N C R   S T O R I E S


CAStaway for good?
Sheila writes to Minister, seeks CAS watchdog
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The set-top box could become a CAStaway after Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Saturday dashed of a letter to the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that raises certain queries about the conditional access system.

Appended to the letter is a report prepared by the Government of NCT of Delhi in which 34 resident welfare associations (RWAs) of south Delhi are quoted as saying there is “no clarity” about the tariffs for free-to-air or pay channels.

The resident welfare associations met yesterday. “A way must be found to let the consumers see the channels they have grown accustomed to without let-up”, the chief minister has stated in her letter to the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

In her letter, the chief minister has sought the establishment of a regulatory authority that will protect the interests of consumers and ensure that consumers with or without a set-top box do not pay more for seeing less as is the case today.

Dikshit said any decision taken should be in the interest of the consumer and does not add to his expenditure unnecessarily, and the residents are not put at the mercy of operators who have no concern for consumer’s preferences or financial outgo.

In her letter, the chief minister has said that the meetings by Sub-Divisional Magistrates with the RWAs had shown that the offtake on set-top boxes had been poor. South Delhi is the only zone where CAS was introduced on December 15.

“The cable operators did not appear to have the wherewithal and infrastructure to activate more than ten set-top boxes on a given day. They are unhappy with the price fixed for free to air channels,” the letter said. The latter also dwelled on “numerous difficulties” faced by consumers.

The report prepared by the Government of NCT of Delhi stated that CAS does not make economic sense and that the Centre should come out with an advertisement policy for pay channels that shall place restrictions on advertisement time.

According to the report, there is lack of information and transparency and most of the consumers appear to be ill-informed about the different aspects of transition to the CAS regime.

Even cable operators are confused, leading to a situation of apprehension and anxiety.

Dikshit and Vijay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP had met with Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on December 31 and sought postponement of CAS in view of reports of malpractices by Multi Service Operators (MSOs) and cable operators.

It is significant that the most vocal anti-CAS voice has been that of Prof. V K Malhotra of the BJP, who represents South Delhi constituency in the Lok Sabha.

He has been in touch with the RWAs and conveyed the sentiments of the residents to the party high command as well as the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Despite their political disagreement, both the Delhi BJP and the ruling Congress were initially reluctant to implement CAS, in view of the Assembly elections in the NCT of Delhi.

Observers feel that with indications of early Lok Sabha elections, the implementation of CAS may have to be postponed till after the polls. 


PM urged to take up turban issue with French Govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
Perturbed by media reports over the implementation of the French Law that prohibits Sikhs in France to wear turbans, the president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Mr Harbhajan Singh Matharoo, has written to various leaders to seek their intervention.

In a letter to the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister of Punjab, the DSGMC has appealed them to urge the French Government to allow the Sikh Community to wear the turbans, which is mandatory for the Sikhs.

It was pointed out that Guru Gobind Singh made wearing the turban obligatory upon the creation of the Order of the Khalsa in 1699.

Citing precedents, the DSGMC members pointed out that Sikh soldiers during the World War I and II were exempt from wearing steel helmets and the British Government passed an act in 1976, allowing Sikhs recruited in public jobs as well as the local police to wear the turban.

Mr Mathroo said that the governments of the USA and Canada and other European States permit the turban, the UN Human Rights Convention also upholds the right of the minority and the rights of the people to abide by their religious obligations.


Arya calls for proper break-up of colonies
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The Leader of Opposition in the MCD, Mr Subhash Arya, alleged that the Unit Area Method (UAM) report presented by the Kelkar Committee had no proper categorisation of colonies.

The assessment of DDA flats and rehabilitation colonies will be carried out on the basis of categorisation of colonies which will definitely increase tax burden on the lower strata of society. The DDA flats (LIG, MIG, HIG, and SFS) as well as group housing societies located in Punjabi Bagh, Paschim Vihar, Rajouri Garden, Vasant Vihar, Green Park, Kalkaji etc will be assessed on the basis of classification of localities and similar rates will be applied as meant for posh colonies.

He confirmed that it would definitely increase tax burden on the lower and middle class people which was totally unjustified.

He also said that the categorisation of housing societies and DDA flats should be made uniformly. Houses in unauthorised colonies, rural and urbanised villages, rehabilitation colonies will also be assessed for property tax, which is nothing but a clear loot of poor people by the Congress-led administration. When the corporation does not make development work in unauthorised colonies, it has no right to collect house tax from there, Subhash Arya said.

New method of assessment of schools, hospitals, farmhouses, buildings will also breed corruption and inspector raj.

Unit area rates ‘arbitrary’

PHDCCI has expressed concern over the high unit area values for various categories of property. The chamber was commenting on the Municipal Valuation Committee Report on introduction of Unit Area System for Assessment of Property Tax in Delhi.

PHDCCI has emphasised that the base area rate of Rs 320 per square meter is too high and shall enhance the current property tax paid by all categories of property owners, disproportionately.

Endorsing in principle that the reforms in the taxation system must raise taxes to acceptable levels, PHDCCI said that the unit area rates and categorisation of colonies is arbitrary.

The chamber reiterates its demand that the unit area rates be scaled down to reasonable levels. Besides, all property should be brought under the tax net because the civic services are availed by all property owners.

Although the Valuation Committee has lowered the classification of industrial areas by one category each, the chamber feels that the industrial areas should be categorised separately with further lower rates.

At the same time, PHDCCI welcomes the recommendation of lowering the multiplication factor for industrial property and adopting a uniform factor for rental property. This had earlier been suggested by the PHDCCI to the Valuation Committee.


Sheila gives special touch to Pulse Polio drive
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The next phase of Pulse Polio Immunization Programme (PPIP) will be organised in the NCT of Delhi on Sunday, under which all children upto five years will be administered pulse polio drops.

The Delhi Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit, formally launched the programme by administering pulse polio drops to several children at her official residence in New Delhi today. The noted cricketer, Mr Kapil Dev, was the chief guest, while the Health and Family Welfare Minister, Dr Yoganand Shastri, office bearers of WHO, UNICEF, Rotary International, DMA, and senior officers and doctors of Government of India, Government of Delhi and local bodies were present on the occasion.

Ms Dikshit expressed satisfaction that only three polio cases have been reported in the national Capital last year and not a single one during the last 10 months as compared to 24 polio cases in 2002. This has been possible due to the continuous efforts of the staff and active support and co-operation of the public.

The Chief Minister said that we would be able to make Delhi polio free only if we maintain this ‘zero level’ in the future also.

Mr Kapil Dev said that media could play an important role by spreading the message of the programme. He also called upon the society as a whole to come forward and participate in this welfare programme so that children might not fall prey to this crippling disease.

Dr Shastri informed that under this programme over 7500 polio kendras have been set up in the hospitals, dispensaries, schools, community centres, anganwadi centres, nursing homes/private institutions etc., spread all over Delhi.

Besides, 300 mobile teams will cover pavement dwelling units and construction site, state entry points etc., to administer pulse polio drops to the travelling children. All these centres will function from 9 A.M to 4 P.M. Over 25,000 staff have been deployed for the purpose.

The Chief Minister urged all Delhiites and those parents in particular who have children below five years to get their children immunized by taking them to the nearest polio kendra and also motivate their neighbours so that not a single child remain deprived of these drops. She called upon the people to work towards the dream of making India polio-free in the near future. 


Children to be administered polio drops today
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 3
All children below five years will be administered pulse polio drops in Sonepat district on January 4 during the countrywide immunisation campaign.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Balwan Singh, told mediapersons here today that the Health Department had made elaborate arrangements for making the campaign a success.

As many as 666 polio centres have been set up in the urban and rural areas of the district for this purpose. He also disclosed that as many as 2,664 employees would be deployed for administering the pulse polio drops to the children.

They will be monitored by 107 inspection teams. As many as 134 mobile teams will go round the railway stations, bus stands and bricks kilns as well as slum areas to administer the pulse polio drops.

According to the DC, special booths have also been set up at various places for administering the drops to the children travelling with their parents and passing through the district.

He claimed that the previous campaigns launched by the Health Department in coordination with the voluntary organisations in the district had proved a success.


Helping cancer kids forget their pain momentarily
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
This New Year the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), along with the Indian Cancer Society (ICS), plans to bring smiles on the faces of thousands of children who are valiantly fighting cancer.

Scores of children in the country are diagnosed with the dreaded disease each year and many among them are not even fortunate to receive adequate medical care.

And considering that medicine alone cannot cure cancer, the intangibles — care, entertainment and love — are prescribed to lessen the pain.

The ICCR and ICS have planned an evening that will take these affected children to a zone where the excruciating pain will cease, even if momentarily. A magic show conducted by a famous magician from Bangalore will have the Kamini auditorium resounding with laughter.

The magician, with his plethora of feats, is expected to spread joy amongst the children who need it the most. The special show, to be staged on the 5th of this month, will also witness the conferring of the status of Special Ambassador on Dr. Najma Heptullah.

Dr. Heptullah has been chosen as the Goodwill Ambassador by the ICS. She is expected to gift the children a “bit of magic to touch their lives and an opportunity to hope and enjoy”.

Speaking on the selection of Dr Heptullah, Vice Chairperson of the ICS, K K Mehta, said: “We wanted an ambassador who would also reflect our values. In Dr. Heptullah, we find present all the four C’s – credibility, competency, compassion and charm — which are important in an ambassador”.

By joining the cause, ICCR has taken upon itself the task of proving that cultural activities do not exist in a vacuum, they are part of the larger cohesive social fabric. The partnership is an example of a linkage, which can be formed to bring about change through advocacy and sensitisation.

The ICS also pointed out that “though there is compulsive evidence to suggest that cancer is a lifestyle related disease, ironically preventable, information and awareness, which could be of vital help in prevention, are for all practical purposes non-existent”.


Six hurt as vehicles stack up near Kundli
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 3
At least six persons were injured when five vehicles, including a tourist bus, got involved in an accident on G T Road near Kundli village, about 35 km from here yesterday. According to a report, this led to a traffic jam on the road, leaving a large number of vehicles stranded for hours. The injured were immediately hospitalised. They are out of danger.

It is stated that the tourist bus carrying 40 passengers was on its way from Delhi to Panipat. Its driver lost control due to dense fog. Consequently, the bus dashed against the divider of the road. The driver, however, applied the brakes and averted a major accident.

Five vehicles, including a canter and a car, were also plying behind the bus. All the vehicles stacked up. As a result, six persons sustained injuries. They were hospitalised by the highway police.

In another road accident, three persons were injured when a jeep carrying them overturned on Sonepat-Gohana Road near Barwasni village, about 5 km from here last evening. The injured were identified as Daryao Singh, Joginder and Ranbir. They were rushed to the local civil hospital. The jeep was being driven at a very high speed. The police are still investigating.

Chilly winds lash Delhiites

New Delhi: It was yet another cheerless and cold morning that greeted Delhiites. The city continued to shiver despite the minimum temperature spurting to 6.2 degree Celsius, as against 4.2 degree Celsius yesterday, which was the season’s lowest. However, the rise was neutralised by chilly winds. The sun did come up in the morning but there was no sheen. TNS


Third murder in family in ten months
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 3
One person was shot dead and another seriously injured when a car-borne gang fired indiscriminately at them this morning on the outskirts of village Butana under Baroda police station in Gohana sub-division of the district. The injured has been referred to PGIMS Rohtak and is stated to be serious. This is the third murder in a family within last 10 months.

According to information, Jasbir, son of Prithvi Singh, and Baljit, son of Chhotu Ram of village Butana were returning from the fields around 10.30 am when their tractor was hit by a dumper near Gangana Mor on the outskirts of the village. The tractor overturned and both of them fell on the ground.

Meanwhile, around four gangsters who were in Wagon-R just behind the dumper came out of the car and fired many rounds. While Jasbir died on the spot, Baljit was injured seriously. After committing the crime, the miscreants escaped in the car.

On receiving information, the police reached the spot and have registered a case against two Sajay and Krishan of the same village.

It is stated to be a case of an old enmity. The police also found that the dumper No. HR-38A-8715 was stolen from Gurgaon about five days back.

The two youths booked in this murder, are also held as accused in the murders of Dalbir, son of Chhotu Ram on May 27 and of Anil, son of Prithvi on March 24 last.

It is also pointed out that Jasbir and Baljit have been provided with a gunman, Havildar Satpal. The gunman was also reportedly accompanying them when the criminals struck. However, he escaped unhurt in the firing.


Don’t fall for BJP, Vidrohi tells political parties
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 3
The Haryana Pradesh Janata Dal (U) president, Mr Ved Parkash Vidrohi, has called upon all the political parties not to fall in the trap of the BJP whose only aim was to get power at any cost. He said that on many occasions in the past, the BJP has betrayed his allies and entered electoral alliance with some political parties whose activities were not in the interest of the country.

In a press statement issued here today, he posed the question to the Haryana BJP unit and asked it to explain why during the past four years it had extended its support to the anti-people policies of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) government headed by Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and not raised any voice against the involvement of the political leaders in false criminal cases instituted against them on the behest of Mr Chautala.

He reminded the people that the BJP had stabbed Mr Bansi Lal in the back in 1999, and contested the assembly elections with Mr Chautala’s party i.e. INLD.

He said that it appears that during the next Lok Sabha elections, the BJP might align with the Haryana Vikas Party to gain political mileage in the state. He also predicted that Mr Chautala would not oblige the BJP and not give five Lok Sabha seats and it would be the excuse for the BJP to severe its ties with the INLD.

Mr Vidrohi claimed that the BJP has no base in Haryana and it could not win even single seat of the Lok Sabha if it dared to contest the elections at its own. He alleged that in every state the BJP had humiliated its partners, especially in UP, and said that the BJP was responsible for the split in the Janata Dal (U).

He also appealed to the political parties to forge unity among the secular parties and try to defeat the BJP in the next Lok Sabha elections. He described the hike in the support price of various food grains as a mockery with the farmers and said that both the NDA government at the Centre and the INLD government in Haryana were anti-farmer.

He, however, welcomed the anti-defection law enacted by Parliament and said that it would check the horse-trading in politics.


Ahirwal: Who will exorcise the demon of neglect?
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Rewari, January 3
The former legislator, Mr Raghu Yadav, who is also the president of the Sarva Jati Janata Panchayat, a prominent political outfit of Haryana, has expressed profound anguish at the sorry state of affairs of Ahirwal. He said that it was all the more agonising that this doomed and downtrodden region of Ahirwal was an integral part of that Haryana, which is now reckoned as one of the most progressive states of the country.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Mr Yadav said that the gloomy picture, which now Ahirwal presented on the developmental front, was a poignant pointer towards its object victimisation by regional imbalances and disparities, which had all along been plaguing this progressive state, he added.

Pinpointing the abject disparities prevailing in the domains of higher education, he deplored that as many as five universities had been magnificently running at Kurukshetra, Rohtak, Hisar and Sirsa in various parts of the state, whereas the postgraduate regional centre of the M.D. University at Rewari, had been functioning from a rented accommodation since its inception in October, 1988. He bemoaned that the post-graduate regional centres, which came into existence at Hisar and Sirsa long after the PG centre of Rewari, had rapidly developed into the G. J. University and the Ch Devi Lal University respectively, while the growth of Rewari’s PG centre had remained totally stultified much to the chagrin and dismay of Ahirwal youths.

Mr Yadav further said that similarly on account of the inconsistent and lopsided approach of the Defence Ministry as well as the successive governments of Haryana towards the setting up of a long sanctioned Sainik School at Pali Gothra village in Rewari district, the long-cherished project had remained almost a mirage for the people of Ahirwal, which is otherwise popularly known as a nursery of soldiers for obvious reasons. He asserted that it was most pathetic that the issue of the Sainik school. The opening of the Sainik School, which was announced by the then Defence Minister Mr R. Venkatraman at a massive rally of ex-servicemen at Narnaul on September 4, 1983, and pertinent assurances regarding its establishment were given by two of his successors – former Defence Ministers Sharad Pawar and Mulayam Singh Yadav, had been callously sidetracked by the successive chief ministers.

The agonising neglect and disdainful degradation of the Rewari railway station, which lavishly enjoyed the superb glamour and glory of the Indian Railway by virtue of its being the largest station of the metre gauge railways in India for about a century, was another heart-burning issue, added Mr Yadav. He lamented that on account of the apathy of the Railway Ministry on the one hand and the poor and lacklustre advocacy of its cause inside as well as outside Parliament by Ahirwal’s successive MP’s. On the other hand, the expansion and growth of the prestigious Rewari railway station, which ought to have been equipped with all sophisticated facilities and amenities on an extensive scale; had remained stunted and stultified much to the dejection of the urbanites as well as the ruralites.

Mr Yadav went on to say that the negligibility of canal water supply in Ahirwal was the most ticklish issue, which had been relentlessly agitating the minds of the farmers here. He said that it was ironical that five districts of the state—Sirsa, Hisar, Fatehabad, Jind and Kaithal–were facing the menace of water-logging on account of an overdose of canal water whereas the fields in Rewari, Gurgaon and Mahendragarh districts and parts of Bhiwani and Jhajjar districts had been lying parched owing to extremely poor availability of canal water.

He asserted that the rightful solution of this problem lay in elimination of the mismanagement prevailing in the existing distribution of available canal water. But it was a pity that the successive rulers of Haryana had only been harping on the solution of the long-pending SYL canal tangle which, he said, had nothing to do with this problem of water–logging in the above five districts and the thirsty fields of other five districts vis-à-vis Ahirwal.

Mr Yadav said that such instances of regional disparities plaguing Ahirwal could be multiplied to any length.

However, to him the next important thing was to identify those persons who could be squarely held responsible for this sordid state of affairs in Ahirwal.

He explained that it was true that almost all of them had been ceaselessly putting the blame on the successive rulers of Haryana, while he himself was firmly of the opinion that the blame lay on legislators and MPs of Ahirwal, who remained glued to ministerial berths in the successive governments during the past 36 years and whose performance in and outside Parliament as well as the state assembly remained quite lackadaisical in raising the pertinent issues, which pertained to the welfare of the Ahirwal region as well as its residents.

Spelling out his new year message in the prevailing scenario, Mr Yadav said that he would like the people of Ahirwal to shake off their sentimentalism as well as their drooping spirits and adopt a completely pragmatic approach while exercising their franchise during the coming elections if they wanted Ahirwal to get rid of this menace of regional imbalances and disparities.


Martyrdom and the issue of overcoming evil

In the annals of the history of the Sikh gurus, there is an example that is worth celebrating even today: the spirit of sacrifice exemplified in the life and death of Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675) whose martyrdom was observed recently.

The Sis Ganj Gurdwara in Delhi is built at the very spot where he courted death, defying attempts by the then Mughal ruler to impose his faith on unwilling Kashmiri Brahmins.

Aurangzeb, the Mughal ruler, had let loose a reign of terror during the period. He was accused of forcing non-Muslims to embrace Islam. Those who resisted fell victims to his anger. It is said that he had razed several temples and banned Hindu festivals and fairs.

The Guru was quite perturbed by these developments. Just then a delegation of Kashmiri Brahmins came to him seeking his help and protection. They narrated their tales of woe. The Muslim governor in power, Nawab Iftikhar Khan, had ordered them to choose between Islam and death.

Moved by their plight, the Sikh leader decided to stand by the miserable Brahmins. He told them: “Go to the governor and tell him that all the Brahmins are ready to embrace Islam if their leader, Guru Tegh Bahadur, is first converted.”

The Brahmins, then in turn, presented their petition to the Emperor through the governor of Lahore. On its receipt, the emperor flew into a rage. He ordered the immediate arrest of the Guru. He was chained and detained in a prison in Sarhind for three months. Subsequently, he was moved to Delhi, where he was kept inside a cage. He was persuaded to embrace Islam by the royal Qazi and others. The Guru refused to give up his faith. His three brave disciples, Bhai Mati Das, Bhai Din Dayal and Bhai Sati Das, were tortured and killed before his eyes.

When these failed to move the Guru, he was given the option of performing a miracle so that he could remain a Guru. If not, he could embrace Islam and he would be given an exalted position. The Guru replied: “I will never abandon my faith. I want no honour in this life. I want honour hereafter.

The threat of death possesses no terrors for me. For death I am prepared and I cheerfully accept it.’’ What followed is history. Observers opine that the great sacrifice of the Guru had saved the country from being converted into a Dar-ul-Islam. Islamic historians might disagree with such a view. While this is debatable, what is beyond doubt is the courage and selflessness exhibited by the Guru in defending the rights of others. He, a Sikh, sacrificed his life to defend the rights of the Hindus (Brahmins).
Now what is the relevance of the martyrdom to the present world situation? In Tegh Bahadur’s time, nations believed that ‘might is right’. The mighty nations conquered the weaker ones and looting and plundering the property of enemies in the course of wars were considered normal and natural.

Civilisation has come a long way since then, when the laws of the jungle prevailed. However, there are several issues involved in fighting evil and oppressive forces in our present-day world.

The Guru through his martyrdom, was putting his spiritual force against the brute physical force of the enemy. Three centuries later, Mahatma Gandhi forged the weapon of non-violence and the concept of satyagraha in fighting evil. “Passive resistance is an all-sided sword. It can be used anyhow; it blesses him who uses it and against whom it is used. Without drawing a drop of blood, it produces far-reaching results.’’ And he fought against a whole empire and won “without firing a shot”. Since he invented the novel weapon, it has been used extensively in this country, very often to achieve goals that are patently unjust. In satyagraha, he maintained, there is no room for fraud or falsehood or any kind of untruth. Also the satyagrahi should be free from anger and malice.

Gandhiji wrote: “Jesus Christ, Daniel and Socrates represented the purest form of passive resistance or soul force. All these teachers counted their bodies as nothing in comparison with their soul. Tolstoy was the best and highest exponent of the doctrine. In India, the doctrine was understood and commonly practised long before it came into vogue in Europe. It is easy to see that soul force is infinitely superior to body force. If people in order to secure redress of wrongs resort to soul force, much of the present suffering will be avoided.’’ The powerful philosophy juxtaposed against the burning issues of the day like the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Kashmir problem, the terrorism issue highlighted by the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center seems incongruous. However, it has to be admitted that the overthrow of communism in the former Soviet Union, the reconciliation of the ruling Whites and the Blacks in South Africa, the unification of Germany and the ushering in of peace in Ireland and the growing public opinion all over the world against wars and conflicts point to the influence of the soul force as against physical force.

This is not to say that the world is learning to solve disputes through non-violent means. In the wake of the development of weapons of mass destruction, violence and wars if employed to serve disputes between nations, would result in wiping out major portions of the human race. If anything the warning that those who take the sword shall perish by the sword has only become an inescapable truth under the present circumstances.

Then how to put an end to the oppression and justice in societies? The moral force or the soul force has to be developed to such an extend as to rouse the conscience of mankind. Whether the human race will ever come to acknowledge the wisdom contained in the commandment to “overcome evil with good’’ is still a matter of conjecture. If that is to happen, why should nations go on spending huge sums in arming themselves?

M P K Kutty


No let-up in cold weather conditions
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 3
Sonepat city and its surrounding areas experienced severe cold on account of falling temperature today. According to a report, most of the people kept themselves indoor and the main bazars and the shopping centres presented a deserted look till noon.

A large number of cattle were reported to have been killed due to the ongoing cold wave in the region.

The herdsmen lit fire throughout last night to keep themselves and the cattle warm.

The current cold wave conditions have caused extensive damage to crops including mustered and vegetables in the region.

Trains running on the Delhi-Ambala-Kalka section of the Northern Railway were running behind schedule, stranding a large number of passengers at Sonepat and other railway stations for hours. The Amritsar-bound Barauni-Amritsar Express and the Delhi-bound Jammu Mail ran behind schedule by 4 hours. Similarly, almost all the incoming and outgoing long-distance trains passed through Sonepat behind schedule. Some long-distance trains were cancelled at the eleventh hour, which caused great inconvenience to the passengers.

Vehicular traffic on the National Highway No. 1 and other state highways were disrupted on account of mild fog and chilly weather conditions.


Felicitation function organised by traders association
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The Gandhi Market Traders Association felicitated a number of people with siropas and kirpans on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.

The recipients included the president of the Lok Janshakti Party, Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, the former director of CBI, Mr Joginder Singh, the president of the National Akali Dal, Mr Paramjeet Singh Pamma, SHO of Sadar Bazaar, Mr Rajinder Adhikari, the chief of the Sikh Welfare Society, Mr Satpal Singh, the chairman of the Guru Nanak Hospital, Mr Varyam Singh Sapra, the chairperson of the Guru Nanak School, Mr J. S. Thukral, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Mohammed Mustafa, Mr Santok Singh, Mr Bal Kishen and Mr Gurbachan Singh, Mr Surinder Singh, Mr Pritam Bhagat and Mr Mulk Raj.


Mystery caller: CM’s staff may be questioned
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The mystery caller at the Mathura Road residence of the chief minister has been formally arrested. He was allegedly trying to plant Rs 10,000 in a drawer when he was nabbed.

The 28-year-old accused, Rakesh, a resident of Rohtak, told the police that he had gone to the chief minister’s residence after an ‘influential employee’ promised him a job in lieu of money.

The police are expected to question some staffers of the Chief Minister’s office to ascertain whether there is any truth in Rakesh’s allegation. He was handed over to the police by the CM’s security officials on Friday.

Besides money, the police had also found in his possession photocopies of the currency notes which he had allegedly planted, educational certificates, identification documents and a recommendation letter for employment.

Rakesh has done his schooling in Rohtak. He had come to Delhi about four months back in search of employment, said the police.

Kidnapped girl found

Sonepat The Murthal police found a minor girl of Zainpur Tikola village, who was allegedly kidnapped on November 4 last year by a youth, identified as Raj Kumar of Khampur village (UP). According to a report, the minor girl, identified as Babita, was medically examined by a doctor in the civil hospital.

The police arrested the culprit, identified as Raj Kumar, in this connection against whom a criminal case under Sections 363, 366 and 376 IPC was registered on November 29 last year with the Murthal police station.

In her statement, the girl alleged that she was lured by the culprit and taken to several places where she was allegedly raped repeatedly by him.

According to another report, a 20-year-old girl was reported to have made an attempt to commit suicide by sprinkling kerosene oil on her body and setting herself on fire in her house situated on the Bahalgarh-Khewra road about, 15 km from here yesterday.

The girl, who sustained serious burn injuries, was rushed to the local civil hospital from where she was referred to the PGIMS at Rohtak for further treatment. She was employed in a factory on the Khewra-Bahalgarh road. The police are still investigating into the causes which led her to take this extreme step.

Cong rules out poll alliance

The Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) has decided to contest the next Lok Sabha Elections on all 10 seats in the state under the leadership of its president, Mr Bhajan Lal. Announcing this, Mr Krishan Murti Hooda, a former Haryana Minister and a spokesman of the HPCC, told mediapersons here today that the party was ready for the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections in the state. However, he ruled out any poll alliance with any political party and said that the party would contest the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections on its own, as its base had been strengthened since Mr Bhajan Lal assumed the charge of the HPCC president.

He claimed that the Congress party in the state was united and it would win all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana. The people of the state, he said, were behind Mr Bhajan Lal, who could alone safeguard their interests and dislodge Mr Chautala from power.

Mr Hooda blamed the Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala for misleading the people about the factionalism in the state Congress and said that a ‘Congress wave’ was sweeping the state. He said a Congress government would be formed after the next Assembly elections. OC


Traffic arrangements for procession
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The Delhi Traffic Police has made elaborate traffic arrangements for the procession from Gurdwara Rakab Ganj to Gurdwara Bangla Sahib to mark the birth anniversary of Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee on January 4.

The procession will starts from Gurdwara Rakab Ganj at about 10 A.M. and pass through Pandit Pant Marg, GPO, New Delhi, Ashoka Road, Patel Chowk, Parliament Street, Regal Building, Connaught Circus, Madras Hotel, Panchkuian Road, Bangla Sahib Marg and end at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. All motorists passing through this route are requested to take the necessary diversions to avoid traffic disruption.

loadshedding announced

The Yamaha company has announced load shedding on January 4. The areas affected by the load shedding include DDA flats, Masjid Moth, VSNL, R Block, M Block, GK 2, EPR Colony, Regharpura, Link Road, Harighar Singh Road, Shastri Park No 2 and its adjoining areas.

On January 5, the load shedding will take place in Palam village, Devganj, Dadadev, Rajnagar, Pappankalan, Regharpura, Link Road, Harighar Singh Road, Shastri Park No 2 and its adjoining areas due to maintenance work from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M.

Nagar Kirtan celebration

The president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Sewadar Committee, Mr M. Raja Singh Sethi, has appealed to all the presidents of the Singh Sabha Gurdwaras in the Capital to participate in the Nagar Kirtans starting from Gurdwara Rakab Ganj on the occasion of the Prakash Utsav of Shri Guru Gobind Singh ji on January 4.

The birth anniversary of Shri Guru Gobind Singh ji is being celebrated on January 5 and special functions have been organised to mark the event. In his appeal, Mr Sethi said that the fourth centenary celebrations of the Guru must be celebrated by spreading the message of universal brotherhood.

Bibi Palvinder Kaur, president, Punjabi Sikh Sangat, also urged the Ministry of Railways to start new trains facilitating the journey of those who wish to visit the places of Sikh pilgrimages across the country. 


Fault in phone exchange
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 3
The New Year began on a bad note for the telephone subscriber in Jain Bagh colony here. Almost all the abiana in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of RSU telephone exchange in Jain Bagh colony remained dead on January 1 on account of a major fault.

According to a report, the areas affected included Gohana Road, Mandi, and the Mini-Secretariat.

The fault caused inconvenience to thousands of subscribers. Even though the officials made concerted efforts to remove the fault, they failed to locate the fault till late in the evening. 


4,100 apply for VRS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The golden handshake offered by BSES Yamuna Power Limited and BSES Rajdhani Power Limited-Special Voluntary Retirement Scheme (SVRS) has attracted over 4,100, nearly 42 per cent of eligible strength. The SVRS scheme commenced on December 22, 2003 and was valid till December 31, 2003. The scheme attracted over 3,000 applications on the first day to take the early bird benefits, a release said.

“The high response rate from the company employees shows an appreciation of the positive benefits that will accrue to them through this offer,” said the spokesperson of the company. “The unique benefits that are offered in the SVRS are benefits, which have never been given in any voluntary retirement scheme in a utility before. We are happy at the positive spirit of employees in responding to the SVRS,” the spokesperson added.

The SVRS scheme was applicable to all regular employees who had completed 10 years of service from the date of joining Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) or attained the age of 40.

The current strength of employees in the BSES discoms is over 11,500. The scheme will lead to significant cost reduction for both the discoms, which will enhance the overall efficiencies of the companies operations.

The two distribution companies, BSES Yamuna Power Limited, covering Central and East areas and BSES Rajdhani Power Limited, covering South and West areas, provide electricity to around 18 lakh consumers spread across an area of approximately 900 sq kms. 


Manager charged with duping bank of Rs 1.65 cr
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
The CBI has filed a charge- sheet against five persons, including a Branch Manager of the Punjab and Sindh Bank for cheating the bank of Rs 1.65 crore in pursuance of a criminal conspiracy.

In the charge-sheet before the Special CBI Judge, Mr Dinesh Dayal, the investigating agency charged the former Branch Manager of Fatehpuri Branch, Mr Hardeep Singh along with the bank valuer, Mr V. P. Aneja, the Delhi-based Genexx Chemical Ltd., MD and director, Mr Jeewan Khanna and Mr Pankaj Ratra and one Mr Pankaj Singh Ahlawat with duping the bank.

According to the CBI, Mr Khanna obtained heavy credit facilities by submitting forged or fake sale deed of property, which he mortgaged to the bank.

Mr Aneja further helped the accused by overvaluing the property on the strength of which Mr Singh was able to sanction the loan.

The CBI alleged that the mortgaged land in Gurgoan, worth Rs 5 lakh, was valued at Rs 65.61 lakh by Mr Aneja. Thereafter, Mr Singh extended credit facilities to Genexx to limits beyond his delegated powers. Genexx took a loan of Rs 1.14 crore from the bank, which later went to the Debt Recovery Tribunal to recover the loan. It was found that the assets of the company had been declared NPA in 2000.

The investigating agency had registered an FIR in the case on November 7 last year.


International betting racket busted
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 3
With the arrest of four persons, the Special Cell of the Delhi Police claimed to have busted a multi-crore international betting racket in the Tilak Nagar area of West district.

The police claimed to have seized two laptop computers, four mobile phones, twenty base phone instruments fitted with nine prime cell, Nokia base phone machines having mobile chips, one colour TV and calculators from their possession.

Based on a secret information that some gang was involved in betting during the cricketing season, the sleuths arrested four persons, identified as Manoj Jain (33), Ajay Kumar (33), Deeraj Kochhar alias Sonu (29) and Rahul Vohra (30), all residents of Delhi from a hideout in Tilak Nagar.

During interrogation, the accused confessed that they were involved in betting during the cricket matches between India-Australia and South Africa–West Indies.

The accused often shifted bases from Delhi to Faridabad and Gurgaon to evade arrest and received calls from punters on mobile phones.

These would be later converted into landline phones using latest gadgets such as Nokia prime cell.

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