Sunday, December 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
W O R L D

NA tosses out Taliban lawbook
Kabul, December 1
The Northern Alliance Justice Ministry has tossed out the Taliban lawbook, with its ruthless punishments, and guaranteed fair treatment to prisoners.

  • GIRLS BACK AT SCHOOLS

Vajpayee will ‘opt’ to visit Pakistan
Islamabad, December 1
Claiming that international pressure was mounting on India to resolve the Kashmir issue, a Senior Pakistani official has said that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will visit Islamabad “after some initial dilly-dallying.”

12 die as troops repulse LTTE attack
Colombo, December 1
Two soldiers and about 10 LTTE militants were killed and eight persons, including two civilians, were wounded, as troops repulsed a rebel attack on an army detachment in eastern Sri Lanka today, defence sources said.

Baby girl born to Japan’s Crown Princess
Tokyo, December 1
Japan’s Crown Princess Masako gave birth to a baby girl today, bringing cheer to a country mired in economic gloom but raising questions over whether a female should be allowed to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Bush greets Sikhs on Guru Nanak’s birthday
Washington, December 1
US President George W. Bush has extended “warm greetings” to Sikhs across the country on the occasion of the 532nd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.


EARLIER STORIES

 

A left wing protester throws a stone during violent clashes with the police in downtown Berlin on Saturday. Police use tear gas and water cannon after they were attacked with stone and bottles by several thousand demonstrators. Right-wing extremists and World War Two veterans marched against the display of a controversial exhibition showing ordinary German soldiers committing Nazi war crimes near the synagogue and a Jewish neighbourhood in downtown Berlin on Saturday. — Reuters

Bangladesh police, Oppn men clash
Dhaka, December 1
The police in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka used rubber bullets and teargas today to disperse hundreds of Opposition activists marching in the streets ahead of a planned strike tomorrow, witnesses said.

Fans mourn for ‘the quiet Beatle’
Los Angeles, December 1
Music fans across the world were mourning today the death of “the quiet Beatle” George Harrison who lost his battle against cancer but left a strong legacy in the world of pop and beyond.

On the occasion of World Aids Day, activists gathered at the UN to discuss strategies for dealing with the AIDS crisis.
(28k, 56k)
 


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NA tosses out Taliban lawbook

Kabul, December 1
The Northern Alliance Justice Ministry has tossed out the Taliban lawbook, with its ruthless punishments, and guaranteed fair treatment to prisoners.

Although the courts have not reopened since the hardline Taliban were forced out of Kabul on November 13, suspects arrested since then have been treated humanely and will be fairly sentenced, Justice Ministry Director, Noor Mohammad Amiri said.

New Justice and Security Minister Mohammad Zia Noorkhil moved swiftly to reinstate the judicial system and laws developed during the 1970s under former President Mohammad Daud Khan, he said.

“The first day we couldn’t stop the Taliban law. The minister is also in charge of security and had to do something about that first. Since then we have worked very hard to make changes.”

The brutal treatment of convicts under the Taliban — including public executions, stonings, cutting the hands of thieves, the flogging of women seen in the streets without the escort of a male family member — are no longer accepted.

“Now it is not happening like that. We do our job according to the law,” Amiri said.

Sayad Agha (25) was jailed for a year under the Taliban, packed into a 45 square metre cell with 45 other prisoners.

“I was beaten and not allowed outside. We were kept in the cells,” he said. He was jailed for the “crime” of having a girlfriend, which is not an offence under the Daud Khan-era laws.

At Nezart Khana jail inside the compound at the police headquarters, Shir Mohammad had no complaints about his treatment in the 13 days since his arrest for being a Taliban, but objected to the charge.

“I am not Taliban, nor Mujahedin. I am a carpet-seller. It is a misunderstanding,” he said in his dreary, cold cell, lit by a few small windows near the ceiling.

Afghanistan’s twin judicial system, where the security bureau decides if a person will be charged before a civil judge or a tribunal of religious leaders, remains.

Zulmi Payenda, a civil court judge who was sacked by the Taliban, defended the religious judges from the barbaric sentences attributed to them under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia (Islamic Law).

“In reality the religious courts were not permitted to judge something. They heard the evidence but the Taliban decided if someone was guilty and they decided the sentence. “The Taliban were not humanitarian. The religious leaders now will refer to the old laws.”

Payenda (55) said sentences would range from jail term to the death penalty “for some serious crimes, but there will be no beatings.”

Justice Ministry Director Amiri said all prisons were empty when the Northern Alliance returned to Kabul. The Taliban guards had fled and more than 2,000 inmates escaped.

With senior Taliban justice officials gone “probably to Pakistan”, Amiri was sorting through applications from 260 former Mujahedin Ministry staff to fill vacancies, but he said women need not apply.

GIRLS BACK AT SCHOOLS

JALALABAD: Sitting cross-legged on the floor of a bombed-out classroom, students hunched over their notebooks as their teachers paced in front of them, giving lectures.

It was like any other morning at Nasran School in Jalalabad, but there was a key difference on Thursday: for the first time since the Taliban took power in 1996, the students were girls.

Hundreds of girls were at school for the first time in their lives. The teachers did their best to calm them, but learning with others — instead of alone or in small groups at home — proved to be a powerful distraction.

Throughout Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan, 3,500 girls have registered for classes and 320 female teachers have returned to work, said Mr Abdul Ghani Hidayat, Director of Education in the new post-Taliban provincial administration.

Mr Hidayat said his office had reopened 284 schools in the province since the Taliban withdrew on November 7, and 150,000 students had returned to school. AFP, AP

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Vajpayee will ‘opt’ to visit Pakistan

Islamabad, December 1
Claiming that international pressure was mounting on India to resolve the Kashmir issue, a Senior Pakistani official has said that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will visit Islamabad “after some initial dilly-dallying.”

“India has no way out but to enter into a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan to resolve the core issue of Kashmir in view of the growing international pressure,” Defence spokesman Major-Gen Rashid Qureshi said participating in a discussion on the state-run television last night.

He said the Indian Prime Minister would “finally opt to visit Pakistan after some initial dilly-dallying.”

General Qureshi said Pakistan’s invitation to Mr Vajpayee and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh still stood.

In an indirect reference to former Pakistan Prime, Minister Benazir Bhutto’s recent allegations of involvement of Pak-based militant organisations in Kashmir, he said “these are unfounded and baseless accusations”.

Ms Bhutto during her recent visit to India had said that “Kashmir’s struggle” was marginalised due to the involvement of Pakistan-based Islamic militant groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba which have links with Al-Qaida.

General Qureshi alleged that India had a “long drawn” plan to isolate Pakistan in the international community and accused New Delhi of “stage managing” the October 1 suicide car bomb blast in front of Kashmir’s Assembly building in Srinagar to coincide with US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s visit to the subcontinent. PTI

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12 die as troops repulse LTTE attack

Colombo, December 1
Two soldiers and about 10 LTTE militants were killed and eight persons, including two civilians, were wounded, as troops repulsed a rebel attack on an army detachment in eastern Sri Lanka today, defence sources said.

Over 60 heavily armed LTTE cadres launched an attack on the army detachment at Kattaparichchan near Muttur in Trincomalee district early this morning, using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns, an army statement said here.

Reinforcements were rushed in from nearby camps and the attack was repulsed within an hour, it said. While exact details of casualties among the retreating militants were not known, troops believed that 10 of them were killed.

Two soldiers were killed and six others wounded. Two civilians in the neighbourhood were also injured in the incident, the army said. Eastern Sri Lanka has seen many such attacks on army camps and police posts in recent weeks.

Today’s attack was probably led by a senior cadre Paduman, the military said, quoting intercepted LTTE radio messages.

Meanwhile, the pre-election scene saw more violence as two parcel bombs went off in the office of the pro-government Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) in Batticaloa town this morning, causing injuries to 19 persons, including eight women.

Only one or two of them were EPDP cadres, and the rest were civilians, reports from Batticaloa said.

The bombs went off from under a table in the office of Mr A. Bharanidaran, an EPDP candidate for the December 5 parliamentary election.

The EPDP, accused of using strong arm tactics and rigging in the last elections in the islands off Jaffna peninsula, is in the thick of a controversy over an attack, allegedly by its cadres, on candidates and supporters of the Tamil National Alliance, a four-party front canvassing on a pro-LTTE plank against the EPDP.

Two TNA supporters were killed and many others injured in the incident that took place on Wednesday at Kayts, one of the islands off the Jaffna peninsula under the EPDP’s informal control for years.

There have been retaliatory attacks on EPDP offices in Jaffna, while most Tamil areas in the north and east, including the major towns of Jaffna, Vavuniya, Batticaloa and Trincomalee, observed a total shut-down on Thursday to protest against the EPDP’s ‘high-handedness’.

The European Union’s election monitoring mission visited the victims in hospital in Jaffna and said what it saw there underlined the fundamental challenge the mission faced in assessing the integrity of Sri Lanka’s electoral process. PTI

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Baby girl born to Japan’s Crown Princess

Tokyo, December 1
Japan’s Crown Princess Masako gave birth to a baby girl today, bringing cheer to a country mired in economic gloom but raising questions over whether a female should be allowed to ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.

The birth of a female will intensify debate on whether to change a law mandating that only males can inherit the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy.

No boys have been born into the imperial family since 1965.

Still, the long-awaited birth was a rare bit of happy news for Japan in a year which has seen unemployment rise to record levels as the economy heads into its fourth recession in a decade.

Both Masako, 37, and the baby — the first born to the Princess and Crown Prince Naruhito in more than eight years of marriage — were doing well, court officials said. Reuters
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Bush greets Sikhs on Guru Nanak’s birthday

Washington, December 1
US President George W. Bush has extended “warm greetings” to Sikhs across the country on the occasion of the 532nd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. “I am pleased to send warm greetings to the Sikh community across the USA as you celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Sikh religion, Guru Nanak”, Bush said in a message sent to the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) - a Washington-based think-tank and representative body of the Sikhs.

“America’s religious diversity has always been a strength of our country. Across our nation, members of the Sikh community are proud of their cultural heritage, their ancestry, and their religious beliefs,” Bush said. PTI

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Fans mourn for ‘the quiet Beatle’

Los Angeles, December 1
Music fans across the world were mourning today the death of “the quiet Beatle” George Harrison who lost his battle against cancer but left a strong legacy in the world of pop and beyond. Tributes poured in yesterday from around the world for the lead guitarist and youngest member of the “Fab Four” who died on Thursday at the age of 58 in a friend’s house in Los Angeles, his wife Olivia and son Dhani, 24, by his side.

“He left this world as he lived in it, conscious of God, fearless of death, and at peace, surrounded by family and friends,” his family said.

Fellow Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the last two surviving Beatles, led the tributes.

McCartney, clearly emotional as he spoke to reporters, called Harrison “my baby brother”.

“We know he had been ill for a while and we have just been praying for some kind of a miracle,” he said.

“It wasn’t to be, but I understand from his wife he went peacefully, which is a great blessing, and it was a very peaceful golden moment apparently.”

Starr, the band’s drummer, said he had lost “a best friend.”

John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono said: “George has given so much to us in his lifetime and continues to do so even after his passing, with his music, his wit and his wisdom. “Thank you George, it was grand knowing you.”

Harrison died amid the chants and prayers of Hare Krishna practitioners with whom he had been close since the 1960s, a source from the movement said yesterday.

While Harrison’s songwriting skills were often overshadowed by the talents, and egos, of his fellow band members Lennon and McCartney, he penned his own Beatles classics including “Here comes the sun,” “While my guitar gently weeps,” and “Something” which Frank Sinatra once described as the finest love song ever written.

Tributes flooded in from Liverpool, the birthplace of the Beatles, where the British flag flew at half mast, and around the world, including Queen Elizabeth and US President George Bush.

At Abbey Road, the Beatles’ legendary London studio, young fans paid tributes to Harrison, proving the enduring appeal of the band that came to symbolise the ‘Swinging’ 60s.

“George, it’s incredible how sad it is to die of such a terrible disease,” wrote Jade Funk, 26, outside the studio where they recorded nearly all their albums between 1962 and 1970. “That is such a loss. We love you.” Heartbroken fans also flocked to the Beatles’ star of fame in Hollywood.

Many other mourners gathered in New York’s Central Park, part of which has been renamed “Strawberry Fields” in memory of Big Apple resident Lennon. AFP

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Bangladesh police, Oppn men clash

Dhaka, December 1
The police in Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka used rubber bullets and teargas today to disperse hundreds of Opposition activists marching in the streets ahead of a planned strike tomorrow, witnesses said.

They said the police moved in after activists of the Bangladesh’s main Opposition Awami League took to the streets in a “torchlight march”. They said at least 10 persons were injured in clashes with the police outside the League’s central office.

“Police used batons, teargas and few rounds of rubber bullets trying to disperse the activists armed with sticks and rocks,” a witness said. The police said the activists defied their order not to stage the march.

The League had called for the half-day strike in Dhaka tomorrow, a working day in mostly Muslim Bangladesh, to protest against a government move to scrap a law providing life-long security to former Prime Minister and League Chief Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana. Reuters

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14 die as bus falls into river

Beijing, December 1
Fourteen persons were killed in south-west China when a bus veered off the road and crashed into a river, the police and hospital officials in Chongqing city said yesterday.

The police said 13 persons on the bus died on the spot in yesterday’s crash. One passenger died later in hospital, a doctor at Yunyang Hospital in Chongqing said. Reuters

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