Friday, June 2, 2000,
Chandigarh, India






THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Advani assures scribes
NEW DELHI, June 1 — Home Minister L K Advani today assured a delegation of National Union of Journalists that he would consult the media before taking any decision on the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2000, proposed by the Law Commission of India.

Hit, Sarna trade charges
NEW DELHI, June 1 — The Badal-Tohra factional fight in Punjab today crept into the local Sikh politics when recently elected DSGMC President Avatar Singh Hit branded his rival group leader as an ISI agent and urged the government to hold an inquiry into his visit to gurdwaras in Pakistan last month.

Delhi Gurdawra Prabhandhak Committee President Avtar Singh Hit addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday demanding that the Managment of the Nankana Sahib Gurdwara in the hands of Sikh community
Delhi Gurdwara Prabhandhak Committee President Avtar Singh Hit addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday. — Photo by Sondeep Shankar

No ‘rift’ between Army Chief, MoD
NEW DELHI, June 1 — The Army Headquarters here today denied reports of any "battle" between the Chief of the Army Staff and Ministry of Defence over the issue of promotions to top command and operational posts.

HC orders release of NSA detainee
JAIPUR, June 1 — The Rajasthan High Court has ordered the release of a National Security Act defence whose plea against his detention was not considered by the state government.

Enforcing strikes illegal: HC
KOCHI, June 1 — Kerala High Court today directed the Election Commission of India to entertain complaints seeking derecognition or cancellation of registration of political parties which enforced calls for hartal by force or threat.

 



EARLIER STORIES
 

USA can help manage N-arms, says expert
NEW DELHI, June 1 — After years of encouraging Pakistan in its ambitions through provision of certificates of good conduct and turning a blind eye to China-Pak nuclear weapons cooperation, thereby forcing India to exercise its nuclear option, the West is beginning to realise that it has a responsibility to ensure that there is no nuclear conflagration on the subcontinent.

Make new NSAB accountable: Pilot
NEW DELHI, June 1 — A senior Congress leader, Mr Rajesh Pilot, today said that appointment of the National Security Advisory Board was a good initiative but its purpose was lost without accountability.

Medicinal plant body to be non-statutory
NEW DELHI, June 1 — The Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr C.P. Thakur, yesterday said the medicinal plant board had been planned as a non-statutory body which would be set up through a government resolution. Once formed, the board would be replaced by a statutory body through an Act of Parliament.

Hearing in Laloo’s case inconclusive
PATNA, June 1 — RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav and Chief Minister Rabri Devi today told a court that the CBI had "overvalued" their immovable assets and expenses to implicate them in the disproportionate assets case.

BARC sets up safety panel
MUMBAI, June 1 — The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre has set up an internal safety committee after the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was asked to free the former from its control in the wake of India’s strategic nuclear programme.

TN tightens coastal security
CHENNAI, June 1 — The Sri Lankan Navy’s weekend action against the Sea Tigers, the naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has forced Tamil Nadu to tighten further security along its coast to check smuggling and a renewed refugee influx.

Decentralising power Kerala style
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, June 1 — Kerala is witnessing a silent revolution. While its impact yet localised at present, it is certain to spread to other parts of the country as more and more people get to know about benefits of decentralisation of power.

Monsoon on time in Kerala
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, June 1 — The south-west monsoon set in over southern parts of Kerala and Lakshadweep today, ending an eight-month-long dry spell and raising hopes for a drought-weary people further north and west.

1 booked for antique objects’ smuggling
NEW DELHI, June 1 — The CBI has registered a case against a dealer in Mathura for running illegal business in sale and smuggling of antique objects.

AIR to sell slots on FM channel
NEW DELHI, June 1 — All India Radio will auction this month slots on FM channel, Prasar Bharati chief executive officer Rajeev Ratan Shah said here today.

BJP to observe ‘emergency week’
NEW DELHI, June 1 — The BJP has decided to observe a ‘remember the Emergency and strengthen democracy week’ from June 25 to July 1 to remind the people of the dark days of the Emergency and call for strengthening democracy.

Fluoride poisoning affects many
GUWAHATI, June 1 — Thousands of villagers have been affected, many of them crippled for life, by drinking water containing excess of fluoride, in some parts of Assam’s Karbi Anglong, a report has said.

Speakers for fair House proceedings
HYDERABAD, June 1 — Three-day all-India presiding officers’ conference has unanimously decided to appoint a committee to finalise modalities for an institutional mechanism to maintain impartiality and objectivity in running the House.

Cancer detection goes hi-tech
NEW DELHI, June 1 — The radiation medicine centre at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai will soon have India’s first and most advanced cancer detecting PET (Positron Emission Tomography) system from GE Medical Systems which is known for medical diagnostic imaging technology, services and health care productivity.

1 robbed of 10 lakh, murdered
NEW DELHI, June 1 — Three unidentified persons looted Rs 10 lakh from an employee of Allegiance Services, a finance company, and stabbed him to death in the Okhla Industrial Area yesterday.

Jung takes over as Secy, Civil Aviation
NEW DELHI, June 1 — Mr A.H. Jung, a 1965 batch officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, has taken over as Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

WB Cong rules out truck with BJP
CALCUTTA, June 1 — Working President of the West Bengal Congress Committee Priya Ranjan Das Munshi today said his party might support the Trinamool Congress in certain municipal areas to form ruling boards, but would never have any understanding with the BJP or the CPM.
Top




 

Advani assures scribes

NEW DELHI, June 1 (UNI) — Home Minister L K Advani today assured a delegation of National Union of Journalists (NUJ) that he would consult the media before taking any decision on the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill, 2000, proposed by the Law Commission of India.

Asserting that the government stood firmly for freedom of Press, he said the Home Ministry had not made any changes in the commission’s draft and had not even examined it so far. It had merely circulated the Bill to states for their opinion.

An official spokesman clarified that there was indeed a provision in the Bill which obliges "any person" in possession of some information useful for prevention or prosecution of a terrorist offence to disclose it to the law enforcement authorities concerned. Such a duty is also cast on "every person" under the normal law, he said.

The spokesman maintained that there was no mention of the word ‘journalist’ in the Bill.

Reports in a section of the media had said that a draft Bill being circulated by the Home Ministry among states threatens to bring the media under the ambit of terrorist activities. It reportedly makes an obligation on journalists to inform the police about any terrorist activities that he is aware of, failing which the journalist will be liable under proposed law to be punished with imprisonment extending to one year.

Mr Advani said the Bill would be enacted in any form only if there was a wide consensus on it.

The spokesman said, "As per section 39 of the Cr Pc, every person aware of the commission or intention of any person to commit any offence...Is duty-bound to give that information to the nearest magistrate or police officer. Failure on part of any person to disclose such information is punishable under various provisions of the IPC."

The spokesman said there is no mention of the word ‘‘journalist’’ and the word ‘‘any person includes a journalist or any citizen.’’

He said the factual position was that the Press comments were on the draft Bill as drawn up by the Law Commission and the government was still examining the proposal.

Mr Advani said the Home Ministry had not on its own prepared any bill replacing TADA which had since been repealed. What was sent to the states was only the draft suggested by the Law Commission.

In a memorandum submitted by the delegation, NUJ (I) expressed grave concern over media reports that certain provisions of the draft Bill would force journalists to disclose the source of their information regarding terrorist activities and provide for punishment for those refusing to disclose.

It demanded that all references to journalists and the media be deleted from any proposed legislation on the subject.

The delegation comprised NUJ president NK Trikha, Vice President AN Mishra, Delhi Journalists Association (DJA) President Hemant Kumar Bishnoi and DJA General Secretary Ras Bihari.Top

Enforcing strikes illegal: HC

KOCHI, June 1 (UNI) — Kerala High Court today directed the Election Commission of India to entertain complaints seeking derecognition or cancellation of registration of political parties which enforced calls for hartal by force or threat.

Declaring enforcement of hartal call by force or intimidation as unconstitutional, the court also directed the Election Commission to consider the representation filed by the Institute of Social Welfare against the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for cancellation of its registration for conducting a hartal on September 23, 1998, after giving all affected parties an opportunity to be heard.

A Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice P.K. Balasubramanian and Mr Justice K.A. Mohammed Shafi, issued directions to the state government, the Chief Secretary, the Director General of Police and all district collectors to strictly implement the circular of the Chief Secretary (dated February 6, 1999) to deal with strikes.

It also directed the state government and public officers to initiate action for the recovery of damage caused to public or private property during a strike from those who gave the call for it.

The court issued these directions while allowing the writ petitions filed by the Institute of Social Welfare, Kerala Vyapari Vyavasayu Ekopana Samithi, Ottappalam and the Citizens Forum, Ottappalam, seeking to declare enforcement of hartal call by force, intimidation and threat as illegal.

The petitioners submitted that after the high court judgement declaring calls for bandh as unconstitutional and the Supreme Court upholding the same, political parties had started calling for hartals.

A full bench of the high court distinguished bandh from hartal and held that hartal was a form of passive resistance and a call for it did not involve force. The apex court also concurred with this distinction.

According to the petitioners, the political parties thereafter started calling for hartals which in effect turned out to be bandhs. The so called hartals were bandhs in disguise, the petitioners argued.Top

 

 

Hit, Sarna trade charges

NEW DELHI, June 1 (UNI) — The Badal-Tohra factional fight in Punjab today crept into the local Sikh politics when recently elected DSGMC President Avatar Singh Hit branded his rival group leader as an ISI agent and urged the government to hold an inquiry into his visit to gurdwaras in Pakistan last month.

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) outgoing President Paramjit Singh Sarna had in a way recognised the parallel Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee recently set up by Pakistan under a former ISI chief to manage Sikh shrines in that country, Mr Hit said at a press conference here.

Mr Sarna should not have visited Pakistan at the invitation of the gurdwara body there since the Indian Government and the SGPC, Amritsar, have refused to recognise it, created to spread ISI activities, Mr Hit said adding that "Mr Sarna should be booked under TADA (sedition charges) for his anti-India activities.’’

At a separate press conference, Mr Sarna who owes allegiance to former SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s faction, dismissed Mr Hit’s allegations as an act of ‘‘playing to the gallery’’ just to cover-up ‘‘misuse of money, muscle and state power’’ in last month’s election to the DSGMC governing body.

Mr Sarna alleged that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal used his official position to instal his protege as the head of DSGMC and offered largesse to enlist the support of DSGMC members in the polls. Mr sarna offered to face a CBI enquiry on the issue of his visit to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the police was today deployed at a DSGMC-run college here as rival group members attempted to instal a principal of their respective choice.

The police apprehended disturbance at around 20 DSGMC-run educational institutions since the newly-elected governing body claimed to have dissolved their governing bodies while outgoing Sarna group claimed to have procured a stay from a Delhi Court to run them till July-end. Top

 

No ‘rift’ between Army Chief, MoD

NEW DELHI, June 1 (PTI) — The Army Headquarters here today denied reports of any "battle" between the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) and Ministry of Defence (MoD) over the issue of promotions to top command and operational posts.

Commenting on reports that the Army Chief, Gen V.P. Malik’s, recommendations on promotion boards from the rank of Maj Generals to Lt Generals had been delayed by the Ministry of Defence, an Army spokesman clarified that the Chief’s promotion list was of "recommendatory nature" and that the final decision lay with the government.

"It is a usual process that recommendations of the board are jointly considered by the Army Headquarters and Ministry of Defence," the spokesman said adding "The laid down procedure is being followed and there is no so called battle between the COAS and the MoD."

He said the recommendations of the promotion board had been sent to the Ministry of Defence for obtaining approval of the government.

Army sources said the promotion board involved crucial promotion of 25 officers of the rank of Maj General to Lt General. They said the COAS had recommended upgradation of nine to 11 officers, including two controversial officers Maj Gen Arjun Ray of the Army Training Command and Maj Gen T.S. Shergil — on which the Defence Ministry has reportedly some objections.

Prominent among those in line for promotion as Corps Commanders and Senior Staff Officers at Army Headquarters here include Maj Gen J.J. Singh in the Military Operations and Maj Gen J Yadav, Chief of Staff, Northern Command.

The sources said that Maj Gen Arjun Ray, a highly decorated Armoured Corps Officer and former Brigadier General Staff (BGS) in 15 Corps, had come into controversy because of his book on counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir which was thought to be critical of both the Defence and the Home Ministry.

With the retirement yesterday of Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen S.K. Jetley, Army sources said it was for the first time in three years that promotional avenues had been opened in the Army from Brigadier upwards.

The sources said by the end of this year as many as 11 Lt Generals and above would be retiring, including the COAS Gen Malik, the Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen B Chandrashekhar, Quarter Master General Lt Gen J.S. Bhullar and Military Secretary Lt Gen Inder Verma.

Stagnation in the Army has come about by across the board two-year extension to all serving officers from June 1, 1998. The government order to this effect raised the retiring age of Army Chief to 62 years, of Lt Generals to 60 years and Maj General to 58 years.Top

 

USA can help manage N-arms, says expert

NEW DELHI, June 1 (ADNI) — After years of encouraging Pakistan in its ambitions through provision of certificates of good conduct and turning a blind eye to China-Pak nuclear weapons cooperation, thereby forcing India to exercise its nuclear option, the West is beginning to realise that it has a responsibility to ensure that there is no nuclear conflagration on the subcontinent.

The feeling is growing that the USA must provide technical advice to both India and Pakistan to manage their arsenals. Its non-proliferation policy having failed, Washington must limit the damage by helping both to build the necessary infrastructure to constrain, if not minimise the possibility of nuclear tragedy on the subcontinent.

In an article in "Defence News" published from the USA Mr Jon Rosenwasser, an international affairs fellow at the Washington office of the Council of Foreign Relations, has suggested that India and Pakistan must be assisted in moving up the nuclear learning curve quickly. "The price of failure for Asian security and enduring non-proliferation objectives simply is too great for the United States to shun its responsibilities," he says.

Now that New Delhi and Islamabad have crossed the nuclear threshold, Washington policy must move beyond the traditional goal of non-proliferation. Given their hostility towards one another, neither India nor Pakistan is likely to abandon their nuclear programmes or their right to test their weapons. Returning to non-nuclear status could run counter to their national interests.

"The number one priority for the US policy-makers now must be to help the two countries manage the transition to a stable nuclear relationship..."

Referring to how the USA and the former Soviet Union managed their nuclear deterrence doctrines during the Cold War years he has pointed out that they opened communications channels at the highest levels to manage tensions in times of crisis.

Without similar infrastructure on the subcontinent there is tremendous risk of inadvertent Armageddon as well as increased pressure for pre-emptive strike.

"It is unclear whether India and Pakistan have put in place safety mechanisms to prevent an accident, codified proficient command and control systems to ensure proper deployment, or developed methods to ensure their new-found deterrents are survivable." he said.Top

 

HC orders release of NSA detainee

JAIPUR, June 1 (UNI) — The Rajasthan High Court has ordered the release of a National Security Act (NSA) defence whose plea against his detention was not considered by the state government.

A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice G.L. Gupta and Mr Justice j c Verma allowed the "habeas corpus" petition moved by Rafiq Alias Nanha, and quashed the order issued by the state government in February this year detaining him under NSA.

The bench directed that "the petitioner be set at liberty forthwith, if not required in any other case."

"Even though the state government had submitted the case of the petitioner to the advisory board, yet it was obligatory for the government to have considered the representation of the petitioner", the court observed in the judgement delivered on Monday.

"It has not been done therefore, the detention of the petitioner is liable to be quashed on this ground alone," noted the judges.

"It may be that the petitioner is a history-sheeter and various cases are pending against him and in the eyes of the authorities, who are responsible to maintain public order, his remaining at large may cause problem," the division bench remarked.

"But that can not be a ground to uphold the detention when the authorities have failed to discharge their constitutional obligation. The further detention of the petitioner is illegal."

The court said "the unambiguous legal position is that it is the constitutional duty of the appropriate authority to consider the representation of the detenue without delay and if the representation is not at all considered or delay is caused in the consideration thereof and the same is not explained, the detention is liable to be quashed."

The respondents the Rajasthan Government and officials maintained before the court that the representation of the detainee was received after the matter was considered by the advisory board. Therefore, it was not required to be considered.

However, the judges observed that "a perusal of the documents annexed with the petition made it clear that state government had received the representation of the petitioner much before the matter was placed before the advisory board."

"It is therefore not correct to say that the representation was received by the state government after the matter was submitted to the advisory board," the judges pointed out.

The judges further pointed out that "even assuming that the representation was received by the state government after the matter was submitted to the advisory board, the state government was not absolved of its obligation to consider the representation of the detenue."

"On this point, the legal position is crystal clear. The consideration of the representation by the state government is required to be made even if the matter has been considered by the advisory board," the bench noted.

The state government pleaded before the court that the detainee was a "history-sheeter" and from the year 1975 up to October 16, last year as many as 15 criminal cases were registered against him at different police stations.

The detainee had tried to "outrage" the modesty of girls on public roads for which cases were registered against him. The detenue is a potential "threat" to the public order, therefore, he did not deserve any sympathy and the provisions of the National Security Act have been rightly invoked for maintaining peace and public order, the state government further submitted before the court. Top

 

Make new NSAB accountable: Pilot
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 1 — A senior Congress leader, Mr Rajesh Pilot, today said that appointment of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) was a good initiative but its purpose was lost without accountability.

In a statement here today, Mr Pilot said even in the Kargil report which has been submitted to the government, no responsibility was fixed although it has accepted the lapses.

"The whole nation would like to know who is responsible for the lapses. There is no denying that credibility on all such issues can be maintained only if responsibility is fixed and accountability upheld in its functions.

Mr Pilot charged that while interacting with the Kargil Committee some facts were brought to its notice but were projected in a different manner.

"When it was pointed out to the government and the committee, there emerged a changed version. Let the government deny this. If this is the trustworthiness of the committees and boards, then the entire spirit behind its setting up is defeated’’ he said. Top

 

Medicinal plant body to be non-statutory
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 1 — The Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr C.P. Thakur, yesterday said the medicinal plant board had been planned as a non-statutory body which would be set up through a government resolution. Once formed, the board would be replaced by a statutory body through an Act of Parliament.

Dr Thakur made this statement during his interaction with officers of the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy and Directors of research, councils here yesterday. Referring to the Prime Minister’s announcement on constitution of the board by June, Dr Thakur said the board would focus on the medicinal plant sector.

Addressing mediapersons, Dr Thakur said a task force on the conservation and sustainable use of medicinal plants set up under the chairmanship of Dr T.N. Tiwari, had submitted its report. It has estimated that Rs 1000 crore would be needed for five years for the comprehensive development of the medicinal plant sector. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Family Welfare, the Department of Biotechnology, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM & H) have been assigned specific responsibilities for undertaking conservation of medicinal plants, cultivation of endangered and valuable species, establishment of vanaspati vans, improving awareness and standardisation and research and development.

The nodal responsibility for medicinal plants has been given to the Department of ISM and H for coordinating the efforts of various stakeholders through the establishment of the medicinal plant board.

India is taking part in Expo 2000 which began in Hanover today. The theme of the expo is Humankind, nature and technology. The theme of the Indian pavilion is "Art of living in harmony."

Good manufacturing practices for the ISM industry is being published. This would require strengthening of state drug testing laboratories and renovation and modernisation of state pharmacies.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on May 15 between the CSIR and the Central Council for Research in Unani medicine to draw on the strengths of the CSIR to help Unani medicine laboratories to standardise drugs and improve the processing techniques.Top

 

Hearing in Laloo’s case inconclusive

PATNA, June 1 (PTI) — RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav and Chief Minister Rabri Devi today told a court that the CBI had "overvalued" their immovable assets and expenses to implicate them in the disproportionate assets (DA) case.

Contesting the charges against the two leaders in the chargesheet submitted by the CBI in the court of special judge S.K. Lal, their counsel P.N. Pandey and Chittranjan Prasad Sinha told the court that charges could not be framed against their clients as the agency had "wrongfully and with bias" valued their assets.

Mr Pandey said according to the apex court order, no DA case can be instituted against anyone if the latter is able to account for 90 per cent of the assets — both movable and immovable acquired by him during a check period.

"In the case of Laloo Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi we are able to explain the property/assets acquired by them during the check period 1990-96 against the overvalued assets to the tune of Rs 46 lakh acquired by them according to the allegations of the CBI", he said showing some documents relating to excess valuation of assets and expenses seeking discharge of his clients in the case.

The hearing on the framing of charges against Mr Yadav and Rabri Devi remained inconclusive for the fourth consecutive day today.

According to the chargesheet submitted by the CBI, Mr Yadav prior to March 10, 1990 had total assets — movable and immovable worth about Rs 6,44,996 and during the check period (March 3, 1990 and March 31,1997) had acquired pecuniary resources and property in his name and in the name of the members of his family to the extent of Rs 42,64,655.

The chargesheet said the income of Mr Yadav and that of his dependent family members during the check period from his known sources was Rs 16,55,386 and he had incurred Rs 20,17,557 expenditure on self and dependent family members.Top

 

BARC sets up safety panel

MUMBAI, June 1 (UNI) — The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), has set up an internal safety committee after the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) was asked to free the former from its control in the wake of India’s strategic nuclear programme.

"An internal safety committee has been set up by BARC Director Anil Kakodkar," Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Dr Rajgopalan Chidambaram told UNI here. However, he declined to give any details of the new committee saying that it was of strategic importance and details could not be revealed.

Dr Kakodkar said that the safety committee has been set up by the BARC after the order was issued on April 25 earlier this year by Dr Chidambaram. This means that the AERB, the nuclear monitoring agency of country, will have its role confined only to nuclear power reactors, research reactors and other installations.

AERB Secretary Dr K.S. Parthasarthy said that though the BARC had been taken out of the AERB’s purview, it would continue to follow the codes and guidelines and the principles of safety laid down by the AERB as well as the prescribed radiation exposure at the BARC.

Dr Chidambaram said that the standards prescribed by the AERB would be followed by the BARC. The order issued by the AEC chief said, "the regulatory and safety mechanism of the BARC and its functions, hitherto exercised by the AERB, henceforth be exercised through a internal safety committee structure to be set up by the BARC director....."

Senior officials said that all other nuclear weapons follow a similar model to ensure "safety" of nuclear weapons programme. The United States Nuclear Safety Commission, has control over the civilian programme and facilities and not the nuclear weapons programme.

Dr Chidambaram, when asked about the decision, said, "it has been done to ensure the safety of strategic nuclear programme.’’ He said that the regulatory body is "always transparent’’ and have frequent interactions with the public. "since the BARC plays a strategic role — it has been taken outside its purview,’’ he said.

He, however, added that the BARC’s internal committee while carrying out its functions will ensure compliance with the principles of good safety management as given in relevant safety codes, guides and standards developed by the AERB wherever applicable, and acceptable limits of radiation exposure to members of public prescribed by the AERB.Top

 

TN tightens coastal security

CHENNAI, June 1 (IANS) — The Sri Lankan Navy’s weekend action against the Sea Tigers, the naval wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has forced Tamil Nadu to tighten further security along its coast to check smuggling and a renewed refugee influx.

The Sri Lankan Navy on Monday said it had sunk seven "barges loaded with supplies" for the LTTE in the Kilali lagoon, separating Jaffna peninsula from the mainland.

At a two-day conference of senior police and district officials here, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi urged administrators of coastal districts to "keep strict watch on refugee movement and militant infiltration."

All officials of coastal districts were changed two weeks ago and the new incumbents have been told to help the police and hold "district-level coordination meetings to monitor refugee and militant influx." The various agencies involved in regional security have been asked to work out a "common strategy" to provide security to vulnerable areas in Tamil Nadu.

Transmissions of the state-run Lankan television channel Roopavahini, which could be received along the Ramanathapuram coast, are no longer available to Indian viewers just as Indian TV channels have reportedly been jammed in Sri Lanka.

The police has reported an increase in the smuggling of motorcycle engines, textiles, rice, medicines, artificial limbs and motor fuel from the coastal districts. Several motorbikes, destined for Jaffna, were seized at a checkpost last week.

All fishing boats on the east coast are being searched and require the navy’s permission to go out to sea. Their fuel levels are checked before and after the trip to see that fuel is not siphoned off to the LTTE. "The entire area is crawling with security and intelligence men," sources said, adding "fishing in such troubled waters is becoming a frightening business."

Along with the fear of infiltration by the LTTE is also the worry of "undesirable elements" entering the country. The early nineties witnessed a spurt in child labour and prostitution rackets involving Sri Lankan Tamil and Sinhala operatives on the Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry coast and Indian authorities do not want a repetition of that.

The Civil Aviation Ministry had allowed entry of visitors to the Kamaraj Domestic Airport and Anna International Airport in Chennai on payment of fees three days ago, but the facility has been withdrawn by the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, which also reimposed the ban on entry of visitors to the airport lounges. Even senior police officers in civvies were not allowed into the airport, leading to heated exchanges between them and airport security personnel.

Police has been ordered to screen the refugees from the island in the presence of naval and Central intelligence officials. About 160 refugees had arrived in Tamil Nadu last week, raising the count for May to about 300. "The rate of influx so far is much less than in 1987-88," Coast Guard sources said.Top

 

Decentralising power Kerala style
From Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, June 1 — Kerala is witnessing a silent revolution. While its impact yet localised at present, it is certain to spread to other parts of the country as more and more people get to know about benefits of decentralisation of power.

The state first experienced welcome winds of change in 1996, when the Left and Democratic Front government decided to devolve 40 per cent of its 9th Plan outlay for projects and programmes to be formulated and implemented by the local self-government.

In nutshell, the Left Front government, with a single stroke of pen, decided to provide financial teeth to the Panchayati Raj and other local self government institutions which had been politically empowered by the 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitutions.

A mass movement –— popularly known as People’s Campaign for Decentralised Plannning — was then launched to enable common people prepare local plans based on their long-felt needs and requirements in a transparent and participatory manner through their elected representatives in the local self-government.

As the term of the elected bodies like the village panchayats, district panchayats and other similar institutions will be completed in the next few months, the Kerala State Planning Board decided to make an assessment of the experiment.

A five-day international conference, in which over 3,000 delegates from all over the country and abroad participated, was held at Thiruvananthapuram from May 23 to take stock of the experiment.

Talking to mediapersons at the conclusion of the conference, the member State Planning Board, Dr T.M. Thomas Isaac, said though we were getting popular support but "we feel encouraged by the response that we have received from delegates who represent all shades of political opinion".

Many hardcore BJP leaders like the Mayor of UP town Bareilly, Kunwar Subash Patel, or the Nagpur Mayor, Mrs Vasundhara Masurkar, told The Tribune that something positive is happening on the ground which in turn is helping to restore popular faith in the institutions.

While the opposition Congress, which is the main stay in the United Democratic Front (UDF), did not participate in the conference but its elected representatives in panchayats and municipalities attended the conference and contributed to the deliberations.

Dr Isaac said the process of decentralisation had ceased to be merely an issue of administrative reforms but had become an object of mass mobilisation and popular politics. "It is no more manipulative politics but simple mass politics", he said adding that "it has helped to create an environment of optimism".

With popular support and participation, many projects like the construction of 140 metre long bridge on the Moovattupuzha river in the Kottyam district, have been undertaken. The bridge, if it had been constructed by a private contractor or state PWD, would have cost at least Rs 3.6 crore but with people’s help it has been almost completed at a cost of Rs 1.2 crore.

The bridge, which links the UDF- dominated panchayat of Velloor village and the LDF dominated Marvanthuruth, is a concrete evidence that given a positive framework people can rise above narrow and sectarian political considerations for addressing popular concerns and issues.

With funds at their disposal, local bodies have been undertaking school, health, road and drinking water projects and are getting them implemented in record time. Once again, people’s initiative in form of giving support to projects with contributions in both kind and cash is being witnessed, Mrs Shobha Raghuram, representing Banglaore- based Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries, observed.Top

 

Monsoon on time in Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, June 1 (UNI) — The south-west monsoon set in over southern parts of Kerala and Lakshadweep today, ending an eight-month-long dry spell and raising hopes for a drought-weary people further north and west.

The monsoon had hit the Andaman and Nicobar islands on May 15 and the India Meteorology Department early this week predicted its onset over Kerala on June 1 on the basis of 10 of 16 global and regional parametres it measured.

The conditions are favourable for further advancement to northern parts of the state and the island in the next two days, the MET office here said.

June 1 is the median as well as mode date (most number of occasions) for the onset of monsoon over Kerala, but statistics for the past 25 years show that it hit Kerala coast exactly on June 1 only in 1980.

Though Kerala received 39 per cent less summer showers than normal this season, the temperature had not shot up high. The state received only 23 cm of summer rain as against the normal 38 cm.

Despite the shortfall of 39 per cent in the summer showers in the state, the mercury level had not gone beyond 38.6 even in the hottest place of Palakkad, according to Thiruvananthapuram Meteorological Station Director V.K. Gangadharan.

Director (Weather) R. Lakshminarayanan said the statistics available with him showed that the monsoon had set in over the state as early as May 11 on two occasions — in 1918 and in 1955. These were the earliest onsets recorded in the past 100 years.

Though the monsoon normally arrives in Kerala in the last week of May or the first week of June, it had a very delayed onset once, on June 18, in 1972 when there was an acute drought in the state.

It arrived on May 25 last year and was bountiful. Except in 1993 and 1999, the state had the worst summer this past decade. Top

 

1 booked for antique objects’ smuggling
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 1 — The CBI has registered a case against a dealer in Mathura for running illegal business in sale and smuggling of antique objects.

The bureau seized 41 priceless stone and terracota antique objects belonging to the Mauryan, Kushan, Gupta and medieval periods from the residence of the dealer.

These objects should have been registered under the provisions of the Antiquities and Arts Treasurers Act but were not registered with an intention to smuggle them out of the country, the bureau alleged.

These antiques were suspected to have been stolen from various temples, excavation sites and monuments, the bureau said, adding that during the probe it was found that the accused had got 390 antique items registered against his name from the Archaeological Department at Agra but of these he could account for 61 only.

The bureau concluded that this showed the dealer was allegedly running illegal business of sale and smuggling of antique objects. Further investigation was in progress. Top

 

AIR to sell slots on FM channel

NEW DELHI, June 1 (UNI) — All India Radio will auction this month slots on FM channel, Prasar Bharati chief executive officer Rajeev Ratan Shah said here today.

The bidding would also be open to private broadcasters who recently got licences to run their own FM stations. This would enable them to create a bank of programme content while their own transmission networks are being put in place, Mr Shah said in a key-note address at a day-long seminar on "FM Privatisation Future Scenario" organised by the Broadcast Engineering Society (BES).

Stating that the government decision to liberalise FM broadcasting had opened the way for rapid progress of this sector, including by way of generating increased ad revenue, Mr Shah however added that only concerted action between AIR and the private broadcasters would make the sector blossom.

"The business of FM broadcasting is still at a nascent stage and the budding players would now be competing with other media for ad-spend. They can grow only if they act in collaboration," he added.

The Prasar Bharati CEO said that AIR did not see private broadcasters as competitors but as partners in the process of enriching broadcasting in the country. To this end, the public broadcaster was willing to enter into commercial arrangements with the private broadcasters to enable them to use its vast infrastructure.Top

 

BJP to observe ‘emergency week’

NEW DELHI, June 1 (UNI) — The BJP has decided to observe a ‘remember the Emergency and strengthen democracy week’ from June 25 to July 1 to remind the people of the dark days of the Emergency and call for strengthening democracy.

The decision was taken at an informal meeting held by party President Kushabhau Thakre and attended by Home Minister L.K. Advani and other party office-bearers.

Marches, rallies, seminars, conferences and meetings would be organised during the week, party spokesman M. Venkaiah Naidu told reporters here today.

Besides, the people who fought against the Emergency and suffered prison terms would be honoured. The people would be asked to take a pledge to safeguard democracy. Special efforts would be made to involve students and the youth in these programmes.

A special thrust, he said, would be given on basic concept, culture, values and ethos of democracy. Top

 

Fluoride poisoning affects many

GUWAHATI, June 1 (UNI) — Thousands of villagers have been affected, many of them crippled for life, by drinking water containing excess of fluoride, in some parts of Assam’s Karbi Anglong, a report has said.

The worst-affected area was Tekelanguin where every fourth person had been affected by hydro-fluorosia, affecting a population of nearly one lakh, said Additional Chief Engineer of the Public Health Department A.B. Paul.

Besides Karbi Anglong, some portions of Nagaon were also affected, he added.

The report said that many people had been suffering from severe anaemia, stiff joints, painful and restricted movement, mottled teeth and kidney failure leading to premature death, while many had been crippled for life.

Fluoride content in water in the area varies from five to 23 mg per litre while the permissible limit is 1.2 mg per litre.

The district council authorities, alarmed over the epidemic, have extended a water supply scheme to the area for supply of fluoride-free water.Top

 

Speakers for fair House proceedings

HYDERABAD, June 1 (UNI) — Three-day all-India presiding officers’ conference has unanimously decided to appoint a committee to finalise modalities for an institutional mechanism to maintain impartiality and objectivity in running the House.

The conference was also of the unanimous view that a member of Parliament, on becoming a Minister or Chief Minister of a state, "shall not participate" in the proceedings of the House (Parliament) during the periods he is allowed to be elected to the respective state legislature.

These are the main recommendations made at the conclusion of the conference which ended here last night. Briefing reporters about the outcome of the 63rd conference, Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi said here today, the presiding officers spoke at length about the obligation of maintaining neutrality and the political compulsion of serving the constituency, which requires the patronage of the executive. The need for the Speaker to turn to a political party at the time of re-election and its bearing on the independence and objectivity of the Speaker was also discussed.Top

 

Cancer detection goes hi-tech
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 1 — The radiation medicine centre at Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai will soon have India’s first and most advanced cancer detecting PET (Positron Emission Tomography) system from GE Medical Systems which is known for medical diagnostic imaging technology, services and health care productivity.

PET is an advanced medical imaging procedure that shows a patient’s tissue metabolism to distinguish malignant from benign lesions. This metabolic imaging may change the course of patient management by detecting the presence and extent of disease. PET contributes to accurate non-invasive diagnosis, excellent patient management and reduction in cost of care.

Dr Samuel, Director of the Radiation centre at Tata Memorial hospital has expressed confidence that the cancer detecting PET technology will equip doctors with detailed information to detect early and pinpoint disease in the body.Top

 

1 robbed of 10 lakh, murdered
From Our Correspondent

NEW DELHI, June 1 — Three unidentified persons looted Rs 10 lakh from an employee of Allegiance Services, a finance company, and stabbed him to death in the Okhla Industrial Area yesterday.

The miscreants were on motorcycles stopped the deceased near the CCI factory and tried to snatch his bag in which he was carrying the money to deposit it in a bank. When he resisted they stabbed him several times, the police said.

He was taken to the ESI hospital in Okhla by a PCR van where he was declared brought dead, the police said.Top

 

Jung takes over as Secy, Civil Aviation
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 1 — Mr A.H. Jung, a 1965 batch officer of the Indian Audit and Accounts Service, has taken over as Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Prior to this, Mr Jung was Special Secretary in the Ministry of Power. He has been Additional Secretary in the Ministry of Steel and Mines and Additional Deputy Controller and Auditor General.

Mr Jung’s predecessor, Mr Ravindra Gupta, has taken over as Secretary, Defence Production and Supplies.Top

 

WB Cong rules out truck with BJP

CALCUTTA, June 1 (UNI) — Working President of the West Bengal Congress Committee Priya Ranjan Das Munshi today said his party might support the Trinamool Congress in certain municipal areas to form ruling boards, but would never have any understanding with the BJP or the CPM.

Mr Das Munshi told newspersons here that the Congress proved to be a major force in the urban areas in the state while the party’s strength in the rural areas had improved considerably.Top

 
NATIONAL BRIEFS

3 "cheetah" cubs found
NASIK: Three cheetah cubs have been found in an old well at Dubare village in Sinnar Taluka of this district. According to sources, the dried-up well belonged to Shankar Gurkule. On Tuesday, some villagers spotted the cubs in the well and informed the Forest Department at Sinnar. The mother was nowhere to be found. Forest Department employees rescued the cubs. The department will release the beasts after medical treatment. — UNI

2 Bangladeshis sentenced
NEW DELHI: A Delhi court on Thursday sentenced two Bangladeshis and a Pakistani national to five years’ rigorous imprisonment for entering into India without any valid passport and visa. Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) R.C. Yaduvanshi, who found Pakistani national Mehfooz Ali and Bangladeshi nationals Temoor Ali and Md Sarif guilty under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, also slapped a fine of Rs 500 each on them. — PTI

UP panchayat poll process on
LUCKNOW: After a number of delays, the process for the three-tier panchayat elections in UP has started. Elections for 52,484 pradhans posts and 52,971 members of the gram panchayats, besides 2113 district panchayat posts in 815 blocks of 71 districts, are to be completed in four phases till June 23, as per the directive of the Supreme Court which had to intervene for elections in the state. The apex court directive came after it found that the state government was eager to postpone the panchayat poll till October. The four-phase polling is scheduled for June 14, 17, 20 and 23 and a total of 139,030 polling stations at the 66,061 polling centres had been set up. — UNI

Bus driver shot at
NEW DELHI: A driver of a State Transport Corporation bus, Dhanraj, was allegedly shot by Bachchu Singh and Afzal in the Preet Vihar area of East Delhi. He had been admitted to Batra Hospital, the police said. It said the incident occurred when the victim was having food at a roadside dhaba in Rasheed market in Preet Vihar. The assailants came and shot at the driver with country-made pistols after having an altercation. The accused were arrested on the charge of attempt to murder. — FOC

UP police alerted
GORAKHPUR: The police in the UP districts bordering Nepal has been alerted following a report that 147 Kashmiri girls, trained in destructive activities, might pass through this area on their way to Pakistan via Nepal to assist the ISI in carrying out terrorist activities in India. The police is keeping strict watch at the railway stations, bus stations, hotels and lodges and other public places. — UNI

BJP office-bearers announced
NEW DELHI: A fortnight after he was re-elected unanimously as president of BJP Delhi unit, Mr Mange Ram Garg on Thursday released the list of the unit’s office bearers and executive members for three years. All Delhi BJP MPs, former Delhi Government ministers, former Delhi Mayors, former Deputy Mayors and presidents of all BJP morchas have been made executive members, Mr Garg told newsmen here. While Choudhary Nihal Singh, Mr O P Babbar, Mr S S Bajwa and Mr Chatrapal Singh have been made vice-presidents, Mr Pawan Sharma, Mr M C Chawla and Mr Shyamlal Garg have been named general secretaries. — PTI

Police rescues passengers
BARAUNI: Five passengers were rescued by the police from a bogie of Janseva Express at Barauni railway station on Wednesday. Railway sources said here on Thursday that the unconscious passengers, mostly labourers, on their way to Bettiah in Bihar from Punjab had been offered intoxicants by fellow passengers, and robbed of their belongings and cash. During the past 15 days the Barauni police has rescued 40 persons under similar situations from the same train. — UNI

Delhi Govt stand questioned
NEW DELHI: An activist group working on HIV/AIDS issues has questioned the Delhi Government’s rationale in deisgnating the city’s slum clusters as high risk areas for the AIDS infection. Challenging the Delhi Government announcement of beginning a 15-day anti-AIDS campaign in "jhuggi jhompri" clusters, which were described as high risk areas, the Joint Action Council Kannaur (JACK) said that it strongly objected to the abuse of public funds through the "misleading, socially damaging and unscientific campaign being launched in Delhi". — UNITop

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