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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000


India Network News Digest - October 23 , 2000


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Mon, 23 Oct 2000 10:51:04 -0400





TEXT/PLAIN (427 lines)

Today's India Network News Digest is compiled by the India Network Services
               P.O. Box 556, Bowling Green, OH 43402, USA
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                             Mon 23 Oct 2000

India Network News Digest - October 23 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 183
Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
#1. Advani rules out trifurcation of J & K
#2. US embassy announces revision in visa fees
#3. Soren seeks `referendum' on CM's post
#4. Arundhati questions SC verdict on dam
#5. Jethmalani wants NJC be pursued vigorously
#6. Sonia Gandhi lambasts RSS for disrupting communal harmony
#7. Hidden agenda in CPM call
#8. BJP indulging in horse trading, causing defection: Jogi


#1. Advani rules out trifurcation of J & K

SRINAGAR, OCT. 22. The Union Home Minister, Mr. L.K. Advani, tonight
rejected the RSS demand for the trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir saying
the Centre was not in favour of division of the border State.

``We have made it amply clear so many times that we think the State as a
whole should be thought of and we do not favour trifurcation,'' he told
presspersons after attending meetings of the Unified Headquarters, which
is dealing with militancy, and State legislators here along with the
Defence Minister, Mr. George Fernandes, and the Chief Minister, Mr. Farooq

The RSS leader in charge of Kashmir affairs, Mr. Indresh, had recently
asked the Chief Minister to bring a resolution in the State Assembly for
trifurcation of the State, saying there was both logic and merit in such a

Referring to the two meetings, Mr. Advani said they briefed him and
Mr. Fernandes with the problems being faced by the people, security forces
and the Government in dealing with the situation in the State.

``The meetings also gave us a sense of satisfaction that the State
Government and the security forces have once again secured an upper hand
against militants in the State,'' he said.

At the Unified Command meeting, all the three Corps commanders, gave a
very candid assessment of the situation they were facing.

The Director General of Police also gave an account on the contribution of
the State police in the battle against militancy.

On the role of the State police, Mr. Advani said, ``in north-east and
Jammu and Kashmir where we have this problem of militancy, the ultimate
analysis is that it is the State Government and the State police which
have been the principal contributors in the battle against militants.'' He
said that in the course of the discussions it was emphasised by everyone
that the fight against militancy should be accompanied by acceleration of
the development process. The third step had to be State's willingness to
hold a dialogue with the elements willing to leave aside their arms and
come to the negotiating table,'' he said.

The Home Minister said in the post-Kargil period the country had achieved
remarkable success in mobilising international opinion against the
``States indulging in cross border terrorism and States using terrorism as
an instrument of policy. And Pakistan is one such State. It is these
various factors put together that have given us a sense of confidence that
we will be able to deal with this menace effectively.''

On talks with militants, Mr. Advani said though Pakistan subverted the
talks, ``the longing for peace among common people on both sides of the
border has become very conspicuous.'' The incident also demonstrated that
India was keen to free the region from violence and anarchy ``inflicted on
us from across the border,'' he added.

#2. US embassy announces revision in visa fees

NEW DELHI: The US embassy on Monday announced a revision in visa fees with
effect from November 1, due to the change in the rupee-dollar exchange

While the fees in dollars remains unchanged, the rupee amount will be at
the new exchange rate of Rs 47 to a dollar.

Under the rates, the non-immigrant visa application fee will be Rs 2,115
($45) and non-immigrant visa issuance fee Rs 3,525 ($75), a US embassy
release here said.

While the immigrant visa application fee will be Rs 12,220 ($260), the
immigrant visa issuance fee will be Rs 3,055 ($65) and returning residents
fee will be Rs 2,350 ($50).

#3. Soren seeks `referendum' on CM's post
By Sonali Das

The Times of India News Service

RANCHI: ``Jharkhand kaa mukhya mantri kaisa ho?'' --``Shibu Soren jaisa
ho.'' Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) president Shibu Soren on Sunday sought
a virtual referendum on who should be the first tribal chief minister of
Jharkhand. In a ``victory rally'', ostensibly organised by the party at
the local Morhabadi grounds in a show of strenght to the BJP, thousands of
Jharkhandi janta lent their voices to vote for the Dishum Guru, as Soren
is popularly known.

Ever since the BJP made it clear that the first tribal chief minister of
Jharkhand would be from the party itself and not from outside, Soren, who
had staked his claim for the post, has been licking his wounds, asserting
that the Jharkhandi janta and not any political party would decide on the
issue. Sunday's rally, though projected to celebrate the creation of
Jharkhand, was nevertheless a bid to prove his point. Interestingly, Soren
had not only invited the janta's mandate but for the first time in the
history of the Jharkhand movement, journalists from the national capital
were invited to cover the event.

``The JMM support to the one-day- old NDA government led by Nitish Kumar
in Bihar was conditional'', Soren told ``his people'' from the
dais. Sporting a green cloth on his forehead the JMM chief said that the
support was given in lieu of the NDA's promise to create Jharkhand and
make him (Soren) the first chief minister of the state. Accusing the NDA
of backtracking from its word, Soren gave an ultimatum to the former which
was deliberating on the issue in New Delhi to decide fast or face the

He has also time and again reiterated that the JMM with 12 MLAs in the
assembly was still a part of the NDA. The BJP, on the other hand, has
welcomed the support of the JMM in the first government of Jharkhand with
speculations that Soren's son Durga Soren might be offered the deputy CM's
seat in a bid to appease the party.

Significantly, Soren's spirits appeared high despite the recent order of
the special CBI court to register fresh cases of corruption against the
four JMM MPs involved in the infamous JMM bribery case. The JMM leader is
also an accused in the Shashinath murder case. Soren, however, rejects the
chargesheets against him, saying that "nothing has been proved as yet."

Meanwhile, rallyists from various parts of Jharkhand, West Bengal and
Orissa, who started arriving in the Jharkhand capital since Saturday, lay
virtual siege to the town, occupying every nook and corner right from the
railway station to the venue.

#4. Arundhati questions SC verdict on dam

NEW DELHI: Noted writer and anti-Narmada project activist Arundhati Roy
has questioned the Supreme Court judgement allowing the construction of
the Sardar Sarovar dam saying the apex court's ruling in a way gave
approval to "flouting" of all established norms.

"This is not an argument on emotion or moral issue but till date the
entire system has been flouted. No survey or evaluation was made and the
Supreme Court says go ahead," Roy said and stated that the lone
"dissent" of Justice S P Bharucha also exposed these lapses.

Interacting with a group of PTI journalists here, Roy asked, "is this the
way a country like India ought to be run."

"What sort of a precedent is being set? It is like taking the Indian map
and throwing darts without bothering about the environmental damage," she

An anguished Roy alleged that no evaluation of the project cost,
mitigation steps for ecological damage, number of people affected nor
actual benefit accrued had been made while in the name of clearance one
singular thing done was a "simple note from the prime minister saying a
river valley project may be discussed."

Visibly upset with the judgement, the Booker Prize winner said, "in
retrospect it is easy to say that it was not wise to go to the court. But
in 1994, may be it was strategically important to move the court of law."

Asked what future course of action the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) could
undertake, Roy said a number of options were open.

"One of them could be approaching President K R Narayanan and the other
could be filing a writ or review petition," she noted.

Answering a question, on how the president could intervene, she said, "I
really don't know. In fact, all of us should do our bit and I believe the
president can do the most."

Recording her deep appreciation of Narayanan, the celebrated writer
quipped "of all the public figures in the country today, Narayanan, I
find, is the only person with the sign of statesmanship."

To another question about reports of NBA leader Medha Patkar setting up a
suicide squad to oppose the dam construction, Roy said in a situation like
this when millions of people were pushed to the wall and their very
existence appeared at stake, possibly there were only two options -- "the
Gandhian way or the Veerappan option."

However, she hastened to add "but I cannot comment on what Medha should do
as I am not in a position to suggest anything better. I have thought about
it (suicide squad) a lot. My position is that I can't take a
position," the writer-activist quipped. PTI

#5. Jethmalani wants NJC be pursued vigorously

NEW DELHI: The former law minister Ram Jethmalani has said in his new book
that the government should set up of a national judicial commission
(NJC) and entrust it with some exclusive powers in appointment, transfer
and removal of the judges of high courts and Supreme Court.

``While I was in the office, I had already initiated the preparation of
the necessary legislation and a suitable cabinet note. I hope, this will
be vigorously pursued,'' he said in his new book Big Egos, Small Men,
slated for release on Monday.

He said the Constitution-makers, in their anxiety to preserve the
independence of superior judges, introduced an extremely cumbersome method
of removing them from office called a motion of impeachment. ``It is so
cumbersome that it is virtually useless,'' he added.

Outlining the possible composition of the NJC, the former law minister
said, ``The government, the leader of the Opposition, the judiciary, the
academic world, the legal profession and important social elements will
have to be represented on the commission.''

However, ``What causes me grave concern is the law ministry's hunger for
harmony with the judges. I have a feeling that the senior sitting judges
will be opposed to this measure. Apart from the power and patronage that
the present system vests in the judges, judges by temperament are
status-quoists,'' Jethmalani explains.

Referring to the NDA's election promise to set up an NJC, he said, ``If
they strongly show their displeasure, shall we renege on our solemn
promise to the people of India?''

This is a troublesome question, he writes, ``which our Prime Minister will
have to tackle after he is restored to health. I must warn him that the
chief justice (of India) has in his public pronouncement opposed the idea
of a national judicial commission. It is a mystery where the

#6. Sonia Gandhi lambasts RSS for disrupting communal harmony
HT Correspondent
(Kanpur, October 22)

CONGRESS PRESIDENT Sonia Gandhi yesterday launched a blistering attack on
the RSS for disrupting communal harmony in the country.

The Congress president also accused Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee,
Home Minister L.K Advani and UP Chief Minister R.P. Gupta of taking orders
from the RSS to run the government.

Addressing a huge gathering at historic Phool Bagh grounds, which
witnessed resurgence of the Congress in 1978, Mrs Gandhi was extremely
harsh on Sangh Parivar for communalising the governmental apparatus.

She said that the NDA Government had been toeing the RSS line and neither
the Prime Minister nor the Home Minister had courage to defy its

"The situation had reached such a pass that "they had to give
clarification about their attachment to the organisation, which was
responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi," Mrs Gandhi pointed
out, adding that it was indeed a matter of concern that Mr Advani had been
comparing the RSS with the Mahatma.

The crowd cheered Mrs Gandhi as she carried on her tirade against the
Sangh Parivar during 30-minute speech. The UPCC had made hectic
preparations for the success of the rally and the efforts paid off well as
the ground was packed to the capacity.

The party leaders were enthused over the large participation from minority
community, which has of late been vociferously targeted by the Samajwadi

Calling the receptive gathering to stand up and fight against the communal
forces, the Congress president said "grave danger is looming large over
the country because of these forces".

Assailing the UP Government of propping up communal forces Mrs Gandhi said
they were more interested in targeting a particular community than to work
for the development of the state.

Mrs Gandhi called upon the party leaders to "stop groupism" and come
forward to fight against these forces as no other political formation was
in a position to take them on in the state.

Without naming the Samajwadi Party, she said some parties had been
claiming to fight against communal forces but in essence they were
propping up because "communalism and casteism" both were dangerous to the

Mrs Gandhi also referred to the industrial problems of the city, which has
lost relevance in the industrial world.

She said that the people of the city should recognise as who cheated
them. Mrs Gandhi said privatisation of the PSUs by the NDA Government at a
throwaway price had exposed their mental bankruptcy on economic front and
"the government has been making mockery of social justice," she rued.

Mrs Gandhi said that the UP Government is embodiment of "corruption and
lawlessness". The ministers were more interested to protect their chair
than to serve the people, she said.

Touching the state issues, she said even criminals, being patronised by
the ministers, were attacking the police and power supply situation had
reached its nadir.

Mrs Gandhi said when the UP Government was not in a position to disburse
wages to the employees how it could take developmental work. She said the
BJP just to remain in power had been appeasing the allies, which had no
concern for the people.

Mrs Gandhi was earlier warmly greeted by senior party leader Sri Prakash
Jaiswal, Salman Khurshid, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Mohsina Kidwai, Promod
Tiwari and Abdul Mannan.

#7. Hidden agenda in CPM call
HT Correspondent
(Thiruvananthapuram, October 22)

UNION RURAL Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu today said that the
Communist Party of India-Marxist's call for a third alternative has a
hidden agenda.

He said the CPM has always acted wrongly and repented later. It is ironic
that a party that has no scope to come anywhere near the Centre is now
debating about participating in a Central Government.

"So I see a hidden agenda behind this special conference. It is an attempt
to wean away smaller parties because it has realised that the BJP is going
to rule the country for another four years," he said.

Mr Surjeet Singh has accepted the fact that his party cannot join hands
with the Congress openly because of strong opposition from Kerala and
Bengal units. He wanted to raise a bogus platform in the name of the
'Third Front' and so that later he could join hands with the Congress, he

"The Communists have lost international status long back and now it has
lost its national party status and soon it will lose its regional status
too," he remarked.

When asked about the serious charges against Information and Technology
Minister Pramod Mahajan he said no Minister is involved in any scam.

"The concerned company has gone on record that Mr Mahajan and his family
members withdrew their equity long back."

However when confronted with definite information in this regard the
minister declined to elaborate further.

#8. BJP indulging in horse trading, causing defection: Jogi

New Delhi

The Congress on Monday condemned the BJP for "horse trading and purchase
of MLAs" and the use of money and power in Goa and said it would adhere
only to democratic traditions.

"Those who claim high moral values are indulging in horse trading, causing
defections and trying to attain power at any cost", Congress Spokesman
Ajit Jogi said here.

"In their lust for power, they have created instability in the State and
destroyed the people's mandate. The blame lies entirely with the communal
and fascist BJP," he said.

What is happening in Goa is the best example of the BJP's claim to high
moral values, he said. It is ridiculous that the 10-member BJP is trying
to capture power in the State, he said.

Except for Gujarat the BJP has no mandate to rule. But that party can
stoop to any level to grab power, he said.

He wanted to know from where the VHP and Sangh Pariwar were getting
money. Those who plead for Swadeshi were depending on foreign money and
these money sources should be probed, he said.

Asked whether there would be defections in Chattisgarh, Mr Jogi said the
Congress has the strength of 50 MLAs including two independents there and
they were standing united like the Himalaya.

Replying to a question on the series of letters being sent on the
organisational elections by Mr Jitendra Prasada Mr Jogi said any Congress
worker can fight for any post in the party. "There is no bar legally and
physically on any post", he said.

Congress is a democratic party and there is full internal democracy, he
said. Congress is the only party which has central and provincial election
authorities to ensure impartial, free and fair elections and elections are
being held accordingly, he said.

End of India Network News Digest

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