Terror war excuse for Tada clone
Kalyan shelves Hindutva
Misa marriage amid rally of father?s forces
Heartland Brahmins unite in fight for rights
Life?s poetry in voice of silence
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, Dec. 10 
The government today set the stage for introducing an alternative to the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, saying the absence of an anti-terrorism law has posed problems for security forces battling the proxy war being waged by Pakistan.

Justifying the need for a new legislation, a home ministry spokesman said ordinary criminal legislation are not equipped to deal with terror export and Islamic fundamentalism. ??They have to be broken up into different components after analysing the offences defined in the Indian Penal Code,?? he added.

Criminal laws have been framed to tackle individuals who cannot be equated with members of militant outfits armed with sophisticated weapons and trained by organised extremist groups or even a ??hostile state?? which wants to ??terrorise civil society??, the spokesman said.

Pointing out that Tada was enacted in 1987 to combat cross-border militancy unleashed in Punjab by the Inter-Services Intelligence, he said security forces need a law specifically dealing with terrorism to counter the threat from Pakistan.

The home ministry said Tada had proved effective in curbing cross-border terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism first in Punjab, then in Jammu and Kashmir and subsequently in other parts which were targets of ISI-sponsored violence.

The law was scrapped in 1995 following allegations that security forces and investigating agencies were misusing it. An alternative legislation, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 1995, omitting some of Tada?s draconian features, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha. But the Bill could not be passed for lack of consensus among the parties.

The 13-month-old Vajpayee government was committed to a new and more acceptable legislation which would serve the twin purposes of checking terrorism and dealing with militants in a more humane manner.

The home ministry believes a new law is necessary because of the scale and magnitude of terrorism. ??While India, which has lost nearly 30,000 innocent lives in the past 15 years of militancy from across the border, does not have an anti-terrorism law, countries like the United Kingdom and the US, which have lost very few lives because of international terrorism, have enacted wide-ranging, comprehensive legislation to deal with the situation,?? a ministry statement said.

North Block has asked the Law Commission to review the various anti-terrorism legislation in force in India and abroad. The commission has been told to suggest an appropriate law which would address the twin concerns of checking terror export and protecting human rights.

The commission is holding a seminar on the subject later this month. It is expected to draw up a draft after that which will enable accused persons to defend themselves at all stages of the prosecution.    

Lucknow, Dec. 10 
Kalyan Singh today floated his new party, but kept secular options open by announcing that he would ?stay away? from the RSS.

?The RSS has disowned me on the concept of Hindutva.... There is no sense in my unilateral commitment to it,? he said.

The statement is a surprise as Kalyan had harped on how he would follow the Hindutva line and often slammed the BJP leadership for shelving the temple agenda. By way of explanation he said the VHP has been claiming that the temple cannot only be Kalyan Singh?s agenda. ?So I am allowing the VHP to keep it on its agenda while I withdraw from it. However, I will continue to be a Ram bhakt,? he added.

Asked how he could dissociate himself from the RSS and the temple and yet speak of Hindutva, Kalyan said: ?It is possible. Anyway, I did not take this decision. It was thrust upon me.?

Observers feel the dual policy will be followed till the Assembly elections. Shorn of support within the BJP, Kalyan cannot afford to alienate Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav with a strident temple demand.

At the same time, they say, Kalyan is preparing for a churning in the BJP so that he becomes a rallying point for disgruntled workers. The name of his party will be announced after it is registered with the poll panel.    

Patna, Dec. 10 
Showman, king and messiah, but most of all, the father of the bride, Laloo Prasad Yadav today embraced close friends, bitter foes and close friends-turned-bitter foes at his ?first major personal function?.

After days of preparation, 1 Anne Marg was turned into a palace out of a fairyland with glittering lights and pandals and decorations. If Laloo?s Dalit supporters were left gasping at the scale and lavishness of the ceremony, the hardnosed politicos who arrived in three chartered planes seemed touched by the warmth and the hospitality.

For the record, Laloo?s daughter Misa got married to Sailesh tonight.

As the barat neared Laloo?s place around 8.45 pm, Roman candles and Catherine wheels scattered flowers of tiny, iridescent light in the backdrop of shehnai tunes on a field adjacent to the chief minister?s bungalow.

Laloo had at least 12,000 Dalit supporters who converged in Patna since this afternoon, walking to the wedding venue from the bus stop. They got to see the fireworks, but missed the stars. Bollywood (which provided the star value at Mulayam Singh Yadav?s son?s wedding recently) gave the wedding a miss. Only Shatrughan Sinha ? more BJP leader than Bollywood star ? put in an expected appearance.

If Bollywood wasn?t there, the political star cast was. At least 300 cars were kept to ferry them to and from the airport. Mulayam Singh Yadav, who, not so long ago, was said to have thought of marrying off his son with Misa, arrived with his wife at 2 in the afternoon.

They greeted Laloo and Rabri Devi. Mulayam embraced Laloo and hugged Misa. Their gift was wrapped in coloured, glossy paper. They left at 4.30 pm.

Veteran Janata Dal leader Devi Lal arrived to a welcome of rose petals and marigold garlands. ?Be brave and happy like your father,? he told Misa. CPM leader H.S. Surjeet, Sharad Yadav ? the man who ousted Laloo from Parliament in the last elections ? CPI leader A.B. Bardhan, former Prime Ministers Chandra Shekhar and Deve Gowda, Congress leaders Kapil Sibal, Sushil Shinde and Ajit Jogi attended the function. Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee and home minister L.K. Advani skipped the wedding.

The bride and the groom were on a podium. Misa was dressed in a steel grey, embroidered benarasi, her husband in an off-white sherwani. Laloo sometimes seemed to be conducting his daughter?s wedding much as he would a political rally: wielding a lathi, disciplining unruly supporters, making people fall in line, yelling into a microphone.

He even led Gowda and Chandra Shekhar to the podium and the three politicians held hands. For a moment, it seemed as if they might begin to speak of votes and governments. The guests, the notables ones included, deemed it fit not just to cheer, but also to break into a kind of impromptu jig.

The menu included a variety of fruit juices, naan, dal makhni, vegetable manchurian, vegetable chowmein, dahi vada, rabri, gajar ki halwa.    

New Delhi, Dec. 10 
Even a Brahmin Prime Minister ? that too from the Hindi heartland ? has failed to inspire a sense of security among the Brahmins of Uttar Pradesh.

Two Brahmin outfits ? the All-India Brahmin Sabha and the All-India Brahmin Samaj ? have urged the UP Brahmins to congregate in Meerut on Sunday. The objective: to uphold and fight for the ?rights and interests? of the twice-born.

The choice of the speakers, listed in the handbill issued by the organisers, is eclectic and includes senior leaders from the BJP and the Congress, political parties regarded as ?pro-upper caste? in north India.

The handbill mentions the names of UP minister Kalraj Mishra, UP Assembly Speaker Kesri Nath Tripathi, Congress MP and the former Union finance minister N.D. Tiwari, former election commissioner G.V.G. Krishnamurthy, Congress leader Lokpati Tripathi and the chief whip of the BJP parliamentary party, B.C. Khanduri.

Although some of them, like Krishnamurthy, have associated themselves openly with the pan-Brahmin outfits in the past, the politicians seemed unsure of whether they should attend the meeting or not. Khanduri, who represents the Garhwal constituency, confirmed he had been invited but has declined to go ?because of a personal engagement?.

?I normally do not like to associate myself with such occasions, but that question does not arise now. I have declined to go for purely personal reasons,? said Khanduri. Tiwari and Krishnamurthy were not available for their response.

The objectives of the sammellan are:

Uniting the Brahmins and doing away with sub-caste and regional divisions. In UP, for instance, even today a Kanakubjiya Brahmin ? considered as the creme de la creme in the social pecking order ? will not marry a Saryu Pari Brahmin. Because the legend has it that the Saryuparis (or people who lived on the bank of the Saryu river in east UP) were actually Dalits who became Brahmins when Rama found himself in a fix after vanquishing Ravana on his way back to Ayodhya. The ?de jure? Brahmins of Ayodhya took umbrage at his killing of Ravana (another Brahmin) and refused to participate in a havan he had organised.

Out of sheer desperation, Rama is supposed to have cajoled the Dalits living on the Saryu banks with land and other blandishments. And then quickly anointed them as Brahmins and performed his havan. This nugget is contained in one of the autobiographical works of V.S. Naipaul, a Brahmin from the Ayodhya region. Vajpayee is reportedly a Kanakubjiya Brahmin while Lokpati a Saryupari Brahmin.

Helping out penurious Brahmins by educating their children, finding them jobs, and helping in getting bank loans.

Finding shelter for ?helpless? Brahmin women.

Organising mass marriages to curtail expenses.

Getting involved in the maintenance of temples and setting up training camps for pujaris.

The quest for a ?Brahmin identity? comes at a time when UP politics is undergoing a major socio-political churning. The exit of Kalyan Singh from the BJP and the possibility of his teaming up with Mulayam Yadav has not been ruled out by the party, which fears this combination would wean away most of the 54 per cent backward caste votes.    

Bangalore, Dec. 10 
The little autistic genius from Murshidabad, Raj Rishi Mukhopadhyay, will fly out from here to London early on Saturday for an assessment of his literary brilliance and also to realise his dream of meeting English professors at Cambridge University.

Eleven-year-old Raj Rishi, fondly called ?Tito? by his parents, is a special child who has already attracted international attention. He suffers from autism, which is characterised by neurological disorder affecting the brain, and yet, in a short span of two years, his prodigious mind has produced five books, including an autobiography.

For external appearances, Tito is a ?normal? autistic person: he appears absorbed in a world of fantasy, frequently flaps his hands, makes strange noises and displays tantrums. But what sets him apart is that with the help of his mother, Soma Mukhopadhyay, and experts at the Spastic Society of India and Speach and Hearing Institute, Bangalore, Tito has learnt to communicate, revealing an extraordinary writing talent.

Doctors say that while most autists remain oblivious to their surroundings and lack the ability to communicate, Tito is an exception. ?He?s constantly giving an insight into the feelings of an autist, which we never had before,? said a doctor.

Tito?s lucid, poignant, almost lyrical autobiography of about 80 pages, titled Voice of Silence, gives a rare insight into his early struggles to cope with his condition and the society outside. He writes in the epilogue: ?Today, fragmented self of hand and body parts, which I once saw myself as, have unified into a living ?me?, striving for a complete ?me?. Not in abstract existence of the impossible world of dreams, but a hope for a concrete dream of this book reaching those who would like to understand us through me. If this book is able to light even one little flame, I would be able to see my dream take its shape.... One day I dream that we can grow in a normal society where nobody would be normal or abnormal, but just human beings.?

Tito?s writings, which also includes some 500 short poems, have already lit a little flame as the BBC?s senior producer of documentaries, Chris Terrill, was in Bangalore along with his team for the past 10 days, doing an exclusive 50-minute film on him. The documentary in the famous series Inside Story will have its world premiere in February.

Tito is going to London at the invitation of the National Autistic Society, whose two celebrated patrons, Dr Judith Gould and Dr Lorna Wing, want to assess him closely. ?They are absolutely fascinated by his talent and are eager to learn more of him and from him about other autists,? said Terrill.

Tito will also travel to Trinity College, Cambridge, for a meeting with professor of English Dinah Birch, who has seen some of his writings.

His prolific pen produces a few poems a day and on the day Yukta Mookhey was crowned Miss World, he wrote below her picture with two other runners-up, stuck in a notebook: ?Beauty queen, O, Beauty queen/With your smile in between/Wish the world was pretty like you/And smiled your smile the way you do.?

Tito?s mother, who taught and moulded him, recalls that he was three years old when doctors pronounced that he suffered from autism, but no one knew how to find a cure.

?Like most parents I was frightened of his condition. But I was not ready to give up. I would speak to him constantly and tell stories, whether he paid attention or not. He had a fixation for calendars. When Tito was four, one day I asked him to point out the numbers and he did. I suddenly realised we could communicate with each other,? she said.

Soma put an English alphabetical chart before him and began to teach. Tito picked up words and sentences and began to read anything he could lay his hands on.

?Initially, it was difficult for him to sit and concentrate as his mind wavered. But he gradually overcame his difficulty as he mixed with other handicapped children at the Spastic Society,? recalled Soma.

The boy?s father, R.G. Mukhopadhyay, worked at a public sector company in Bihar before moving to Bangalore six years ago as the city has better facilities and environment for treating children like Tito.

He needs constant attention and companionship. And as the words pour out of Tito, his mother acts as his draftswoman, reading out what he has written and putting it on the computer.

Asked whether he looked forward to his journey to London, Tito wrote on a sheet of paper: ?Men are made to look forward to a new goal. Otherwise, life is mundane. So I look forward to my travel experience.?

On whether he was someone special, he said: ?All are special in some way, good, better or bad; yet some are unfortunate in some way, sad.?    

Today?s forecast: Partly cloudy sky. Slight fall in night temperature. Max. temperature: 27.7?C (1? above normal) Min. temperature: 18.4?C (3? above normal) Maximum humidity: 88% Minimum humidity: 52% Rainfall: Nil Sunset: 4.48 pm Sunrise: 6.10 am    

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