Spy-for-spy deal with Washington
Nine buses ablaze in fury at child death
BJP tests waters for Sonia bar
Calcutta weather

New Delhi, Dec. 3 
Brought together by a common enemy, India and the US have decided to pool intelligence on terrorism.

In a far cry from the Cold War days, two Indian agents will be stationed in Washington where they will work in tandem with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to beat the threat from Islamic terrorism. Two FBI officials will, in turn, be posted in New Delhi.

This will be an open relationship unlike the informal ?liaison? the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) maintained with the CIA in the past. The two Indian operatives, who will work out of the embassy in Washington, will be ?declared agents? and will not have to function under diplomatic cover.

In 1996, Rattan Sehgal, an additional director in the Intelligence Bureau in charge of counter-intelligence, had to bow out after his ?clandestine? meetings with the CIA station chief in New Delhi and two undercover operatives raised a furore.

Three years later, the relationship is set to be legitimised, with the threat of Osama bin Laden, the lengthening shadow of Islamic terrorism over South and Central Asia and the Kargil war acting as a catalyst.

Home secretary B.P. Singh visited the US in February to convince them there was no difference between Pakistan-backed terrorists and militants who Islamabad claims to be providing with ??political and moral support?.

Singh held talks with FBI chief Louis Freeh, attorney-general Janet Reno and state department coordinator on counter-terrorism, Michael Sheehan. The move gathered momentum when Sheehan visited India six weeks ago.

A final decision is likely to be taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security in January after Parliament?s winter session ends on December 23. Over the past few months, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, home minister L.K.Advani and defence minister George Fernandes have discussed the issue with US ambassador Richard Celeste.

The BJP government has agreed in principle to let the FBI post two special agents in the US embassy here. The FBI will, however, not be allowed to run a full-fledged office here.

The Centre has already sounded RAW and IB on the question of Indian intelligence officials being stationed in the US and FBI special agents functioning here.

The intelligence agents, both here and in Washington, will focus on terrorism and international crime. In a way, this will strengthen the international network that Indian agencies have been trying to build over the years.

Ironically, it was the Rattan Sehgal controversy that inspired then Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda to try and formalise the relationship that Indian agencies had with FBI and CIA.    

Calcutta, Dec. 3 
A 5,000-strong mob went on a rampage for nearly two hours this morning setting nine buses on fire after a five-year old child was killed and his mother seriously injured by a private bus on route 206 on Dhakuria bridge.

This is the third major accident to have taken place at the Jodhpur Park end of the bridge in the last six months.

Within minutes of the accident, even as the victims were being rushed to hospital, an angry mob took total control of the area, stoning passing vehicles and targetting policemen in sight. Six of the nine buses set on fire were totally gutted.

However, in the melee, the driver of the bus which had run over the boy managed to escape after hastily abandoning the vehicle in front of the Jadavpur police station.

Police said that the boy, Rahul Halder, a resident of Subhashgram in Sonarpur, was brought dead to the Bangur hospital. His mother, Bakul, has been admitted to Ramakrishna Mission Seva Pratisthan with head injuries.

Acting deputy commissioner of police (south), Banibrata Basu, said Rahul and his mother had come to Dhakuria to visit the boy?s grandparents. But as they were crossing the road at the foot of the bridge a bus rushed towards them and mowed them down.

Bakul, who is still not aware of her son?s death, recounted the incident from her hospital bed. ?With Rahul?s hand firmly in mine, I was crossing the road towards Gobindapur,? she said.

?Suddenly the bus came crashing on to me. I became unconscious and all that I remember is someone trying to remove my son from the path of the bus.?

After a brief pause, she hesitantly asked, ?Can you tell me where my son is?? Bakul?s husband Ramprasad, a mason, is not even aware of the accident as he has been away from home for the last three days.

?My husband will be very angry when he hears of this,? said Bakul.

The anger that erupted on the streets of Dhakuria this morning caught the police totally off-guard. Soon after the incident, a little over a dozen policemen rushed to the spot from the Lake police station but they were heavily outnumbered as most of the force had been deployed for security duty for the Vietnamese President?s visit.

The mob turned its ire on the policemen as soon as they arrived, attacking them with sticks and stones. The police fought a pitched battle with the mob even as reinforcements arrived from Jadavpur and Tollygunge police stations.

Even a police lathicharge failed to deter the crowd, who were bent on ?teaching the securitymen a lesson?.

An eyewitness said that at this stage the officer-in-charge of the Jadavpur police station whipped out his revolver and fired in the air to scare the mob. However, Bhattacharya has strongly denied this.

The enraged crowd then started hurling stones at passing buses and setting them ablaze even as the policemen helplessly looked on. Within minutes, shopkeepers downed their shutters and fled the area in panic.

Two hours later, after jawans of the Rapid Action Force were deployed, the situation could be brought under control.

?When bus and mini-bus drivers indulge in rash driving, the policemen simply look the other way,? said Rabi Das, a local resident. ?Naturally, the people are going to be angry with them.?    

New Delhi, Dec. 3 
The BJP today pushed through the backdoor the ticklish issue of denying Sonia Gandhi the opportunity to vie for high government offices. First-time MP Kirit Somaiyya moved a Bill seeking to disqualify people of foreign origin from holding such posts.

However innocuous a private member?s Bill is, the move is being seen as a ??trial balloon?? floated by the party to assess the impact of the subject.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee asserted that the foreign origin issue was part of the National Democratic Alliance election manifesto.

??I have not seen it, but every member has a right to move any Bill on any issue,?? the Prime Minister said.

Although Somaiyya?s initiative may mean little in legislative terms ? very rarely are private Bills codified and legislated ?observers believe that from the BJP?s viewpoint, it serves two ends:

First, to keep alive the ??foreign origin?? issue, especially since Sonia is leader of the Opposition. Second, to gauge the Opposition reaction and see how far the Samajwadi Party and the Nationalist Congress Party ? which share the BJP?s view ? are ready to back the government if it tables a full-fledged legislation.

But Somaiyya?s Bill did not even ignite the Congress benches to the expected degree. Only two members ? P.K. Bansal and Priya Ranjan Das Munshi ? shouted in protest from the handful of Congressmen present in the post-lunch session.

Bansal served a notice trying to block the Bill, saying it violated the basic spirit of the Constitution which guaranteed equal status and opportunity to all.

Das Munshi, the Congress chief whip, ridiculed the Bill, saying: ??I was born in east Pakistan, but I am in this House today.?? He found support in IUML leader G.M. Banatwalla, who said: ??Even Abul Kalam Azad was born in Mecca but he went on to become the education minister.??

Somaiyya said that though the Constitution framers did not have the issue in mind, the term ??natural born?? citizen had been defined in the US Constitution and he read out parts of it.

Privately, BJP sources did not think much of Somaiyya?s initiative. ??He is a child, let him have some fun,?? said a senior minister.

??If the government wants to bring a legislation, it will do so on its own and not through private initiative. But it was certainly the most interesting of all the Bills so far,?? he added.

While the Congress officially said ??the people have given a befitting reply to a non-issue??, party insiders dismissed the Bill as ??pinprick??.

Lok Sabha observers said Somaiyya was fortunate to have his Bill introduced. Normally, a part of every Friday?s business is set aside for private members? Bills. A ballot is conducted to list them. Somaiyya?s legislation topped the agenda today.

Next Friday, there will be a fresh ballot for ??consideration?? of those Bills that are in queue for discussion.

Somaiyya would have to be doubly lucky to have his legislation discussed. Private members? Bills last one session and there are only two Fridays left before the Lok Sabha winds up on December 23.    

Today?s forecast: Partly cloudy sky. Little change in night temperature. Max. temperature: 28.8?C (1? above normal) Min. temperature: 17.5?C (2? above normal) Maximum humidity: 90% Minimum humidity: 48% Rainfall: Nil Sunset: 4.47 pm Sunrise: 6.06 am    

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