|N A T I O N|
Invite APHC for talks:
CBI suppressing facts: Quattrocchi
ORISSA : Homeless cyclone-affected villagers build shanties on higher grounds, while awaiting for government relief supplies, at Kanpur village, 700 km south of Calcutta, on Tuesday. Thousands are believed killed by the severe cyclone that hit the eastern Indian state of Orissa. AP/PTI
DSGMCs plan to help
Jaswant , Talbott meet in London
Rise in tension along Sino-India
India rejects Pakistans
Cong: no move to give Priyanka
Waging war against killers of
Panja: no wait for passports in
Fresh probe into 84 riots
Invite APHC for talks: Lone
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leader Abdul Ghani Lone has signalled the organisations readiness for talk with New Delhi saying that "when the Government of India had talked with the Nagas, Mizos and Gorkha National Liberation Front in the past, then why not with the Kashmiris".
In an interview with TNS , Mr Lone, who recently returned from the USA following medical treatment, said: "There is a pattern and a model according to which the Government of India had been approaching the issues and disputes in the past."
When asked as who would represent the Kashmiris in talks with the Centre, he said: Whom did New Delhi talk with in the case of the Nagas, Mizos or Gorkhas? "They have been talking to the dissatisfied lot, and to those leading a movement".
"You want to resolve the issue and settle the dispute", Mr Lone said and asked if New Delhi had not talked to Mr Subash Ghising few years back. Even now, the Government of India has been talking to Naga underground leaders, he pointed out.
Without naming the Hurriyat as a party to talk with, Mr Lone, who has been in the political mainstream of Jammu and Kashmir for over four decades and has held important positions in the state government, said, "National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah is satisfied with the present status, and so is the Congress. Then who is left out. Since 1989, there has been a group which has been leading a movement."
At the same time, the Hurriyat leader said: "We are not militants. Quns is a political movement and we want a peaceful resolution of the issue".
Stating that the APHC was against violence, Mr Lone said that "the State is interested in violence in Kashmir". The state had been sponsoring and supporting "renegades", he alleged.
"Nobody in Jammu and Kashmir knows who is killing whom", the Hurriyat leader said and pointed out that the armed forces were providing "protection to renegades".
Blaming New Delhi for the presence of foreign mercenaries in the state, he said "if you allow a problem to fester and stand on false prestige, then it is an invitation for others to come in".
"If the Government of India adopts a constructive attitude, then ways and means can be found to resolve the Kashmir dispute", he stressed.
"But they are not interested in talking. They continue to add insult to injury by not only arresting top Hurriyat leaders but also by transferring them to the Jodhpur jail."
"The Hurriyat had called for boycott of the recently held Lok Sabha elections and we have seen the response", Mr Lone pointed out reminding that even former Election Commissioner G.V.G. Krishnamurthy had justified the boycott call saying that this was also a democratic way to know the opinion of the people.
Talking about Islamabad, he said "Pakistan is there because it is a party to the dispute. It was India which made Pakistan a party to the dispute in 1947. India took the dispute to the United Nations."
"But Kashmir is not a territory alone, there are people also and without taking the wishes of the people into account, how can the dispute be resolved. Two-thirds of the territory is with India and one-thirds with Pakistan. Even if India and Pakistan decide to resolve the dispute among themselves, what happens to people. Nobody can take away our right. India and Pakistan dont agree on anything but they agree on keeping us out", Mr Lone said bitterly.
When asked about the fate of the Kashmiri Pandits, who have been forced to flee the valley, Mr Lone said "it is unfortunate but the then Governor had helped in their migration".
"If the state was
interested then it could have created security zones for
Kashmiri Pandits also", Mr Lone said adding that
"the Hurriyat can bring them back but resources for
their rehabilitation are not with us".
CBI suppressing facts: Quattrocchi
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 (PTI) Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, a key accused in the multi-crore Bofors payoff case, today claimed that the money received by him was "unconnected with Bofors" and charged the CBI with suppressing this "fact" in the charge sheet for political considerations.
Quattrocchi said in a press release faxed from Kuala Lumpur that "the suppression in the charge sheet of the fact that the money received by me were unconnected with Bofors" highlighted only one thing the CBIs "one point programme to destroy the reputation of late Rajiv Gandhi and his family."
When asked to clarify whether the money received by him was unconnected with the Rs 1437-crore Bofors gun deal, Quattrocchi said "I never had any dealing with Bofors. I never received any money ever from Bofors either in the gun deal or any other deal."
He said even after 10 years of investigation, the CBI had not been able to establish that any politician or public servant received money for awarding of the gun deal to Bofors in 1986 and asked "is there anything more politically motivated than this?"
Asked whether he had any plans to come to India, Quattrocchi said "I have no plans to come to India."
To a question whether he still maintained his friendly links with the Gandhi family, Quattrocchi said "whether I maintained links with the Gandhi family or not was my private affair, why should I tell anybody about it. But once I am a friend of somebody, I remain a friend be it good or bad times."
Quattrocchi has quoted extensively from the November 4 order of the Special Judge, who passed arrest warrants against him and summoned other accused former Bofors agent Win Chadha, former Defence Secretary S.K. Bhatnagar and former Bofors Chief Martin Ardbo.
He said "I have gone through the order passed by the Special Judge and noted that CBI has suppressed certain facts which are evident from the records."
The Special Judge had
noted the manner in which Quattrocchi failed to honour
his word given to the Supreme Court that he would come to
India, on the assurance that he would not be arrested, to
cooperate in the investigations being carried out by the
CBI in the Bofors case.
Jaswant , Talbott meet in London
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 The ninth round of talks between External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh and US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will be held in London from November 16.
Announcing the Indo-US talks, a spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said that the two- day talks would cover disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and international security affairs.
The London talks are being held in the background of the US Senates rejection of the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
India and the USA, through Jaswant-Talbott talks, have been making a determined efforts to harmonise their respective views on the critical issues of nuclear non-proliferation and international security. Both Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Talbott would share perceptions of their respective country on the Fissile Material Control Treaty (FMCT), export controls, defence postures and other related issues.
The parleys have an added significance as they are being held ahead of the US President, Mr Bill Clintons visit to India early next year.
The External Affairs Minister is expected to convey Indias concerns over developments in Pakistan following a military coup there. Mr Jaswant Singh is also likely to raise the issue of Pakistans support to cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country.
When asked as why London has been chosen the venue for talks, the spokesman said that it is because of mutual convenience of Mr Jaswant Singh and Mr Talbott. Mr Talbott would be in Europe and Mr Jaswant Singh would be attending the CHOGM summit in Durban, he said.
Rise in tension along
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 (PTI) The Defence Ministry today denied reports of escalation of tension along the Sino-India border in Arunachal Pradesh and said the situation was normal.
Denying the press reports, in which General Officer Commanding of Four Corps Lt-Gen D.B. Shekatkar was quoted as saying that there were increased "activities" along the Sino- India border in the Arunachal Pradesh sector, the ministry said both the sides "were maintaining normal vigilance and confidence building measures are in place."
The ministry said the GOC was quoted "out of context" in the media, a Defence Ministry spokesman said here.
India rejects Pakistans
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 India today took an exception to the Pakistans assertion that certain bilateral accords had no future at present, stating "we take our obligations most seriously".
Responding to Pakistans new Foreign Minister Abdul Sattars reported remarks that the June, 1997 agreement on taking up eight issues including the contentious issue of Jammu and Kashmir simultaneously had no future, a spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said India had a consistent policy towards Pakistan.
The spokesman said New Delhi wished the people of Pakistan well and desired to build with them ties of friendship and cooperation based on mutual trust and confidence, for which Pakistan needed to create a proper environment.
The spokesman said that Islamabad must restore trust through its actions. Pakistan must abandon its state-sponsored cross-border terrorism against India in Jammu and Kashmir and also cease its hostile anti-India propaganda.
Conducting "awake brain surgery"
MUMBAI, Nov 9 (UNI) King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital here has become the first government hospital in the country to conduct "awake brain surgery".
A team of neurosurgeons at the hospital operated upon a 56-year-old central government employee, keeping him fully conscious, speaking to the doctors and nurses.
The surgeons led by Dr Mohinish G. Bhatjiwale, Dr Atul Goel, Dr Laxmi Kamat and Dr Renu Mulani recently removed a malignant tumour on the left side of the brain in a three-hour long operation.
The "awake craniotomy", which requires special training and absolute team effort, uses a combination of special anaesthetic technique, state-of-the-art instruments and continuous conversation with the patient.
A neurosurgical stereotactic system, attached to the head of the patient, locates the tumour with a precision of up to 1 mm. Both the patient and the attached machine are put inside a CT scanner which reveals the structures of the brain as "slices of bread" and the stereotactic system points to the exact location of the malignant tumour.
"Once we locate the tumour we drill through the skull, go into the brain and skilfully remove it. The patient is fully conscious during the operation. It is of vital importance that we have his full cooperation," Dr Bhatjiwale told UNI.
While the doctors were scraping out the tumour, a team of medical experts kept Mr Mishra busy doing simple arithmetic sums, naming objects and queries on personal details.
Since the location of the tumour was at the centre of comprehension, the slightest damage to any part of the tissues adjoining the tumour would have been immediately tracked by the responses given by the patient.
Mr Mishra was admitted to the hospital on November 3 following temporary memory loss and a persistent headache which made him consult a specialist.
When this correspondent met him a day after the operation he gave a detailed account of the surgery and was found fit and walking. His shaven head and the bandage on the region where the skull had been drilled were the only signs of the surgery.
"All I could hear were loud noises as though someone was blasting bombs on my head. Other than a slight tingling sensation in the head, there was no pain," he said.
Mr Bhatjiwale said the operation was a "landmark" for government hospitals in the country. The operation safeguarded the patients against direct neuronal damage. There was no need to give the patient recovery time which was compulsory when general anaesthesia was used, he added.
In neurological surgery where general anaesthesia was used, there was always the fear that once patients woke up, they might develop complications like loss of speech or loss of motor functions. Here the patient was continuously responding. Hence such hazards were practically nullified, he said.
DSGMCs plan to help cyclone-hit
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 About 5,000 families affected by super cyclone in Orissa would soon receive Rs 1000 per month for one year if the proposed scheme of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) scheme gets overwhelming response.
"The donors would directly deposit sponsorship amount (full or monthly) in the account of the victims, which would be disbursed on a monthly basis by the banks," President of the DSGMC Paramjit Singh Sarna said.
A seven-member team of the DSGMC will leave the Capital later this month to identify the victims in Kakatpur and Astaranga tehsils of Puri district. Puri district is of special significance for the
Sikhs as Guru Nanak had visited the place," Mr Sarna said.
Elaborating on the scheme, he said "the sponsor would be assigned one family and the address of the family would be intimated to the members. The money would be sent to the victims account. After sending the amount, the sponsor would be requested to deposit the receipt in the office of the DSGMC".
He said those persons who wish to seek income tax exemption could donate the money to the DSGMC and the amount would be forwarded to the victims.
Advocate H.S. Phoolka, who is closely working on the project, said "this method of helping the victims of natural calamity would not only add human touch to the relief efforts but also ensure that the needy get the amount without middlemen."
The DSGMC is also collecting clothes, blankets and other items which would be distributed among cyclone-hit on November 23, the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.
The DSGMC is also considering appealing to students for funds as about 26,000 students study in different schools run by the organisation in Delhi.
Eating cattle feed for survival
KENDRAPARA, (Orissa), Nov 9 (UNI) With almost every means of sustenance wiped out by the fury of the super cyclone, survivors in the river-locked areas of Mahakalpara, Aul, Rajkanika and Jambu island have only cattle feed, grass or leaves to satisfy their hunger pangs.
Some of them who swam across rivers to reach the district headquarters said the situation was very grim.
Rajesh Das, a social worker, said, "The situation is very grave, with survivors facing death due to lack of food, medicines and shelter."
Prabhat Samantray, the newly-elected MP from the constituency, said those who survived the fury of the super cyclone (that hit Orissa on October 29), now face the prospect of death as cholera and other communicable diseases have risen to epidemic proportions.
"Even my family members spent four days in a demolished house without food and water," he said.
Almost all villages in Aul, Rajkanika, Rajnagar, Patamundai, Mahakaipada and Patkura blocks still remain marooned. The area is encircled by three rivers Mahanadi, Brhamani and Kharasrota crisscrossing each other before falling into the Bay of Bengal.
In normal times, people
reach these villages crossing the rivers on boats.
"But now all boats are either damaged or submerged,
making the village incommunicable for relief operations
even after 10 days of the calamity," a survivor
Cong: no move to give Priyanka
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 Putting to rest speculation, the Congress party today stated there was no truth in reports that Mrs Priyanka Vadra would soon be assigned with some organisational responsibility.
The denial by the party spokesman, Mr Ajit Jogi came in reply to a question whether the party was considering the appointment of Mrs Vadra as the new chief of the Indian Youth Congress.
For the past few days, rumours had gained ground after the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, was quoted as having said in Amethi last week that her daughter would be seen more often in the constituency.
It was Mrs Vadra who spearheaded the campaign at Amethi on behalf of her mother and Mrs Gandhi was elected from the constituency by over three lakh votes. Mrs Gandhi chose to retain Amethi while giving up Bellary in Karnataka.
Mr Jogi said that the Congress President had repeatedly said that her children were at present not entering politics.
"Reports to this effect are baseless. They are rumours and there is no truth in such reports, Mr Jogi said adding that "there is no truth in reports that organisational responsibility will be assigned to them.
According to a report published in an English daily, there were plans to appoint Mrs Vadra as the head of the partys grievance cell which was once under the charge of Mrs Margaret Alva.
Meanwhile, Mr Jogi also criticised the statement of the Minister of State for Defence, Mr Bachi Singh Rawat, that Surya, an intercontinental ballistic missile was ready for testing. Mr Rawat made the statement while he was visiting his constituency in Uttar Pradesh.
Waging war against killers of unborn girls
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 (UNI) Despite stringent legislation to ban female foeticide, the worst manifestation of gender discrimination continues unabated in the country leading to gender imbalance that was the root cause of rising crime against women, according to experts.
Though Prenatal Diagnostic Technique Act, 1994, banning female foeticide was in force, easy availability of sex determination techniques and existing bias against girl child has made female foeticide a social epidemic in the country during the past five years, says Dr Vinay Agarwal, coordinator of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).
According to one estimate about 20,00,000 female foetuses were aborted in the country every year but IMA activists feel that the figure was about 50,00,000. However, these figures are incoherent and only indicate the tip of an iceberg, Dr Agarwal says.
To curb this heinous practice, sensitising people about the problem was necessary and the IMA along with the National Commission for Women and the UNICEF have launched a campaign against gender discrimination and female foeticide, he says.
The IMA will organise a rally against female foeticide here on November 16 in its effort to create awareness about it, he said, adding that thousands of school and college students, women activist and doctors will participate in the rally and declare war on killers of unborn girls.
According to Dr Agarwal, this degrading and inhuman practice has caused alarming gender imbalance as the Indian population has only 927 females for every 1000 males as per the 1991 census. The situation is much worse in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana. Uttar Pradesh has only 879 women per 1000 men while in Haryana the figure was 865. In some communities of Rajasthan and Bihar it was as low as 600 females per 1000 males.
In some communities the prevalent feeling that parents should not expect support from daughters during old age makes the girl child unwanted, Dr Agarwal says and stresses the need to change the peoples mindset by bringing awareness among them and involving women in economic programmes. Income generation can go a long way in changing the attitude towards a girl child from being "paraya dhan to apna dhan".
Overall, males in India outnumber females by over 31 million and this scarcity of women has disastrous consequences like polyandry, rape and other crimes against women, Dr Agarwal said.
Describing female foeticide as the violation of the right of life guaranteed under the Constitution, he says in this case family members themselves are responsible for such violations.
Ironically, doctors who are otherwise save precious lives, often become partners in the crime by helping terminate the pregnancy, he says adding that by their joint efforts "a little innocent girl in the womb, is denied the right to life even before she was born."
The practice continues unabated as most of the cases of female foeticide go unreported. As the victim of this crime homicide was a foetus who was incapable of raising the alarm, it goes undetected.
Though the Prenatal Diagnostic Act, 1994, which came into force in 1996 to curb female foeticide bans the use of prenatal sex selection techniques for the purpose of aborting female foetuses and those guilty can be penalised, imprisoned and even lose their licence to practice, the law has some lacunae, he says.
"While criminal law makes the killing of any human being a cognisable and punishable crime, the selective killing of female foetuses does not amount to homicide. Though female foeticide and infanticide both have same causes and motives, the law treats them separately because an infant has a legal status while the child in the womb has none, he points out.
The social evil of dowry
and a preference for sons was the root cause of this
menace. The practice even gets social sanction as girls
are considered as paraya dhan, someone who
belongs to the family she is to be married in. Girls are
often considered a burden who incurs heavy expenses when
she is married off as she takes away lifes saving
as dowry, he says.
Panja: no wait for passports in
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 Passport offices in the country are poised to enter the next century with a clean slate with Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Panja declaring today that there would be no wait for passports by the beginning of the next year.
Inaugurating the Passport Officers conference here, Mr Panja said that the Ministry of External Affairss work was being judged within the country through the efficiency of the passport offices and declared that the focus of the work was to clear all backlog by hiring additional manpower if necessary, so that the Passport offices "enter the new millennium with a clean slate".
The Minister exhorted the passport officers to create a citizen-friendly environment and adopt the motto of File and Smile for the public and Service with a Smile for the Passport office personnel.
Fresh probe into 84
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 The Sikh Forum today urged the government to appoint a fresh inquiry commission to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
"Such an inquiry is necessary not only to bring out the names of the culprits, their instigators and planners, but for establishing the credibility of governance and in the interest of peace and harmony between different communities," a resolution passed by the forum said.
The resolution was passed at a meeting attended by the forum President, Lt-Gen (retd.) Jagjit Singh Aurora, Chief Justice (retd.) R.S. Narula, President of the Peoples Union for Civil Liberties and Chief Justice (retd.) Rajinder Sachar, the BJP Vice-President Mr K.R. Malkani, and a former Delhi Chief Minister and former Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Madan Lal Khurana.
Shabana, Mithun best cine stars
NEW DELHI, Nov 9 (PTI) Shabana Azmi and Mithun Chakraborty have been adjudged best actress and best actor, respectively, for 1998 by the All-India Critics Association (AICA).
While Azmi has got the
award for "Bada Din" Chakraborty has bagged it
for his role in "Swami Vivekananda" (both Hindi
films), the General Secretary of the association, Mr
Ramesh Ghosh said in a press note here today.
|Arms supplier nabbed
MUMBAI: Crime Branch sleuths have succeeded in nabbing an arms supplier who was smuggling country made weapons to Mumbai from Uttar Pradesh and the Indo-Nepal border, the Mumbai police said. Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Sunil Paraskar said interrogation revealed that the accused, Kulvinder Singh along with his associates Anwar, Kajal, Ritu and Piyesh alias Pinky alias Pakit, were supplying firearms to various gangs in Mumbai. UNI
Blockade disrupts life
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