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INDIA-L  October 2000

INDIA-L October 2000


India Network News Digest - October 26 , 2000


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Thu, 26 Oct 2000 10:14:03 -0400





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                                HAPPY DEEPAVALI

India Network News Digest - October 26 , 2000  Volume 12 Issue 186
Brought to you in co-operation with Various News Reports from India
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Today's News Items
#1. Vajpayee's bus trip was premature: Gen Karamat
#2. History will hand Narasimha Rao a harsh sentence
#3. Kesri cremated with full state honours
#4. JMM-S team to discuss CM issue with NDA leaders
#5. Farooq accuses Centre of anti-Kashmir bias
#6. Victims aghast at govt's handling of crisis
#7. Another Sushma, says Mulayam
#8. STD franchisees to be allowed second connection

#1. Vajpayee's bus trip was premature: Gen Karamat

DUBAI: Former Pakistani Army chief Gen Jahangir Karamat has said that
proper groundwork was not done by India and Pakistan before Prime Minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee undertook his historic bus journey to Lahore in
February last year.

''No proper groundwork had been done before the Indian Prime Minister's
Lahore trip. A conducive environment should have been created before such
a visit so that both countries could have developed a proper mutual
understanding,'' said Gen Karamat, at a function organised here on
Wednesday night by the Pakistani Professionals Forum. The general had
resigned as Chief of the Army Staff under pressure from the Nawaz Sharif
government in 1998.

Gen Karamat said that there had never been a real peace initiative in
South Asia. In the absence of a dialogue between the two countries, he
underlined the mportance of ''Track II diplomacy''. He said, ''Track II
diplomacy or people-to-people contact, may not result in peace itself, but
it can help in creating a strong public opinion in favour of peace.''

Striking a positive note, Gen Karamat said the two countries had signed a
number of agreements and also exercised restraint after they became
nuclear powers.

''The Kargil conflict could have resulted in an all-out war and a nuclear
conflict. But that has not been the case. Both the sides exercised
restraint,'' he noted. This, he observed, indicated that the two countries
wanted peace.

Gulf News had quoted Gen Karamat as saying that ''increasing US
involvement in South Asia could have helped and still can help in easing
the relationship between the two countries.'' India, he said, ''feels that
time is on its side. On the other hand, improved Indo-US relations at the
cost of its (New Delhi's) bilateral ties with Pakistan won't help in
achieving peace in South Asia.''

Gen Karamat said the Kashmir issue was not a territorial dispute. It
concerned the people.

Touching upon domestic issues, Gen Karamat said the military regime was
giving thrust to economic development. ''It is really difficult to believe
but the army is really working to restore democracy in Pakistan,'' he

#2. History will hand Narasimha Rao a harsh sentence
HT Correspondent
(New Delhi, October 25)

On Tuesday former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao filed an appeal in the
Delhi High Court against his conviction in the JMM bribery case. A special
judge had given him three years RI, but Rao's appeal was admitted. It is
difficult to say what the courts have in store for Rao. What is certain,
is that no matter what the judge eventually decides, history will hand him
a much harsher sentence.

When special judge Ajit Bharihoke pronounced his verdict at Vigyan Bhawan
on 29th September, Rao became the first Indian Prime Minister ever to be
convicted by a court of law. The pouting former PM had by then been
deserted by almost everyone in the Congress Party. So much so that senior
BJP leaders had started pitying him. The public, however, couldn't have
been blamed for wondering why a conviction hadn't come earlier.

A look at the Narasimha Rao history sheet may make things clearer. The JMM
bribery case came up only because the Opposition was crying foul over the
litany of scandals that had hit what must be the most discredited
government in the history of Independent India.

The Rs 4,000 crore securities scam. Rao's relatives were involved in the
urea scandal. Money was paid, but not an ounce of fertilizer arrived.

There were deals with shady stock-brokers-struck by the PM's son. There
was Rao's own extended liason with Chandraswami-the Godman who's doing all
his praying in criminal courts these days. And Rao, at least in part is
paying today for the company he kept.

The irony is, that it needn't have been this way. He had a weak heart and
was burdedned by advancing years. But a sound mind almost made up for
infirmities when destiny knocked at P V Narasimha Rao's door in the summer
of 1991. An assassin had claimed Rajiv Gandhi.

The Congress needed a leader. Fate smiled on the old man. Rao was in the
office he wouldn't ever have dreamt of occupying in Rajiv's lifetime.

In fact, when the tragedy occurred, he was busy with his retirement
plans. Denied a Lok Sabha nomination, he had almost packed his bags to
return to his village in Andhra.

Instead he went on to rule India. His minority government (the Communists
had no choice but to offer their support from outside) survived, even at a
scam a day for its full five years.

In that time, Rao had perfected the art of survival. He proved that you
could survive in politics even if you didn't have a constituency.

As long as you didn't have a conscience either.

So when that no-trust motion came, an unfazed Rao bought his way through.

Cash and carry politics had arrived in Parliament, possibly to stay. The
law may be gaining on Narasimha Rao. But this old man is in no
hurry. Because the law, to rephrase Rao's favourite refrain, will takes it
own time.

#3. Kesri cremated with full state honours

PATNA: The mortal remains of former Congress president Sitaram Kesri, who
died in New Delhi on Tuesday, were consigned to flames on Thursday with
full state honours.

Santosh Kesri, the veteran leader's grandson, lit the funeral pyre at
Bansghat on the bank of the river Ganga here.

Earlier, his body was brought to Sadaquat Ashram, the Congress state
headquarters here, from his ancestral home in Danapur and kept there for
two hours to enable people pay their last respects.

Several top politicians, including RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, Bihar
ministers S P Tekriwal, Shivanand Tiwari and Ramchandra Purve, besides
Congress leaders Motilal Vora, Mohsina Kidwai, BPCC President Chandan
Bagchi, general secretary Premchandra Mishra and former Bihar chief
minister Jagannath Mishra attended the funeral.

Bihar Assembly Speaker Sadadnand Singh and former Speaker, Radhanandan Jha
were also present.

#4. JMM-S team to discuss CM issue with NDA leaders

RANCHI: A JMM-S delegation left for Delhi on Thursday to impress upon the
NDA leadership its demand for installing party president Sibu Soren as the
first chief minister of Jharkhand, which will formally come into being on
November 15, party leaders said.

"JMM-S will decide its future course of action only after having a word
with the NDA leaders on the chiefministership issue," its MLA Durga Soren
said, adding the delegation will call on NDA convenor and Samata Party
leader George Fernandes on Friday.

JMM-S has been claiming all along that Fernandes, while seeking its
support to help form the Samata Party-led Nitish Kumar government in Bihar
after the Assembly elections earlier this year, had promised that it would
be allowed to head the first interim government in Jharkhand.

Soren claimed that though the BJP has already made it clear that the
interim government will be headed by it, the impressive turnout at JMM's
October 22 rally at Ranchi proved that the people are in favour of Sibu
Soren being made the first chief minister of Jharkhand.

#5. Farooq accuses Centre of anti-Kashmir bias

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah has sparked off
a new controversy by accusing the Centre of nursing an "anti-Kashmir
bias" and declaring that he would "no more take things lying down."

Without actually naming the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) or the BJP-led
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, Abdullah accused them of
patronizing communal forces that had launched a move to divide Jammu
andKashmir into three parts on religious lines. He also said certain
parties were trying to justify Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah's
two-nation theory that "Hindus and Muslims cannot live together."

Abdullah gave vent to his anger Tuesday at a conference of junior forest
officials. He said the "Central government had shown its anti-Kashmir bias
by not clearing the annual plan for Jammu and Kashmir until now." The
Chief Minister was referring to the fact that the Planning Commission had
not yet cleared the allocation of funds for the state government's annual
plan for fiscal 2001-2002.

"What is it? (Either) my government is a non-performing one and theirs is
the most (efficient) one. Our officers are not good, theirs are
brilliant,"Abdullah said while lashing out at the Central government's
policy-makers and bureaucrats who challenged the state government's
requirement of funds and it projected revenue generation during
discussions in Delhi last weekend.

"We raised sales tax revenue from Rs 1 billion to Rs 6 billion. Is this
non-performance?" asked Abdullah, whose National Conference party is a
member of the NDA and his son Omar Abdullah a junior minister in the
Central government.

Abdullah's anger against the Central government has much to do with the
delay in New Delhi clearing the annual plan for 2001-2002 as well as the
rejection of the resolution moved by the state Assembly seeking greater
autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir.

The chief minister ridiculed the demand for the division of the state on
religious lines, saying his National Conference government was committed
to equitable development of the all regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

A section of the Buddhist leadership in Ladakh, the northernmost region of
Jammu and Kashmir, and some Hindus leaders in the Jammu region have
launched a campaign to separate their regions from the Muslim-dominated
Kashmir valley. The leadership of the two regions has accused politicians
from the Kashmir valley of politically marginalizing the Ladakh and Jammu
regions in Jammu and Kashmir, the only state in India to have a Muslim
majority population.

"We are committed to the equitable development of all three regions of the
state," Abdullah said, adding that those raising demands for the division
of the state were "trying to vindicate that the two-nation theory" that
resulted in the partition of India and craving out of the Islamic state of
Pakistan was tenable.

Abdullah's comments, as well as remarks made by his son Omar Abdullah that
the continuation of ties between the National Conference and the NDA would
depend on consideration of the autonomy issue, are indications that a
political storm is brewing in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though the National Conference has only for four parliamentarians in the
LokSabha or lower house of Parliament, its pulling out of the NDA would
mean its distancing from the national mainstream at a time when leaders of
theseparatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir have shown no signs of taking
up New Delhi's offer of peace talks. Such a development could also cause
deepembarrassment to the Central government at this stage as it would lose
a strong pro-India voice in Kashmir, analysts say.

#6. Victims aghast at govt's handling of crisis
By Srinivasa Prasad & M B Maramkal

KADANAHALLI: "Rajkumar is a big man and the government will give Veerappan
anything to get him released but what about people like us?" asks Ajjappa
whose son Rajappa was killed by Veerappan in 1994. "Would the government
have done the same thing if an ordinary villager was kidnapped?" he
asks. "There seems to be no value for a common man's life."

Veerappan and his men killed seven villagers -four men and three children-
of Kadanahalli in early 1994, by beheading some and cutting others to
pieces with a crude sickle, suspecting they had given information to the
police leading to his wife Muthulakshmi's capture a month earlier.

Kadanahalli is a remote village enveloped by forest, 25 km from Kadambur
police station in Tamil Nadu. The brigand killed the villagers when they
went into the forest to graze their cattle.

Giriyamma, whose son Madesh too was killed in the attack, wonders whether
police are sincere at all in capturing Veerappan. Ajjappa suspects that
the police and Veerappan have connived. "Otherwise," he adds, "they would
have caught him long back."

Shivanniah, who escaped Veerappan's attack with a head injury, says he is
too disgusted with the whole kidnap drama to say anything about either the
government or the bandit. His memory of seeing Veerappan killing the seven
people is still photo-fresh.

A man suddenly appeared and told the cowherds that a police officer came
to the village to see them. The unsuspecting villagers accompanied the man
to a secluded place in the forest only to be confronted by Veerappan.

Shivanniah recalls: "Even before we recovered from the horror of seeing
Veerappan, one of his men chopped off the head of Jagga (one of the seven
victims). I ran away and escaped after I was hit on the head with a

The police first didn't believe Shivanniah when he reported the
killings. "The police came to the village three days later when the bodies
were decaying."

"Nobody has been punished even six years after Veerappan killed the seven
people," says Shivanniah. "The police will never catch him." The
government has given Rs 50,000 each to the families of four adults killed
and Rs 25,000 each to the families of the three children killed.

The villagers in the forest seem to be caught between Veerappan on one
side and the police on the other. Shivanniah says: "If we tell the police
anything, Veerappan kills us. If we don't give any information, the police
harass us. How can we do both?"

Before Veerappan struck the villagers, they were tortured by the police
for not saying anything about the brigand's whereabouts. "What is the
difference between Veerappan and the police?" Giriyamma asks. ``Both
victimize us."

"Even now, if we see any footprints in the forest, we fear that they are
Veerappan's," Giriyamma says.

Halagamm is too shocked for words even six years after she lost her young
son Chikkuva, studying in the fifth standard, in the attack. To repeated
questions, she simply turned her head away. Some villagers are angry with
the government, some with Veerappan and some with both.

But the kidnapping of Rajkumar has evoked a lot of sympathy. "Rajkumar is
a nice man and why should he become a victim to the tussle between the
government and Veerappan?" asks Siddesh who runs a roadside tea stall in
Germala on the border between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

#7. Another Sushma, says Mulayam
Rana Ajit/New Delhi

"Rajnath Singh's fate may be similar to that of Ms Sushma Swaraj and Mr
Nitish Kumar", said the Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav,
dismissing the Bharatiya Janata Party's decision to replace Chief Minister
Ram Prakash Gupta as of little significance.

Mr Yadav, talking to The Pioneer on phone from Etawah, also contested the
observation that the BJP's trick would drive the upper castes towards
it. Mr Yadav said, "Beech raaste mein sirf ghora badalne se kya hoga? BJP
ko to pura raasta hi badalna padega, kyonki inhone to rasta hi galat chun
rakha hai. (Merely changing horses midway will not lead the BJP anywhere
as the party has chosen the wrong path. The BJP will have to change the
whole route).

Elaborating further, Mr Yadav added, "Merely changing chief ministers
midway is not going to help the BJP in the forthcoming polls. It requires
to change its entire policy. Owing to its anti-people policies and
mis-governance, there is hardly any section of society in UP, which is not
upset with the BJP."

"Farmers are shot at here for failing to pay lagan (a form of land
revenue). Traders live in fear. Teachers are upset. So are the
students. There is not a single section of the society here, which is not
unhappy due to the misrule in the state," said Mr Yadav, adding that
"last-minute cosmetic changes in the government are not going to yield any

Mr Yadav, who is currently camping in Etawah, lamented that all
developmental activities in the State have come to a standstill owing to
paucity of funds. "The Centre was quick to release funds for states like
Andhra Pradesh and others, which were in a position to arm-twist it. But
it is yet to release a single penny for UP," he added.

Mr Yadav dismissed the popular perception that foisting a Rajput leader as
the state chief minister would severely undermine his party's rising
popularity amongst upper caste voters, specially the Rajputs, which the
Samajwadi Party is perceived to have achieved by projecting and promoting
its general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, Amar Singh as the party's Thakur
leader in the State.

"It's true that we have become more popular amongst Rajputs and other
upper castes owing to Mr Amar Singh, but then, he is not merely a Thakur
leader. He is a leader belonging to the Samajwadi Party and Samajwadi
Party leaders never belong to a single caste or community. They belong to
one and all. Each and every community has equal right over an SP
leader," said Mr Singh.

"Additionally, Mr Rajnath Singh, by no stretch of imagination can be
described as a Rajput leader more prominent than former Prime Ministers V
P Singh or Chandrashekhar. And the combined might of the two had ensured
victory for merely 18 Rajput MLAs in UP in 1989 and that too from those
Assembly segments where the Rajputs voters were a decisive factor," said
Mr Yadav.

"On the contrary, at present we have 19 Rajput MLAs and several Rajput MPs
in the Samajwadi Party. And merely making a Rajput leader UP's chief
minister is not going to make all Rajputs desert us. Those who have sided
with Amar Singh in the past will always side with us," said Mr Yadav.

The SP supremo further said, "though we do not believe in caste politics,
ousting Ram Prakash Gupta too is going to harm the BJP, as making a person
chief minister one day and throwing him out like a peon the next day would
surely anger the people belonging to his community."

#8. STD franchisees to be allowed second connection

Communication Minister Ram Vilas Paswan today said the franchisees of
STD/ISD PCOs will be permitted a second connection at the same location.

The application forms for the new and add-on services will be simplified
by November, 15. Virtual Calling Cards (VCCs) will be available on sale at
shops including chemists in and around hospitals both public and private.

These decisions were taken by the minister at a meeting held yesterday to
review customer care at Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar
Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL).

A second STD/ISD PCO has been permitted with a view to reducing long
waiting time and crowding of the booths specially during concessional
timings in the evenings when the telecommunication traffic is at its
peak. At present there are about seven lakh PCOs including STD/ISD PCOs.

The procedure for allotment of STD/ISD PCOs has already been revised and
simplified. PCOs are now available liberaly to the war widows/dependents,
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, handicapped, ex-servicemen and
educated unemployed persons, besides charitable and educational
Institutions and army establishments.
End of India Network News Digest

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