|N A T I O N|
100 India, Pak MPs to meet
Wadhwa panel term extended
against 39 IAS men still pending
award for Steins
penalised for delay in pension release
denies relief motive
cell to check ISI activities
universities: Karan Singh
method to detect heart attack
selection trial allowed
100 India, Pak MPs to meet in
NEW DELHI, March 23 Picking up the threads from where they left in Islamabad last month, over 100 Parliamentarians from India and Pakistan will assemble here for a four-day meeting to strive "towards détente in the Sub-continent".
Four former Pakistani Prime Ministers, including Mrs Benazir Bhutto, Mr Malik Miraj Khaled, Mr Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi and Mr Balakh Sher Mazari, along with the Speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan, Mr Ilahi Bukksh Soomro, are expected to participate in the meeting. While Mrs Bhutto and Mr Soomro have already conveyed their consent to attend the conference, the response from three other former Prime Ministers is awaited.
Apart from many prominent MPs, five former Prime Ministers from India namely Mr V.P. Singh, Mr Chandra Shekhar, Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao, Mr H.D. Deve Gowda and Mr I.K. Gujral are expected to attend the conference. Invitations have already gone to them by the organisers.
The four-day conference, to be attended by over 100 Parliamentarians from the two neighbouring countries, will start with a keynote address by Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee. It will be inaugurated by the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr G.M.C. Balayogi.
The Delhi conference is aimed at "institutionalising parliamentary interaction at an unofficial level in the form of Parliamentarians for Détente in the Subcontinent (PDS), besides encouraging formal contacts between the two Parliaments".
The first conference, held in Islamabad from February 12 to 13 at the initiative of The News a leading Pakistani English newspaper of the largest Jang group of newspapers had unanimously resolved that the "contacts and dialogue between the elected representatives of the two people must be institutionalised and regularised".
The Islamabad conference was in fact adjourned and not prorogued as the participants had expressed their commitment to create a congenial atmosphere to resolve all disputes through negotiations and expand mutually beneficial cooperations between the two neighbours.
While the Lahore
initiative was taken by The News, the Delhi conference is
being co-sponsored by the Pubic Opinion Trend (POT) which
is a feature agency specialising on media in Pakistan,
Nepal and Bangladesh. The News is the other co-sponsor of
the four- day conference next month. POTs Executive
Editor, Mr Sushant Sareen, and the Editor Current Affairs
of The News, Mr Imtiaz Alam are the joint organisers of
Bihar bandh partial
PATNA, March 23 (PTI, UNI) The dawn-to-dusk statewide bandh called today by the BJP-Samata combine to demand immediate resignation of the Rabri Devi Ministry over the Senari carnage that left 34 dead evoked a partial response, an official spokesman said here.
The police arrested 500 bandh supporters trying to enforce the shutdown in different parts of the state, the spokesman said, adding no untoward incident had been reported so far.
BJP state president Nand Kishore Yadav, Samata Party chief Raghunath Jha, opposition leader in the state Assembly Sushil Kumar Modi, local MP C.D. Thakur and the lone RJP Lok Sabha member Anand Mohan were among those taken into custody.
While attendance in the state government offices was normal, shops and business establishments remained closed in major towns, including Gaya, Muzafferpur, Bhagalpur, Gopalgunj and Siwan, he said.
Banks, however, transacted normal business. Private operators suspended bus services throughout the state, while transport services ran with heavy security, he said, adding schools and educational institutions remained closed.
The Janata Dal also supported the call to protest against the Senari killing.
Meanwhile, the state Assembly was adjourned twice as the BJP and Samata legislators demanded immediate resignation of the Rabri Devi ministry.
According to Eastern Railway sources, train services were reported to be normal though BJP-Samata activists tried to sit on dharna in tracks at a few places.
BJP Lok Sabha member from Bhagalpur Prabhash Chandra Tiwari along with 60 supporters were arrested when they tried to block movement of trains at Bhagalpur railway station.
The 12-hour Bihar bandh demanding Chief Minister Rabri Devi's resignation started at 6 a.m. today.
Many BJP supporters, including 13 party MLAs, were today arrested for organising a protest march in connection with the partys 12-hour statewide bandh.
Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Sushil Kumar Modi and 12 other legislators were arrested as they were holding protest demonstrations in the city, the police said.
State police headquarters sources said no report of any untoward incident had been reported so far from any part of the state.
The police said the Rapid Action Force and other paramilitary forces had been deployed in sensitive areas.
Amid uproarious scenes, Bihar Assembly was today adjourned twice with vociferous BJP members storming the well of the House to press for the resignation of the Rabri Devi government following the Senari killings of 34 persons in Jehanabad.
As the House assembled for the day, slogan-shouting BJP members, waving placards trooped into the well of the House to demand the resignation of the RJD government.
In the meantime, Left members too rushed into the well in the House shouting slogans against opposition leader, Sushil Kumar Modi.
CPI-ML (I) leader in the House, Mahendra Prasad Singh was seen arguing with the chair to ask Mr Modi to withdraw his alleged "unassembly" remarks against Left parties during the Assembly debate on the carnage yesterday.
Deputy Speaker Jagbandhu Adhikari adjourned the House till 11.30 a.m. barely 10 minutes after it sat as the din continued.
When the House reassembled, BJP members were seen on their feet to press their demand and a few of them rushed to the well of the House shouting anti-government slogans.
Meanwhile, the CPI, CPI-M and CPI-ML(L) MLAs started shouting slogans to demand the immediate arrest of opposition leader Modi in connection with the Narayanpur, Lakhsmanpur Bathe, Sankarbigha and Bethani Tola carnages of Dalits perpetrated by Ranvir Sena, a private militia of landlords.
CPI-ML(L) leader Mahendra Prasad Singh again urged the chair to ask the leader of opposition to tender an unqualified apology in the House for making remarks against leaders of left parties including Ambika Prasad Singh (CPI) and Ramdeo Verma (CPI-M).
He claimed that Modi had used "unparliamentary words" against them which were recorded in the proceedings of the House.
As the din went on, Deputy Speaker Adhikari again adjourned the House till 12 noon.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) members today staged a noisy walkout from the Assembly following state governments silence on the attack on party legislature Amar Yadav by a criminal gang in Siwan district last month.
Raising the matter during zero hour in the House, CPI (ML) leader Mahendra Prasad Singh said the security personnel of Mr Yadav was killed in the incident. But the state government was yet to take any action against the culprits.
The party members also shouted anti-government slogans and demanded immediate arrest of the involved criminals.
Meanwhile, the Congress
members alleged that the state government was trying to
cover up the Senari massacre issue since only five
accused in the incident were sent in judicial custody out
of the 20 arrested so far and claimed that the
administration was not serious in the matter.
Wadhwa panel term extended
NEW DELHI, March 23 (PTI) The term of the Wadhwa Commission of inquiry, probing the gruesome murder of Australian missionary Graham Steins and his two minor sons in Orissa, has been extended by three months.
This was decided at the meeting of the Union Cabinet here this evening.
The commissions term was to end on March 28, but as it had not yet completed its investigations the Cabinet decided to extend its tenure till June 28, Information and Broadcasting Minister Pramod Mahajan said.
The Union Cabinet will decide on the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) Bill after the legal implications of its non-passage by the Rajya Sabha are examined, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said.
Legal experts were being consulted on the situation arising out of non-passage of the CVC Bill by the Rajya Sabha before April 4, when a related ordinance lapses, sources said.
Meanwhile, sources said among the various options being considered by the government was repromulgation of the CVC ordinance which it sought to enact during the first phase of the budget session before adjourned for the three-week recess.
Official circles also do not see any difficulty in the continuance of the incumbent Central Vigilance Commissioner N Vittal. The only difference would now be that he would continue on a non-statutory basis while the CVC ordinance sought to confer statutory status on the CVC and other members of the commission.
In a bid to improve catering services in Railways, the Cabinet today approved the setting up of a railways catering and tourism development corporation.
Railway Minister Nitish Kumar told newsmen soon after a Cabinet meeting that the corporation would be on the lines of Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) and Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON). The corporation would become operational within six months.
The Cabinet also approved the setting up of an international institute of fashion technology in the national Capital.
In another decision, the
Cabinet decided to rename Sahar and Santa Cruz airports
in Mumbai as Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
from March 31. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will
be present at the renaming ceremony at Mumbai on that
Probe against 39 IAS men still pending
LUCKNOW, March 23 (PTI) The Uttar Pradesh Governments admission that vigilance inquiries against 39 IAS officers were still pending caused a furore in the state Assembly today.
Replying to supplementaries during question hour, Excise Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said the Government had issued directives to the departments concerned to complete the inquiries, pending since 1995, by June next.
The government also admitted that the IAS officers, who were being inquired into, were holding important posts like Principal Secretaries, Divisional Commissioners and District Magistrates.
Earlier, raising the issue, Samajwadi Party member Ram Autar Shakya alleged that the government, instead of withholding promotion of these officers, had rewarded them with "plum postings".
Senior Congress leader Jagdambika Pal charged the Government with misleading the House by not revealing the dates on which the Government had received the inquiry reports against some of the officers.
Romesh's kin held
AHMEDABAD, March 23 (PTI) Mr Surendra Sharma, nephew of Romesh Sharma, the alleged frontman of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim, allegedly involved in the murder of Sharma's girl friend in New Delhi on March 20 last, was arrested from a guest house in the Ellig Bridge area here last night, the police said.
Following a tip-off, city crime branch police officials nabbed Mahendra Desai and tried to find out clues from him about Surendra Sharma allegedly involved in the murder of Kunjam Budhraj alias Dolly, who wanted to marry Romesh Sharma, City Police Commissioner Hira Lal told PTI here.
NOIDA, March 23 A brother who was enraged over his sister's love affair allegedly shot her.
The accused Iqbal is a resident of Toji area of Greater Noida. His sister Rehana was in love with Mansur Khan of the same area. She ran away with him on December 18.
A report in this regard was lodged at the police station on December 23 against Mansur Khan. In the absence of the police action, the case was transferred to the DIG police. The DIG then transferred the case to the Sikandrabad police station on January 12.
Posthumous award for Steins
CHENNAI, March 23 (UNI) Australian missionary Graham Stuart Steins, who was burnt alive in Orissa on January 23, was today posthumously conferred the Indo-Australian award for meritorious service.
Australian High Commissioner in India Rob Laurie presented the award to Mrs Gladys Steins, widow of the missionary.
Mrs Steins, who maintained her composure all through the ceremony, broke down as she gave her response, but refrained from saying anything even remotely bitter about the culprits.
Govt penalised for delay in pension release
NEW DELHI, March 23 (PTI) The Supreme Court has taken a strong view on the delay in payment of pension to government servants and imposed a penal interest of Rs 1 lakh on Uttar Pradesh Government for a delay of four years in paying up the dues of a medical officer.
A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice A.S. Anand, while awarding the penal interest in favour of petitioner Uma Agarwal yesterday, referred to the rules which provided that various departments should initiate steps to pay the pension two years prior to the date of retirement.
"If the rules are followed strictly much of the litigation can be avoided and retired government servants will not feel harassed because after all grant of pension is not a bounty but a right of the government servant," it said.
"The delay in the settlement of retiral benefits is frustrating and must be avoided at all costs. Such delays are occurring even in regard to family pensions for which too there is a prescribed procedure," the Bench said and observed, "this is unfortunate."
Vajpayee rules out Cabinet
NEW DELHI, March 23 Dousing hopes of many aspirants, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee today ruled out that the expansion of his Council of Ministers was on the cards. "There is no proposal to expand the Cabinet," was how Mr Vajpayee responded to queries from correspondents after the investiture ceremony for Padma awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan today.
Although an year-old in the office, Mr Vajpayee has expanded his Cabinet only once and deferred it on two occasions. The only expansion was when three ministers Mr Jagmohan, Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Pramod Mahajan were included in his Cabinet last year.
On the possible scenario in Bihar in the event of the Congress taking a fresh look at the situation, Mr Vajpayee said: "we will see".
To a question on the proposed visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister, Mr Nawaz Sharif to India, Mr Vajpayee said that as of now "no dates were fixed as yet".
Meanwhile the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, said the government would consult the Chief Ministers before appointing Governors in various states.
"It is in the process though no timeframe has been fixed," Mr Advani told reporters after the ceremony.
Witness denies relief motive
NEW DELHI, March 23 (PTI) A key witness in a 1984 riot case today refuted the defence allegation that her husband was still alive and she filed the case with a view to getting compensation.
Deposing before Additional Sessions Judge Sharda Aggarwal prosecution witness Anwar Kaur said that her husband Nevin Singh was killed by a mob incited by Congress leader Sajjan Kumar, a day after the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.
She said her husband was killed by the mob on November one, 1984 in front of her Sultanpuri residence in West Delhi. However, the court adjourned the case for may 3-4 when Kaur felt unwell.
She had identified Sajjan Kumar, Udhal, Jai Bhagwan, Nathu Pradhan and a kerosene dealer Gupta yesterday among the accused persons and alleged that they set the gurdwara on fire and entered in the lanes shouting slogans to kill the Sardars.
"All the persons were in mob and beating (Nevin) while Sajjan was instigating the mob", she said adding "the mob was armed with dandas, sariyas, and accused Udhal was holding a gun".
Intelligence cell to check ISI activities
HYDERABAD, March 23 (PTI) The Andhra Pradesh Government has set up a counter-intelligence cell to monitor the movements and activities of Pakistans Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in the state, Home Minister A. Madhava Reddy told the Assembly today.
Replying to supplementaries, Mr Reddy said, 47 persons, including three Pakistani nationals, were arrested so far in connection with ISI-related activities in the state.
Twentyfive of the arrested hailed from the state capital, while the rest belonged to various states including Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, he said.
Denying that the state capital was being used as a base for ISI activities, the minister said the newly formed cell would deal with the ISI and other anti-national activities in the state.
He also brushed aside the allegation that the Coimbatore blasts were masterminded in this city and the agents hoodwinked the state police for a long time.
Earlier, Mr Bal Reddy (BJP) accused the state police of inefficiency in tackling ISI activities. We were in the dark until the Delhi police swooped down on the state capital to arrest a Pakistani national operating from here, he said.
A spirited opposition meanwhile, cornered the government on the utilisation of the Godavari waters and stalled the question hour for 30 minutes before Speaker Y. Ramakrishnudu agreed to take up the issue for discussion.
As soon as he announced that the adjournment motions on the Godavari water utilisation were given separately by the CPI, the CPM and the Congress were disallowed, the major opposition parties launched their protest demanding immediate discussion of the issue.
Ram Manohar Lohia remembered
NEW DELHI, March 23 (PTI) Rich tributes were paid to Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, veteran Socialist and a leading light of the freedom movement, on his 89th birth anniversary today.
Leaders at several functions across the country recalled his invaluable contribution in espousing the cause of the downtrodden.
Defence Minister George Fernandes, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Dr Manmohan Singh, a number of MPs and former MPs paid floral tributes at the portrait of Dr Lohia in the Central Hall of Parliament.
At an another function, Railway Minister Nitish Kumar asked all Lohia-ites, now scattered in splinter groups to reunite.
LUCKNOW: Samajwadi Party President Mulayam Singh Yadav today described Bihar killings as reflective of social, economic and political discrimination against lower strata of society and said no party or government should be blamed for such acts in the state.
Speaking at a function to mark the 89th birth anniversary of Ram Manohar Lohia, he called upon all political parties to help resolve problems in Bihar and curb the increasing incidents of killings of innocent people.
The S.P. President said such incidents were only a reflection of social, economic and political discrimination against the deprived section belonging to the lower strata of society and no political party or government should be held responsible for these problems.
Privatise universities: Karan Singh
NEW DELHI, March 23 The universities in the country should resort to innovative methods to make themselves financially self-sufficient and there was a need for privatisation of universities, the former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP, Dr Karan Singh, said here today.
The education system at university level must be reoriented to keep pace with the needs of the 21st century, Dr Karan Singh.
Delivering a lecture on the occasion of the Association of Indian Universities platinum jubilee celebrations, Dr Karan Singh said government fund to the higher education would reduce in the coming years and the universities must find alternative sources of generating revenue.
A Bill to this effect was introduced in Parliament a few years ago and was referred to the Select Committee and now the Bill is in cold storage, he said.
Dr Karan Singh said the university system should be flexible for one to enter and should function as a facilitator for improving an individuals skills.
Stating that there was an explosion of information now, he said people would have to upgrade their skills frequently so that they can retain their competitive edge.
Even though the number of students passing out of universities have grown over the years, the figure is around 6 per cent of the potential student in the age group of 18-23 who have been successful, he said, adding that the figure is much low.
Calling upon intellectuals to break conservative approach towards university education, Dr Karan Singh said the educationists should focus on content aspect of education system.
Expressing his disappointment over the lack of intellectual discourse on religion and philosophy he said when the Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, was inaugurated, I had suggested that it should emerge as a centre for religious and philosophical research.
I find the intellectual community treating any discussion on religion and philosophy in a discriminatory manner, which is a wrong thing for society, he said.
Dr Karan Singh said the university education system in the country, which has produced scientists, doctors, engineers and Nobel laureates for the world to envy, can turn this system into a foreign exchange earner like Australia if the potential are tapped in a right manner.
Simple method to detect heart attack
NEW DELHI, March 23 (PTI) Indian scientists have developed a simple method that warns about heart attacks by measuring the amount of a chemical produced in the body.
The test, which takes only 10 minutes, is useful in detecting heart attacks, medically known as myocardial infarction, which are indicated by chest pain, electro cardiographic (ECG) changes, and increase in some chemical substances in the body.
A team of scientists from Banaras Hindu University (BHU) at Varanasi studied lactate dehydrogenase (Ldh-1). One of the enzymes released into the blood when heart muscles are damaged during a heart attack. A measurement of the concentration of these enzymes can indicate the severity of the attack.
The scientists preferred measuring Ldh-1 as it is metabolised slowly. Its levels changing roughly after every eight hours. So, one can use the technique in patients who reach late in hospitals after an attack. As is often the case in India.
Sex selection trial allowed
NEW DELHI, March 23 (PTI) The Ministry of Health has in principle given permission for further research into a new method of selecting the sex of a baby through a natural process before conception.
The method, proposed by a group of researchers here, exploits the slight difference in speed of X and Y sperms and the fact that male bearing Y sperms have a shorter life than the female bearing X sperms.
The sex act is timed such that the egg is fertilised by the desired sperm.
The Health Ministry has asked the researchers to carry out further trial at two institutes in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
The council has not taken any decision and is awaiting clearance from its ethical committee.
Dr Geeta Shroff, one of the researchers who runs an infertility clinic at a South Delhi locality, said if coitus occurs before the release of the egg, sperms had to wait in the fallopian tube for the egg to arrive.
If the waiting was too long, Y sperms with a shorter life span would die leaving only X sperms to fertilise the egg resulting in a baby girl.
HC rejects plea on rechecking
NEW DELHI, March 23 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today dismissed a petition seeking re-evaluation of answer sheets of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) class X and class XII students of 1998/99.
A Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Devender Gupta and Mr Justice K.S. Gupta rejected the public interest litigation by the All India Lawyers Union (AILU) through counsel Ashok Aggarwal saying: This petition is not maintainable.
Sonia refuses to answer queries
NEW DELHI, March 23 The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, today preferred not to offer her comments to media informally instead suggested correspondents to attend the spokespersons briefing.
Havent you been attending the daily briefings (at AICC headquarters) quipped Mrs Gandhi when a group of correspondents approached her at Rashtrapati Bhavan, soon after the civilian awards investiture ceremony, to know of her views on Bihar.
Miners plea to ratify laws
RANCHI, March 23 (UNI) Expressing concern over rising accidents in coal mines, the Indian National Mine Workers Federation yesterday urged the Centre to ratify the high standard laws, set in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention 176 on safety and health in mines, and constitute a tripartite committee for making necessary changes in the existing laws.
|Vachaspati award for
NEW DELHI: Modern Sanskrit poet and dramatist Baneshwar Pathaks translation of The Bible into Sanskrit, Yeeshu Charitam, has been selected for the Rs 75,000 Vachaspati Puraskar. The award instituted by the K.K. Birla Foundation to recognise Sanskrit works is being given for the seventh year since it was established in 1992. Mr Pathaks translation is a pioneering work in the field as no writer has so far translated The Bible into Sanskrit. UNI
march to Assembly
3 killed in road
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