Buddha cries war on PWG
Job hope for leprosy patients
Gujarat war cry echoes in heartland
Modi gives grudging salute to supercop
Junior Bachchan opts for compromise
Pioneer of divisiveness
BJP fires Godse salvo at Sonia

Paschim Midnapore, May 4: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today announced that his government would not allow the PWG to run its organisation in some areas of Midnapore.

“We will not allow them to carry out their activities in the district and will force them to quit Midnapore at any cost,” Bhattacharjee said at the Circuit House here this afternoon.

He praised the Midnapore police for tackling the extremist threat and said 100 PWG activists were arrested over the past few months from the Midnapore-Bankura range, eight of whom were facing murder charges.

The chief minister announced that the government would initiate drastic measures against the extremists to save the people from the reign of terror unleashed by these forces in some villages.

“Our government will not allow the PWG to continue its activities in Midnapore. They have killed seven of our party leaders and supporters and one NVF official. Naturally, we can’t distribute sweets to the PWG men,” Bhattacharjee said.

Asked why the CPM cadre was becoming a soft target for the PWG, the chief minister said: “Left extremist forces always consider us as their main enemy. This is because we are working for the poorer section of the society and they (PWG) are engaged in exploiting the poor to achieve political gains. Naturally, we are becoming their number one enemy.”

Bhattacharjee admitted that despite constant vigil to check PWG activities, a small group of extremists was still active in the district. “But we will not allow them to run their organisation in Midnapore. We will force them to quit Midnapore at any cost,” he said.

The chief minister today inaugurated the new building of the Vidyasagar Cooperative Bank, which has been recognised as the best in its category in the state, in Midnapore town.

Speaking at the function, he charged the nationalised banks of step-motherly treatment towards West Bengal. The nationalised banks were investing only 46 per cent of the state’s depositors’ money in Bengal, thus depriving the state economically.

Bhattacharjee cautioned that his government would be forced to stop putting money of different departments in the banks if the practice continued.

The chief minister said his government was considering several proposals for setting up industrial units in the district with help from the Tatas.

“We have plans to set up a group of industries in Kharagpur and Midnapore with help from the private industrialists. We are also in touch with the Union government and seeking help in setting up the industrial units in Midnapore and Haldia,” he said.

CPM activists expelled

Four CPM leaders of Nakashipara in Nadia were expelled for “anti-party activities”. They allegedly had close links with the Congress during the last Assembly polls.

Party secretary Anil Biswas said the Nadia district committee had recommended the expulsion of Dilip Sarkar, Sandip Sinha Roy, Radheshyam Sarkar and Swapan Chakraborty from the organisation.

“We have accepted the recommendation,” he added.

The four expelled leaders allegedly maintained close links with the Congress during the last Assembly elections.


Asansol, May 4: 
Cured leprosy patients of the region will now find it easier to get back into the mainstream with the Asansol Mines Board of Health proposing to engage them in plantation work.

The leprosy control unit of the Asansol board along with the Hindu Kustha Kalyan Samity plans to grow medicinal plants on 20 acres belonging to L. Sen Memorial Leprosy Hospital at Kalla and on eight acres of Ballavpur Leprosy Hospital.

The Asansol board has submitted its proposal to the government to rehabilitate cured patients who have not been taken back by their families.

The institution has also prepared a report for the construction of an old-age home at the L. Sen Memorial Hospital for cured aged patients.

“Experts from the samity — a Burdwan-based NGO aided by the Centre — visited our site and suggested medicinal plants that can be grown here,” said Shyamal Sanyal, chief of the leprosy control unit and health officer of the Asansol board. “They suggested growing shrubs such as palmarosa from which an aromatic oil of rose flavour is extracted.”

The soil test of the proposed site has already taken place, said sources.


Amethi, May 4: 
The installation of the BJP-BSP government in Uttar Pradesh seems to have prompted Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to bring the Gujarat battle to Uttar Pradesh.

“No party which trades in hatred and justifies killing of innocent men and women has the moral right to rule the country,” she warned a large gathering at Amethi at the end of a three-day visit to her parliamentary constituency today.

Accusing the BJP governments at the Centre and in Gujarat of abdicating their primary responsibility of safeguarding the life and property of people, Sonia asked all sections of the society to fight communal and casteist forces “who are only interested in dividing the people to stay in power”.

The BJP was the principal target of her speeches at half a dozen public functions. But she did not spare the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party either. “Some people believe that the only purpose of a political party is to grab power and they are ready to align with anyone. The Congress is the only party which puts national interest above partisan politics and has shown that it is willing to forsake power for the sake of its principles,” she said.

Addressing a convention on communal amity at the Muslim-dominated town of Inahuna, Sonia said: “If the rulers of the country and traders of hatred had realised that the poison of communal politics was not going to do anything good for the society, the state of Mahatma Gandhi would not have been suffering today.”

Sharing the platform with leading Muslim clerics of Uttar Pradesh, she accused the “self-styled followers of Ram of playing the role of Ravana all over the country”.

Renowned Muslim cleric Site concurred. “Hundreds of our brothers and sisters were being killed in Gujarat but the government is not willing to accept that fact. Is this not the attitude of fascists?” he asked.

The Inahuna convention was a calculated move to regain the sympathy of Muslims, who showed some signs of returning to the Congress during the recent Assembly elections. It forms an important element of Sonia’s strategy to rejuvenate the Congress in the country’s most populous state. She also expects the upper castes to desert the BJP and return to the Congress after the installation of the BJP-BSP government in Uttar Pradesh.

If the size of the gatherings Sonia addressed during her three-day visit is any indication, the strategy seems to have started paying dividends.

“The country cannot be tied with a fundamentalist thought but the tragedy is that killers of Gandhi are running the government. All of you should raise a collective voice and uproot these elements from the government,” she advised a receptive crowd at Jagdishpur. She did not mention either the BJP or the BSP, but the audience was left in no doubt about the target of her onslaught.

“The politics at the Centre and in the state has disturbed the social fabric of the Indian society. The proponents of communal politics and opportunistic alliances have joined hands to rule and this means that things will remain same in the coming days,” she warned.

Asked to comment on the BSP-BJP alliance in Uttar Pradesh in Jagdishpur, her laconic reply was: “We have seen the results of these alliances earlier.”

She reminded the gathering that she had been to Gujarat twice and had also raised the issue effectively in Parliament.

In an oblique reference to the VHP’s recent Ayodhya movement, she said attempts were made to disturb communal amity in other states too but “their designs could not be successful”.


Ahmedabad, May 4: 
Chief minister Narendra Modi today swallowed his pride and accepted K.P.S. Gill as security adviser to the Gujarat government, a day after the supercop landed in the city for his new assignment.

As a face-saving gesture, the state government issued a terse statement, saying Gill was appointed “in view of the National Human Rights Commission’s recommendations”.

One of the suggestions of the rights panel was to make the police force more professional. The government now says Gill’s “vast experience in curbing militancy” will help restore normalcy in the riot-savaged state.

Yesterday, top government officials were not even ready to acknowledge that there was any move by the Centre to send the former director general of Punjab police, who is credited with breaking the back of Khalistani militancy, to Gujarat.

Gill met Modi and state director general of police K. Chakrovarty last night and discussed the situation in the state. He also met other state officials.

Despite the official announcement about the appointment, there was no word from any senior minister or top officials. Government spokesman Purshottam Rupala, when contacted, said: “We have issued a statement. That is what we have to say.”

A senior official of information department in state capital Gandhinagar said he did not know why the government feigned ignorance about the appointment. “This is something only the chief minister can answer,” he said.

But the VHP was more forthcoming. A senior leader of the outfit, who claims to be close to Modi, said the state government did not know how to react to the Centre’s decision to send Gill as security advisor. It was also against the wishes of Modi, who felt humiliated. The chief minister, he said, was extremely annoyed because the Centre had “imposed” Gill on the state government.

Sources said the government had to eventually fall in line as Modi could not afford to defy both Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and home minister L.K. Advani, who wanted Gill to take charge as security adviser to contain the communal violence. Gill will be reporting directly to the Centre.

The VHP, aware of Gill’s track record, has reasons to worry, but says every successful man “cannot succeed” everywhere. “What does he know about Gujarat?” asked a state VHP leader. “He cannot do anything in Gujarat because the problem here is not law and order but political. The root cause are politicians.”

Senior police officials in the state are also sceptical about how far Gill could exercise his powers. According to them, if they had been given a free hand in cracking down on the rioters, they could have long brought the situation under control.

A section of people feels the supercop should have been brought in earlier when the frenzy was at its peak.

Church plea

Delhi archbishop Vincent M. Concessao has urged minority groups to stand together and oppose the “anti-national movements of misguided elements” and to be alert against perpetrators of violence.

In a letter to all Parish priests in the archdiocese of Delhi to be read tomorrow at all masses in churches and public chapels of the archdiocese, Concessao called the violence in Gujarat after the “ugly” incident at Godhra a “state-sponsored ‘genocide’ against a minority community”. “The situation is terrible and whatever one does, it will take a very long time for the situation to normalise the traumatised minority and the hate filled psyche of the perpetrators of the violence,” he added.


New Delhi, May 4: 
Film star Abhishek Bachchan was today discharged in an assault case after an out-of-court settlement was reached with the two photo journalists, Mustafa Quereshi of Indian Express and freelance photographer Umesh Puri, allegedly beaten up by the filmstar.

Metropolitan magistrate G.P. Singh discharged the actor and his associates Bhavesh Thakkar and Tanya Behl after receiving the details. Bachchan was ordered to pay a bail bond of Rs 10,000 and a surety of a similar amount for his release.

“After what we wanted was achieved, we just left the case,” Quereshi told The Telegraph.

The photographer said they wanted Abhishek Bachchan to realise his mistake and repent for it, which had been achieved with his production in court on “technical” arrest.

Bachchan allegedly attacked and beat up Quereshi and Puri when they went to photograph a shooting of Bachchan’s film in April 2001. The film shooting was taking place in Delhi’s India Gate.

Irritated by the intrusion, Bachchan started beating them up. His associates joined him in the attack.

Bachchan was accompanied in court by Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh.


Port Blair, May 4: 
Port Blair airport was christened Veer Savarkar Airport on Saturday. The “naming ceremony” (to use the words of huge ads published on the occasion) was “solemnised” by Union home minister L.K. Advani, who like the Sangh parivar reveres Savarkar as a “national hero, a freedom fighter, an ageless thinker and a devout nationalist”.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was of course a freedom fighter and also something more or less. Neither did he die fighting the British like some of the veer revolutionaries who led the Chittagong Uprising nor did he opt for defiant martyrdom like Bhagat Singh and Khudiram.

After a brave struggle in the first decade of the last century, his spirit crumbled. To such an extent that he pleaded for mercy more than once. First in 1911 and then in 1913, he begged for clemency in the following words: “…my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back all those misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide.”

Evidently, the Sangh parivar is determined to conceal this shamefaced confession of a rebel who had set up patriotic outfits like Mitra Mela and Abhinava Bharat in 1900 and was also daring enough to plunge into the sea from a ship’s porthole to escape the British dragnet.

Many other revolutionaries tortured in the Cellular Jail of Andamans could not dream of seeking similar mercy. Veer Savarkar did and by addressing the colonial oppressor as “mighty and merciful” he initiated the RSS tradition of abject cooperation with the British. What began with him ended on a much more jarring note in the turbulent forties.

No wonder, the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) governed by another Savarkar acolyte, Murli Manohar Joshi, thwarted the publication of that volume of Towards Freedom series (edited by K.N. Panikkar and Sumit Sarkar) which exposes this later complicity with the help of irrefutable documents.

But this is only half of the murky story. You only need to leaf through the writings of Savarkar — Hindutva — Who is a Hindu, Six Glorious Epochs, Hindu-pad-padashahi and others — to realise the dangerous depth of this “ageless thinker”. This pioneer of Hindutva declared in 1923 that only Hindus could be true patriots in their “pitribhumi” (fatherland) and “punyabhumi” (holy land) because Muslims and Christians had their homelands in foreign Arabia or Palestine.

In fact, he planted the first seed of Hindutva divisiveness, which has now grown into a full-fledged tree of poison. We hear his voice in Bangalore when RSS spokesman M.S. Vaidya warns that Muslims should learn to live with Hindus or else… many more Ahmedabads?

It is difficult to quote Savarkar’s statements on Indian history out of context because the context itself is drastically vitiated. In his Six Glorious Epochs, which is regarded as the bible by RSS pracharaks, Emperor Ashoka is accused of gross intolerance towards Vedantic Hindus. Tipu Sultan, in his words, was a barbaric sultan who was mercifully vanquished by the Marathas and the British. And Muslim Akbar had to be “foreign, cruel, intolerant and bidharmi”. His version of history is also determined to interpret Buddhism and Sikhism as integral branches of Hinduism though Buddhists and Sikhs themselves prefer to differ on this crucial point.

Lastly, while offering homage to Hindu martyr Vir Banda Bairagi in the same book, this ageless nationalist rejoices at “the most appropriate retaliation of the molestation of the Hindu women”. The retaliation took the form of “the burning of the Muslim locality… not to speak of the abject parade of Muslim men, women and children, bare-footed, in the hot sun… and finally the proclamation of a Hindu state in the whole of the Punjab.” This is Savarkar’s theory and practice of “super-atrocious reprisals”. Just replace Punjab with Gujarat and you will realise why the holy land of Andamans and Advani honoured him on Saturday.


New Delhi, May 4: 
After its vain bid to harp on Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin last year, a jittery BJP, mauled in almost all recent elections and over the Gujarat carnage, is again trying to make Sonia Gandhi a hate figure.

Last week, Sonia was targeted by a host of senior BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, party president Jana Krishnamurthi, Narendra Modi, V.K. Malhotra and Uma Bharti and NDA convener George Fernandes.

The BJP chief today issued a warning to Sonia, saying she has “to be careful about what she says”, while Bharti objected to her chewing gum and said “she should learn Indian culture”. Modi said that “by calling the state Godse’s Gujarat, Sonia Gandhi has insulted five crore people of Gujarat”.

The attack became sharper following a widespread perception that India Inc. was now warming up to the Congress as the BJP has abysmally failed to stem the rot. The viewpoint gained currency after the Confederation of Indian Industry’s invitation to Sonia to its opening session on April 26.

In her speech she had taunted the BJP top brass, saying the invite could be an indicator of the way political winds were blowing. Next day, Vajpayee used the same forum, the CII, to hit back.

He told the Congress president not to count her chickens before they hatch. He also refused to attach any deep symbolic meaning to the inaugural or concluding sessions of a CII conference.

Two days later, during the debate on the censure motion on Gujarat under Rule 184 in the Lok Sabha, Sonia Gandhi was targeted by Fernandes, his party colleague Prabhunath Singh and Bharti. Fernandes was heard saying that the leader of Opposition was chewing gum and inciting Congress members to disrupt his speech. “Chewing gum kha rahi hai, sadan ka girawat duniya ko dikha rahi hai...”.


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