Presidents spar over Kashmir
SC denies Centre pump breather
Hijack whiff in hill arrest
ICC assigns emissary to brief players
Kashmir forces play card trick on voters
Tiger flashes quit signal
Bullets fly inside Mumbai disco
Buddha SAIL plea to Atal
Calcutta Weather

Aug. 14: 

2002, The Kashmir Story

Independence Days have come and gone for over half a century, but the patriotic messages the 1947-born twins issued on Wednesday suggested that the coming elections in Kashmir could be the headline of the year for both.

In his address to the nation, President Pervez Musharraf indicated it would be more so for Pakistan: Kashmir was the overriding theme of his nearly hour-long speech, reflecting the general’s India-obsession. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s address on the eve of Independence Day had only one paragraph on Kashmir, but in that brief reference, he made the importance of the election clear. Presented in a dialogue form, here’s what they said in their addresses.

Kalam: Normal election process is on in Jammu and Kashmir. It is essential to ensure its successful completion and dawn of peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

Musharraf: The government of India has organised such farcical elections in the past. These so-called elections have invariably been rigged and have been boycotted by the Kashmiri people.

(What about the election in his own country — to be held on October 10, around the same time as that in Kashmir?)

Musharraf: Let me give the whole nation a personal guarantee. I will take all possible measures to ensure a free, fair and transparent election.

Kalam: I would like to reiterate that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. It is not an international issue. India is ready for bilateral dialogue once cross-border terrorism is brought to a complete end.

Musharraf: Pakistan cannot accept any responsibility for developments inside Indian-occupied Kashmir, nor can India try to shift the onus of the failure of elections to Pakistan.

Kalam: We have to eradicate communal and other divisive clashes sprouting in certain parts and remove the pains of our people whether it is in Jammu and Kashmir or in any other part of our country; we also have to find a permanent solution to combat terrorism.

Musharraf: Pakistan supports the principled struggle of people of Kashmir for the right of self-determination, since long promised to them by the international community. This struggle... can never be compromised.

(Enter external affairs ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao with New Delhi’s response)

Rao: Everything Pakistan suggests in terms of its approach, position and policy towards Jammu and Kashmir elections indicates that there has been absolutely no shift in its position.

Musharraf: Pakistan’s position on this issue is based on UN Security Council resolutions. Elections cannot be a substitute to free and impartial plebiscite under the UN auspices.

Rao: (The) denigration of the electoral process in J&K and indirect exhortations to boycott the elections, coupled with disowning responsibility for terrorist activity sponsored to disrupt the electoral process in J&K, indicate that our concerns that Pakistan intends to sabotage these elections are well-founded.

Musharraf: The intimidating presence of... Indian security personnel to force the Kashmir people to participate in the elections will further deny such elections any semblance of legitimacy.

Rao: Perhaps, it is the contrast between free and fair elections in J&K within the framework of India’s democracy and the national elections in Pakistan conducted by a military regime that worries him.


New Delhi, Aug. 14: 
The Supreme Court today declined to vacate the stay ordered by several courts across the country on the Centre’s cancellation of licences for fuel outlets.

However, the apex court has issued notices on an appeal by the Union government to club all petitions challenging the cancellation.

The Centre had moved a petition, known as transfer petition, seeking a Supreme Court order to transfer all the petitions to one high court or to the Supreme Court itself to avoid conflicting decisions by various courts.

The Union government had cancelled all allotments made since January 1, 2000, in the wake of allegations that many licences were given to those associated with the BJP.

However, offering temporary relief on a case-by-case basis, many high courts have stayed the cancellation order. Calcutta High Court today ruled that no action should be taken till Monday without its permission on the cancellation of licences of 22 petrol pumps in the city and elsewhere in Bengal.

The Centre moved the apex court and “mentioned” its petition during “mention time”. A three-judge bench of Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal and Justices K.G. Balakrishnan and Arijit Passayat issued notices and fixed August 26 as the date of hearing. The case includes both petrol pump allotments and LPG dealerships.

The Centre in its plea said: “Various petitions have been filed in the high courts of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Goa, Hyderabad, Allahabad, Madras, Calcutta, Delhi and Karnataka.

“With a view to avoiding inconsistent decisions of the different high courts and district courts, it would be in the interest of justice that the Supreme Court transfer the said cases to itself and dispose them or, in the alternative, transfer all such cases to one high court.”

Solicitor-general Harish Salve, appearing for the government, told the court: “A serious controversy has arisen as to the credibility of this system of selection. In order to maintain confidence in the system, a policy decision was taken to cancel all the allotments made since January 2000.”

The government’s “policy” decision also includes auction of the pumps and dealerships that have been cancelled “on the basis of competitive bidding”.

The petition classified the allottees into three groups:

Allottees whose names have been displayed but no letter of intent has been issued

Allottees to whom a letter of intent has been issued but no agreement has been signed

Allottees with whom a contract has been signed and allotments have been commissioned.

Petroleum minister Ram Naik told a seminar during the day that there was no official move yet to cancel allotments made during the Congress regime. Several BJP MPs have demanded that as the dealer selection boards’ functioning was “in doubt”, they, too, should be scrutinised. “That demand is still being examined,” he said.


Siliguri, Aug. 14: 
In a pre-dawn swoop, police picked up Santosh Subba, the fugitive son of jailed Gorkha Liberation Organisation chief Chattray Subba, from a village near Kalimpong and seized an AK-47 rifle with 52 rounds of ammunition from him.

Darjeeling superintendent of police Sanjay Chander, however, said that Subba, known in the hills by his nickname Gorey, was arrested from Gangep, about 12 km from Kalimpong, for possessing the assault rifle and snatching a revolver from a CRPF jawan in Kalimpong. He had been on the run since the snatching in February 2001.

The arrest came a week after Kaji Viswakarma, a gun-runner, was picked up from a tea estate near Malbazar in Jalpaiguri district. He reportedly led the police to Subba’s hideout.

Intelligence agencies suspect Viswakarma had supplied grenades and assault rifles through Gorey to the hijackers of the Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814, which was forcibly flown to Kandahar.

They believe Gorey had collected the arms from Viswakarma and handed them to Kumar Bhujel, a hijack suspect, now in CBI custody.

Chander said though Gorey’s role in the hijacking was not established, police were “certain” that he had handed over the arms to Bhujel just before the incident. The CBI, which is investigating the 1999 hijacking, is sending a team to Siliguri tomorrow to question Gorey and Viswakarma.

The inspector-general of police (law and order), Chayan Mukherjee, however, said in Calcutta that Gorey had been arrested in connection with the failed attempt on Gorkha National Liberation Front chief Subash Ghising on February 10, 2001, our special correspondent adds. Chattray Subba, a sworn enemy of Ghising, had been arrested on the same charges.

Chander said Gorey turned himself over without resistance. He said the police had ringed the hut, in which Gorey had taken shelter, in pre-dawn darkness, preventing his escape. The investigators, he added, were trying to find out “the real connection’’ between Gorey and Bhujel.

The inspector-general of police (north), Bhupinder Singh, said the police were also probing Gorey’s alleged links with underground outfits like the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M).

“Chattray Subba’s first wife in Nagaland runs an NGO there with her daughter. We have evidence that Gorey used to shuttle regularly between Nepal and Nagaland,” the police said.


Calcutta, Aug.14: 
On a day of fast-paced developments, captain Sourav Ganguly spoke to Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Jagmohan Dalmiya, while the International Cricket Council (ICC) chose to depute a representative to “brief” the Indian cricketers currently playing Essex in Chelmsford.

All this, of course, is directly related to the Indian cricketers not signing the Players’ Terms annexure of the BCCI’s contract with the ICC for all events hosted by the sport’s governing body. In the immediate context, this concerns next month’s Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka.

According to The Telegraph’s sources, the Sourav-Dalmiya dialogue followed a meeting in Chelmsford yesterday between team manager (and the BCCI’s man on the spot) Ranga Reddy and three seniors — Sourav himself, vice-captain Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble.

Had Sachin Tendulkar not been in London to see off his family, he too would have been present.

That the BCCI could “compensate” the cricketers who stand to lose by the “conflict of (the sponsors’) interest” clause probably wasn’t at all discussed between Dalmiya and Sourav. While it’s unthinkable yet that the BCCI will actually field a second XI, the BCCI is unlikely ever to be seen as capitulating.

In fact, a senior BCCI functionary is vehemently opposed to the very idea of compensation. “Will we also compensate during the 2003 World Cup? Moreover, why should personal endorsements get a higher billing than national interest?” That, then, is one hardline school of thought.

There’s no confirmation, but Dalmiya has reportedly asked Sourav to “think afresh” and revert after talking to senior teammates.

As is known, the selected cricketers can’t endorse products which “compete” with the ICC’s sponsors. That, too, for a period of one month before the tournament to exactly a month after the final. While the Champions Trophy sponsors are Hero Honda, LG Electronics, Pepsi and South African Airways, the World Cup will have two more — Toyota and MTN.

The ICC, one understands, got into the India-picture after the Sourav-Dalmiya interaction early this morning.

Apparently, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah “suggested” that the ICC “brief” the cricketers on the contentious issue. This was promptly accepted and the ICC chose to assign former South African wicketkeeper Dave Richardson.

Richardson, at present the ICC’s general manager (cricket), is an old hand at negotiating with and on behalf of cricketers. Also, he has been in regular touch with the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (Fica) joint chief executive Tim May, who doubles as the Australian cricketers’ representative.

(Incidentally, the Indians aren’t part of Fica. Indeed, there’s no players’ body and the two earlier experiments quickly flopped.)

Speaking exclusively from London, Richardson emphasised he would largely only be “explaining” the ICC’s point of view when he meets Sourav and, probably, Dravid and Kumble as well. “Should clarifications be required, I’ll be able to provide them first-hand,” Richardson added.

Richardson explained that the ICC’s contract with participating teams has two parts: Part-I is with the board concerned, while Part-II is the annexure which must have the signatures of all cricketers picked for the tournament in question.

Significantly, Richardson said that three countries — Australia, England and New Zealand — haven’t even signed Part-I. More to the point, May confirmed today that the Australian cricketers have flatly refused to fall in line.

Talking of his dialogue with May, Richardson commented: “Much of it has been specific to the interpretation of the annexure. I must confess, though, it’s a complicated issue.…”

As of now, that is a gross understatement.


Srinagar, Aug. 14: 
The first strain on the credibility of elections in Jammu and Kashmir has come not from across the border but from within.

Security forces have run into allegations that they are tearing up identification papers — vital for civilian movement in the strife-torn state — to create an “artificial demand” for identity cards issued by the Election Commission.

The electoral cards — the demand for which could be used as a yardstick to gauge the popular response to the call to polls — so far have found few takers despite the deadline being extended twice.

The security forces’ drive came after an exclusive incentive to hardsell the government cards failed to turn the tide. In Jammu and Kashmir, each applicant for the card receives Rs 15 — a dole that is not available to voters from any other state in the country.

“My identity card was torn during a vehicle-search and I was told to immediately get one from the local election authority. The municipality officer told me that my name did not figure on the voters’ list and so I could not be issued an ID card. In short, it means I cannot move out of my house to earn my livelihood,” said Nazir Ahmad, an apprentice at an automobile shop.

Mohammad Rafiq was lucky. “I was asked by the cops to rush to the election office to get the voter ID. It took me two days to prepare the new identity card. My whole family heaved a sigh of relief when I got the new card,” he said. Hundreds like Rafiq, mostly youths, are making the rounds of the Srinagar municipality and offices of tehsildars in towns and villages to get the voter card as soon as possible.

“In Kashmir, if you do not hold an ID you are in deep trouble. It is only by virtue of this possession that the locals show to the checking security men across the Valley that they are bona fide citizens of the state. Now that the one you possess is being torn away, there is little choice but to rush to the nearest electoral office with two photographs and beg for an I-card,” said a leading dental surgeon on condition of anonymity.

The authorities last month banned the printing, selling and possession of blank identity cards, too. “Militants were taking advantage of the situation to avoid detection and carrying out their activities in the capital. That is why the district magistrate ordered the ban,” a police spokesman said.

But the timing of the ban, which coincided with the issuance of voter cards, has raised eyebrows.

Home ministry officials said in Delhi the complaints of security forces snatching identification papers were placed before a meeting of a core group of army commanders and top state bureaucrats on Monday. The meeting decided that the practice should be stopped.

The officials, however, added that people were being encouraged to get the voter ID cards so that there was uniformity in the identification papers being carried by the people.

The election authorities in Kashmir have asserted that applying for the voter card is a voluntary exercise, but the security forces’ destruction of alternative identity cards since early this month has led to a groundswell of resentment.

Expressing concern over the harassment, the Sopore Bar Association pointed out that “there was no law empowering the security forces to demand identity cards from the people. Election cards have relevance only on polling days”.

Jammu and Kashmir chief electoral officer Pramod Jain told a high-level meeting recently that the voter card scheme was “gaining momentum in all the 14 districts of the Valley”. As many as “four lakh electorate have deposited forms along with photographs for issuance of the cards”, he added.


Mumbai, Aug. 14: 
The babble of conversation dies down as bugles herald Balasaheb Thackeray’s arrival.

Thousands of people packing the auditorium stand up in synchronised unison and a respectful hush falls over the congregation as the man who made the Shiv Sena — once the feared, militant symbol of a resurgent Hindu consciousness — slowly makes his way to the stage.

He has come to talk about Maarmik, a cartoon-littered weekly launched 42 years ago that attempted to see Maharashtra though the cynical, quizzical eye of Thackeray the journalist. But he is there to say much more.

“I am tired. Often I don’t feel like doing anything. I have even lost faith in humanity,’’ Thackeray says. Then, wrapped in a shawl and hung with holy beads, the Sena chief says what everyone has heard in whispers but don’t want to hear: “I feel it is time for me to give up my role as Shiv Sena chief.

“Uddhav (his son) and Raj (his nephew) are doing the bulk of the party work, in their modern ways using computers, and the organisational responsibility is being looked after by some of the Sena’s senior leaders.”

There have been murmurs of late about Thackeray quitting, but Sena leaders are quick to rubbish the “rumours”.

Things are not as hunky-dory as the Sena would like everyone to believe. Hinting at the power struggle in the Sena, chiefly between Uddhav and Raj, a Sena leader says: “He (Thackeray) is not at all happy with what’s happening. He wants the Sena to remain one after his departure from politics, but he has a premonition that won’t happen.’’

Of late, the flashpoints in the equation between Uddhav and Raj have come out in the open and Thackeray is more than aware of it. During the recent civic polls, Raj had to be goaded to campaign for the Sena candidates, all of whom were chosen by Uddhav. Raj had little or no say in the distribution of tickets.

Raj was also peeved at the way he and his supporters were given the short-shrift during the Sena’s recent membership drive.

Moreover, as another senior leader says, the Sena has been weakened by the loss of charismatic leaders like Chhaggan Bhujbal, who joined the Congress, and Anand Dighe, who died.


Mumbai, Aug. 14: 
Revellers at J49, one of Mumbai’s favourite discotheques at Juhu, had barely started rolling in when four armed men stormed in and sprayed bullets.

The attack last night had no apparent target but has struck right at the heart of Mumbai’s partygoers. “Oh god, I am such a regular visitor at J49,’’ said Pinky Shah, a copywriter. “What if I had been there when the shootout happened? I don’t think I’ll go there ever again.”

At about 9.30 pm, four men, some carrying carbines, sauntered into the disco. After surveying the scene, they began firing indiscriminately. Two persons were injured though eyewitnesses and police said they were not the real targets. While a bouncer was shot in the leg, the watchman, Dinesh Jha, was hit on the shoulder.

What has baffled the police are the accounts of eyewitnesses, saying the gunmen “seemed to be in no hurry to flee”. After firing 29 rounds, the assailants just walked away.

“Maybe they wanted to show that they were not afraid and that they meant business,” said an officer posted at Juhu police station.

What is also rankling the police is the use of carbines, supposed to be rare in attacks by the underworld. The shootout has the police struggling with the identity of the men and their motive.

One theory doing the rounds is that Hemant Pujari, former aide of underworld don Chhota Rajan, was behind the attack. Crime branch sources conjectured that Pujari’s gang “basically intended to show the gang’s clout and its increasing hold over the city”.

Another conjecture is that the shooters were actually targeting owner Dhananjay Shetty as his brother, Vinod, is believed to have played a key role in the attack on Rajan in Bangkok, which was masterminded by Chhota Shakeel and his hit-man Sharad Shetty.


Calcutta, Aug. 14: 
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today sought Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s intervention to stall Steel Authority of India’s decision to shift its raw material division from Calcutta to Rourkela.

In a letter, Bhattacharjee said the headquarters of SAIL’s raw material division was set up in Calcutta in 1989-90 after an in-depth study. “It is needless to point out that with the advantage of location that Calcutta can offer, the raw material division over the years amply justified its existence. It is not understood why the raw material division should suddenly be shifted,” he added.

Bhattacharjee asked Vajpayee to instruct the steel ministry and SAIL to rescind the decision.




Maximum: 29.9°C (-2)
Minimum:25.8°C (0)


8.1 mm

Relative Humidity

Maximum: 97%,


Sunrise: 5.16 am
Sunset: 6.07 pm
A few spells of rain or thundershowers, with one or two rather heavy showers

Maintained by Web Development Company