Tuesday, February 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Accept court verdict on Ayodhya, says Kalam
Tribune News Service

President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and  Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the opening day of the Budget Session of Parliament in New Delhi on Monday.

The President's Body Guard during a ceremonial procession at Parliament House on Monday. 

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee being welcomed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at at Parliament House on Monday. — PTI photos

New Delhi, February 17
With the Ayodhya issue taking centrestage in the Budget session of Parliament, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam today asked political parties and religious leaders to accept the court verdict on the issue.

“While the judiciary should expedite its work and give an early verdict, it is also necessary for political parties, religious leaders and eminent social personalities to promote an atmosphere of mutual understanding, goodwill and accommodation,” the President said in his first address to the joint sitting of Parliament on the opening day of the Budget session.

The government had repeatedly made it clear that the Ayodhya dispute could be resolved either through negotiations between the two communities or through a verdict of the judiciary which had to be accepted by all concerned, Dr Kalam said in his address.

Appreciating the legislative business conducted last year in Parliament, the President said this was the highest number of legislations enacted in a year during the past 25 years and the third highest since 1947.

Stating that apart from the fiscal agenda relating to the Railway and General Budgets, there was a heavy legislative business awaiting completion in this session, Dr Kalam expressed the hope that the Budget session and all the subsequent sessions of Parliament would be as productive as the previous one.

Noting that national security was a matter of highest priority for the government, Dr Kalam said: “After the December 13 attack on our Parliament by Pakistan-based terrorists, we were constrained to deploy our troops along the international border”.

“This decision achieved its purpose by showing both our firmness and self-restraint in dealing with our hostile neighbour,” he said, adding that in October last year, the government, after careful deliberation, had decided to strategically redeploy the armed forces.

He asserted, that this was done without compromising on their capacity to respond decisively to any emergency and without lowering their vigil in Jammu and Kashmir.

Stating that India would attend the next SAARC Summit if meaningful progress was achieved on the economic agenda of the regional grouping, Dr Kalam said: “India’s commitment to SAARC as an engine for economic integration and equitable development in the region remains undiluted.”

“We have constantly pushed for progress on substantive aspects of the economic agenda outlined in the Kathmandu Declaration,” he said, adding that “we have repeatedly declared our willingness to attend the next SAARC Summit if meaningful progress is achieved on these issues”. The nuclear doctrine places the ultimate control of our strategic assets in the hands of the civilian political executive”, the President said. “The country is truly proud of the scientists, engineers and staff of DRDO for the successful test-firing of Agni-1 missile”, he stated.

Dr Kalam said continued incidents of cross-border terrorism in 2002 again underscored that the chief threat to India’s internal security was external. “The killings of innocent men, women and children, the choice of members of the families of security personnel as special targets, the attack on pilgrims — all this showed that there was a method in the madness of Pakistan-supported terrorist violence,” he said.

“This method, however, did not succeed as our people maintained calm even in the face of provocative attacks on the Akshardham temple in Gandhinagar and the Raghunath temple in Jammu”, he added. “However, we must continue to be vigilant against an adversary which is unwilling to give up its anti-India stand,” he said. Accusing Pakistan of not fulfilling its promises on the issue of cross-border terrorism, Dr Kalam said the infrastructure of terrorist groups remained intact there and the funding of terrorist groups continued.

On the formation of a new government in Jammu and Kashmir, the President said the Centre was fully committed to working closely with it in its efforts to bring peace, normalcy and economic development in the state.

The Prime Minister had announced projects and schemes worth over Rs 6,000 crore covering various aspects of development and security, with a thrust on the generation of new employment opportunities for the youth and relief for migrants affected by militancy and cross-border shelling.

Pointing out that the government’s concerted efforts to rebuild peace in the Northeast were bearing fruit, the President felicitated the people of Nagaland, whose yearning for peace had imparted strong momentum to the Centre’s efforts in this direction.

“I also heartily congratulate the Bodo community for the successful conclusion of the peace talks,” he said, adding that development work in the northeastern region had gathered further momentum.

A number of infrastructure projects have been set up through the non-lapsable Central Pool, through which more than Rs 1500 crore have so far been released. The people’s long-standing demand for better facilities for air travel in the Northeast has been addressed with the introduction of four 50-seater aircraft, he said.

Referring to the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh, Dr Kalam said the government was determined to take all necessary steps to check this problem.

He said the problem had assumed serious proportions and affected many states. “There have been reports of Bangladesh territory being used by insurgent groups operating in the Northeast. The ISI is also active in Bangladesh. This makes the issue of infiltration even more ominous,” he said. He said the state government should take immediate corrective measures for proper utilisation of the Rs 1,000-crore Police Modernisation Scheme, launched two years ago.

It has been decided to launch the Multipurpose National Identity Card Project on a pilot basis in 13 states from April, he said.

The Assembly poll in Gujarat have strengthened democracy and ended a sad chapter in the state’s history, he said, adding that “we must resolve to ensure that communal violence is never repeated in any part of our country. The government remains committed to secularism.”

Dr Kalam said despite global slowdown, the government had a coherent and well-integrated strategy for boosting economic growth. He said the target of 8 per cent growth rate, set out in the 10th Plan, was achievable.

“Despite a relative slowdown in the economy, the total revenue from excise and customs rose by over 15 per cent in the first nine months of the year,” he said. “However, food stocks are comfortable and prices of essential commodities are stable, despite a severe drought in fourteen states”, he said, adding that the recent dip in the estimates of the GDP growth had been almost entirely due to the shortfall in agricultural production.

He said the programme for clean drinking water, launched in December, had scaled up the rural drinking water supply initiative to cover the entire country. “It is a community-led, participatory programme to be implemented by the community and the gram panchayats,” he said.


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