The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

Hungerstrike over conversion decree

Chennai: Hundreds of Christians, Muslims and Dalits in Tamil Nadu came together on Saturday to observe a fast in protest against the Jayalalithaa regime’s ban on conversions, reports our special correspondent.

On October 24, when the Assembly’s short monsoon session begins, all minority-run educational institutions will remain closed as part of the second stage of protest.

The Bill to turn the Ordinance banning conversions into law is expected to be taken up in the coming session. Churches are demanding total withdrawal of what they describe as an “out and out anti-minorities Ordinance”.

Nuns, bishops of various churches and functionaries of rival factions of the Muslim League sat on fast here. They raised slogans against the Ordinance and held up placards that said, “Do not stoke religious frenzy”. Similar fasts were observed in Tiruchirapalli, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts where there is a large Christian population.

Chief minister Jayalalithaa defended the Ordinance, saying it was not directed against any particular religion but only against the “use of fraudulent means, allurement and force in enticing individuals into changing their religious denomination against their will”.

“In the turbulent cauldron of India’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-class and multi-lingual society, the soft state is not a viable model if our democratic and secular character is to be preserved,” she said. “The Ordinance seeks to prevent exploitation in the name of any religion.”

Temple commando still critical

Ahmedabad (PTI): National Security Guards (NSG) commando Surjan Singh Bhandari, who was injured during the Swaminarayan temple operation on September 24, is still “critical” with his blood urea level increasing, hospital sources said.

“Even after four operations by neuro-surgeons, Bhandari, who was put on artificial respiratory system on Tuesday morning, has shown no improvement. Though the blood clot from his head injury was removed during the operations, there was no improvement and he is still in coma,” the sources said.

“We are closely monitoring the blood urea level which is constantly increasing since yesterday afternoon. It was almost double the normal content till late night. Today’s report is still awaited,” the sources added on Saturday.

Commando Bhandari was admitted to the neuro-surgery department of the civil hospital here on September 25 after sustaining bullet injuries during the temple operation.

ABP employee assaulted

Calcutta: Security personnel caught two miscreants when they assaulted an ABP employee, Abdul Mallik, who was standing at the factory entrance on Prafulla Sarkar Street with some colleagues on Saturday night. But one of them managed to escape before police arrived. The other hoodlum was held.

Police think the miscreants could be extortionists. Mallik said they were drunk when they attacked him.

Mumbai blast case

B>l Mumbai (PTI): A special court rejected the plea of a 1993 bomb blast accused to go abroad on pilgrimage on grounds that the trial was at its concluding stage and several accused were still absconding. Designated judge P.D. Kode turned down the plea of Ashraf-ur-Rehman Shaikh. He added that charges against Shaikh were serious.

Grenade mishap

Jaipur (PTI): A trainee deputy commandant of the CRPF was killed and a sub-inspector injured in an accidental grenade blast in Sirohi district on Friday. The mishap occurred at the firing range of the Internal Security Academy during grenade-throwing training.

Girl dies after rape

Narnaul (PTI): A Dalit girl died after she was abducted and raped by unidentified persons in a village of Haryana’s Narnaul district. The six-year-old was abducted while she sleeping with her grandmother at her house. She was raped by the abductors and died before being taken to hospital.

Nagappa release

Bangalore (PTI): A delegation of Karnataka Janata Dal(United) leaders called on chief minister S.M. Krishna and asked him to initiate steps for the safe release of H. Nagappa, held hostage by Veerappan. The team requested Krishna to ensure that the government sent Tamil activist Kolathur Mani, now in jail, to negotiate with the bandit.

Railway fine

Chennai (PTI): Southern Railway collected Rs 1 lakh as fine in a day from ticketless travellers during surprise checks. Checks were held at Villivakkam and St Thomas Mount stations.

Onions which make you cry when you chop them may be on their way out. Researchers in Japan have found an enzyme which releases a tear-duct-tickling compound when an onion is cut. By suppressing it, they could produce an onion that does not bring tears.

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