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Regional potpourri

Swami’s glass act
Cloaked in wilderness


PUNJAB

Amritsar
Utsav held
: A ‘Vishav Kahani Utasav’, organised by the Central Punjabi Lekhak Sabha (CPLS) began here on Saturday. The sabha flayed the Punjab Government’s indifferent attitude towards Punjabi language. Prof Gurdial Singh, Padam Shree, spoke on the occasion.

Mass contact programme: Mr Lakhmir Singh Randhawan, vice-president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), said here on Saturday that due to the ensuing Assembly elections the party had selected four constituencies - Raja Sansi, Beas, Jandiala and Verka for the Mass Contact Programme.

Batala
Scooterist dead
: A scooterist fell down from his scooter on Batala-Sri Hargobind Pur Road and died on the spot. Balwinder Singh (35) of Kandila village near here died when his scooter slipped suddenly. The Civil Hospital authorities, after conducting the post-mortem, handed over the body to his relatives on Saturday.

Scooterist dead: A scooterist fell down from his scooter on Batala-Sri Hargobind Pur Road and died on the spot. Balwinder Singh (35) of Kandila village near here died when his scooter slipped suddenly. The Civil Hospital authorities, after conducting the post-mortem, handed over the body to his relatives on Saturday.

Hoshiarpur
Looted
: Two clean-shaven and a Sikh youth, robbed Ravinder Singh and his friend Sahil Padha of Jammu on gunpoint near Satiana village on Hoshiarpur-Tanda road on Saturday. The accused looted Rs 9,200, a gold chain weighing 2.5 tola, one mobile phone, 3 ATM cards from Ravinder Singh and Rs 8,000, a mobile phone and 2 ATM cards from Sahil. A case has been registered.

Looted: Two clean-shaven and a Sikh youth, robbed Ravinder Singh and his friend Sahil Padha of Jammu on gunpoint near Satiana village on Hoshiarpur-Tanda road on Saturday. The accused looted Rs 9,200, a gold chain weighing 2.5 tola, one mobile phone, 3 ATM cards from Ravinder Singh and Rs 8,000, a mobile phone and 2 ATM cards from Sahil. A case has been registered. 

JAGRAON
Stolen buffaloes killed
: One Kartar Singh allegedly stole two buffaloes from his brother’s house, and while he was taking away the buffaloes from the house, the animals fell into a well and died. The Raikot police has registered a case under Sections 457, 380, 429, 427, 294 of the IPC.

4 booked: Bhag Singh, Ranjit Singh, Makhan Singh and Iqbal Singh of Chakar were caught while stealing canal water by using iron pipes. They also abused a government employee on duty and tore his uniform at Chakar village. The police has registered a case under Sections 430, 353, 1186, 506, 34 IPC on the complaint of Ajit Singh, Assistant Engineer, Daudhar section, Jagraon canal sub-division Akhara.

Patiala
Lions Club chief
: Mr Rajinder Bansal was installed as president of the Lions Club (Patiala Central) at a meeting held here on Saturday. The chief guest-cum-Installation officer at the function was Mr R.K. Ranna. On the occasion awards were distributed to Lions Club members who performed well in various social activities.

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CHANDIGARH

Mohali
Office-bearers
: Dr Harjinder Singh Majhail was elected president of the Lions Club International, Mohali Greater, 321-F district, here on Friday. His name was proposed by the club secretary Ramesh Kant. Dr Majhail said the club would organise tree plantation programmes, blood donation and medical camps and awareness seminars.

Panchkula
Magic show
: Famous magician NC Sarcar entertained audiences in three shows organised by the Rotary Club Panchkula at Bhavan Vidyalaya, Panchkula, Sector 15, on Saturday.

Cleanliness: Appreciating the cleanliness drive launched by the civic body, members of the Panchkula Estate Welfare Society, Sector 7, have asked the residents to support Panchkula Municipal Council (MC). In a press note, they said the MC president, Ms Manveer Kaur Gill, had promised the repair of road berms, potholes and walking paths would be taken up shortly.

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HARYANA

Ambala
Fire in coop bank
: A fire broke out in a mini bank of a cooperative society located in Baragaon village in Naraingarh late last night.
The fire was spotted at about midnight. Bank records were burnt in the fire. Nobody was injured in the incident. The police is not ruling out foul play. Forensic experts including Dr G.R. Jain visited the spot.

Kaithal
Free eye camp
: As many as 360 patients were checked up at a free eye check-up camp organised by Om Parkash Jindal Gramin Jan Kalyan Sansthan at Mundri village near here on Saturday.

Sonepat
Life term
: Four persons, Om Prakash, Ashok and Rakesh of Rewara village and Manoj of Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, have been sentenced to life imprisonment by Additional District and Sessions Judge Deepak Gupta in a case of murder of Ashok of Rewara village.

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HIMACHAL PRADESH

Kumarhatti
Labourer hurt
: A labourer Madan Lal of Hamirpur was critically injured when an under-construction culvert gave way near Nalagarh on Friday. The incident happened on Gurukul-Sareri link road that was being built under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna. Both legs of Madan were crushed under the debris.

Nahan
Stone laid
: Speaker HP Vidhan Sabha G.R. Musafir on Saturday laid the foundation stone of lift irrigation scheme Kohtia- Jhajar to be constructed at a cost of Rs 16.50 lakh in Rajgarh subdivision of Sirmaur district. It would irrigate 12 hectares of land in Kohti-Jhajar.

Nalagarh
Valuables stolen
: Valuables and cash were allegedly stolen from a house at Sanehar village, 5 km from here, on the intervening night of July 20 and 21. According to Mr Naresh Kumar, the lock on main door of the house was found broken with the belongings scattered all over yesterday. Mr Naresh Kumar and his family were sleeping on the roof. The total loss is estimated to be over Rs 60,000.

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REGIONAL POTPOURRI

Swami’s glass act

Preacher Rampal's bullet-proof glass chamber, which was fitted with an elevator that enabled him to disappear from the view of his followers
Preacher Rampal's bullet-proof glass chamber, which was fitted with an elevator that enabled him to disappear from the view of his followers

An innocuous-looking ashram building at Karontha village, near Rohtak, has virtually turned out to be a palace inside. After the self-styled godman Rampal was booked for murder last week, the police found that the controversial preacher lived in a hi-tech, grandiose palace in the basement.

The basement is a maze of tunnel-like corridors leading from one room to another. But the most amazing find was the godman's throne. He preached from a massive throne that had an electronic switch concealed in one of its armrests. A bullet-proof glass case provided him a cocoon of safety. He would simply disappear along with his throne at the press of a button, leaving bewildered villagers gaping.

The police found that the throne was actually an elevator which would take the baba down to the basement, from where he used the tunnel-like corridors to reappear from a different direction. That explained his 'magical' vanishing acts.

Spread over four acres of land on the outskirts of the village, the ashram was built from donations from his followers and yet the baba's living quarters remained out of bounds for them.

The self-styled godman hails from a family of poor farmers of Dhana village, near Gohana, in Sonepat district. He was a Junior Engineer in the Haryana Irrigation Department. The police have now found that he had a criminal record. As a student he was booked in 1973 and 1980. His claim to fame was his criticism of the Arya Samaj and other holy scriptures.

Last week, his followers blocked traffic in front of the ashram seeking the release of two associates picked up by the police in connection with a criminal case.

Thousands of residents of nearby villages retaliated by blocking access to the ashram itself. The baba's followers fired at the villagers, killing one and injuring 70 of them. The 'godman' is now cooling his heels in a dingy police lock-up.

Cloaked in wilderness

The Dak Bungalow at Craignano, 16 km beyond Shimla on the road to Naldehra, has picture postcard scenery, which is now being marred on account of administrative apathy.

The Britons had constructed this bungalow for recreation purposes.

Once the favourite spot of "burra sahibs", it is now losing its charm.

Bal Krishan Gupta of Hisar gives away articles of daily use to a sadhu on the outskirts of the city
Bal Krishan Gupta of Hisar gives away articles of daily use to a sadhu on the outskirts of the city. — Photo by Mehta

A recent visit to the area showed that the road leading to the bungalow is not fit for a drive and the park in front of it not worth a walk. The park has not been tended for the past many months. Even the building is in need of repair.

The road leading from Mashobra is full of potholes. It is a stretch that motorists would prefer to avoid, but sadly there is no alternative route.

Even after tall claims of the state government to promote places of tourist interest, the district administration has not installed any signboards indicating the location of Craignano. One has to take the help of locals to reach the place. At the entrance of the bungalow stands a small faded signboard, which can be read only by straining 
one's eyes.

The reading-cum-billiard room, which has been converted into dining room, needs refurbishing, and so does the five-room rest house adjacent to the bungalow.

Sanitary care to doling out daily ware

One doesn't need a huge bank balance to be able to help the underprivileged. Nor is it essential to be associated with an established NGO or a voluntary organisation to be able to do some social good. All that is needed is a strong will to serve.

This has been proved beyond doubt by Bal Krishan Gupta, a resident of Sector 13 in Hisar, who retired as a Sanitary Inspector from the state Health Department several years ago.

So intense is his desire to help others that every other day, he picks up his scooter and just takes off for the TB Hospital, a temple or slum dwelling. He carries along bagsful of garments, footwear, soap-cakes, handkerchiefs and other such items of daily, personal use, which he distributes among the needy.

He spends a substantial part of his pension on social service. As soon as he finds anything lying unused or surplus at home, he hands it over to the deserving or donates it to a charitable institution.

Gupta is especially keen to do something for the elderly and whenever he finds an aged person in need of help, he makes it a point to reach out with whatever is required — a garment, a pair of spectacles, footwear or money. He also takes pleasure in feeding stray animals.

A firm believer in "karma" and the power of the Almighty, he visits temples regularly. Even there, whenever he spots some problem like a faulty tap, weak tube-light or fused bulb, he immediately sets to work and calls an electrician or plumber on his own to set things right.

"I am of the considered view that nothing but one's good deeds will help in case of need," says Gupta, adding that though we must fulfill our responsibility towards our family, we should not become so self-centred that we overlook the plight of others.

——— Contributed by Raman Mohan, Vishal Gulati and Sunit Dhawan

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