M A I N   N E W S

PM rules out Pak hand in Ayodhya
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

London, July 6
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today made two major announcements: that there was no evidence yet of the involvement of Pakistan as a nation state in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Ayodhya and that there was no question of Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil resigning for the so-called intelligence-failure.

The Prime Minister also made it clear that the peace process with Pakistan was irreversible despite the Ayodhya development.

In the same breath, Dr Manmohan Singh said the terrorism infrastructure in Pakistan was “by and large intact.”

The Prime Minister appeared at home while dealing with diplomatic and political questions during his in-flight interaction with the media persons accompanying him. Asked by this correspondent if he looked at the Ayodhya incident as a pinprick or as a major act, the Prime Minister said it was a major act but his government was committed to the ongoing peace process.

He made pointed references to two sore thumbs in Indo-Pak boundary dispute when he said India was keen on resolving the Siachen and Sir Creek issues.

Significantly, he stated that there was no evidence yet linking Pakistan to the Ayodhya terror incident. He said investigations were still in progress on determining the identity, motive and the brief of the six terrorists who were killed while attempting to get to the disputed site in Ayodhya where a make-shift Ram temple exists.

He also stated that incidents like the terror attack in Ayodhya did “have the potential to affect the public opinion.”

The Prime Minister demonstrated that he had been a fast learner of the ropes, politically, when he turned the heat on Leader of Opposition L K Advani. In response to a question about his comments on BJP Leader Jaswant Singh’s demand for the resignation of Mr Shivraj Patil, the Prime Minister quipped: “If this were to be so, Mr Advani should have resigned as Home Minister many times— when Chittisinghpora massacre took place or when the J&K Assembly was attacked or when terrorists attacked the Parliament and Akshardham temple.

“We never used these tactics to serve cheap political purposes. It only shows that they (the BJP) have no real issues. They are searching for issues.”

When quizzed on his forthcoming bilateral visit to the United States (July 17-20), he said: “I am not going (to the US) with a begging bowl.”

He said Indo-US relations were quite good. “I don’t think that there is any harm that is going to come out of this engagement. We have not surrendered any of our sovereignty.”

The Prime Minister’s remarks are obviously aimed at the UPA government’s major allies— the Left Front which is providing support from outside— and are meant to be seen as assuaging the Left fears of a tilt towards Washington.

On the India-Iran gas pipeline and Washington’s oft-repeated opposition to the venture, the Prime Minister sought to take a middle-of-the-road approach. He remarked: “ We need the US to help us in ensuring that our energy security is not jeopardised.”


Cong trains guns on Advani
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
Having resisted the temptation to blame the BJP directly for politicising the Ayodhya issue yesterday, the Congress today dropped all pretence and trained its guns at BJP leader L.K. Advani for his dangerous statements on this sensitive matter.

The Congress targetted Mr Advani for stating publicly in Guwahati that the people give a fitting response to the terrorist attack at Ayodhya and came out equally strongly against the BJP and other Sangh outfits for its attempts to derive political mileage from such a serious incident by organising country-wide protests.

“We want Mr Advani to clarify what he means by a fitting reply,” Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said today, stating that these attempts to politicise this issue are highly condemnable.

Instead of presenting a united front at this juncture, she said, the BJP and Sangh outfits like the VHP had adopted a narrow-minded and confrontationist approach, even going to the extent of pulling passengers out of aircraft, stopping trains and indulging in other such acts of violence. Mrs Natarajan asked the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister to take swift and immediate action against those involved in today’s incidents.

As regards the Allahabad court’s order on Mr. Advani’s involvement in the demolition of the Babri Masjid, Mrs Natarajan said the Congress had always maintained that the BJP president was among those responsible for that incident and should be tried.

“We are happy the court has now given a judgement that Mr Advani stand trial for his role,” she said, adding that the Congress was confident that justice would be done in this case.


Sonia visits CRPF personnel injured in Ayodhya attack
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi today visited AIIMS to enquire after two CRPF personnel who were injured in the terrorist attack at the Ramjanma Bhoomi site in Ayodhya yesterday.

Sub-Inspector Nand Kishore and Head Constable Sultan Singh, who had sustained bullet injuries in fighting terrorists, were airlifted to the Capital.

Wishing them a speedy recovery, Mrs Gandhi praised grit, valour and determination shown by the personnel in foiling the attack and killing the terrorists on the spot.

Minister of State for Home Sri Prakash Jaiswal has also appreciated the role of the CRPF personnel.


CM asks govt staff to join strike

Jaipur, July 6
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje today courted controversy after she made an appeal to employees to join a BJP-sponsored state-wide bandh tomorrow against the terrorist attack at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

“I would like all offices to remain closed and employees to come out and support the bandh,’’ she said while addressing a dharna organised by the party at the Badi Choupar here.

An official spokesman later clarified that the remark was not meant for government servants and that no order in this regard was being issued.

However, taking strong objection to it, the opposition Congress pointed out that Ms Raje had made an “irresponsible’’ statement.

“The appeal is unconstitutional, illegal and against the Supreme Court’s directive,’’ PCC spokesman Chandra Shekhar Baid said.

He said the Chief Minister had “no business to suggest or direct government employees’’ to join any political event.

The BJP-sponsored bandh tomorrow would “encourage disharmony between different religious communities’’, he opined. — UNI


Rs 1 lakh for injured cops
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced a financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh each for the families of the persons who were killed due to floods in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. He also said Rs 1 lakh each would be given from the PM’s Relief Fund to the paramilitary personnel who had sustained injuries in the attack at Ayodhya yesterday.

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