Saturday, February 5, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Congress threatens nationwide stir
Opposes basic changes in statute

HAZARIBAGH (Bihar), Feb 4 (PTI) — Congress President Sonia Gandhi today threatened that her party would launch a nationwide agitation if the ruling NDA at the Centre tried to “change the basic character of the Constitution”.“We will launch a nationwide agitation if the Centre makes any attempt to change the basic character of the Constitution,” Mrs Gandhi said questioning the rationale behind the review of the Constitution which had stood the test of time.

Addressing an election meeting here, she charged the Vajpayee government with delaying the creation of a tribal state for the Jharkhand region of Bihar and said her party would make it the main poll plank in the area.

If voted to power, the Congress would work for early creation of the Jharkhand state comprising 18 districts of tribal south Bihar, she told the gathering.

Taking a dig at the National Democratic Alliance partners, she said, “the parties which fought so bitterly over seat-sharing cannot be expected to ensure smooth governance. They would again squabble over chief ministership, if voted to power, and the state would continue to suffer.

Attacking the Vajpayee government for price rise, the Congress president predicted that prices of essential commodities would further shoot up after the next Union Budget.

Accusing the state’s RJD government of patronising criminals, she said all development activities had come to a halt ever since the Congress was voted out of power in 1990.

“You should exercise your franchise with utmost care and caution. You have to decide the fate of Bihar. I can only assure you that the future of this state will be secure only in the hands of the Congress,” she told the gathering.

RANCHI: Referring to the failure of the BJP-led coalition to clear the Bihar Reorganisation Bill for Vananchal state during the winter session of Parliament despite repeated promises, she said the saffron

party as well as its allies deserved to be exposed over the Jharkhand issue.

Meanwhile, the reported incident of two central ministers of the BJP Babulal Marandi and Syed Shahnawaz Hussain being roughed up here at airport yesterday by Youth Congress workers over the Jharkhand issue took curious turn with Mrs Gandhi.

The two ministers should not have lost their cool when Youth Congress workers protested against their visit in view of delay in creation of tribal state.

UNI: Mrs Sonia Gandhi launched her party’s election campaign in Bihar with a blistering attack on the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) for its plans to review the Constitution and the Rabri Devi regime for the “jungle raj’’ in the state.

Accusing the centre of betraying the people of Jharkhand by failing to honour its commitment on the creation of the separate state, she promised the creation of the Jharkhand state if the Congress was voted to power.

Addressing an election meeting in Hazaribagh, Mrs Gandhi questioned the rationale behind steps to review the statute book as the Constitution was framed and safeguarded by stalwarts like Dr B.R. Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru.

She described the NDA as an “anti-minority’ ‘combine and accused the ruling coalition of “enacting laws which throttled minority communities’ interests’’.

Attacking the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD)-led government, she called for uprooting the “inefficient’’ Rabri Devi regime. There was no law and order in the state where anarchy was ruling the roost and nobody was safe, she alleged.

Launching a broadside against the Centre on the Jharkhand issue, she asked the electorate to “teach a lesson to those who play with popular sentiments’’.

She appeared to be unfazed by protests at the airport by a section of the partymen who had been denied ticket to contest the Assembly elections.

There was complete chaos at the airport, with even Congress leaders not sure as to who among them would be allowed inside.

The media was kept waiting by the Congress leaders, who had invited them for a press meet at the airport.

Even after the Special Protection Group (SPG) cleared the entry of mediapersons inside the Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) hangar, where Mrs Gandhi’s aircraft was to land, the journalists were stopped by the police. This led to a heated exchange and a near scuffle in which a few newspersons were manhandled by the police.

A few journalists, including a UNI correspondent, were injured. However, senior Congress leader Subodh Kant Sahay’s intervention defused the tension and the press went in to meet the AICC chief.

The Congress workers, who were denied entry, sat on dharna raising slogans criticising the state leadership. Slogans like “Karyakatawo Ka Apman Bandh Karo “(stop humiliating the party workees) and “Patna ke neta hosh main aao “(leaders of Patna behave properly) continued to rent the air even after Mrs Gandhi took off for Hazaribagh for campaign.Back


CID to probe girls’ burning

CHENNAI, Feb 4 (PTI, UNI) — Educational institutions in Tamil Nadu remained closed today as students mourned the deaths of three women students who were burnt alive by suspected AIADMK supporters at Dharmapuri on February 2, in protest against their leader Ms Jayalalitha’s conviction in a corruption case.

Student outfits took out silent processions at various places. Condolence meetings and condemnatory demonstrations were also held, as the gruesome incident, which took place when the Coimbatore Agriculture University’s bus carrying only girl students was waylaid and torched, dominated public attention for the second consecutive running.

A Coimbatore report said some tension was felt in the university campus, with students demanding that the Chief Minister, Mr M. Karunanidhi, visit Coimbatore and listen to their grievances against the authorities, who had failed to save their fellow students’ lives.

The university students warned of a state-wide agitation in tandem with student outfits elsewhere in the state, if the Chief Minister did not meet them and render justice. Talks were on involving the District Collector, Coimbatore police chief and university Vice-Chancellor to mollify the students.

However, no untoward incident was reported from anywhere in the state, the police headquarters said.

Talking to reporters, Mr Karunanidhi ridiculed the AIADMK’s charge that the ruling DMK could have been behind the burning incident.

Blaming others for the crime was more horrendous than the crime itself, he said.

The state government transferred the investigation in the case to the CB-CID, thereby rejecting the AIADMK’s demand for a CBI probe into the triple murder.

Meanwhile, the police said D.K. Rajendran, AIADMK’s Dharmapuri unit secretary, and another party man, A. Muthu, whose names figure in the FIR, surrendered in a judicial magistrate’s court at Salem. Five AIADMK supporters have already been arrested in the case.

The state government, which has announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh each to the families of the victims — Gayatri, Kokilavani and Hemalatha - today said it would undertake the educational expenses of their brothers or sisters, if any.

Alternatively, if any of them wanted a government job on compassionate grounds, it would be granted immediately, an official release said.

About 30 AIADMK volunteers were arrested when they squatted on the road and tried to block traffic near the central railway station this morning in protest against the conviction of Ms Jayalalitha in a corruption case.

Meanwhile, Ms Jayalalitha today announced a solatium of Rs 50,000 to the family of a party worker who immolated himself in a village near Villupuram yesterday following her conviction.

In a related development, a waist-band studded with hundreds of precious stones and valued at nearly Rs 47 lakh was the cynosure of all eyes in a special court today where the marathon exercise of identifying items of jewellery seized from the residence of Ms Jayalalitha in December, 1996, is going on.

A report from Coimbatore said Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) students, who had travelled in the ill-fated bus which was torched, charring three girls to death, today alleged that three miscreants had set fire to it.

Narrating the sequence of events to mediapersons at the university campus here, they said the miscreants, who came in a two-wheeler poured petrol on the bus and set it ablaze, not heeding the plea of the driver to spare the lives of the girls.

They further alleged that the boys in another bus, while rescuing the girls, attempted to stop a police jeep which came that way. But, it sped away without stopping, they added.Back

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 |