|N A T I O N|
Chandrika calls visit
bid to distance from VHP
Political crisis deepens in
calls on ailing Sundarji
due to unemployment
for PAU farm scientist
peeved at invitation to Shah
murder, stabbing in Capital
Chandrika calls visit excellent
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 The Sri Lankan President, Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga, today concluded her four-day official visit to India and described it as "good and excellent".
Echoing similar sentiments, India also termed Mrs Kumaratunga's visit as one which "helped to strengthen further close and friendly ties between India and Sri Lanka and to expand areas of bilateral cooperation".
A Ministry of External Affairs press note said:" The discussions between the two sides were held in an atmosphere of great cordiality and deep understanding. The discussions reflected the high priority attached by both countries to the maintenance of close, cooperative and friendly relations".
On the agreement to establish a free trade area between the two countries, the note said that this "is expected to lead to the steady expansion of bilateral trade and investment through the graduated reduction of tariffs. India will phase out tariffs on Sri Lankan goods in three years. Sri Lanka will take eight years to remove tariffs on Indian goods".
"The value of two-way trade in 1997 was $ 603 million (Indian exports to Sri Lanka $ 569 million and Sri Lankan exports $ 44 million. The agreement has built in safeguards to prevent market disruption with respect to sensitive domestic sectors on both sides."
The two countries also reaffirmed the high priority attached by them to effective regional cooperation and agreed on the need for early commencement on negotiations on the SAFTA Treaty. It may be recalled that at the 10th SAARC summit in Colombo it was decided that the agreement for the SAARC Free Trade Area. SAFTA would be ready by 2001, the press note said.
Mrs Kumaratunga, who
extended her three-day visit by a day, was seen off at
the airport by the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant
Singh, the Foreign Secretary, Mr K. Raghunath, the Sri
Lankan High Commissioner, Mr Mangala Munasinghe, and
BJP bid to distance from VHP
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 In what appears to be a damage control exercise, the Bharatiya Janata Party today made a conscious effort to distance itself from the statements of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
While the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, in his New Year greetings to the countrymen stressed that there was no place for "narrow- mindedness and fundamentalism" in the country, the BJP Vice-President, Mr K.L. Sharma, said the party condemned all such statements which aggravated differences between different communities.
When asked if the BJP condemned the statements of the VHP chief, Mr Ashok Singhal, made in the last couple of days, Mr Sharma said "we disassociate with all such statements". "We want the Government to study all such statements and take action on them", he said.
If the BJP would recommend a ban on such organisations like the Bajrang Dal, the BJP Vice-President, said that "this was for the Government to decide". "We condemn violent actions of all such organisations", he said.
Though Mr Sharma avoided naming the VHP and the Bajrang Dal directly but he was categorical in saying that the Government should not allow anyone to "play with the Constitution and the law of the land".
"We want to make it clear that the BJP and the Government would not allow anyone to create differences between the different communities of the country", Mr Sharma said adding that the Government would take every measure to control communal violence.
When asked if the BJP would talk to the leaders of the VHP asking them to stop issuing such statements, Mr Sharma said that there were no hurdles in holding talks but it would decided by the party leadership.
Earlier reading from Mr Vajpayees New Year greetings, simultaneously released from Port Blair and New Delhi, Mr Sharma chose to highlight those portions of the message which talked of the need to strengthen unity and integrity of the country and equal respect for all religious sects and opinions where there was no place for narrow mindedness and fundamentalism.
"We want a strong and illustrious India to enter the 21st century in which all sections of the country get prosperous, peaceful and harmonious environment", Mr Vajpayee said in his greetings.
On the controversial issues of insurance and patents, Mr Vajpayee said: "We have tried to integrate Swadeshi and liberalisation in such a manner so that while moving towards economic prosperity, we may not forget our countrys skills, entrepreneurial efficiency and the legacy of our traditional knowledge".
The objective of all such
economic measures is "to ensure a better life for
every citizen, Mr Vajpayee said adding that with this
objective in mind, "we had decided to invest maximum
resources in agriculture "related programmes because
India lives in villages".
Deaths of 114 Gowaris
NAGPUR, Dec 30 (PTI) The Maharashtra Legislative Assembly today plunged into pandemonium after the presentation of the much-awaited Justice S.R. Dani Commission report, which probed the deaths of 114 Gowari tribals in a morcha here on November 23, 1994.
The House witnessed unruly scenes after Chief Minister Manohar Joshi expressed his "surprise" at the commission going out of its way in "giving an unwarranted certificate of innocence to former Chief Minister Sharad Pawar and his associates" for the tragedy which occurred near legislature building when Mr Pawar was the Chief Minister.
Speaking immediately after tabling the commission report which held the police lathicharge on tribals as "justified and adequate" and stated that the deaths were "due to stampede", Mr Joshi also blamed Mr Pawars "insensitive administration" for the episode.
Mr Joshi said the government found it hard to believe Mr Pawars stand that he was not aware of the tragedy till next morning, as he left for Mumbai that evening. "I fail to understand what more important work Mr Pawar had in Mumbai than wiping the tears of the innocent Gowaris".
After his speech, the ruling Shiv Sena-BJP alliance members rushed to the Speakers podium holding up a banner proclaiming Mr Pawar as "killer of Gowaris", and shouted slogans.
"I doubt his (Pawars) bona fides in saying he was not aware for hours about the tragedy. I checked up with all police officers concerned and found that none of them advised him not to visit the hospital to see the injured and was told that the visit was fixed up thrice but cancelled each time", Mr Joshi said.
In contrast, Mr Joshi said, he himself along with Deputy Chief Minister Gopinath Munde had gone to the hospital to meet the injured in Ramabainagar firing, "fully aware of the worked up emotions of the Dalits, and returned only when the Dalits objected".
The action taken report (ATR) on the Dani Commission said the government accepted the finding of the commission that the action taken by the police was adequate and also its recommendations, but wanted to put on record its rejection of "the charitable view taken by the honourable commission."
The ATR said the government "respectfully" differed with the commissions conclusion that the then Minister for Tribal Welfare Madhukarrao Pichad, Social Welfare Minister Sarupsing Naik or Minister of State for Tribal Welfare Marotrao Kowase were also not at fault in not meeting the Gowaris morcha in the absence of the Chief Minister.
"Any one of them going and talking to the processionists could have averted the tragedy" the Chief Minister said.
Congress members then crossed the barricade, climbed up the Speaker's podium and began shouting and thumping the Speaker's desk. They also displayed a banner saying the ruling party was afraid of a discussion.
The Speaker then moved on to the next item on the agenda and rushed through tabling of papers and calling attention motions, directing that statements on them be tabled taking the motions as moved.
Sena BJP members appeared determined not to allow a debate on the inquiry reports and stepped up their shouting. Not to be outdone, Congress members began thumping the Speaker's desk and held up their poster in front of him, blocking his view.
Political crisis deepens in UP
LUCKNOW, Dec 30 (UNI) With the boycott of the meeting of the state Cabinet by three alliance partners in the government, the political crisis has deepened in Uttar Pradesh today.
Mr Markandey Chand, Leader of the Jantantrik Bahujan Samaj Party (JBSP), after attending the Cabinet meeting told newsmen that in his view Mr Kalyan Singh should be replaced by someone else as the Chief Minister.
He said he attended the meeting only to ensure that Mr Kalyan Singh did not get any one-sided resolution passed.
On the other hand, Irrigation Minister Om Prakash Singh, who is considered close to the Chief Minister, appealed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership to put an immediate end to the party-government differences otherwise even village-level vote of the BJP would be affected.
He also demanded disciplinary action against those making intra-party differences public and said the Chief Minister should be included in its purview.
Yesterday JBSP Minister Yashwant Singh had said that after so many differences the BJP should elect a new leader for the government.
His JBSP colleagues in the Cabinet Mr Munna Lal Maurya, Mr Shivendra Singh and Mr Prem Prakash Singh today told newsmen that in a joint meeting of the BJP and its supporting parties, all BJP claimants for the post of Chief Minister should be called and they would elect the Chief Minister unanimously .
Reacting sharply to the
Chief Ministers statement about mid-term poll in
the event of a change in the state leadership, Janata Dal
(Rajaram) Leader Rajaram said Mr Kalyan Singh should not
issue such statements without consulting the supporting
parties.It was only because of the alliance partners that
the BJP government existed in the state, he maintained.
George calls on ailing Sundarji
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (PTI) Defence Minister George Fernandes today visited ailing former Army Chief Gen K. Sundarji at the Army Research and Referral Hospital here.
68-year-old Sundarji, who was the officer in charge of the controversial Operation Bluestar in June, 1984, is afflicted by the rare motor neuron disease.
The celebrated thinking general, who was the Army Chief from 1986 to 1988, is suffering from paralysis and is on life-support systems, according to Director-General Medical Services (Army) Lt-Gen S.C. Verma and hospital Commandant Maj-Gen B.N. Shahi. General Sundarji has been in the hospital since March this year.
Mr Fernandes, who went around the hospital after visiting the general, said he would personally look into the requirements of sophisticated equipment and staff to make the research and referral centre one of the top medical institutions in the country.
Established in July last year, the specialised hospital, catering to tertiary cases referred from various service hospitals in the country, also carries out research in military medicine, including treatment for desert area and high altitude ailments, Lt-Gen Verma and Maj-Gen Shahi said.
Insurgency due to unemployment
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 The Union Home Ministry is of the opinion that lack of employment opportunities and poor governance by successive state governments have contributed to the problem of insurgency in the North-East, which it says is being aided by Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Tracing the problems that surround it, an internal security status paper of the ministry says that insurgency in the North-East is not merely a law and order problem but a complex issue.
Elaborating, it says ethnic consciousness is more pronounced in the North-East and the people residing there also neglected by the authorities.
The presence of long and porous borders, the ministry paper says, has facilitated the movement of insurgent groups as well as the inflow of illegal arms into the region, besides the large scale influx of illegal migrants into the country.
Lack of employment opportunities other than in the government sector has led to the influx of neo-literate youth into insurgent groups. Poor governance by the successive state governments has made the situation worse, it said.
It observes that insurgent groups have sanctuaries in some of the neighbouring countries. A number of Muslim organisations have come up in states like Assam with the proclaimed aim to safeguard the overall interests of these people in the state. However, reports indicate that some Muslim fundamentalist elements are supporting militant activities also.
The paper also suggests links between narcotic smuggling and the insurgent movement in the North-East and states that the main drug route from Myanmar to India is through Moreh Imphal.
It says that intelligence reports also indicate the involvement of the NSCN and ULFA in drug-trafficking and funding the purchase of weapons with drug money. This, it said, is also corroborated by the widespread drug addiction cases in parts of North-East, specially Manipur.
Providing figures, the documents enclosed with the paper state that in Nagaland at least 1,500 people were killed in extremist related violence during the last decade 3,000 in Manipur 2,700 in Assam and 1,600 in Mizoram.
Outlining the steps taken by the Centre to tackle the problem, the paper states that apart from declaring major insurgent groups as unlawful, Manipur, Nagaland and Assam have been declared as disturbed areas under the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.
It said in view of reports that some insurgent groups like the ATTF and the NLFT have developed links in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan.
The Myanmar authorities have extended cooperation in certain security-related matters which have been helpful in controlling activities of the North-East insurgent groups.
Initiatives have also been taken for obtaining cooperation of the Thai authorities since some of the insurgent groups are known to be procuring arms and ammunition from unofficial channels in Thailand, it said.
Award for PAU farm scientist
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (UNI) The National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) today announced awards for some agricultural scientists for their outstanding contributions in different areas of outstanding farm sciences.
The academys Dr B.P. Pal Memorial Award has gone to Dr H.K. Jain for his significant contributions to increasing crop yields. Dr Jain is former Director of Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). The award carries a gold medal and a citation.
Prof S.K. Sinha, National Professor, IARI gets the Dr K. Ramiah Memorial Award for his studies on crop productivity. The Dr K.V. Mehta Memorial Award has gone to Dr T.N. Ananthakrishnan for work in plant protection. He works at Dr Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai.
Dr Prem Narain, former Director, Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI), New Delhi has been given the Dr M.S. Randhawa Memorial Award while Dr S.S. Parihar has got Dr N.S. Randhawa Memorial Award. Dr Parihar is working at pau, Ludhiana.
Dr P.N. Bhat, former ddg, icar was given the Dr P. Bhattacharya Memorial Award for animal sciences.
The Rs 50,000 recognition awards have gone to Dr Randhir Singh, Dr B.S. Parmar, Dr S.K. Jalota and Dr V.K. Tajena
The Rs 25,000 young scientists Awards have been received by Dr Pramod Kumar, Dr T.R. Sharma, Dr Srinivasa Rao, Dr S. Barduddhe and Dr V. Venkata Subramanian.
The recognition awards and young scientist awards have been given for the first time.
Hurriyat peeved at invitation to
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 The All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) is reportedly peeved at the Pakistani High Commissions Iftar invitation to the leader of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party, Mr Shabir Shah.
The Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi had sent all the invitations for the Iftar party scheduled for the middle of the next month to the APHC address for further distribution to individual Hurriyat leaders which also included the Mr Shahs invitation, sources said.
The APHC leadership was reportedly incensed when it found Mr Shahs invitation in the bunch of invitations. A leader observed that the High Commission was insensitive to developments taking place within the movement. They dont even know that Mr Shah is no more with us, a leader said.
Mr Shah had been expelled by the APHC few years ago since he had floated his own Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party.
Mr Shahs invitation was returned post haste to the High Commission by the APHC office, sources said.
Differences between Mr Shah and the rest of Hurriyat leaders have reached a point of no return. But Pakistan has been making efforts to bring Mr Shah and the APHC closer for a working relationship between them, sources pointed out.
Islamabad has been worried
at growing differences within the APHC as different
Hurriyat leaders are working at cross purposes and
weakening of the APHC detrimental to Pakistans long
term objectives, observers said.
Robbery, murder, stabbing in
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 Crime wave continued unabated in the Capital despite deployment of a large number of para-military personnel in the city.
In the first incident, a plastic bag of Anil Kumar containing Rs 30,000 was snatched. The victim reportedly had withdrawn the money from a branch of the Punjab National Bank at Najafgarh Road in Vikaspuri in South-West Delhi at 11 a.m. As soon as he came out of the bank, the suspects standing there snatched the bag and drove away on a scooter. The police has registered a case of snatching.
In the second incident, seven pieces of an unidentified mans body were recovered from two gunny bags in Sector 9 of R.K. Puram in South West Delhi last night. The gunny bags were found from a nullah. The police suspects that the body was chopped off by a sharp-edged weapon. A case of murder has been registered
In the third incident, Sripal (35), was reportedly stabbed in a bus (route number 211) in which he worked as a conductor. The bus was going from Ghazipur to Jama Masjid in walled city. When the bus reached near Ghazipur red light, four youth boarded the bus. The victim asked them to take tickets which led to the fight between the victim and the youth. One of the youth stabbed Sripal and got down the bus, the police said.
In another incident, Budh
Ram (45) was stabbed by Lattu Chacha and his son Hari
Singh over a matter of transanction of Rs 500. The police
has arrested Lattu Chacha and Hari on the charge of
attempt to murder.
Fire threatens Bombay Boys
MUMBAI, Dec 30 (UNI) The Fire now threatens the Bombay Boys.
Close on the heels of demonstrations and violence against screening of Deepa Mehtas film Fire, the Mumbai Youth Association (MYA) a city-based social organisation has demanded an immediate ban on Kaizad Gustads directorial debut Bombay Boys.
Association President Pradeep Bhavani said here that the MYA had sent a letter to Film Censor Board Chairperson Asha Parekh, demanding an immediate ban on the film, which he described as vulgar and worse than fire.
Produced by Bharat Shah,
the film is about three young protagonists coming to
India in search of their roots. One of the boys aspires
to be a musician while the second one tries to locate his
brother who is no more and finally falls in love with the
mistress of a film producer (played by Tara Deshpande and
Naseeruddin Shah). The third protagonist, fresh from an
acting school, wants to make it big in Bollywood.
Balle balle in pop 98
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (PTI) It was a musical year all the way with the Indian pop star finally emerging from the shadows of the playback fraternity to firmly establish himself in the Indian musical scene.
If 1997 saw the arrival of Indipop, 1998 witnessed the phenomenon consolidating itself and then clearly emerging as a distinct cultural entity, sometimes even spreading beyond the subcontinental boundaries.
While the trend encouraged talented and some not so talented bubble gum singers to cut their debut albums, it also convinced established playback singers to join the bandwagon and some others to experiment with remixes.
Living legend Asha Bhosle carried on from where she had left off the year before, with her nostalgic remixes, Parde mein rehne do for example.
This year also she was nominated for the Viewers Choice award for the Channel V award ceremony, although she finally lost out to A.R. Rehman with his high-pitched rendition of the timeless Vande Mataram.
However, the biggest star in the Indipop scene continued to be the son of the soil Daler Mehndi. After his phenomenal success of Dardi rab rab and Ho jayegi teri balle balle, he came out with another album Tunak tunak to walk away with the Best Indian Album and Best Indian Male awards at the Channel V awards.
Among the top crowd favourites, however, was Lucky Ali although any musical awards eluded him this time.
His second album Sifar a collection of some typically mushy, romantic ballads composed over a long period of time has already sold over 2.5 lakh copies.
Lucky, whose real name is Maqsood Ali, first came into limelight with his O Sanam shot amidst the alluring pyramids of Egypt.
The album Sunno sold over 4,00,000 copies and remained in the top slot on MTV and Channel V for consecutive 35 weeks.
These two 24-hours music channels to a great extent and Music Asia to a lesser degree have definitely helped in the birth and growth of the Indipop culture.
While the channels provided a platform for music videos, ensuring instant access to the audience, audio music companies also pitched in to promote new singers while continuing their commitment to the old ones.
Instead of concentrating only on telecasting music videos, the channels took Indipop to the restaurants, college campuses, movie theatres and even on a few occasions, to hospitals as the competition between them hotted up.
The channel rivalry, in turn, gave birth to the new breed of Indian pop singers as the media managers went talent scouting all over the country.
However, not everybody could hit the jackpot.
Groups like Euphoria, Silk Route, Stereo Nation with their debut albums Dhoom, Dooba Dooba and Jalwa Remix respectively, hit the big time whereas Piyush Sonis and film starlet-turned singer Tanyas Dhadkan failed to elicit much of an enthusiastic response.
The success story of the pop scene in the subcontinent is made much more glamorous by the historic and cultural barriers which were broken by the immense fan following of Pakistani group Junoon.
The group comprising Salman Ahmad (lead guitarist), Ali Azmat (lead singer) and Brian O Connel (bass guitarist) hit the big time in India, cashing in on the phenomenon of Indipop with their mega hit single Sayoni.
As a testimony to the trans-border impact of Indipop, the success of homegrown Daler Mehndis and Bhupis, a group of Bhangra-pop first generation Indians born in the United Kingdom, many of whom are already creating waves in the music scene of the Old Blighty, came to the country of their origin in the form of a latest musical album.
From Birmingham to Bathinda Balle Balle brings home, literally, a medley of international Punjabi songs by groups Achanak and Saqi and artistes Amar, Vijay and Suki and reggae blasters.
Inderjit Khanna made ED chief
NEW DELHI, Dec 30 The Centre today appointed Mr Inderjit Khanna, as the Director of the Enforcement Directorate (ED). He replaces Mr M. K. Bezbaruah.
Mr Khanna, a 1966-batch IAS officer of Rajasthan Cadre, will hold the post in the rank and pay of Special Secretary, official sources said today.
The appointment also upgrades the post of the ED Director to that of Special Secretary. The incumbent, Mr Bezbaruah holds the rank of a Joint Secretary.
Mr Bezbaruah, who was reinstated as the Enforcement Director in September this year after being removed for a brief time, awaits posting.
Mr Khanna, was at present the Special Secretary (Economic Affairs) in the Ministry of Finance.
Mr Bezbaruah, was shifted
in August this year and posted as Transport Commissioner,
Delhi. However, following uproar and observation by the
Supreme Court in September, he was re-instated as the ED
Fog causes traffic jams, 7
NEW Delhi, Dec 30 Dense fog in East Delhi resulted in massive traffic jams at many places, including a major pile up on the Nizamuddin bridge.
At least seven persons, including two women were injured in the mishap involving a Maruti van, a truck and 16 buses. Three vehicles were of Delhi Transport Corporation.
The incident occurred on the East Delhi-New Delhi carriageway of the Nizamuddin bridge. A car hit a van from the rear resulting in a series of bumper-to-bumper hits which injured seven persons who were admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
The worst hit was a Maruti van, bearing a Haryana registration number, which veered towards the left due to the impact. Blood and glass shards of the van wind screen was splattered on the road.
This is the first fog-related accident in Delhi. The accident resulted in traffic jams on the busy Nizamuddin bridge linking East Delhi and NOIDA with Central Delhi. Traffic personnel were seen engaged in removing the vehicles with the help of cranes.
|Lift ban on onion export:
NASIK: Around 1,000 onion growing farmers staged a rasta roko agitation blocking the Mumbai-Aurangabad road on Tuesday for about an hour at Vinchur to press their demand for lifting the ban on the export of onion. Farmers from Vinchur, Doangargaon, Vihnunagar, Lasalgaon, Thanore, Bhavas, Deogaon blocked the road, demanding an end to the ban, regular electricity supply and a check on fertiliser blackmarketing. Political party workers and various sanghtanas participated in the agitation. UNI
workers die of asphyxia
closure for 20 months
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