|Sunday, July 23, 2000,
Maharashtra on collision
favours limited Army role in J&K
announces population fund
talks back on track
Bihar to get security
‘only PM to call CMs’ meeting’
from S. Korea reaches Ayodhya
of death penalty advocated
win medals in Biology Olympiad
thundershowers in HP, Rajasthan
Maharashtra on collision course
NEW DELHI, July 22 — The National Democratic Alliance government and the ruling Democratic Front in Maharashtra appeared on a collision course on the issue of prosecuting the Shiv Sena chief, Mr Bal Thackeray, for allegedly inciting communal violence in 1993.
The BJP leadership finds itself caught in a no go situation — unable to intervene in Maharashtra where the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition regime has adopted a tough line in dealing with "communalists" like Mr Thackeray.
With the monsoon session of Parliament starting on Monday, the BJP-led NDA realises that it is in for some raucous proceedings and pounding in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. To work out its strategy in blunting the opposition onslaught in Parliament, the meeting of the coordination committee of the NDA has been convened here tomorrow evening which will be chaired by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.
The coordination committee will deliberate on Jammu and Kashmir’s demand for autonomy as well as the decision of the Maharashtra government to give the green signal to prosecute Mr Thackeray for stoking communal riots in Mumbai in 1993 in the wake of the demolition of the Ram Janambhoomi-Babri Masjid structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992.
These two issues have provided the necessary grist to the opposition mill. The Congress has accused the Vajpayee government of lacking perspective and bumbling along on Jammu and Kashmir’s demand for autonomy. On the prosecution of Mr Thackeray, the Congress think tank firmly believes that dealing firmly with communal forces will provide the party the much needed shot in the arm.
The NCP and its highly volatile Deputy Chief Minister in particular, Mr Chaggan Bhujbal, is blatantly out to settle scores with old foe Mr Thackeray. This has caused some delicate and worrisome moments for the Congress. However, with the die having been cast, the Congress wants to move ahead on the Thackeray prosecution issue with an element of circumspection and not precipitate matters.
There are also discernible cracks in the BJP-Shiv Sena relationship. While the Shiv Sena activists have openly threatened to create disturbances if Mr Thackeray is booked, the BJP has advocated a different approach.
BJP strategists find themselves
in a bind and fear that the Centre will be blamed if violence erupts
in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra if proceedings are launched
against Mr Thackeray. To compound matters, the Supreme Court has
observed that it was for the state government to act on Mr Thackeray’s
prosecution while questioning the principle of collective
responsibility of the Centre on the Sri Krishna Commission report.
announces population fund
NEW DELHI, July 22 — Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said that the government proposed to set up an empowered action group and a national population stabilisation fund to achieve the goals of the National Commission on Population.
The National Commission on Population was constituted on May 11, the day India crossed the one billion mark. Chaired by the Prime Minister, the commission comprises political leaders, members of Parliament, chief ministers, state health ministers, representatives from the corporate sector, non-government organisations and demographers.
Addressing the first meeting of the commission here today, Mr Vajpayee said the empowered action group, attached to the Health Ministry would be entrusted with the task of making area specific programmes. These programmes would focus on states that were lagging behind in containing population growth to manageable limits and were likely to account for nearly half of the country’s population in the next two decades.
The group will also concentrate on involving voluntary associations, community organisations and panchayati raj institutions. It will explore the possibility of expanding the scope of "social marketing" of contraceptives in a manner that makes them easily accessible.
The Prime Minister said the national population stabilisation fund will provide a window for canalising monies from national voluntary sources. He said the fund was being set up to specifically aid projects designed to contribute to population stabilisation.
He appealed to the corporate sector, industry, trade organisations and individuals to generously contribute to the fund. He said the Planning Commission may consider making a seed contribution from resources available with it. He added that non-government representatives would be associated in the management of the fund.
The Prime Minister reminded the states of their responsibility of preventing the population from exploding to unmanageable limits.
The Prime Minister said success stories of China, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia show that the population growth could be checked with political will, backed by adequate popular response.
He drew attention to exemplary performance of Kerala, Goa, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and said that these States have contained population growth.
Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Mr K.C. Pant who is the Vice Chairman of the National Population Commission said experts do not expect India’s population to stabilise before 2045 at a level of 150 to 160 crore. He said that the national population policy 2000 would try to achieve replacement level of fertility by 2010 with a population of 111 crore.
He said that Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Orissa constitute 45 per cent of the total population of India. He said that these states can tap their excellent human, mineral and agricultural resources by overcoming poverty, illiteracy and poor development.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi said the national population policy had certain inherent contradictions. She warned that the policy would fail if it did not seriously address the issue of implementation and coordination.
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Dr C.P. Thakur said family welfare programmes need reassessment and rethinking as the country had reached the one billion mark in the year 2000 despite an expenditure of Rs 19,516 crore on family welfare programmes since the First Plan.
PTI adds: Punjab and Himachal Pradesh on Saturday said they were on target in arresting the population growth and asserted that zero growth would be achieved by the next decade.
Addressing the first meeting of the National Population Commission here, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, said the 2.7 per cent fertility rate in the state was much below the national average of 3.3 per cent.
While Mr Badal said Punjab was confident of achieving the national population control target by 2010, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said his state was steadily heading towards achieving the zero population growth by 2015.
As result of its successful drive against family planning, the fertility rate in the state had declined to 2.14 per cent by the end of 1998 as against 2.97 in 1992.
The state government had taken the issue very seriously and had banned people with more than two children from contesting the panchayat elections, Mr Dhumal said.
He said panchayats were being
actively involved in the family planning drive and in each assembly
constituency a panchayat which achieved lowest growth rate, was
awarded a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh every year, he said.
Malik favours limited Army role in J&K
BHOPAL, July 22 (PTI) — Chief of Army Staff Gen V.P. Malik today said the civil authorities should desist from using the Army for maintaining law and order in Jammu and Kashmir.
"I do not favour that Jammu and Kashmir should be handed over to the Army. In fact, in my opinion the civilian authorities should desist from using the Army for maintaining law and order", he told reporters here.
Gen Malik said except during natural calamities like earthquake, floods and cyclone, the civil administration should have its own machinery set up for meeting emergencies.
There is evidence that the Pakistani intruders were waging a proxy war from across the border and 188 militants were killed by Indian forces in June alone this year, he said.
Mr Malik said trained militants were entering from the Pakistan side and there was a spurt in their activities since May.
talks back on track
NEW DELHI, July 22 — There is relief in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) over the Return of the Kashmir issue to the negotiating table and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, not insisting on pre-1953 status.
The election of Prof Abdul Ghani Bhat as the new All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman is also being viewed as a positive development. Prof Bhat is not totally opposed to talks and has already met some of the PMO emissaries.
The PMO’s perception is that since Prof Bhat, unlike former APHC Chairman, Mr S.A.S. Gillani, is younger and has an academics background, he could be more flexible.
While it was difficult, if not impossible, for Mr Gillani to relent from his hard line on the Kashmir issue as he was clearly identified with it by his followers and supporters, Prof Bhat does not have the same identity problems, a senior official said adding that the new APHC chairman has a long political innings ahead of him.
Meanwhile, Dr Abdullah has been meeting leaders of different political parties across the country to explain the circumstances in which the state Assembly passed the controversial autonomy resolution.
Notwithstanding Dr Abdullah’s efforts, the PMO is still worried over elements, both within the National Conference as well as within the Bharatiya Janata Party, who are hellbent on sabotaging any attempt at a solution of the Kashmir issue.
Mr Vajpayee had decided to address the Kashmir issue immediately after assuming charge in October, 1999 and had started working on his plan, authoritative sources said, adding that Dr Abdullah was kept in the picture all along.
Contrary to popular perception, the release of the Hurriyat leaders in March this year and decision to establish channels of communications with them was taken in close consultations with Dr Abdullah.
While the All-Party Hurriyat Conference (APHC) leaders never tire of telling their followers that their release from Jodhpur jail was under the US President, Mr Bill Clinton’s pressure, the facts on the ground suggest otherwise.
The sources said the government had
decided to set the APHC leaders free in February itself, and Mr
Clinton’s visit in March had in fact delayed their release, and the
state Assembly’s autonomy resolution derailed the talks process. In
fact after hawks in the National Conference succeeded in prevailing
upon Dr Abdullah to get the autonomy resolution passed, the situation
appeared to spiral out of control with both the Rashtriya Swayamsevak
Sangh and hardliners in the BJP assuming strident postures.
Ex-CMs of Bihar to get security
PATNA, July 22 (UNI) — The assembly today passed the Bihar special security group Bill, 2000, for providing security to former chief ministers and their families till five years after they relinquish their post.
The Bill passed by a voice vote, however, rejected the suggestion of the opposition benches of providing security to all former chief ministers and former legislators. The proposed special security measure would be provided only to Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav and Mr Nitish Kumar.
Making a statement in the House, Water Resources Minister Jagadanand Singh said the Bill was similar to that passed by the Centre for former Prime Ministers and their kins.
However, the minister accepted that the same Bill approved by the House during 1998, which was pending before the Governor, had been withdrawn as the Centre and the Governor had objected to the security cover outside the state. He said the present Bill would give security to the former chief ministers only inside the state.
Leader of the Opposition Sushil Kumar Modi said the passage of the Bill would send a wrong message to the masses as it was done for the benefit of a particular family and it was by chance that Mr Nitish Kumar would be benefited.
The BJP-Samata party members today raised objection to the constitution of a joint legislature committee on the accountability and role of the Accountant-General (A-G) regarding excess withdrawal from the state treasuries.
Leader of the Opposition Sushil Kumar
Modi said the legislature had no right to probe the activities of the A-G. He said only on the report of the Public Accounts Committee
of the House, the members could discuss it.
Autonomy: ‘only PM to call CMs’ meeting’
CHENNAI, July 22 (UNI) — Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi today ruled out any joint initiative with his Jammu and Kashmir counterpart Farooq Abdullah to convene a Chief Ministers’ conference to discuss the autonomy issue of that state.
When asked at a press conference here whether he would take a joint initiative on the issue, he said, "No, no, it is the Prime Minister’s prerogative".
After meeting Mr Karunanidhi yesterday, Dr Abdullah had told reporters that the latter had favoured a Chief Ministers’ meet on the issue.
Replying to another question, Mr Karunanidhi said he was in broad agreement with Dr Abdullah and other Chief Ministers on the question of state autonomy. The DMK believed that Jammu and Kashmir required certain special provisions on the issue of autonomy in relation to the other states in the Indian union.
He said Dr Abdullah
told him yesterday that an impression had been created that the Jammu
and Kashmir resolution on autonomy was separatist in nature and the
state wanted to be independent. This impression was incorrect.
Stone from S. Korea reaches Ayodhya
AYODHYA, July 22 (PTI) — A beautifully carved memorial stone from South Korea will be installed here in the memory of the princess of Ayodhya who was married to Korean king Kim Suro in the first century AD.
The 7,500-kg stone, to be installed in October, arrived here yesterday.
The memorial stone will be installed at Ram-ki-Pauri, according to Mr S.Singh, Commissioner, Faizabad Division.
Bimlendra Mohan Misra, erstwhile king of Ayodhya, said that the chief of a South Korean delegation which had visited Ayodhya in February, Bang Ho Kim, had written to him saying the memorial stone would be installed in Ayodhya at a ceremony to be attended by a 500-member South Korean delegation.
Abolition of death penalty advocated
NEW DELHI, July 22 (PTI) — A strong emphasis was made today by a number of legal experts and social rights activists for abolition of death penalty in the country, saying that it had no deterring effect as perceived earlier.
Assembling at a conference here, the
speakers, including former Supreme Court Judge V.R. krishna Iyer,
former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajinder Sachar, senior Supreme
Court advocate Indira Jaisingh and former chairperson of National
Commission for Women Mohini Giri asserted that in a "civilised
society" capital punishment could not be awarded for any crime.
Indians win medals in Biology Olympiad
VADODARA, July 22 (UNI) — Indian students made a mark at the 11th International Biology Olympiad (IBO) held at Antalya, Turkey, winning a silver and three bronze medals.
Talking to UNI team leader Prof Bharat Chattoo of Maharaja Sayajirao University (MSU) said, "Though this is the first time the country is participating in the contest, every team member has secured a medal.".
Sahajal Dhooria from Jaipur won the silver medal, while Pallavi Torka from Ranchi, Ashok S. from Chennai and Swati Pandey from Rajasthan each got bronze.
In a week-long competition which began on July 9 about 150 students representing 38 countries took part in the Olympiad. Each country had to send four students, who were winners at their respective national competitions.
The Olympiad as the name suggests
focused on biology as a valuable subject. Many topics like ethology
and ecology were covered, especially bio preservation and
environmental protection. It offered opportunity to compare the
syllabi and educational trends in the study of biology in different
countries, he added.
thundershowers in HP, Rajasthan
NEW DELHI, July 22 — The monsoon has been vigorous in Rajasthan and active in Himachal Pradesh and the hills of west Uttar Pradesh.
Rainfall: Rain and thundershowers occurred at most places in Himachal Pradesh, east Rajasthan and the hills of west Uttar Pradesh, at many places in west Rajasthan, at a few places in Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and east Uttar Pradesh and at isolated places in the plains of west Uttar Pradesh.
The amount of rainfall in cm:
Haryana: Ambala 3,
Himachal Pradesh: Nalagarh 8, Kahu 7, Berthin, Nadaun and Pachhad 6 each, Dehragopipur, Kumarsain and Rajgarh 5 each, Jubbal and Paonta 4 each, Ghamroor, Gohar, Nagrota Surian, Shimla, Sunibhaji and Sangrah 3 each, Kasol, Kasauli, Nahan, Rampur Bushar, Rohru and Solan 2 each and Bhuntar, Baijnath, Dadahu, Guler, Kangra, Pandoh and Sundernagar 1 each.
Jammu and Kashmir: Jammu 3 and Kathua 2.
Punjab: Amritsar, Mukerian and Nangal 3 each.
Rajasthan: Beawar 20, Gudadam 13. Jahajpur 12, Bijoliya 11, Jawaja 10, Abheypura, Arvar, Khari, Mount Abu and Narayan Sagar 9 each, Gulabpura, Jwai Bandh, Naher Sagar, Oguta, Saver, Vijay Nagar and Verdha 8 each, Asind, Bali, Pishangan and Tazagarh 7 each, Agucha, Banera, Bundi, Chanda Ka Talab, Jaitpura and Sirohi 6 each, Masuda, Mangolia, Nasirabad and Sareri 5 each, Darra, Gogunda and Pindwra 4 each, Ajmer,Alnia Dam, Ballabhnagar, Bhinay, Jawahar Sagar, Kakari, Phalodi, Pushkar, Sawroop Sagar and Udaipur 3 each, Jodhpur, Jhalrapatan, Jhakham, Kishangunj, Mahidam, Niwai, Palimrwa and Udaisagar 2 each and Asapur, Bonli, Banswara, Dungarpur, Deval, Jaipur, Kanwa, Khanpur, Kishangarh, Kota, Kishansgar, Nidhawa, Raza, Sikar and Sawai Madhopur 1 each.
Uttar Pradesh: Haripur 9, Dehradun 7, Tehri 6, Uttarkashi 5, Balrampur and Rudraprayag 3 each, Chandradeepghat, Kakrahi, Kakardharighat, Marora and Varanasi A.P. 2 each and Bansi, Bahraich and Joshimath 1 each.
Forecast valid until the morning of the 24th: Rain or thundershowers will occur at many places in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and the hills of west Uttar Pradesh and at a few places in the rest of the region.
Heavy rainfall warning: Heavy rain is likely at isolated places in Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and the hills of west Uttar Pradesh during the next 24 hours.
Forecast for Delhi and its neighbourhood valid until the morning of the 24th: Generally cloudy sky with one or two showers/thundershowers in some areas.
Farmers weather bulletin for Delhi: Forecast valid until the morning of 24th: Light to moderate rain will occur at a few places.
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