PM eyes CMs’ meet to push terror law
Desam demands debate, changes
Escorts, commandos & CID sleuths guard English team
Massacre under cracker cover
Paswan alliance sermon to BJP
Unions’ chance to unite and untie party chains
Jeers and cheers greet Doha-smug Delhi
Army admits to jawans’ telephone tapping
Centre order on SC smoke bar

New Delhi, Nov. 15: 
On Saturday, when chief ministers from around the country gather in the capital to discuss internal security, the Vajpayee government will try to push through its agenda of winning over the states to support its anti-terror Ordinance.

But despite claims by the Centre that chief ministers are willing to go along with the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance, Opposition parties will ensure that states under their control do not support the government.

The Congress, which rules 12 states, is expected to finalise its stand on the Ordinance tomorrow when party president Sonia Gandhi meets the chief ministers.

During a conference of directors-general of police in October, the need for an anti-terrorist Ordinance as well as an FBI-type central force to track down terrorist groups in the states was forcibly put forward by home minister L.K. Advani and his officials.

At the end of the conference, home secretary Kamal Pande told reporters that chief ministers of several states, including Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, had supported the government’s move.

The home ministry has also been at pains to point out that Maharashtra and Karnataka already have similar laws and that West Bengal was also gearing up for a legislation similar to the anti-terror Ordinance.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has dropped the idea, though it was certainly not as all pervasive and draconian as the central Ordinance. Maharashtra has a tough anti-terrorist law, but it is confined to dealing with organised crime and the Mumbai mafia.

The government claims that the Ordinance is just one of the many things which will be discussed at the second conference of chief ministers. It insists that the scope is much wider than getting the states to agree to the Ordinance, which will be brought in for vote in the winter session of Parliament beginning this month.

Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee will inaugurate the conference.

“This meeting is important and not confined to a single-point agenda. It will review internal security, discuss in detail the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast, as well as the problems posed by Left-wing terrorist groups in the country. The ISI problem and the situation along the India-Bangladesh as well as the India-Nepal border will be thrashed out threadbare,” a spokesman of the Prime Minister’s office told The Telegraph.

“Infiltration from Bangladesh and how the ISI can use infiltrators to aggravate the communal situation in the country will be reviewed at the conference,” the spokesman added.

The Centre is getting increasingly worried about infiltration from Bangladesh, especially now that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party is in power. Khaleda Zia’s party had made no bones about its distrust of Delhi while it was in the Opposition, and had charged the ruling Awami League with selling out Bangladesh’s interests to India.

Though Khaleda in power will certainly adopt a more constructive attitude towards Delhi, there are elements in her government which are likely to give the ISI a freer hand to operate in the areas adjoining India’s north-eastern border.

PMO sources said the conference will think of ways to strengthen the borders by allocating additional BSF contingents for the Northeast and more security forces to man the Nepal border. The issue of identity cards for citizens living in the border areas is also being revived.

Government sources say the aim of the conference will be to update the chief ministers on the new security challenges facing the country, especially after the September 11 strikes in the US.

The states will be sensitised to the dangers of chemical and even nuclear material being used by terrorist groups.

The government, the sources said, hopes to whip up the fear psychosis that gripped the nation after Terror Tuesday so that it can push through the terror law. Unfortunately for the Centre, that mood has evaporated.


Hyderabad, Nov. 15: 
The Telugu Desam has joined the chorus of NDA allies demanding a debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance and sought amendments to some of its clauses on investigations, confessions and human rights protections.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Desam chief Chandrababu Naidu, who is participating in a meeting on the terror Ordinance in Delhi later this week, has voiced concern over the proposed Act which, he feels, needs careful study and necessary amendments.

However, the Naidu government has already promulgated legislation against organised crime with similar clauses of rights for investigations and actions.

A new police manual, which incorporates steps in controlling and punishing cyber crime and organised crime, was today unveiled by the chief minister. The manual will become an important pro-people instrument, Naidu said.

Law and order and investigations will from now on be independently handled by two separate divisions in the state. Initially, the two will be separated in major towns and then at all levels, said director-general of police H.J. Dora.

The police manual, updated for the first time since its incorporation in 1960, provides for a “public grievance authority”. It also incorporates a mechanism to safeguard the interests of upright officers from vexatious litigation and victimisation.

The new police manual is the 85th in the series undertaken by the state since 1995 to update all departmental manuals.

“Plans are afoot to update the manuals of another 124 departments and we hope to complete it by 2002,” Naidu said.

Asked when the new police manual will come into effect, Naidu said some of the recommendations like creation of posts for additional directors-general of police for technical services and armed police have already been implemented. “Some of the major changes are awaiting clearance of the Cabinet. But the manual will be in force fully by December,” said Dora.

According to the new manual, FIRs, post-mortem reports and motor vehicle inspection reports will be provided to the “aggrieved” parties to facilitate legal proceedings.


Mumbai, Nov. 15: 
The English team is surrounded by unprecedented security, fit for heads of state.

Nasser Hussain and his boys, who landed in the city yesterday, are being protected by four layers of security.

“Apart from uniformed men, there is an inner ring of security with plainclothesmen. Then there is ‘protection’ security with commandos,” a police official in charge of the security said. (The Reuters picture on the left shows a policeman on patrol at the Wankhede stadium when Hussain’s boys were at the nets.)

“The cricketers have also been provided with escorts, which is an unusual thing. There are men from the CID too,” he added. The official said such steps are only reserved for heads of state. “But after September 11, we have to be very careful,” he said.

“We also took the special steps keeping in mind the fact that the English had thought of cancelling the tour,” the official added. The drive was also on at the news conference addressed by the team today. Reporters were frisked and allowed to enter after they produced identity cards.

But has all the fuss affected the visitors? No, said Hussain, the 32-year-old English captain who was born in Chennai.

Because of a number of reasons — players retiring and taking breaks, and two players choosing not to tour as a consequence of the “current world climate” — Hussain’s team has several new faces.


Biharsharif, Nov. 15: 
Nobody heard their death screams. They were drowned by the non-stop burst of crackers.

As flaring fireworks lit up the night-sky over Nalanda, a village in the heart of this central Bihar district played out a recurrent theme, with guns and bullets.

Around midnight, a group of assailants tiptoed to the doors of a 10-member Yadav family in Nawada, five kilometres from here, and knocked saying they had come to give prasad of the Lakshmi puja observed on Diwali night. When the door was opened, the men burst in after locking the main gate.

The masked assassins then went from room to room, picking their victims. The first shot killed Bachchu Yadav and, as three terrified children heard the screams from their hiding places, the men shot dead five more, the bark of their guns lost in the staccato spitfire of exploding crackers in neighbouring areas.

Before they left, the gang also burst crackers, shouting: “Diwali hai”.

“The locals had thought this was the sound of crackers. Nothing could be more morbid a cover for killings,” said an officer of Rahui police station.

There was a police outpost at Bhaganbigha, but the jawans there had no idea that a grisly massacre had been carried out.

The dead have been identified as Bachchu Yadav (45), his wife Shanti Devi (40), Ramnath Yadav (35), Ramnath’s wife Sunaina Devi (30), Sagar Yadav (45) and Anita Kumari (18). One was injured.

According to the police, the three children who hid in a storeroom have identified the men involved in the carnage. They are neighbours of the victims — Kishori Yadav, Harichandra, Mantu and Mahesh, men of the same caste. All four are absconding.

Asish Ranjan Sinha, additional director-general of Bihar police, said the “meticulously calculated revenge” could be a fallout of an old land dispute and the murder of a man two years ago in the accused persons’ family.

“The legacy of massacre is deeply entrenched in the social more of the area and sustained by free availability of arms. Even lighter provocations end up in mass killings,” said Viswamohan Chowdhary, Samata Party MLA of the area.

“It is strange that Yadavs killed Yadavs in a style followed by their caste enemies like the Ranbir Sena.”

Nalanda superintendent of police Gupteswar Pandey confirmed that a member of the accused persons’ family had been killed two years ago. Preliminary inquiries have revealed that during Lakhsmi Puja in the house of the accused last night, a garlanded portrait of the slain man was kept alongside pictures of the goddess. After offering puja, the assailants had left on their revenge mission.

That the assassins had planned their strike well ahead is evident. They have taken with them all their valuables and, before fleeing the village, had shifted the women in the family to safe places.

“We have launched a man hunt. All police officers in adjoining districts have been alerted,” Pandey said.

All male members of Bachchu Yadav’s family have been killed and there are no claimants to the bodies.

The three minors, including a seven-year-old girl, accompanied policemen to the burning ghat after post-mortem.

Their bloodstained home has been sealed by the police.


New Delhi, Nov. 15: 
Coal and mines minister Ram Vilas Paswan today urged the BJP to bury the Ayodhya issue and contest the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh elections on a common minimum programme in the interests of the National Democratic Alliance.

Paswan, president of the Lok Janshakti Party, an NDA constituent, warned that if the BJP insisted on its own manifesto, the allies could also go ahead with their own.

“In coalition politics, a government can run successfully only on the basis of a common minimum programme like the one we have at the Centre,” he told reporters. “It will be good if there is a common manifesto before polls.”

Paswan said his party would contest those seats where the NDA and its allies secured third or fourth positions in the last elections, besides the 16 seats it holds in the outgoing Assembly.

The results of the elections would have deep repercussions on the future, the minister said, claiming that his party was getting a good response. He ruled out the merger of his party with others of the Janata parivar, such as the Janata Dal (United) and the Samata Party. “If they want to merge with Lok Janshakti Party, it’s okay. I will not merge,” he said.

Asked about the party’s stand if the BJP decided to go ahead with its own agenda, Paswan said the Lok Janshakti would then pursue its own agenda as well.


New Delhi, Nov. 15: 
It sounds chimerical, but this is what the Indian National Trade Union (Intuc) wants: one federation instead of the numerous trade unions.

“We are going to ask the government to amend the Trade Union Act to end the multiplicity of trade unions,” said Chandidas Sinha, official of the Congress-sponsored Intuc, reiterating an opinion that was strongly voiced at the organisation’s recent plenary session in Jharkhand. Intuc is rooting for a single trade union or federation so that they can effectively influence economic policies.

This would mean that the trade unions sever ties with political parties they are affiliated to. For instance, Citu and Aituc will have to snap links with the CPM and the CPI, Intuc with the Congress and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh with the RSS.

“It is true that political affiliations are coming in the way of the functioning of trade unions,” said BMS secretary K.L. Reddy. He agreed that a single national-level federation would enhance the bargaining clout of trade unions. “We want a non-political trade union movement,” he added.

But Citu struck a different chord. The union claims it is not affiliated to any political party, while the BMS and Intuc are. The Intuc president is appointed by the Congress chief while the BMS is an RSS “outfit”, pointed out Citu’s W.R. Varadrajan.

“We are not an appendage of the CPM,” underlined the Citu leader. “But trade unions cannot give up their separate identities,” he added.

The Trade Union Act, recently amended in Parliament, states that a trade union can be recognised only if it has 10 per cent support in an establishment or a membership of 100 employees.

Intuc wants this provision tightened. “If there is already one trade union in an establishment, there should be a bar on registering any more unions unless their claims can be verified,” said Sinha. Citu says its proposal of a secret ballot verification of the unions’ claims on the basis of proportional representation is pending. “Whoever has majority should be recognised as the real representative of workers,” said Varadrajan.

Labour leaders realise that their power to change economic policies has grown weaker over the years. One of the reasons is multiplicity of trade unions, believes Intuc.

But Citu does not seem to agree. “There are differences at the central level. But at the grassroots, the units are working together. For instance, all trade unions have given a joint call for a three-day strike in the coal industry,” Varadrajan pointed out.


New Delhi, Nov. 15: 
The non-Congress Opposition today accused the Centre of allowing itself to be arm-twisted by the developed countries at the Doha trade talks but industry struck a positive note.

Industry representatives said they are pleased that the government negotiators at the fourth ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) were able to hammer out a face-saving formula — the doctrine of “explicit consensus” — on the Singapore issues that had threatened to sabotage a deal at Doha.

This principle lays down that negotiations on the four contentious issues — investment, competition policy, transparency in government procurement and trade facilitation — will now be held only after an “explicit consensus” is reached at the fifth ministerial conference two years from now.

But several Opposition leaders, who have come together under the banner of the Indian People’s Campaign Against WTO (IPCAW), felt that the government has failed to live up to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s assurance that India would not succumb to pressure.

“Developed countries have refused to listen to any plea put forward by India and nine other countries,” they said. “The US even sneaked in a clause which allows free trade with zero tariff in water, timber and other natural resources.”

The Opposition leaders have insisted on a white paper on WTO negotiations. The BJP, which “appreciated” India’s stand at Doha, said it had no problem as a white paper could expose Congress and United Front leaders who were also party to the removal of “restrictions on over 8,000 items” between 1991-’92 and April 1, 1996.

The Opposition leaders demanded that no agreement be signed without “prior and explicit approval of Parliament and the state legislatures, as necessary”.

A delegation of former Prime Minister V.P. Singh, CPM general-secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet, his CPI counterpart A.B. Bardhan and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had met the Prime Minister on October 30. Vajpayee, they later said, had assured them that India would not capitulate.

“What has finally happened at Doha is what we apprehended in our memorandum to the Prime Minister — capitulation to the pressures of developed countries and their multinationals,” Singh said today.

BJP economic cell convener Jagdish Shettigar defended the Centre. “Our only loss,” he said, “is with regard to the clause relating to environment. But then, it is a small concession in the overall interest of the country.”

Industry reckons the two-year reprieve will give the government enough time to accelerate its reforms programme and come up to speed with the rest of the world.

“WTO is an on-going negotiating platform. This time the onus was on India to take a stand. We are now known as tough negotiators. Now we will have to build up on the foothold that we have established,” said T.K. Bhaumik, senior adviser on trade policy at the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Bhaumik was part of a team of non-government policy wonks who were on hand at Doha to assist the government negotiators. “India will have to set the goals for the future, understand the issues from the point of view of the developed countries and carry on intensive interaction with the other parties on the same platform,” Bhaumik said.

India had agreed to negotiate on industrial tariff and trade facilitation. But industry feels this will not pose major difficulties as “next time round India will be on a stronger wicket”.


Tezpur, Nov. 15: 
The army today admitted that the five convicted jawans had “tapped” the telephone of an officer but offered a feeble explanation about their involvement in spying.

Today’s edition of The Telegraph reported that the five jawans, serving under the 4 Corps in Tezpur in central Assam, had been “discharged” from service, and four of them sent to jail, ostensibly for “passing sensitive information to interested parties”.

Though the army authorities were forced to admit the conviction of the five following the exposé, they did not announce that another sepoy was also discharged and a subedar “degraded” in the same case. The two jawans were identified as sepoy Kishore Kumar and subedar R.P. Singh, sources said. All the seven guilty army personnel were posted at the Besseria signal centre near here.

A “rejoinder” signed by defence spokesman Maj. Jaideep Ghose said the five jawans were “court-marshalled for illegally tapping the civil telephone of one of the officers and using the STD facility for making personal calls”. After receiving a “highly-inflated” telephone bill, the officer concerned informed the telecom authorities who carried out an investigation. It was found that a parallel connection was being used by the jawans, the major said. “Five jawans were found guilty of disrupting communication and disciplinary action has been taken against them,” he said.

Yesterday, Ghose had denied knowledge of any “conviction” of any army personnel of the 4 Corps on account of “telephone tapping”. Though the official spokesman claimed that the case had no connection with “spying, the Ulfa or the unified command operations”, a source in the 4 Corps said: “There is every possibility of the parallel line being used for other purposes.”

“On several occasions, intelligence input to the army comes from civilian sources through the civil lines rather than the phones belonging to the army’s own exchange. It is also possible that the jawans who dared to draw a parallel line from a superior’s DoT line had recorded sensitive conversation and passed it to interested parties,” the source said.

George on Pak build-up

India today said Pakistan’s approach towards terrorism and Delhi has not changed even after the terror attacks and questioned Islamabad’s intentions behind moving troops close to the border in the Punjab and Rajasthan sectors.

Defence minister George Fernandes, who visited several forward locations, assured the troops that the Centre would take steps to meet their requirements in ensuring the security of the country


New Delhi, Nov. 15: 
The Centre has directed all states to implement the Supreme Court order banning smoking in public places.

The health ministry today sent notes to state health secretaries urging them to take steps to enforce the order. States have been asked to create “public awareness” about the order and give it as much publicity as required.

“We want the states to highlight the damage smoking can cause to health and especially its potential to cause cancer,” said a health ministry official.

The apex court, in its order, had asked state governments to ban smoking in public places such as auditoriums, hospitals, health and educational institutions, libraries, court buildings and public conveyances and offices.

Kerala High Court had, much earlier, issued a similar order and the state government has effectively implemented it.

Several states, including Delhi, Rajasthan and Goa, have laws along the lines of the Supreme Court order.

The Centre has already begun the process of bringing in a legislation. “But the tobacco lobby has been very strong and influential — one of the reasons for the delay in bringing the Bill,” say officials.


Maintained by Web Development Company