Saturday, July 1, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cabinet to decide on autonomy: PM
From Amar Chandel
Tribune News Service

ON BOARD PM’S SPECIAL AIRCRAFT, June 30 — The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, today said the government would take a decision on the autonomy resolution adopted by the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly after discussing it in the Cabinet and hoped that consensus on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) could be evolved by the year-end.

Talking to correspondents on his way back home after a five-day trip to Italy and Portugal, Mr Vajpayee said he had not familiarised himself with the details of the debate in the Assembly which took place while he was on tour.

Mr Vajpayee said the J and K Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah had assured him that the Assembly would only be discussing the resolution but disagreed that there was any breach of trust. He said now that a resolution had been passed, the government would consider it and take a decision within the constitutional framework.

To a question if the resolution would pose a threat to the country’s security in the wake of a similar demand in Punjab, the Prime Minister said he did not think so and added that the country was strong and capable of taking care of such issues.

Mr Vajpayee said the process of initiating a dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference would continue.

On CTBT, he said, the government hoped to complete the process of consensus by this year and efforts were on for reaching a broad national consensus on the issue.

He said the CTBT issue should have been discussed by now and if there was a demand during the next session of Parliament for a discussion, it would be held.

According to a PTI report from New Delhi, Mr Vajpayee said the issue of CTBT would be discussed during the monsoon session of Parliament next month.

Referring to New Delhi’s candidature for a permanent seat in an expanded UN Security Council, the Prime Minister said: “We are happy to see that there is a growing recognition of India’s credentials as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council’’.

He said Portugal had supported India’s candidature and there were indications that the issue would feature during the UN General Assembly’s Millennium Summit later this year.

Asked if the poor results in the recent panchayat elections in Uttar Pradesh would lead to a change of Chief Minister, Mr Vajpayee said he would not comment on it as he did not have the complete statistics.

On the differences in the Cabinet on the issue of economic affairs, he said there was a general agreement that economic reforms should continue. While there was agreement on the issue that the pace of economic reforms should be stepped up while not neglecting the social sectors, he said the government was aware of the stand taken by the Swadeshi Jagran Manch.

The Prime Minister said there was some difference of opinion over WTO issues between the developed and developing countries. He said India did not favour linking core labour standards and environmental issues with trade.

PTI adds: Mr Vajpayee expressed “deep satisfaction” over the release of 21 Indian peacekeepers, detained by Revolutionary United Front rebels at Pendembu in Sierra Leone and hoped that other 222 Indian soldiers surrounded by the RUF in Kailahun would also be freed soon.

NEW DELHI, (UNI): In a statement on arrival in the Capital on return from his tour of Italy and Lisbon, Mr Vajpayee said the European Union now had a better understanding of the threats faced because of cross-border terrorism and also supported the proposal for a comprehensive convention on international terrorism.


Bandh paralyses life in Jammu
Protest against autonomy resolution
Tribune News service

JAMMU, June 30 — Barring stray incidents of violence in which half a dozen three-wheelers were smashed, the bandh in protest against the adoption of the resolution seeking greater autonomy for the state in Jammu and other towns passed off peacefully today.

Traders, transporters and even a section of government employees responded to the call for the bandh given by the BJP. The call had been supported by the Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the Nationalist Congress party.

Normal life was completely paralysed as most of the shops remained closed and the transport services on the inter-district and inter-state routes were suspended. Barring a few passenger buses which left for Delhi and some Punjab towns in the early hours this morning, for the rest of the day demonstrators, protesting against the demand for the restoration of pre-1953 constitutional status to the state, raised road barriers and prevented buses from moving out of the yards.

On the Jammu-Pathankot highway road blocks had been raised at several places for ensuring total suspension of the bus service between Jammu and areas outside the state.

Reports from Rajouri, Kathua, R.S. Pora, Samba, Bishna and other towns revealed that people had fully responded to the bandh call. However, there was no response to the call for bandh in Doda and it was partial in Kishtwar and Bhaderwah.

The BJP workers had started mobilising support for the bandh from yesterday. The party workers were seen moving from one area to another to ensure that people exhibited their anger over the resolution seeking greater autonomy.

Since Udhampur district had observed a bandh yesterday there was no disruption of bus service between Jammu and Katra and several thousand pilgrims to Mata Vaishno Devi had to face minimum possible odds as some of the buses were stopped and later allowed to carry the passengers from Katra to the railway station.

Work in government offices and banks was affected as 20 to 30 per cent employees were able to attend office because of non-availability of transport facilities.

In the early hours of the morning three-wheelers were seen operating in some pockets of the city. The protesters stoned them, forcing them off the roads.

The president of the state unit of the BJP, Mr D.K. Kotwal, while congratulating people for responding to the call for the bandh said a high-level BJP team would leave for Delhi shortly to apprise the party high command of the dangers that were linked with the restoration of greater autonomy. He said the team would persuade central leaders to abrogate the special status that the state enjoyed and instead of granting greater autonomy measures be taken to ensure full merger of Jammu and Kashmir with India.

The leader of the BJP Legislature Party, Mr Shiv Charan Gupta, said by adopting the resolution on autonomy the National Conference had further confirmed that it was a “communal” organisation trying to swear by the name of democracy and secularism. Meanwhile, activists of the Jammu Joint Students’ Federation, Panun Kashmir and Ladakh Buddhist Association, have begun mobilising people’s support for their call for a Jammu bandh on Saturday.

The activists of these organisations plan to block the Tawi bridge as was done for a brief period today. They have again approached the lawyers to strike work tomorrow as they did yesterday and today. Yesterday, the Jammu Bar Association had given a call for a Jammu bandh.

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