|T R Ramesh|
|31 Jul 2011|
Continuing her attack against the UPA Government and Congress, the AIADMK on Saturday demanded an explanation from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on charges made by former Telecom Minister A Raja with regard to the 2G spectrum scam of “Himalayan proportions”.
“The Prime Minister and the Home Minister have not given any reply even days after the former Telecom Minister had named them in connection with the scam of Himalayan proportions,” stated a resolution passed at the AIADMK executive council meeting chaired by the party general secretary and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa.
The resolution faulted Gandhi, who is also the UPA chairperson, for not expressing her opinion in this matter. “People have a right to know the truth in this matter. The Executive insists that in deference to people’s views, the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Congress president should immediately reply to Raja’s charges,” the resolution added.
Later, addressing the media, Jayalalithaa said, “It is people’s right to expect a clarification against such allegations, when they are levelled against head of the Government.”
The reaction of the AIADMK follows Raja’s deposition in the Supreme Court that Singh and Chidambaram (as Finance Minister) were aware of the sale of equity by spectrum licensees as it was discussed with them.
The attack on the UPA Government is part of the ADMK’s strategy to lash out at the Centre, as decided by the party chief few days ago.
On Friday, Jayalalithaa had criticised the Communal Violence Bill, to be tabled in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning Monday. One can expect ‘active’ ADMK members in Parliament to join hands with the BJP, Communists and other Opposition parties over these issues.
Raja had lost his post to the 2G scam and he was arrested in the same case. He has been charged with granting mobile network licences and 2G spectrum at throwaway prices to companies not at all eligible to get them.
Some of these companies went on to leverage their licences at huge prices to foreign partners.
In court, Raja denied any crime or conspiracy in the scam.
“Telenor buying a stake in Unitech Wireless and Etisalat buying a stake in DB Realty was totally legal as per the corporate law. The Finance Minister approved the sale in the presence of the PM. Let the Prime Minister deny it… What the telecom companies do after I give them spectrum is not my domain,” Raja had argued in court. Chidambaram has already rubbished the claims of Raja, while Singh has been silent.
Jayalalithaa also elaborated on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue and charged the Centre of not responding to the resolution passed in the Assembly demanding economic sanctions against Sri Lanka.
She noted that the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded more positively to her arguments on Sri Lanka when the two met on July 20.
At the executive meeting, the AIADMK has also sought the rollback of hike in the prices of petrol and diesel. She announced that her party MPs would take up the issue of retrieving the island of Katchatheevu, ceded to Sri Lanka in by Indian in 1974, in the Parliament.
While her party seems to have changed stance strengthening its criticism of the UPA, Jayalalithaa continued with her stance on the Lokpal bill that the Prime Minister should be out of the anti-graft bill. She stressed that if the Prime Minister is brought under the Lokpal ambit, it would undermine the Prime Minister’s authority and lead to formation of a parallel Government. Her view is opposed to that of the DMK which last week passed a resolution asking for the Prime Minister to be included under the Lokpal.
In Pakistan’s Punjab province, the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of a powerful hard-line religious party, seeks to enforce its fundamentalist agenda, intimidating and sometimes attacking students and teachers alike.
After philosophy students and faculty members rallied to denounce heavy-handed efforts to separate male and female students, Islamists on campus struck back: In the dead of night, witnesses say, the radicals showed up at a men’s dormitory armed with wooden sticks and bicycle chains.
They burst into dorm rooms, attacking philosophy students. One was pistol-whipped and hit on the head with a brick. Gunfire rang out, although no one was injured. Police were called, but nearly a month after the attack, no arrests have been made.
Few on Punjab University’s leafy campus, including top administrators, dare to challenge the Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba, or the IJT, the student wing of one of Pakistan’s most powerful hard-line Islamist parties.
At another Lahore campus, the principal disdainfully refers to the Islamists as “a parallel administration.”
The organization’s clout illustrates the deep roots of Islamist extremism in Pakistani society, an influence that extends beyond radical religious schools and militant strongholds in the volatile tribal belt along the Afghan border.
University administrators fear that the IJT’s influence on many campuses will lead to an increase in extremism among the middle class, from which the next generation of Pakistan’s leaders will rise.
“These people have connections with jihadi groups, and they are taking hostage our campuses,” said Sajid Ali, chairman of Punjab University’s philosophy department. “This is a real danger for the future of our country.”
Fellow students and teachers regard them as Islamist vigilantes. In addition to trying to separate the sexes, they order shopkeepers not to sell Coca-Cola or Pepsi because they are American brands. When they overhear a cluster of fellow students debating topics, from capitalism to religion, they demand that the discussion stop and threaten violence if it continues.
The recent trouble here at Punjab University started when a posse of IJT members slapped a male philosophy student for talking with a female classmate. Students and faculty members organized a protest rally, which led to the dorm attack on June 26. Shahrukh Rashid, 22, who was among those attacked, said the police have been of little help.
“One of the police inspectors told us, ‘Whatever is done is done,’ ” he said.
University officials say that government leaders in Punjab, the country’s wealthiest and most populous province, have allowed the IJT to flourish rather than jeopardize their political alliances with hard-line clerics at the helm of religious parties. Even when students, teachers or university administrators seek criminal charges against IJT members, the police rarely respond.
“If the government wanted to solve the problem here, they could do it overnight,” said Asif Mahmood Qureshi, principal of the Government Islamia College, a state university in Lahore, the provincial capital.
IJT members don’t allow him access to their dormitory, and physically force students and teachers to join their protests. With support from a bloc of teachers sympathetic to the IJT’s cause, they have managed to control the school’s teachers union, Qureshi said.
“They don’t want the principal to do anything without their consent,” said Qureshi, the administrator who referred to the organization as running a parallel administration.
At Punjab University, IJT sympathizers include some teachers and even some of the security guards, teachers and students say.
Ali, the chairman of the philosophy department, said students and teachers in most of the university’s academic departments do not resist. The IJT won’t allow music classes on campus, Ali said, so the music department’s teachers meet their students at a concert hall off campus.
Standing up to the IJT can trigger severe consequences. Last year, an environmental sciences professor, as head of the school’s disciplinary committee, expelled several IJT members for unruly behavior. A group of IJT students stormed into his office, beat him with metal rods and smashed a flowerpot over his head. He survived the attack.
When IJT members attacked the philosophy department dorm late last month, the students fought back, chasing the fundamentalists. Within 15 minutes, the IJT youths had fled.
“We’ve never been cowed by them,” Ali said. “So we’re on an island at this university.”
The IJT’s campus leader, Zubair Safdar, acknowledged that some student members went to the philosophy department’s dormitory to confront students there, and that fights broke out. The IJT members involved later apologized to the department’s students and teachers, Safdar said.
“It was a miscommunication between the IJT students and the philosophy students,” he said.
Safdar, however, denied that the IJT relies on violence to get its message across. Seated at his desk in a small office at a dormitory dominated by IJT members, the 27-year-old sociology student said his organization is opposed to male and female students sitting together because “the university is not a date point, it’s a place of education.”
He also denied that IJT members rough up male students who resist. “We just talk to them,” he said. “We are trying to create an environment that puts students on the right path. We don’t forcibly push students onto that path.”
At Government Islamia College, Qureshi paints a portrait of a school under siege. Last year, IJT members staged 33 protests in six months, often threatening to beat students and teachers if they didn’t join the rallies. The demonstrations created major disruptions in the college’s routine; many students refused to show up to classes for two or three days after a protest because they feared that the IJT would instigate more violence.
Qureshi says he lacks the means to fight back. The power to suspend or expel students lies with the college’s board of governors, which hasn’t convened since January because of a pending lawsuit filed by IJT students challenging the board’s authority. His attempts to get Punjab provincial education officials to clamp down on IJT behavior have been ignored.
In January, IJT members smashed the windshield and windows of Qureshi’s 1990 Nissan and broke down the front door of his office. He met with Punjab province’s education secretary and asked him to intervene.
“I explained what happened, but all I got from him was silence,” Qureshi said.
The IJT’s logo, a blue shield with a star and crescent moon, is plastered all over campus: on walls, lampposts and the school’s main gate. On the perimeter walls, IJT graffiti declare that “Martyrdom is our desire, and jihad is our way. Islam revolution is our destination. So join us.”
Qureshi can’t keep the group’s images out of even his own office. Affixed to a file cabinet behind his desk and a nearby bookshelf are IJT stickers. Asked why he doesn’t peel them off, Qureshi laughs nervously. “I have control, but not so much.”
Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt to marry as per Hindu style in Jodhpur
JODHPUR: While it’s splitsville for Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar after three rocky years of marriage, Hollywood’s celebrity couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have decided to cement their bond further. Like Liz and Arun, who tied the knot according to Hindu customs in Jodhpur, the Brangelina couple, too, are looking to take the ‘pheras’ in this historic Rajputana city.
British news portals have reported that the Hollywood royalty is planning a Hindu wedding in the New Year under the supervision of their spiritual guru, Ram Lal Siyag. Siyag, 84, the founder-patron of Jodhpur-based Adhyatma Vigyan Satsang Kendra, neither confirmed nor denied the news.
The Siddha Yoga guru, who is said to have played a key role in bringing peace and harmony into the jet-set lives of Jolie and Pitt, is unconcerned about his name being bandied about in the western media. His disciples, too, refuse to disclose any detail about the glamour wedding.
Couple Looking in pleasant mood
The news websites also reported that Guru Siyag has also given a mantra to Jolie and Pitt which they recite every morning and evening and which has helped them to further develop their relationship.
Chennai, Jul 30 (IANS): Two DMK leaders, including a former minister, were Saturday arrested on charges of seizing land, police said.
Former minister and senior leader Veerapandi S. Arumugam was arrested in Salem, 350 km from here, while he had gone there to mark his attendance as he was out on bail since July 27 in another land grabbing case, a police officer told IANS.
Arumugam was arrested on the basis of another land grab complaint, the officer said.
A local court remanded Arumugam to 15 days judicial custody and he was lodged in Coimbatore central prison, he said.
DMK legislator from Chepauk constituency, J.Anbazhagan, was arrested here and was taken to Tirupur, around 380 km away.
In a hard-hitting attack on the proposed bill, Jayalalithaa said that under the garb of preventing communal and targeted violence, the Prevention of Communal Violence Bill was yet another “blatant atttempt” to totally bypass the state governments.
The bill concentrates all powers in the Centre rendering the state governments absolutely powerless and totally at the mercy of the Centre,she said in a strongly-worded statement.
Calling it an “undesirable piece of legislation,”, she said it was being brought in by a Central regime that was running “out of steam and ideas for survival.” The AIADMK chief said it was the “sacred duty” of all those who believed in democracy to oppose it in toto and throw it out “lock, stock and barrel,” at the introduction stage itself.
The bill was aimed at keeping the state governments under the constant threat of dismissal, perhaps because of the Central government’s limited capability to use Article 356 of the Constitution in view of a Supreme Court verdict in this regard, the Chief Minister said.
The Prevention of Communal and Targeted Violence (Access to Justice and Reparations) Bill 2011 sought to give “sweeping powers” to the Central government, to the total exclusion of state governments in handling instances of communal and targeted violence, Jayalalithaa said.
She said this vitiated the norms of Centre-state relations envisaged by the Justice Sarkaria Commission. “The Bill appears to be a new ruse to side-step the judicial constraints imposed on the indiscriminate use of Article 356 (to impose President’s rule) against opposition-ruled states by an antagonistic Centre,” Jayalalithaa said. She expressed fears that the Bill, if it became Law, could be misused by politicial parties at the Centre to create a “volatile” situation in an opposition-governed state.
“If the agitators are put down, the state government would be pilloried for stifling dissent. On the other hand, if violence erupts, it can be dubbed as communal or targeted violence and the state government concerned can be dismissed using the sweeping and wholly subjective provisions of the law,” she said.
“This sort of a Catch-22 situation will never be in the interest of a nation on the threshold of being recognised as a super power of the world. This is nothing but an undemocratic and fascist bill which is against and totally repugnant to the basic principles of the constitution,” Jayalalithaa said.
“I also appeal to all right-thinking political parties cutting across political divides, community leaders, thinkers. the free media and the people of this great nation to see the dangers lurking in this Bill and voice their opposition to it in unambiguous terms,” she said.
Slamming various provisions, including terminology and definitions in the proposed Bill, she said their subjective interpretations could lead to misuse, adding, the very purpose of the law is “unstated.” PTI