Jharkhand jolt to Jhargram
Ransack after admit card goof
Students go on rampage
Security ring around power plants
India turns terror heat on Dawood
Krishna bars anniversary party
Atal puts Ayodhya on poll map
Muslims on edge over attack
No bouquets for ‘stop-gap’ CM
Kamtapuri rebels kill 1

 
 
JHARKHAND JOLT TO JHARGRAM 
 
 
FROM NARESH JANA
 
Midnapaore, Oct. 10: 
Armed Jharkhand Party (JKP) supporters today struck terror in the heart of Jhargram town as they stormed into government establishments, ransacked offices and even assaulted several officials, with policemen looking on.

As it was, there was palpable tension in the town and rest of the sub-division where normal life was disrupted following a 12-hour bandh called by the JKP for today in protest against Sunday’s murder of one of its leaders by unknown assailants.

An alarmed state government ordered a probe into the incident and also sought a report from Midnapore district magistrate M.V. Rao who also called state home secretary Sourin Roy and apprised him of the latest situation.

Sub-divisional officer (SDO) Mabasser Ali Baidya said late in the evening that eight JKP activists were rounded up.

“We arrested three JKP activists on the spot and later held five more after conducting raids in villages,” he said, adding that they were looking for some bandh supporters. RAF and armed police have been patrolling the Jhargram town to ward off further untoward incident.

Asked if there were any lapses on the part of policemen, he replied in the affirmative. “I wonder how JKP activists, armed with lathis, tangis, bows and arrows, entered the government offices in the peak morning hours when policemen from the nearby Jhargram police stations were stationed there,” he said.

Superintendent of police, K.C. Meena later said the situation flared up only because the forces were not adequate. “We did not believe that JKP activists would muster courage to storm government offices in the peak hours with arms,” he added.

According to eyewitness, trouble started around 10.15 am, minutes after government offices resumed work for the day. Nearly 500 JKP supporters first stormed into the office of block development officer Abhijit Sengupta waving party flags and raising slogans in support of the bandh. They also ransacked the office, forcing the employees to vacate the premises.

As a panicked Mahato looked on, the JKP activists sat on his chair and later broke it with the tangi. They also assaulted field staff Sambhu Hansda with lathis when he tried to argue with some bandh supporters. Alarmed at this, Sengupta along with his staff first ran to take shelter in an adjoining room and closed its iron gate from inside. Later, they were taken to SDO Baidya’s office.

With no obstructions from the police or administrative staff, the mob then entered the Panchayat office and forced the Panchayat Samity Sabhapati Datakarna Mahato to leave the room. Then, after smashing the furniture in his room, the bandh supporters ran after Mahato who, too, ran to SDO Baidya’s office for safety.

Unable to pounce on Mahato, the JKP activists managed to catch hold of an employee of the adjoining water supply department office, Sheikh Wazed Ali, and assaulted him.

   

 
 
RANSACK AFTER ADMIT CARD GOOF 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Burdwan, Oct. 10: 
A nearly 1,000-strong group of candidates ransacked the regional office of the School Service Commission in Burdwan town this afternoon when they were denied admit cards for the commission’s examination slated for Sunday.

Police arrested 50 candidates from the spot for indulging in violence.

Trouble started around 4 pm when the candidates, who had waited for hours, were told that their admit cards had been sent by post and were asked to enquire at the local post offices about the cards. The aspirants, however, demanded that the examinations be postponed as a large number of them had not received the cards.

Senior officials arrived at the spot and, sensing that the situation might take a turn for the worse, resorted to a lathicharge to disperse the crowd. The protesters retaliated with stones and brickbats. In the melee, at least 200 people, including a number of policemen, were injured.

Eyewitness said the crowd broke open the office doors, destroyed documents and assaulted employees. At least four cars were damaged.

Commission chairman Arun Kiran Chakraborty said in Calcutta that he was unable to understand why the candidates were so impatient.

“There is ample time to despatch the admit cards as three days are still left,” he said. Chakraborty added that he had convened a meeting to discuss the issue.

The chairman ruled out the postponement of the examination. “It is not possible to post pone the examinations, as candidates from other districts will appear for the examinations,” he added.

   

 
 
STUDENTS GO ON RAMPAGE 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 10: 
Students of a local college today beat up a rail employee and ransacked Sonarpur railway station after a student was told to produce his ticket.

The incident occurred at 10.30 am after the ticketless students reached Sonarpur from Sealdah. Railway sources said a ticket-collector asked a student to show his ticket. When he refused, the collector told him to go to the government railway police office. But the students started to call after his college mates.

Some passengers requested the collector to release the student, who was then let off.

Later, the student returned with about 50 people. They ransacked the station master’s office, cut telephone lines and beat up a railway employee who tried to prevent them from entering the station master’s office.

Railway sources said the station master was forced to apologise as the police intervened on behalf of the “unruly student”.

   

 
 
SECURITY RING AROUND POWER PLANTS 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Suri (Birbhum), Oct. 10: 
The government is tightening security arrangements inside and around major power plants following a state intelligence report that ISI agents may attack the units.

After the terror attacks in the US, the Centre had directed the state to beef up security at all important installations.

Officers from the power and home departments visited the plants, including those at Bakreswar and Kolaghat, to supervise the security arrangements. It was decided that policemen would patrol the area around the plants.

Metal detectors will be installed and close-circuit TV will monitor those entering the plants. Entry to the plants will be restricted. Officials from the Intelligence Branch of the state government recently visited the Bakreswar and Kolaghat thermal power project and expressed concern over poor security arrangements.

“We have informed the power plant authority to be serious about security arrangements. Police are making their own security arrangements outside the plant area but the plant authority will have to make the same arrangements inside,” said Jayanta Basu, district superintendent of police.

At Kolaghat and Bakreswar, power plant authorities have engaged private security agencies. Police and personnel from industrial security forces will be deployed along with these agencies.

   

 
 
INDIA TURNS TERROR HEAT ON DAWOOD 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Mumbai, Oct. 10: 
It’s a chance the Union and state governments don’t want to miss.

As the US and its allies intensified air strikes on the Taliban, the Centre and the Congress-led Maharashtra government united to turn the heat on D-company. The focus is not just on Pakistan but every country harbouring mobsters.

Making full use of the ongoing efforts to curb terror and its sponsors, the ministry of external affairs has picked two senior IPS officers from Maharashtra to make an airtight case for the extradition of Mumbai gangsters operating out of a gulf country.

CBI western region-deputy director D. Sivanandhan and joint commissioner of Mumbai Police B.S. Mohite will leave for the United Arab Emirates next week. Their brief: try and bring back Dawood Ibrahim and his associates working out of Dubai, Sharjah and Bahrain.

The Maharashtra cadre IPS officers, who have long tracked the mob in the financial capital, would meet their counterparts in the UAE to present “irrefutable evidence” against the gangsters. Highly placed sources said countries such as the UAE and Pakistan would now find it hard to explain why they had let Dawood and his men use their cities to carry out terror attacks on India.

Both Ibrahim and his associate Chhota Shakeel used to operate from Dubai in the early nineties, but moved to Pakistan later, where they were given sanctuary by the Inter-Services Intelligence.

The D-company still operates out of Dubai, Sharjah and Bahrain, sources said. Both Dawood and Shakeel have business ties with the UAE.

Sources said Pakistan, already under Indian pressure over backing militants in Kashmir, would now find it hard to harbour Dawood, Shakeel and Tiger Memon, the three main accused in the blasts that ripped through Mumbai in 1993, killing more than 200 people. “If the UAE agrees to act against those using its soil to carry out violence in India, how long can Pakistan keep up the pretence of not knowing Dawood’s whereabouts?” sources asked.

High on the government’s Most Wanted list are Sharad Shetty and Prem Shetty, drug traffickers and Dawood aides, Mustafa Majnu, Mohammad Dosa, Qayyum, Salim Chiplun and Aftab Btki — all allegedly hiding in Dubai.

India wants the UAE to “cut off” the business ties that Dawood’s brother Anees has in Dubai. India signed an extradition treaty with UAE last year, but has no such treaty with Pakistan.

The UAE assured Union home minister L.K. Advani during a recent trip that it would help India arrest the gangsters working out of its soil. Indian authorities, however, should provide it with information and photographs of the fugitives they were looking for, the UAE said.

Plot foiled

Police on Wednesday claimed they had foiled a plot to kill Advani and create communal trouble, with the arrest of six associates of Chhota Shakeel in three cities, adds our correspondent.

Police commissioner M.N. Singh said the six men, arrested in Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore over the past week, confessed they had planned to killed some top functionaries, including Advani.

   

 
 
KRISHNA BARS ANNIVERSARY PARTY 
 
 
FROM HABIB BEARY
 
Bangalore, Oct. 10: 
Karnataka chief minister S.M. Krishna will not have a party to celebrate his two-year rule.

“It is not my style. I am not comfortable with such bashes,” Krishna said on the eve of the second anniversary of his reign.

The decision was taken much before Tuesday’s police firing killing two farmers at a village in Bangalore Rural district, an act that has put the government on the defensive. It has come in for severe criticism from the Opposition, which has dubbed it an “anti-farmer” government.

Krishna, who led the Congress to a spectacular victory in the 1999 Assembly elections, completes two years in office on Thursday, October 11.

His government has every reason to celebrate. It has been free from dissidence and scandals but the chief minister advised his party leaders against holding any public rally to commemorate the event.

Krishna’s aides say the chief minister is shy of extravagant shows, unlike his predecessors both within the Congress and outside it. The flamboyant Congress chief minister, S Bangarappa, never missed an opportunity to hold public shows.

Chief ministers of the Janata Dal, Ramakrishna Hegde, H.D. Deve Gowda and J.H. Patel, were also prone to hold conclaves to mark anniversaries.

Krishna said the emphasis now will be on acceleration of development programmes. “Step on the accelerator,”he said. The chief minister, however, has no plans to announce any new programmes.

The focus would be on improving infrastructure with private participation. Karnataka’s main drawback continues to be poor roads, power-cuts and the absence of an international airport. The government was conscious of this and corrective measures were being taken, he said.

The chief minister said he would hold a mid-course review of his government’s performance but did not indicate any major changes in his ministry. The criticism against his government is that only a dozen ministers from his mammoth ministry performed.

But the chief minister says “all this is provided in the Cabinet system of governance.”

   

 
 
ATAL PUTS AYODHYA ON POLL MAP 
 
 
FROM RADHIKA RAMASESHAN
 
New Delhi, Oct. 10: 
Just ahead of the Uttar Pradesh polls, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has put the Ramjanmabhoomi issue back on the political centrestage.

Vajpayee yesterday assured Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders he would soon revive the high-level Ayodhya cell and do “everything” to “resolve” the matter by March 2002.

The promises came during an hour-long meeting he had with VHP International president Ashok Singhal and Mahant Ram Chander Das Parmahans, chief of the Ramjanmabhoomi Nyas, a specially constituted trust to look after the building of the Ram temple.

The Ayodhya cell, first created by V.P. Singh in 1989, used to monitor negotiations between the Centre and representatives of the organisations involved in the mandir-masjid dispute as well as the court proceedings. The cell existed through the successive Chandra Shekhar and P.V. Narasimha Rao governments but became defunct once the Babri masjid was demolished in December 1992.

Singhal and Parmahans today jointly addressed a news conference. Parmahans, who heads the important Digambar Akhara (a religious order) of Ayodhya, said: “Atalji said the cell will be reconstituted very soon and will be directly under his charge.”

Official sources, however, said the cell would take shape in a couple of days and would be part of the Cabinet secretariat and not the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). Sources also said it would be headed by a retired or serving IAS official, preferably from Uttar Pradesh, who is conversant with the dispute dating back to several decades.

The two leaders also impressed on Vajpayee that the Centre should immediately hand over the land on the periphery of the disputed site so that the Nyas could begin building the four gopurams (domes).

“We told the Prime Minister that while we do not expect you to do anything improper, you should return the undisputed parts of the land to us. Nobody has any objection to this and from the legal point of view, too, it should be returned to us,” Parmahans said.

Vajpayee’s response, he said, was he would “solve” the problem. “When I asked him how, he said ‘I will first reactivate the Ayodhya cell in 10 or 12 days’,” the mahant said. He, however, cautioned Vajpayee against using it to “break the mandir movement”.

Asked if the Prime Minister indicated any other way of settling the matter, Singhal said: “He had emphatically stated earlier to the Lucknow press, Parliament and yesterday us that he would do it. Surely, he must have said all this on the basis of something concrete. He knows when he should observe silence and when to break it.”

   

 
 
MUSLIMS ON EDGE OVER ATTACK 
 
 
FROM RASHEED KIDWAI
 
New Delhi, Oct. 10: 
A sense of uneasiness about the US-led strikes on Afghanistan is developing in the Muslim community, with moderates trying to de-escalate tension and hawks attempting to whip up passions.

The All-India Muslim Personal Law Board, a representative body of various factions of Muslims, has called off its meeting on October 17, at which the management of madarsas was to be discussed. Board chief Qazi Mujahid-ul-Islam feels the focus of the meet would have been diverted to international events. Islam is keeping his fingers crossed, but says the community has shown restraint and maturity in understanding the gravity and complexity of the situation.

The Shahi Imam of Delhi, Syed Ahmad Bukhari, on the other hand, has termed the bombing in Afghanistan as a “war on Islam”. The shura of the Jama Masjid was planning to register its protest about the events.

The law board has largely maintained its apolitical profile, though during the Shah Bano controversy it had urged the Rajiv Gandhi regime to accept the supremacy of the shariat in matters of divorce and maintenance.

Board members said they were keeping a close watch on international events and would not like to comment as the issues involved have a serious bearing on humanity.

“The Muslim ummah does not take terrorism threats lightly. At the same time, there are questions about its definition and applications… The civil society and the international community should be seen as being fair and just while addressing the problem,” said a member of the law board.

He said the situation in India was more volatile as many Muslims lack understanding of the global situation. “There is a tendency to go for the obvious, notwithstanding the emphasis that it is not a clash of civilisation.”

Community leaders and the intelligentsia are extremely exercised over a possibility of Indian Muslims following in the footsteps of their co-religionists from Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Quetta.

They fear that in the event of Muslims hitting the streets, the community would risk being dubbed as one “endorsing” terrorism.

In such a situation, the attitude of the Vajpayee regime and the state governments would also come into the play. With Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf being seen as showing no mercy towards radical Muslims in Pakistan, the Indian government is likely to adopt similar measures.

However, with the sensitive communal situation in the country and the forthcoming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, any crackdown can lead to a volatile situation.

   

 
 
NO BOUQUETS FOR ‘STOP-GAP’ CM 
 
 
FROM KAY BENEDICT
 
New Delhi, Oct.10: 
O. Panneerselvam’s visit to Delhi was as low profile as Jayalalithaa’s visits used to be high profile.

There were no flowers, no bouquets, no garlands, no hangers-on, not even photographers, when Amma’s hand-picked chief minister reached Delhi last night to attend a meeting of the Cauvery River Authority.

Unlike Jayalalithaa, he did not take the VVIP gate. The first-time MLA, first-time minister and first-time chief minister quietly left by the VIP gate.

Around the same time, some five or six women stood with garlands to greet a southern leader at the domestic terminal. But they were waiting not for the Tamil Nadu chief minister, as some thought, but for Thalavi Sundaram, who had cancelled his visit.

At Tamil Nadu Bhavan, Panneerselvam did not stay in the suite reserved for chief ministers — Room 9. Nor did he spend the night at Room 8, that Jayalalithaa’s close aide Sasikala preferred.

He stayed, instead, in Room 7.

Immediately after Panneerselvam took over as chief minister, Jayalalithaa let it be known that there was no need to garland him at official functions, nor was there any point in keeping his photograph at the secretariat.

But the chief minister of Amma’s government doesn’t mind at all. He has said he is a stop-gap chief minister, and that doesn’t trouble his ego.

Today, he followed Amma’s instructions to a T. During the two-and-a-half-hour meet, he did not speak. He merely read out a written statement that Jayalalithaa had vetted. Lawyer-turned finance and law minister C. Ponnaiyan argued the state’s case.

Later, however, he held a news conference at Tamil Nadu Bhavan. He was assisted by the finance minister and chief secretary. Appearing confident, he expressed disappointment at the outcome of the meeting as Karnataka had rejected Tamil Nadu’s demand for more water.

   

 
 
KAMTAPURI REBELS KILL 1 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
Siliguri, Oct. 10: 
Suspected Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) militants today shot dead one person and critically injured another at Jalpaiguri.

Inspector-general (north Bengal) N.R. Das said: “A group of six or seven armed militants, suspected to be KLO activists, started firing at Jalpesh Hat this evening. They used sophisticated weapons, including AK 47 rifles.”

Superintendent of police, Jalpaiguri, S.N. Gupta has rushed to the spot.

   
 

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