Saturday, November 24, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

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N A T I O N


Muslims break their fast
Muslims break their fast at sunset in the courtyard of Jama Masjid, the main mosque in the walled city of New Delhi, during the holy month of Ramadan on Friday. — Reuters

Concern over attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh
Parties want PM to take firm stand
New Delhi, November 23
The issue of increased atrocities on minorities particularly Hindus in Bangladesh, after the return of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia in power today found expression in the Lok Sabha with parties asking the Vajpayee government to take a firm stand on the issue.

Low turnout at rallies upsets Cong
Pithoragarh (Uttaranchal), November 23
The Congress will rout out the ruling BJP from Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Addressing a public conference organised by the state unit of the Congress here, party President Sonia Gandhi stated this and asked workers to go to the masses and win their hearts.


EARLIER STORIES

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

VIDEOS

Gulzar and Ghulam Ali come together to give connoisseurs of music "Visaal," a new album launched by HMV.
(28k, 56k)

A two-day Chatt festival, in which married women offer prayers to the Sun god for the welfare of their family, concluded in Bihar on Thursday. (28k, 56k)

Microlite flying is fast becoming a popular aviation sport in Bangalore.(28k, 56k)

Didi Bank, a unique scheme of banking in Durg, Chattisgarh, makes women financially independent.
(28k, 56k)

Prime Minister of Belgium arrived in the capital today on a three day visit.
(28k, 56k)

SAARC summit from January 4
New Delhi, November 23
The 11th summit meeting of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation will be held in Kathmandu from January 4 to 6, a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs announced here today.

Maneka not keen on post
New Delhi, November 23
Ms Maneka Gandhi has said she is not keen to continue as a minister and will not take charge of her new assignment of statistics and programme implementation as “the department does not exist and it does not have a full time secretary or even an office”.

Fine-tune passport process: Omar
New Delhi, November 23
Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah today asked the police chiefs of different states to fine-tune passport verification mechanism to ensure that no compromise was made with national security.

NORTH INDIA IN PARLIAMENT
No relief for farmers uninsured
New Delhi, November 23
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav, told the Rajya Sabha that cotton growers of Punjab had suffered losses due to attacks by various pests, particularly the American bollworm, in the past few years.

Tehelka probe panel gets extension
New Delhi, November 23
The Venkataswami Commission, probing the allegations made by Tehelka news portal on corruption in defence deals, was granted a second extension for another four months today.

15.54 cr for Punjab, Haryana drinking water
New Delhi, November 23
The Ministry of Rural Development has released Rs 15.54 crore to the Haryana Government under the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme and Rs 11.38 crore to the Punjab Government.

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Concern over attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh
Parties want PM to take firm stand
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The issue of increased atrocities on minorities particularly Hindus in Bangladesh, after the return of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia in power today found expression in the Lok Sabha with parties asking the Vajpayee government to take a firm stand on the issue.

Participating in an unscheduled debate on the issue for nearly an hour during zero hour, while Congress and Left party MPs appealed Treasury Bench MPs not to “communalise” the situation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan said it was a “sensitive matter”.

BJP MP Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who had raised the issue during zero hour, said supporters of the Bangladesh Prime Minister had unleashed terror on Hindus and supporters of her predecessor Sheikh Hasina.

There were reports that Hindu women had been criminally assaulted, Prof Malhotra pointed out, adding that Hindus were being particularly targeted there.

Opposition members charged the Treasury Benches with communalising the issue and said caution must be exercised as it could affect the friendly relations with Bangladesh. They also demanded that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, who had sent Principal Secretary Brajesh Mishra as a special envoy recently, or External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh should explain on the floor of the House the ground situation and the steps being taken with the Bangladesh government.

Responding to the members’ concerns, Mr Mahajan assured that the government had already taken up the issue with the Bangladesh government and the Prime Minister had recently sent Mr Mishra to Dhaka where he had “good discussions”.

He would convey the members’ feelings to the Prime Minister, Mr Mahajan said, adding that, if necessary, the government would make a statement on the issue or agree to a discussion in the House.

Mr Mahajan said he agreed with the members that atrocities against minorities whether committed in Pakistan, Bangladesh or India should be looked at with concern.

Congress chief whip Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi said since the Prime Minister sent his special envoy recently to create harmony with the new government, it would only be proper of him to clarify the government’s stand as the issue was delicate.

Mr Dasmunshi said while the Congress condemned the incidents, the party would stand by the official line and not take up the issue in a manner that the BJP was trying to convey.

CPM leader Somnath Chatterjee said the issue was sensitive and the West Bengal Government was doing what was necessary in the present circumstances. He said the BJP must also take into account the plight of Bangladeshi migrants in Delhi where they were being victimised.

Deputy Speaker P.M. Sayeed, who was in the Chair, had a difficult time maintaining order in the House. Mr Sayeed urged the members to maintain restraint in their comments as it was a very sensitive issue and could harm the fabric of bilateral relations with Bangladesh.

BJP MP Rasa Singh Rawat demanded that the government should talk to the Khaleda Zia government about the atrocities.

While Trinamool Congress member Nitesh Sengupta said the hands of people who were protesting against the attack on minorities in Bangladesh strengthened, Congress members Shivraj Patil, Margaret Alva and Jaipal Reddy said the government should respond to the concern expressed by members as there could be tension between the two countries.Top

 

PM acting soft with Dhaka: RSS

Nagpur, November 23
The RSS today charged the Vajpayee government with being “soft” on Dhaka regarding the exodus of Hindus from Bangladesh.

RSS spokesman M.G. Vaidya told newspersons here that the situation in Bangladesh had “not improved” even after national Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra’s visit to that country.

“India is a strong country and it should deal with the issue properly,” he said, adding that though New Delhi’s overall foreign policy was “good”, it had adopted a soft stand on Bangladesh. UNI
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Low turnout at rallies upsets Cong
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Pithoragarh (Uttaranchal), November 23
The Congress will rout out the ruling BJP from Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. Addressing a public conference organised by the state unit of the Congress here, party President Sonia Gandhi stated this and asked workers to go to the masses and win their hearts.

Terming POTO as anti-people and anti-media, she said the Congress would not support the NDA government for passing the Bill in Parliament. She claimed that the days of the BJP and its allies were numbered in these states. She said the Congress was planning to go alone in Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal while in Punjab like-minded parties would be invited to join hands with the Congress.

Earlier, she started the election campaign of the three states, addressing a rally at Uttarkashi this morning. She said the dreams of people of Uttarakhand had not come true. The true idea of the formation of a separate state was yet to be fulfilled.

She said the BJP had failed to protect the rights of the Uttarakhand people. There was unrest in Hardwar, Pauri, Udham Singh Nagar and other parts of Uttaranchal, including the provisional state capital Dehra Dun.

Senior Congress leader N.D. Tiwari promised people that the Congress would bring in a new plan for the overall development of the hill state by creating more employment opportunities.Top

 

SAARC summit from January 4
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The 11th summit meeting of the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) will be held in Kathmandu from January 4 to 6, a spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs announced here today.

The summit will be preceded by a meeting of foreign ministers of all seven SAARC member countries. This meeting will be held in Kathmandu on January 2 and 3.

The foreign minister’s meeting would be preceded by a three-day meeting of the foreign secretaries of the member countries, also to be held in Kathmandu, from December 30th. The agenda of the SAARC summit, according to the spokesperson, is still to be decided. But, sources said the event was likely to be dominated by the issue of terrorism.

The last SAARC summit was held in Colombo from July 29 to 31. The 11th summit was originally to be held in 1999 but could not be held because of the military coup in Pakistan staged by Gen Pervez Musharraf on October 12, 1999. 
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Maneka not keen on post

New Delhi, November 23
Ms Maneka Gandhi has said she is not keen to continue as a minister and will not take charge of her new assignment of statistics and programme implementation as “the department does not exist and it does not have a full time secretary or even an office”.

“I don’t think I am moulded for statistics which is all about producing fabricated data. My mission is to work for a cause and I am heading one of the largest NGOs. I am not keen to remain a minister. You can do a lot of things without being a minister”, she said.

In an interview to Kairali TV, Ms Gandhi said she was at a loss to understand why she was shifted from the Ministry of Social Justice and again from Culture. “Each time I have started doing things, I have been shifted. The rule now is that the less work you do the longer you survive”.

“When I started investigating, people got upset. I was punished for working.”

Regarding the removal of Ms Sonia Gandhi as chairperson of the Nehru Memorial Library and from the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), she said she did not rule out the possibility of the Congress President exerting her influence of changing her portfolio. “Even Mr Murli Manohar Joshi was divested of culture when he started looking into the IGNCA issue”. UNITop

 

Fine-tune passport process: Omar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
Minister of State for External Affairs Omar Abdullah today asked the police chiefs of different states to fine-tune passport verification mechanism to ensure that no compromise was made with national security.

“It is an irony that while anti-national elements like Abu Salem managed to procure two passports, the common man was struggling to get even one,” Mr Abdullah told a meeting of Chief Secretaries and DGPs of all states here.

The meeting was called to evolve various new methods to curtail the cumbersome process in the issuance of passports and finalise plans for district-level decentralisation of the process.

He said the increasing demand for passport services in the country was a reflection of the integration of the country’s economy and society with the rest of the world.

“A series of measures have been taken to modernise the process involved in the making of a passport which include extensive computerisation, creation of data-bases, machine-writing of passports and the modernisation of the passport booklet itself to international standards,” Mr Abdullah said.

The minister said in a bid to decentralise passports “we are poised to commence acceptance of passport application forms at the district level at a designated office either of the District Magistrate or the Superintendent of Police.”

“Unfortunately, we do not have a national identity card and our passport offices rely on the police to verify the identity, nationality and criminal record of the applicant. The present system has many lacunae and the verification process is slow, cumbersome and leads to complaints and harassment at times,” he said.

Mr Abdullah said his ministry proposed that each district should have a “district passport cell” where the civil and police officials should sit together to assist the applicants.Top

 

NORTH INDIA IN PARLIAMENT
No relief for farmers uninsured
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav, told the Rajya Sabha that cotton growers of Punjab had suffered losses due to attacks by various pests, particularly the American bollworm, in the past few years. He said the cotton crop in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan had suffered losses on account of attack of American bollworm. The early onset of rains in May and June led to the buildup of pests. Subsequent intermittent rains and cloudy weather led to multiplication of pests and hindered spray operations, causing damage to cotton. The minister said the Central and state governments sent teams to survey the extent of damage to the cotton crop. The state took suitable measures for pest control by guiding farmers on appropriate use of the pesticides, checking quality of pesticides, distributing leaflets and organising farmers’ gatherings. The minister said farmers are compensated under the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme for crop losses and farmers who have insured their crop are provided compensation as per rules/norms. He said Punjab had not opted for the insurance scheme.

* * * *

Kendriya Vidyalayas in Himachal

The Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Ms Rita Verma told the Rajya Sabha that all districts of Himachal Pradesh except Kulu have Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas. Kendriya Vidyalayas have not been opened district-wise and Bilaspur, Kinnaur, Kulu, Lahaul-Spiti and Una do not have Kendriya Vidyalayas. She said there was presently no proposal to open Kendriya Vidyalayas in these districts. The minister said the matter had been taken up with the state government for providing land and other infrastructures for opening Navodaya Vidyalaya in Kulu district and the proposal, as and when received from state government would be considered on merits.

* * * *

Shatabdi Express halt at Sirhind

The Minister of State for Railways, Mr O. Rajagopal, told the Rajya Sabha today that the ministry had received representations from various members of Parliament for stopping Shatabdi Express at Sirhind in Punjab. He said the representation was examined but not found feasible for implementation.

* * * *

Foot and Mouth Disease in Kashmir

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav informed the Rajya Sabha that the FMD has been prevalent in Kashmir since 1980. Replying to a question on the steps taken by the government to wipe out the disease from the state, Mr Yadav said the aforesaid disease was endemic in India, including Jammu and Kashmir. To reduce the incidences of the disease, the susceptible livestock population is subjected to vaccination and necessary treatment is provided in the event of an outbreak. He said in the past seven years (1994- 2000), there had been 194 outbreaks affecting 17,223 animals in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the government gives funds to the state through a Centrally sponsored scheme namely “Assistance to States for Control of Animal Disease.” Under the Foot and Mouth Disease control component of the scheme, there is a provision to vaccinate susceptible high yielding indigenous, exotic and cross bred cattle belonging to weaker sections of the society. The cost of the vaccine is shared by the Central Government, state government and beneficiary on 25:25:50 basis.Top

 

Tehelka probe panel gets extension

New Delhi, November 23
The Venkataswami Commission, probing the allegations made by Tehelka news portal on corruption in defence deals, was granted a second extension for another four months today.

The commission, whose first extension runs out tomorrow, has been granted extension till March 24, 2002, official sources said.

The commission had sought another extension of its tenure with crucial witnesses like Defence Minister George Fernandes, former Samata Party President Jaya Jaitely and former BJP President Bangaru Laxman yet to be examined.

Set up nearly eight months ago to probe into the Tehelka expose on alleged corruption in defence deals within four months, the commission headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court began its hearings in June. PTI
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15.54 cr for Punjab, Haryana drinking water
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 23
The Ministry of Rural Development has released Rs 15.54 crore to the Haryana Government under the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme and Rs 11.38 crore to the Punjab Government towards second instalment of funds against the provisional allocation of Rs 22.77 crore during 2001-2002 under Centrally sponsored programme.

The ministry also released Rs 174.35 lakh for wastelands development programme to three districts of Himachal Pradesh. These districts are Kullu, Sirmour and Mandi.Top

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