Living and dead twins in indignity
Delhi in pride-or-plight dilemma
BJP?s Bihar party pooped
Calcutta weather

Bhubaneswar, Nov. 2 
The supercyclone that ravaged Orissa on Friday has blurred the distinction between man and beast. As the living fought on the streets for food, the dead were burnt on pyres of tyres along with carcasses of animals.

An eyewitness reported seeing bodies ? of human beings as well as animals ? burning in tyres near Bhadrak on National Highway 5. Pulak Sanyal, on his way to Balasore from Bhubaneswar, said the tyres were lying flat on the slushy ground, with decomposed bodies squashed and laid out over them.

Villagers said that was the only way of getting rid of the corpses littered on the highway. The fires became the only source of light at night.

Reports of looting poured in from Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurdah and Bhadrak districts as people starved for the fifth day. Official sources said over 70 trucks carrying rice, chira and potatoes were attacked near Chandikul, 40 km from Cuttack. Four relief trucks were waylaid today on the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack road.

Unable to cope with the hungry mobs, the government has asked the army to escort all trucks carrying emergency supplies to the millions of marooned people in the state.

Groups of people armed with lathis have lined the highways, waiting to pounce on relief vehicles. The government claimed the attackers were hoodlums, but aid agencies insisted they were people ?driven insecure? by hunger and starvation.

?It is very easy to call them thugs. But when you find your three-year-old son dying of hunger by the roadside, what do you do?? asked Bubu Saha, project officer with Oxfam, which has been distributing aid.

In Bhubaneswar, shops were ransacked in Units 6 and 7, Cuttack Road, Nayapalli and Lewis Road. The police were nowhere in sight. Most owners had not dared to open shop, forcing people to go without essentials.

The market at Bapujinagar, the largest in the city, has been shut since the cyclone. ?Who will provide us protection?? asked K.K. Nayak, a shop-owner. A mob forced its way inside a bakery, which opened this morning and was selling fresh bread, and plundered everything in sight.

A truck from Andhra Pradesh bringing eggs to Bhubaneswar was looted even as it was entering the state capital.

?We are trying our best to stop this looting spree,? said additional director-general of police (crime) Janardhan Singh. ?But god only knows how far we will succeed?.

Bhubaneswar has gone without electricity for five days and drinking water is scarce. ?Tank-loads of drinking water is being supplied to VIPs while the common people continue to suffer,? fumed Sanjay Behera, a resident of Unit 7.

The one lakh slumdwellers, whose homes were swept away, have received only half-a-kg of rice as relief and are begging on the streets.

Though it has not rained for the past two days, water is receding very slowly. Most rivers, including Mahanadi, Baitarani, Subarnarekha and Brahmani, are in spate and large areas of the state remain cut off. A government spokesperson said there is still no information about Jagatsinghpur district, which includes Paradip.

Lt Gen. Surjit S. Sangra, GOC in C, Central Command, here to oversee relief operations, said: ?We have deployed several navy divers and speed boats in flooded Paradip to rescue the marooned people.? The air force continued to drop food and relief material.

BJP leader Bijoy Mahapatra, who claimed he had been able to reach the outskirts of Paradip, said hundreds of people were feared dead in a Bengali-dominated bustee.

Hundreds of tourists, mostly from West Bengal, continue to be stranded. Many of them are camping at the Bhubaneswar railway station, having run out of money. Bijoy Mullick of Thakurpukur in Calcutta, who has been stuck here since October 29, said: ?I have been coming to the station everyday, but have not been able to get on to any of the trains.?

Many tourists left for Calcutta by bus, but they have not been able to go further than Bhadrak where the roads are under water. Bhadrak collector Lokenath Mishra said: ?Over a dozen buses with tourists are stranded here?. Tourists stuck at Jamjodi, 25 km from Bhadrak, where the national highway 5 has breached, are living on the highway.

West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu announced a special relief fund for Orissa and urged all chambers of commerce to donate liberally. Basu has sent Rs 50 lakh from his general relief fund. The state government has already announced it will send relief material worth about Rs 10 crore.

Prime Minister A.B.Vajpayee is scheduled to visit the state on November 5.    

New Delhi, Nov. 2 
India is yet to make up its mind whether it should accept the United Nations? offer to send a disaster assessment team to help in the relief effort in Orissa.

The UN, which has issued a worldwide appeal for aid to Orissa, announced last night that it was mobilising a disaster assessment team to estimate the extent of damage and coordinate relief operations.

Secretary-general Kofi Annan said the UN stood ready to assist in relief and recovery efforts being undertaken by the Indian government.

?The office for coordination of humanitarian affairs is mobilising the UN disaster assessment and coordination team to assist UN agencies in the country with coordination of international response to this disaster, including damage assessment and relief efforts,? the UN secretary-general said.

In the past, India has accepted financial and other material help from international agencies during natural calamities. (Airport officials in Calcutta said UN aircraft with relief material are expected to reach Bhubaneswar from tomorrow.)

However, Delhi has always been reluctant in welcoming international experts for relief work. The UN offer has been backed by similar gestures from other developed countries, but New Delhi has not taken a decision on it so far.

During the Kargil conflict, it had turned down the International Committee of the Red Cross? offer to help evacuate the affected civilians on the plea that it was not safe for Red Cross personnel to work in the area in view of the heavy shelling.

The geo-political dimension of Kargil was also seen as a reason behind India?s decision to turn down the Red Cross offer.

But India is thinking twice on the UN gesture because of the eagerness to protect its ?newfound image? before the world. New Delhi considers itself a ?major power? in Asia and wants to play a significant role in world affairs.

This image has been assiduously projected since India tested nuclear devices in May last year. Acceptance of the UN experts would be an admission of the fact that India is not capable of handling an internal crisis.

A senior official of the foreign ministry pointed out that two aspectes were involved in the UN offer. One is an expression of humanitarian concern by the international body.

The other is whether India has made an appeal to the international community for any such help. ?As far as I know, no such appeal has been made by the government,? the official added.

However, he was quick to point out that no official decision on the issue has yet been taken and international experts may well be asked to come and help their Indian counterparts in Orissa.

Pakistani military ruler Gen. Parvez Musharraf conveyed to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee his ?deep sense of grief? on the loss of life and damage to property in Orissa.

Queen Elizabeth II, too, sent a condolence message. Japan said it would donate $25,000 for relief.    

New Delhi, Nov. 2 
Even before it could savour the full flavour of its recent victory in Bihar, the BJP has been forced to go back several steps, losing three of the four Lok Sabha seats which went to polls on October 28.

The Congress lost the outer Manipur seat to the Nationalist Congress Party in Manipur, but retained Dhubri in Assam.

In Bihar, the three BJP sitting MPs in Purnea, Bhagalpur and Rajmahal lost their seats. Khagaria was retained by the Janata Dal (United). While Pappu Yadav, an Independent, has won Purnea, the Congress has bagged Rajmahal and the CPM Bhagalpur.

Polls had to be postponed in these seats because of floods.

The CPM has opened its account in Bihar by bagging Bhagalpur while the Congress has increased its tally of four.

To add to the BJP?s humiliation, all the loss margins are huge. The party high command said it will discuss the results at its national executive meeting beginning here tomorrow.

The Lok Sabha results earlier last month had upped the BJP-JD(U)?s ante as the combine had firmly thrust aside Laloo Yadav and his Rashtriya Janata Dal. Of the 50 Lok Sabha seats, the BJP won 23 and the JD(U) 18 seats. The RJD, Congress and the Left, managed just 10 seats.

But the latest poll outcome has drained the BJP of some of its luck. For the party, which was sniffing power in the Assembly polls four months from now, the results were a shock as it did not seem to be on an even keel.

Though BJP spokesperson Venkaiah Naidu waved aside the defeat as an aberration, the Congress and the CPM pounced on him, saying the outcome showed there was space for a third force. ?It shows people are looking for non-BJP, anti-Laloo political parties,? a Congress leader said. CPM Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said there has been a clear reversal of trend.

The vanquished Laloo sprang to attention and swiped at the BJP, saying: ?This shows the people?s indignation against the communal government at the Centre and shows that the RJD?s influence is intact.? He emphatically said the RJD had contributed to the victories of the Congress and the CPM by actively campaigning for the parties.

For the Congress, the victory was sweet. Last time its candidate Thomas Hansda had lost Rajmahal by a whisker of nine votes. This time he made it and the Congress leaders in Delhi once more reiterated that the party?s alliance with the RJD was a liability and the Congress should go it alone in the Assembly elections.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has sent a three-member team to Bihar to analyse the situation with the party?s state unit.    

Temperature: Maximum: 29.6?C (0) Minimum: 24.7?C (+5) Rainfall: Trace Relative humidity: Maximum: 98% Minimum: 73% Today: The met office says the sky will remain cloudy. There is a possibility of light rain in some areas of the city. Night temperature expected to fall. Sunset: 4.55 pm Sunrise: 5.46 am    

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