|N A T I O N|
|Naidus veiled threat
HYDERABAD, Jan 25 Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today issued a threat to the Vajpayee government, saying his partys support to the Centre was "only conditional...."
Gun no solution to Kashmir issue: Shah
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 Kashmiri leader Shabir Ahmed Shah has said violence cannot help solve the vexed Kashmir issue and expressed his readiness to hold talks with "anybody."
Stamp to commemorate Khalsa celebrations
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 A stamp to commemorate the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa Panth will be released on April 14.
NEW DELHI: Activists of The Bharatiya Janata Party Mahila Morcha holding a dharna in New Delhi on Monday to condemn the alleged gangrape of Ms Anjana Mishra and demanding the arrest of the culprits. PTI
Mahajan for thorough debate
on Prasar Bharati
opens dance festival
murder: police tight-lipped
wants to atone
Director among 18 to be honoured
Naidus veiled threat to Centre
HYDERABAD, Jan 25 (PTI) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu today issued a veiled threat to the Vajpayee government, saying the Telugu Desam Partys support to the Centre was "only conditional and could be withdrawn anytime".
A visibly annoyed Mr Naidu told reporters here that he had spoken to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee earlier in the day and put across his demand for convening the National Development Council meeting in the "next two or three days" to put an end to the "uncivilised attacks" on minorities.
He, however, hastened to add that he was not setting any conditions for continuing the support. "The Centre is not surviving solely on my support. Politics is not important for me. I am trying for a national consensus on how to put an end to these uncivilised incidents".
An NDC meeting was imperative to arrive at a political consensus on measures to check the "disturbing trend which is affecting the secular fabric of the country", he said.
Meanwhile, in a letter to
the Prime Minister, he said the time had come for all
political parties to "think and act together"
to ensure that the countrys "image and respect
did not suffer any adverse effect internationally".
Gun no solution to Kashmir issue: Shah
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (PTI) Prominent Kashmiri leader Shabir Ahmed Shah has said violence cannot help solve the vexed Kashmir issue and expressed his readiness to hold talks with "anybody" to help resolve the 50-year-old problem.
"Gun is no solution (to the Kashmir problem). We should work for peaceful, political and permanent settlement of the problem," Shah, chief of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party (JKDFP), told PTI here.
He, however, refused to denounce militancy, saying militants "have their own ideology."
The JKDFP believes in "sincere talks", he said, adding "I have no hesitation in holding talks with anybody who wants to make sincere efforts to save the sub-continent from a possible disaster."
Shah said "the government should come out with an agenda that is acceptable to all."
"New Delhi should convince through dialogue that Kashmir is an integral part of India and the accession was legitimate," he said, adding that the issue had been hanging for the past 50 years despite several accords between the Centre and the then state governments.
Referring to Indias holding talks with Pakistan on Kashmir, he said "it amply demonstrates that New Delhi considers the issue a disputed one."
Welcoming the ongoing dialogue process between India and Pakistan, Shah asked both the countries to realise the "ground realities" so that the Kashmir issue could be resolved "peacefully as early as possible".
"India and Pakistan should keep talking bilaterally on issues other than Kashmir, but while discussing Kashmir, the real representatives of Kashmir have to be involved," he said.
Asked to specify who could be the "real representatives" of Kashmir, the JKDFP chief said "those having mandate of Kashmiris" and promptly added that "the National Conference government, headed by Farooq Abdullah, does not have the real mandate of the people of the state as the Assembly elections were coerced and manipulated."
He suggested a poll be conducted under the supervision of independent intellectuals of the country to choose the "real representatives."
"Agni" progressing well
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 - The government, for the first time, is all set to acknowledge publicly that "Agni" has been developed as an intermediate range "battle ready" ballistic missile and that it will be flight-tested shortly.
The acknowledgement has come from the commentary for the Republic Day Parade where "Agni" will be on display for the first time. Prepared by the Ministry of Defence, the commentary while giving details of the intermediate range ballistic missile, points out that "Agni" will be ready for operation soon. The commentary says the "operationalisation of the Agni weapon system is progressing."
The government till now had always been pointing "Agni" to be only a "technology demonstrator" which had been flight-tested on three occasions, the last time being in 1994. The "Agni" goes on display at the Republic Day Parade for the first time along with the short-range "Trishul", the medium-range "Akash" and the anti-tank missile "Nag".
Sources said the test firing of "Agni" was likely shortly and till now no exact date had been fixed for it. A controversy had recently developed over the test-firing of "Agni" with reports that it had been put off indefinitely due to intense international pressure. Earlier, there were reports that "Agni" was to be test-fired on Republic Day.
The "Agni" missile project had been successfully flight-tested on three occasions earlier in 1989, 1992 and 1994 as a "technology demonstrator". The Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) carried out the three tests at an approximate cost of about Rs 55 crore.
The "Agni" has a 20-metre-long stage propulsion systems. It has a diameter of one metre with a launch weight of 16 tons. The missile carries a single re-entry manoeuvring payload that weighs 1000 kg or one ton.
The three tests carried out earlier had established some of the critical technologies such as the all carbon-composite re-entry payload, navigation, guidance and control, manoeuvring re-entry during terminal phase, launch operations and capabilities for such missions.
It has been designed to have a range of beyond 1,500 km and has remarkable circular error probability (CEP) figures (which determine a missiles strike accuracy) and is a tribute to the fine band of Indian missilemen that it excels in crucial operational areas like re-entry, long range manoeuvring and two-staged propulsion and stage separation.
Moreover, "Agnis guidance system and vehicle structure form an excellent configuration for the missiles modification as the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Surya, which is on the drawing board and which will be able to reach targets in other continents.
Also on display for the first time will be the countrys latest acquisition from Russia, the Tunguska air defence weapon system, which is used to provide low-level air defence to the mechanised forces. This is the only weapon of this type in the world which provides both guns and missiles on a tracked chasis. The missiles of this system can engage targets up to eight km while the 30 mm guns are effective at 4 km ranges. Its high rate of fire of approximately 5000 rounds per minute make an extremely potent anti-aircraft weapon system.
Another system which will
come out in the open for the first time will be the
Rajendra multifunction phased array radar in azimuth
position. This is an electronically-controlled radar
system with computerised beam steering. This radar is
capable of multifunctions like air surveillance, target
acquisition and tracking, missile acquisition, tracking
and guidance. The radar can carry out all these tasks
simultaneously for four targets. The maximum detection
and tracking range is 70 km.
Stamp to commemorate Khalsa
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 A stamp to commemorate the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa Panth will be released on April 14.
This was announced by the Secretary-General of the World Punjabi Organisation (WPO), Mr V.S.Sahney, during a two-day convention held in Mumbai last week. The office-bearers for the western region of the WPO were also announced during the convention.
Among others, the western region office-bearers include Mr Kulwant Singh Kohli and Mr Darshanjit Singh (patrons), Mr J.S.Bhasin (founder President of the Steering Committee), Mr J.S.Nagi (honorary General Secretary) and Mr G.S.Arora (convenor of the Reception Committee).
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General Shiromani Akali Dal and Rajya Sabha MP, addressing the convention, said the WPO in less than a year had achieved a lot and Punjabis had gone to different parts of the world and "through their hardwork, succeeded in life in diverse fields like education, agriculture, art and culture".
The WPO would surely succeed in bringing together Punjabis residing in distant lands with diverse upbringing, he said.
The release of "Bole So Nihal" by the WPO had set the tone for the tercentenary celebrations of the Khalsa Panth, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, President of the Delhi unit of the SAD, said.
"It is sad that the children of well-to-do families are no longer following their mother tongue, Punjabi, and instead feel pride in conversing in English," he observed.
Mahajan for thorough debate on Prasar Bharati
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (PTI) Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has constituted a group of ministers to go into the controversial issue of allowing direct-to-home (DTH) television that will help satellite broadcasters dramatically expand their reach.
The five-member group includes Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defence Minister George Fernandes, Communications Minister Jagmohan, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and Information and Broadcasting Minister Pramod Mahajan.
Mr Mahajan told in an interview yesterday that the group had been asked to recommend to the government whether to allow DTH and if so what steps were needed to ensure that the decision was transparent and there was a level playing field for all.
Making it clear that the decision was of "executive nature", he denied suggestions that if DTH was allowed it would lead to severe problems for the cable operators.
Mr Mahajan felt there was no alternative to the Vajpayee Government in the 12th Lok Sabha and was of the view that none of the BJP allies would withdraw support to the coalition as "they are all anti-Congress".
The hard ground reality of politics, he said, was that none of the BJPs allies, including the AIADMK, would favour the Congress "against us because basically they are all anti-Congress".
"A Congress government in New Delhi is detrimental to BJPs allies", he said, adding that by bringing down the Vajpayee Government, they would be sealing their own fate. "If they (allies) want to commit suicide, no one can stop them".
Mr Mahajan said that AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha had talked of review of support to the Vajpayee Government only once in the past 10 months. She had recently stated that she would not like to be the cause for the fall of the coalition government.
Mr Mahajan favoured the Lok Sabha should have a fixed tenure of five years to avoid frequent elections. He ruled out any adverse fallout arising out of the reported differences between the BJP and the Sangh Parivar organisations. "This government is run by the BJP. It wont have any impact on what relations we have with other organisations."
Rejecting criticism of the BJP for the increased attacks on minorities, the minister said while the party was being blamed for the incidents in Gujarat, "how is it that blame was not being apportioned to the Congress for the incidents in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa?"
He denied the suggestions that Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray was threatened with withdrawal of support to the Maharashtra Government by Home Minister L.K. Advani which resulted in the suspension of the Sena call to disrupt the Pakistani cricket teams tour of India.
About the demand by senior Congress leader Sharad Pawar to take action against Mr Thackeray, Mr Mahajan sarcastically said the former Maharashtra Chief Minister "had many chances to arrest the Shiv Sena leader".
Mr Mahajan favoured a thorough debate on Prasar Bharati, the extent of its autonomy and the power of the Chief Executive Officer.
Under the law of the land, it is Prasar Bharati which runs Doordarshan and AIR. One day or the other the country has to decide if everybody wants Prasar Bharati and autonomy. "What exactly do we mean by autonomy? He said.
Making it clear that he had no plans to change the Prasar Bharati concept of autonomy for objective news, he asked "how much of power could be vested in one person (Chief Executive Officer) for six years "who is not accountable to Parliament while the minister has to face the music."
"It is for Parliament, people and political parties to discuss and decide on the issue," he said, adding that at present his job was only to obey the law.
President opens dance festival
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 The President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, inaugurated the week-long Republic Day folk dance festival at Talkatora Indoor stadium here today.
The Union Minister of Human Resource Development, Dr Murli Manohar, lit the lamp at the inaugural function.
Twenty-four dances from various States represented the rich fabric of Indias folk and traditional cultures. The "yak chham" from Sikkim, "Giddha" from Punjab "Dhamal" from Haryana and "Garba" from Gujarat drew an overwhelming response from the audience.
The dances will be performed from 5 pm to 7 pm everyday at Air Force Auditorium in Subroto Park, Delhi Tamil Sangam, R.K.Puram, on January 30 and Sir Shankar Lal Hall, Delhi University, the next day. The dances will also be performed at Talkatora Indoor Stadium everyday.
Visitors can watch
"Chham Chhank", a Buddhist dance of Lahaul
Spiti region, the traditional "Ras Dhamali"
dance of the Wattal tribes from Jammu and Kashmir, the
tribal Nikobarese dance from the Andaman and Nicobar
Islands, the Mising Bihu of Assam, the Lai Haroba of
Shivanis murder: police
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 The Delhi Police is still tight-lipped about the suspect in the murder of Principal Correspondent of The Indian Express, Mrs Shivani Bhatnagar, on Saturday.
The police is investigating assertions made by Shivanis family that she last spoke between 3.30 p.m. and 4 p.m. She reportedly called up her husband, Mr Rakesh Bhatnagar, to say that a certain Sharma had come with a box of sweets and an invitation card for the wedding of a one Adhikary.
Sources said the police knew where the call was made to and was expected to carry out some investigations.
it also knew the general contents of the conversations.
Mr Bhatnagar said he did not know any Sharma and had asked her to keep the invitation. Shivani was strangled with a nylon cord and later stabbed to death between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
A neighbour said she heard noises of household articles being thrown around between 1.30 p.m. and 2.10 p.m. Around 1.30 p.m. while she was praying, she heard a thud, she said.
The police said ransacking was done to mislead cops. It doubted that the assailants were hired and had come with the intention to kill.
The visitors register at the entry gate at 2.50 p.m. indicated that there was no one by the name of Sharma on the address written on the register.
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 The two-day seminar on electoral reforms which concluded here today pointed out several defects in the existing laws on anti-defection and made a number of recommendations to tackle the problems.
The first working session of the seminar which focussed on the anti-defection law, was presided over by the former Prime Minister, Mr I.K.Gujral, and saw several suggestions emanating from prominent speakers, including the former Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Mr Shivraj Patil and Mr Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer.
Mr Patil suggested that the present parliamentary form of government could be run successfully and stability could be achieved by making a few modifications.
In this context, he suggested that no "no-confidence motion" should be passed unless it who passed by a two-third majority, and this rule could also be applied for electing the Prime Minister.
The former Speaker alternatively recommended that political parties should not select candidates on the basis of their winning ability. He was of the opinion that it should also be provided that the government should fall only where a specific motion expressing want of confidence on the government was moved and not on account of cut motions, adjournment motions or money Bills. Another idea that was put forth was that voting should be made compulsory. And providing 50 per cent rule for declaring a candidate elected and, if necessary, by providing a run-off.
Mr Justice Krishna Iyer talking about the individual and the numerical morality, emphasised that while a wicked man was punished, a collection of wicked men was rewarded. He said a provision should be made so that a party which abandoned or departed from it manifesto upon which it had contested election, as a whole must be disqualified as it would deem to have defected, an official release said.
The second working session was on proportional representation system or list system. Presiding over this session, the former Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr Jaipal Reddy, felt that time was not ripe for replacing the existing system by the list system.
Chairman of the Law Commission, Mr Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy said the list system avoided wastage of votes. He proposed a merger of both systems and also suggested that the Lok Sabha seats be increased by 25 per cent through the list system on the basis of territorial division. He said, "this will correct the imbalances existing in the present electoral system".
Dr Ghatate, a Law Commission member, said all European democracies which operated in a multi-party system had given up the "first past the post" system and opted for the "list system". He said the current system did not reflect the voters aspirations and needed rectification. An interesting suggestion made during the session was that there should be a preferential vote system which would have the same effect as that of proportional representation system.
One of the participants suggested that reservation for women in Parliament and State Assemblies could be achieved by increasing seat through the list system. There was general consensus that the list system should be merged with the first poll system with certain safeguards. The seminar was attended by about 500 delegates, including lawyers, political leaders, judges, senior officials and journalists and was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Meanwhile, former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma has sought amendment to the electoral law to provide for penal action against a political party for putting up a criminal as candidate during poll.
The proposed amendment to
Section 8 (1) of the Representation of People Act only
spoke of disqualification of the individual and did not
take into account parties putting forward criminals as
their candidates, Mr Sangma said.
Khurana wants to atone
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 (PTI) Fissures in the Sangh Parivar came to the fore as Union Minister Madan Lal Khurana today sought an unusual permission from BJP chief Kushabhau Thakre to "atone" for the recent attacks on Christian missionaries in Orissa and Gujarat as also the Shiv Senas outburst against the Pakistan cricket teams tour of India.
Mr Khurana, who had reportedly criticised certain members of the Sangh Parivar at the Bangalore National Executive meeting of the party recently for creating impediments in the way of working of the Vajpayee Government, said he had kept silent all this while because of "party discipline", party sources said.
Mr Khurana, who was reportedly awaiting another opportunity to take on the belligerent members of the Sangh Parivar, said it was "time for me for atonement" since these incidents "have lowered the partys image".
Highly placed BJP sources said that Mr Khurana who sent his letter yesterday to Mr Thakre did not spell out the mode of atonement.
They, however, said Mr Khurana had charged some people with actively conniving in acts to destabilise the Vajpayee Government and reduce its credibility by carrying out such acts.
Mr Khurana said for him the meaning of nationalism was "total dedication to the nation and the meaning of Hindutva for some could be destruction of cinema halls, digging up of cricket pitches or setting ablaze churches. But, that is not Hindutva I believe in".
He said in his letter that the burning of the Australian missionary and his two sons in Orissa was an "inhuman act" and that "our heads have bowed in shame. I am shaken by it".
The BJP leader said "day by day the image and credibility of the BJP Government at the Centre was going down with the incidents in Gujarat, destruction of cricket pitches or burning of the missionary in Orissa", party sources said.
Mr Khurana said in his letter: "Main prayaschit karna chahatha hun". However, he did not spell out the details, the sources said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said no mercy would be shown to the perpetrators of the inhuman crime in Orissa in which an Australian missionary and his two sons were burnt alive at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district early on Saturday morning.
Talking to reporters at Rashtrapati Bhavan after Nepal King Birendra Bikram Shah Dev was accorded a ceremonial welcome, Mr Vajpayee said he had spoken to Orissa Chief Minister J.B. Patnaik and asked him to take stringent action against those responsible for the killings.
"I spoke to the Orissa Chief Minister and have emphasised the need for stringent measures...No mercy should be shown to the perpetrators of this inhuman crime", he said.
When it was pointed out to him that the Bajrang Dal was suspected to be behind the killings, Mr Vajpayee said it was a matter for investigation.
The Prime Minister said those suspected to be involved in the incident had been arrested and further arrests would also be made.
Meanwhile, the Australian government today strongly condemned the brutal killing of the missionary and his two sons and urged the Indian government to take severe action against the culprits.
In a statement Australian
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said Mr Steins
devoted his life in serving others and it was
"unconscionable that he and his two sons should have
been killed in this horric way".
CBI Director among 18 to be
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 The CBI Director, Dr R.K.Raghavan is among the six officers of the Bureau to have been awarded the Presidents police medal for distinguished service this year.
In all 18 officers and personnel of other ranks have been awarded the medals on the occasion of Republic Day.
The others who were awarded the Presidents medal are Mr Neeraj Kumar, Joint Director, Special Task Force, Mr P.V.Rajendran DSP, Mr M.Thiagarajan, SP, Mr Umesh SP, and Mr Dharam Pal Singh, SP.
The Police medal for
meritorious service was awarded to Mr Bhupinder Kumar
DSP, Mr Rajani Ranjan Sahay, DSP, Mr Kapil Deo Mishra,
DSP, Mr Thomas John, DSP, Mr S Koul, DSP, Mr Raghupati
Bose, Inspector, Mr B.P.Bagchi, Inspector, Mr Rameshwar
Singh, SI, Mr Sunder Lal, ASI, Mr Arjun Dwivedi, ASI and
Mr Raja Ram Mishra, Head Constable.
Gujral slams Centre
NEW DELHI, Jan 25 The former Prime Minister, Mr Inder Kumar Gujral today said the secular democratic forces in the country must immediately mobilise and assert themselves in the name of secular peace.
In a statement issued here, Mr Gujral said the dastardly killing of an Australian missionary and his two sons has brought shame and sorrow on all Indians.
CALCUTTA: In a significant biochemical experiment, scientists here hope to develop the first ever site-specific anti-venom therapy to cure poisonous snake bites at the point of attack itself. Having established that the same substance which causes profuse local and internal bleeding when the reptiles bite, also disrupts molecular organisation in mammals resulting in death, a team of biochemists at the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) is pursuing studies on hitherto unknown reasons of such fatal haemorrhage. The anti-venom therapies currently in use are non-specific meaning they are indiscriminately charged in all poisoning cases. But we are trying to evolve the basis of a specific therapy to block haemorrhage and cell disintegration at the site itself after evaluating the extent of damage, says team leader Rathanath Hati. PTI
CM allocates portfolios
Maharaja wants his
NLFT men injure
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