Dharam Singh puts off visit

GULBARGA, MARCH 24. The Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, today put off his proposed visit to Venkatammanahalli in Pavagada taluk of Tumkur district following the recovery of two landmines and two hand grenades close to the spot where a temporary helipad is being constructed for his visit earlier scheduled for Saturday.

The announcement was made to presspersons at the helipad at the District Police Headquarters here soon after his arrival to visit his friend and college mate, Sangaram, who is seriously ill and has been admitted to the Basaveshwara Teaching and General Hospital.

Mr. Singh said his visit to Venkatammanahalli, the scene a naxalite attack that left eight people dead, including seven policemen, has not been postponed because of the fear of naxalites. The top brass of the State police and the Director-General of Police of Andhra Pradesh have advised him against visiting the village now. "I will definitely visit the village within a few days," he said.

`Not serious'

Mr Singh said that the naxalite menace in the State is not serious and the police are well equipped to tackle them effectively. Naxalite activities are confined to a few villages bordering Andhra Pradesh.

The Chief Minister, replying to a question said the State Government will send a fresh proposal to the Union Home Ministry to proscribe the Communist Party of India (Maoist) immediately. The State Government has already recommended to the Union Home Minister to ban 32 extremist and terrorist organisations in the State. The CPI (Maoist) was left out of the original list and it is being included now.

He said he will raise the naxalite issue at the National Development Council meeting to be held in New Delhi on April 15 and seek the Centre's assistance to effectively tackle the menace. Mr. Singh said he does not intend to raise the naxalite issue during the Southern Chief Ministers' Conference convened by the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

He had already held detailed discussion on the naxalite problem with the Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, during his recent visit to New Delhi.

VAT from April 1

To another question, Mr. Singh made it clear that there is no going back on the decision of the Government to implement value added tax (VAT) in the State from April 1.

Recommended for you