Mamata takes up Sougata fight
Stay on SSC
Sangh push for terror whip
Cong rift on Tada clone
Vajpayee woos Khaleda with Zia’s vision
Jaswant walks war tightrope
Scam, what scam: Jaya

 
 
MAMATA TAKES UP SOUGATA FIGHT 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Oct. 11: 
Taking up cudgels on behalf of Sougata Roy, Mamata Banerjee today said chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will have to apologise to her party if he wants to meet Trinamul Congress MLAs and MPs.

She also demanded the state take action against the policemen who had stopped Roy from entering Writers’ Buildings on Tuesday.

“We are finding that this government is bent on humiliating us at the slightest pretext…. We will not tolerate it. Our MPs and MLAs will not visit Writers’ unless the chief minister apologises to us,” Mamata said after a meeting with her party top brass.

Though Mamata did not name the chief minister, she made it clear she expected Bhattacharjee to offer the apology.    


 
 
STAY ON SSC 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Oct. 11: 
The Calcutta High Court today placed an injunction on all future School Service Commission examinations for filling up posts of teachers. Justice Barin Ghosh today directed the SSC authorities to seek the court’s permission before holding any exam following a Blind Persons’ Association plea demanding that the blind be allowed to write their exam in Braille.    

 
 
SANGH PUSH FOR TERROR WHIP 
 
 
FROM KAY BENEDICT
 
New Delhi, Oct. 11: 
The Sangh parivar has begun moves to inculcate patriotism in Indians, especially the Left parties and a section of the media, to cash in on the anti-terrorism sentiments within and outside the country and to get a tough law enacted for the Vajpayee government to deal with terrorism.

A seminar on International Terrorism, organised here today by the Akil Bharatiya Adhivakta Parishad, a lawyers’ body affiliated to the RSS, saw Union minister for law, justice and company affairs Arun Jaitley, former CBI director Joginder Singh, among others, advocating stiff laws to check terrorism and deal with dissent with an iron hand.

Referring to the critics of the government’s foreign policy, Arun Jaitley said a la US President George W. Bush: “You are either with the victim or the villain.” Joginder Singh, who criticised successive governments for their inaction in dealing with terrorists, said “illegal battles cannot be won by legal ways”. He also criticised the government for providing security to Hurriyat leaders.

United Nations Information Centre director Feoder Starcevic informed the audience, which mostly comprised lawyers and also included RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan, of the UN initiative in fighting terrorism across the globe. He said that lack of consensus, mainly on the “definition of terrorism”, precluded collective action.

Speakers from India stressed the need to change the environment which is conducive for the growth of terrorism, They stressed the need to prevent misuse of madrasas for indoctrination of young people, cutting off the source of funds, especially through narcotic trade, free flow of arms.

What the US showed after the September 11 terror attacks was not just ‘jingoism’ but patriotism. “Five days after the stock exchange was opened, they all went to work with US flags in their hands. No US television channels showed the bodies of the dead. Even after a month, hundreds of bodies are yet to be retrieved and the rubble cleared. But the US media did not criticise the government,” he said referring to the all-pervading ‘cynicism” of the Indians.

   

 
 
CONG RIFT ON TADA CLONE 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Oct. 11: 
Chief ministers of Congress-ruled states and teh party’s central leadership are divided over the new law proposed by the Centre to combat terrorism.

Sonia Gandhi and a majority of the Congress Working Committee members are less than enthusiastic about the “new Tada” because of their experience with the annulled Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (Tada) that contributed to the defeat of the Congress in the 1996 elections. During P.V. Narasimha Rao’s regime, many of his ministerial colleagues, namely Arjun Singh, C.K. Jaffer Sharief, Mamata Banerjee and Ghulam Nabi Azad, had demanded the repeal of Tada on the ground that its provisions were being misused.

The Congress high command believes there are enough provisions in other Acts to tackle terrorism instead of going for the new Bill.

   

 
 
VAJPAYEE WOOS KHALEDA WITH ZIA’S VISION 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, Oct. 11: 
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has fallen back on the virtues of the late Zia-ur-Rahman to woo his widow, the new Bangladesh Prime Minister.

In his second letter to Khaleda Zia in less than a week, Vajpayee congratulated her on assuming the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s office while stressing on Zia-ur-Rahman’s “vision of regional cooperation that crystallised into (the) South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation”.

Expressing Delhi’s desire to have a strong and close bond with Dhaka, he also invited the new Prime Minister to visit India at a mutually convenient date.

The letter may be aimed at ensuring nothing goes wrong in India-Bangladesh relations, but sources said it also sends out the signal that Delhi is not losing any time in abandoning its friend Sheikh Hasina and the Awami League.

“Our two countries enjoy an abiding friendship which draws on our shared history and heritage, our commitment to democracy, the complementaries in our economies and a commonality of problems facing us in our region,” Vajpayee said.

“We look forward to building on this friendship and to give further momentum and content to our multifaceted bilateral cooperation for the benefit of our peoples.”

The Prime Minister said: “I recall my interaction, as external affairs minister of India in the late 1970s, with the late President Zia-ur Rahman. We recognise that it was his vision of regional cooperation that crystallised into Saarc. We have to work together to fulfil this vision more fully.”

   

 
 
JASWANT WALKS WAR TIGHTROPE 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, Oct. 11: 
Faced with pressure for grovelling before the Bush administration, the Vajpayee government today walked the diplomatic tightrope by trying to convince the Indian public that the US-led strikes against the Taliban and al Qaida were beneficial to India and assuring the outside world that Delhi will not take any step to compound Pakistan’s current problems.

“The target of the US military action is the al Qaida network in Afghanistan. The al Qaida has a number of organisations which are active in Jammu and Kashmir. When the al Qaida is targeted by the Americans, these organisation are targeted,” foreign and defence minister Jaswant Singh said.

Though Singh made it clear that India will not compound Pakistan’s problems by going on a “hot pursuit” of terrorists based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, he ruled out a visit to Islamabad now. Stressing that Delhi was committed to a dialogue with Pakistan, he argued that a conducive atmosphere was needed for future talks. This could be achieved if the military regime in Islamabad stopped promoting cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.

Asked whether he saw “hot pursuit” as an option for Delhi, the minister categorically ruled out the possibility. But he was quick to point out that no one should take India’s patience for granted. Singh said Islamabad has so far matched India’s restraint and maturity with encouragement to terrorists. “Every time we tried to talk peace with Pakistan, we faced difficulties.”

He argued that while he welcomed Pervez Musharraf’s commitment to the global coalition against terrorism, he would like the Pakistani President to match his words with strong and effective action against terrorists based in his territory.

The minister’s recent trip to Washington has come in for criticism in some sections. Though Singh has described his talks with the US leadership as “fruitful”, the signal emerging from the US capital is clear: Musharraf is an important player in the US’ scheme of things and no one is willing to disturb him. The feeling was strengthened when, within hours of Singh’s departure from Washington, the Bush administration decided to lift sanctions on arms sale to Pakistan.

But at a crowded press conference today, Singh tried to dispel the misgivings and clarify the policy South Block has been pursuing since Terror Tuesday.

While Jaswant said he was happy that the US and the others had joined in “India’s war against terrorism”, he made it clear that Delhi, which has been battling this menace for more than two decades, will continue even if the others decide to abandon it.

   

 
 
SCAM, WHAT SCAM: JAYA 
 
 
FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Chennai, Oct. 11: 
Asserting there was “no scam at all” in the import of coal by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board during her previous regime, Jayalalithaa today said the case filed by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy was “politically motivated”.

The ADMK chief, who deposed as a key witness in the alleged Rs 6.50 crore coal import scam before special court judge S.S.P. Daravesh this evening, maintained there was no loss to the exchequer caused by the imports in 1992.

Denying the charges against her, Jayalalithaa said her government was trying to save Tamil Nadu from a “calamitous situation” and claimed that the electricity board’s decision to import coal to keep its thermal plants going was “an example of crisis management at its best”.

She said Tamil Nadu was able to avert a major power crisis that year, thanks to the imports. She added that she had written to the then Prime Minister seeking exemption of customs duty for the imported fuel. This, she said, had helped the state save over Rs 50 crore.

   
 

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