Forty Years Ago: May 17, 1979

Forty Years Ago: May 17, 1979

Police dismissals

Peace returned to Punjab today. No incident or demonstration by policemen was reported from any part of the state. Claiming that the agitation had “fizzled out” completely, the state industries minister, Balramji Dass Tandon,told a news conference that there had been no response to the statewide rally of policemen at Ferozepore today. Over 1,000 policemen are expected to be dismissed for their participation in the agitation. A total of 56 policemen, mostly them union activists, have been already dismissed under Article 311, which provides for dismissal without inquiry or a hearing. Two days ago, the state governor had empowered the authorities to invoke such powers, wherever needed.

Prasar Bharati Bill

In an effort to confer “genuine autonomy” on Akashvani and Doordarshan, the minister for information and broadcasting, L K Advani, introduced in Parliament the Prasar Bharati Bill which provides that the central government may issue directions to the proposed body from time to time. While explaining the provisions of the Bill to newsmen, a government spokesperson admitted that the chairman of Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) will have no option but to follow the central directives. However, he felt such directives will be “few and far between”. According to an analysis of the Bill circulated among newsmen, the government’s power to give directives could not be restricted to national security and other matters of grave public importance since it would be necessary “to correct any aberrations” from the charter of objective of the corporation.

Arms and Pakistan

External affairs minister, A B Vajpayee, hopes that “better sense will prevail” on the United States on the issue of supplying arms to Pakistan. He was speaking at a discussion on the international situation and the policy of the government in the Rajya Sabha today. Vajpayee informed members that he had told the Americans that they should not think of evolving a new military alliance in the region and that the induction of new arms would not help in any way.