Delhi dash to defuse DMK bomb
Roles reversed in bypoll battle
Bihar shake-up after Sonia rap
Talaaq begins to run both ways
Calcutta weather

 
 
DELHI DASH TO DEFUSE DMK BOMB 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, June 5 
A red-faced government today scampered to play down ally M. Karunanidhi’s “Czechoslovakia-type solution” to the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis, saying there was no shift in its stand that the Tamil problem should be resolved without violating the territorial integrity of the island-nation.

The DMK chief had suggested on Saturday that Colombo follow the example of Czechoslovakia which split into two to end civil strife without bloodshed. This is in total contrast to the government’s stated position on Sri Lanka.

Plugging the stand taken by its predecessor, the BJP today made it clear that it was keen on a solution to the Tamil question provided it was within the Sinhalese Constitution and did not violate the country’s territorial integrity. “We are against any division of Sri Lanka,” a foreign ministry official said.

Across the Palk Strait, Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga appeared to have toughened her stand, ruling out immediate talks with the Tamil Tigers and laying down that peace dialogue would be held only on her terms in future.

In a weekend interview to BBC, she said: “We have tried to talk to them (LTTE) for six years, and for six years they have lied. They have deceived people, foreign countries and governments on the pretext that they are going to talk. Till date they have refused to talk and now there is no question of talking unless certain conditions are fulfilled. So we can’t even think of it.”

Though Colombo is yet to officially react to Karunanidhi’s statement, the Opposition Congress and CPM criticised the government for not clearing the air when one of its allies was mooting a line “totally contrary to the views of India as a nation”. They insisted that Lanka’s territorial unity was “sacrosanct”.

Foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal merely said there “has been no change in India’s position on Sri Lanka”. The official position is that Delhi will be “guided by its continued commitment to a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the conflict within the framework of Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity; a united Sri Lanka where all communities can realise their aspirations”.

Foreign ministry officials said they were in constant touch with their Lankan counterparts, but the “Czechoslovakia-type” solution had not cropped up during talks. However, there were indications that privately Indian officials were trying to dispel doubts about any possible shift in Delhi’s stand.

Colombo has reportedly been asked not to take Karunanidhi’s statement too seriously. The chief minister is alleged to have made the remark to appease hardliners demanding a Tamil Eelam.

and marginalise MDMK chief Vaiko.

, a known Tiger sympathiser.

   


 
 
ROLES REVERSED IN BYPOLL BATTLE 
 
 
FROM KUMARESH GHOSH
 
Midnapore, June 5 
As Mamata Banerjee branded Panskura the starting point of a “return to democracy”, the Left was accusing Trinamul Congress activists of manhandling Gurudas Dasgupta, its candidate in the Lok Sabha byelection.

Dasgupta, a CPI nominee, was beaten up at a booth in the violence-prone Keshpur segment of the constituency in the morning when he was shepherding his voters who were earlier driven away. A Trinamul supporter allegedly tried to snatch his spectacles.

CPM state secretary Anil Biswas blamed Trinamul for the incident as the Left Front demanded repolling in 30 booths at the end of one of Bengal’s most high-profile byelections ever.

In a reversal of roles, Mamata, camping in the constituency, racked by CPM-Trinamul clashes over the past few months, was not only silent on repoll but was also quick to describe the election as “free and fair”.

“Panskura will mark the beginning of restoration of democracy in West Bengal. I congratulate the Election Commission for taking measures to ensure a free and fair election,” she said.

Mamata also issued an unusually generous certificate to the police, saying: “In certain localities, they played a good role, even though in some areas they helped the Left Front to rig.”

When Dasgupta was attacked, there were no policemen in sight. But soon jawans of the Rapid Action Force arrived and took control of the situation.

Mamata, however, alleged that Dasgupta had gone to the booth with some criminals and beat up Trinamul workers.

At the booth, Dasgupta had rushed to the policemen and picked a quarrel with an officer over allegations that some voters were being allowed to cast their ballots without identity papers.

Trinamul workers present there responded with aggression but central observer Alok Chaturvedi, who was present, came to Dasgupta’s rescue.

The two sides exchanged customary accusations of rigging and booth-jamming with the difference that this time the Opposition’s voice was not louder. Polling agents of the Congress candidate, Subhankar Chakraborty, were not seen anywhere.

District magistrate M.V. Rao said there was over 80 per cent polling.

As the day wore on, both parties threatened voters and resorted to booth-jamming in their strongholds. In one area, many CPM supporters were seen moving with police escort.

One of them, Sheikh Haroj Ali, said: “I have been leaving away from home for the last three years. The police have brought me here. I hope they will help me return to my temporary shelter.” Another CPM supporter said: “I do not want to vote. I want to leave.”

In Mahisda village, a CPM stronghold under Keshpur police station, a number of Trinamul supporters were not allowed to vote and they lodged a complaint with the police.

Similar scenes were witnessed in Anandapur where CPM workers freely captured booths and resorted to false voting in favour of Dasgupta with the police remaining a mute spectator.

In Trinamul-dominated areas, CPM polling agents were not even present in many booths.    


 
 
BIHAR SHAKE-UP AFTER SONIA RAP 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Patna, June 5 
The Bihar government has swung into action and ordered the transfer of at least 112 officers in an effort to halt the soaring crime graph.

While 52 IPS officers were given the marching orders yesterday, the government has moved out 60 IAS officers, including six divisional commissioners and 30 district magistrates.

The police officers were shifted hours after six members of two Yadav families were hacked to death at a village near Nawada yesterday. Around the same time, seven people were killed in two separate incidents in Jehanabad.

Concerned at the increase in caste-related and Naxalite violence, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Laloo Yadav, at a hurriedly-called news conference last evening, promised to ensure a crime-free administration.

The renewed pledge seems to be a fallout of the veiled warning issued by Sonia Gandhi. During a stop-over in Patna on Saturday, the president of the Congress, whose support is vital for the RJD’s survival, had urged chief minister Rabri Devi to put an end to the “daily dose of killings”.

With the law catching up, both Laloo and his chief minister-wife found little time for governance as they were entangled in the disproportionate assets case.

On Saturday, the Congress, fed up with the government’s “complacence” on the deteriorating law and order situation, urged the chief minister to act. Apart from the Speaker, all 23 Congress MLAs are ministers.

Police superintendents of over 25 districts, including those affected by Naxalite terror, have been moved out to less-important posts. Among them are M.S. Bhatia (Patna), R.K. Malik Bhojpur) and Guptweswar Pandey (Ranchi).

Those who have been given the jobs include some officers who had been shunted out during Laloo’s second term in power for taking “bold” decisions. Among them are two women officers, Anupama Saxena and Sobha Ahotkar. While Saxena has been put in charge of Ranchi, Ahotkar has been made Hazaribag SP. Both districts are hit by the Naxalite menace.

A couple of deputy inspectors-general (DIG) and a director-general in charge of the state electricity board were also transferred.

State home department sources indicated that the performance of the superintendents of police will be reviewed after a month. The government is also considering a reshuffle of inspectors-general of police.

Investigations into the Nawada massacre have revealed that the killings were in retaliation against the murder of a Bhumihar resident, Pawan Singh. Police said that 11 people, rounded up last evening, have disclosed the name of Akhilesh Singh, a Bhumihar gangster.

who was also allegedly responsible for the murder of three Dalits in a neighbouring village last month.    


 
 
TALAAQ BEGINS TO RUN BOTH WAYS 
 
 
FROM RASHEED KIDWAI
 
New Delhi, June 5 
Reshma, 26, married a car garage owner in Delhi a year ago. But after 10 months, she sought divorce from her wealthy husband for not being “too social”.

In Bhopal, the city of mosques, Irena, daughter of a well-to-do businessman, got married to an engineer-MBA but within three years, the marriage was on the rocks amid charges of dowry harassment and sexual incompatibility.

Ameena divorced her husband after less than two years of marriage and left Lucknow to take up a job in Mumbai on the grounds that living with her in-laws was “too constricting”. Ameena wanted more freedom: to dress the way she wanted, to go where she wanted — to the disco on Friday nights, maybe. But her in-laws, a conservative people, imposed restrictions. After a while, she could not take it anymore.

These are not isolated cases. Muslims, perhaps the country’s most conservative community, are witnessing a sea change within their homes. The old belief that marriages are made in heaven does not hold so much. It is becoming more apparent, particularly among the elite, that marriages can be unmade on earth, not just by the husband but by the wife as well. Educated girls are finding their partners incompatible, asserting their way, fighting for the manner in which they want to live and opting for divorce if they don’t get in marriage what they are looking for.

In pockets of the Muslim upper classes in Bhopal, Lucknow, Delhi, Hyderabad and Aligarh divorce sought by the wife is no longer taboo. Men still have the right to pronounce the three final words: talaaq, talaaq, talaaq, and end a marriage, but women are also taking a lead in separation, citing even small reasons like the husband not taking them out.

The trend has set religious and community leaders and parents worrying. While some blame television soaps like Saans, Hasratein or Kora Kagaz which dish out the “independent woman” as role model every evening, others feel lack of religious education and changing mores are responsible. But educationists do not buy the explanation. They feel the trend is the manifestation of the “education gap” between the genders in the community steeped in stereotypes.

There is an acute dearth of educated, employed boys to marry graduate girls, they say. If a graduate girl gets married to a school drop-out mechanic, the relationship starts on a false note. Matters get more complicated if the girl decides to work, leading to greater insecurity among the husband and in-laws. It also has a negative impact on the girls. Many parents are forced to discontinue higher education for their daughters as they do not it to be a hurdle in their marriage.

Anis Durrani, chairman of Delhi Haj committee, said in many districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, 70 per cent Muslim boys drop out from secondary schools and lag behind other “weaker sections”. In such a scenario, the prospects of Muslim boys getting into professional courses or getting into government services are bleak.

On the other hand, Muslim girls are performing better than ever. They are comiitted to studies. And unlike their male counterparts, Muslim girls also do not have the opportunity to drop from school and pick up odd jobs.

Religious leaders are aware of the problem. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board has written to the National Commission for Women that it is willing to discuss with women activists on how to improve women’s status in Muslim society within the ambit of Islam.

Board chief Qazi Mujahid-ul-Islam acknowledges discrimination against Muslim women and is willing to take all necessary corrective steps.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Temperature: Maximum: 29.3°C (-6) Minimum: 25.3°C (-2) RAINFALL: 37.7 mm Relative humidity: Maximum: 98%, Minimum: 92% Today: A few spells of light rain with one or two heavy showers or thundershowers.. Sunset: 6.15 pm Sunrise: 4.55 am    
 

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