PM returns nuclear fire
Delhi alerted to Bengal flare-up
Drowning bid freezes Water

Jalandhar, Feb. 6 
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today said India would review its commitment to no first use of nuclear weapons if Pakistan continued to foster terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of the country.

“We are geared to meet any eventuality, including a nuclear strike. Though we have committed ourselves to no first use of nuclear weapons, it does not mean we will not use it to safeguard the integrity and unity of the country,” he told a meeting here.

Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf had recently said he would consider using the nuclear option if India threatened his country’s security.

Vajpayee said if Pakistan thought it could destroy India with a nuclear bomb, it was mistaken. “We can retaliate, and retaliate massively.”

Pakistan today said even if it were to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Islamabad would not forego its right to conduct further tests if India did.

In an oblique reference to US President Bill Clinton’s desire to play peacemaker in the sub-continent and an unconcealed rebuff to Musharraf for asserting Kashmir is the “only” dispute, Vajpayee said the world must understand that “terrorism is an issue (between Indo-Pakistan) and not Kashmir”.

Clinton had said last week that he was prepared to “work intensively” to re-start the India-Pakistan dialogue as the Kashmir dispute had made the sub-continent the “most dangerous place in the world”.

Musharraf had also harped on the theme yesterday during a tour of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“India will not take any decision under international pressure,” Vajpayee said.

He asserted that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir was part and parcel of India. He said: “Kashmir is in India, was in India and will continue to remain in India. The earlier Pakistan realises that, the better. We will not rest till the rest of Kashmir is secured.”

Vajpayee rejected a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir, saying: “We do not accept the Muslim majority state argument.” He buttressed his point by saying that a referendum was subject to the withdrawal of forces from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Since Pakistan did not fulfil that condition, there was no question of a vote.

The Prime Minister said India was aware of Pakistan’s intentions. “Pakistan has still not learnt from the Kargil fiasco and continues to support terrorism in the (Kashmir) valley. There has been a spurt in Islamabad-sponsored terrorist activity of late. We are not sitting idle and are prepared for war. Nuclear blackmail will not do Pakistan any good,” he said.

He said that if Pakistan wanted to talk only about Kashmir, “we are ready. We will talk of the one- third of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan because it belongs to India. The whole of Jammu and Kashmir is of India”.

Vajpayee added: “Now we are ready, unlike in the past in Kargil.” But he felt sporadic violence could continue. If bombs were exploding here, they were exploding in Pakistan, too, he said.

Brajesh salvo

India’s national security adviser Brajesh Mishra also took a potshot at the US. Addressing the Munich security conference, he chided the US for what he termed “triumphalism” and a growing disdain for international law.

Mishra said a new security order needed to be created in Asia which broke away from the traditional balance of power.

“What is a cooperative security order, rooted in pluralism,” he said.    

New Delhi, Feb. 6 
A report submitted to the Union home ministry has warned of violent clashes between supporters of the CPM and the Trinamul-BJP combine during the coming municipal and Assembly polls.

Prepared by Central agencies after last month’s armed confrontation in Midnapore’s Keshpur police station area, in which 12 persons were killed and 53 injured, the report was submitted to Union home secretary Kamal Pande a few days ago.

Earlier, home minister L.K. Advani had expressed concern at the growing incidents of violence between the two camps fighting for political supremacy in the state. The ministry had also sought a report from West Bengal chief secretary Manish Gupta.

Ministry sources said the clashes forced railway minister and Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee to meet Advani and request him to make a thorough appraisal of the state’s law and order.

The report, which comes as a slap in the face for the Left Front, criticises police inaction in Keshpur. It says: “The action taken by the police appears to be totally inadequate compared to the gravity of the situation. The fact that the violent clashes continued unabated over a wide area for a week indicates that the police failed to effectively control the situation.”

Pointing out that the rivalry between the two blocs is “growing more and more acute with every passing day”, the report lists some of the danger areas for the elections to the 83 municipalities and corporations, due in two months, and the Assembly polls scheduled early next year.

The trouble spots include wards within Calcutta, Jadavpur, Kasba, Mathurapur, Falta, Kulpi and Pathar Pratima in South 24-Parganas district, Dum Dum in North 24-Parganas, Rishra, Dhaniakhali, Khanakul and Champdani in Hooghly, Golabari, Uluberia and Bally in Howrah, and Garbeta, Danton, Keshpur and Salboni in Midnapore.

The report, which traces the rivalry to the 1998 Lok Sabha polls in which the combine made considerable gains at the expense of the Marxists, is similar to an earlier one given to the home ministry after the last general elections.

“Prior to the 1998 parliamentary polls, rural areas of Midnapore, Hooghly and Burdwan districts were under the political dominance of the CPM,” the earlier report said. “But with the emergence of the Trinamul, many dissident CPM supporters switched allegiance, giving rise to apprehensions in the minds of CPM leaders that their influence had been eroded.

“The fears proved correct in the parliamentary and panchayat polls in 1998. As a result, the CPM has reacted violently against the Trinamul Congress.”    

Varanasi, Feb. 6 
A Shiv Sena supporter tied stones to his hands and feet and jumped into the Ganga to protest against Deepa Mehta’s Water, plunging the film back into uncertainty.

The administration stopped the shooting “until further orders” shortly after it resumed today and the district magistrate was reportedly told to enforce a ban, if necessary. There was a bomb hoax at the Clarkes Tower hotel where the film team has put up.

Arun Pathak tried to drown himself as his deadline to stop Mehta’s filming expired at 5 pm. Thousands stood on the bank chanting “Har Har Mahadev” as he took the plunge. No attempt was made to stop him though he had earlier faxed his plan to the Prime Minister’s Office. The man was later rushed to a nearby hospital. His rescue was delayed as the policemen and others present at the spot could not decide who would dive in to save him. Agencies said he had also taken poison.

A furious Shabana Azmi, who demonstrated in front of the magistrate’s house with the Water crew, said: “The government is carrying on a charade. They just don’t want us to do this film. The political compulsions are there for all to see. The police, the administration are helpless. The orders are coming from above.”

The crew is determined not to pack up, even if it means physical harm. The shooting would continue, Shabana asserted, until the state gave a written order to stop it. “The unit is determined to carry on till the state government gives us in writing that the Centre’s writ is not binding on the state and that it is a law unto itself,” said the actress.

The district magistrate ducked the challenge, saying he would give no such order on behalf of the government. He claimed that the director was advised last night not to resume filming, but paid no heed.

Mehta said: “We are the victims. We don’t know why we are being used as pawns in this political game. There is a bigger design which we can’t comprehend.” She said if need be, she would read out the entire script to national and foreign news agencies.

The director charged the administration with letting law and order deteriorate to use it as an excuse to stop the film. She said her team would defy the administration and return to the location tomorrow to restart shooting.

Yesterday, the anti-Water agitation hit a new depth as a group led by BJP leader Narayan Mishra called the filmmaker a prostitute and made obscene remarks and gestures as they burnt her effigy.

The local administration stood watching as the protesters, about a hundred of them, bayed for the director’s blood. The demonstration was allowed even though the district magistrate had imposed Section 144 in the city. It will be in place till February 25.

Mishra is now on a fast till the Water team leaves Varanasi. “We have been non-violent till now, but the struggle will take a violent turn after Tuesday,” said the councillor. “Ahimsa ki bhi hadh hoti hai (There is a limit to non-violence),” he said.

For the first time since the controversy erupted, shooting had begun — though again indoors — at a widows’ ashram at Assi Chauraha today.

Mehta alleged that a BJP leader who had been denied the film’s Uttar Pradesh rights, was causing the rumpus. But she added that the RSS was not behind the controversy.    


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