September 27, 1998

A right step in democracy - Laloo
New Delhi - Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo and former Bihar Chief Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav is here to thank President K R Narayanan for rejecting the recommendation of the Union Cabinet to dismiss the Rabri Devi Government in Bihar. He told reporters that the decision of the President was not only a right step in democracy but it was the victory of the people who were opposed to the `undemocratic imposition’ Article 356 on the States. He said the peaceful struggle for peace, and development would continue and his party would put up a struggle against conservative forces, price rise, adulteration and division of Bihar.

Chautala warns against scrapping Article 356
Chandigarh - All India National Lok Dal today threw its weight behind Article 356 of the Constitution to prevent `balkanisation’ of the country. If the Article 356 was scrapped, India would break up like the erstwhile Soviet Union, Haryana Lok Dal opposition leader Om Prakash Chautala warned here.  Talking to newsmen, the former Chief Minister, however, said his party was against misuse of the Article to achieve political mileage.  "If the Article is removed, the political process will freeze in the State as is happening in Haryana,’’ he cautioned. Supporting the Article, the opposition leader said the framers of the Indian Constitution had incorporated this provision deliberately.  "Otherwise we would have witnessed a lot of chaos,’’ claimed Mr Chautala whose party is supporting the BJP-led Government at the Centre.

Thakre meets Jayalalitha
Madras - Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Kushabhau Thakre called on All-India Anna DMK (AIADMK) general secretary J Jayalalitha and discussed the political situation in the country. Thakre, after holding discussions with her for about 35 minutes at her Poes Garden residence, told newsmen that the meeting was very cordial and he was very happy. Thakre was meeting Jayalalitha for the first time after he succeeded  L K Advani as the BJP president.  He said the AIADMK’s demand for the dismissal of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Government did not figure in the discussions. Replying to a question, he said the AIADMK’s support to the BJP- led coalition Government continued.

ULFA leader shot dead
Guwahati - The surrender process of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) received a serious jolt when the ULFA militants assassinated its main architect Rishiraj Sinha last night in the outskirt of the Guwahati city. The controversial leader was the brain behind the recent surrender of more than 190 ULFA militants to the Army, official sources confirmed. Last night as he was driving off in his Maruti van, Rishiraj Sinha alias Anjan Jyoti Gogoi, was fired upon by the motorcycle-borne ULFA militants with automatic weapons. He died on the spot. Sinha had openly fought with ULFA chairman Aurobindo Rajkhowa.  Criticising the ULFA’s policy through newspaper, he had moved closer to the Army to facilitate the surrender of the militants. Sinha had opposed a number of policies of the organisation and was the only one to attack the leadership through newspapers.

Badal wants Article 356 scrapped
Moga - Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, would continue its campaign to scrap Article 356 of the Constitution. "This Article for dismissing a democratically-elected Government need to be removed so that it is not misused,’’ he told reporters at the nearby Dina Sahib. Asked to comment on the Centre’s attempt to the invoke Article in Bihar, he said: "my party’s stand has been vindicated.’’

Sikhs must become amritdhari - Tohra
Patiala -  Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee [SGPC]desires that its members and their families should be "baptised Sikhs" by April next year for the success of the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa. It also appeals to the members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) including its office-bearers, ministers, MLAs and members of their families to undergo initiation ceremony of the Khalsa and make real contribution to the celebrations. SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra said that earlier he had made a verbal appeal to the members of the religious and political organisations of the Sikhs and given a call to that effect in public rallies, but now the SGPC had decided to write to every member to become baptised Sikhs along with their families. Members of other religions were excluded, he clarified. This call for administering amrit (consecrated water given to drink for Khalsa initiation ceremony) is the latest announcement by the SGPC in its run-up to 300th anniversary celebrations of birth of Khalsa. Already, work is in progress for projects like construction of memorials and museum about Sikh history, the tallest Nishan Sahib, wildlife sanctuary parks and welcome gates at Anandpur Sahib, desire for becoming "Amritdhari" was aired by many leaders in their speeches. But, so far, there was no written call from the SGPC. Tohra also disclosed that not only the members of the ‘SGPC’ and the ‘Akali Dal [Badal]’ but all heads of state or district boards, corporations and committees, who were Sikhs would also be urged to become "Amritdharis".  Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee would also direct its staff on the launching of Amrit Sanchar programmes, "Kirtan Darbars", Dhadi darbars and organise Dastar Bandi (turban tying) competitions in their respective areas. The SGPC is writing these letters as many Sikh youths were clipping hair and few were following the Sikh "maryada". Even family members of many leaders and ministers were not adhering to the tradition, it was reliably learnt. Tohra said that the SGPC was equally worried about the increase in drug addiction among youths, particularly the Sikhs. 

September 28, 1998
Minorities Commission condemns rape of nuns
New Delhi - India’s National Commission for Minorities has strongly condemned the alleged rape of four nuns at Bhandaria village in Jharva district of Madhya Pradesh on September 23. "Such ghastly crimes are a disgrace for the nation and make us hang our heads in shame,’’ said NCM chairman Tahir Mahmood in a press statement. Professor Mahmood added that the NCM did receive a complaint by fax in this regard from a prominent all- India Christian organisation. "Finding it to be a case of wild abuse of basic human rights and militancy against women’s right to modesty, rather than violation of minority rights, I forwarded it with a request for immediate action to the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Women,’’ Professor Mahmood said. The Madhya Pradesh Government "must move into swift action treating this case as a test for its genuine commitment to protection of humanitarian values and human rights,’’ the NCM chairman said.

Advani justifies Cabinet resolution on Bihar
Jaipur - Indian Union Home Minister L K Advani justified the Cabinet recommendation for dismissal of the Rabri Devi Government in Bihar, saying that Bihar was a model of the worst sort of government. Inaugurating the BJP State unit’s political convention here today, Mr Advani said the Cabinet decided not to press the matter in order to respect the President’s will. Mr Advani said the non-BJP parties rallied behind the Rabri Devi Government merely to oppose the BJP. He said the party would initiate a national debate on Article 356. The BJP had been strictly against misuse of Article 356. However, after a thorough consideration, the party felt that Bihar was an absolutely fit case for invoking the Article. Referring to the Congress, he said the party which had resolved not to support or encourage casteist politics at its Panchmarhi conclave also sided with the RJD. He said the BJP would expose the parties which supported the RJD Government.

Opposition demands probe into corruption charges against Sharif
Islamabad - Pakistani Opposition parties today demanded that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif be investigated following a report in a British newspaper which accused him of tax evasion and siphoning millions of dollars from his country’s coffers into personal bank accounts. ``Mr Sharif is corrupt and should be thrown out of power,’’ Mr Munawar Hasan, general secretary of the opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami, told AP. "After this report the Prime Minister should resign, otherwise people will throw him out and take back every penny he plundered from the national wealth,’’ he said. The Observer, a British Sunday newspaper, had quoted a report prepared by the Pakistani Federal Investigation agency which said the Sharif family was involved in tax evasion, loan defaults and "phantom’’ bank accounts.

BJP calls for national debate on  Article 356
New Delhi - BJP advocated a nationwide debate on whether Article 356 of the Constitution should be retained. Making this proposal here, party general secretary M. Venkaiah Naidu, MP, however, declined to comment on the President’s communique seeking fresh details on the Cabinet recommendation seeking imposition of President’s rule in Bihar. He accused Opposition parties hailing the President’s action of  "adopting double standards’’. Replying to questions, Mr Naidu hinted at "further action’’ by the Government. He, however, wanted newsmen to "wait and watch’’. He reiterated the party’s stand that this controversial Article has "no meaning’’ if it cannot be used in case of a "constitutional breakdown’’. "People of Bihar will suffer for non-application of Article 356 in Bihar,’’ he said.  "The Laloo-Rabri Government has no moral and constitutional right to continue in office.’’ The people have to face this anarchic government for some time to come, he added.

Projects affected by political interference - Hegde
Bangalore - Political and bureaucratic interferences have bogged down projects worth Rs 1,30,000 crores leading to heavy outgo of amount as interest besides the country getting a ‘black tag’ in the international arena, Union Commerce Minister Ramakrishna Hegde said today. Inaugurating the first-ever cargo centre for perishables in the south, built at a cost of Rs 2.50 crores at the airport here, he said Non Resident Indians and foreign investors were losing faith in India. If the ‘black cloud’ was to clear, it was necessary for the Government and officials to ensure completion of projects within the stipulated time. Mr Hegde, while praising Mysore Sales International Limited and Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority for their spontaneous response and completing the project within six months, said thousands of crores of rupees were being paid as interest due to the delay and keeping the projects on the pipeline.

Badal for seat-sharing with BJP for Assembly poll
Moga -  Punjab Chief Minister and Akali Dal (Badal) president Parkash Singh Badal has said that his party would enter into a seat-sharing agreement with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the coming Assembly elections in Delhi and Rajasthan. Talking to reporters here last evening, Mr Badal said negotiations were on with its coalition partner at the Centre.  "During the last elections we had made a similar request (on seat-sharing) which did not work out. This time we are hopeful that something positive will happen,’’ he said. Delhi and Rajasthan are among four states that go to polls on November 25. When asked about the number of seats his party would demand in the two states, the Akali leader said: "We are yet to finalise a poll strategy.’’

September 29, 1998

Senators not for lifting sanctions against India
Washington - U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms and two other Senators have opposed the idea of lifting of sanctions and restrictions on export of high-technology goods to India in return for New Delhi’s acceptance of several arms control measures, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In joint letter to President Bill Clinton, they expressed their concern at the recent press reports, indicating that the administration was negotiating such a deal with India. They drew attention to a wire service report saying that the administration was in the closing stages of negotiating a deal under which the U.S. would make these concessions, and in return India would agree to sign the CTBT, accept some unspecified restraints on fissile material production, "commit itself not to export any sensitive nuclear or missile technology and agree not to openly deploy nuclear weapons, although it could make and store them.’’

Iran gears up for another war games on Afghan border
Tehran - Iran stepped up its war rhetoric by sending more troops along its eastern border with Afghanistan, the official Islamic republic news agency reported yesterday. Some 200,000 troops are to take part in war games, codenamed Zulfaqar 2, which are to begin within the next few days, the agency said. It said Iran will use Katyusha rockets for the first in the manoeuvres which are to take place in a 50,000-square km area. The Taliban religious army, which rules about 90 per cent of Afghanistan, says it has moved 20,000 troops to the border in response to Iran’s war games. The manoeuvres come amid rising tensions between Iran and Afghanistan’s Taliban militia over last month’s slaying of nine Iranian diplomats and a journalist by Taliban fighters.

Chinese courts execute eight
Beijing - Courts in two Chinese cities have executed eight people, one of them a 19-year-old who stole 60 yuan (seven dollars), a human rights group reported today. After a mass sentencing rally yesterday, the Nine Dragon hill district court in south-western Chongqing city ordered seven people immediately taken out and shot, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre of Human Rights and Democratic Movement reported. The group said it learned of the executions from Xu Wanping, a dissident who spent eight years in prison for taking part in the 1989 democracy movement. Mr Xu reportedly said all district courts in Chongqing held rallies yesterday and about 50 people may have been executed. The information centre provided no other details about the 19-year-old and did not mention the crimes of the other six executed.

BJP asks President to break his ‘silence’ on Bihar
Patna - Bharatiya Janata Party national vice-president Kailashpati Mishra today said President K.R.Narayanan’s "silence’’ over the situation prevailing in Bihar could lead to civil war in the State. Talking to newsmen here today, Mr Mishra urged the President to make public the report of State Governor S S Bhandari on the Bihar situation. Reiterating that there was a total constitutional breakdown in the State and demanding invocation of Article 356, Mr Mishra said the Governor had discharged his duty by submitting the report to the President. He said the Governor was being abused inside and outside the State Assembly by the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal, the effigies of the Prime Minister, Union Ministers and the State Governor were being burnt, and the Assembly adopted a resolution condemning the Governor for recommending imposition of President’s rule. Mr Mishra sought to know from the President whether it was not his responsibility to provide protection to the Governor.

Congress hits out at VHP, Bajrang Dal
New Delhi - Indian Congress has charged the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal with launching organised attacks on institutions of a particular community at different places and said these organisations were engaged in anti-Hindu activities. Speaking to reporters, Congress spokespersons Girija Vyas and Ajit Jogi said they were shocked to read the statement of Vishwa Hindu Parishad central secretary B L Sharma justifying the atrocities in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh and describing it as an expression of anger against anti-national forces. They said the Hindu religion taught respect to other religions, religious tolerance and brotherhood, but the acts of the RSS-outfits were totally against these teachings. They wanted the Central and State governments to take action against these elements.

Advani promises probe into attack on missionaries
New Delhi - India’s Union Home Minister L K Advani during a meeting with the Archbishop of  Delhi and other senior bishops here today promised a high-level inquiry into the recent attacks on missionaries and institutions, including the rape of nuns in Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh. Auxiliary Bishop of Delhi, Vincent Concessao, said at a press conference that Mr Advani expressed sympathy with the community and promised to do something about the recurrent attacks on institutions of a particular community. Mr John Dayal of the All-India Catholic Union, who was a part of the delegation, said Mr Advani directed Home Secretary B P Singh to liaise with the State Governments to conduct a high-level inquiry into certain incidents mentioned in a memorandum presented to him by Archbishop of Delhi and president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Alan De Lastic.

BJP disagrees with VHP remarks on rape incident
New Delhi - The Bharatiya Janata Party today distanced itself from the statements of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisations by stating that the party condemned the incident of rape of nuns in Jhabua and accused the State Government of trying to shield ‘Congressmen’ involved in the crime. BJP spokesman Venkaiah Naidu told newsmen that the BJP did not agree with the statement of VHP which stated that the rape incident was an offshoot of conversions. He said Congress should not forget the misdeeds of its partymen against women and cited the incidents of Sarla Mishra and Nina Sahni where the perpetrators of the crime belonged to Congress. "They certainly can’t make allegations against BJP and should ask the Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh Government to take action against the culprits who were known supporters of the party.

Extension to Puran Chand Dogra challenged
Chandigarh -  The Additional Director-General of Punjab Police (Security),  Sarabjit Singh has filed a petition in the Central Administrative Tribunal contesting the six months’ extension in service given to Puran Chand Dogra, Director-General of Punjab Police. Mr Dogra had retired from service on attaining superannuation on April 30. The state government had granted him six months’ extension till September 30. Since extension beyond six months was not within the competence of the state government, it had referred the case to the Centre for further extension beginning September 30. The Central Government accepted the recommendations of the state government and okayed the extension in service for a further period of six months.

Wadala, Rode, Mann may forge front for Adampur byelection
Amritsar - Even as the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by Simranjit Singh Mann has decided to field its candidate for the byelection of Adampur scheduled to be held on November 25, efforts are afoot to forge an alliance of the SAD (Democratic) led by Kuldip Singh Wadala, SAD (Panthic), Jasbir Singh Rode, the Rashtriya Loktantrik Morcha (RLM) and SAD (Mann) against the ruling SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress. Although the efforts of forging a political alliance of the above parties could not bear fruit in the previous elections, yet these are considered like-minded parties in political circles. Apart from this, the political circumstances ma force these parties to review the political algebra in the prevailing conditions. Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has announced that his party would field a strong candidate in the forthcoming byelection of Adampur which was necessitated with the death of SAD MLA Sarup Singh. Bhai Ram Singh said the SAD (Badal) had no moral right to field its candidate as it had lost the faith of the electorate. Since most of the promises made by the SAD-BJP before the previous general election had not yet been realised, the electorates was feeling disillusioned, he added. It is pertinent to mention here that Mulayam Singh Yadav, president of the RLM, was received by  Kuldip Singh Wadala, president SAD (Democratic) at Jalandhar railway station on his way to Amritsar and Yadav, too, had expressed willingness to share the political stage with  Wadala. On the other hand, the Congress, BSP, CPI and CPM have been staging common protest rallies at the district level against the rise in prices of different commodities and non-fulfilment of the promises made by SAD-BJP to the electorate. Efforts are afoot to forge the political alliance among these parties to defeat the ruling SAD-BJP alliance in the byelections. The issues which would dominate the byelection include the unprecedented price rise of various commodities, hike in power tariff and bus fares, non-abolition of octroi posts, corruption etc.

SAD-BJP have no differences - BJP leader
Hoshiarpur - Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, Punjab, said there were no differences between the SAD and the BJP on the issue of Udham Singh Nagar. Talking to mediapersons here, he hoped that this issue would be settled amicably. Referring to the Adampur constituency byelection, he said the SAD and the BJP would work jointly for the success of the SAD nominee. He added that the controversy relating to the Sikh high priests would not disturb peace in the state. He directed the field staff of the Municipal Corporations and the Municipal Councils in the state to display identity cards while on duty. All officers of these departments in future would have to stay at their places of posting. He said the government was ready to privatise sanitation in the state. Income of all Municipal Corporations and Municipal Councils was likely to be increased by 30 to 35 per cent during the year, he added. Referring to the pen-down strike by the Punjab Ministerial Services Union, he said it was totally illegal. The state government employees were already drawing maximum salaries as compared to that of the neighbouring states, he said, and appealed to the employees of the Ministerial services to end the agitation. 

September 30, 1998
Bill Clinton visit to South Asia postponed
Washington D.C. - US President Bill Clinton has postponed his planned visit to South Asian countries—India, Pakistan and Bangladesh—in November this year. In a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed on Wednesday, Clinton expressed regret that he and his wife were unable to accept her invitation to visit Bangladesh in November. US ambassador to Bangladesh, John Holzman, disclosed this at a press briefing at the national press club. In his letter, President Clinton made it clear that the trip to South Asia was postponed because consultations with India and Pakistan on non-proliferation issues had not reached a stage where a visit to the region could be productive. Clinton, however, said progress was being made in the talks and hoped the situation would permit him to schedule a visit to South Asia next year. At the briefing, Holzman disagreed with a suggestion that the Monica Lewinsky affair and elections to the Congress, scheduled for November, prompted the decision to put off the visit. Earlier, White House press secretary Mike McCurry, speaking to reporters about reports that Clinton would drop India and Pakistan from his itinerary, said: "I don’t have any reason to dispute that.’’ McCurry said Clinton would go ahead with his original plan to attend an Asia pacific economic conference meeting in Malaysia in mid-November. Jimmy Carter was the last American President to visit India in 1978. A planned trip by President George Bush was cancelled because of the Gulf war.

Akali Dal totally opposed to President’s rule in Bihar
New Delhi - Akali Dal [Badal],  coalition constituent of the A B Vajpayee government, on Wednesday made it clear that it is totally opposed to imposition of President’s rule in Bihar under any circumstances, ruling out any compromise on use of Article 356 of the Constitution for the purpose. "Our position is clear. We are opposed to use of Article 356 under any circumstances. We have already taken a stand on the issue and we will stand by it," Union minister and senior Akali Dal leader Surjit Singh Barnala said.  Barnala was replying to questions on the Akali Dal’s stand if the Union Cabinet decided to send the recommendation for dismissing the Rabri Devi government to President K R Narayanan once again.  Barnala said no decision has been taken with regard to sending the recommendation back to the President and that "we are all awaiting the arrival of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee". The Union Cabinet is expected to meet and possibly consider the issue, soon after his return from a eight-day visit to the United States and France. Barnala parried questions on whether his party subscribed to the BJP’s repeated assertions that Bihar is a fit case for imposing President’s rule. He also declined to answer questions whether he was satisfied with the law and order situation in the state saying his party would not like to go into these specifics.

BJP Government has no plan to review Cabinet decision on Bihar - Advani
New Delhi - Indian Home minister L K Advani said on Wednesday that the government has at present no plan to review the Cabinet decision on Bihar. His assertion comes in the wake of reports appearing in a section of the press that the government was thinking of approaching the President once again for dismissal of the Bihar government. "There is no move at present to review the Cabinet decision on Bihar taken on Friday last,’’ he said. The Cabinet had decided to close the issue after President K R Narayanan returned its recommendation for dismissal of the state government and keep the Assembly in suspended animation. Referring to his meeting with the President, Advani said it was a ‘’courtesy call’’.

Foreign missionaries should leave the India -  VHP
New Delhi - The Hindu Fanatic Group - Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Wednesday said that the foreign missionaries should quit the country. The VHP said that these missionaries were resented since they were converting Hindus. The VHP, however, strongly condemned the rape of nuns in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh and clarified that it never sought to justify the ‘’dastardly act.’’ VHP general secretary Giri Raj Kishore said that the assault of the nuns was ‘’purely a criminal case’’ which was being given ‘’communal projection.’’ Referring to the statement of VHP leader B L Sharma on the incident, Giri Raj Kishore said the former MP from east Delhi was perhaps not aware of the facts of the assault. He, however, maintained that Sharma did not justify the criminal attack. On the allegations against the VHP, he said the parishad had no presence in Jhabua which had predominantly Christian population. Even the bishops’ delegation which met Home minister L K Advani on Tuesday did not blame the Hindus or the VHP, he said. On the reported statement of Madhya Pradesh director general of police that the nuns had no business to stay alone, he said it was the duty of police to provide security to every citizen. The assault was due to the dereliction of duty on the part of police, Giri Raj Kishore said. He said these missionaries were widespread in north east and they will not be tolerated anymore. Referring to recent communal incidents in Gujarat, he alleged that media was projecting only one side of these. For instance, it was never clarified that the incidents in Vadodra were a sequel to the disfiguring of a hanuman idol, he said.

Iran denies links with Bin Laden
Tehran - Iran denied it had any ties with Saudi dissident Osama Bin Laden who is accused of ordering the bomb attacks on American embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania last month. Iran’s permanent mission at the United Nations issued a statement saying the U.S. government had lodged a complaint at a New York court accusing Iran of having "concluded an accord with Bin Laden’s group to organise anti-American activities." The mission said Washington has charged that one Mahmoud Salem, presently serving time in Germany, had links with Iran and Bin Laden, the official Iranian news agency Irna reported, reports AFP.  The agency did not reveal Salem’s nationality or the reason he was jailed. The mission said it "categorically denies any link, cooperation or accord with Bin Laden and those close to him." Iran "does not tolerate terrorists using its soil for planning, launching or financing terrorist operations against other countries," it said. Bin Laden is now in exile in Afghanistan, sheltered by the extremist Sunni Muslim Taliban militia, which is opposed by Shiite Muslim Iran.

Two sisters raped, sister-in-law stripped amid Dogra’s extension controversy
Ajnala (Amritsar) - While Punjab Police chief Puran Chand Dogra is fighting tooth and nail against the petition challenging extension given to him by the State and Central governments,  a minor girl, aged 15, and her elder sister (22) have been raped while their sister-in-law was stripped naked at Mukam village in this subdivision by the three accused who are in their early twenties. Before committing the heinous crime the three youths incapacitated their brother and father by seriously injuring them. According to Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu, district police chief, Majitha, the three culprits knew the rape victims personally. That is why one of the victims identified all the three in the presence of the police. The incident occurred at midnight when the victims were sleeping. After entering their house, they allegedly attacked the brother and father of the girls. Their sister-in-law was stripped naked so that she would not seek help from the villagers. Mr Sidhu further said that though one of the victims who lodged the FIR did not mention the names of the culprits, her sister (another rape victim) identified them in the presence of the police. The assailants also injured the girls before fleeing. The three were arrested as blood spots of human beings were seen on their clothes. The three accused have been identified as Baljinder Singh alias Balla, Baldev Singh alias Raju and Rawel Singh, all residents of Kamalpura village, which is only about 2 km from Mukam, the site of the crime. The two rape victims, their sister-in-law, brother and father have been rushed to Guru Nanak Hospital.

Dogra case: Punjab reply sought in a week
Chandigarh -  The local Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal today directed the Union and the Punjab Governments to file a reply within seven days to an application moved jointly by three Additional Directors-General of Punjab Police assailing the second six month extension in service granted to Mr P.C. Dogra, Director-General of Police. The three ADGPs are Mr Sarabjit Singh, Mr Jarnail Singh Chahal and Mr Mehal Singh Bhullar. Justice R.K. Nehru and Mr S.C. Vaish, vice chairman and administrative member of the tribunal, who delivered this order, adjourned the case to October 16. While Mr Mehant Gupta, Additional Advocate-General, received notice for the Punjab Government, Mr Surya Kant Sharma accepted the notice on Mr Dogra’s behalf. The applicants stated that all of them were in the rank of ADGPs and were within the zone of consideration for promotion to the post of DGP. They added that earlier Mr Dogra had moved an application in the tribunal for the change of his date of birth at the fag end of his career. The tribunal had dismissed this application with the observation: "Finding that the service career was coming to end, he started the construction of an edifice for seeking a change in the date of birth in his record. We have examined his service record and we, with a heavy heart, bring it on record that the stand taken by the applicant through his counsel is not only factually incorrect but a deliberate act of misrepresentation...." The applicants stated that when Mr Dogra failed to get his date of birth changed, the Punjab Government granted him an extension in service for six months from April 1, 1998. Even before Mr Dogra retired, the Punjab Government moved a proposal to the Union Government for a further extension beyond September 30. This proposal was rejected by the Centre. They told the court that notwithstanding the Centre’s rejection of the proposal the Punjab Government moved another application for the grant of an extension in service to Mr Dogra beyond  September 30. They claimed that in the meantime, the Union Government amended the all-India service rules which laid down that an officer shall retire with effect from the afternoon of the last day of the month in which he attains the age of 60 years. The rules further laid down that a member of the service "dealing with Budget work or working as a full-time member of a committee which is to be wound up within a short period may be given extension in service for a period not exceeding three months in public interest, with the prior approval of the Central Government".

Ministerial staff block traffic
Bathinda -  Hundreds of activists of different ministerial staff unions today blocked traffic for about an hour near the bus stand here in support of their demands. Despite the threat of no work, no pay by the Punjab Government, the activists today observed a complete strike and government offices wore a deserted look. Earlier, addressing a rally, the leader of Common Action Committee, Mr Harminder Singh Dhillon, alleged that the authorities concerned were deliberately delaying the implementation of their "accepted" demands. Mr Kamal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC, said the state government was suffering heavy losses due to no sale of stamp papers. He said people had started buying the stamp papers from Sirsa district of Haryana.

Pleas on People’s Commission allowed
Chandigarh - The Punjab and Haryana High Court allowed the applications moved by Mr S.S. Sood, a Jalandhar-based advocate, and Mr Justice Ajit Singh Bains and Mr R.N. Kumar, Chairman and Convener of the Committee for Coordination on Disappearance in Punjab, respectively, for becoming interveners in a public interest petition filed by Mr Sudershan Goel contesting the constitution of the People’s Commission. This order was delivered by Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Iqbal Singh before whom the petition came up for hearing. The Bench adjourned the case to October 28. The adjournment was given because service of the notice was not effected on the respondents. The People’s Commission was constituted by Justice Kuldip Singh, a former Supreme Court Judge, with Justice D.S. Tewatia, a former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, as Chairman. The petitioner stated that the People’s Commission sat in judgements passed by courts of competent jurisdiction in cases of alleged atrocities during the militancy. This was an attempt to set up a parallel judicial system which might subvert the judicial process as well as cause a serious threat to the country’s survival. He added that the state of Punjab remained a terrorist affected area for more than a decade and the commission’s actions in summoning police officials and other state officials and holding them guilty would have a demoralising effect not only on such officials but also on society at large.
AISSF plea to disband WSC
Chandigarh - All-India Sikh Students Federation today sought disbanding of the controversial World Sikh Council. Addressing a press conference here Harminder Singh Gill, president of the federation, said the council had caused more harm than serving the cause of the Sikh Panth. He said the SGPC was capable of fulfilling all responsibilities with regard to the Khalsa Panth and that there was no need for a new setup. He also appealed to Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SGPC chief, to resolve the ongoing row among the three Sikh head priests. He urged Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister, to pay attention to solving the unemployment problem in the state. He said resentment among youth was growing due to unemployment. 

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