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Opposition seeks urgent drought-relief steps
Widespread concern was expressed in the Lok Sabha today over the drought situation in various States with members cutting across party lines demanding urgent steps to meet the crisis. There was also a criticism of the Centre for failing to anticipate the seriousness of the situation, and its slow response.

Water crisis claims its first victim
The acute shortage of drinking water has claimed its first victim in Gujarat. A 35-year-old woman fell down into a deep, near-dry well and died today. The incident occurred at Rajpur village in Dhrol taluk of Jamnagar district in the drought-hit Saurashtra region.

Protection of minorities our obligation: Govt.
Amid sharp and widespread condemnation of the continuing attacks on Christians in different parts of the country, the Government in the Lok Sabha today owned up its ``constitutional obligation'' to protect the minorities. It also promised to consider the Opposition demand for a meeting of the National Integration Council to discuss the issue.

U.P. probe on: BJP
The Uttar Pradesh Government was inquiring into the attack on Christians in Agra yesterday and would take necessary action, the BJP said today. The party also called for an inquiry into a similar incident in Haryana.

LTTE pushing towards Jaffna
Over four lakh civilians in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula remained cut off from the rest of the island for nearly a week running as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) commenced the end-game of its battle with Government troops over the Tamil heartland.

Statement distorted, says Vaiko
The MDMK leader, Mr. Vaiko, today strongly denied reports that he had suggested, during a recent address in Geneva, that the LTTE should continue its campaign to kill the Sri Lankan President, Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, and accused the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, of distorting his remarks with the intention of damaging his ``reputation as a responsible parliamentarian and leader of a political party''.

Masood Azhar taken into 'custody'
Masood Azhar, who was released by the BJP Government in the hostages-for-terrorists deal on December 31, 1999 to end the Indian Airlines hijacking, is said to have been taken into ``custody'' at the Lahore airport on Sunday night, The Dawn newspaper reported today.

 India, France keen on 'global defence ties'
India and France have begun a new round of defence talks which could lead to their joint participation in global trouble spots.

 Bedlam in Bihar House
The special session of the Bihar Assembly today witnessed clashes between members of the RJD and the BJP over the remark of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Shushil Kumar Modi, that there would be no end to murders still the chargesheeted Chief Minister, Mrs. Rabri Devi, remained in office.

Loss of Elephant Pass could be a setback: Ranil
The loss of Elephant Pass to the LTTE could turn out to be a big setback for Sri Lanka, according to the UNP leader, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Hurriyat leader released, 5 shifted to Tihar jail
A senior Hurriyat leader was released tonight from Udhampur jail in Jammu while five others, including the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front-Yaseen chairman, Mr. Yaseen Malik, were today shifted to Tihar jail here from Jodhpur prison in Rajasthan in an apparent move by the Government to release them.

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