to minimise the dominant role gained by them in resolving the crisis created by Talibans takeover of most of Afghanistan.
Washington will no longer be able to justify its support for Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Would it be too much to expect a reversal of American policy of near connivance of the fanatic Harkat-ul-Ansar and Lashkar-e-Toiba who have virtually taken over the command structure of Pakistans proxy war in Kashmir.
In this backdrop, the American bombings have special relevance to India as to their impact on US-Pakistan relationship which is likely to face many a convulsion. There are two main directions in which the changes may manifest. A big casualty appears to be American plans on Central Asian oil-rich countries in which Pakistan was allotted an important role. The first debacle has already come in the shape of abandoning, for the present at least, the grand Turkmenistan-Pakistan oil pipeline project across Afghanistan territory. In the new situation obtaining, a pipeline through Taliban-held Afghanistan is out of the question, given the dimensions of American confrontation with Islamic fundamentalists. The Robin Raphael formula (but they are our fundamentalists) is going to be of no avail now.
A logical corollary of the weakening of Pakistans role in the American scheme of things for oil-rich Central Asia is the likely downgrading of Pakistans usefulness for the USA overall, including the South Asian setting. This implies a weakening of what is loosely termed as US-Pak strategic relations.
What bearing does this have on Americas stance towards India-Pakistan ties, and in particular in relation to Kashmir? This is a million dollar question to which New Delhi has to find the correct answer. It is in Indias interests to promote a change in Americas negative stand on Kashmir which has provided the main encouragement to Pakistan in propelling fundamentalist terrorism in Kashmir.
A second direction of the impact on US-Pakistan relations is the likely hardening of American attitude towards Pakistans nuclear weapon capability. Americas major clout in this respect is the regulation of economic aid which Pakistan desperately needs. Americas dealings with Pakistan will, however, have to be circumspect since it cannot afford to weaken the moderates led by politicians such as Mr Nawaz Sharif out of fear that nuclear weapon material may fall into the hands of the fundamentalists.
The muted Indian response,
and refusal to condemn the American bombings outright, is
obviously a lever to exercise a healthy influence on the
shape of things to come. While Indias empathy for
the USA in meeting the menace of fundamentalism is
undoubted, India cannot back Americas arbitrary and
highhanded methods flouting international laws. (IPA).
Chances of alternative govt bleak: Shekhar
BANGALORE, Aug 23 (PTI) Former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar today said the prospects of an alternative government at the Centre were bleak in view of the prevailing conditions.
He told reporters here that he had come to the conclusion that those parties propagating the theory of an alternative government were not acting in one mind.
Mr Chandra Shekhar said he still maintained that the present regime should not remain in power in the countrys interests.
Asked how long he thought the Vajpayee government would last, the former Prime Minister said it will continue as long as people at the helm cling to power, despite humiliations heaped on them. Apparently referring to the differences among the ruling coalition partners and the AIADMKs oft-repeated threat of withdrawal of support.
A Prime Minister who makes compromises to remain in power cannot take any decision, Mr Chandra Shekhar said.
He said the Congress should take the lead in forming an alternative government at the Centre, but hastened to add that he was not sure if the party would take up the responsibility.
Denying media reports that he was against AICC president, Sonia Gandhi becoming Prime Minister, he said if the Congress formed an alternative government, it was for the party to decide who would be the Prime Minister.
Asked why he was supporting the Congress, which had brought down his government in 1990, Mr Chandra Shekhar said I did not stay suffering humiliations and never compromised.
To a query whether he was willing to lead the nation if the mantle fell on him, he said it was impossible as he did not have the requisite support in Parliament.
Referring to the working of coalition governments, the former Prime Minister said it had proved to be a success in some parts of the world. Unfortunately, coalition arrangements in India were not based on policies and programmes, but on adjustments among individuals, which did not bode well for the country.
To another question, he said the presidential form of government was good as it provided stability. However, those who framed the Constitution had accepted the parliamentary system, which was accountable to the people.
It was for the people to decide what form of government they should have, he said.
Mr Chandra Shekhar, who launched the Bharat Yatra 15 years ago, said some of his followers had taken up the exercise again this year to know more about the peoples problems.
Former Prime Minister cautioned India against being guided by Pakistan on the issue of signing the CTBT and called for restraint.
He said India had been following a consistent nuclear policy and wanted it to be pursued by the BJP regime.
NC watching Centre on Srikrishna report
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (PTI) The National Conference (NC) today said it was actively watching the Centres role regarding the Srikrishna Commission report, which has been rejected by the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra.
We do not support them (BJP-led coalition) on every issue. Ours is not an unqualified support, Omar Abdullah, party MP, told PTI here.
We are actively looking into it, Abdullah, son of Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, said, adding that the three-member NC parliamentary group would withdraw support if the temple construction work at the disputed Ayodhya site was allowed.
He said his party had made it clear earlier that if they allow construction of Ram temple at the disputed site, we will withdraw support.
Denying that his party had lost its secular credentials by supporting the BJP, he said the NC had offered only issue-based support to the coalition government.
On the Kashmir situation, he said the problem could be solved only after Pakistan stopped aiding and abetting terrorism.
Suggesting that both India and Pakistan should evolve a middle way to resolve the problem, he said Pakistan wants the entire Kashmir as its own and we want PoK back .... leaving no middle way.
Stating that autonomy within Article 370 of the Constitution was the only solution, Omar, however, said the degree of autonomy that was promised in 1947 might not be feasible today, but there has to be some degree of autonomy, he said.
Denying any increase in militant-related violence in Kashmir after the National Conference took over the reins of the state, he said Kashmir is peaceful and tourists are flocking to the valley.
Claiming that the valley
had witnessed a decline in violence in the recent past,
Abdullah said the mounting pressure of security forces in
the valley had forced the militants and foreign
mercenaries to shift their operational bases to Doda and
Jammu areas and Himachal Pradesh.
Probe Jaya's charge, demands CPI
JAIPUR, Aug 23 (PTI) Deputy-leader of the CPI in the Rajya Sabha Gurudas Das Gupta today demanded "a parliamentary probe" into the allegations made by AIADMK chief Jayalalitha that the Director of Enforcement Directorate had been shunted out after hefty bribe.
Mr Gupta, a trade unionist also, told a news conference here "let there be a particular committee, the type of committee the Parliament had for Bofors and security scams in the past."
On escalating price rise, Mr Gupta said "we hold the BJP government responsible for this abrupt hike in prices of essential commodities and vegetables."
"It was the budgets implications. It is indirect taxation that is responsible," he said.
Former Union Minister S.R. Bommai today urged the Centre to order a probe into the allegations made by AIADMK chief Jayalalitha that persons close to the Prime Minister were paid "hefty bribes" to effect the transfer of Enforcement Director M.K. Bezbaruah.
He told reporters here that a probe by an independent agency was necessary since Jayalalitha had said "someone in the PMOs office received the bribe".
The Janata Dal leader alleged "the administration under the Vajpayee regime at the Centre has come to a standstill" and added that "chaos is the order of the day following fighting among the ruling coalition partners".
Mr Bommai said the Prime Minister Vajpayee had "failed" to take the opposition parties into confidence and convene meetings of the National Integration Council, Chief Ministers meetings and inter-state council meetings, where various issues concerning the country were discussed.
He said the economic situation in the country had worsened after the Pokhran tests and demanded the Prime Minister publish a white paper on the impact of the sanctions on the economy.
He demanded that meetings of the NIC, inter state council and all party meet to discuss various issues should be convened at the earliest.
Bommai renewed his plea to the Congress to come forward to form an alternative government at the Centre and assured the support of the United Front.
When asked why the United Front was backing the Congress, even after it had fallen following withdrawal of support by the Congress, he said it was "inevitable" under the prevailing conditions as the country cannot afford to face yet another election.
Mr Bommai who is at present touring the state as chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, complimented scientists for various achievements and said the committee had recommended to the Centre to grant more allocation for research and development activities.
CHENNAI (UNI): MGR Kazhagam leader and former Minister R.M. Veerappan today accused Jayalalitha of betraying the people of the country by threatening "every day" to withdraw her partys support to the Vajpayee government after promising the BJP leadership that the AIADMK would help form a stable government at the Centre.
He was answering questions
at a press conference here to announce that former
Minister S.V. Rajendran and 200 of his followers had
joined the Kazhagam after quitting the S.
Try poll malpractice cases promptly: Gill
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (PTI) Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) M.S. Gill has voiced serious concern over the large number of pending election petitions in the high courts and the Supreme Court and said such lengthy delays in the disposal of cases could encourage candidates to indulge in electoral malpractices with impunity.
This could also lead to the unhappy situation of an individual lasting out his full term as a law maker, when the final decision may well declare him guilty of serious corrupt practices, and therefore, totally unworthy of being one, Mr Gill said in a letter to Law Minister M. Thambi Durai last week.
The CEC further said, You will agree this is a grave and unhappy situation. Such lengthy delays will encourage candidates to indulge in electoral malpractices with impunity.
Citing the situation of the cases in the high courts and appeals in the Supreme Court, he said a total of 339 election petitions are pending in the high courts from 1990 onwards.
The number of petitions in the high court still to be decided are: 23 of 1990, 27 of 1991, 48 of 1993, 13 of 1994, 53 of 1995 and 80 of 1996, Mr Gill said, adding that 50 petitions relating to Lok Sabha elections this year and 24 pertaining to assembly elections this year were also pending.
Maintaining that 41 appeals were also pending in the Supreme Court from 1990 onwards, Mr Gill urged Mr Thambi Durai to address the matter urgently and find a way of prompt disposal of such cases.
The CEC said the Representation of People Act (RAP), 1951 provided for election petitions against malpractices and corrupt practices during elections in the high courts and the law envisaged a speedy disposal of such cases to ensure swift retributive action.
According to Clause 7 of Section 86 of the RPA, Every election petition shall be tried as expeditiously as possible, and endeavour shall be made to conclude the trial within six months, from the date on which the election petition is presented to the high court for trial.
Mr Gill, however, said It seems that in actual practice, election petitions are rarely disposed of within this limit.
While 959 petitions
relating to the Lok Sabha and assembly elections were
filed in high courts since 1990, 620 were disposed of and
339 were pending. Of the 135 appeals filed since 1990 in
the Supreme Court, 94 were disposed of and 41 were
SC commutes death sentence to life term
NEW DELHI, Aug 22 (PTI) The Supreme Court has commuted the death sentence of a triple murder convict to life imprisonment.
Gurney Singh, who was ordered to serve life imprisonment by a Division Bench of the apex court recently, was found guilty of murdering Inder Singh, Puran Singh and Baldev Singh in Shutrana village of Ludhiana district of Punjab in October 1992.
The Division Bench comprising Mr Justice G.T. Nanavati and Mr Justice S. P. Kurdukar partly allowed the appeal of Gurnam Singh moved through advocate Dr B.L. Wadehra and commuted his conviction under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (murder) to one under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the IPC (murder caused with common intention with others).
The order said since the death sentence was not confirmed, the death reference made to the Supreme Court was rejected.
The prosecution case was that Gurnam Singh along with Jarnail Singh, Nachchattar Singh, Amrik Singh, Palwinder Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Surjit Singh and Taranjit Singh abducted Puran Singh, Inder Singh, Kulding Singh, Baldev Singh and Maheshwari Rai at gun-point from their respective houses in the village with the intention to kill them on October 8, 1992. Thereafter, the bodies of Baldev Singh, Inder Singh and Puran Singh were found in a nearby Bhakra canal.
The other accused persons
having been declared as proclaimed offenders, only Surjit
Singh, Palwinder Singh and Gurnam Singh were tried during
which Surjit Singh was acquitted of all charges by the
Tada court and Palwinder Singh was given life
imprisonment. Since Gurnam was sentenced to death, he
moved an appeal before the Supreme Court and pleaded that
in view of the circumstances his case be reviewed.
Fernandes dismisses reports on PMs illness
NEW DELHI, Aug 22 (PTI) -George Fernandes has dismissed as absolutely rubbish reports that Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, was suffering from prostate cancer but admitted he was under tremendous mental and physical fatigue.
The man is weighed down and hes weighed down not for his fault but for the faults of a whole lot of people around him....I wont say hes tired but hes certainly weighed down. Hes under tremendous both mental and physical fatigue. That one has to admit, he said in an interview to Home TV.
When asked about Mr Vajpayee having stumbled on August 15 at the Red Fort and having walked out of his car without one shoe, he said Any one of us could wear a very loose kind of shoe or a chappel as I wear and you can always make a mistake in getting down in the excitement of the moment.
Mr Fernandes, who as Defence Minister was beside the Prime Minister at Red Fort, said when Mr Vajpayee finished his speech and moved to come down, it was obvious there was something which bothered him and he stumbled and had to be helped down.
But when he came down it took him just a couple of minutes to fully recover and then I escorted him to the lift.
Describing Mr Vajpayee as a very sensitive person, Mr Fernandes said A person who is very sensitive, a person who cares for the country and when he feels that from all sides the country is being buffeted and within the country people who should know better are failing in their duty, then I believe a man of his sensitivity is bound to feel weighed down further.
Dharna against quota for SCs
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 Activists of the Arakshan Samapti Abhiyan (ASA) sat on dharna to press for ending reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Capital today.
The dharna was organised at Raj Ghat and the members of the ASA were went on fast to draw attention towards the problems arising out of reservation.
The demands of the ASA include an immediate end to the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha and the State Vidhan Sabhas, end to reservation for them for posts in government services and an end to reservation in the matter of admission to students in educational institutions.
Regarding the reservation of seats in the Lok Sabha and the State Vidhan Sabhas, activists said that the reservation was clear case of denial of the right to adult franchise.
"It is also contrary to the norms accepted by Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the General Assembly on December 16, 1966 which provides that every citizen shall have the right not only to vote but to be elected at the periodic elections to be held by universal and equal suffrage," an activist said.
On reservation of posts in
government service, an ASA member observed that all over
the world, the stress was on talent, on merit and
excellence. "Our institutions must be manned with
first rate individuals. We cannot afford to sacrifice
efficiency by giving preference to only those who belong
to particular castes by ignoring merit and the needs of
the institution," he said.
US bombing may hit Pak policies
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (PTI) American bombings on Taliban bases in Afghanistan might have political repercussions in Pakistan, experts here say.
Taliban, which came into being in August 1994 with the full backing of Pakistani armed forces and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), could launch attacks on US installations, they feel.
How far Pakistani authorities will go to try and pacify Taliban has to be watched, Sreedhar, a west Asia expert at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) said.
Stating that there were reports that US aircraft could have taken off from the Quetta base in Pakistan to bomb suspected terrorist camps in Khost and Jalalabad, he said there was a strong possibility of the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) headed by Maulana Fazlur Rahman who played an important role in the formation of Taliban, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for having provided such facilities to the Americans.
People for educated legislators
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 A majority of people in India feel that a minimum educational qualification should be made mandatory for candidates standing for Lok Sahha and State Assembly elections, a survey conducted in 20 centres of the country, including Chandigarh, Hisar, Shimla and Jammu says.
According to the survey conducted by the Centre for Media and Cultural Research (CMCR) and Poorvanchal, nearly 80 per cent of the about 10,000 people interviewed felt that the bureaucracy and the police were exercising dominant influence on the government due to poor education of MPs and MLAs.
The survey was undertaken following a suggestion made in this regard by Election Commissioner, G.V.G. Krishnamurthy.
Tour operatorsconvention ends
NEW DELHI, Aug 23 (UNI) The three-day convention of the Indian Association of Tour Operators ended here yesterday with a call for setting up a national tourism authority.
As many as 1,000 delegates who attended the convention felt such an authority with a majority of representatives from the industry and experts and senior functionaries of the Tourism Ministry should be a permanent and statutory body with functional autonomy.
In another resolution tour operators also demanded that inbound tourism be declared as an export product and exporters status be given to them.
Earlier in his valedictory address, Dr Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister of J & K, said tourist activity was fast recovering in the state.
General alert in Bihar
Brain damage in
for poor women
Child servant norm
Cong leader shot
Core group on
| Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu & Kashmir | Chandigarh |
| Editorial | Business | Stocks | Sport |
| Mailbag | Spotlight | World | 50 years of Independence | Weather |
| Search | Subscribe | Archive | Suggestion | Home | E-mail |