WEEK IN REVIEW: Arun Jaitley named Centres interlocutor

Updated: Jul 21 2002, 05:30am hrs
Centre Appoints Arun Jaitley As Interlocutor
Former Union minister Arun Jaitley was named on Tuesday the Centres interlocutor for discussion on greater powers to Jammu and Kashmir even as India stepped up its offensive against Pakistan, demanding it be declared a terrorist state if it failed to dismantle terrorist infrastructure.

Announcing the appointment of Mr Jaitley in Lok Sabha, Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani ruled out accepting pre-1953 status for the state. He said J&K was a special state and the government had no objection to giving it more powers to fulfill the aspirations of the people.

He was intervening during a discussion on a Congress sponsored adjournment motion on the Jammu killings, which was rejected by a voice vote after the entire Opposition walked out dissatisfied with his speech.

Mr Advani said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee has asked Mr Jaitley to go to the state and hold talks with different political parties on the issue of devolution of greater powers. Maintaining that Pakistan has become the epicentre of terrorism, Mr Advani said, If the US wants, it can stop terrorism and put an end to terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan by threatening that it would declare it a terrorist state.

Two Mediators To Sort Out Family Dispute
The Bajajs, one of Indiaprominent business families, are taking the services of two mediators to try to bring about an amicable resolution of the disagreement between Shishir Bajaj and the rest of the family led by Rahul Bajaj, the chairman of Bajaj Auto, reports said.

According to the reports, the two family friends, who are mediating have been given certain terms of reference for settling the two-year-old dispute. It further said when contacted, Rahul Bajaj declined to comment on any development while repeated attempts to speak to Mr Shishir Bajaj did not yield any results. The mediators have been given terms of reference and the stalemate may continue for the next two to three months till a solution, even if the family is to split, is reached, the reports said, quoting sources.

There are at least 10 issues for the mediators to work upon, including the one over the pricing of the share of Bajaj Auto Ltd, the flagship company of the Rs 6,000 crore Bajaj Group in which Shishir Bajaj holds a little less than one per cent stake against 1.05 per cent held earlier. There have been discussions but nothing has been put on paper as yet, the sources added.

One of the most important issues for the mediators to work upon is the valuation of Shishir Bajajs stake in Bajaj Auto based on the companys net worth, the prevailing price or average price of two years or 12 months or under Securities and Exchange Board of India guidelines, the sources added.

Kalam Elected
Eminent missile technologist Dr APJ Abdul Kalam was on Thursday elected Indias 12th President in a highly one-sided contest in which he trounced the Left-backed Captain Lakshmi Sahgal, bagging nearly 90 per cent vote value in a preferential system of election.

71-year-old Dr Kalam, born in a boatmans family in Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu, got 4,152 votes with a vote value of 9,22,884, against Ms Sahgals 459 votes accounting for 1,07,366 votes value in a race heavily loaded against her with the entire political spectrum supporting Dr Kalam.

Dr Kalam will succeed
K R Narayanan, whose term expires on July 24. Of the 4,785 MPs and MLAs who voted, 174 votes were found invalid. After a three-hour counting of votes,

Dr Kalams election was announced by Rajya Sabha secretary-general R C Tripathi, who is also the returning officer.

Death Sentence For Omar Sheikh
The British-born Islamic militant, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, sentenced to death for masterminding the kidnap-slaying of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl has filed an appeal against his sentence on Friday, a defence lawyer said. Mr Sheikh was convicted on Monday and sentenced to death by hanging by a Pakistani anti-terrorism court. His appeal, filed in Karachi court, claims the verdict was based upon fake, false and provenly planted evidence.

Three other accused in the caseSalman Saqib, Fahad Naseem and Shaikh Adilwere handed life imprisonment sentence. The four have also been ordered by the court to give Rs 25 lakh to Pearls widow, Mariane.

Mr Sheikh, who was released by India in exchange for passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines flight in 1999 and three others, showed no emotions as the verdict was read out by the court. I will see whether who wants to kill me will first kill me or get himself killed, Mr Sheikh, 28, said in the statement, adding that the entire trial has been a waste of time. Pearls family welcomed the court verdict and hoped that all those involved in the murder would be brought to justice.

Govt Rejects Demand For Reconsideration
The government on Wednesday rejected the demand from Opposition and some allies in the Lok Sabha for reconsideration of the decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the news and current affairs print media, saying it was a logical step in the changing economic scenario and not taken under any pressure.

Replying to a four-hour debate on FDI in print media, information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj said the decision was taken after addressing all security and national concerns expressed by the standing committee headed by Somnath Chatterjee.

The minister also refuted the Opposition charge that the decision was hasty, saying it was taken after a 10 years of debate, which was started by the Congress and more than a year after it was referred to the parliamentary committee.

Earlier, in a rare move, a calling attention motion on the issue was converted into a full-fledged discussion by Speaker Manohar Joshi on the demand of several Opposition members. Agreeing that it was an important issue, Mr Joshi said he had no objection to a discussion under Rule 193 if Congress and government gave their nod. The motion was then converted to a full-fledged discussion after both the government and the Congress left it to the Speaker to decide.

Xerox Premises Searched
In the wake of allegations that Xerox Modi group paid huge bribes to government officials to procure orders, the Income Tax department on Wednesday carried out searches at 23 premises of the corporate across the country. IT officials claimed to have recovered around Rs 1.1 crore in unaccounted cash, besides unaccounted investments in shares and fixed deposits worth nearly Rs 1 crore.

Officials sources said that 20 offices of the group, certain front offices and other entities were raided by the Income Tax department in Delhi. The searches, which began at 8 am, had nothing to do with the inquiry launched by the department of company affairs and that the exercise was being carried out to ascertain the source of payment of bribes to the government officials by the corporate house, the officials said.

The income tax department was looking into the accounts for the last six years, they said, alleging that the company had over the years indulged in tax evasion worth nearly Rs 25 crore.

The sources said that the premises of some of senior officials of the company were also being searched. They, however, said that neither the house of chairman of Modicorp, the companys Indian partner, nor of the three American directors based in Delhi were being searched.

They said three premises of the company were also being surveyed by the taxmen. The searches were carried out after a review by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which pointed out gross irregularities and unethical business practices by the company.