11 killed in TN prison riot
Bills to police govt purse
US tourist dies in clash of elephants
Father traps under-age minister
Calcutta weather

Chennai, Nov. 17 
Ten people were shot dead and a jail official burnt alive as a riot broke out in the Madras Central Prison today after the sudden death of a prisoner, Boxer Vadivelu. However, unconfirmed reports put the toll at 16.

Though Vadivelu died in the government hospital in the early hours of the day, supposedly following an attack of dysentry, rumours started circulating inside the prison that he had been done to death by the prison authorities. Jail sources blame an aide of Vadivelu for instigating his fellow prisoners.

With no one in authority coming forward to throw any light on the matter, it is still not clear whether Vadivelu was brought dead to the hospital or died after developing some complications while under treatment.

What is generally believed to have happened is that immediately after they came to know of Vadivelu?s death, some prisoners confronted a prison official who was around demanding to know how Vadivelu could have died so suddenly when he had been only complaining of dysentry. As tempers frayed a couple of prisoners were roughed up. And then all hell broke loose.

According to some reports, deputy warden Jayakumar was pushed into his room and locked up. Then the room was set on fire burning him alive. Hundreds of prisoners started throwing stones with some of them landing in the adjoining suburban railway station.

Some prisoners even got on to the roof and attacked jail officials with whatever they could lay their hands on. However, initial reports of another jail official being stabbed to death could not be confirmed.

According to an unofficial police version, they first used bamboo canes, tear gas and rubber bullets to bring the situation under control. It was only after all other means failed that they were ?constrained? to open fire on the prisioners. According to some, over 30 prisoners have died.

State law minister Aladi Aruna who visited the jail after the incident did not commit himself on the toll or even comment on the incident. ?We shall present a report before the Assembly tomorrow,? he said. According to him, when the Assembly was in session it would be ?improper? on his part to disclose any details.

As news of Vadivelu?s seath spread, a crowd of agitated residents of North Chennai from where Valivedu hailed, gathered in front of the prison. Police lathicharged the slogan-shouting, stone-throwing crowd.

An eyewitness, however, described the police reaction as brutal. ?The Rapid Action Force personnel got on to the compound wall, even positioned themselves at vantage points in the suburban station and fired indiscriminately without any let-up,? the eyewitness said.

According to him, the action must have lasted over two hours and ?the death toll of eight was a gross underestimate?.

The riots could not have come at a worse time for the ruling DMK. The Assembly session has just started and its estranged ally, the Tamil Maanila Congress, the main opposition, is also threatening to kick up a dust over a whole rsange of issues.

Besides being a notorious don of Kasimedu, Vadivelu, who had actually been detained under the Goondas Act, is identified with the ADMK. He was one of the accused in a murderous attack on the staff of an anti-ADMK tabloid during the Jayalalitha regime.    

New Delhi, Nov. 17 
Resuming the initiative to legally enforce economic discipline on governments, the Centre today disclosed that two Bills would be tabled to reform state finances and rein in Central expenditure.

Finance minister Yashwant Sinha said the first Bill, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, would check Central government spending. The restraint would possibly come in the shape of a ceiling on government borrowing, which finance ministers since Manmohan Singh have been insisting on without success so far.

The second legislation will create a special facility fund for states in financial trouble. Sinha said money from the fund would be given only to those states that undertook to sign memoranda of understanding with the Centre to reform their finances according to the terms of the agreement.

Speaking at the Economic Editors? Conference here, he said the Bill would be moved in the winter session of Parliament.

The fund is being projected as a bailout facility for states going through a rough patch. Finance ministry officials had said earlier that the some of the conditions include imposing a ceiling on the number of employees and raising utility charges, like power tariff.

The minister, however, said most states seemed ready to curb fiscal indiscipline voluntarily.

?The memorandum of understanding is time bound. It will be our joint responsibility to see that this deadline is met. We will continue to persuade the states to adhere to it by undertaking a mid-term fiscal correction programme,? he said.

Finance ministry officials said inability to meet these conditions will mean not only loss of promised extra funds but even cuts in normal Central allocations to states for plan schemes.

States have been clamouring for more funds to restructure finances and raise employees? salaries to Central levels.

Sinha said the Fiscal Responsibility Act would not apply to states. Spelling out the compulsions, he said the interest burden of the Central government alone was a whopping Rs 90,000 crore, while the defence outlay was another Rs 46,000 crore. Pension, Central police expenses and food subsidy accounted for Rs 20,000 crore.

Chief economic adviser Shankar Acharya said the finance ministry was studying legislation enacted by other countries to check government spending and a draft Act will be ready in a few months.    

Guwahati, Nov. 17 
An 82-year-old American tourist, Mary Brumder, died after the elephant she was riding was attacked by another at Kohra in Kaziranga National Park this morning.

The ?freak occurance??, according to official sources, also claimed Bhajan, late Brumder?s mount. Bhajan was attacked by Gadapani, another pachyderm.

Bhajan?s mahout Binay Ganak, Brunder?s nephew Mathew Arndt and another foreigner Humecki Howard John were injured. Mathew and his aunt were part of a 10-member tourist group from the US.

Both Gadapani and Bhajan have been carrying tourists around the park for many years in Kaziranga. Park officials said they are yet to fathom as to what provoked Gadapani to launch the attack on Bhajan.

?Such violent behaviour can be expected only when elephants are in musth or are on an empty belly. But Gadapani was neither in musth or on an empty belly,?? an official said.

The park was thrown open to tourists from November 1. Many foreigners have arrived since then.

But as news of the accident spread, several are planning to leave the park tomorrow.