|Sunday, April 16, 2000,
Cook arrives in Delhi for talks
NDA flays MLAs killing in
Fatwa has ceased, says Rushdie
visit to France from today
Expulsions: uneasy time for Jaya
Envoy pleads mercy for Purulia
TN nurse among 8 Time
JD groups to discuss merger
Release of Dr Ambedkar
6 PWG men killed in AP
Landmines found in riot-hit area
Tribesmen hold imli yatra
Cook arrives in Delhi for talks
NEW DELHI, April 15 (PTI) British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who arrived here today, will prepare the ground for defreezing of Indo-UK defence ties hit after the Pokhran nuclear tests besides strengthening cooperation to combat cross-border terrorism and funding of militants.
Mr Cook, who begins official talks with his Indian counterpart External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh on Monday, is expected to pave the way for resumption of Indo-UK defence consultative group meeting later this year in New Delhi, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said.
The fifth meeting of the group which has three sub-groups is likely to focus on armament purchases, military cooperation and strategic dialogue.
The meeting may be followed by visits of Chiefs of Army and Naval staff, which were called off after Indias nuclear tests in May 1998. The spokesman said the British Government had extended a fresh invitation to them.
He said India and Britain had a very close understanding on the issue of attitude to terrorism and support for democratisation in the region and that these issues would figure prominently in Mr Cooks talks with Mr Jaswant Singh, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, security adviser Brajesh Mishra and other Indian leaders.
On the fringes of Cooks talks with Indian leaders, a Indo-British round-table would be held in which the Indian side will be headed by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman K.C. Pant and the British side by roving British Ambassador Lord Swaraj Paul.
The round table will bring together prominent businessmen, academicians and journalists from the two countries.
The Indian side, the spokesman said, would also include Indias High Commissioner in London Nareshwar Dayal and Joint Secretary (west Europe) and focus on strengthening Indo-British economic and cultural cooperation.
The round-table would be meeting periodically to take Indo-British economic cooperation and trade to new heights. With over six billion dollars of bilateral trade, Britain is cumulatively the largest foreign investor in India.
Though there are some areas of disagreement between the two traditionally friendly countries, particularly on issues of nuclear non proliferation and World Trade Organisation related matters, India and Britain are poised for rapid expansion of relationship.
On terrorism, the two governments would exchange views on the recent French proposal to the United Nations for combating terrorist financing activities.
NDA flays MLAs killing in Bihar
PATNA, April 15 (PTI) The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) today charged the Rabri Devi ministry with failing in protecting the lives of public representatives and called for immediate steps to provide adequate security to parliamentarians and legislators in Bihar.
Reacting to yesterdays killing of the lone MLA of the Marxist Coordination Committee, former Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Opposition leader in the state assembly Sushil Kumar Modi said in a statement that the state government had "miserably failed" to discharge its constitutional duty to protect the lives of MLAs.
They criticised the Congress for providing support to the "ineffective" Rabri Devi ministry.
"The Congress has become blind for the sheer lust for power", they alleged. How could the party, which had promised a corruption-free administration and better law and order situation in the state could still continue its support to the Rabri Devi government, they wondered.
Condemning the killing, the state committee of the CPI urged the Chief Minister to convene an all-party meeting to discuss the law and order situation.
Fatwa has ceased, says Rushdie
NEW DELHI, April 15 (PTI) India-born writer Salman Rushdie today claimed that the fatwa issued by Iranian clerics against him on his controversial book The Satanic Verses had ceased officially but indicated that he still apprehended threats to his life.
"Today the threat from Iran has ceased but some threats still remain as Iran is a divided state," Rushdie told reporters here.
Rushdie, who embroiled himself in controversy for his book The Satanic Verses, said in a lighter vein that part of royalties from the book could have gone to late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini because of the heightened popularity of the book after the fatwa in 1988.
Rushdie, who is in India for the past one week, declined to specify how long he would stay in India.
"But I will like to come again and again," he said, adding he would also want to procure a house of his own here.
Envoy pleads mercy for Purulia convicts
CALCUTTA, April 15 (PTI) Russian Ambassador in India Alexander M. Kadakin has pleaded for mercy and compassion for the five Latvians, now serving jail terms in a Calcutta correction home, after their conviction in the 1995 Purulia Armsdrop case.
Mr Kadakin, who left here for Delhi this morning after visiting the jailed Latvians in the Presidency Correctional Home here yesterday, told newsmen that though the judicial process for the five had taken a considerable time he would not like to interfere in the process.
The Russian envoy said he had stayed for some time with Igor Mosktivin, Olag Gaidash, Alexander Klichin, Igor Timmermann and E. Antimenko in their prison cells and discussed possible support his country might provide to them.
The relatives of the five Latvians had been seeking help of the Russian Government in this regard, he said.
Mr Kadakin, who was the first top official of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), to visit the jailed Latvian inmates, said he had asked the Russian Consul-General in Calcutta to provide all legal assistance to the five Latvians.
The five Latvians and Briton Peter Bleach had been found guilty of dropping a huge cache of arms and ammunition in three remote villages of backward Purulia district of West Bengal on December 17, 1995 from an AN-26 aircraft.
The CBI investigated the
case and they were convicted by the City Civil and
Sessions Court which also sentenced them in February
1999, to rigorous imprisonment for life and imposed a
fine of Rs 25,000 on charges including waging war against
CBI to probe MLAs killing
PATNA, April 15 (PTI) Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi today announced a CBI probe into the killing of lone Marxist coordination committee MLA Gurudas Chatterjee even as a special investigation team (SIT) has been constituted to ensure the arrest of the culprits.
The state Home Department has been asked to send a formal recommendation in this regard to the CBI, she said.
Steps are underway to apprehend those responsible for the killing of Chatterjee at Deoli village in Dhanbad district yesterday.
She announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10 lakh to the dependants of the slain MLA and setting up of a life-size statue of the slain legislator at Noirs from where he had been elected five times.
Chaterjee was gunned down by suspected coal mafia when he was moving in a motorbike in the village just four days after the brutal shooting down of former Congress MP Vijay Singh Soye at Chakradharpur.
Two senior Bihar ministers Shivanand Tiwari and Jaiprakash Narayan Yadav accompanied by top state officials, including the DGP and Home Secretary, have air-dashed to Noirs for an on-the-spot study of the situation and pay respects to Chatterjee on behalf of the Chief Minister.
Angry supporters, who
had earlier refused to allow removal of Chatterjees
body and blocked the GT road between Dhanbad and Noirs
for several hours last night, later allowed his cremation
after being assured by the state government that the
killers wont be spared.
TN nurse among 8 Time heroes
NEW DELHI, April 15 (PTI) A nurse from Tamil Nadu has joined ranks of Britains Prince Charles and other heroes for her work in advocating family planning choices in India.
Thirty two-year-old Nirmala Palsamy has been named one of Time magazines "Heroes for the Planet" and is one among only eight heroes to figure in Times first-ever global special edition "how to Save the Earth" published on the occasion of Earth day on April 22.
The credit for Indias more humane and effective family planning choices go to local health-care workers like Palsamy, who heads the Village Health Nurse Association in Tamil Nadu, according to a Time magazine release.
The other newly-named
heroes include Prince Charles for his organic farming and
village development initiatives and Julia
"Butterfly" Hill who lived 738 days atop a
California redwood tree to save it from loggers.
Cong welcome to grand alliance
COIMBATORE, April 15 (PTI) Union minister and senior BJP leader Anant Kumar has said that his party would welcome Congressmen willing to join the Trinamul-BJP combine in West Bengal as part of the grand alliance to defeat the Left parties.
We are not against anybody. If a section of the Congress wants to have an alliance in West Bengal, they are welcome. Those who accept the leadership of Mr Vajpayee are welcome to be part of the National Democratic Alliance, Mr Ananth Kumar told reporters here last night.
Let the Congressmen shed their bogeys. Let them come to the mainstream and accept our national agenda for governance, the minister said.
The Culture and Tourism Minister was responding to a question regarding the call given by Union Home Minister L.K. Advani to the Congress in West Bengal to join the mahajot (grand alliance) to defeat the Left parties.
He pointed out that Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee had made it clear that her partys alliance with BJP, the anchor party in the NDA, was sacrosanct.
JD groups to discuss merger
BANGALORE, April 15 (PTI) Like-minded leaders of Janata Dal-United and Janata Dal-Secular would be meeting here in about a weeks time to set the stage for the coming together of both parties in Karnataka.
It had become a necessity for both the JD factions to merge under the given political scenario at the state and national level, as the united JD has the potential to provide an alternative to Congress and BJP, senior JD-S leader, H.N. Nanjegowda, told reporters here.
Mr Nanjegowda, who is in the forefront of this unification process, said the JD-U could no longer continue its alliance with BJP for various reasons.
He exhorted the four former Chief Ministers, who belong to the existing splinter JD groups H.D. Devegowda, Ramakrishna Hegde, S.R Bommai and J.H. Patel to set aside their personal agenda, if any, and work for the coming together of the parties and hand over leadership to the second line of leaders.
Mr Nanjegowda said top leaders of the JD factions should give up their roles of Madathipathis (heads of mutts) honouring the sentiments of large workforce of these parties.
Cong threatens stir on Bihar Bill
RANCHI, April 15 (UNI) The Congress today announced to hit the streets and storm Parliament if the Bihar state re-organisation Bill, 2000, was not cleared during the current session.
Talking to reporters here, Congress Legislature Party Leader and Bihar Road Construction Minister Furkan Ansari said his party was committed to ensuring early creation of the state.
It would expose the National Democratic Alliance both inside and outside Parliament if the statehood Bill was not passed by the Centre in the Budget session or Parliament. The Bill is likely to be returned to the Centre by the end of this month with a positive opinion of the state legislature.
Assuring a positive opinion on the state reorganisation Bill during the special session of the Bihar Legislature convened on April 24, he said, "we have stood by our commitment. Now it is the turn of the NDA to prove its honesty on the statehood.
Charging the BJP with conspiring to delay the states creation, Mr Ansari said it was creditable on the part of the Congress that even the Rashtriya Janata Dal, which was opposed to bifurcation of Bihar, has agreed to part away with the 18 districts of south Bihar for creation of the new state.
On nomenclature, he personally felt that it should not be made an issue at the moment. "The creation of the state should be made an issue at the moment. Creation of the state should be our priority, he added.
Mr Ansari, who was talking to the press after meeting senior Congressmen at the residence of party leader Roshan Lal Bhatia here challenged the legality of the charge sheet filed by the CBI against Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi in the disproportionate assets case.
When asked as to how
long the Congress would continue to defend the charge
sheeted Chief Minister in the state, he said, "There
is no way of defending anyone, the charge sheet against
Mrs Rabri Devi was politically motivated.
Presidents visit to France from today
NEW DELHI, April 15 (PTI) President K.R. Narayanan leaves tomorrow on a five-day state visit to France, the first ever by an Indian head of state to that country.
During his visit, the two countries are expected to sign an investment promotion accord which is expected to remove obstacles in trading between the two countries.
The investment promotion agreement will lend depth to Indo-French relations in trade and economic fields with the balance of trade for 1999 being in Indias favour with exports to France touching $ 900 million while imports from that country were to the tune of $ 680 million.
visit would provide "depth" to bilateral ties
coming as it does after the strategic dialogue initiated
between the two countries during Prime Minister Atal
Behari Vajpayees visit to France in September,
Expulsions: uneasy time for Jaya
CHENNAI, April 15 Just now, it is no more than a ripple in the AIADMK caused by the surprise action of its leader, Ms Jayalalitha, who yesterday sacked three senior party leaders, including former Union Minister, Mr Sedapatti R. Muthiah, for "anti-party activities."
But their strong reaction to the expulsion suggests that uneasy time lie ahead for Ms Jayalalitha, preparing for the state assembly elections early next year, and hoping to oust the DMK from power.
Mr Muthaiah, who had stood by his leader through thick and thin despite being sidelined in recent months, maintained today there was no legal sanction for Ms Jayalalithas action, and said he and his other two expelled colleagues (Mr S. Raghupathy and Mr Karuppuswamy Pandiyan) would soon meet and decide on their future course of action.
Mr Raghupathy said: "I dont feel as if I have been removed from the AIADMK founded by MGR. I get the feeling Ms Jayalalitha has expelled me from the party run by Mr T.T.V. Dinakaran."
Lately, Mr Dinakaran, an MP from Periakulam, and nephew of Ms Jayalalithas close friend, Ms Sasikala, had been entrusted by his leader with the responsibility of heading the organisational wing of the party-Jayalalitha Peravai-named after her.
Mr Pandiyan said yesterday Ms Jayalalitha was "dancing to the tune" of the Sasikala family. It was obvious that she had gunned for MGR loyalists, and "we have to thank her for bringing us all together. We will try to relieve Tamil Nadu of the Sasikala family."
Ms Jayalalitha has strongly denied that the expulsions had anything to do with Mr Dinakaran or Ms Sasikala. She told reporters that the three were expelled solely on the basis of serious allegations levelled against them by party functionaries. "These senior leaders were expected to act as a bridge between me and the partymen. But they were feeding me with lies," she said.
She also accused them of trying to establish clandestine links with rival parties like the DMK and MGRADMK. "I have pre-empted them by these expulsions," she added.
For the DMK, the
expulsion should be a welcome development. Even before
yesterdays action, the leader of MGRADMK, Mr S.
Tirunavukarasu, had appealed to AIADMK leaders
disenchanted with the leadership of Ms Jayalalitha to
join hands with him under the banner of MGR loyalists.
Release of Dr Ambedkar soon
NEW DELHI, April 15 (UNI) The controversial but highly acclaimed features film "Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar" by Dr Jabbar Patel is to be released commercially within a month.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who came to the Sirifort Auditorium to felicitate the filmmaker and his crew members before a special screening of the original English version of the film last night, watched the whole film which is almost three hours long. The screening was held to coincide with the birth anniversary of the architect of the Constitution.
Mr Vajpayee presented commemorative scrolls to the director, Malyalam film star Mammoothy, who has enacted the title role, cameraman Ashok Mehta and costume designer Bhanu Athaiya. Others present on the occasion included Home Minister L.K. Advani, Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Maneka Gandhi, and Maharashtra Information Minister Anil Deshmukh.
The film, produced by the National Film Development Corporation on behalf of the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry and the Maharashtra Government at a cost of Rs 8.5 crore, has won three national awards: best English language feature film, best actor Mammoothy, and best art direction by Nitish Desai. The film also features in the Indian panorama 1999 which was screened at the International Film Festival of India earlier this year. Apart from Mammoothy, the stars include the late Mohan Gokhale in the role of Mahatma Gandhi, Sonali Kulkarni, Mrinal Kulkarni, and Trilok Malik.
The film has become controversial because of the references to the difference of opinion between Dr Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi on various issues, including the caste system,use of fasting as a weapon, and the lunch of the Quit India Movement at the time of the World War II.
6 PWG men killed in AP
HYDERABAD, April 15 (PTI) Six naxalites of the banned Peoples War Group (PWG), including a woman, were killed in encounters with the police in the city and Nizamabad district since late last night.
Three Naxalites were shot dead last night when five of them, travelling in an autorikshaw, fired on police on patrol duty on being intercepted near Sanjeevnagar bus stop here, police said.
Two ultras escaped under the cover of darkness, the police said.
In another incident at Viveknandanagar near Kukatpally on the city outskirts, the police found three ultras moving in a suspicious manner near the residence of a surrendered Naxal K. Sammaiah. When police asked them to surrender, they opened fire. While two managed to escape, the third was shot dead by the police.
Two naxalites, including
a woman member and a commandant of local guerrilla squad
of PWG M. Ashok, alias Rahim, were killed in an encounter
with police at Markal village in Nizamabad district early
today, DSP Ravi Shankar Iyyanar said.
Landmines found in riot-hit area
AGARTALA, April 15 (PTI) Two landmines planted by United Bengali Liberation Force (UBLF) rebels have been found by the police from riot-hit Chakbasta village in Jirania in West Tripura district even as curfew imposed in the wake of ethnic clashes was withdrawn, the police said today.
The mines were found yesterday during a search operation by the police, who blasted one of them to test its strength.
The mines were improvised and highly powerful.
The situation in the area, which witnessed ethnic clashes for three days since Monday, is now peaceful with no untoward incident reported, the police said, adding that the 32-hour-long curfew clamped on Tuesday night was withdrawn today.
Tribesmen hold imli yatra
BHOPAL, April 15 After rath yatras and ekta yatras now its the turn of imli yatras.
But this yatra did not have political overtones nor was it sponsored by those who did not get imli for their sambhar. Instead it was taken out by the tribals of Bastar, some 50,000 men, women and children, who held twigs of imli in their hands to celebrate of completion of one year of imli cooperatives.
Imli (tamarind ) plays an important role in the lives of Bastar tribals.
A large number of the tribal families of Bastar are engaged, in collection of imli an important forest produce of the area.
They had been selling imli to traders at a rate of around Rs 3 per kg while it fetched up to Rs 15 per kg in Raipur and Rs 30 to 40 kg at Bombay.
Imli is also exported, mostly to Arab countries, at a rate of around Rs 100 a kg.
Last year the Tribal Development Cooperative Marketing Federation (TRIFED) entered the field and started organising cooperatives of the tribals.
The district administration also came to the help of the tribals in the face of stiff opposition from traders who eventually, had to fall in line.
According to the official estimates, the tribals this year received around Rs 30 crore more by selling imli through cooperatives than what they were getting until last year.
The magnitude of the imli trade can be gauged from the fact that tribals in Bastar collect nearly 30,000 quintals of the commodity every year.
The season ends in February.
With the help of the gram panchayats, the tribals were motivated to form self-help groups (SHGs) of unemployed youth, each group comprising of 10 to 15 members.
Tamarind is purchase by SHGs at fixed rates with funds provided by TRIFED, which arranges marketing of the commodity.
Encouraged by the success of the imli andolan, TRIFED is now planning to purchase the entire forest produce through cooperatives in order to enable tribals to get better rates.
Retired official killed by
NEW DELHI, April 15 A 70-year-old retired government official, P.R. Gupta was killed and his 65-year old wife, Protima Gupta, injured by robbers at their residence at Chittaranjan Park in South Delhi last night.
Robbers who entered the house of the deceased allegedly demanded Rs 5 lakh and on failing to get it tied Mr Gupta and his wife, ransacked the house and fled with some jewellery.
Veteran journalist Raghavan dead
NEW DELHI, April 15 (PTI) Veteran journalist A. Raghavan died here today following a prolonged illness. He was 79.
Having entered journalism in early 1947, he worked as a reporter in several publications including the Blitz, Free Press Journal and Crossroad Weekly, the predecessor of the New Age, an organ of the Communist Party of India (CPI).
A former president of the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ), he played a significant role in organising the trade union movement of journalists.
4 students die
district HQ by May
ready for cinema
4 kids killed in
2 parks on lines
of Disneyland planned
10 NSCN (IM) men
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