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From the archives of the Hindustan Times: December 16

Important and interesting stories from HT Chronicle.

chronicles Updated: Dec 16, 2019 18:10 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
(HT File)

Nation mourns Patel’s death (1950)

The Hindustan Times announces with regret the death at Birla House in Bombay at 9-37 yesterday morning of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.

The end came six hours after he had a heart attack which made him unconscious. Oxygen was administered to relieve the difficulty in breathing. Sardar Patel momentarily regained consciousness at about 8 a.m., but thereafter life slowly ebbed away till he breathed his last 90 minutes later.

The mortal remains of the great leader were cremated at the Sonapur Burning Ghat (Chowpatty) at 7-40 p.m. near the spot where his brother, Vithalbhai Patel, was cremated 17 years ago.

After the funeral pyre was lighted by Sardar Patel’s son, Mr. Dahyabhai Patel, Mr. C. Rajagopalachari, Minister without Portfolio, Government of India, and the President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, made speeches paying tributes to the departed leader.

During the ten hours that Sardar Patel’s body remained with them, Bombay’s multitudes demonstrated the high esteem and great veneration in which the city in particular-his second home-and the country in general held Mahatma Gandhi’s right hand man.

As the common people mournfully filed past in an endless stream the Sardar’s body as it lay in state, planes were arriving every few minutes from different parts of the country carrying a cross-section of the country’s leadership and condolence messages from far and near poured in.

Then the last journey started at 5-20 p.m. along a four-mile route, with Maniben and Dahyabhai sitting on either side of the cortege and with the Sardar’s nearest colleagues immediately following in a jeep. Men of the Defence Services, so dear to him, brought up the rear of the procession.

All along the route men and women, cramming the footpaths, balconies and windows, chanted Gandhiji’s favourite prayer hymn “Raghupati-Raghava-Rajaram.” Flowers were showered on the cortege as it moved slowly along the narrow Vithalbhai Patel Road.

Hindu Marriage Bill passed (1954)


New Delhi- The Rajya Sabha today (December 15) gave unanimous consent to the Hindu Marriage Bill, the word “divorce” having been dropped from the title of the Bill earlier when the House approved of an amendment to that effect.

Mr. D. P. Karmarkar, in his reply to the speeches on the third reading, drew the conclusion that whatever differences there might have been among members regarding other aspects of the Bill, the House seemed to be wholeheartedly in support of monogamy.

The Bill will now have to go to the Lok Sabba, but it will be taken up in that House only in the next, i.e., the budget session.


Today’s discussions in the Ralya Sabha were highlighted by a battle royal between militant males who maintained that if women demanded equality with men, they should be prepared to pay for it and voluble women who insisted on women’s rights but were not prepared to forgo women’s privileges.

The issue was whether the select committee’s proposal that the liability to pay maintenance and all many should apply to the wife as well as to the husband was to stand or not. A communist woman member, forgetting political antagonisms, joined her voice to those of her sisters from the Congress benches, in demanding that men should be chivalrous. The Minister in charge of the Bill, Mr. Karmarkar, readily obliged and pleaded that the House should vote for the amendment deleting the select committee’s recommendation. But the majority in the House - a male majority be it noted-remained unrepentant and unyielding.

Saddam clams up (2003)


Baghdad: “May name is Saddam Hussein,” the fallen Iraqi leader told US troops in English as they pulled him out of a dank hole that had become his home. “I am the president of Iraq and I want to negotiate.”

That’s all he would tell the Americans. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld later said Saddam was not helping. “He has not been cooperative in terms of talking or anything like that,” Rumsfeld told CBS’ 60 Minutes.

His arrest immediately led to a guerrilla backlash when on Monday a series of car bombings at police stations around the Iraqi capital left eight policemen dead and at least 17 wounded.

The deadliest attack was a suicide mission at a station house in northern Baghdad where eight officers were killed. Two other car bombings at a west-side station caused four injuries.

US officials said President George W. Bush had warned attacks would continue as his interrogation got under way.

A US commander told AP that during his arrest, US troops discovered “descriptive written material of significant value”.

Eventually, Saddam could be tried for war crimes by a new Iraqi tribunal, but more immediately, the Americans made clear he faces intensive interrogation — foremost, to find out what he knows about the ongoing rebellion against the US-led occupation. And later, about any weapons of mass destruction his regime may have had.

Saddam’s exact whereabouts on Monday were unclear. US officials said he had been moved to a secure location and remains in Iraq, said Brig-Gen. Mark Hertling, of the 1st Armoured Division.

The Dubai-based Arab TV station Al-Arabiya said he was taken to Qatar, though that could not be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the head of Iraq’s US-installed interim Governing Council, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, has promised “justice” for Saddam Hussein — but warned that could mean the death penalty.

In an interview with a Spanish daily, al-Hakim promised to “guarantee a just judgement” for the deposed dictator.

The council leader noted, however, that “the death penalty exists in Iraqi law” and “for the moment, there is no greater criminal than Saddam in Iraq. But this will be decided on sentencing”.