Date set for test ban signal to US
Kalyan throws exit order into trash can
Damages first, trial later in BMW case
Kids stumble on riverbed riches

New Delhi, Dec. 9: 
India is likely to indicate to the US when it will sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and what steps it has taken to build a national consensus when foreign minister Jaswant Singh meets deputy secretary of state Strobe Talbott from January 18-19.

The two leaders had met last month to discuss the pact and harmonise the two countries? stands on nuclear proliferation and disarmament. The January meeting, to be held in London, is significant in view of the BJP-led government?s desire to begin consultations with the Opposition in the next few weeks.

The meeting is also important as it precedes President Bill Clinton?s proposed visit to India. Indications are that Clinton will arrive in March, but the dates are still being worked out. But before the presidential visit, secretary of state Madeleine Albright is likely to make a trip to meet Indian leaders.

The government was to have started talks with the Congress shortly. But the meeting had to be called off as party president Sonia Gandhi was apparently uncomfortable at going ahead with the discussions without the party?s in-house foreign expert, Natwar Singh, who was out of town.

The Left parties and some experts are holding a seminar on CTBT here tomorrow. Though some panelists are known for their pro-signature stand, the Left parties officially maintain they are against any such move.

Last week, a similar seminar was organised at the India International Centre where several nuclear experts and policy-makers were present. The majority view was that since India does not need to conduct any further nuclear tests, it should go ahead and sign.

The experts argued that since India is under no pressure now, Delhi should ink the pact to gain the confidence of world leaders.

The hectoring tone adopted by many countries after the Pokhran blasts has now been replaced by a more conciliatory one. The change was evident during Singh?s visit to Tokyo when Japanese leaders, while insisting that India?s signature on the treaty will be an important step forward, showed more understanding about Delhi?s security concerns.

The US Senate?s refusal to ratify the CTBT has helped India. Though officials here do not want to link the developments in Washington to Delhi?s decision on signing the treaty, they, however, stressed that building a national consensus is essential.

Singh has made it clear that India will delink the three stages involved in the treaty. This is an indication that though Delhi is in favour of signing the treaty now, it will neither ratify it nor will it submit the instrument of ratification in a hurry.

Only 20 of the 44 nations whose signature and ratification are required have done so. Among the Permanent Five, only France and the United Kingdom have both signed and ratified it. The US, China and Russia have signed the pact but are yet to ratify it.

The separation of the three stages gives the government an opportunity to convince the Opposition that signing the treaty does not close its options and it will not ratify it until all others do so.

The government will also try to highlight the advantages of initialling the pact: it will pave the way for America to lift sanctions and multilateral financial agencies will resume aid.    

Dec. 9: 
Banished from the party for six years, Kalyan Singh threw his expulsion order into the dustbin but found little public support on one of his loneliest days in politics.

Immediately after the BJP high command pulled the trigger on the deposed chief minister, the normally sleepy Uttar Pradesh unit swung into action. Kalyan?s pictures were removed from the party office. Even hawkers selling posters of BJP leaders put away those of the ousted leader.

The decision to expel Kalyan was taken by BJP president Kushabhau Thakre following the recommendations of the disciplinary action committee. The leader was punished for ??acting in a manner calculated to lower the image and prestige of the BJP?? and levelling ??unrelenting, indecent and outrageous?? allegations against Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Asked if the move would shake the party?s footing in the heartland, Thakre said: ??I don?t think it will make much of a difference. But Kalyan is an old worker and held responsible posts. If a single brick is removed from a big house, its foundation gets a bit shaky. The house needs repair.??

Thakre scoffed at suggestions that Kalyan?s exit could spell the BJP?s doom in the politically volatile state. ??You will see the difference when no one goes with Kalyan. The party has faced such situations before. It has always emerged unscathed. There is no possibility of a split,?? he said.

The BJP chief?s words reverberated in Lucknow where Kalyan fought his battle alone. Once the nervecentre of the Uttar Pradesh BJP, there were no visitors at his residence, not even trusted associate Kusum Rai, who was out of town.

The expulsion notice reached Kalyan at 3.45 pm. His private secretary Lalta Prasad, who was manning the fax after lunch, broke the news. Insiders said the deposed chief minister mocked at the order, saying ?Yeh to raddi ki tokri ke kabil hai (It is meant for the waste paper basket).??

Around five in the evening, Kalyan asked his staff if there was anyone to meet him. No one was there. An hour later, Kalyan?s daily visitors ? journalists from the print and electronic media ? trooped in for their quota of quotes. Kalyan did offer some but promised: ??I will speak my mind clearly tomorrow.??

Kalyan ??warned?? the BJP that it would be decimated all over the country if it expelled workers like him. He shrugged off his punishment, saying it was a foregone verdict. ?Vajpayee can rest easy,?? he said. Kalyan said the decision would hit the BJP hard in Bihar where Assembly elections are due in February. ??Some party leaders have come under pressure from Vajpayee and signed their own suicide notes. They will be finished,?? he said.

Though Thakre claimed Kalyan?s ouster would not affect the BJP?s backward caste base, some leaders were not so sure. ??It is not a question of which caste group will desert us. The loss is greater. We have lost a valuable leader,?? said a functionary.    

New Delhi, Dec. 9 
The Delhi High Court today approved the Rs 65-lakh compensation package offered by the family of former navy chief S.M. Nanda to victims of the BMW hit-and-run case.

Justice Manmohan Sarin, while accepting the damages offer, said the monetary package would not have any bearing on the criminal trial which will continue.

The former navy chief?s grandson, Sanjiv Nanda, and two of his friends face trial for crushing to death six people, including three policemen, under the BMW on January 10.

The out-of-court compensation provides Rs 10 lakh each to the heirs of those killed and Rs 5 lakh to the lone survivor, Manoj.

To prevent false withdrawal, the judge said the money should be deposited in the accounts of the victims? legal heirs in a bank inside the court premises.

While returning from a party, a drunk Sanjiv, racing the BMW at 140 km per hour, hurtled into a police picket on Lodhi Road.

By deciding on the compensation ? which usually is a long-drawn process ? the court has taken a leaf out of American criminal jurisprudence where damages are approved instantly.

The decision strengthens the case for more powers to Lok Adalats. If given more teeth, they can reduce the burden on courts across the country and take care of property tax disputes, petty offences and cases relating to electricity and motor accident claims.    

Delol (Gujarat), Dec. 9: 
Delol is difficult to locate on a map. But if the Archaeological Survey of India wakes up, this cluster of hamlets in Gujarat, nestling along the now dry Goma river, could become the most sought after excavation site this side of Lothal and Dholavira.

Sometime ago, when 10-year-old Dinesh Shah of Delol felt thirsty, like his elders he went to the riverbed to dig up the sand and grope for water. What came up in his tiny hands was a solid piece of stone dating back to the 9th century, carved intricately to depict Shiva in a trance.

What happened next was even more amazing. As Godhra district collector A.K. Rakesh said: ?When I heard that a boy had dug up an ancient idol just two feet beneath the riverbed, I rushed to the spot. What I saw there left me completely awestruck.?

Not entirely believing Dinesh?s claim, Rakesh had gone to the site himself, followed by a noisy band of children. The children started digging and soon nearly 30 pieces of coins (both gold and silver), some dating back to the 3rd century, were unearthed.

?The coins weighed about 196 gm and there were some gold strands, too. For all you know, there could be a huge amount of treasure beneath the riverbed waiting to be excavated,? said an excited R.P. Katara, tehsildar of Kalol.

Further excavations up to three feet unearthed 24 statues and idols, all dating back to the 9th century, pre-Solanki period.

The district administration, headed by Rakesh, immediately informed the ASI, hoping they would reveal more exciting facts. But they were in for a shock.

?The ASI visited the spot once, after the first digging two months ago, but they haven?t shown their face since then. They complain of inadequate staff,? said an exasperated Rakesh.

The treasure trove of ancient heritage now lies unattended and absolutely vulnerable. The two policemen deployed by the district administration take turns to man the Goma river site.

But most of the time ? as it happened when this correspondent visited the site on Tuesday ? there is no one.

The Vadodara ASI superintending archaeologist, D.R. Gehlot, confirmed that the coins found at Delol could belong to the Satrap era of the 3rd century. And that the idols belong to the thriving pre-Solanki period between 9th and 10th century.

When asked about the huge time gap between the coins and idols, Gehlot said the villagers? story must not be taken at face value. Some of the idols, he believes, could have been brought from a nearby site.

?There are so many of these ancient sites strewn all over here, it is not possible to monitor where certain artefacts come from,? he said. Asked about the ASI?s lackadaisical attitude, Gehlot quickly added: ?It is not our responsibility actually. The state archaeological department has to take up the issue.?

But conceding that ?it is a treasure?, Gehlot said: ?These things should go to the museum, and the panchayat and the district collector should see to it that these are protected.?

Till now, the ASI and the district administration has not been able to solve the mystery of the centuries that separate the coins and the idols, found within an area not more than 15 sq. ft.

The villagers, however, have a simple argument. ?There was an ancient underground tunnel running from Panagarh to Baria and Delol fell in between. Some of these things could have been hidden by the merchants of earlier times,? said Jitubhai Shah of Delol.

It does not take an expert to see that Delol hides much more than it reveals. Archaeologists agree that the town was an important business centre which formed a link between Malwa and Rajasthan.

Moreover, Delol nestles close to Tarsang (Dahod now) which, archaeologists claim, used to be a flourishing settlement in the 3rd century BC.

Perhaps, Delol is waiting for the raiders of the lost ark to tell its true story.    

Maximum: 28.7?C (+2)
Minimum: 18.7?C (+4)
Relative humidity:
Maximum: 87%,
Today: Partly cloudy sky. Slight fall in night temperature
Sunset:4.48 pm
Sunrise: 6.10 am    

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