Tuesday, December 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Israeli missiles destroy Arafat’s residence

Gaza City, December 3
Israeli helicopters today destroyed Yasser Arafat’s presidential residence and offices in a missile strike in Gaza City, while the Palestinian leader was out of Gaza, an AFP correspondent on the scene said.

The helicopters also fired around 10 missiles at Mr Arafat’s heliport in here and destroyed two helicopters and damaged the third one. Mr Arafat is left without a single working helicopter, Palestinian security officials said.

The strike came just hours after hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rushed home to weigh a response to a spate of Palestinian suicide bombings launched against his country while he was in Washington.

“The Gaza attack is a clear message we are sending to Mr Yasser Arafat that the games are over and we hold him responsible for the recent attacks,” a senior army officer said on Israeli Radio.

Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles have descended en masse on Palestinian areas in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority said in a statement today, without giving further detail.

WASHINGTON: The White House on Monday said “Israel has a right to defend itself,” as Israeli helicopters pounded Palestinian sites after a string of weekend suicide bombings that killed more than 20 Israelis.

Asked whether US President George W. Bush was sympathetic to the Israeli decision to retaliate, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters: “Obviously, Israel has a right to defend itself, and the President understands that clearly.”

The White House said Israel and Yasser Arafat must continue to pursue dialogue while emphasising that the Palestinian leader must show “in deeds” that he wants peace.

DUBAI: The Palestinian Authority has called on the USA to intervene following Israel’s raids on the Gaza Strip, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told Abu Dhabi television on Monday.

“I spoke to the Americans minutes after the raids started. They said they would do their best (to stop them), but didn’t say more,” Mr Erakat said. AFP, Reuters


Badal raring to hit campaign trail
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
A convalescing Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal gave the thumbs -up sign here this evening to launch an all-out offensive in gearing up for the Assembly elections in the state scheduled to be held in the first quarter of next year.

Chairing a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD in his hospital room, Mr Badal sent an unambiguous message to his party managers and strategists that he was raring to return to the campaign trail and make up for the lost time at all costs.

Emphasising that the Congress in its quest to regain power in Punjab, had failed to capitalise on his absence from the scene of action, Mr Badal and his colleagues assessed the prevailing political environment and underlined the need to give an added push to the various projects already in the pipeline.

The Chief Minister broadly discussed the contours of the manifesto to be prepared by SAD and the key elements that it should contain. The PAC had before it a draft of the proposed manifesto which is expected to be formalised in due course by a committee specially constituted for this purpose.

It was widely perceived by the members of the PAC that the focus should be on the multi-faceted development of Punjab even though Mr Badal was recovering satisfactorily after a successful operation in a private hospital in the national capital.

Simultaneously, Mr Badal called for greater cohesiveness and holding sustained rallies in the Malwa, Majha and Doaba regions of Punjab. A rally in the Doaba region is on the cards soon.

Dismissing the statements of the Congress and the SAD faction headed by Gurcharan Singh Tohra against Mr Badal as intemperate and in bad taste, the PAC claimed both rivals had failed to make any dent or headway politically during Mr Badal’s forced absence from Punjab. Mr Badal reaffirmed his determination to get back to the people at the earliest and campaign round the clock to make up for the precious time lost.

The meeting adopted a resolution hailing the election of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as President of the SGPC (Amritsar) hailing him as a true Sikh, a scholar and dedicated to the Sikh cause. Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi who had torn the ballot paper on the day of the SGPC presidential election, supported the resolution.

It was also decided to hold a series of constituency-wise conferences from December 13. Mr Badal, who is scheduled to return to Chandigarh on Wednesday, will be keeping a close tab on these conferences and taking expeditious course corrections. The Chief Minister is expected to involve himself in these conferences in various constituencies towards month end.

Those present at the SAD PAC meeting were Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Mr Sewa Singh Sikhwan, Bibi Upinderjit Kaur, Mr Tota Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh Badal (all ministers), newly elected SGPC (Amritsar) president Kirpal Singh Badungar and former SGPC presidents Bibi Jagir Kaur and Jagdev Singh Talwandi.Back

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