Pipeline and soft line await Pervez
Honour tops Mamata list
Babri not masjid: Advani
Titanic torrent pounds Puri
Revealed: Bangla covert camps
Calcutta Weather

New Delhi, June 13: 
A soft border between the two Kashmirs, an autonomy blueprint for Kashmiris and the Indo-Iran gas pipeline through Pakistan appear to be part of a package with which Delhi is trying to ensure the success of the A.B. Vajpayee-Pervez Musharraf summit.

If India and Iran opt for the more than 700-km on-land route for the pipeline through Pakistan, Islamabad could earn over $ 600 million a year as transit fee. This would help it write off its foreign debt within a few years.

Financial bait to sustain relations between the neighbours is nothing new. During the Lahore peace process, Vajpayee’s efforts to normalise relations with Nawaz Sharif were substantiated by a section of the sugar lobby in India. But the Kargil war derailed the initiative. It is a matter of speculation whether the gas pipeline will be a big enough carrot, especially if it is garnished with “movement on the Kashmir” issue.

The pipeline is the only inducement that is being talked about officially. But the concept of a soft-border — enhancing movement and trade between the two Kashmirs — supported by an autonomy package could well be the clinching pieces on the negotiating board to sustain the dialogue.

A fourth point, which was mooted by the West and found support in Pakistan, talks about de-militarising Jammu and Kashmir. This means the large number of security forces in the state will have to be withdrawn, probably in a phased manner. But going by the mood in Delhi, there will be few takers for the proposal.

India’s argument is it has to maintain its force-levels to tackle insurgents. With no signs of violence abating in the embattled state, it is unlikely the leadership would agree to withdraw troops.

On the pipeline project, India maintains that both the on-land and off-shore options are being pursued. Last week, it awarded the contract for carrying out a feasibility study on the off-shore route to Snamprogetti — a firm which was represented by Bofors accused Ottavio Quattrocchi till a few years back and blacklisted by the government till recently.

Yesterday, after a meeting with a delegation from Iran, it agreed to ask an Australian company to do the feasibility study for the on-land route, likely to be at least three times cheaper. However, security of the pipeline is also being kept in mind.

S.M.H. Adeli, leader of the Iranian delegation, also said that both the routes were being explored and “there was no preference for either”. But the fact that India agreed to give the go-ahead for the feasibility study for the on-land route of the 2,657-km pipeline has triggered speculation that Delhi finally agreed with Tehran on this option as the only viable one.

India has all along maintained that “all options for the gas pipeline were being explored”. The off-shore option, at a depth of 3,000 feet to avoid Pakistan’s continental shelf, had earlier proved to be a problem. But the successful laying of an off-shore pipeline at a depth of over 2,500 feet in the Black Sea by Russia and Turkey recently has widened the choice.


Calcutta, June 13: 
Mamata Banerjee today said she would consider returning to the NDA if only it was allowed to happen in a “respectable and honourable manner”.

“We will not do anything at the cost of our party’s prestige,” she said at a meeting with newly-elected Trinamul Congress legislators on the eve of the monsoon session of the Assembly.

Sources present at this afternoon’s meeting in Nizam Palace said Mamata clarified that no decision had yet been taken on rejoining the NDA. “Except for Ajit Panja, all other MPs are united. Whatever steps we take, it will not be at the cost of respectability and honour,” Mamata told party legislators.

She said her decision would be rooted in Trinamul’s fundamental philosophy of opposing all anti-people policies, regardless of the government and its political colour.

A few hours before Mamata explained her stand on rejoining the NDA, Samata Party leader and ruling coalition convener George Fernandes left for Manipur after a night-halt in the city. Accompanied by Jaya Jaitly and other Samata leaders, he headed for Imphal to address party issues there.

Political circles wondered whether Fernandes’ visit was linked to Mamata’s possible re-admission to the NDA, but sources close to him said there was no contact between the two leaders.

Fernandes is coming to Calcutta again on June 16 on an undisclosed visit, sources added. “We think whatever discussion there was between Fernandes and Mamata, it was in Delhi. Even though Fernandes is coming to Calcutta on Saturday, we do not know the purpose of the visit,” said a Samata leader.

Realising that a substantial chunk of her MLAs were against a return to the NDA fold, Mamata sought to put them at ease by saying that she was in no hurry and that no decision had been taken on the matter. “If we rejoin the NDA now, it will give an extra handle to the ruling Front to criticise us. The rejoining will not help the MLAs’ credibility either,” said a Trinamul MLA.


New Delhi, June 13: 
Home minister L.K. Advani today opposed calling the demolished “structure” in Ayodhya a “masjid or mosque”, contending that it was a “disputed structure”.

Deposing before the Justice Liberhan Commission on the Babri Masjid demolition, Advani said the country had got a “bad name” by calling it a “mosque”.

“Only the superimposed structure (on a Hindu temple) was a mosque. I have always referred to it as a disputed structure because we, in the country as a whole, have been unfair to Hindus as it was a place where the idols of Ram are kept with the approval of the court... despite (this fact), by calling it a mosque, we have only earned a bad name for the country in the world,” Advani said during his day-long deposition.

Advani’s statement came during extensive cross-examination by commission counsel Anupam Gupta. Striking a humble posture, the minister said that as a “political worker”, “I feel the movement (for the construction of Ram temple at Ayodhya) was for the people in the entire country”.

He wanted the “people” to contribute for the construction of the temple like they did for the Somnath temple. Construction of the Somnath temple was the decision of the “Cabinet of Pandit (Jawaharlal) Nehru”, yet Mahatma Gandhi wanted the people to contribute and opposed the idea of the government spending the money, the home minister told the commission.

Advani recalled that one of the happiest moments of his life was when performance of kar seva at Ayodhya on October 30, 1990, was announced on radio, adds PTI.

“We were part of the movement, a movement which was sought to be stifled by the then government in a manner which was unprecedented. All modes of transport to Ayodhya had been stopped. It was declared publicly that not a single bird would be allowed to enter Ayodhya,” he said.

He slammed the Centre for issuing an Ordinance on October 19, 1990, to acquire 67 acres around the structure, but withdrawing it in 24 hours. “It was unprecedented in the history of Independent India,” Advani said, blaming then Prime Minister V.P. Singh.

He termed Singh’s “U-turn” as an act of “Muslim appeasement”. “This conduct only confirmed my misgivings... that this is a government which is committed to the policy of appeasement, a policy which is not in the interest of anyone and not in the interest of even the minorities,” Advani said.

With the withdrawal of the notification, the government had lost a last opportunity to solve the problem, Advani said, adding that it had also made a single-point reference to the Supreme Court to determine whether a temple pre-existed the mosque at the site.


Puri, June 13: 
Torrential rains pounded Puri for 24 hours since Monday night, turning the temple town into a scene from Waterworld: sheets of water everywhere with no road visible.

Between Monday morning and Tuesday 10 pm, Puri received 700.7-mm rainfall, more than twice the amount Calcutta got during the September 1999 deluge. The figure, according to district emergency officer Rabindra Dash and the met office, is the highest in the past 12 years.

Most streets were submerged under four feet water until this morning. While water has receded from most areas, parts of Grand Road leading to the Jagannath temple are still flooded. But the temple itself has not been affected. “It could have been worse had the authorities not broken the protection wall of the water purification plant near the sea. The water-level could have risen by two feet,’’ said an official at the district collectorate.

The ferocity of the rain increased on Monday evening. Nrusingha Sarangi, a senior assistant in the district emergency office, said the rainfall began around 11 am on Monday, bringing relief to the people who had been reeling under a heat wave for the past few days. But Sarangi, like most of the town’s 2 lakh residents, had no idea that a deluge was in store. “It was unlike other days. The rain did not stop. We took a lunchbreak, but the rain gods did not. By evening, there was water in all parts of the town,” Sarangi said.

All slums and low-lying areas were flooded by next morning. What added to the problem was the poor drainage system. Slums were submerged and the offices of the additional district magistrate, the district emergency office, the record room of the district collector and the reserve police lines were under four feet water. So taken aback was the administration that some officials had to stand on tables clutching their files: there was no place to keep them.

The rain sent shockwaves through the peak-season tourists who apprehended a calamity of the magnitude of the October 1999 supercyclone. Around 3,000 tourists from West Bengal are now in Puri.

On Tuesday evening, electricity supply was cut off following fears that the sub-stations could be submerged. Said B. Gupta, a tourist from Calcutta who was here in 1999 when the cyclone pummelled Puri and the Orissa coast: “It was terrifying. In the absence of any concrete information we thought that the sea-water and the continuing rains would submerge the city.’’

However, the situation improved today as the water started receding. Most tourists said the difficulties they faced were nothing compared to the hardships during the 1999 supercyclone.


New Delhi, June 13: 
India has routinely pointed out the existence in Bangladesh of camps run by Northeast insurgent outfits. And Bangladesh has routinely denied their existence, but promised to look into the matter.

For the first time, The Telegraph has obtained the complete list of training camps which these insurgent outfits have been running from deep within Bangladesh territory. The United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) run the maximum number of camps in several districts in Bangladesh close to Assam. Separatist organisations from Tripura also have a large presence.

The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), which about a year-and-a-half back had abducted four RSS workers from Tripura before taking them to Bangladesh, has 18 camps, mostly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Khagrachari and Moulvibazar districts of Bangladesh. Following are some of the NLFT camps:

Harigopalpara (Kanungopara), 2 km north of Panchari police station in Khagrachari district in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

Porabari, 6 km east of Taidung market, Khagrachari district

Sudhilapara (Ranjan headman para), north-east of Taidung market

Lolu Kalu: main camp situated between Zoupui, Jamtali and Thangnang under Khagrachari police station

Ranger Regiment, in Taglokantai near Somai river and about 40 km from Simanapur Indo-Bangla border

Khagrasuri, Kadamtola, Selchai, Lunting and Thangnag in the Sejak ranges

Kalabagan area under Srimangal police station in Moulvibazar district; and House no. 160, Sugandha Housing Estate, Muradpur, Chittagong.

The three main camps run by the All-Tripura Tiger Force are:

Subhadhan headman camp, on the western bank of the Logang river under Panchari police station in Khagrachari district

Moramachya Chora camp, in the dense forest at Golad- ham Kabari under Logang union under Panchari police station

Jogesh Chandrapara and Khasia Mangal in Satchhari under Chunarughat police station in Habiganj district.

There are some more camps in Bandarban and Rangamati districts.

The camps of Ulfa, NDFB and the Achin National Volunteer Council, which operates in certain parts of Meghalaya, have been identified in the following areas of Bangladesh: Bishumerpur village under Tahirpur police station in Sunamganj district, Madhupur Reserve Forest in Tangail district, Tarimission in Sherpur district, Panihata in Sherpur district, Srimangal in Moulvibazar district, Mahastangarh in Rajshahi district, Maheshkhali in the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar, Mymensingh Krishi Farm in Mymensingh district, Haluaghat in Mymensingh district, Jamalpur (a recruiting camp) in Netrokona district, Adampur under Kamalganj police station in Moulvibazar, Bhanugach under Kamalganj police station in Moulvibazar, Chhota Dhamai under Barlekha police station in Moulvibazar, Amberkhana in Sylhet district, house of Nilu Babu Singh, Dewan Singh and Lalwani Singh at Chhota Dhamai under Borlekha police station in Moulvibazar.

The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, which, along with the Achin National Volunteer Council, was banned by the Meghalaya government as well as the Centre early this year, operates from camps located at Jaintiapur in Sylhet district. The outfit also has a transit camp at a place called Ramgarh in Tangail district.

Assam ambush

Nine Assam Rifles personnel and three Ulfa militants were today killed in separate incidents in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district.

Violence rocked central Assam, too, with suspected NDFB militants killing one person and injuring 10 at the Rangapara daily market in Sonitpur district.

The day’s major incident was, however, the one at Namdang under Margherita police station. Suspected Ulfa militants ambushed a group of 10 jawans of the 28th Assam Rifles Battalion, stationed at Changlang in Arunachal Pradesh, just after the mini-truck carrying them crossed the inter-state border.




Maximum: 30.2°C (-4)
Minimum: 26.3°C (-1)


14.5 mm

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 98%,
Minimum: 84%


A few spells of light to moderate rain.
Sunrise: 4.54 am
Sunset: 6.19 pm

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