|Tuesday, April 25, 2000,
Attack on Christians
Lobbying on for key government
French cooperation sought
in fighting terrorism
WBPCC chief meets Sonia on
Violence in Bihar Assembly
Rift between TRC, PMK widens
Sridevi, others reach
Congress: identify issues for
NEW DELHI, April 24 (PTI) Attack on Christians in Agra rocked the Lok Sabha today with the Opposition demanding dismissal of Ram Prakash Gupta government in Uttar Pradesh and the Centre asserting it would spare no efforts to fully protect the minorities. Congress and Samajwadi Party members came down heavily on the government for its failure to protect minorities and said it was a part of pre-meditated and perverse pattern launched by the Bajrang Dal to eliminate them and demanded that the Dal be banned immediately.
The demand for a ban on the Dal drew loud protests from BJP and Shiv Sena members.
Responding to members concern, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan said the Centre would extend all help to state governments in dealing with such incidents and asserted Our governments top priority is to fully protect minorities wherever they are.
Condemning the incidents in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, Mr Mahajan said he would request Home Minister L.K. Advani to hold talks with the Chief Ministers of the concerned states to ensure such incidents did not recur.
It was also the duty of the majority community to protect those belonging to minorities, he said, adding he would convey the demand of the Opposition to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for convening a meeting of the National Integration Council shortly to discuss the matter.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, Trinamool Congress member Sudip Bandhopadhyay condemned the attack on Christians in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and sought exemplary punishment to all those involved.
Congress member S. Jaipal Reddy said the Agra incident had come close on the heels of the attack on a priest and two nuns in Mathura and described the Bajrang Dal as a terrorist organisation which should be banned.
Bahujan Samaj Party member Rashid Alvi regretted the burning of the Bible during the attack on Christians in Agra and demanded dismissal of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.
In the midst of the din, Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi adjourned the House for the lunch recess.
Various Christian organisations on Monday charged the UP Government with communal intentions and demanded the Prime Minister should hold the Chief Ministers of the respective states personally responsible for the spate of recent attacks on the community.
The Prime Minister must tell the Chief Ministers, specially of UP, Haryana, Orissa and Gujarat, that they will be personally responsible for the spate of anti-Christian violence in their states. These states have seen the worst violence against the community in the last two years, the oraginisation said in the statement here.
LUCKNOW: The police on Monday arrested five persons in connection with Friday nights attack on a Christian group and burning of biblical literature in Agra and the Uttar Pradesh Government has ordered strict vigil to ensure protection of minorities across the state.
Home Secretary Kush Verma told newsmen here that the arrested persons Khinni, Ravi Uppadhyay, Sunil, Santosh and Brijesh were named in the FIR lodged by the Christian group.
CHENNAI, April 24 (PTI) Sridevi, popular cine actress, her sister and a legatee have reached an understanding on sharing compensation paid by a US hospital for the death of the actresss mother there in 1996.
The actresss husband, Boney Kapur, and her sister, Srilatha, today presented a memo of compromise to the Madras High Court, which is hearing a civil suit for dividing the compensation amount of Rs 7.10 crore paid by the hospital for the death of Rajeswari and property belonging to her.
Recording the memo, Mr Justice A. Ramamurthy decreed the suit accordingly.
on for key government posts
NEW DELHI, April 24 Hectic lobbying is on in the corridors of power in the Capital with several key Secretary-level posts likely to fall vacant in coming months. With at least three important economic Secretaries attaining superannuation in May, a reshuffle of the Secretaries to the Union Government is imminent.
Those retiring in May-end include Commerce Secretary P.P. Prabhu, Fertilisers Secretary A.V. Gokak and Power Secretary V.K. Pandit.
The post of the all powerful Cabinet Secretary is also slated to fall vacant on October 31, when the present incumbent, Mr Prabhat Kumar, retires.
The race for the top posts has intensified as there is a general feeling that the government may announce the replacements for all these posts in one go.
Reports that Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar may land a plum post in Washington has also spurred lobbying among the bureaucrats. The names doing the rounds for the Cabinet Secretarys post include that of the high-profile bureaucrat in the Prime Ministers Office, Mr N.K. Singh. Though his name has been cleared for the post of Indias Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva, it is being mentioned that the Bihar cadre officer is not very keen to take up the international assignment.
Being close to the PMO, Mr N.K. Singh stands a good chance to make to the top bureaucrats post, knowledgeable sources said.
Besides Mr N.K.Singh, the name of the low-profile Defence Secretary and Andhra Pradesh cadre IAS officer, Mr T.R.Prasad, is also doing the rounds for the Cabinet Secretarys post. A 1963 batch officer, Mr Prasad, who is respected for his efficiency, is due to retire in July 2001.
Another favourite contender for the top post is the Finance Secretary, Mr Piyush Gunvantrai Mankad, who is known for his moderate views on liberalisation.
Information Technology Secretary Shyamal Ghosh is another contender for the top post. However, his recent takeover of the fledgling Information Technology Department, which has acquired prominence in the countrys economic policy, could deter the government from giving him a new assignment at this stage, it is being mentioned.
Sources said the lobbying for the top post was being done not only by the bureaucrats themselves but even political parties, who are showing a keen interest in the next candidate.
In this regard, it is being mentioned that the increasing clout of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, could swing the scales in Mr T.R. Prasads favour.
As for Mr N.K. Singh, his role as the Revenue Secretary in the speeding up of the liberalisation policies could stand him in good stead with the votaries of economic reforms.
Credence is also being
given to new RSS chief K.S. Sudharshans contention
that the Prime Minister should bring in economic advisers
who believe in the Swadeshi concept. If the Prime
Minister was to go by the Sangh parivars dktat then
he would be forced to look for a candidate who is
acceptable to the RSS. Going by this criteria, Mr Mankad
and Mr Prasad could emerge as the top contenders for the
Cabinet Secretarys post.
cooperation sought in fighting terrorism
NEW DELHI, April 24 India today sought Frances cooperation in formulating a united strategy to combat terrorism and expressed regret over Pakistans continued defiance of international appeals to stop cross-border militancy.
Defence Minister George Fernandes, who discussed the issue of terrorism with the visiting French Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Jean Pierre Kelche, said: The time has come for a concerted and united international strategy to combat terrorism and wipe out the narco-terrorism nexus.
Mr Fernandes accused Pakistan of misusing Indian peace overtures and ignoring international appeals, including from the USA to stop violence in Jammu and Kashmir, which he said was a matter of regret.
The Defence Ministers call for India and France to formulate a united strategy against international terrorism assumes significance in view of the recent move by Paris for a resolution in the United Nations on the same lines.
significance of growing Indo-French defence cooperation,
Mr Fernandes also called upon the European community to
look at the happenings in the Indian subcontinent in a
realistic and down to earth manner.
PATNA, April 24 (PTI) Violence erupted in the Bihar Assembly during its special session today as ruling and opposition members indulged in flinging chairs and mikes at each other over Opposition leader Sushil Kumar Modis remarks against Chief Minister Rabri Devi leading to adjournment of the House.
Mr Modis remark that Rabri Devi, after being chargesheeted in a disproportionate assets case, had lost control over the administration sparked off trouble with her brother Sadhu Yadav and Minister of State for Commercial Taxes Dadan Singh advancing towards the Opposition benches, picking up chairs and repeatedly banging them on the desk before flinging one towards him.
Mr Modi made the remark while making obituary references to lone Marxist Coordination Committee (MCC) MLA Gurudas Chatterjee, who was gunned down near Dhanbad on April 14.
An agitated RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav and Chief Minister Rabri Devi sprang to their feet and engaged in a heated exchange with Mr Modi and other NDA members.
Hum sabka munh noch lenge (I will scratch your faces), Ms Rabri was heard telling Mr Modi.
The NDA MLAs reacted sharply, raised slogans against the government and demanded dismissal of the Rabri Devi government. Slogans like Nikammi sarkar ko barkhast karo (dismiss the ineffective government) rent the air inside the Assembly.
As opposition and ruling members were engaged in trading charges against each other, Mr Sadhu Yadav and Mr Dadan Singh ran menacingly towards Mr Modi, who fell down after being hit by a chair thrown by a BJP MLA Ashwini Chaubey.
Mr Surajbhan Singh, an independent MLA supporting the NDA, was seen arguing with Mr Laloo Yadav and other RJD members, who later resumed their seats.
Amid the continuing din, speaker Sadanand Singh adjourned the House barely ten minutes after it had assembled on the opening day of the special session convened to consider the Bihar State Reorganisation (Vananchal) Bill, 2000.
When the House reassembled after ten minutes, NDA MLAs boycotted the proceedings accusing the RJD of terrorising the Opposition and throttling democratic protest.
Mr Laloo resumed obituary references to the slain MCC MLA and some other leaders, who had died during the inter-session period and expressed regret over the action of some of his party MLAs.
However, he suggested a censure motion against Mr Modi for his conduct.
UNI adds: A delegation of the NDA today met Bihar Governor Vinod Chander Pande and demanded immediate dismissal of Rabri Devi Government in the wake of the attack on the BJP members by the ruling party in the Assembly on Monday.
The NDA leaders urged the Governor to seek a detailed report from the Assembly Speaker on the entire episode. The leaders apprehending threat to their lives, claimed that Chief Minister Rabri Devi and her husband Laloo Prasad Yadav had incited members to attack Opposition members.
CHENNAI, April 24 (PTI) The ongoing verbal feud between NDA constituents Pattali Makkal Kachi (PMK) and the Tamizhaga Rajiv Congress (TRC) continued unabated today with the TRC warning the PMK of retaliation if it did not stop forthwith its attack on TRC workers.
If things are continuing unabatedly, we cant be silent spectators and we will speak the same language followed by the PMK, TRC President Vazhapadi K. Ramamurthy told reporters here after the partys executive meeting.
It is our duty to take up the issue of how the PMK has cheated us and how they planned to defeat me in the Salem parliamentary constituency during the 1999 poll, Mr Ramamurthy said.
There was no question of a patch-up as certain pre-conditions were to be fulfilled, he said.
Asked if he subscribed to the views of the PMK founder Dr S. Ramadoss who had allegedly stated that the NDA leader and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi was silently watching the wordy duel between the two parties, Mr Ramamurthy said it was the statement of Mr Ramadoss, who after saying this had suddenly retracted it.
Asked if he agreed with the view that his party was being instigated by Mr Karunanidhi to check the growth of the PMK, Mr Ramamurthy said Mr Ramadoss had made this statement during a recent public meeting at Mammallapuram, 50 km from here, but suddenly changed tune and denied this. Why is Ramadoss eating his own words?, he asked.
Asked whether the PMK-TRC would not spoil the image of the NDA, Mr Ramamurthy said the matter related to two parties who were constituents of the NDA.
In no way NDA is affected. In what way the NDA is involved?, he asked emphasising that he would not want any of the constituents to leave the NDA and if other parties wished to join it, his party would have no objection.
Replying to a question
on Mr Karunanidhi saying that he favoured a single party
rule in Tamil Nadu and not a coalition, Mr Ramamurthy
said maybe the Chief Minister was confident enough that
his party was likely to get an absolute majority on its
own. He is having confidence. Then why should he
advocate coalition?, he asked.
identify issues for statute review
NEW DELHI, April 24The Congress today said it was for the government to identify the issues that required amendments to the Constitution and not that of the Constitutional Review Committee set up by it.
Senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee said here today that the the committee could consider any issue but it was for the government alone to identify them, determine the terms of reference, have a debate and then come before Parliament seeking amendments.
Referring to the notification issued for formation of the committee, he said the terms of reference was an omnibus review on application of the Constitution in light of experience of the past 50 years.
Mr Mukherjees clarified that the Congress was not opposed to amendments and said the Constitution was a functional instrument and the government was to carry on governance with this instrument.
The Congress clarification and reaction came in the wake of criticism from the BJP that a party which had itself amended the Constitution several times was now opposing it. The Congress leader said when the party was in power at the Centre and when it felt there was a need to amend the Constitution it came before Parliament. Mr Mukherjee also said that statements by Home Minister L. K. Advani on his preference for presidential form of the government and the manifestos of the BJP in 1996, 1998 were disturbing. Meanwhile, party spokesperson Margaret Alva said that BJPs student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), was circulating a draft Constitution for the country.
Earlier, resuming the discussion on the motion of thanks to the Presidents Address,in the Rajya Sabha Mr Mukherjee made a scathing attack on review of the Constitution undertaken by the NDA government and demanded to know the exact areas of the current exercise.
He asked "why this Constitution review commission ? Please identify which are the Articles and the areas that the government is proposing to review."
About the fixed tenure
of the Lok Sabha as referred to in the Presidents
Address, Mr Mukherjee said with the present composition
of parties in a coalition government, such a move would
only lead to executive
MUMBAI, April 24 (UNI) Songs that generations of Indians have cherished, were once again heard at the Andheri Sports Complex here as Indian nightingale Lata Mangeshkar enthralled the audience with her golden voice paying tribute to the century that has gone by.
Shradhanjali was her second live concert in three years at the same venue. In yesterdays four-hour extravaganza, the melody queen rendered exemplary numbers right from her first song dating back to the early forties to the hugely popular Tujhe Dekha to ye Jaana Sanam. Sudesh Bhosale accompanied her for some duets.
Two of the solos Lata sang were Woh Bhooli Daastan lo Phir Yaad Aagayee and Tere Bina Zindagi se koi Shikwa.
She was ably supported by a 74-member orchestra conducted by Anil Mohile. Those sharing the stage with the singing legend included her sister Usha and matinee idol Amitabh Bachchan. The big B, clad in a cream-coloured sherwani, introduced Lata to the audience, describing her as the voice of the millennium.
Proceeds from the show will be donated. The United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund and Child Relief and you are among the beneficiaries.
This was the 71-year-old singers way of paying tributes to a century that witnessed the evolution and growth of the Hindi film industry under titans such as Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, Bimal Roy, Mehboob Khan and Hrishikesh Mukherji.
chief meets Sonia on Mahajot
NEW DELHI, April 24 Contours of the proposed grand alliance (Mahajot) between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal against the Left Front are taking shape even as the meeting of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) Chief, Mr A.B.A. Ghani Khan Choudhary, and the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, here remained inconclusive.
Apparently the party is not opposed to the Congress joining the Mahajot proposed by the Trinamool Chief, Ms Mamata Banerjee, but has reiterated the party would not have any direct or indirect contact with the BJP.
Mr Ghani Khan Choudhary
today met the party Chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to explain
to her the Mahajot plan, which has evoked
sharp reaction from a section of the party which is
opposed to such a tie-up.
UDAIPUR, April 24 (UNI)
Violence broke out between two groups at a wedding
in this district when an issue was created over the
mounting of a mare by the bridegroom of a particular
community, leaving a tehsildar and six policemen injured.
Some people at the Varni village in Bheendar town of
Udaipur objected to the groom, who belonged to particular
community, riding the mare. They forced him to alight
which resulted in stone pelting.
Right to health is a human right
NEW DELHI, April 24 (UNI) National Human Rights Commission Chairperson Justice J.S. Verma today said the right to health was a basic human right and a two-day workshop would be organised onHealth and Human Rights in India with Special Reference to Maternal Anaemia from April 26.Talking to newspersons here Justice Verma said the right to development, which states that every human being has the right to life with dignity, also encompasses the right to health. Even the Constitution guarantees this right as the Directive Principles of State Policy direct the government to take steps to improve the nutritional level and health care of the citizens.
At the international level also it is being increasingly emphasised on, he said and added but in India it has remained neglected either due to lack of perception of the powers that be or due to a lack of requisite efforts.
Have only 10 pc
quota for women
NEW DELHI, April 24 The Samajwadi Party chief, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, today reiterated his partys stand on the Womens Reservation Bill, saying that it was opposed to it in its present form even as the BJP said that it was still formulating its stand on the issue for the meeting being convened by the Election Commission on April 29.
Mr Yadav said that the best course available to the parties was to allocate a certain percentage of seats on their own. He was of the view that 10 per cent of seats should be reserved for women.
The spirit of the
present Bill seeking reservation of 33 per cent seats in
the Lok Sabha and assemblies for women was against the
existence of smaller parties. He would raise the issue at
the April 29 all-party meeting, he said.
Tax exemption limit on allowances up
NEW DELHI, April 24 (PTI) The government today enhanced tax exemption limit on several allowances, including that for the defence personnel in the Siachen area, which has been stepped up by nearly five times to Rs 7,000 from the present Rs 1,200 per month.
The exemption limit of running allowance for those working in the Railways and other transport systems in the country has been doubled to Rs 6,000 from the present Rs 3,000 per month.
Other major allowances for which the exemption limit has been raised are: hill area compensatory allowance, tribal area allowance, underground area allowance, childrens education allowance and special compensatory allowance, an official release said today.
These enhancements, in line with the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission, will be effective retrospectively from August 1, 1997.
The hill area
compensatory allowance exemption limit other than
Siachen, has been raised to Rs 800 from Rs 600 per month.
In other areas located at a height of 1,000 mts or more,
it would now be Rs 300 instead of Rs 150 per month.
Prosecution evidence against Rao closed
NEW DELHI, April 24 (UNI) A Delhi court today closed recording of statements of witnesses in the $ 100,000 Lakhubhai Pathak cheating case against former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, self-styled godman Chandraswami and his aide K.N. Aggarwal, alias mamaji.
Rejecting a CBI petition
seeking more time to examine three foreign national
witnesses, the trial court of Additional Sessions Judge
Ajit Bharihoke said: It is apparent that the
witnesses are reluctant to appear and their
presence cannot be procured without undue delay and
Man kills wife,
3 children, self
6 killed in
Stamp on N.T.
takes over command
reunited with families
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