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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000

Subject:

India Network News Digest - October 16 , 2000

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Mon, 16 Oct 2000 10:45:30 -0400

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*******************************************************************
Today's India Network News Digest is compiled by the India Network Services
               P.O. Box 556, Bowling Green, OH 43402, USA
             Telephone: (419) 352 9335 Fax:  (419) 352 9334
                             Mon 16 Oct 2000
*******************************************************************

***************************************************************
India Network News Digest - October 16 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 178
***************************************************************
Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
-------------------
#1. Adequate relief for States, says PM
#2. Rajkumar's release 'anytime now'
#3. Gale force winds to hit coastal Andhra, Orissa
#4. Mamata rules out rail fare, freight charge hike
#5. NDA will continue economic reforms: Laxman
#6. Sonia calls for speedy relief to drought-hit states
#7. New Delhi should declare ceasefire first: Hizb chief
#8. Karunakaran `not at all sad' by Rao's conviction

------------------------------------------------

#1. Adequate relief for States, says PM

MUMBAI, OCT. 15. The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, today said
the State Governments would not face any serious handicap due to the
abolition of the National Fund for Calamity Relief or non- constitution of
the National Calamity Contingency Fund as they had been assured of
adequate resources to tackle natural calamities.

In a letter addressed to the leader of the Opposition and Congress
president, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, from the Breach Candy

hospital camp office, Mr. Vajpayee said, ``I hope you will agree with me
that in view of the severity of drought that has been predicted in certain
areas of the country due to uneven monsoon this year, the States have to
act with a sense of urgency and seriousness to keep their relief
administration machineries in readiness and mobilise non-Government
sector/community-based organisations to supplement Government efforts.''

The Centre was closely monitoring the south-west monsoon. ``A group of
secretaries, under the chairmanship of the Secretary to the Planning
Commission, has been constituted for this purpose,'' Mr. Vajpayee said,
according to sources in the Prime Minister's Office. The States had been
advised to prepare a contingency plan. While Gujarat had submitted a plan,
other States had been asked to submit their plans at the earliest. Besides
the Calamity Relief Fund, assistance was provided to the States by way of
releases in advance instalments of Central plan assistance, share in
Central taxes and other grants.

``The Finance Ministry has been instructed to supplement funds of the
States whenever there is a calamity so that the relief work can continue
without interruptions. I understand that the States affected by drought
are not facing ways and means problems at present.'' As regards
Chhattisgarh, it would have its CRF from the appointed day.

Mr. Vajpayee said it was also necessary to ensure that political,
ideological and other differences did not come in the way of tackling the
situation affecting millions of people.

Mrs. Gandhi, in a letter to the Prime Minister on October 12, had
highlighted the need for Central intervention in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan
and Gujarat to tackle the drought situation.

#2. Rajkumar's release 'anytime now'
By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, OCT. 15. Efforts to secure the release of the Kannada actor,
Mr. Rajkumar, and two of his relatives held hostage by the forest brigand
Veerappan for the last 77 days, appear headed for the much-prized moment,
with some definitive word on their freedom expected late tonight.

This impression gained ground with some definitive word reaching here this
morning from both the official emissary, Mr. R. R. Gopal, and the Tamils
Nationalist Movement (TNM) leader, Mr. P. Nedumaran, who is now part of
the expanded team of mediators. A fleet of cars has already been arranged
at Erode, to bring back the hostages.

The Nakkeeran associate editor, Mr. A. Kamaraj, when contacted, said he
had received a call today from the Sathyamangalam forest, adding, a clear
picture on the on- going negotiations between the team and the brigand
would emerge by tonight.

The TNM general secretary, Mr. K. Parandaman, in a statement here said a
message had been received from Mr. Nedumaran this morning saying the talks
were going on smoothly, adding, ``some good news is expected anytime
now''. Mr. Nedumaran had also expressed the hope that the team of
emissaries, which included two human rights activists, Prof. Kalyani and
Mr. Sukumaran, would return with the hostages, the statement said.

Mr.Rajkumar and three others were abducted by Veerappan and his associates
on July 30 from his farm house at Gajanur in Tamil Nadu's Erode district.

The Nakkeeran editor, Mr. Gopal, was chosen as the official emissary of
both the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka Governments to negotiate with Veerappan,
based on the journalist's 1997 record in helping to free nine Karnataka
forest department officials. But, the four missions Mr. Gopal undertook
this time were much more complex.

In a strange twist to the abduction drama, one of the hostages, an
assistant film director, Mr. Nagappa Maradagi, ``escaped'' from
Veerappan's clutches on September 28. This came as a big setback to
Mr. Gopal's efforts, amidst the Supreme Court indefinitely staying the
release process of 51 TADA detenus from Karnataka and five Tamil ultras
from Tamil Nadu. Veerappan has been demanding the release of the TADA
detenus.

Subsequently, on the fifth forest mission, the emissary team was expanded
to include the pro-LTTE leader, Mr.Nedumaran and two other human rights
activists. This has already raised concerns at the banned Sri Lankan Tamil
militant outfit, LTTE, ``remote- controlling'' the kidnap drama.

#3. Gale force winds to hit coastal Andhra, Orissa

PUNE: The coastal districts of south Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are likely
to experience gales with speeds between 60-70 kmph on Monday due to a
cyclonic storm which lay centred at about 500 km east and south east of
the port city of Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Fishermen were advised not to venture out into the sea off south
Orissa-Andhra coasts during the period, a release by India Meteorological
Department said on Monday.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands and coastal Andhra Pradesh, at many places in
south Orissa, Tamil Nadu, south interior Karnataka, Kerala and Lakshadweep
are likely to have heavy rainfall, the IMD said.

Following forecast of heavy to very heavy rains at a few places in
Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari districts
and Krishna in Andhra Pradesh, the collectors have been put on alert and
asked to take necessary precautionary measures, official sources said.

Isolated heavy rain is also likely in districts of Nellore, Prakasham and
Guntur during the next 48 hours, sources added.

Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh revenue secretary D Rosaiah, who is incharge of
relief department, said they were monitoring the situation closely in the
wake of the cyclone threat.

The entire north coastal region from Srikakulam to Krishna districts were
issued a warning of heavy to very heavy rains following the likely
intensification of cyclonic storm, he added.

#4. Mamata rules out rail fare, freight charge hike

NEW DELHI: Railways Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday ruled out the
possibility of increasing fare and freight charges in view of the recent
hike in the prices of diesel and other petroleum products.

Replying to a question at the economic editors conference here on Monday,
Ms Banerjee said an additional burden of Rs 275 crore is likely to be
borne by the Railways this year as a result of an increase in diesel
prices announced on September 29. The interest of the consumers and other
rail users would be kept in mind, she said.

She had an indepth review of the progress and implementation of the
programmes announced in the budget for this year. It is estimated that Rs
865 crore would be saved through austerity measures. Besides, she directed
the officials concerned to make rigorous efforts to ensure the generation
of additional resources through non-traditional measures. The freight
loading performance of railways has been satisfactory, she said.

#5. NDA will continue economic reforms: Laxman

SHIRDI, Maharashtra: BJP president Bangaru Laxman on Sunday said the
BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre will "not
deviate" from the economic reforms programme "owing to pressure" from the
RSS.

"There may be differences of opinion between the BJP and the RSS over the
economic liberalisation policy but the former will go ahead with the
reforms process," Laxman told a news conference here.

"The BJP has to seek votes from people and not the Sangh parivar and
Swadeshi Jagran Manch. But the party will honour the views expressed by
RSS, SJM and VHP while formulating its future policies," Laxman said.


On the controversial issues of Ram temple, Uniform Civil Code and
abrogation of Article 370, Laxman said the BJP has "kept aside these
issues temporarily" and was committed to implement the national governance
programme finalised by the NDA.

Elaborating the party's stance over these issues, the BJP president said
his party prior to coming to power had sought votes on the common minimum
programme of the NDA but added that the BJP will never desert these
issues.

Laxman stressed on the need to create a nation-wide debate over the issue
of Uniform Civil Code.

The BJP president criticised Congressmen for "deserting" former Prime
Minister P V Narasimha Rao, who was convicted in a JMM MPs bribery case
recently.

#6. Sonia calls for speedy relief to drought-hit states

BHOPAL: Congress president Sonia Gandhi has urged Prime Minister Atal
Bihari Vajpayee to provide timely and adequate assistance to Rajasthan,
Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh which have been hit by severe drought.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Congress president pointed out that
following recommendations of the 11th Finance Commission, no funds have
been provided for the National Calamity Relief Fund.

Sonia said any delay in providing relief measures in these areas will
cause great hardships to the people.

She said drought-affected parts in Madhya Pradesh lie predominantly in
Chhattisgarh region which is going to function as a separate state from
November 1 this year and added that this called for immediate relief.

Sonia also said that the three state governments are in constant touch
with the Union ministries of agriculture and finance to get the funds.

#7. New Delhi should declare ceasefire first: Hizb chief
PTI (Islamabad, Oct 16)

Pakistan-based chief of Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit Syed Salahuddin
today asked India to take the initiative in declaring ceasefire in Jammu
and Kashmir, to display its "sincerity" about dialogue.

"If someone thinks that ceasefire is a must, then India should take the
initiative and declare ceasefire first. It will show india's sincerity
about dialogue," Salahuddin told BBC.

He said there was "no need for ceasefire from our (outfit's) side if India
declares ceasefire first and agrees for talks" and added that talks could
be held even during the militant operations.

He said the Hizbul Mujahideen had "provided a golden opportunity to India
for the solution of the Kashmir dispute by announcing unilateral ceasefire
(in July) but India adopted traditional delaying tactics and unnecessary
conditions."

Salahuddin denied that differences had cropped up within the Hizbul
Mujahideen after the withdrawal of ceasefire on August 8 and that orders
had been issued for "the killing of those in favour of talks with India."

Abdul Majid Dar, Hizb chief commander in J and K, and his colleagues are
in Kashmir valley and "are carrying out operations", he said, adding Dar
led recent operations in Baramulla, Pattan, Udhampur and the attacks on
Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

About inter-group clashes in Pir Panjal sector, he said after removal of
Hizb commander of Pir Panjal regiment, there was "some
resistance. However, later the situation was brought under control. There
is no tension at present."

#8. Karunakaran `not at all sad' by Rao's conviction
Agencies/Thiruvananthapuram

Senior Congress leader K. Karunakaran has said he is not at all
disappointed with the verdict against former prime minister P.V.Narasimha
Rao, who has been sentenced to three years' jail for criminal conspiracy,
bribery and corruption.

Karunakaran, a former Kerala chief minister and a Member of Parliament
(MP), said here on Saturday, "I am not at all sad about the court verdict
against Rao. This is a verdict of the court and the court has decided what
it felt. It was a different matter that he had engineered defection to see
that the Congress remained in power."

Similar statements made by other top Congress leaders could indicate that
little support may be forthcoming from the party for Rao in his bid to
appeal the verdict, even though the party has decided not to take
immediate internal action against him.

Karunakaran's statement against Rao has come at a time when not a single
state Congress leader has said a word on Rao's conviction. Karunakaran
asked, "how could the party be associated with the Babri Masjid
demolition?" He was referring to Rao being the prime minister in 1992,
when the Babri mosque in Ayodhya was demolished by Hindu zealots.

In reply to a question whether the image of the party would be enhanced by
disowning Rao, he said sometimes such decisions had a positive effect.

Karunakaran's open displeasure with Rao is not surprising, given that the
latter in 1995 had ignored his pleas for help from the party's national
leadership when factionalism in the Congress party in Kerala reached a
peak.

Despite Karunakaran having an edge in the Congress parliamentary party
here, Rao -- who had become prime minister in 1991 -- gave in to the
demands of coalition partners and asked Karunakaran to quit as chief
minister.

Even though Karunakaran was accommodated as the Union industries minister
after he resigned as chief minister, he was seen as receiving a raw deal
by Rao, who decided to keep a key component of the ministry, namely
foreign investment, with himself.

But Karunakaran hit back at Rao and was one of the first leaders in the
Congress party who had set the ball rolling for a change in the top
leadership of the party before the 1996 Lok Sabha elections.

--------------------------------------
End of India Network News Digest
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