Saturday, December 23, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ultras storm Army camp in Red Fort
2 Army men, civilian killed

NEW DELHI, Dec 22 (PTI, UNI) — In the first strike in the national Capital, a two-member suicide squad of Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba tonight stormed the historic Red Fort, killing three persons, including two army men, and seriously wounding another, police sources said.

The sources said the suicide squad barged into the Red Fort at around 9.40 p.m. and fired indiscriminately from automatic weapons, killing two members of Rajputana Rifles on the spot. One more person was also killed. Another armyman was seriously injured in the attack.

The Army cordoned off a huge area around the fort and launched combing operations to track down the militants.

The police cordoned off the entire area around the fort and launched a manhunt for the militants who managed to escape.

A report from Srinagar said Lashkar-e-Toiba claimed responsibility for the attack which came just two days after the Centre announced a month’s extension of the ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir.

Police sources did not rule out the possibility of the militants holding out inside the Red Fort.

The sources said the militants had carried out ambush at three separate places inside the Fort.

The injured soldier has been admitted to hospital.

Meanwhile, the Delhi police late tonight sounded a high alert in the city in view of the militant attack.Back



Women’s Bill fails to make headway
Govt to seek consensus among allies

Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 22 — The Women’s Reservation Bill seeking 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies failed to make any headway in the winter session of Parliament with a determined section of the Opposition stalling its consideration on the last day of the Lok Sabha.

For the second consecutive day, members of the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Bahujan Samaj Party demanded the withdrawal of the Bill and pressed for the introduction of sub-quota within the proposed legislations for the backward classes, the Scheduled Castes/tribes and the minorities.

As soon as the House met for the day, agitated members of the SP, the RJD and the BSP resorted to slogan shouting. Sensing the intransigent mood of these members, the Speaker, Mr G.M.C.Balayogi adjourned the House till 3 pm.

On resumption, the deadlock over the Bill continued to paralyse proceedings and the Speaker again adjourned the House till 15 minutes before the scheduled close at 6 pm.

Mr Balayogi adjourned the House till 5.45 pm as members of the SP, the BSP and the RJD refused to budge from their stand. As soon as the House assembled in the afternoon after the first adjournment, slogan shouting members trooped into the well and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Bill, pre-empting any last minute possibility of the proposed legislation coming up for consideration in the current session.

PTI adds: The government would seek a consensus among the ruling NDA partners on Election Commission’s proposal that political parties should provide ticket to women candidates since the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament seemed difficult, Home Minister L.K. Advani said today.

“If a consensus is achieved, we will approach the Congress and Left parties which have so far favoured the reservation Bill and not the commission’s proposal. The EC proposal under the present circumstances appears to be the only option,” Mr Advani said releasing a book written by BJP MP Ramanand Singh on the 1975 Emergency clamped by Indira Gandhi.

An all-party meeting convened by Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi yesterday had failed to arrive at any consensus on the reservation issue.

Though the government endorsed the commission’s suggestion to fix a percentage for women candidates for elections seeing it as the only way out of the deadlock over the issue, the Congress and the Left parties insisted that the Bill, seeking to provide 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies, be taken up in its present form.


Vajpayee, Sonia trade charges
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Dec 22 — Even as the Lok Sabha adjourned sine die today, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Leader of the Opposition Sonia Gandhi were in no mood to drop matters and blamed each other for the lack of business conducted during the winter session of Parliament.

While the Prime Minister accused her of lowering the dignity of the House by raking up contentious issues even on the last day of the session, the Leader of the Opposition blamed the Vajpayee government for the loss of time of Parliament saying that there was a “mystifying delay” on part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance government in agreeing to discuss the Congress demand for the resignation of the three charge-sheeted ministers.

Mr Vajpayee said:”I have been in Parliament for the past 40 years and I have also held the position of the Leader of the Opposition. But I have always maintained the dignity of the House. This is for the first time that it has been broken.”

In his concluding remarks at the end of the winter session, Mr Vajpayee lamented the unruly scenes and disruptions of proceedings by the Opposition on various issues.

Suggesting the convening of an all-party meeting before the start of the coming Budget session, the Prime Minister pointed out that even the question hour was not allowed on several days by the Opposition but said in his typical humorous tone that “even the ministers concerned would have heaved sighs of relief when the questioners were absent”.

Visibly upset over Mrs Gandhi’s barbs on his government, the Prime Minister said while during the month-long session 11 days were lost and asked whether such scenes would continue in the new millennium. “We should work in a way which shows path to the new generation”, he stressed.

Earlier referring to Ayodhya issue, Mrs Gandhi said there was “mystifying delay” on part of the government in agreeing to discuss the Congress demand for resignation of the three ministers. She said there was a need to “cool communal tensions” which had been raised following “statements made outside Parliament by senior members of the government”.

Recalling the Prime Minister had, a year ago, assured that the government would work for a consensus on the Constitution Amendment Bill ensuring 33 per cent reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the assemblies, the Leader of the Opposition said unfortunately “no effort was made by the government on the Bill barring a meeting at the fag end of the session”.

Mrs Gandhi urged the government to ensure that the Bill should be taken up and said that the government had not made any serious effort on it.

The Congress president said the Constitution Amendment Bill on delimitation of constituencies was another issue which needed to be discussed jointly by all parties as it had serious repercussions.Back

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