Thursday, October 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India





THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Cyclone claims 41 lives in Andhra
Hyderabad, October 17
The cyclonic storm which crossed Nellore yesterday has left a trail of death and destruction claiming at least 41 lives in Andhra Pradesh, official sources said today. State Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu started an aerial survey of the worst-affected areas this morning.

7 held in connection with Noida tragedy
New Delhi, October 17
Stung by the deaths due to the consumption of spurious country liquor in Noida, the Delhi Government today said orders had been issued to officials of the Excise Intelligence Bureau to intensify preventive and detective measures. 

Hooch tragedy toll rises to 28
Noida, October 17
With the death of four more persons, the Noida hooch tragedy toll has reached 28. Twelve more lives have been claimed by the killer brew in Bulandshahar and Ferozabad districts of the state.

Harin Pathak assumes office
New Delhi, October 17
Mr Harin Pathak today assumed office as Minister of State for Defence Production and Supplies more than 10 months after he stepped down from the post.
George Fernandes greets Minister of State Hiren Pathak as he takes over his new charge in New Delhi on Wednesday. 
— PTI photo

Punjab, UP polls before March
Dehra Dun, October 17
The Election Commission has announced to conduct the state legislative Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttaranchal at the same time before March, 2002.

No ‘secret plan’ on FDI in print media
New Delhi, October 17
The Centre today made it clear that there was no secret plan to allow Foreign Direct Investment in the print media in the country and it still followed the 1955 Cabinet resolution, which bars the entry of foreign print media business.

Video
Celebrations begin with Navratras, or the 10-day-long ceremonies dedicated to goddess Durga.

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 A boy caresses a cow infected with anthrax in Mollo village, Sarul, 150 km northwest of Kolkata, on Wednesday. An anthrax scare has gripped the village after 12 cattle head died of the bacteria between October 9 and 16. — Reuters


Karnataka denies deaths due to Anthrax, contrary to the claims made by the National Institute of Communicable Disease, New Delhi.
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EARLIER STORIES

 

Members of the Bonda tribe clean mushrooms and mango kernels in Malkangiri district, 700 km from Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, on Wednesday. According to state government records, members of the tribe—who are popular among tourists—have been given thousands of rupees in the last two years to sustain them. The tribe's daily diet consists of mushrooms and mangos. — Reuters


R. Madhavan and Diya Mirza, key artistes of the film "Rehnaa Hai Tere Dil Mein," at a Press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday. 
— PTI photo

Jessica case: witness contradicts statement
New Delhi, October 17
The Jessica Lal murder case today took a new twist with a prosecution witness contradicting his earlier statement given to the police that he heard Bina Ramani saying it was Manu Sharma who had shot the model in Tamarind Court on April 29, 1999.

Patna bandh peaceful
Patna, October 17
The dawn-to-dusk Patna bandh, called by different student organisations in protest against Monday’s police firing on students, passed off peacefully, evoking little response.

Panel on war records’ declassification
New Delhi, October 17
The government today set up a three-member high-level committee headed by former Defence Secretary N.N. Vohra to take a final decision on declassifying history of the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962, Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and 1971 and IPKF operations in Sri Lanka.

ISI agent convicted in spying case
Kolkata, October 17
A Bangladeshi ISI agent and three others were convicted in the Chandipur spying case of 1999 while five others were acquitted by a city court here today.

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Cyclone claims 41 lives in Andhra

Hyderabad, October 17
The cyclonic storm which crossed Nellore yesterday has left a trail of death and destruction claiming at least 41 lives in Andhra Pradesh, official sources said today.

State Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu started an aerial survey of the worst-affected areas this morning.

According to the sources, 15 persons who were taking shelter in a temple, drowned in the flood waters in Suddamitta village in Kurnool district. In Cuddapah town, which is submerged in water, 18 persons were killed in house collapses and 150 reported missing.

Nellore reported six deaths, including five students who were swept away while crossing a rivulet. Two deaths were reported from Chittoor, the home town of the Chief Minister.

The sources, quoting unconfirmed reports, said more than 200 persons were either missing or washed away in the affected coastal districts of Nellore, Cuddapah and Chittoor.

Food and water packets would be dropped by this afternoon as people living in the low-lying areas were being shifted to safer places.

They said Cuddapah town might face the worst-ever floods, as the Buggavanka Dam was facing the threat of a major breach. The entire district machinery was at the dam site, making hectic efforts to prevent any breach to the dam.

Train services and traffic on National Highway No 5 between Chennai and Kolkata were also affected, the sources added.

They said train services were disrupted on the Nellore section and many trains were terminated at Gudur as the rail traffic came to a standstill in the worst-affected Nellore district.

Meanwhile, Army helicopters were pressed into service to drop food packets and carry out relief operations in the state.

“We have pressed Army choppers to drop food packets and rescue people from marooned villages besides engaging military engineering staff from our state and Tamil Nadu for rail and road repair works”, state Relief Commissioner K. Roshaiah told PTI adding that the official machinery would be coordinating relief works from Nellore town.

Heavy rain lashed Nellore, Cuddpah and Chittoor districts breaching tanks, damaging roads, inundating low-lying areas besides uprooting trees and rail tracks while over 3,000 persons were shifted to safer places in last two days.

Though toll figure cannot be specified at this stage, Roshaiah said, there were reports from Cuddapah that 15 persons were missing since a three storey building collapsed following heavy rain. UNI, PTITop

 

7 held in connection with Noida tragedy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
Stung by the deaths due to the consumption of spurious country liquor in Noida, the Delhi Government today said orders had been issued to officials of the Excise Intelligence Bureau to intensify preventive and detective measures. Officials conducted raids in different parts of the city, particularly, in the areas inhabited by slums that are vulnerable to the sale of unauthorised liquor in pouches. Seven persons were arrested from east Delhi in this connection.

Delhi Finance Minister Mahinder Singh Saathi told mediapersons that he had taken up the matter with the Police Commissioner to strengthen enforcement at police station-level. He also said the government was contemplating sealing off of the borders with the states adjoining Delhi.

He said the ‘liberal’ excise policy of UP was partly to blame for the liquor tragedy. “Why doesn’t the Opposition (BJP) in Delhi first set its house in order there?” he said and pointed out that the ‘Tohfa’ brand of country liquor responsible for the Noida deaths was manufactured reportedly in Muzaffarnagar.

The minister said the sale of liquor pouches in Delhi was illegal. Also, the use of plastic (used for pouches) had been banned, thereby rendering their sale in plastic pouches illegal.Top

 

Hooch tragedy toll rises to 28
Our Correspondent

Noida, October 17
With the death of four more persons, the Noida hooch tragedy toll has reached 28. Twelve more lives have been claimed by the killer brew in Bulandshahar and Ferozabad districts of the state. Of the four, who died today, Vinod Shukla and Suresh Pal died at the Noida medicare centre and Mohan Singh and Mahipal Singh died at Bhardwaj Nursing Home here. Out of the 23 admitted in Government Hospital, six are still undergoing treatment and the rest have been discharged, District Magistrate Deepak Kumar said.

As many as 30 persons are still undergoing treatment at various hospitals in the town. Following public announcement that all those, who consumed the illicit liquor should come out and get the treatment, 92 persons turned up taking the number of affected persons to 124. They are residents of the Sector 44 slums, Sectors 4, 22, 9 and 37 and Mamora village

A person, Bunti, of Nithari was taken into custody today for selling liquor and about two dozen shops were razed to ground by the authorities.Top

 

Harin Pathak assumes office

New Delhi, October 17
Mr Harin Pathak today assumed office as Minister of State for Defence Production and Supplies more than 10 months after he stepped down from the post following a charge sheet in a 1985 rioting case.

Mr Pathak was sworn-in to the Union Council of Ministers on Monday along with Defence Minister George Fernandes.

He was Minister of State for Defence Production and Supplies from October, 1999 to November, 2000. He and Gujarat Health Minister Ashok Bhat stepped down from their posts after they were chargesheeted in a case relating to the murder of a police constable during riots in Ahmedabad in 1985.

The 54-year-old MP from Ahmedabad, met Mr Fernandes immediately after taking over. UNI
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Punjab, UP polls before March
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, October 17
The Election Commission has announced to conduct the state legislative Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Uttaranchal at the same time before March, 2002.

This was revealed by Mr J.M. Lingdoh, Chief Election Commissioner, while talking to the mediapersons here today. He was here in the state capital to hear the complaints of the public regarding the proposed draft of the delimitation of Assembly constituencies in Uttaranchal.

When asked that the term of the present legislative Assembly in Punjab is expiring on March 3, 2002 and does it mean that the elections in UP, Uttaranchal and Punjab are expected to be held before this, the Chief Election Commissioner replied: “I can’t exactly give the dates of the election but it is quite obvious that in order to avoid any constitutional crisis, elections will be held sometime in the end of February”.

He said ballot papers would not be used for voting in all constituencies of the three states. Electronic voting machines would be used to cast votes. “We will go for proper identification of the voters this time during voting to avoid bogus voting”, he said.

It is worth mentioning that the Election Commissioners, Mr T.S. Krishnamurthy and Mr B.B. Tandon, have heard the public complaints at Almora, Nainital, Tehri and Pauri. Besides this, the Election Commission heard the public complaints at Hardwar and Dehra Dun during the past few days.

“We have been very systematic in dealing with the hearing of complaints. Detailed interactions were held with the district officials from time to time and finally we had a round of discussions with the Chief Secretary and other senior officials of the state at Dehra Dun this morning,” he added.Top

 

No ‘secret plan’ on FDI in print media
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
The Centre today made it clear that there was no secret plan to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the print media in the country and it still followed the 1955 Cabinet resolution, which bars the entry of foreign print media business.

This was stated by Minister for Information and Broadcasting Sushma Swaraj during discussions on the second day of the Economic Editors Conference, 2001, here.

“The I and B Minister is telling you that there is no question of allowing it (FDI in print media) secretly,” Ms Swaraj said.

She said the government had taken no firm decision on this though the issue relating to FDI in non-news and non-current affairs publications did come up for discussion at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting.

To a specific query on the issue, the Minister categorically said “we are still following the 1955 Cabinet resolution, which bars the entry of foreign print media business. We have also now reopened the issue.”

However, she pointed out that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, headed by Mr Somnath Chatterjee, was looking into the matter suo motu. “We will not proceed on the issue until the report comes out,” Ms Swaraj added.

Ms Swaraj said the industry status given to the film sector has given boost to the sector and film exports had gone up from Rs 250 crore in 1999 to Rs 400 crore last year while Rs 900 crore could be expected in the current financial year.Top

 

Jessica case: witness contradicts statement

New Delhi, October 17
The Jessica Lal murder case today took a new twist with a prosecution witness contradicting his earlier statement given to the police that he heard Bina Ramani saying it was Manu Sharma who had shot the model in Tamarind Court on April 29, 1999.

“I had told the police that Bina was saying stop that man. However I had not said to the police that she also said “He (Manu) has shot Jessica,” said witness Rouble Dunglay in the court of Additional Sessions Judge R.L. Chugh. The dress designer told the court that he heard two gunshots after his arrival at the restaurant at 2 am on the fateful night. He along with well-known designer Rohit Bal and other friends had gone to the restaurant looking for food as all eating joints had closed by then.

Supporting the prosecution on facts, 27-year-old Dunglay told the court that after the gunshot he tried to make out the person who was shot. A moment later he saw Jessica lying in a pool of blood.

He took her to the hospital as he knew her as a friend for past few years. A nervous looking Duglay said it was true that he told the police that he saw Bina chasing a boy soon after the shooting took place, but denied that he told the police that the boy looked obese.

“I don’t remember whether I told the police that the boy who was being followed by Ms Ramani was wearing a white T-shirt and jeans,” Dunglay stated.

Meanwhile the prosecution began to record the statement of Ms Bina Ramani’s husband George Mailhot. It will be continued by the prosecution tomorrow as the matter was adjourned by the court today.

Jessica Lal was allegedly shot dead by Sidharth Vashist, alias Manu Sharma, after she refused to serve liquor to him at the Tamarind Court Restaurant in Mehrauli on April 29 night in 1999. UNITop

 

Patna bandh peaceful

Patna, October 17
The dawn-to-dusk Patna bandh, called by different student organisations in protest against Monday’s police firing on students, passed off peacefully, evoking little response.

Over 10 students were detained by the police when they brought out a procession on the Ashok Raj Path here to enforce the bandh, official sources said. No untoward incident was reported during the bandh.

Colleges under Patna University were closed and most of the private schools here declared a holiday today as a precautionary measure.

Shops and major business houses remained open and vehicles plied as usual. Central and state government offices functioned without any trouble as banks transacted normal business. The police had on Monday opened fire on a group of students trying to free an arrested union leader, leaving one person injured at Patna college here on October 15.

Student organisations, including the Chhatra Samata, the Students Federation of India, and the AISF had called the bandh also demanding punitive action against policemen responsible for it. PTITop

 

Panel on war records’ declassification

New Delhi, October 17
The government today set up a three-member high-level committee headed by former Defence Secretary N.N. Vohra to take a final decision on declassifying history of the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962, Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 and 1971 and IPKF operations in Sri Lanka.

Noted defence historian S.N. Prasad and Lieut Gen (retd) S. Nambiar would be the two other members of the committee, which would submit its report by December 31, a Defence Ministry spokesman said.

The committee, the spokesman said, would review the history of the conflicts already compiled to decide whether or not they could be thrown open for public sale.

A Defence Ministry announcement said the committee would examine all files available in the Ministries of Defence and External Affairs relating to the wars and decide on whether to recommend or reject their publication. PTI
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ISI agent convicted in spying case

Kolkata, October 17
A Bangladeshi ISI agent and three others were convicted in the Chandipur spying case of 1999 while five others were acquitted by a city court here today.

The sentence will be pronounced by the city Civil and Sessions Court Judge A. Mukherjee tomorrow.

ISI agent Ahmed Ali, a native of Jhalokathi district in Bangladesh, was arrested on September 15, 1999, from Dum Dum in the northern fringe of the metropolis for passing on vital information on defence establishments, including the Chandipur missile test range, to Pakistan.

Ali, Aloke Biswas, Md Yakub and Mrinal Poddar were convicted for sedition and criminal conspiracy.

Ali was separately convicted for cheating by impersonation.

The judge observed that the most distressing part was how such secrets were passed on so easily. It was time to change existing laws so that the onus of proof was shifted from the prosecution to the accused.

Eight persons, including two staff members of the Chandipur test range, were apprehended following Ali’s arrest.

Biswas was arrested from Mumbai, Yakub from Delhi and Poddar from Dum Dum.

Asit Panda, his wife, Lakshmi Priya, B.P. Singh, Biren alias Birendra Kumar Das and Aziz Khan were acquitted. B.P. Singh and Das were employees of the test range. PTI
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Entire Opposition quits UP House

Lucknow, October 17
Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker Keshri Nath Tripathi today accepted the resignation of 46 Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) members, including three who had recently moved over from the Samajwadi Party. With this the entire opposition of 152 members has resigned from the House. UNI
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Pakistan frees Punjab youths
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 17
Pakistan has released 29 Punjabi youths languishing in the jails there, after the Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) president, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, brought the issue to the notice of the Union External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, a press note said here today.
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NATIONAL BRIEFS

APEX COURT COMES TO RESCUE OF PURI
NEW DELHI:
The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Centre to release Rs 3 crore for the setting up of a model sewerage project at Puri, one of the four holiest places for Hindus, after expressing anger over the red tapism that has for years frustrated its directions to make the coastal town a cleaner place for pilgrims. Taking serious note of the dilly dallying attitude of the Centre, which had promised to give 75 per cent of the cost of the project approved by the National Environment Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), a Bench gave 12 days’ time for the release of the money for the project. PTI

‘SHALAKA SAMMAN’ FOR RAMDARASH
NEW DELHI:
Dr Ramdarash Mishra will be presented the prestigious ‘Shalaka Samman’ 2001-2002 for his outstanding contribution to Hindi language and literature. The award, instituted by the Hindi Academy, carries Rs 1,11,111 in cash, a shawl and commendation. Dr Rama Shakar Srivastva, a well-known humorist and satirist of Hindi poetry, would be honoured with the ‘Kala Hathrasi Samman’ for the year 2001-2002. UNI

CONTROVERSIAL NGO GETS AWARD
NEW DELHI:
The Naz Foundation (India) Trust, an NGO accused by the UP police of running ‘gay clubs’, has received this year’s Commonwealth award for Action on HIV/AIDS for its outstanding work in the epidemic’s prevention. The award was presented on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Business Council and Para 55 Group in Melbourne, Australia, during a one-day conference on “HIV/AIDS — A Global Emergency: A Multi-sectoral Response for the Commonwealth”. UNI

WALKOUT IN KERALA ASSEMBLY
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:
The entire Marxist-led Opposition Left Democratic Front (LDF) on Wednesday staged a walkout in the Kerala Assembly to protest against the Speaker’s refusal to admit an adjournment motion on the bus fare hike, which became effective on October 1. Opposing the admissibility of the motion, sought to be moved by Mr P.C. George (Kerala Congress-Joseph), Transport Minister K. B. Ganesh Kumar said the hike was necessitated by the acute financial crisis facing the State Road Transport Corporation. There was mounting arrears on account of the purchase of spare parts and tyres effected by the previous government. UNI
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