Saturday, January 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
image
N A T I O N
India passes Y2K hurdle
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — India tonight rolled over to the new millennium without any Y2K hitch as major sectors like power, including nuclear, space, ports, banking aviation and telecom reported smooth switch over to New Year shortly after midnight.

The best and worst to fore
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times’’. So were the immortal lines of Charles Dickens which seemed to sum up the mood of the nation tonight.
Bharatnatyam dancer Geeta Chandran
Bharatnatyam dancer Geeta Chandran
lighting lamps to welcome the
new millennium in the
traditional Indian way.— PTI


EARLIER STORIES


 

Tourists throng Katchal
KATCHAL ISLAND, Dec 31 — Hundreds of tourists and hordes of journalists have descended on this tiny Indian Ocean island to witness the first sun rays of the new millennium tomorrow.

Hijacking major success for ISI
NEW DELHI, Dec 31— The hijacking of the Indian Airlines Airbus IC- 814 is being seen as a major success for the Inter Service Intelligence and demonstrates the stranglehold the Pakistani agency has on the militancy in Kashmir.

Azhar, Zargar dreaded ultras
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — Maulana Masood Azhar and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, two of the three dreaded terrorists who were taken to Kandahar as part of deal with the hijackers of the Indian Airlines Airbus, were the two topmost leaders of the terrorist movement in Jammu and Kashmir before they were arrested.

Jaswant’s Singapore visit postponed
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh schedule two-day visit to Singapore from January 3 has been postponed, an official statement said here today.

Revellers take to streets
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — The millennium spirit soared to new heights tonight after the end of the week-long hijack crisis as revellers took to the streets in the Capital in riotous joy to ring in year 2000.

Manisana interim award notified
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — The government today notified the interim wage awards for journalists and non-journalists, providing for a 20 to 42.5 per cent increase in wages besides introduction of new medical and education allowance and Leave Travelling Allowance.

Coldest day in Delhi
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — The Capital today experienced the coldest day of the season so far with early morning temperature dipping to 3.4C, the Met Office said.

Delay in settling claim ‘deficiency in service’
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — In a significant judgement, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ruled that an "inordinate delay" by an insurance company in settling a claim will amount to "deficiency in service" under The Consumer Disputes Act, entitling the claimant to the necessary relief.

Retd Maj-Gen arrested
NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — The Delhi Police has arrested a retired Major General (Artillery) on charges of running a placement racket in Rajouri Garden in South - West Delhi.

Top




 

India passes Y2K hurdle

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — India tonight rolled over to the new millennium without any Y2K hitch as major sectors like power, including nuclear, space, ports, banking aviation and telecom reported smooth switch over to New Year shortly after midnight.

The magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) cheque processing system with the Reserve Bank of India at its offices in all metros have rolled over to the year 2000, without any disruption, the RBI said in a statement in Mumbai.

Initial reports in Delhi from civil aviation, railways, telecom ports, petroleum and natural gas and space centres said that the roll over had been smooth and there was no indication of any hiccups.

A small industries development bank official said, "Everything is well and our computers were switched on again and there was no problem."

"We shall do the tests again and monitor them to be doubly sure and I do not anticipate any problem," he added.

India’s national news agency, PTI too did not face Y2K bug and all computer systems worked well.

An NTPC press note said tonight that the public sector major had beaten the Y2K bug and its plants recorded the highest generation since its inception.

Non of the 20 stations being operated by NTPC totalling over 19100 MW capacity did face any Y2K what so ever, it added.

WASHINGTON (AFP): The year 2000 computer problem has spared some 20 countries in the Asia Pacific region and the first nuclear power plants to enter the New Year in Russia, officials announced today.

"About 20 countries having rolled over, we have no reports of any serious incidents in any critical infrastructures," said Mr Bruce McConnell, Director of the International Y2K Cooperation Centre, here.

New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, The Philippines and Australia reported "no serious outages or incidents," he said.

"The first nuclear power plants in Russia went through the day change successfully," Mr McConnell said.

"Obviously we will continue to monitor the situation ... But that is a very encouraging sign."

The good news and caution were echoed by the White House.

"Throughout the Asia Pacific region, there are basically no significant problems in the national infrastructures systems in the countries that have already moved in the year 2000," said Mr John Koskinen, Chairman of President Bill Clinton’s Council for the Year 2000 Conversion.

"It is good news because there were some concerns that we had missed some issues even in developed countries," he said.

"I think that the fact that Australia and New Zealand seem to be having a wonderful celebration is a good sign for how things are going to go for the rest of the day, at least for the developed countries," Mr Koskinen said.

He added, however, that problems could still surface within two or three days.

Top

 

The best and worst to fore
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times’’. So were the immortal lines of Charles Dickens which seemed to sum up the mood of the nation tonight.

The end of the eight-day hijack crisis with the safe arrival of the passengers was indeed the best of times, while the price of three hardcore militants in exchange reflected the worst of times, maybe.

While everyone welcomed the safe return of the hijacked passengers and the crew of Indian Airlines tonight, most were sullen over the barter.

"We would have preferred to die for the sake of the country,’’ Mr Krishan Anand Bhatt, known as the Rajguru of the Nepal royal family, summed up as he reached Delhi aboard the special plane.

Mr Bhatt was quoted as saying that it was wrong of the government to have succumbed to the pressure of the five hijackers, an opinion not shared by the Prime Minister and the Union Cabinet.

This was not to say that the passengers on board the ill-fated plane were not under pressure. According to Mr Ashok Chawla, the hijackers tormented the hostages

"Every half an hour they would say that our government is not concerned about us and it is not doing anything for us’’ he said.

Many passengers were in no shape to comment on their ordeal. Most of them broke down as they stepped on the Indian soil and met their relatives.

After all, those who were left behind had shared their agony resorting to every possible means — from pressure to prayer.

While welcoming the safe return of the passengers, the Congress said the government action of exchange of militants would have a far-reaching repurcussion.

The Bahujan Samaj Party charged that the government had failed in its handling of the hijack crisis and the nation paid a price once again after the Kargil war.

Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet tonight approved the move, with the government stating that there was no hidden deal with the hijackers.

The Parliamentary Affairs Minister, Mr Pramod Mahajan, said there was hard bargaining between the Indian negotiating team and the hijackers.

They first agreed to let go 70 passengers including women children, old and sick hostages in exchange of Masood Azhar. Ultimately they agreed to let go all in lieu of two more militants of their choice.

Top

 

Tourists throng Katchal

KATCHAL ISLAND, Dec 31 (PTI) — Hundreds of tourists and hordes of journalists have descended on this tiny Indian Ocean island to witness the first sun rays of the new millennium tomorrow.

There is palpable enthusiasm among the people here to watch the sun kiss the palm-fringed emerald island at 4.45 a.m., though the event has been overshadowed by the hijacking of the Indian Airlines Airbus.

While all cultural programmes, including a dance recital by Madhavi Mudgal, have been postponed due to the state-mourning announced following the death of former President Shanker Dayal Sharma, a commemorative stamp and a medallion will be released on the occasion.

Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Ishwari Prasad Gupta will also lay the foundation stone of a Surya Sthamb (Sun Pillar) to mark the event.

Doordarshan will be telecasting the event live from Katchal.

Union Tourism Minister Uma Bharati, Law Minister Ram Jethmalani and Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley, who were scheduled to participate in the millennium celebrations, have cancelled their visits following the hijack crisis.

Only a handful of foreign tourists have arrived here. Foreign cruise liners have also not turned up.

According to Sharat Chauhan, the island’s Tourism Director, the low tourist turnout was due to conflicting claims about the exact location of the first sunrise as also the controversy whether 2000 AD or 2001 AD would be the first year of the new millennium.

However, Lt Governor Gupta said the administration would promote the "Millennium Sunrise" on a larger scale next year.

The 174 sq km island, with a population of about 9,000, including Sri Lankan refugees, came into limelight following an announcement by the Royal Greenwich Observatory (UK) that the island was going to receive the first sunrays of the new millennium.

Katchal, known locally as Tihayu, is a tiny island in the central groups of Nicobar Islands. It is on the way to Lampbell bay and is about 230 nautical miles from the union territory’s Capital, Port Blair.Top

 

Hijacking major success for ISI
From Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 31— The hijacking of the Indian Airlines Airbus IC- 814 is being seen as a major success for the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and demonstrates the stranglehold the Pakistani agency has on the militancy in Kashmir.

While the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has benefited most from the crisis arising out of the seven-day long hijack drama, Pakistan’s gain has been no less. The neighbouring Islamic nation has proved to the world that it continues to call the shots in Kashmir.

The release of two dreaded terrorists, namely Kashmiri youth, Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar and a British national, Ahmed Umar Saeed Sheikh, was the main objective of the hijackers and Mohammed Masood Azhar was included to create an ideological facade to the entire exercise, informed sources said.

Pakistan, after the Kargil fiasco, was looking for an opportunity to turn the tables on India and that is why the ISI was asked to prepare the hijacking plan, informed sources said, adding that underworld was used to execute the plan.

Had the hijackers only demanded the release of dreaded terrorists then it would have been difficult to defend the demand on ideological grounds. This is why the name of Mohammad Masood Azhar was mentioned prominently, sources said.

As if such clarifications were not enough, Pakistan Television reportedly ran panel discussions to prove that India was trying to malign Pakistan and isolating it in the international community. During the discussions, it also raised a finger accusing India of having stage-managed the hijacking to discredit Nepal in the international arena for its lax security arrangements.Top

 

Azhar, Zargar dreaded ultras

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (UNI) — Maulana Masood Azhar and Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar, two of the three dreaded terrorists who were taken to Kandahar as part of deal with the hijackers of the Indian Airlines Airbus, were the two topmost leaders of the terrorist movement in Jammu and Kashmir before they were arrested.

The two were earlier flown here from Jammu and Srinagar jails, respectively, where they had been lodged after their arrest in 1994 and 1993.

Thirtythree-year-old Zargar, better known as Mushtaq Latram, is the founder-chief of the now defunct Al Umar outfit. He was instrumental in giving a boost to terrorist violence in the Kashmir valley before being arrested in 1993 from downtown Srinagar after a specific tip off.

He is known for his ruthlessness and used to tie handgrenades on the bodies of his victims and explode them. One of the five founders of the terrorist movement in Kashmir along with JKLF leaders Yasin Malik, Javed Mir and others, he later parted ways and formed his own group.

He was involved in scores of killings, including that of two BSF personnel, and kidnappings and was lodged in Srinagar jail after his arrest. He remained there since then before he was taken to Jammu today for being flown to Kandahar.

Azhar, a Muslim cleric, was a religious preacher in an Islamic institution in Karachi before he entered India illegally for taking part in militancy.

Azhar, a soft spoken man but a fiery orator, belongs to a rich farmer’s family of Karachi. He was arrested in 1994 along with Sajjad Afghani at Khannabal in Anantnag district in South Kashmir.

Azhar was a fund raiser for Harkat-ul-Ansar and an ideologue and had travelled to about 12 countries before he was arrested. He had entered India on a Portuguese passport.

A third terrorist, Ahmad Omar Syed Sheikh, who was also taken to Kandahar along with Azhar and Zargar, was lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. He was arrested in October 1994 following a raid conducted in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, to rescue three foreigners who had been kidnapped.

Sheikh, a low profile ultra, was born in Pakistan but holds a British passport.Top

 

Manisana interim award notified

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — The government today notified the interim wage awards for journalists and non-journalists, providing for a 20 to 42.5 per cent increase in wages besides introduction of new medical and education allowance and Leave Travelling Allowance (LTA).

The gazette notification follows the interim report submitted by the Justice R.K. Manisana Singh Wage Board for journalists and non-journalists in newspapers and news agency establishments to the Labour Minister S.N. Jatiya last week.

Official sources said parties concerned could give their comments within six weeks for finalisation of the wage awards, which have classified newspapers in 10 categories with news agencies in four on the basis of gross revenue.

Establishments with over Rs 600 crore average revenue in three financial years ending 1997-98 would be put in the top category of newspaper with a 42.5 per cent increase in basic salary over and above the 20 per cent interim relief announced by the wage boards from 1995.

This is followed by 35 per cent increase in the next two categories, 30 per cent increase in the next six classes of newspapers and 20 per cent hike in the last two groups.

The wage board also brought the news agencies with over Rs 30 crore of average revenue in the given period at par with the topmost class of newspapers by recommending identical pay scales.

As per the tentative proposals, foreign news agencies operating in India would be treated in the top class of news agencies.

The tentative proposals provide for 100 per cent neutralisation as dearness allowance for basic salary upto Rs 4,500, with 45 per cent in case of salary above Rs 12,000.

Recommending implementation of new wage awards for the top five class of newspapers and all agencies from April 1998 and the rest from June 1999, the Wage boards suggested new DA on the basis of consumer price index for the last quarter of 1997.Top

 

Revellers take to streets

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — The millennium spirit soared to new heights tonight after the end of the week-long hijack crisis as revellers took to the streets in the Capital in riotous joy to ring in year 2000.

The freeing of the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane after an eight-day ordeal helped remove qualms among many, who may have had uneasy conscience about celebrations under such circumstances.

The Capital wore a festive look under brilliantly illuminated markets which buzzed with revellers singing, dancing and bursting crackers to herald the new millennium.

The centre of attraction was the India Gate lawns and the famous Connaught Place, where hundreds of thousands of people danced in an open ball heartily drank and ate delicacies sold in the artfully decorated stalls.Top

 

Top 10 events of 1999

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (PTI) — The following are the top 10 national events of 1999.

1) India vacates intrusions in Kargil (July 12)

2) Super cyclone in Orissa kills over 10,000 (Oct 29)

3) IA plane hijacked by Islamic militants (Dec 24)

4) NDA gains comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha poll (Oct 7)

5) India shoots down Pakistani surveillance plane (Aug 10)

6) Vajpayee govt falls by one-vote (April 17)

7) Australian missionary Graham Steins burnt to Death (Jan 23)

8) India-Pak Lahore declaration on resolving issues (Feb 20)

9) Central rule in Bihar revoked (March 8)

10) 288 killed in Ghaisal rail train disaster (Aug 2)Top

 

Coldest day in Delhi
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — The Capital today experienced the coldest day of the season so far with early morning temperature dipping to 3.4C, the Met Office said.

Metereological Department Director S.C. Gupta said "in the last 10 years, it is the second time that the temperature has dipped so much. Earlier, it was on December 11 in 1996, when the temperature was recorded at 2.3C."

Air traffic was affected due to a thick blanket of fog hovering around the Indira Gandhi International Airport leading to suspension of flight services for over nine hours.

Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the two airports this morning as no flight could take off till 10.35 a.m., airport sources said, adding today was the fourth day when the flight services were hit due to thick fog.

Several airlines either rescheduled, diverted or cancelled their morning flights, the airport sources said.Top

 

Jaswant’s Singapore visit postponed
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh schedule two-day visit to Singapore from January 3 has been postponed, an official statement said here today.

The decision to postpone the visit was taken after a telephonic talk between Mr Jaswant Singh and the Singapore Foreign Minister, Mr S. Jayakumar. Mr Singh spoke to Mr Jayakumar on Thursday.Top

 

Delay in settling claim ‘deficiency in service’

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 (UNI) — In a significant judgement, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ruled that an "inordinate delay" by an insurance company in settling a claim will amount to "deficiency in service" under The Consumer Disputes Act, entitling the claimant to the necessary relief.

The ruling was handed down by a three-member bench of the commission, headed by Mr Justice S.C. Sen, while dismissing a revision petition by the New India Assurance Co. Ltd.

The other members on the Bench were Mr S.P. Bagla and Mr C.L. Chaudhry.

The revision petition by the insurance company was directed against a judgement of the Maharashtra State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, upholding an order of the Amravati District Consumer Forum, directing the insurance company to pay a compensation of Rs 82,000 to M/s D.B. Kolhatkar Travelling Service for the "inordinate delay" in settlling its claim in respect of an insured vehicle, which met with an accident on October 5, 1990.Top

 

Retd Maj-Gen arrested
From Our Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Dec 31 — The Delhi Police has arrested a retired Major General (Artillery) on charges of running a placement racket in Rajouri Garden in South - West Delhi.

The suspect, Trilok Singh, was allegedly running a placement office in the name of M/S Gemini Veterans Global Placements at Shivaji Enclave in Rajouri Garden.

He had allegedly sent nine ex - servicemen to Hong Kong in October for getting them job after having charged Rs 1.5 lakh for each. When they reached Hong Kong there was no job for them. Top

 

NRI doctor duped
From Our Correspondent

NOIDA, Dec 31 — A Chennai-based finance company has reportedly duped a Punjabi NRI doctor, Dr Purshotam Lal, of Metro Hospitals, to a tune of Rs 1 crore.

The Chennai-based company M/s Maha Krishna Financial Services Ltd had floated various schemes with attractive returns. Dr Lal, in various instalments deposited money to the tune of Rs 1 crore but it was only when he tried to get back his money, he realised that all his money had gone down the drain. Top

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
|
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
|
119 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |