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NGO pulls curtains down on ‘anti-US’ Pak play ASIT… November 30, 2005

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NGO pulls curtains down on ‘anti-US’ Pak play
ASIT SRIVASTAVA
Wednesday, November 30, 2005

LUCKNOW, NOVEMBER 29: For these 11 theatre actors from Pakistan, the
show has ended even before it began. Invited by an NGO — the Women’s
Initiative for Peace in South Asia (WIPSA) — to stage plays across the
country, the Pakistani troupe was allegedly told to pack their bags
because their production, Zikr-e-Nashunida (Discussing the Unheeded),
expressed anti-US sentiments.

Speaking to Newsline, Sheema Kermani, head of the Karachi-based group,
alleged that one of the WIPSA members — the organisers — warned them
that if they continued to go against US sentiments through their play,
they would be handed over to the police. The NGO also reportedly
threatened to take away their tickets if they didn’t leave the city as
soon as possible.

And at around 7 am today, the Pakistani actors were made to leave their
accommodation at Isabella Thoubourn College. Later in the day, Magsaysay
awardee Sandeep Pandey stepped in to their aid, making arrangements for
their stay at a city hotel. When contacted, Nirmala Deshpande, founder
member of WIPSA, said: ”It’s very shocking. Bahut galat hua. Sandeep
told me about the sequence of events that took place today… It’s
shameful.”

According to Kermani, their play focussed on the aftermath of war,
especially in relation to the Vietnam war. ”In our show, we highlighted
images of wars that often go unheard and unrecorded. WIPSA reacted very
strongly to this. So strongly that the NGO, which invited us to India,
has now left us stranded,” she said.

”They asked us to change the theme as they claimed it went against
American sentiments. All this has been done because the NGO is
financially supported by the Ford Foundation, an American
organisation,” alleged Kermani, whose family is originally from Lucknow.

According to the Pakistani troupe, WIPSA had readily accepted the theme
of their play when they issued the invite about two months back. ”They
called us to stage our play at Lucknow, Varanasi and Bhubaneswar,” said
Kermani.

They were part of the NGO’s programme to ”create culture of peace
through stage shows”, for which they had invited theatre groups from
South Asian countries. Among the other participants were actors from
Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka.

The Pakistani actors arrived in the city on November 24, in time for the
first performance in the city on November 27 which was held as
scheduled. They were all set to leave for Varanasi for their second show
on November 30, when WIPSA pulled down the curtains.

So, even as the organisers and the other teams left for Varanasi, the
Pakistanis were told to go home, much before their scheduled departure
on December 8. The Bhubaneswar performance was to have been staged on
December 3.

Interestingly, the director of the play is an Indian — Prasanna
Ramaswamy. ”Initially, we presented an excerpt of our play at a city
school whose administration had invited us to participate in a programme
based on nuclear disarmament. The organisers had then reprimanded us for
participating in the programme without their permission,” he said.

”Later, when we pointed out that we hadn’t signed any agreement
prohibiting us from performing outside, they asked us to change the
theme of our play. Since we refused to bow before them, they resorted to
such an action,” added Ramaswamy.

Meanwhile, Magsaysay awardee Sandeep Pandey said: ”They were to leave
India on December 8, but they will be heading for Pakistan within a
couple of days. They are slated to reach Delhi tomorrow.”

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Maoists disown threat letter November 30, 2005

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Statesman News Service

BEHRAMPORE, Nov. 29 — The threat letter reportedly issued by the CPI(Maoist) to the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Murshidabad, has triggered protests by Maoists based in Burdwan, Birbhum, Nadia and Murshidabad. In a press release secretly sent to reporters here today, the Maoist zonal committee disowned the threat letter and made it clear that Congress leader Mr Adhir Chowdhury had no links with the Maoists. The note blamed a section of the media for the defamatory campaign against the CPI(Maoist).

Charges framed

Charges against Sushil Roy, CPI(Maoist) Politburo member, Patit Paban Haldar, the outfit’s central committee member and two other squad leaders of the outfit, Santosh Debnath and Sk Jakir Hossain, were framed under Section 121 A/122/ 124 A of the IPC at the court of the additional judicial magistrate, fast court, Jhargram, Midnapore West, Mr Biswanath Dey, today.
They were arrested in May in connection with a case of Belpahari police station in 2003.
The trial will begin on 5 December, their counsel, Mr Prasanta Roy, said.

ORISSA : Naxalite threats expose government’s failure to take action November 30, 2005

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CPI (Maoist) accuses ruling and Opp parties of doing nothing for downtrodden & scheduled castes

Statesman News Service

BHUBANESWAR, Nov. 29. — The state government’s repeated failure to check inroads made by the extremist elements, particularly during the last five years, was exposed once again with the Maoists boldly announcing their entry, presence and striking ability in three more districts — Balasore, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj.
Except for Mayurbhanj where stray instances of Naxalite presence had been reported earlier, the extreme Left had no presence in the districts of Keonjhar and Balasore nor had they staked the claim of a foothold as they have done now.
Reliable sources said that the extremists had recently made the announcement to the home department headed by chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik in a fax message.
Although the Naveen Patnaik government has been making the plea that dearth of security forces is hampering the action against Naxalites even the existing force rarely acts with prior information to stall any attack or apprehend the extremists. Still worse is the track record which shows that Naxalites are attacking the same place repeatedly despite the tall claims of “intense combing operations”.
There have been allegations that the police actually surrenders arms to the Naxalites rather than resist the attack. They announce their entry, storm places at will, take arms and return to the forest, charged the people at Sambalpur, Deogarh and Malkangiri while wondering how hundreds of armed people can assemble and move for several kilometers without drawing the attention of the police and its intelligence wings. It is not the guerrilla warfare that takes the police by surprise but the open attack visible in all respects.
Be it Jujumara of Sambalpur district, Kalimela of Malkangiri or the villages of Rayagada district the same lapses are too glaring to miss.
Even more appalling is the fact that chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik, who holds the home portfolio, has never taken any action on the police officers nor had he ordered probe into such lapses.
Never in the annals of independent India had hundreds of armed Naxalites taken over a district headquarters and looted the armoury as they did in Koraput. Yet no probe was ordered into the incident.
Maoist letter warns

SNS reports from Paralakhemundi said that a letter purportedly written by CPI (Maoist) was in circulation in the area today.
The letter speaks of the anti-poor policies of the ruling party while criticizing the Opposition political parties for not doing anything for the cause of the backward and the down trodden.
While clarifying that the organisation never writes post cards or personal letters to anybody the Naxalite group said that the recent reports in some vernacular newspapers about a post card purportedly written by them to several individuals threatening them with dire action was a ploy to receive an extra security protection for the VIPs.
Similarly, the letter has also warned those who impersonate as Naxalites to desist from the collection of funds in the name of CPI (Maoist). The letter has stated that the fire incident at Sambalpur was not an act of Naxalites.
Another printed letter, released by the PLGA (Peoples Liberation Guerrilla Army) has accompanied the computer letter which has asked the public to support them on the fifth anniversary of their organisation. The PLGA week will be observed from 2 December to 8 December.

Centre, States working on naxalite menace: Patil November 30, 2005

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The Hindu

Special Correspondent

Not able to bring down naxalite activities as successfully as terrorism, admits Centre

Assistance given for police modernisation
`States should tackle political, social aspects’

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday told the Lok Sabha that it was not able to bring down the level of naxalite activities as successfully as it had tackled terrorism. At the same time, it was working in tandem with State Governments to deal with the menace, it said.

While the number of incidents of naxalite violence till the end of October this year remained almost at the same level as in the corresponding period last year, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said the use of explosives by naxalites led to an increase in the number of casualties.

“In States like Jammu and Kashmir and in the North-East, we have been largely successful in bringing down terrorism but not so much in dealing with naxalites,” Mr. Patil told the House during Question Hour.

Asked whether naxalites/extremists were regrouping or joining hands with those carrying out similar activities in other States and other countries, the Minister said there was a “grain of truth” in such reports.

Mr. Patil said the Centre was extending all help to the States to deal with the menace and had given 26 battalions, approximately 26,000 men and police officials, to deal with the situation. It used to recover Rs. 13 crores a battalion each year from the States for Central forces. But it had stopped doing so for the last three years, he said.

Unable to check Naxal violence, admits Patil November 30, 2005

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EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

Posted online: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 at 0051 hours IST

NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 29: Home Minister Shivraj Patil today admitted in the Lok Sabha that the government was unable to completely stop Naxalite activities, but assured all cooperation to the states to combat ultra-Left violence.

Patil, replying to questions from Krishna Murari Moghe and Sai Prathap said, ‘‘We have been quite successful in controlling terrorism in states like J-K and in North-east. As far as Naxalism is concerned, we have not achieved similar results.’’

The Centre, according to him, had deployed 26,000 police personnel in states affected by Naxalite violence and sanctioned them Rs 3,000 crore for modernising police forces. There was need for a concerted approach and a joint action by the affected states, he added.

Patil said each district facing Naxalism was getting Rs 36 crore to deal with development and unemployment. The government, he pointed out, was working on political, security and development fronts to deal with the problem. He said a draft standard operating procedure had been prepared to institutionalise inter-state joint operations against Naxalites.

He said there is truth that Maoists within the country and outside are joining hands.

No political interference in police functioning: CM November 30, 2005

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DHNS,Bangalore:

Asserting that there will be no political interference in the functioning of the police department, Chief Minister N Dharam Singh on Tuesday urged the senior police officers to ‘anticipate and act accordingly’ to deal with issues such as the Naxal menace.

Asserting that there will be no political interference in the functioning of the police department, Chief Minister N Dharam Singh on Tuesday urged the senior police officers to ‘anticipate and act accordingly’ to deal with issues such as the Naxal menace.

The forthcoming Taluk and Zilla Panchayat elections are a challenging task for the state police, Mr Singh said ,while inaugurating the two-day Senior Police Officers Conference in Bangalore. Karnataka is having a coalition set-up for the first time in its history, he said and added that the police force should understand the coalition compulsions and act accordingly. “I have been managing the coalition for the last 18 months. Similarly, you should not have any problem in carrying out your duties”, he said amid peals of laughter. The Government will take all measures to assist the police in carrying out its duties, he added.

Commending the State police for integrity and professionalism, besides the smooth conduct of the gram panchayat elections, the Benny Hinn programme, handling the Uma Bharati episode, Mr Singh said that using lathi will not resolve issues.

“You should use common sense and make an in-depth study to deal with situations. Instead of sitting in your offices, you should make spot visits, he told the senior police officers. The focus should be on preventing incidents, he said. Mr Singh also commended the police for keeping a strict check on dance bars in Bangalore city.

Naxal menace

Expressing concern over the spread of Naxal activities in the state, Mr Singh said that though the state government was taking measures to end the socio-economic disparity, the Naxals were trying to widen their base in the state by influencing people in some areas by highlighting their grievances such as unemployment. In addition, some forces were trying to disturb the communal harmony in the State. The police should act as an interface between the public and the government, he added.

Belgaum issue

On the Belgaum issue, Mr Singh said the Shiv Sena which has been affected by internal bickerings was now trying to incite the people on linguistic lines. The chief minister said that he had explained to his Maharashtra counterpart Vilasrao Deshmukh the reasons for dissolving the Belgaum City Corporation. “We will take all measures to maintain law and order,” he said.

DG and IGP B S Sial and Home Secretary Sudhakar Rao also spoke.

Karnataka : ‘Bullet with bullet’ policy for naxals November 30, 2005

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DHNS,Bangalore:

Director General and Inspector General of Police (DG and IGP) B S Sial on Tuesday urged the Government to lift the ban on recruitment of police personnel and accord clearance for the integrated signalling and traffic management system to decongest Bangalore City traffic in the next five years.

At the inaugural of the two-day Senior Police Officers conference, Mr Sial drew the attention of the chief minister to various pending proposals of the police department. The proposals include sanction of additional 15,040 posts of civil police personnel and 6,744 posts of armed police personnel. In addition, Mr Sial also urged the chief minister to consider permitting families of deceased personnel to continue occupying the government quarters; provide free education up to degree level and jobs to the children of police personnel who die during operations; provide uniform allowance of Rs 4,500 per annum and sanction Rs 300 per month as ration money.

On the naxal menace, he said the State police were well equipped to face the challenge and warned the Maoists that if they failed to shun firearms, the police too would not hesitate to use firearms. Intelligence inputs indicate that the efforts of the Maoists to recruit young tribal boys and girls has failed, he said. A comprehensive economic and development package will go a long way in dealing with the naxal menace, he said. Home Secretary Sudhakar Rao said the naxal issue should not be looked at from a socio-economic angle alone, but as a law and order problem.

He also underlined the need for police-public interface and added that police should be accountable to people.

Mr Sial said the two-day conference will discuss the measures related to prevention and detection of crime, maintenance of law and order, traffic management, besides social, regional, linguistic and caste related issues and tensions, protection to Dalits and women. Mr Sial said that the immediate challenges facing the police was the Maoist activities, organised crime, cyber crime and the Datta Jayanthi celebrations. The thrust of the conference is to deliberate on ways and means to bring in greater professionalism in the police at all levels, he said.

PENDING PROJECTS

Sanction of 2,003 additional traffic personnel for Bangalore

Additional 108 Hoysala vehicles for patrolling in Bangalore

Mega city policing plan

Creation of armed staff for bank currency chests

Setting up India Reserve Battalion

Re-organisation of State Intelligence

Strengthening police units in naxal affected areas

Incentives to anti-naxal force on par with erstwhile STF

Rs 12.63 crore for cars! November 30, 2005

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Wednesday November 30 2005 00:00 IST

HYDERABAD: The VVIPs in the State can relax now. They will soon be getting 48 Bullet Proof (BP) vehicles. The State government does not mind the outrageous cost – Rs 12.63 crore.

They include 20 Scorpios and an equal number of Tata Sumos and eight Tata Safaris. The Government has cleared the proposal which had been pending before it for a long time.

At present, there are around 155 BP vehicles, which are being used by Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, his Cabinet colleagues, senior IPS officers including Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen besides those working in naxal-infested areas who are on the hit list of the Naxalites.

These vehicles were supplied by the Ordinance Factory at Medak and have proved their worth when the then chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu escaped from a claymore mine blast triggered by Maoists two years ago.

The State government is also considering a request of a US-based firm, engaged in manufacturing BP vehicles, which made a power point presentation to Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy a few months ago, for setting up their manufacturing unit near the city.

With police-naxalite confrontation becoming more frequent now than ever before following the breakdown of truce talks between the Government and Maoists early this year, Director General of Police Swaranjit Sen suggested acquisition of more BP vehicles keeping in view the scenario prevailing at that time.

The proposal was kept pending for six months but cleared by a high level committee headed by Chief Secretary T K Dewan a fortnight ago. The meeting also discussed the offer made by the US-based Armet Armored Cars Limited to set up its unit near the city and felt that it should be referred to the Industries department for further action.

According to official sources, the State government has to seek permission of the Central government to procure the BP vehicles. It costs around Rs 18 lakh to convert an Ambassador into BP vehicle, Rs 20 lakh for Tata Sumo and Rs 25 lakh for Bolero.

The cost is much higher for Tata Safari.

“The cost is high as the roof, bottom, sides, front and rear sections of the vehicle including the glasses have to be covered with Kevilar armoured sheets from Italy,” the officials told this website’s newspaper.

It is said that BP cars would also be provided with Runflat tyres, which enables the vehicle to travel up to a distance of 50 km from the blast site provided the engine is in a working condition, officials said.

Why Bihar doesn’t shock Biharis? November 29, 2005

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Why Bihar doesn’t shock Biharis?

By Ash Naraian Roy

The tale of horror in Bihar is unending. Whether it is caste war, gang war or the war of attrition between the Maoist groups and the mercenary armies of feudal landlords, Bihar has acquired a notoriety which has few parallels. Perhaps horror is part of life in Bihar. Whether it is Champaran in north Bihar or Jehanabad in the south, blind hatred rules. In a state where the writ of the government doesn’t run beyond the state capital, people are virtually at the mercy of the extremists’ designs—hostage to their fears and terrified of their unstoppable power. Bihar has become a metaphor for ruthless barbarity.

The “Operation Jailbreak” in Jehanabad on November 13 was not only a meticulous plan to rescue Maoist followers and leaders, but was a brutal attack on the state. As Salman Rushdie would say, it was a hammer blow launched against a state which had already been smashed—“a wound on a wounded body”. The Naxalites killed nine of the hostages, members of the upper-caste private army Ranbir Sena. During the siege of Jehanabad by some 1000 Maoists, over 300 prisoners escaped. It was perhaps the most audacious operation ever launched by Maoists in India. To give it an ideological veneer, the Maoists called it “a successful military campaign” by the “people’s militia”.

Jehanabad represents all that has gone wrong with benighted Bihar. Whether it is the atrocities of the mercenary armies against Dalits and other oppressed sections, the reign of terror let loose by Maoists, or the fast spreading gun culture, the notoriety of Jehanabad rivals perhaps only that of Medellin in Colombia—the durglords’ ‘Mecca’. Naxalites are also running a parallel judicial system in parts of south Bihar and the villagers often approach the ultras for redressal of their grievances. An eye for an eye seems to be the guiding principle of such kangaroo courts.

Every incident of Naxalite violence is a political act. “Operation Jailbreak” too was a calculated act of violence and daredevilry. Their target was too important to be misunderstood and the objective of the perpetrators was to deal a shattering blow to the police force’s morale. But it would be simplistic to interpret the Jehanabad incident as a routine act of defiant violence. It signals a dangerous stage in the Maoists’ tactics. In organising raids like Jehanabad, the Maoists mobilise hundreds of civilians in their support. There have been several incidents of active civilian support for the guerrilla operation launched by the so-called “people’s militia” in Bihar.

In the past, perhaps more people lost their lives in internecine violence among Maoist groups than in Maoist-inspired violence perpetrated against upper-caste armies or the police force. That scenario has changed after the unification of the various Naxalite groups. The rise of Maoist groups in Nepal and their growing military muscle have given the ultras not merely greater moral strength, but also greater access to arms and intelligence. Analysts of Maoist violence agree that the Naxalites have now reached a higher stage in their guerrilla struggle. They are now employing the so-called “mobile warfare tactics”. Naxalism in Bihar has moved much beyond the stage of organisation. The ultras seem better equipped to take on the state’s demoralised police force.

It is now nearly four decades since the “Spring Thunder” rumbled in Naxalbari and swept across several parts of the country. But the problem of Naxalism has continued to be a festering sore in the body politic. Naxalism, today, is most vibrant in the Telegana region and Bihar’s southern districts, but its intensity is equally perceptible in the tribal areas stretching across south Bihar, western Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra and Kalahandi-Koraput region in Orissa. Conditions of abject poverty and deprivation in the “Dandakaranya region” provide the ideal breeding ground to ultra-Leftism. Outside the tribal belt, the movement has struck roots in areas where the failure of land reforms and the advent of the Green Revolution have only consolidated the power of the big landlords and led to the impoverishment of the marginalised farmers and poor peasants.

Over the years, the character, methods of struggle and goals of the neo-Leftist groups have undergone a qualitative change. If the centre of gravity of the movement has shifted to the cobwebbed, discreetly shadowed corners of the country’s socio-economic life, its modus operandi has long ceased to be urban terrorism and “annihilation of the class enemy”. Naxalite violence today often tends to be a local response to local problems.

The state has practically withered away in Bihar. The various Naxalite groups hold sway over the militant peasantry. Poorer sections of people have become victims of feudal social oppression as well as modern forms of exploitation by contractors and middlemen. South Bihar has had a tradition of peasant struggle. During the 1930s, it was here that the peasant struggle led by Sahajanand Saraswati erupted into mass upheavals.

It was Saraswati who gave a call for the “land-to-the-tiller” movement and founded the first Kisan Sabha. There is also a tradition of manufacturing small arms in south Bihar, specially in the Jehanabad area. The pressure on land is also much more here than in north Bihar. Perhaps an even more important factor is the relatively higher percentage of Scheduled Castes in this area. About the absence of land reforms in Bihar despite the state being the first to formally introduce it, the less said the better.

While Naxalism has struck deep roots, gangsterism and the mafia raj rule the roost in major parts of Bihar. Kidnapping for ransom has become a cottage industry. Such is the atmosphere of hopelessness that the people have nowhere to turn to except the Naxalites and criminal gangs themselves, for the state police force is in league with the Mafiosi, who receive patronage from political leaders.

Travelling to the interiors is like going back in time. A train journey in Bihar is often a ferocious nightmare. A bus journey is even worse. Any college in Bihar is the right place to see students at the wrong end of their careers. For the poor whose daily reality is poverty and misery – grinding, unavoidable and debasing – going to Punjab and Delhi is the only dream.

Naxalism’s appeal for the poor is rooted in the reality of the disruption of rural life and the dismal failure of land reforms. Development measures and land reforms as understood and implemented by successive state governments have only accentuated social and economic disparities. The legal and politico-administrative apparatus of Bihar is perceived by many to be at best inadequate and at worst a disaster. The Naxalites have thus carved out vital political space for themselves and moved in to fill the vacuum created by the all-round failure of the governmental machinery.

There are analysts who argue that the scenario of violence and social breakdown in Bihar is overhyped. Society was much more violent and chaotic in Victorian times. Anthony Trollope has written about people walking through London parks and being garrotted from behind. The civil war in the US claimed more lives than any war between two countries. The messy civil war in Iraq is a pale shadow of what the US saw during those dark days. Look at the shocking state of modern Russia, which has been transformed into a brutal land of crime without punishment.

Just as the civil war strengthened the foundations of democracy in the US, current convulsions in Bihar are a sign of the deepening of its democracy. As Walter Hauser, emeritus professor of Indian history at Virginia University, maintains, “Bihar will emerge as a stronger and freer state in the years to come.” That time may remain elusive for some time, but a new beginning may be in the offing.

On the face of it, the spectre of Maoism is haunting India. But Indian democracy is the biggest antidote to extremism of all hues. Naxalite violence still remains an aberration in Indian politics. Even in Bihar, where the ultras seem to wield the power to hit where it hurts, democratic politics is the unquestionable choice of the vast majority of the people.

As Gandhiji said, “poverty is the worst form of violence”. And only by empowering the poor, can poverty be fought effectively; it can certainly not be fought through doles. Amartya Sen too suggests that it is empowerment that leads to entitlements; and entitlements lead to enrichment. West Bengal once faced the worst form of Naxalite violence. The institutionalisation of Panchayat Raj banished Naxalism to neighbouring Bihar. As Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar rightly points out, “we have institutionalised Panchayati Raj but not empowered it.”

West Bengal, Kerala and Karnataka have given enough powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions, but Bihar is yet to begin the process. Once the poor, oppressed and the disempowered are empowered and given full responsibility and share in governance, they will have the power to confront exploitation and oppression of every kind. The ballot box can still blunt the edge of the bayonet.

The author is on the Faculty of the Institute of Social Sciences, Delhi

Naxalite question in Parliament : Speaker could not allow all the supplementaries November 29, 2005

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Prabunath Singh walks out of LS in protest
New Delhi | November 29, 2005 2:40:52 PM IST

Mr Prabunath Singh (JD-U) today staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha after he was not allowed to ask a supplementary.
”I walk out in protest,” Mr Singh said during Question Hour when Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said he could not allow all the supplementaries on the Naxalite question.

”There are 26 more supplementaries. I cannot allow everybody. I will only allow those who do not disturb the proceedings,” he said and called the name of Mr M P Virendra Kumar (JD-S) when Mr Singh rose to ask a supplementary.

”What is the point in sitting here,” Mr Singh said and walked out after throwing his paper on the bench in front of him.

UNI YJ LR HT1357