Death spectre in Sharif trial
Extra hour, pay for judges
Kalyan demands two heads for one
Widows cling to bangles of hope
Calcutta weather

Islamabad, Nov. 11 
A special anti-terrorist court will hear charges of treason and kidnapping or hijacking against Pakistan?s deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and seven others. If convicted, they could be sentenced to death or life in prison.

The charges were filed with the police in Karachi after midnight on Thursday, accusing Sharif and the others of plotting to kill Gen. Parvez Musharraf and conspiring to kidnap him by hijacking a plane.

The ousted premier was also charged with assembling people with the purpose of committing murder and physical endangerment. Both charges carry a lesser prison term.

The others charged are: Sharif?s former adviser on southern Sindh affairs, Ghaus Ali Shah, former director of Pakistan International Airlines Shahid Haqqan Abbasi, former inspector-general of Sindh police Rana Maqbool, former director-general of Pakistan civil aviation Aminuddin Chaudhry, as well as the former deputy inspectors of police from Karachi and Sukkur, in interior Sindh, and a senior police official in Nawabshah, also in interior Sindh.

Shah, Abbasi and Maqbool are in army custody. The whereabouts of the others are not known.

The formal charges will be laid before a magistrate following a police investigation. Treason and hijacking will be tried in Pakistan?s special anti-terrorist courts, set up by Sharif to provide quick justice.

Once a case begins in the anti-terrorist court, it must be completed within seven days, said Khwaja Naveed, a Karachi-based lawyer.

The charges, laid by Lt Col Attiq Uzaman Kiyani on behalf of the military government nearly a month after the swift and peaceful coup, stem from an October 12 episode in which the passenger aircraft returning Gen. Musharraf to Pakistan was refused landing rights in Karachi. The pilot was told to instead land in India.

Also on board the airliner were 200 passengers and crew members, including more than 40 students from US-run international schools throughout Pakistan attended by children of American diplomats.

The aircraft eventually landed, but with barely 10 minutes of fuel remaining, according to Gen. Musharraf and aviation officials.

The chief executive today disclosed that he had told the pilot he could land in India ??only over my dead body??. Speaking to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan, Gen. Musharraf said the pilot told him that the plane had an hour?s fuel left and in this condition, it could be flown only to Ahmedabad or Muscat.

??I told him over my dead body. We are not going to India,?? Gen. Musharraf said.

Sharif has been in army custody since the October 12 coup. There was no immediate comment from his family since the charges were announced.

Some newspapers reported today that he was allowed to speak to his family on telephone for 15 minutes on Wednesday following a written request to the army from his wife.

A former minister described the charges as ??a travesty of justice??. Religious minister in the ousted government, Zafar-ul Haq said he and his colleagues do not expect Sharif to get a fair trial.

??We feel that even the trial would not be fair under the would be a travesty of justice,?? Haq said.    

New Delhi, Nov. 11 
The first national judicial pay commission has recommended higher pay scales and perks for the state judiciary while increasing working hours to clear the backlog of cases.

The panel has also suggested that half of the expenditure on the judiciary should be shared by the Centre and the states on a 50-50 basis.

Releasing the recommendations, commission chairman Justice K. Jagannatha Shetty said more than 50 per cent of the expenditure was normally recovered by way of stamp duty, court fee and fines. The remaining, he said, should be evenly shared by the Centre and the states.

??This is what I told the Prime Minister when I met him to hand over a copy of the recommendations,?? he said. The report, if implemented, will place an additional burden of Rs 95.71 crore on the states and union territories.

The panel, the first to be set up in any Commonwealth country, was formed following a 1992 Supreme Court directive to determine the service conditions of judicial officers.

The commission has delinked the pay scales of judicial officers from that of state government staff. Instead, it has linked the salary structure to the pay of high court judges. ??Whenever there is an upward revision in the pay of high court judges, the judicial officers? pay scales shall also be correspondingly increased to maintain the proportion,?? the commission said.

According to the recommendations, civil judges (junior division) will be placed in the Rs 9,000-14,500 scale, civil judges (senior division) will get Rs 12,850-17,500 and the pay scale of district judges has been raised to Rs 16,750-20,500. While a scale of Rs 18,750-22,850 has been recommended for district judges (selection grade), the panel proposed a super time scale of Rs 22,850-24,850 for them.

Considering the large number of pending cases, the panel has suggested an additional one hour?s sitting every day besides reducing the number of vacations by 15 days.

It has also proposed that the retirement age of subordinate court judges be increased to 62 while doing away with the system of reviewing their performances at the fag end of their careers. Instead, Justice Shetty said, reviews should be conducted at the age of 50, 55 and 60.

The panel favours the setting up of an all-India judicial cadre and feels that the multiple cadres should be amalgamated into three groups: civil judges, civil judges (senior) and district judges. The subordinate judicial service will be renamed state judicial service, prefixed with the name of the state concerned.

Besides substantially increasing salaries, the commission has proposed a number of benefits for members of the state judiciary.

??Sumptuary allowances at the rate of Rs 1,000, 750 and 500 per month should be given to the district judge, civil judges senior and junior divisions respectively??, the report says. The panel has also proposed medical benefits on par with legislators and ministers, LTC (once in four years) and HTC (once in two years).    

Lucknow, Nov. 11 
A forced smile replacing his sulk, Kalyan Singh today put his signature on the resignation letter and the regulation garland around his successor R.P. Gupta.

But by evening, the flowers looked set to turn into thorns for the chief minister-designate with Kalyan deciding to remind the high command that he wanted his pound of flesh now.

The price Kalyan wants is the head of rivals Kalraj Mishra and Lalji Tandon, the state ministers instrumental in removing him.

Kalyan?s biggest supporter in the BJP high command, home minister L.K Advani, is arriving tomorrow with Murli Manohar Joshi for Gupta?s swearing-in at 5.30 pm. Kalyan is expected to take up the ouster demand with the leaders from Delhi. He had spoken to Advani before putting in his papers.

The BJP Legislature Party elected Gupta as the new leader after Kalyan proposed his name.

Mishra, the PWD minister who lost the race to become chief minister, said: ?I had suggested to the Prime Minister that I was willing to jointly take the blame for the poll debacle and resign.?

Privately, however, he is fuming. The minister, said sources, had let state and Central leaders know that any attempt to clip his wings would lead to a ?revolt in the party?.

Two reasons are said to be behind the delay in Kalyan?s resignation. The first was to put pressure on the party and keep it guessing about his next move. The second, it appears now, was to clear two crucial appointments: making close associate Kusum Rai the chairperson of the State Council for Women and clearing the induction of her husband, a clerk in the information department, to the Provincial Civil Service.

Both decisions shocked the party. A senior leader from Delhi said: ?Before losing their kingdoms, kings were known to distribute largesse to their loved ones. A similar thing happened in Uttar Pradesh when king Kalyan was removed.?

After resigning, Kalyan drove to his official residence, summoned all class four employees and asked them to sit. ?No one will stand before me. These employees have worked hard day and night,? he said.

He thanked them and said: ?I may have spoken harshly to you sometimes but I forgot immediately. In case I have said anything which has hurt you, I deeply apologise. Please forgive me.?

To the waiting journalists, he showed a maroon suitcase. ?This is all I have. I hardly have any belongings.?

Kalyan refused to say whether action should be taken against his detractors. ?I will not comment. I will become very bitter if I speak on these issues. There is a lot to say but today is not the day.?    

Erasama, Nov. 11 
Basanti Das clings to her conch-shell bangles, refusing to part with the last symbol of her marriage.

A 30-feet high tidal wave swept away her husband in Sarbapeta village, nearly two weeks ago. But the 35-year-old woman refuses to give up hope. ??I know I may have lost him for ever, but I won?t break my bangles or wear a white sari till I see his body,?? she says.

But it is unlikely she will ever see her husband or his body. The surging sea which inundated villages up to 15 km from the coast, including the block headquarters, took everything along the way. ??I would not be surprised if some bodies are washed ashore even in Sri Lanka,?? says Damodar Rout, former minister from Erasama in ravaged Jagatsinghpur district.

Officials said the whirling waters crashed into the residential quarters of the block development officer in Erasama town and threw the body of a woman in his bedroom. The body was later identified as that of a woman from Ambiki, 10 km away.

With little likelihood of their husbands ever being traced, the women have no idea how to cope with the tragedy. Many have lost their children as well.

??I have no life left,?? says a wailing Manimala Paramanik of Kankana. ??I can still hear the cries of my eight-year-old son as the sea took him away with my husband and our home.?? Struck by the tidal wave, an unconscious Manimala was carried nearly 6 km before a tangle of weed saved her. ??I wish I were dead,?? she says.

Biju Janata Dal block president and social worker Rabi Jena feels the cyclone could have widowed at least 3,000 women in Erasama. ??No one knows how they are going to survive, without homes and their loved ones.??

Orissa Disaster Mitigation Mission, an umbrella of 55 non-governmental organisations, today said the cyclone and tidal wave had left thousands of women and children widowed and orphaned. The forum said it was drawing up a plan to help them rebuild their lives.

The government has begun waking up to the plight of the tens of thousands of widows and parentless children in the ravaged coastal region. Special relief commissioner D.N. Padhi said the women and child development department had been asked to identify widows and orphaned children in all affected districts, especially Jagatsinghpur, where the toll has reached 6,383.

Chief minister Giridhar Gamang has asked the Centre to set aside the age criteria for the pension scheme and include those who have lost their parents and husbands in the cyclone. The government said it was planning another scheme to rehabilitate widows and announced a compensation of Rs 75,000 for relatives of each of the dead.

But the government?s effort may not bring solace to the men grieving the deaths of their wives. ??My wife died to save me and our children,?? says Sankar Charan Sahoo of Barabeleri village.

As the tidal wave roared into the village, five km from the coast, Sahoo climbed onto the roof of his small tile house along with his wife, children and their pet dog, Kalia. But it was too late. The sea uprooted the house and swept it away. ??I held on to a wooden beam that supported the tiled roof with one hand and my wife and two small children with the other,?? recalls Sahoo.

But his wife pleaded with him to let her go so that he could save himself and their children. ??Finally, I had to because my children were about to slip away in the torrent,?? says Sahoo.

Even their pet dog, which was holding on to the beam, tried to save her. ??Kalia bit into the hand that used to feed him to hold her back, but gave up as the current was too much for him,?? Sahoo says, breaking down.    

Temperature: Maximum: 30.5?C (+1) Minimum: 18.4?C (-1) Rainfall: Nil Relative humidity: Maximum: 85%, Minimum: 33% Today: The met office says the sky will remain mainly clear. Not much change in day temperatureexpected. Sunset: 4.50 pm Sunrise: 5.52 am    

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