|H I M A C H A L
P R A D E S H
Saturday, September 25, 1999
Elaborate security in
Poor bus service draws
'unhappy' with BJP govts
prospects bright: Virbhadra
violations in Tibet decried
Elaborate security in Himachal
SHIMLA, Sept 24 While the Himachal Pradesh Government has made elaborate security arrangements for a smooth conduct of the Lok Sabha poll, particularly in Chamba district bordering militant-infested Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, campaign managers of various parties fear that the weather may play a spoilsport during polling tomorrow.
Mr Shanta Kumar, a former Chief Minister, Mr Sat Mahajan, PCC chief, Mr Suresh Chandel, state BJP chief, and Thakur Kaul Singh, a former Speaker, are among the 22 candidates for the four seats whose fate will be decided by 37,76,547 voters during the one-day poll.
The weather has been playing truant throughout the campaign and visits of various leaders were put off due to frequent and heavy rain. Even today, many areas of the state, including, Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur and parts of Bilaspur had rain.
A heavy rain or bad weather could result in a low turn out which could have an impact on the poll outcome.
Although there has been no incident in Chamba district over the past about one year, the authorities are not ruling out the possibility of militants disturbing the polling.
Accordingly, they have taken all possible steps to prevent militants from interfering with the poll process. Coming operations have been launched by the ITBP and the India Reserve Batallion in the high hills to prevent the militants from sneaking into Chamba and about 1200 police personnel have been deployed on the Jammu and Kashmir border.
The state government had demanded 23 companies of paramilitary forces from the Centre, but only four companies have been provided.
The Financial Commissioner (Home), Mr Ajay Prasad, told TNS that special checking was being done on the states hoarders with Haryana and Punjab to prevent RDX and other explosives from being smuggled into the state. Police patrols had been stationed in each assembly segment.
As a precautionary measure this year, Gujjars have not been allowed to go to high pastures for grazing.
To make up for the shortfall of the security forces, the authorities have requisitioned the services of 6,700 Home Guard personnel, 790 forest guards and 1008 NCC cadets, besides 7492 police personnel.
In all 46,000 personnel, including 30,000 poll officials, have been put on election duty.
A total of 6230 polling stations have been set up of which 420 hyper-sensitive and 971 sensitive.
The highest polling station has been set up at a height of 15,000 ft at Hikkam in Lahaul-Spiti for 274 voters. At Kaa village in Kinnaur district, a polling station has been set up for 14 voters.
The state has been divided into 565 sectors and 130 magistrates and 435 other officers have been deployed. The Election Department has requisitioned 1571 vehicles from various departments.
Most of the poll staff have reached their destinations in the far-flung villages. Some of them had to trek 25 to 35 km to reach the polling stations. The toughest journey was undertaken by the poll party manning the Chharang station in the tribal Kinnaur district by climbing up 35 km to enable 179 voters to cast their votes. There are about 200 polling stations which are located at a height of more than 10,000 ft.
'Beware of' Islamic
SHIMLA, Sept 24 With the centre of gravity of Islamic fundamentalism moving from West Asia to Afghanistan and Pakistan, close to "our" doorstep, the country's internal security will be of as much a cause of concern as the external threat in near future, says Lieut-Gen Y.M. Bammi (retired), a visiting fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, here.
Financed by Libya, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, it threatens to spread terrorism, fundamentalism and instability. Large financial resources from drug trafficking and availability of sophisticated weapons make it a very potent threat to the country via the Kashmir route, he said, while delivering a lecture on "Threat to India's security", here today.
The need of the hour was a strong and stable government at the Centre which could curb the fissiparous tendencies with a heavy hand and provide a responsive, honest and effective administration.
He said failure to fulfil basic needs of the people, violation of human rights, and poverty had provided fertile ground for insurgency in the country.
Besides huge influx of refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Nepal had aggravated to the problem of unemployment and altered the demographic composition, leading to serious security problems in border states.
Consequently, the law and order situation got beyond control requiring intervention of the army.
He said the nuclear status gave India prestige. Though it might not avoid limited local conflicts like Kargil, it would certainly dissuade a belligerent Pakistan holding out a nuclear threat to the country. Similarly China, would also have to take into consideration India's nuclear capability before embarking on any adventurous step against the country.
Besides, there was an urgent need to modernise the defence forces. The defence budget was required to be raised from the present 2.5 per cent of the GDP to atleast 3.5 per cent, which would still be lower than that of China and Pakistan.
The Kargil crisis had
brought to fore the deficiencies in the armed
preparedness of the country. There should be no delay in
removing these deficiencies as only well equipped and
properly trained soldiers could give a befitting reply to
the enemy during war, he added.
Row over JEs death
SHIMLA, Sept 24 The death of a junior engineer (JE) of the HPSEB, Mr Hem Singh, while trekking between Manikaran and Kaza has led to a controversy with the CPM asking the Governor, Mrs V.S. Rama Devi, to order a judicial enquiry into the incident.
The secretary of the CPM, Mr Mohar Singh, has submitted a memorandum to the Governor alleging that the Member (Finance), HPSEB, Mr Avay Shukla, who was trekking in the area deserted Mr Hem Singh midway when the JE fell seriously ill.
Enquiries revealed that Mr Hem Singh died at 3 p.m. on September 14 at Suka Nullah at a height of about 16,000 ft after struggling for life for a day. Mr Shukla, alongwith Mr H.R. Kapoor, Superintending Engineer, Larji hydel project, left him in serious condition at the mercy of two labourers and proceeded on further trek to Kaza.
The information regarding Mr Hem Singhs death was given to the district authorities of Kulu by the labourers on September 16 and it took two more days for the authorities to requisition two helicopters of the Indian Air Force to evacuate the body on September 18.
It was alleged that Mr Shukla had no official business to go to the area. Moreover, the Parbati project, which falls in the area, has already been handed over to the NHPC for construction.
No enquiry has so far been ordered by either the HPSEB or the state authorities.
When contacted, the Chief Secretary, Mr A.K. Goswami, who is also Chairman of the HPSEB, described the incident as "unfortunate", but said Mr Shukla's visit to the area was "official".
Mr Shukla told Tribune News Service that none of "us could anticipate the seriousness of his illness". It appeared to be a breathing problem of Mr Hem Singh, who, he claimed, insisted that he was all right.
Mr Shukla said Mr Hem Singh had visited the area a week ago with engineers of the NHPC.
He denied that he deserted the ailing JE. Two porters were left to take him back to Manikaran. But unfortunately he died, Mr Shukla said.
On the other hand, the
CPM has demanded that a judicial enquiry should be
ordered into the incident and criminal proceedings
initiated against Mr Shukla. He should be removed from
the post till the pendency of the enquiry.
Poor bus service draws flak
KULU: Students of various institutions squatted on the road opposite the main bus stand here in protest against the poor frequency of the HRTC buses, especially during peak hours. The administration yielded to their pressure and put an extra bus on the route sought. "Will that kind of administration continue? Won't they put additional buses at peak hours?" asked one of the student leaders.
The NSUI president of the Government College here stated that students were issued passes by the HRTC but the drivers never halted at stops on the way to pick up passengers. The students, teachers and the other office-goers were then left with no option but to take private buses.
Mr Pankaj Singhal, HRTC Regional Manager, told this correspondent that he had already put additional buses to meet the rush. However, if more demand was there, he could consider introducing additional buses on specific routes. He pointed out that the bus that from Banjar to Kulu had been extended to Babeli. The bus from Chhoil had been diverted via Bagar Nallha to provide additional facility to the students.
The Regional Manager revealed the HRTC has posted a special force to check that the buses stop at the each stop and pick up passengers and pass holders.
While asked by this correspondent why the shuttle service between Ramshilla and Badah had been withdrawn, even when it was popular, he replied that the bus belonged to the Keylong depot of the HRTC and he was unaware of the decision. However he disclosed that the HRTC Board of Directors had decided to withdraw buses from routes that were not viable and below acceptable financial norms.
Mr Chander Kiran Sharma, Senior Vice-President of NSUI, condemned the decision and demanded revision should reorient its priorities to serve the people rather than making money.
It was admitted by the Regional Manager that the student passes issued this year did not reach cross 2,000, which was evidence of students being disappointed by the bus service.
People 'unhappy' with BJP govts
SHIMLA, Sept 24 Mr Virender Kataria, a former Punjab MP and Congress observer for Himachal Pradesh, has said people are disappointed with the "non-performance" of the BJP governments at the Centre and in Himachal Pradesh.
Mr Kataria told reporters here today the BJP had failed to provide a stable government whenever it came to power. All development activity had come to a standstill.
He alleged that the country had been plunged into a turmoil ever since the BJP came to power. There was chaos because of deterioration in the law and order situation and economic degradation.
He criticised BJP leaders for making personal attacks on the AICC chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi.
Mr Kataria said the Congress was going to the polls unitedly, whereas the BJP was plagued with factionalism between Mr Shanta Kumar and Mr P.K. Dhumal. The rift between the two groups would benefit the Congress in the elections, he claimed.
He said the BJP came to power on the plank of providing a "stable and able" government, but failed to meet its commitment.
MANDI, Sept 24 Mr Desh Raj Sharma, a former spokesman of the (HVC), who fell out with Mr Sukh Ram, today alleged that the BJP government was exercising undue pressure on the CBI as a result of which the image of the apex investigation agency was being tarnished for soft-pedalling in the cases of corruption against the HVC supremo, who is an alliance partner of the BJP in the state.
Mr Sharma a former SP, who has joined the Nationalist Congress Party of Mr Sharad Pawar and is the party observer for the Mandi and Shimla segments, told newspersons that Mr Sukh Ram uttered lies at a recent press conference that the CBI had withdrawn cases against his son, Mr Anil Sharma.
He threatened that if the CBI withdrew cases against Mr Sukh Ram, who brought global shame to the country and Himachal in particular, he would commit self-immolation.
"I have expressed
my deep apprehension to the President, in a letter
written on September 17, that Mr Sukh Ram was making
frantic efforts to get the CBI cases withdrawn through
pressure tactics and blackmailing the government,"
Congress prospects bright:
JAWALAMUKHI, Sept 24 Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has claimed that the Congress prospects in the Lok Sabha elections has brightened after Mrs Sonia campaigned for the party.
Addressing mediapersons here last night, he said the electorate was wise enough to have realised that the Congress alone could provide a stable and responsive government. However, he admitted that "there could be faults in our policies and their implementation but our intentions can not be questioned."
He said top leaders of the BJP were making conflicting and contradictory statements on vital issues to be woo voters.
In a reply to another question, he said in the state the fight was mainly between the BJP and the Congress. "No regional party is popular. Neither Mr Sukh Ram nor anyone else can change this fact," he added.
Rights violations in Tibet
KANGRA, Sept 24 The Bharat Tibet Sahyog Manch," a socio-cultural organisation aimed at creating awareness among the Indian masses regarding the Tibetan issue, has condemned the human rights violation of Tibetans.
The manch co-convener, Dr Kuldeep Chand Agnihotri and Tenzin P. Atisha, a spokesman said in a statement here today that the Tibetan religion and culture was to be protected at any cost and as such coordination between the Indian masses and the Tibetans on social, cultural, religious and political spheres was the need of the hour.
He said the manch would organise a Tibet freedom fortnight from October 7 to 20 to focus the attention of the international community on Tibetan problems.
Mahajan sues Shanta
DHARAMSALA, Sept 24 The PCC Chief and the Congress candidate from the Kangra Lok Sabha constituency, Mr Sat Mahajan, today filed a defamation case in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate against a former Chief Minister and his opponent, Mr Shanta Kumar, here today.
The defamation case has been filed against Mr Shanta Kumar, the reporter of Divya Himachal in Chamba and the printer and publisher of the newspaper. The case has been filed under Section 200 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and Sections 500, 501 and 502 of the IPC.
The case has been filed for the allegation levelled by Mr Shanta Kumar in Chamba district that Mr Mahajan had registered himself and members of his family as voters both in Pathankot and Nurpur.
Mr Sat Mahajan, in his
complaint, has taken strong exception to the publishing
of an extract of the electoral rolls of Nurpur and
Pathankot in the mentioned newspaper as an advertisement,
stating that it can damage his prospects in the
Virbhadra lambasts Dhumal
SOLAN, Sept 24 Former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh yesterday lambasted Chief Minister P.K. Dhumal for repeatedly challenging him to fix the time and place for a public debate over the issue of the role played by the Congress and BJP in the development of the state.
Mr Virbhadra who addressed the concluding public meeting of his statewide election tour here today, expressed dismay at the "immaturity shown by Prof Dhumal", adding that political debates could be held on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha, which is the right forum for such discussions.
LLB course at Dharamsala
SHIMLA, Sept 24 The Bar Council of India has provisionally allowed Himachal Pradesh University to admit 80 students in the three-year law course at the regional centre, Dharamsala.
2 killed as truck falls into nullah
MANDI, Sept 24 Two persons were killed and the conductor of a private truck was seriously injured when their truck fell into Khoti nullah near Hanogi Mata temple, about 26 km from here, on the Manali-Mandi-Chandigarh national highway, yesterday.
The truck was on its way to Chandigarh from Kulu. The deceased have been identified as Inder Singh, driver, and Ramesh Kapoor (52), Head Constable.
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