|Monday, April 3, 2000,
seeks 700 cr as drought relief
Terror reigns in Bihar
Subrahmanyam foresees Kargil-type
Rape victim sans injury not proof
of consent: SC
"No secret agenda behind
SAD flayed for remark on Article
Clintons IT adviser defends
5 dacoits lynched
Gehlot seeks 700 cr as drought relief
NEW DELHI, April 2 (UNI) Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot called on Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee here last evening and sought Rs 700 crore as central assistance to face the drought situation in the state.
During the 30 minute talks with the Prime Minister, Mr Gehlot pointed out that 24,406 villages in 26 districts of the state were in the grip of a severe drought for the second consecutive year. More than 25 million people and 35 million animals had been affected.
Later talking to newspersons, Mr Gehlot said he had impressed upon the Prime Minister that the central assistance of Rs 102.93 crore from the natural calamity relief fund was too meagre to face the problem. While demanding immediate release of Rs 102.93 crore to the state, he said the drought situation would further aggravate in the coming summer months. There would be acute shortage of water and fodder.
Mr Gehlot also demanded that the Centre increase assistance for the medical treatment of the people living below the poverty line. The Centre was giving 50 per cent of the allocation made by the state government in its budget for the purpose. Mr Gehlot informed the Prime Minister that the state government had made provision of Rs 10 crore in this regard and urged the Centre to double its limit of assistance from the existing Rs 5 crore.
Similarly, he wanted that the amount of money given particularly for treatment from the Prime Ministers fund should be enhanced and the amount released at the earliest.
The Chief Minister also impressed upon Mr Vajpayee that a branch of the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) should be set up in Jaipur as in Hyderabad, Gwalior and Allahabad. He said the state government was ready to provide free land and Rs 10 crore for setting up of this institute.
Mr Ashok Gehlot dismissed any threat to the leadership of Sonia Gandhi in the wake of successive poll setbacks and ruled out suggestions for making applicable "one-person one-post" norm to the Congress President, a PTI report said.
He said senior party
leaders, including CWC members, and party Chief Ministers
made a "major mistake" in the last Lok Sabha
elections by failing to project Ms Sonia Gandhi as the
partys prime ministerial candidate. "If we had
done it, we would have certainly emerged at least as the
single largest party in the Lok Sabha".
Terror reigns in Bihar
PATNA, April 2 (UNI) Extremism in Bihar has assumed dangerous proportions, with people of the southern and central parts of the state now living in terror of loot, extortions, killings and even massacre, besides the possibility of their houses being burned, a report published by the Bihar Legislative Council says.
The government and its administrative machinery, including the police, have not only failed to tackle the problem but what is more unfortunate is the dangerous liaisons between the extremist outfits and some of the political elements, indicating the murky nature of the situation, it says.
According to Mr Umeshwar Prasad Verma, a former Chairman of the Bihar Legislative Council and now a Congress MLC, the common people in the extremist-hit areas have become practically "sandwiched between the extremist groups and the government agencies and the local people are made to feel that the administration is not serious about the problem leading to the people loosing faith in the ability of the government agencies to protect them from the extremists.
He maintained that the states civil and police administration would not be able to deal with the challenging task for various reasons, including what he called a lack of political will and the state governments determination to deal with the menace effectively.
He claimed that a few political parties, particularly some leaders, tried to use the extremist outfits even in the last Assembly elections which, he said, was a dangerous concept taking shape in the state.
Mr Verma has suggested setting up of a judicial commission to probe into various facets of the extremist-related problems, including the alleged nexus between various agencies and political parties with the extremist groups in the state.
The senior congress leader said the commission should probe the sources of arms and ammunition of the extremist outfits, their sources of funds and the usefulness of the huge government funds spent on the task forces deployed in the affected regions. He said the judicial commission should inquire if in any manner governments funds were reaching the extremist outfits.
In his eight-point suggestions to deal with the extremist problems in the state, he said the government, political parties, police administration, besides the voluntary and social organisations, had to be involved in different activities to ensure a speedy development in the region.
Lack of political will and firm determination on the part of the government has made the situation worse while political affiliation of the extremist groups and absence of genuine anxiety towards the problem among the political parties, without any agenda in their political programme to deal with the problem, had only added to the crisis.
Mr Verma said a positive approach should be followed to face the challenge of the day in the state through concrete steps, "rising above party and political considerations. He felt that the narrow aim to secure votes should also be shunned for a larger socio-economic development of the state.
A political solution of
the problem was the need of the hour, he said and felt
that it was not really a "police" problem. The
voluntary and social organisations, he said, should be
encouraged to launch an effective campaign against
extremism and the government agencies must work in close
coordination and move honestly for ensuring a balanced
development in the region.
Subrahmanyam foresees Kargil-type repeat
NEW DELHI, April 2 (PTI) India needs to be prepared for another "Kargil-type" misadventure by Pakistan and take steps to contain infiltration along the borders by installing sophisticated vigilance and surveillance equipment, noted Defence analyst K. Subrahmanyam said today.
"It (the misadventure) may not happen in Kargil, but given the political circumstances in Pakistan, General Pervez Musharraf may spring up another Kargil-type surprise for the country," Mr Subrahmanyam said here.
With Gen Musharraf having failed to make any breakthrough in cleansing Pakistani administration and containing corruption, he would concentrate on his third vaunted objective which was to "settle" Kashmir, he said.
The last few months have seen increased infiltration attempts in the valley, especially in the Jammu region, and the nation has to be prepared for Pakistans bid to aggravate the proxy war it has been waging for the past 10 years.
India has to guard against not just infiltration of mercenaries and terrorists, but also of drugs, small arms and fake currency, Mr Subrahmanyam said, adding a greater challenge was to identify and liquidate elements inside the country which support Pakistans Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in carrying out its subversive activities in the country.
"We have a highly porous border and there are people in the country who benefit by these smuggling activities," he said at a talk on Indias security organised by the RSS.
Pakistan embarked on the Kargil incursion assuming that Indian army would not be able to sustain a military campaign for long and international intervention would enable it to keep the territory it had already occupied.
"But none of that happened and India should now be more pragmatic about its relations with the USA and China and use the latest American overtures to her advantage", he said.
He said the politician bureaucrat-organised crime nexus operating in the country is the greatest challenge facing the nation and "even as we strengthen the armed forces this internal political problem will have to be addressed".
The command structure of armed forces and intelligence systems bequeathed to the country from the British would have to be revamped and greater coordination established between the government and Army, Mr Subrahmanyam said.
Rape victim sans injury not proof of consent: SC
NEW DELHI, April 2 (PTI) The Supreme Court has ruled that the absence of injuries on the body of a rape victim is not necessarily an evidence of consent or of falsity of the allegation.
Setting aside a Rajasthan High Court judgement acquitting a rape accused on the ground that the absence of injuries on the victim was a material fact not excluding the possibility of her having been a consenting party, the apex court said "the high court has committed a clean error of law".
"Courts have to display a greater sense of responsibility and be more sensitive while dealing with charges of sexual assault on women", A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice R.C. Lahoti and Mr Justice S.N. Variava said in its judgement.
The Rajasthan Government had appealed against the high court order reversing a sessions court judgement which had sentenced a man to seven years rigorous imprisonment and fined him Rs 2,000 holding him guilty of raping a minor.
The sessions court had relied on the testimony of the 15-year old victim and her father and it was corroborated by medical evidence that the accused had sexual intercourse with the victim by force.
But the high court had also said the lodging of an FIR was delayed and the person to whom the woman narrated her story was not examined by the prosecution.
"An unmerited acquittal encourages wolves in the society being on prowl for easy preys, more so when the victims of crime are helpless females.
It is the spurt in the number of unmerited acquittals recorded by criminal courts which gives rise to the demand for death sentence to rapists, the Bench said in the judgement.
The Bench said, "If the prosecution has succeeded in making out a convincing case for recording a finding as to the accused being guilty, the court should not lean in favour of the acquittal by giving weight to irrelevant or insignificant circumstances".
It further said the delay in the registration of the case had been satisfactorily explained and a "mere delay in lodging of the FIR was no ground by itself for throwing the entire prosecution case overboard."
"No secret agenda behind statute review"
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, April 2 (PTI) Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani today said there was no hidden agenda behind the setting up of the Constitution Review Commission and dismissed allegations in this regard as "nonsense".
"How can there be a secret agenda when the panel is packed with all shades of people, including bitter critics of the BJP like C.R. Irani?" Mr Jethmalani said at a seminar here.
Mr C.R. Irani, Editor-in-Chief of the Statesman, is a member of the Constitution Review Commission.
All amendments to the Constitution precede a review, the minister told the seminar "Is overhauling the Indian Constitution inevitable?"
"How can anyone amend without reviewing. I am not prepared to amend without a review."
The Santhanam Committee, set up during 1966-70 on administrative reforms, and the Sarkaria Commission on Centre-State Relations did reviews of the Constitution and submitted reports, he said.
Why a hue and cry, not heard then, being raised now? Mr Jethmalani asked.
Taking exception to "quibbling" by detractors of the government that it may "amend by all means but not review" the Constitution. He said the criticism showed the "political dishonesty" of those opposing the panel.
The purpose behind the whole exercise was self-education and the government wanted to educate itself on how the Constitution had performed during the last 50 years, he said.
Having a dig at eminent jurist Fali S. Nariman for taking exception to the way the Review Panel was set up, Mr Jethmalani said Mr Nariman was the latest who had joined the rank of detractors.
He said even the Sarkaria Commission was set up by the government without going to Parliament to seek its opinion.
Mr Narimans opposition to the expression "one nation, one people and one culture as the ideal of BJP" was "ridiculous", he said and asked, "are we not one nation, one people and one culture?"
Mr Jethmalani decried people opposing Hindutva and said the Constitution was based on Hindutva.
Hindutva was fundamental, not repugnant to law and held the basic idea that "Ram and Rahim are one", he said.
He said in the terms of reference of the Review Panel, it was clearly stated that its purpose was only to review and not rewrite the Constitution.
The panel would look into nine major areas where review had to be done, including strengthening of the institutions of parliamentary democracy, removal of poverty, promoting literacy, decentralisation and devolution of powers, Fundamental Rights with stress on freedom of information and setting up of a judicial commission, he said.
It was obvious from "strengthening of institutions of parliamentary democracy" that government did not want to change the present system, he maintained.
UNI: "Do you think we could implement our secret agenda after bribing all eminent jurists in the committee and also all the members of Parliament?" Mr Jethmalani remanded.
Delivering the keynote address at a seminar on Constitutional Review organised by the All-India Lawyers Union (AILU) and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) on the occasion of the sixth all India conference of the DYFI here, he said, "We are in the process of self education. Only through studying the lapses in the past can we improve future functioning. Ultimately, the report will have to go to Parliament and it will be passed only if two-thirds of the members support it. In this circumstance, there is no need for making a hue and cry about the issue."
Those opposing the committee did not understand the real meaning of the word "review", which was very different from "rewrite", he said. When late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi appointed the Sarkaria Commission to review the Centre-state Relations, no political party had opposed it.
Inaugurating the seminar organised by The All-India Lawyers Union (AILU), Kerala Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar said he was not opposed to amending the Constitution, provided its basic features were preserved.
Mr Nayanar, however, charged that the BJP and its supporters had a "hidden agenda" to change some "inconvenient", basic features in the Constitution. He said he apprehended the "axe would fall on secularism, socialism and parliamentary democracy".
West Bengal speaker and AILU president H.A. Halim said it was not a question of whether the Constitution should be amended, but of who was coming forward to do it.
The whole exercise was "illegitimate," he alleged and added the time had come for making a peoples movement to oppose the panel.
Former Union Minister and MP, Jaipal Reddy, said the review of the Constitution was "malafide and unwarranted". The ideological track record of those working behind it called for apprehension, he said.
Mr Reddy said the Constitution was a "historical document which promised the people an egalitarian, pluralistic and libertarian ideal. It is a harmonious blend of Left idealism and earthy pragmatism".
Eminent jurist V.R. Krishna Iyer, who has been invited to head the Review Commissions subcommittee on enlargement of Fundamental Rights, said he failed to understand the need for a review of the Constitution "now".
SAD flayed for remark on Article 370
NEW DELHI, April 2 (UNI) The All India Guru Singh Sabha today condemned the ruling SAD for its demand for abrogation of Article 370 giving the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and said it was a clear attempt to pit two minorities the Sikhs and the Muslims against each other.
The Sabha president, Mr Kuldip Singh said here that unequivocal support of the SAD, led by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to its ally BJPs long standing demand for abolition of Article 370 apparently smacked of crash political opportunism which was fraught with serious consequences for the Sikh community.
Last week at a condolence meeting at Bangla Sahib Gurdwara here, the SAD general secretary, Mr Onkar Singh Thapar, moved a resolution in favour of abolition of Article 370 which was seconded by the Delhi unit President, Mr Avtar Singh Hit.
The Singh Sabha leader
said the way Mr Badal and his loyalists were becoming
"yesmen" of the BJP, the days were not far when
Sikhs would not only lose their separate identity but
would also be reduced to a "kesadhari" section
of pan-Hindu society.
HC seeks list of juvenile homes
NEW DELHI April 2 (PTI) Taking serious note of some NGOs running children homes without licence in the Capital, the Delhi High Court has asked the city government to submit before it a list of such homes for delinquents.
The directive was issued by a Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Devinder Gupta and Justice Cyriac Joseph last week after former Juvenile Welfare Boards (JWB) Chairman B.S Gahlaut stated that several NGOs were running children homes without licences.
The Social Welfare Department of the Delhi Government had submitted a list of 40 NGOs which were given permission by it to run the children homes.
Mr Gahlaut, who has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking protection for the children from falling prey to elements involved in flesh trade and other anti-social activities, said NGOs having no licence, were keeping the children in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA).
The act provides that every child recovered either by the police or any other agency, should first be produced before JWB.
The court also directed
the Centre, Delhi Government, city police and various
NGOs to file replies by July 17, while giving liberty to
Mr Gahlaut to implicate any NGO, who in his knowledge was
running a home without licence
Clintons IT adviser defends joint venture
NEW DELHI April 2 (PTI) US President Bill Clintons information technology adviser and the brain behind the Rs 1,000-crore high-speed data network project, Mr Raj Reddy, today offered to talk to the RSS and others, who have demanded the scrapping of the controversial Indo-US venture which had been approved by the Union Cabinet.
Terming criticism of the "sankhya vahini" (data carrier) project as "unfortunate", the US-based NRI said he was willing to talk to anyone on the merits of the project.
Dr Reddy was responding to the demands by the RSS ideologue Dattopant Thengadi that the project had serious implications for national security as it would open up the "floodgates of espionage".
Seeking to allay the apprehension, Mr Reddy said its objective was to increase data communication efficiency of Indian educational institutes. "I am ready to clarify any point of concern to anybody", he said.
"Sankhya vahini" is a joint venture between the IUNet of American Carnegie Mellon University and the Department of Telecom Services for setting up highspeed data network in India.
He said the Ministry of Information Technology which should be pushing a project of this kind seemed misinformed, despite the fact that its Department of Electronics (DoE) was an equity partner in the project.
He refuted reports that the project was being implemented with undue haste and said paperwork on the project had been going on for the past two years.
Mr Reddy, who was here to discuss the progress of the project with officials of the DTs, said he would be writing to Information Technology Minister Pramod Mahajan soon as he could not meet him here since he was away in Singapore.
He termed as "patently wrong" reports appearing in the media such as IUNet was about to acquire 3000 acres near the capital for the project.
Sankhya Vahini, he said, would take the ownership of a pair of existing fibre optic lines of the DTS and have the charter to upgrade it and become Indias first private sector provider of high bandwidth.
SC order: DTC adds 700 buses
NEW DELHI, April 2 (PTI) The Delhi Government today pressed into service nearly 700 buses plying on inter-state routes to reinforce its fleet weakened by the withdrawal of eight-year-old buses on environmental grounds following the Supreme Courts order.
"There is no need for any panic as we have taken adequate measures to cope up with the situation arising out of the Supreme Court order," The Delhi Transport Minister, Mr Pervez Hashmi, said here.
Jharkhand or Vananchal?
RANCHI, April 2 (PTI) Political parties in Bihar are divided on whether to name the proposed new state Jharkhand or Vananchal even as the Bihar Reorganisation Bill is yet to finalise a name.
Vice-president of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (Munda), Suraj Mandal says only Jharkhand as a name is acceptable to his party as it is a historical name mentioned in ancient literature.
JMM-S president Shibu Soren stated that the name was not important for the party as long as there was no delay in the creation of the new state.
5 dacoits lynched
BARASAT (West Bengal), April 2 (PTI) Five dacoits were lynched to death by local people at Kaikhali under airport police station here last night, the police said today.
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