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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H I M A C H A L   P R A D E S H

Charge sheet will be poll plank: CM 
Mandi, December 3
The Chief Minister, Mr. Virbhadra Singh, today took the BJP head on, stating that the Congress would make the chargesheet, submitted by the four former ministers and three MLAs of the then Prem Kumar Dhumal's regime levelling corruption charges against Mr. Dhumal and the former PWD minister Mr. Mohinder Singh, as the main poll plank during the coming election in the state.

Unemployment going up, says Dhumal
Dharamsala, December 3
Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal here today alleged that the present Congress government had failed to avail the special industrial package sanctioned to Himachal Pradesh in 2002 during the tenure of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister, even though unemployment was growing in the state and not many industries have been attracted.

MLAs’ approach on quota criticised
Chamba, December 3
The Chamba Scheduled Castes Welfare Association has expressed deep concern over the lackadaisical approach of the legislators who are elected from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes reserve Assembly constituencies but it is unfortunate on their part that they have failed to fight against the anti-reservation policy adopted by the public and private sectors.

Hydro project: Tribals’ protest halts construction
Karcham/Wangtoo (Kinnaur), December 3
Tribal people of Kinnaur today forced Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corporation Limited to stop the construction work on the controversial 7,760-crore 1000-mw Karcham-Wangtoo Hydroelectric Power Project, the largest private venture in hydroelectric power generation on the Sutlej.

Company asked to re-build bridge across Sutlej
Reckong PEO, December 3
The Himachal government once again has asked same company to re-construct the bridge across Sutlej on a link road near Tashigang village in Pooh sub-division of Kinnaur district that collapsed before its launching on November 19 this year at the time of load testing; it claimed three lives.






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EARLIER STORIES



HP expresses inability to extend Majathal sanctuary
Shimla, December 3
The Himachal Pradesh Government has informed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court that it would not be possible to extend the Majathal sanctuary by merging adjoining areas as agreed to by it while obtaining permission for the diversion of a part of it for the Ambuja Cement plant.

Stir threat over animals’ issue 
Shimla, December 3
The Himachal Gyan Vigyan Samiti has decided to launch a statewide stir to press its demand for a comprehensive policy to contain the animal-human conflict which was creating a plethora of problems for the people, particularly farmers whose crops are being damaged. 

Installation of water meters put off
Nurpur December 3
Following intervention by the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Minister, Mr Kaul Singh, the department yesterday postponed the enforcement of its notification on installing water meters by consumers in the urban areas.

Mandi district to have govt college 
Shimla, December 3
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today announced the opening of a government degree college at Dharampur in Mandi district and sanctioned Rs 5 crore for the construction of its building.

Deaf and dumb girl needs aid 
Shimla, December 3
Vasudha, a 12-year-old deaf and dumb girl of Karsog in Mandi district, is in need of financial support for a surgical procedure which will enable her to lead a normal life. Doctors at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, who are treating her say that an implant in her ear would restore her hearing ability. However, the surgical procedure along with the implant would cost about Rs 12 lakh. Her father, Mr Vikram Singh, who is an employee of Gramin Bank, is in no position to arrange the amount.

Cold wave sweeps tribal belt
Shimla, December 3
An intense cold wave sweeping the tribal belt and other higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh continued unabated as high-altitude tribal areas and mountain passes had another spell of moderate snowfall.

Cable Act to be enforced strictly 
Shimla, December 3
The government will strictly enforce the Cable Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act to ensure that cable operators transmit at least two terrestrial Doordarshan channels and one regional language channel on the prime band.

State-level youth festival begins
Nahan, December 3
State-level 23rd Youth Festival commenced here at the Zila Parishad Hall today. It was inaugurated by Mr Rajender Singh Thakur, Director, Youth Services and Sports department of Himachal. As many as 325 participants from all 12 districts of the state are participating in the three-day long festival.

Vishal Hindu sammelan organised
Nahan, December 3
Vishal Hindu Sammelan was organised by workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and other Hindu organisations in the historic Chowgan here today. A large number of residents of Nahan and its adjoining villages participated in the sammelan.

 

 

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Charge sheet will be poll plank: CM 
Kuldeep Chauhan
Tribune News Service

Mandi, December 3
The Chief Minister, Mr. Virbhadra Singh, today took the BJP head on, stating that the Congress would make the chargesheet, submitted by the four former ministers and three MLAs of the then Prem Kumar Dhumal's regime levelling corruption charges against Mr. Dhumal and the former PWD minister Mr. Mohinder Singh, as the main poll plank during the coming election in the state.

Addressing a public meeting at Dharampur in the district here today, Mr Virbhadra Singh said that the chargesheet against Mr. Dhumal and Mr. Mohinder Singh still stood pending in the Vidhan Sabha and would be made an issue during the coming election.

"We will provide the chargesheet to Congress workers to make posters to be distributed here and other places to the public so that true picture of the "BJP leaders" would be revealed", he asserted.

Mr. Virbhadra Singh said the four ministers and three MLAs had levelled corruption charges against Mr.Dhumal and Mr. Mohinder in the chargesheet, mentioning how over dozens of hydro projects were handed over to the companies without getting cabinet approval. They had demanded Mohinder's ouster from the cabinet whom Mr. Dhumal had to remove under pressure later.

Referring to the charges of ignoring the development of Dharampur made by Mr. Mohinder Singh, Mr. Virbhadra Singh stated "he was in the habit of changing parties and he never took up issues of development of the constituency with him".

Putting all charges to rest Mr Virbhadra Singh announced that a government college would be opened at Dharampur from the next session and granted Rs.5 crore for the purpose. The fish farm would be set at near Machial in the same area as the Sidhpur site was not feasible, he clarified. He pointed out that the Rs. 365 crore Mid Himalayan Watershed Project would end the water scarcity in the region and boost up its ecology and economy.

He announced a grant of Rs. 4 crore for the Rs. 7.90 crore Kanda Patan-Awahdevi lift drinking water scheme which would benefit 54 villages and set May 17 as deadline for its completion.

He added that the Sajau-Piplu lift water drinking scheme would be completed by October 2 next year. He said that the government would give pension to all those who were eligible for the benefit. 'The government is spending 48 per cent of its budget on social security and has benefit over 2.12 lakh persons so far".

The Chief Minister upgraded five high schools to senior secondary level, two middle schools to high school level. The Excise and Taxation officer Mr. Rangila Ram Rao, chairman of HP State Cooperative Bank Mr. Natha Singh Thakur also spoke. 

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Unemployment going up, says Dhumal
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, December 3
Former Chief Minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal here today alleged that the present Congress government had failed to avail the special industrial package sanctioned to Himachal Pradesh in 2002 during the tenure of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the Prime Minister, even though unemployment was growing in the state and not many industries have been attracted.

Addressing a press conference in Hamirpur today, he said special industrial package has been given after the issue was taken up by the then state governments of Jammu and Jashmir, Uttranchal and Himachal Pradesh with an aim to generate employment opportunities for the youth of these areas.

"It is worth condemning that the Congress-led UPA government reduced the time period of the special package from 10 years to merely four years. And now, there is a demand to extend the deadline by three years. That too on the condition that if the industry is set up on the non-hilly areas of Himachal, the funds sanctioned under the package would not be available," he says.

He alleged that it was due to the wrong policies of the Central and state governments that neither the industries were being attracted to the state, nor were the youth getting employment avenues. 

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MLAs’ approach on quota criticised
Our Correspondent

Chamba, December 3
The Chamba Scheduled Castes Welfare Association has expressed deep concern over the lackadaisical approach of the legislators who are elected from the Scheduled Castes and Tribes reserve Assembly constituencies but it is unfortunate on their part that they have failed to fight against the anti-reservation policy adopted by the public and private sectors. And this is in fact that vital reason that the Himachal Government gets liberty to bypass the reservations in government and non-government jobs.

In a press release issued here today, Mr Krishan Lal Shah, president of the association, said that the back history of ignoring the reservation policy had started during the BJP regime in 1990-92 when Mr Shanta Kumar was the Chief Minister and in the wake of that trend the state government had diluted and defused the reservation benefits by giving twist and turns to them from time to time while making recruitments to thousands of government and non-government posts.

Quoting instances of appointment of various categories such as technical assistants, panchayat assistants, tailoring centre teachers, assistant school teachers or teachers under Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Mr Shah alleged that provisions of the reservation policy had been flouted.

Even nowadays the appointment of anganwari workers and assistants to about 22,000 anganwari centres in the state were being processed in breach of the reservation policy. Mr Shah lamented, regretting that recruitment rules were being modified as per the suitability of the functionaries and the provisions of the reservation policy were not being implemented in toto.

Mr Shah demanded the government to adhere to the reservation policy forthwith while making recruitment of PTA teachers, appointment of anganwari workers and assistants and other appointments. He strongly demanded that the backlog in the appointments pending under the reservation policy for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes for the past 20 years should be cleared and the future appointments be made on the basis of that backlog filling the posts of Scheduled Caste and Tribes.

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Hydro project: Tribals’ protest halts construction
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Karcham/Wangtoo (Kinnaur), December 3
Tribal people of Kinnaur today forced Jaypee Karcham Hydro Corporation Limited to stop the construction work on the controversial 7,760-crore 1000-mw Karcham-Wangtoo Hydroelectric Power Project, the largest private venture in hydroelectric power generation on the Sutlej.

Hundreds of tribesmen from adjoining villages came out of their houses last evening as well this morning and held a huge demonstration against the coming up of this project simultaneously at Karcham and Wangtoo, the proposed sites of diversion tunnel and power house, respectively.

The tribal people have decided to begin an indefinite chain strike against the project at both places. As part of this, 15 persons sat on strike today demanding from the state government to ask the Jaypees not to go ahead with the mega project.

It may be mentioned that the tribal people of Kinnaur have been protesting against this hydroelectric power project ever since Jaypees began the construction work in December last year. They have even roped in the support of local deities in protest against the project.

Last evening, hundreds of tribal people marched towards the construction sites to stop the construction work, but before the agitated people reached the site, Jaypees packed up their machinery and asked the engineers and workforce to stop the construction work.

The Tribune tried to contact local officials of Jaypees for their version on this issue but no one came forward to record their statement without assigning any reason.

Meanwhile, the agitation against the Jaypees is being closely monitored by the district administration of Kinnuar. The administration sent Captain Raman Sharma, Sub Divisional Magistrate, to solve the matter, but the agitated people were adamant to stop the construction work on the project. Dozens of armed police personnel have also been deployed at both construction sites to prevent any untoward incident.

Meanwhile, many social and religious organisations have extended their support to the agitation, claimed Ranjit Singh Negi an IAS officer-turned- environmentalist, who is supporting the agitation. He said the tribal people have constituted a stronger pressure group in order to further strengthen their campaign against such hydro-power projects that, according to him, were ignoring environmental issues.

Shyam Sunder Negi, president of the Karcham-Wangtoo Sangarsh Samiti, who was allegedly falsely implicated in a case of kidnapping by the local police and is presently evading arrest told The Tribune on telephone that the agitation would continue for an indefinite period until the state government relooks into the apprehensions of the environmental impact of this project on the already fragile mountainous areas.

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Stir threat over animals’ issue 
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 3
The Himachal Gyan Vigyan Samiti has decided to launch a statewide stir to press its demand for a comprehensive policy to contain the animal-human conflict which was creating a plethora of problems for the people, particularly farmers whose crops are being damaged. The samiti has constituted a 14-member joint action committee with Prof K.S. Dheer as chairman and Dr Onkar Shad as convener. The committee will finalise the agitation programme shortly.

Prof Dheer said the samiti had been left with no option but to launch an agitation as the government had not taken any steps to address the problem in the stipulated period. Prowling leopards had been giving sleepless nights to villagers, while wild boars, monkeys, blue bulls, sambars and other animals had been destroying crops. Things had come to such a pass that the farmers who were suffering huge losses due to damage being caused to crops by wild animals year after year were demanding scientific culling of selected species.

Every year crops worth over Rs 400 crore were being destroyed and prowling leopards and bears were targeting human beings and livestock with unfailing regularity. The gravity of the situation can be judged from the fact that 2319 out of the total 3,200 panchayats in the state have been affected by the problem.

He said translocation of monkeys and other animals into deep forests was no solution as they created problems in the area where they were released. To provide immediate relief, the ban on export of monkeys be lifted and select species in specified areas be declared vermins for a specified period, he said. He further demanded that a task force should be set up to carry out scientific culling of undesirable animals in such areas.

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Installation of water meters put off
Our Correspondent

Nurpur December 3
Following intervention by the Irrigation and Public Health (IPH) Minister, Mr Kaul Singh, the department yesterday postponed the enforcement of its notification on installing water meters by consumers in the urban areas.

The domestic and commercial consumers were served notices by the department last week directing them to install water meters at the earliest at their own expenses which sparked off a lot of resentment among the residents.

The department had also warned to disconnect their water supply if they did not adhere to the directions.

Acting upon the notices, the IPH authorities disconnected a number of commercial water connections on Thursday. The irate commercial consumers met the local MLA and Revenue Minister, Mr Sat Mahajan, who directed the authorities concerned to suspend implementation of the notification for the time being.

Meanwhile, the local Municipal Council also took up the issue with the IPH Minister at Shimla on Friday.

According to official information the state government had issued a notification through the Principal Secretary, IPH Department, on June 15, 2005, relating to enhancement of water tariff and installing water meters in the urban area. Intriguingly, the consumers have to bear the cost of meters which would also be maintained and repaired by the consumers.

Following public outcry and taking up the issue with the Chief Minister by the local Municipal Council president, the government had deferred installation of meters. But after one year the department again took steps to enforce its notification. There is a demand to install water meters by the IPH Department on the pattern of electricity meters by getting security and monthly rent from the consumers.

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Deaf and dumb girl needs aid 
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 3
Vasudha, a 12-year-old deaf and dumb girl of Karsog in Mandi district, is in need of financial support for a surgical procedure which will enable her to lead a normal life.
Doctors at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, who are treating her say that an implant in her ear would restore her hearing ability. However, the surgical procedure along with the implant would cost about Rs 12 lakh. Her father, Mr Vikram Singh, who is an employee of Gramin Bank, is in no position to arrange the amount.

Dr R.C. Deka has fixed dates from December 12 to 14 for her operation, which would be possible only if the amount is deposited with the hospital in advance. Her father said that Vasudha was born as normal child. A bout of small pox when she was just eight months old left her deaf and dumb. He has appealed to the government and all others who could help him to contribute to raise the amount which would give a new life to her daughter.

Those willing to lend a helping hand can contact Mr Vikram Singh on mobile phone numbers 094184-55027 and 098160-05027.

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Company asked to re-build bridge across Sutlej
Tribune News Service

Reckong PEO, December 3
The Himachal government once again has asked same company to re-construct the bridge across Sutlej on a link road near Tashigang village in Pooh sub-division of Kinnaur district that collapsed before its launching on November 19 this year at the time of load testing; it claimed three lives.

The government seems to have taken this decision in haste, without waiting for the findings of a technical probe, forensic report and investigation by the police here.

The district police of Kinnaur had decided to interrogate authorities concerned of the company to find out laxity on their part, if any, in the bridge collapse incident.

Mr Arvind Sharda, Superintendent of Police, said, “Since, the collapse of bridge has claimed three lives it requires thorough probe from the criminal point of view of the incident also”.

To a question, he said, no matter, the whole investigation revolved round the technical inquiry being conducted by a three-member technical panel constituted by the state government and the scientific report being prepared by the state forensic laboratory but the police is still independent to collect more evidence from ‘criminal point of view’ by interrogating the authorities concerned of the company.

The government had constituted a three-member technical panel under the Chairmanship of Arun Mahajan, a Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department (PWD) to probe laxity in the bridge collapse incident, report of which is awaited by next week.

On the other hand, the government has so far not taken any action against the engineers of the PWD ‘assigned’ supervision of the construction work. The government is still ‘shielding’ them on the pretext of an agreement signed between the company and the Public Works Department according to which “the role of department comes only after handing over of the bridge to it by the company after load testing”, claims a senior official of the government.

Senior authorities of the government allegedly are trying to give clean chit to the construction company that there was no fault in the design of the bridge on the pretext that it was their ‘patent design’.

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HP expresses inability to extend Majathal sanctuary
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 3
The Himachal Pradesh Government has informed the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court that it would not be possible to extend the Majathal sanctuary by merging adjoining areas as agreed to by it while obtaining permission for the diversion of a part of it for the Ambuja Cement plant.

The CEC had taken a serious notice of the U-turn by the government in the matter and asked it to explain why the move to merge the 17.50 sq km of the adjoining forest area had been dropped after issuing a notification under Section 18 of the Wildlife Protection Act. The government has asserted that the proposal to merge the area has not been found feasible.

The Deputy Commissioner, while carrying out the process of settlement of rights, came to the conclusion that the objections raised by local people were valid, as their forest rights would be affected.

The Government of India had, in 1992, allowed the state to divert a part of the Darlaghat sanctuary for the project on the condition that 20 sq km of adjoining land would be merged in it to make up for the diverted land. The truncated sanctuary was renamed Majathal wildlife sanctuary and a move was initiated to merge 17.50 sq km of the adjoining forest area in it. A notification under Section 18 of the WPA was issued in March 2002 and the process to settle the rights of the local people in certain pockets of the area proposed for merger was started. The final notification for the merger of the area was to be issued under Section 26 of the Act after the settlement of the rights.

However, the government accepted the report of the Deputy Commissioner and informed the department that the notification under Section 18 had become infructuous. However, under the WPA such a notification cannot be withdrawn without the permission of the Centre. The area of the sanctuary was being extended in the fulfilment of the condition laid by the Union Ministry for allowing the diversion of land under the Darlaghat sanctuary for the cement plant.

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Mandi district to have govt college 
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 3
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today announced the opening of a government degree college at Dharampur in Mandi district and sanctioned Rs 5 crore for the construction of its building.

Addressing a public meeting at Dharampur, he announced Rs 7 crore for Kanda Pattan-Rakhoh-Awah Devi and Kanda Pattan-Sajao Piplu lift water supply schemes and directed the department concerned to complete it on a war footing. He also assured the gathering that the Harsi Pattan bridge over the Beas, to be constructed at a cost of Rs 8.71 crore, would be completed at the earliest.

He announced the upgradation of the five high schools Dev Brarta, Kothuwan, Sadhot, Kamlah and Longani to senior secondary schools, two middle schools at Malyana and Rasain Gallu to high school and three primary schools at Dhallara, Sihan and Rangar to middle school.

The Chief Minister emphasised the need for a major plan for the creation of rainwater harvesting structures to harness the rain seasonal rivulets. He said a large number of storage dams were required to be built to store maximum rainwater which would also be beneficial in recharging the water sources. People had also been advised to incorporate rain water harvesting structures in their building plans.

Mr Rangila Ram Rao, Excise and Taxation Minister, said that the state had been sanctioned a record 11,000 aanganwaris by the Centre, adding that the new ones would provide employment to 22,000 rural women and help them in making self-reliant.

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Cold wave sweeps tribal belt

Shimla, December 3
An intense cold wave sweeping the tribal belt and other higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh continued unabated as high-altitude tribal areas and mountain passes had another spell of moderate snowfall.

The mighty Dhauladhar ranges in Kangra and the Churdhar ranges in Sirmaur district received fresh snowfall while higher reaches in Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts had moderate intermittent snowfall for the third day today.

The Kinner Kailash peak and Sri Khand in Kinnaur and Rohtang, Kunzam, Saach and Chansel passes also experienced a mild snowfall.

The tribal vallyes of Lahaul, Spiti, Pangi, Pin and Hangrang groaned under piercing cold wave conditions as the minimum temperature stayed between -8 and -15 degrees Celsius.

All natural lakes, springs and tributaries of major rivers, including the Chandertal, Surajtal and Nako lakes, had frozen, causing a sharp fall in the dischage of water in the snowfed Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers. About 50-km stretch of Chandrabhaga river in Spiti had also frozen due to biting cold wave conditions. Keylong in the Lahaul valley recorded 10 cm of snowfall till this afternoon while the lower tribal areas experienced mild rain.

The sky remained heavily overcast and icy winds swept the region. The Weatherman predicted isolated snow or rain in some parts of the state during the next 24 hours.

The discharge in the water flow of major rivers had affected power generation in hydroelectric projects and the generation had fallen up to 25 per cent. —PTI

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Cable Act to be enforced strictly 
Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 3
The government will strictly enforce the Cable Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act to ensure that cable operators transmit at least two terrestrial Doordarshan channels and one regional language channel on the prime band.

The District Magistrates and officers of the Information and Public Relations Department, the authorised officers, have been directed to ensure that the operators also adhered to the programme code and the advertisement code, besides providing the local Shimla Doordarshan channel through their networks.

Television and radio are the most effective modes of disseminating information in the hill state, particularly the landlocked tribal areas. With the state government's persistent efforts, as many as 39 very low power transmitters (VLPT) have been installed across the state to help extend the reach of Doordarshan to over 50 lakh of the total population of 61 lakh. Geographically, about 43 per cent of the area is covered.

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State-level youth festival begins
Our Correspondent

Nahan, December 3
State-level 23rd Youth Festival commenced here at the Zila Parishad Hall today. It was inaugurated by Mr Rajender Singh Thakur, Director, Youth Services and Sports department of Himachal. As many as 325 participants from all 12 districts of the state are participating in the three-day long festival.

Mr Thakur said the Youth services department was spending Rs 8.22 crore on over all development of youths in the state during next year. He said of this amount Rs 3.24 crore would be spend on providing infrastructure for the promotion of sports in the different districts of the state. The government of India has sanctioned Rs 1.5 crore to each district of the State for organising coaching camps for different sports activities.

Mr Chaman Singh Dhauta, Deputy Director of the department called upon the youth to come forward to solve local problems with the help of Panchyati Raj institutions and other government agencies.

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Vishal Hindu sammelan organised
Our Correspondent

Nahan, December 3
Vishal Hindu Sammelan was organised by workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh and other Hindu organisations in the historic Chowgan here today. A large number of residents of Nahan and its adjoining villages participated in the sammelan.

Except RSS workers and Hindu saints, no political personality of the town was seen on the stage. The sammelan was presided over by Mahant Surya Pratap Singh, who had come from Punjab.

The mahant alleged Muslim invasion for spreading untouchability in India. He claimed that in the Vedas and other Hindu scriptures there was no reference of untouchability. Mr Singh also alleged that missionaries under the cover of education and health services were encouraging Christianity and were pursuing people to accept Christianity on the one or another pretext.

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