THE KARGIL FUND Set up by The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika
More than a hundred soldiers have already died in the undeclared war in Kargil. Many more are lying injured in hospitals. No assistance is compensation enough for the mother who has lost her son or the wife her husband. But we, the citizens of this country, need to help, in however small a way. The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika are setting up a fund with that modest aim in mind. The fund is being started with an intial contribution of Rs 5 Lakh from the ABP Group. If every reader of The Telegraph and Anandabazar Patrika donates a small sum, we can raise a huge amount for the families of the soldiers killed or injured in action. As a token of appreciation, both papers will publish the names of donors contributing Rs 500 or more. This is a time to ask yourself what can you do for the nation.   Only account payee cheques and drafts - payable to 'ABP Kargil Fund' - will be accepted. Put the cheque/draft in an envelope with your name and address. Write 'ABP Kargil Fund' and mail it to or deliver (between 10 am and 6 pm except on Sundays) at  
ABP LTD 
6 Prafulla Sarkar Street 
Calcutta 700001 
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?Morning Kolkata, capital of Bangla, in India that is Bharat
Atal spells stand to US
Massacre in soft-target Jammu
Govt sows to reap poll harvest
Calcutta weather

 
 
?MORNING KOLKATA, CAPITAL OF BANGLA, IN INDIA THAT IS BHARAT 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
Calcutta, July 20 
Er, sorry, Kolkata, July 20.

Also, kindly note: Bangla Club, Kolkata Cricket and Football Club, Bangla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Royal Kolkata Turf Club, Royal Kolkata Golf Club, Kolkata Club ... Oh, Calcutta!

A government that believes a name can pack a punch with the political statement it makes, today formally rechristened this city Kolkata. It also set in motion the process to change the nomenclature of the state to Bangla.

In the Assembly, the government and the Opposition patted each other after ?correcting a historical wrong?, passing a resolution to rename Calcutta and West Bengal.

?It is a memorable day today, because we have not only just freed ourselves from colonial hangover but also rendered justice to history (sic),? exulted state information and cultural affairs minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya.

Many of Bhattacharya?s seniors started their political careers fighting against colonialism. Now that that struggle is over, somebody has to deal with the hangover. The task was ably shouldered by the Left Front which today received rare and vociferous support from everyone in the House.

The non-official resolution tabled by CPM chief whip Rabin Mandal was passed unanimously. Every reminder of the British legacy would be erased, Bhattacharya continued thundering in the evening in Writers? Buildings, the hallowed seat of the state government that was built by the English.

?No way,? said P.K. Dutt, president-designate of Bengal Club when asked if the Russell Street establishment would toe the government line and change its name.

?If we were a politically-affiliated club, we would have to ride the wind,? said Dutt. ?We will stay Bengal Club.?

But government organisations, agencies and institutions will have to rename themselves immediately.

For film-maker Mrinal Sen, who is inspired and sustained by Calcutta, the change is immaterial. ?It doesn?t make any difference to me,? he shrugs. ?Even if it were not changed, there would be no damage done to Bengali culture. Even though Bangla sounds better than Paschim Banga, I suspect that it may be confused with Bangladesh.?

The government, for its part, is going about the task that it has set itself with rare gusto. Chief secretary Manish Gupta spoke to his counterparts in Mumbai and Chennai, picking up tips on how they renamed Bombay and Madras. Buddhadev Bhattacharya told The Telegraph he wanted the order to be implemented as widely as possible before the city?s 309th birthday celebrations slated for August 24.

The renaming of the state to Bangla would, however, take longer. The Lok Sabha would have to approve it and the President would have to give his assent.

The renaming of Calcutta and Bengal is the latest in the trend set by the Shiv Sena which changed Bombay to Mumbai. Bal Thackeray, who was then panned by critics ? several of whom were from the Left ? for seeking to impose a Hindutva culture on minorities, was today unusually reserved in his reaction to the news that Bengal was renaming itself.

?I am not interested in changing names,? Thackeray said. ?It is the choice of the people. If people of Calcutta wish to change the name of their city, I have nothing to say. If it is Maharashtra, I will say what I have to say.?

It follows that for an India that is Bharat, there must be a Bombay that is Mumbai, a Madras that is Chennai, and a Calcutta that is Kolkata.    


 
 
ATAL SPELLS STAND TO US 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, July 20 
Offering a ??warm welcome?? to President Bill Clinton who said he would like to visit India shortly, Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee today laid down before the US the three steps Pakistan must take for a return to talks.

In a phone conversation with Clinton this evening, the Prime Minister ruled out a return to the negotiations table until Islamabad withdrew all intruders, reaffirmed its respect for the Line of Control (LoC) and promised to end cross-border terrorism.

The US President, who called Vajpayee and spoke for nearly 20 minutes, is believed to be ??appreciative?? of India?s stand.

Coinciding with the spelling out of India?s position, foreign minister Jaswant Singh distanced himself from his colleague George Fernandes, saying the Nawaz Sharif government was as involved in the Kargil operation as the Pakistani army.

At a gathering of diplomats and intellectuals here, Singh said: ??The aggression in Kargil was by the Pakistan army, it had the logistic and administrative support of not just the army alone, but of the total state machinery.??

The Prime Minister?s Office said the phone conversation between Clinton and Vajpayee was ??extremely cordial??. The US President?s call was in response to India?s announcement that the Kargil war was over. Washington, which helped bring the conflict to an early end, was, however, not aware that guns had boomed today in the Mushkoh valley.

Vajpayee apprised Clinton of the situation in Kargil and told him that talks between the neighbours were not possible unless Islamabad took steps to instil confidence in Delhi.

Indicating that the US understood India?s concerns, secretary of state Madeleine Albright called for an end to ??acts of terrorism?? along the LoC. ?We condemn attacks against civilians and, obviously, those who perpetrate them and those who give assistance to the perpetrators,? she said, referring to the massacre in Jammu.

At a seminar here, Singh repeated the terms laid down by Vajpayee before the US President for resuming talks with Pakistan. Singh, however, refused to call them ??pre-conditions??, saying they were only ??prerequisites?? for a return to negotiations.

Singh also voiced concern over Sharif?s statement that India could face many more Kargils if it refused to hold talks on Kashmir. ??This is a clear manifestation of what Pakistan has really become,?? he said. ??It is a matter of concern for us.??

Asked whether India would seek compensation from Pakistan for the Kargil losses, Singh replied: ??What compensation can one ask for betrayal of trust??? He pointed out that since Delhi had initiated the Lahore process, it was ready for dialogue. But the minister clarified that ??my readiness for dialogue is readiness in principle??.

Singh tried to defend the government for bringing international focus on the region. ??Let us accept that in today?s age no conflict, least of all one between two nuclear-weapons states, can escape global media spotlight,?? he said.

Singh, however, said apprising global leaders of India?s stand on the conflict was not tantamount to ??internationalisation??. ??Nor does it imply mediation or any acceptance of intermediaries,?? he said.    


 
 
MASSACRE IN SOFT-TARGET JAMMU 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
July 20 
Militants left a blood-spattered trail in Jammu and Kashmir, mowing down 15 civilians in sleep in Doda and four Border Roads Organisation officials at an unguarded camp in Poonch.

The twin pre-dawn strikes, which took place within hours of each other on Tuesday, came a day after a home ministry report said that manpower for counter-insurgency operations was far short of requirement. Operation Rakshak is about 7,000 personnel short as two army corps have been shifted to Kargil.

Alarmed by the sudden spurt in militancy, the home ministry today decided to request the army to help in counter-insurgency operations. After the Kargil conflict erupted, the army had washed its hands of these operations as it had to concentrate on the front.

In the Doda attack, 20 gunmen swooped on Lahote Thatri village, forced their way into civilian homes and opened fire. Of the 15 persons killed, five were village defence committee members.

Militants struck in Poonch soon after, dragging out four Border Roads Organisation officials from their camp in Sadichohana near Surankote, and spraying them with bullets.

No militant group has yet accepted responsibility. A police spokesman said the Hizbul Mujahideen was behind the Doda killings. A reward of Rs 1 lakh has been announced for information about the leader of the killers, identified as Manzoor.

Home ministry sources said attempts were being made to beef up security by deploying battalions of the Rashtriya Rifles, Central Reserve Police Force and Special Security Bureau, apart from the Border Security Force. But they added that paramilitary forces would not be able to fill the void left by the army.

An official said the massacres were a pointer to the ?ethnic cleansing? launched by pro-Pakistan militant outfits to carve out ?Greater Kashmir?.

A police team managed to reach Lahote Thathri village only late this afternoon as the area is inaccessible and personnel have to proceed on foot.

Police fear the killings may trigger a mass exodus. Officials expect a resurgence of violence in sensitive areas in Jammu in the run-up to the elections.    


 
 
GOVT SOWS TO REAP POLL HARVEST 
 
 
OUR BUREAU
 
New Delhi, July 20 
In a vote-catching gambit designed for the rural heartland, the BJP government today announced a sharp increase in the minimum support prices for kharif paddy, cotton and dal ranging from Rs 50-145. The support prices serve as a benchmark for state-owned agencies like the Food Corporation of India that buy directly from the farmers.

The decision seemed to fly in the face of the code of conduct laid down by the Election Commission that bars the government from announcing any measure that could influence voters in the general elections that are scheduled to begin on September 4.

J.B. Lyngdoh, one of the three election commissioners, said he would ?definitely look into? the announcement of the minimum support prices.

Defending the move to raise the support price at a time when the code of conduct was in force, information and broadcasting minister Pramod Mahajan said: ?We are aware that prices should not be announced before the elections. However, the sowing season is about to start and it is imperative that the prices are announced now.?

The Congress, the main Opposition party, was caught in a cleft: it was forced to welcome the hike in the support prices. Any other stand would have sent out the wrong signals to the rural voters in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra which will be principal beneficiaries of the increase in support prices.

?The government should ensure that those who are poor and below the poverty line do not have to bear the brunt of inflation. The food subsidy should continue,? said Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal.

In another development, P.G. Mankad was appointed the new finance secretary in a reshuffle of secretaries.

The Congress strongly opposed the reshuffle and felt the Election Commission should enforce the code of conduct to ensure propriety. However, one of the election commissioners said he did not feel there was any reason to gripe about the bureaucratic reshuffle.

Every year, farmers wait for the announcement of the support prices in July-August before deciding on their crop acreage.

Prices at which paddy will be bought this year by state-run agencies have been raised by Rs 50 a quintal against the Agricultural Prices Commission?s recommendation of an increase of Rs 15 with an extra payment of Rs 25 if the farmers are paying their electricity bills. Last year, the paddy support price had been raised by Rs 25-30 a quintal.

If the APC?s recommendation had been accepted, the government would not have to pay higher prices to farmers from India?s rice bowl of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

?We did not wish to discriminate between the two groups of farmers. So we decided to give everybody a hike of Rs 50,? said Mahajan.

Common paddy will now be bought at Rs 490 a quintal and better quality paddy at Rs 520 a quintal. Food ministry officials said the paddy price hike alone will cost the exchequer an additional Rs 100 crore a year.

The price hikes can be expected to help the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, the Akali Dal in Punjab, Shiv Sena-BJP in Maharashtra and Telugu Desam in Andhra Pradesh.

?The BJP government will reap votes for the prices they are sowing,? said a cynical official.    


 
 
CALCUTTA WEATHER 
 
 
 
 
Today?s forecast: Intermittent light rain with one or two showers or thundershowers

Temperature: Maximum 29.4?C (3?C below normal)
Minimum 24.4?C (2?C below normal)

Relative humidity: Maximum 98%
Minimum 86%

Rainfall: 23.9 mm

Sunset: 6.21 pm
Sunrise: 5.05am
 

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