Naxalites load Bihar revenge gun
Laloo worse than ISI: BJP
Massacre fault lines in NDA
Abdullah cagey on autonomy
Gupta orders probe after Vajpayee call
Power theft slur on Naidu meet
German culture caravan set to roll across India

Patna, June 20 
With the blood on the killing fields yet to dry, Bihar’s Naxalite outfits today vowed to take revenge for the Mianpur holocaust.

As the administration grappled with the fresh outbreak of caste violence, the Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) and the People’s War Group (PWG) issued statements threatening reprisal massacres in villages dominated by the upper castes.

Both organisations sent press handouts to newspaper offices in Patna. The MCC statement issued by Anger, the spokesman for the outfit’s Bengal-Bihar special area committee, claimed that the Mianpur massacre had “failed to take revenge on Senari as the (Ranbir) Sena brutality, meant to intimidate us, has actually galvanised the process of poor man’s power to take revenge”.

“The reply to the Mianpur butchery cannot be stopped by any force under the sun,” the statement added.

The Ranbir Sena had said that the carnage in the village in Aurangabad was in retaliation against the massacre of 34 upper caste Bhumihars in March 1999.

In a separate but identical release, the PWG too promised to get even with the Sena for denigrating women and children.

The Naxalites’ threats have cast a cloud of fear on the 3000-odd villages that make up the landscape of central Bihar. The government, which has rushed additional companies of paramilitary forces to the scarred areas, today made more changes in the police top brass.

Seven inspectors-general of police and 15 deputy inspectors-general were transferred in an attempt to tone up the administration which has been at a loss trying to halt the spiralling crime graph.

The transfers come a day before the meeting of the ruling coalition’s coordination committee. The Congress has asked the RJD to take steps to curb the violence and has warned that it would otherwise be forced to review its support.

As the race for political oneupmanship continued, the Left parties barring the CPM joined the chorus demanding chief minister Rabri Devi’s resignation. The Left groups have called a 12-hour Bihar bandh tomorrow to protest last Friday’s massacre.

A day after being checkmated by Laloo Yadav, the NDA said it would not attend the RJD’s all-party meet on June 22. Laloo had yesterday spurned the NDA invitation to its meeting on June 25. Defending his decision, the RJD chief said: “They had boycotted earlier all-party meetings convened by us to improve law and order. They sponsored violence by fielding gangsters in the elections. Nitish Kumar should resolve contradictions before calling an all-party meeting to stop massacres.”    

New Delhi, June 20 
For the BJP, “extremism sponsored” by RJD president Laloo Prasad Yadav is more dangerous than the terrorism spread by the ISI in Kashmir.

BJP leader and former Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the “terrorism sponsored by the Bihar government is more dangerous than the terrorism sponsored by the ISI in Kashmir”.

Naqvi, along with party colleagues S.S. Ahluwalia and Sanjay Paswan, visited the carnage sites in Nawada and Aurangabad districts. He alleged that the Ranbir Sena and the Maoist Communist Centre were patronised by Laloo “to save his political existence”.

The team claimed that the massacres were not caste-related but perpetuated by criminals and terrorist gangs enjoying the “protection and patronage of the administration of the ruling party”.

Briefing reporters here today, Naqvi said: “Chief minister Rabri Devi and Laloo Yadav have been constantly conspiring to promote caste violence and terrorism in the country.

“Though these cruel murders had taken place on June 11 (in Nawada), neither the chief minister nor Laloo Yadav visited Apsarh village, while they went to Mianpur after the latest incident and made a provocative speech.”

The team submitted a report on the situation in Bihar in the wake of the killings to BJP president Kushabhau Thakre today.

They are likely to meet President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in a day or two to urge the imposition of Central rule in the state.

The leaders also castigated the Congress for its continued support to the RJD government. It was clear that the Congress was an equal partner in the conspiracy by Laloo to perpetuate his regime, they said.    

New Delhi, June 20 
The recent caste killings in Bihar have exposed the schism within the NDA. Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav is miffed with Samata Party leaders for holding a peace march in Patna yesterday and their bid to convene an all-party meeting in the state to find a solution to the killing spree.

Unlike the BJP and the Samata Party, the Dal (U) has not demanded President’s rule in the state. “It is not only a political issue, but a human problem. Caste violence can also happen in Uttar Pradesh tomorrow,” party spokesperson Mohan Prakash said.

The Dal (U) chief is likely to ask Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee to convene an all-party meeting to find a permanent solution to Bihar’s caste tensions.

Dal (U) working president Ranjan Yadav had yesterday called for an all-party meeting and appealed to the Prime Minister to rise above politics to find a solution to the killings. The BJP state unit has decided to boycott the all-party meeting convened by Laloo Yadav on June 22.

Criticising the race for one-upmanship between the Samata Party, BJP and the RJD, a senior Dal (U) leader said: “Who convenes the meeting is secondary. The first thing is to remove caste tension. Everything is not politics.”

Of the 35 killed in Mianpur in the latest carnage, 28 are Yadavs and the remaining are Dalits.

The peace march organised by Samata yesterday comprised mostly Kurmis and upper caste Bhumihars. The Ranbir Sena, which is behind the latest carnage, is a private army of Bhumihars.    

Srinagar, June 20 
Chief minister Farooq Abdullah continued to keep his cards close to his chest on the second day of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly session, giving no indication whether his government would move a resolution for autonomy or only discuss the sensitive issue.

Today’s session, which took up a debate on the state autonomy committee’s report, was disrupted by walkouts staged by sparring Congress and BJP members.

The discussion on autonomy began on a motion by law minister P.L. Handoo which said: “The Cabinet decided that a discussion may be raised in the legislative Assembly, along with a proposed resolution to endorse the earlier decision to constitute a ministerial committee which would initiate a dialogue with the government of India on the recommendations of the report.”

The Cabinet has also decided to convene an all-party meet here this month to deliberate on the autonomy report.

An observer said here: “The text of the motion on which the discussions were raised clearly indicates that the Assembly may not adopt a formal resolution demanding immediate restoration of autonomy.”

However, National Conference sources evaded a direct answer, leaving it to Abdullah, who they said was “the final authority to take a final decision” on moving the resolution.

The chief minister today intervened in the discussion initiated by autonomy committee head and housing minister Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Shah, vowing to preserve Jammu and Kashmir as a “single entity”.

He said the National Conference “will not take a step which will disintegrate the nation” and urged the Opposition to talk on autonomy rather than take a rigid stance “which would be against the larger national interest”.

“We are not enemies of the nation,” the chief minister said. “Successive governments at the Centre know that the National Conference wants to live with India.”

He asserted that it was his duty to take along all the three regions of the state and do justice to each.

“For satiating the urges and aspirations of the people of these regions, the regional autonomy committee has recommended measures for devolution of power,” said Abdullah.

Referring to a BJP member’s criticism of his views on converting the Line of Control to international border, Abdullah said those criticising the suggestion have not been able to liberate Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“Those talking of four divisions may end up dividing the state alongside the Chenub, thus parting Kargil and Leh,” he added.

Criticising the ruling party’s motion, BJP leader Tara Chand said that instead of discussing the autonomy committee report, the Assembly should discuss the militancy issue.

Congress members also spoke against the motion, saying “no one was interested in autonomy and its restoration”.

State food and supplies minister Ajay Sadhotra countered by saying that “militancy was a creation of broken promises”.


Lucknow, June 20 
Chief minister R.P. Gupta ordered a judicial probe last night into the murders of Christian missionary Brother George Kunjikundam and Vijay Kumar Ekka, a key witness to the missionary’s killing. A sitting judge of the Allahabad High Court will conduct the inquiry.

The judicial probe will be held alongside the CB-CID inquiry headed by inspector-general P.N. Saxena, who reached Mathura with his team yesterday.

Sources said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee called up Gupta and asked him to thoroughly investigate the “custodial death” of Ekka following pressure for a judicial probe. Ekka was tortured to death by suspended station house officer Sunil Kumar Sharma and constable Dinesh Upadhyay at the former’s Police Lines residence in Mathura.

The source added that Vajpayee had taken a “very serious” view of Ekka’s murder and told Gupta that a judicial probe was the only way to assuage the feelings of the minority community.

The inquiry commission, which will be appointed after consultations with the Allahabad High Court chief justice, will table its report within three months.

The CB-CID has been asked by the state government to submit its report on the murders of Kunjikundam and Ekka by June 30.

Interestingly, principal home secretary V.K. Mittal has said in a statement to the press that the role of Mathura SSP Chandrika Rai, who was immediately transferred after Ekka’s murder, was of a “dubious nature”. He said the suspended SHO had visited Rai before picking up Ekka. “The role of the SSP in the whole thing will also be probed,” Mittal said.    

Hyderabad, June 20 
Chandrababu Naidu was in for a power shock again.

In March, the Telugu Desam chief was caught with unpaid electricity bills for his Nellore farms. Now his party has been accused of pilfering power for its annual convention Mahanadu — a three-day bonanza — held in Vijayawada in May this year.

The charge erupted online as Naidu was speaking on his weekly interface programme of “Dial-your-CM”, which is simultaneously telecast on Doordarshan and All India Radio every Monday. The chief minister pleaded ignorance.

“Thanks for bringing it to my notice. I have no idea about it. I will inquire into it and give you a reply by next Monday,” he assured.

Naidu, however, would not let the matter rest there and waxed eloquent. He hammered against power pilferage for over eight minutes on air and overshot the time allotted for the programme, delaying the regional news bulletin on Doordarshan by over five minutes. Doordarshan officials said they could not stop Naidu who had become very emotional.

The Desam chief told his audience that from now his government will prosecute all parties which have pilfered power for their meetings. “For all my public meetings I have instructed the district collectors to draw power legally,” he said during his visit to Prakasham district yesterday. He said his government will not spare even Desam contractors who made arrangements for Mahanadu.

During his visit to old city of Hyderabad yesterday Naidu also discovered a police outpost which had been drawing power illegally. He directed the supply to be disconnected.

Officials of AP Transco, the state power authority, blamed the police for the connection. “The illegal connection is not our handiwork. It must be that of the police only,” an official said. However, the police said there was no outpost and that it was abandoned several years ago.

This is not the first time that a minister been embarrassed by inquisitors on television. In one such programme municipal administration minister Mohammed Farooq had conceded that the government had been at fault on many terms. “It is for the people to correct the government and also make it work,” he had admitted.

The “Dial-your-CM” programme is being fully exploited by the Desam government and Naidu for policy campaigns on water, power, IT and environment issues. The government has also released full page advertisements in all the newspapers on issues that could be discussed with their chief minister. The administration also brought out special articles in four local dailies regularly at rates subsidised by the publications.

Power tariff hike

State energy minister K. Subbarayudu claimed with the government launching a programme of educating people on the need for power tariff hike, nearly 8,50,000 people came forward today to legalise electricity connections, which earned Rs 3.07 crore to the state treasury on the first day of the drive. Left parties, however, claimed that at 45 per cent of the meetings in districts people gheraoed the officials and questioned their credentials to increase the tariff.    

New Delhi, June 20 
As the software rush heads for Germany, Germany is coming to India. A six-month German festival is opening in Delhi on September 30 and will travel to major cities, Calcutta, Guwahati, Shillong and Bhubaneswar among them.

The festival will showcase a new Germany ruled by Gerhard Schroeder, who recently announced greencards for software professionals from India.

But when it arrives in India, kicking off the tour with a performance by the Bavarian State Ballet, the man responsible for making the extravaganza happen will not be here to see it. Ambassador Heinrich-Dietrich Dieckmann had guided the long-drawn negotiation process under the tutelage of the Indo-German consultative committee and it’s time for him to return home.

The Goethe Institute in Munich has given shape to the festival and Georg Lechner, who has worked for the Max Mueller Bhavans in India, is the commissioner for the event. He has decided the content of the festival and beginning with the Swan Lake on the opening day, the programme will tiptoe its way across the variety of German culture, down to the ramp.

Dieckmann said Indology has acted as a long-standing bridge between the two countries but the festival intends to go beyond traditional links to address aspirations and sensibilities of the young. So fashion and design come packaged along with arts, theatre, dance and music. The festival is being sponsored by a large consortium of business houses.

“Modern diplomacy is not confined to political-level exchanges between foreign offices. It touches other areas of life, like business, science and technology and culture,” Dieckmann said. Culture adds depth to the relationship, which has acquired new vibrancy with Chancellor Schroeder’s initiative.

Dieckmann added that the German perception of India is changing in two ways. First, India is recognised as the most stable factor in South Asia. Second, there is awareness of India being a technology powerhouse.    


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