Atal, Sangh exchange healing touches
Khadim’s trail leads to Dubai from Bangalore
Physicist versus poet at IIT
Pak spills summit deal
Calcutta Weather

 
 
ATAL, SANGH EXCHANGE HEALING TOUCHES 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
New Delhi, Aug. 18: 
When RSS sarsanghachalak K.S. Sudarshan, right arm in a plaster, arrived this evening at 7 Race Course Road to fill in for his deputy Mohan Rao Bhagwat as the chief guest in a book release function, his intentions were evident.

Sudarshan wished to clear the air of suspicion and misunderstanding between him and Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and signal that despite the rough patches over the WTO, the Agra summit, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ram temple, all was well within the Sangh parivar.

Vajpayee appeared to be so overwhelmed by Sudarshan’s gesture that he ended his speech fast, saying: “I wish to say a lot this evening, but I have decided not to because I want the press to focus exclusively on the RSS chief’s speech.”

The last time the Prime Minister and the RSS leader had shared a platform — at a function organised Sangh’s mouthpiece immediately after the Tehelka disclosures — the frigid undertone was palpable. Shortly after that, Sudarshan shifted base from Delhi to Nagpur reportedly because his candid criticism of the NDA government — especially the PMO — ruffled feathers in the capital.

Today, it seemed Sudarshan was determined to mend fences with the Prime Minister. Sources said Sudarshan had taken the initiative to attend this evening’s function after a bereavement forced Bhagwat to cancel his engagements. The RSS chief then offered to stand in and Vajpayee readily agreed.

In a reciprocatory gesture, Vajpayee went one step ahead from his “once-a-swayamsevak-always-a-swayamsevak” statement in Staten Island, the US, last year.

Showering fulsome praise on the RSS, the Prime Minister said: “People can have their reservations about the RSS’ ideology but they must also reflect on one point: how do so many individuals get bonded to the RSS for a lifetime? This art can be perfected by others only by learning lessons from the RSS. It is not accomplished through a miracle or gilded words. It is a bonding of one heart with another. The feeling is conveyed through mamta and concern for others.”

Vajpayee said he did not spend sleepless nights pondering over ideological compulsions before joining the RSS. “I went to the Sangh for khel kood. I did not spend sleepless nights before joining the Sangh. But once the silsila started, it went on.”

He urged the opponents of the RSS to change their attitude. “I wish to tell them that if they want to criticise the Sangh, let them first look at how its members behave towards one another. Ideologies can differ but let not the differences become so deep that it is not possible to build a bridge.”

Conversion frown

Vajpayee also took potshots at the press for being “unfair” to the RSS. “Four swayamsevaks were martyred recently in Tripura. The news was sent to the press but not used. Christian missionaries also work in tough conditions in jungles, although their aim is conversion. I appreciate their spirit of social service but not the conversions. But if there is any news about these missionaries, it gets promptly printed. Why does the RSS have to put through this test as well?” he asked.

Sudarshan stressed on the ability of the swayamsevaks to “rise above themselves and view the entire society and nation as their family”.

The parivar’s bonhomie was in full display as its members, including VHP hardliners Vishnu Hari Dalmiya and Acharya Giriraj Kishore and RSS veteran-turned-MP Nanaji Deshmukh, seemed to savour every moment of Vajpayee’s speech.

Later, Vajpayee made it a point to chat with them over tea, and a lavish spread of snacks was laid out in the lawns of his residence. The evening at 7 Race Course Road has ensured that the RSS-Vajpayee bonding has been restored, at least for the moment.

   

 
 
KHADIM’S TRAIL LEADS TO DUBAI FROM BANGALORE 
 
 
FROM OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, Aug. 18: 
The blueprint for abducting Khadim’s owner Parthapratim Roy Burman was drawn up in a Bangalore suburb, while the “networking” with the victim’s family was done by four agents of a Dubai-based gangster from Hyderabad.

These revelations have come to light after the arrest of four associates of Mohammed Shafique, alias Shaheed, a Dubai-based henchman of Dawood Ibrahim, in Hyderabad yesterday, as well as a series of raids by a joint CID-Karnataka police team on the outskirts of Bangalore.

Unconfirmed reports said tonight a member of a live band has been arrested in Bangalore in connection with the abduction.

The four arrested from the old city in Hyderabad have been identified as Abdur Karimuddin, Mehboob Ali, Khwaja Altaf Ahmed Qureshi and Mohammed Ishaque and are believed to be the hawala agents of the Dubai gangster.

The Hyderabad police said they collected the ransom —- Rs 3 crore, according to the police —- from the Roy Burmans on behalf of Shafique and sent it to Dubai through the hawala route. They were produced in a Hyderabad court and were brought to Calcutta late tonight.

A communique issued by Hyderabad commissioner of police P. Ramulu said the arrested, aged between 30 and 39 years, have confessed to their role in the abduction as well as rerouting the ransom to the “main abductor” in Dubai.

It added that the police had recovered Rs 1.4 lakh in cash, three mobile phones and a Maruti van, which was used to collect and transport the ransom. Initial interrogation of the arrested had revealed that Shafique had contacted the Roy Burmans from Dubai and asked them to pay the ransom to his associates in Hyderabad.

“The four played a big role in the kidnap operation,” IG, south Bengal, Prasun Mukherjee, said in the city today. “They were involved at almost every stage of the operation.”

Police sources said the CID team was regularly tracing the calls that Shaheed was making to the Roy Burman family back to Dubai through an Amsterdam-New York-London-Chennai network and had managed to get a printout of the calls made from the Dubai number.

From this printout, the investigators managed to trace some calls being made to land and mobile phones in Hyderabad. These were the numbers being used by the arrested foursome.

Thereafter, a special CID team led by senior commandant (armed police) B.N. Ramesh went to Hyderabad to trace the gang. Their search also led them to Mohammed Ishaque, who had travelled to Calcutta from Hyderabad to finalise the kidnap deal with the “local contacts” who were paid about Rs 75 lakh to “facilitate” the process.

A raid on a house in a Bangalore suburb, led by IG, CID, Partha Bhattacharjee, had unearthed “a wealth of documents, which are bound to shed more light on the kidnapping”.

Police sources said some henchmen of the Dubai gangster had come to Bangalore from Mumbai about two months ago to plan the kidnapping of a Hyderabad businessman as the city was believed to be a “safer point” to work out of. When that plan failed, they decided on the Roy Burman kidnapping.

Documents seized from the raided house, which contain the names of Calcutta contacts of Dawood, including Sona, Pervez and Mohammed Tasleem, as well as maps of Tiljala and its surrounding areas, establish that Bangalore was used as the base for planning the operation, the police said.

   

 
 
PHYSICIST VERSUS POET AT IIT 
 
 
FROM DEVADEEP PUROHIT
 
Kharagpur, Aug. 18: 
What will break out when a poet chief minister from the Left meets a physicist minister from the Right at the nation’s oldest temple to technology? Star wars, if the two are Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Murli Manohar Joshi.

Astrology and astronomy jostled with each other as the curriculum clash found a new ring today at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur, during the inauguration of its golden jubilee celebrations.

After exchanging pleasantries with Joshi, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee drew first blood by raising the Centre’s decision to introduce astrology course in universities. “The move to treat astrology on a par with astronomy is misdirected. It signals a confrontation between science and obscurantism,” he said.

When Joshi’s turn came, he digressed from his prepared speech to return the compliment. “Astrology and astronomy are not on a par, my friend,” said a smiling Joshi, who had taught astronomy for a “brief period”.

Bhattacharjee drew examples from history to take a veiled potshot at the saffron agenda. The chief minister underscored the “harrowing treatment meted out” to Galileo, whose observations lent support to “Copernicus’ heliocentric model of the universe” and opposed the “church’s geo-centric model”.

If Bhattacharjee referred to the occidental, Joshi opted for the oriental. The Union minister talked about the achievements of ancient Indian scientists such as Aryabhatta and Varaha Mihira. “Much before Copernicus, Indian scientists knew about the heliocentric model,” Joshi said, stealing a glance at Bhattacharjee.

Joshi referred to the indigenously-made Simputers. “Your officials will be able to collect information on malaria using Simputers,” he told Bhattacharjee.

   

 
 
PAK SPILLS SUMMIT DEAL 
 
 
FROM K.P. NAYAR
 
Washington, Aug. 18: 
Pakistan’s foreign secretary Inam-ul-Haque has told the Bush administration that India and Pakistan will hold annual summits of their leaders, bi-annual meetings of their foreign ministers and regular consultations between the two foreign secretaries.

During a two-day visit to Washington, widely regarded by diplomatic sources as a prelude to the withdrawal of some US sanctions on Islamabad, he told his American counterpart Marc Grossman that such a time-table had been agreed upon in Agra and was subsequently being implemented.

As proof of this agreement, Haque later told a large gathering at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a foreign policy think-tank, that he had met his Indian counterpart, Chokila Iyer, on the sidelines of a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) meeting on Colombo.

Haque told Pakistani journalists at the conclusion of his visit last evening that he expected the Pressler Amendment to be repealed as part of a sanctions review, now under way in Washington. The amendment, he said, had become redundant after Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons.

He also conveyed his impression after talks with US officials here that sanctions for South Asia’s nuclear tests would be repealed simultaneously in the case of both India and Pakistan.

Only those sanctions imposed on Islamabad as a sequel to Pervez Musharraf’s action in overthrowing the elected government of Nawaz Sharif would then remain.

Haque told the audience at the Wilson Center in reply to a pointed question that the draft of a Joint Declaration in Agra agreed upon between foreign ministers Jaswant Singh and Abdul Sattar was rejected by the rest of the Indian government.

Singh and Sattar then met and “re-formulated” the draft. But this, too, was rejected by the Indians, although the two foreign ministers were agreed on the draft declaration.

Haque strongly defended Pakistan’s military relations with China, a sore point in Washington, on the grounds that India was arming itself with weapons from Russia and Israel. He, however, denied that Beijing had recently sent missile parts to Islamabad.

The foreign secretary told the Americans everything they wanted to hear so that Washington’s relationship with Islamabad could be pursued without domestic controversy.

He portrayed Pakistan as a victim of the bloodshed in Afghanistan, arguing that its economy had been stretched on account of refugees from across the border.

He denied that Islamabad was arming the Taliban. On the other hand, Pakistan was using its influence to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.

The foreign secretary regretted that it was impossible to seal the 2,500-mile border between his country and Afghanistan, but insisted that the best efforts were being made to prevent the flow of jihadis into Afghanistan for armed training by the Taliban.

On the nuclear issue, Haque assured that his country would not be the first to resume the testing of new weapons. He also told the Americans that Pakistan would not export nuclear technology.

Haque’s press conference was marred by an insistence by officials of the Pakistan embassy here that Indian journalists should be excluded from attending it.

A spokesman of the Pakistan Mission said they were retaliating for the action of the Indian Embassy here in April when Pakistani correspondents were prevented by Indian diplomats from attending a press conference by Jaswant Singh, at which American and international reporters were present. “There has to be reciprocity in these things.” the Pakistani spokesman said.

   

 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 

Temperature

Max: 34°C (+2)
Min: 26.8°C (+1)

Relative humidity

Maximum: 97%
Minimum: 65%

Rainfall

5 mm

Today

Light to moderate rain accompanied by thunder in some parts
Sunset: 6.04 pm
Sunrise: 5.17 am
   
 

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