|Monday, February 21, 2000,
Burning train reaches
No fudging, says PGI doctor
We pretended to be
Maritime crimes worry Navy
Subsidy cut on kerosene, LPG
5 lakh relief for family in blast
Hema flays Deepa on
DSGMC plan for cyclone victims
NCW against change in womens
Burning train reaches Delhi
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (PTI, UNI) Some passengers of the Punjab Mail had seen "The Burning Train", but as they boarded the train at Mumbai on Friday, nobody had thought their journey was leading them to a similar real-life ordeal.
The train, with some of its bogies on fire, continued running for some distance, just as in the Bollywood movie but the end was not as happy as in the film for the families of 18 persons who lost their lives in the tragedy.
"The train continued moving even after the chain was pulled by passengers amidst cries for help from the S-8 coach, which bore the brunt of the blaze," Ishan Arya, a Merchant Navy student who was in the adjacent coach, said at the New Delhi railway station where the train arrived this morning.
"Immediately after the blaze engulfed the bogie, people were seen jumping out, even burning... it was pathetic," said Mr I.C. Varshene, a custom official, who was travelling along with his wife and grandchildren.
Heart-rending scenes were witnessed at the station as the ill-fated train rolled down the platform after a delay of nearly 14 hours giving anxious moments to relatives who had been waiting since 8:00 pm last night.
As the locomotive came to a screeching halt, Ms Madhu Verma wept bitterly as she hugged her son, Mukul, an IMN student, who was on the train.
"For him it is his second birth", said his sobbing mother.
A passenger said the incident took place all of a sudden and ridiculed the claim that the blaze had occurred due to the carelessness of a cigarette-smoking passenger.
"The whole bogie was stinking with some smell of a chemical," she said, ruling out that it was due to petrol.
There were 23 students from the IMN, who had gone to Mumbai on an education tour. Two of them were missing while another six were injured while rescuing the passengers from the ill-fated bogie.
Although the bogie has a seating capacity of 72, the number of those travelling in it could be much more since the train was overcrowded, passengers. According to Ankur Seth, who was coming from Mumbai, the intensity of the fire can be gauged from the fact that even the window grills were gutted.
Meanwhile, relatives of the passengers, who were camping at the railway station, complained of callousness of the Northern Railways saying that "a complete information blackout was done by the Northern Railways."
Till the wee hours today, they could not provide us information about those dead and injured, they lamented.
As the whistle blew again, the train left for its onward journey leaving several queries unanswered.
BHUSAWAL: The Union Minister of State for Railways, Mr Bangaru Laxman, has ordered an independent inquiry into the Punjab Mail fire.
Mr Laxman, who visited
the spot between Dushkheda and Sawada station in the
Central Railways Bhusawal division, where the Mail
caught fire on Saturday, has ordered the inquiry to be
conducted by Commissioner of Commercial Railway Safety
Seven bodies identified
MUMBAI, Feb 20 (UNI) As many as seven bodies of those killed in the fire that broke out in the Ferozepore-bound Punjab Mail near Bhusawal yesterday have been identified.
They are: Neha Prakash Bochra (Jalgaon), Nirmala W. Jaykumar (Ulhasnagar), Master Dhiraj Kumar, Sneha Gujaral, Sevak singh, Satwant Kaur and Pravin Arora (all from Delhi).
Of the six Merchant Navy cadets travelling in the ill-fated train, one Gajanan Pande was injured seriously and admitted to a private hospital. He was in a critical condition, the sources said, adding that two other cadets were reported to be missing.
Meanwhile, Guardian Minister Laxamrao Dhoble visited the Bhasawal hospital and enquired about the victims.
No fudging, says PGI doctor
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 The All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), which recently barred the Medical Superintendent of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, Dr Anil Kumar Gupta, from appearing in an interview for the post of professor in the AIIMS faculty after detecting some discrepancy in his application, has no plans to lodge any complaint with the police or the CBI against him.
Authoritative sources in AIIMS said it was for the PGI, Chandigarh, to take necessary action in the matter and AIIMS would not pursue it further.
Confirming that Dr Gupta had been denied permission to appear for the interview after the authorities detected a "mismatch" in the year of his doing medical postgraduation given in the application and the year given in the degree, the sources said that it was not possible to say at this moment whether it was a deliberate act on the part of Dr Gupta or it was just a "typographical" error.
Incidentally, the year of obtaining the degree given by Dr Gupta in his application for the post of Professor in the Department of Hospital Administration in AIIMS was also the cut-off year of experience required for the post. Going by the actual year of his obtaining the degree, he was not entitled to apply for the post.
Poonam Batth adds from Chandigarh: Mrs P. Sahi, Deputy Director, PGI, said that going by official records, it seemed to be a case of simple typographical error only. But in the application form Dr Gupta had mentioned that he completed his postgraduation in Hospital Administration from AIIMS in October, 1985, while all other records showed that he had actually completed it in December, 1986. Even though the required experience for this post was 14 years, he had indicated his experience to be 12 years and 6 months in the proforma, whose 12 copies were supplied to AIIMS.
Dr A.K. Gupta, on his part, denied "any fudging of medical degrees and experience." He admitted that there was a typographical error which inadvertently had been overlooked and had crept into the application form. A large number of supporting documents which were submitted along with the application proved beyond doubt that there was no fudging or supplying of incorrect information. "The present post would not have given me any financial benefit as I am already in the professors pay scale for the past four years," he added.
We pretended to be dead
VISAKHAPATNAM, Feb 20 (UNI) Some policemen who survived the attack on the Darakonda armed outpost by Naxalites of the Peoples War Group revealed that they pretended as though they were dead and thus escaped from being killed by the extremists.
Constable S. Krishna Rao (46) who was admitted to Corporate Hospital here with injuries told UNI that he was in the tent at the outpost when he heard gunfire. Immediately he came out with his rifle to assist the sentry and fired 20 rounds.
In the meantime, the Naxalites lobbed several bombs at the outpost and also resorted to heavy firing.
To his misfortune, his rifle did not function properly.
The PWG men took the weapons from the deceased constables and kicked them to find out whether they were dead or still alive. One woman Naxalite kicked him on his face but he did not stir and lay as though dead.
Another Constable Vemagiri Rao (42) said as the Naxalites advanced towards the armed outpost amid a hail of bullets, he took aim and pulled the trigger but the rifle stopped firing after two rounds.
Seven policemen, including one Sub-Inspector and two Head Constables, were killed when the Naxalites blasted the armed outpost at Darakonda, 185 km from here, on Friday night.
Maritime crimes worry Navy
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 Top officials of the Navy and the Coast Guard yesterday stressed the need for a re-look at the countrys law enforcement in view of the new challenge posed by upsurge in piracy in the Indian Ocean. They called for a coordinated action against maritime crimes.
Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral P.J. Jacob and Director General of Coast Guard J.C. de Silva said there were "disturbing" reports that the Centre of piracy might have lately shifted from South East Asia to South Asia.
"If it is shifting, there is a need to take a hard look at the law enforcement" in the country regarding these crimes, Admiral Jacob said at a seminar on Piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Stating that piracy flourished in areas where law enforcement was weak, he said the Indian Penal Code (IPC) did not cover piracy adequately and so there was "a need for it to be incorporated".
He emphasised that pirates were no longer small-time robbers but organised syndicates.
He, said the shift in the centre of piracy operations might be due to stern actions by China but asserted that the Indian maritime forces were determined to deter pirates from operating in our areas.
"Coordinated effort, effective surveillance and deterrent actions can discourage piracy," De Silva said.
Subsidy cut on kerosene, LPG
NEW DELHI, Feb 20- The Government is likely to target kerosene and cooking gas in its strategy to prune subsidies in the forthcoming Union Budget.
In fact, Petroleum Minister, Ram Naik, virtually confirmed this in an interview to a news agency today where he indicated that the Government would consider hiking the prices of kerosene and cooking gas by this month-end to contain subsidies.
The Ministers statement comes a week after the Government reportedly took an in-principle decision to cut subsidies. The decision was taken at a meeting convened by Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee. It is also understood that the Government may give some kind of incentive to those States which impose levy on various utility services in keeping with their economic costs.
Mr Naik indicated today that the price increase would be initiated on February 29 as it had become inevitable to reduce price differential between diesel and kerosene.
Subsidies on kerosene and cooking gas are understood to have jumped to Rs 17,000 crore as against Rs 12,000 crore estimated in November last year.
According to Mr Naik, it was not possible to increase prices of diesel any further as it had reached a saturation point after over Rs four per litre hike in October.
It has become imperative for the Government to hike the prices and cut down on subsidies as global oil prices have hardened of late. Indias oil import bill is expected to cross Rs 60,000 crore in the current year from Rs 24,000 crore in 1998-99.
According to the Minister, the increased global oil prices has made the Finance Ministry richer by Rs 8,000 crore due to accruals from Customs Duty and Excise. Mr Naik said he had urged the Finance Minister to slash Customs duty by 10 per cent and excise by five per cent in the coming budget.
5 lakh relief for family in blast case
MUMBAI, Feb 20 (UNI) In the first ever compensation judgement for an accused in the 1993 Bombay blast case, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has awarded a Rs 5 lakh interim relief to a Muslim family after finding it a victim of humiliation, harassment and torture in police custody.
The police had arrested and interrogated the family members after the seizure of "rocket launchers", which were eventually found to be spindle used in spinning mills, in Valvati of Shrivardhan Taluka in coastal Raigad district.
Mr Iqbal Ismail Haspatel, his nephew Mubin and some of the women folk of the family had been arrested on April 13, 1993, and kept in police custody till April 28, 1993. They were subsequently discharged by a trial court for lack of evidence.
The commission, while awarding the interim relief, has on the basis of findings recorded by the CID, termed the treatment meted out to the victim family "wholly inconsistent with the norms of decency."
Hema flays Deepa on Water
RISHIKESH, Feb 20 (PTI) "Dream Girl" Hema Malini today accused that Deepa Mehta, director of the controversial film "Water", had a habit of trying to earn "cheap publicity".
Stating that films should be kept away from foreign culture, the top actress of yesteryears said: "Mehta has unnecessarily made the film controversial to gain publicity."
Hema Malini, however, told reporters here that "the films script is good, but changes are bound to take place in the film with changing times."
Middle class behind
retail boom in India
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 The middle class has emerged as the real spenders on branded products and the Indian retail market is estimated to reach Rs 250,000 crore by the year 2005 and organised retailing will be in the range of Rs 5,000 crore, a study has said.
According to a comprehensive study, jointly undertaken by the National Institute of Fashion Technology and a fashion trade magazine, Images Panorama, easy finance associated with rising incomes has caused a major boom in the discretionary incomes of the middle class and this has led to considerably heightened consumer expectations.
The study also found that lifestyles are becoming more and more busy causing drastic reduction in leisure and shopping time. The result has been that choice has been getting more focused on brands and destination shops where complete shopping and recreation can be availed at one go.
"In ambience, atmospherics and sensory techniques, Indian retailing scenario seems to be ushering in a revolution of sorts" the Images study has said.
As the Indian structure moves towards a more concentrated system, players of all hues are getting inspired and drawn to the retail magnet in a frenetic sense of urgency not seen in India before. The kind of response that has been seen on the opening of recent malls and mega stores in Delhi, Mumbai and elsewhere, it is difficult to say whether the consumers are driving the retail or the retail is driving the consumers.
According to the study, with a 10 per cent growth rate in GDP projected as very much attainable, Indian living standards would be five times higher in the year 2020. According to Mr Amitabh Taneja, who was associated with the study, "although per capita figures paint a depressing picture of the rural purchasing power, the vast disparities also signify the existence of an affluent section in the rural community. This section of the population, which is fast increasing, comprises excellent consumers of branded garments and other consumer durables".
The first part of the
study concludes with the note that retailers would have
to define their retail mix, technology and service levels
keeping the Indian consumer in mind, and more
importantly, the "Indianness" that is coming to
the centre-stage at the dawn of the new millennium.
Punjabi translation of Dasam
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 The first complete Punjabi translation of the writings of Guru Gobind Singh and other scholarly works about his life and teachings were released here today as part of the 300th anniversary of the Khalsa.
The books were released by the chief of the South Delhi-based Gobind Sadan, Baba Virsa Singh. He also inaugurated a modern auditorium and a library on the Sadan premises.
The five volume Punjabi translation of the Dasam Granth, the collected works of Guru Gobind Singh, has been prepared for the Gobind Sadan Institute of Advanced Studies in Comparative Religion, by Prof Rattan Singh Jaggi, who earlier was with the Punjabi University, Patiala, and Dr Gursharan Kaur Jaggi, Principal Government College for Women Patiala.
Five additional volumes in Hindi were also released on the occasion. These included "Guru Gobind Singhs Spiritual Ideology" by Dr Manmohan Sehgal, "Guru Gobind Singhs gift to Indian Culture" by Mr Dharam Pal Maini, "Glory of Dasam Granth" by Dr Gobind Nath Rajguru, "Moral Values of Guru Gobind Singh" by Dr Hukam Chand Rajpal and "Cultural Study of Bachittar Natak" by Dr Shamir Singh.
A Punjabi translation of
Guru Gobind Singhs Jaap Sahib by Dr Jaggi and a
collection of research papers from a seminar organised by
the Sadan on the Dasam Granth, titled "Spiritual
Achievements and Literature of Guru Gobind Singh"
were also released today.
Andhra Cong leader quits
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 A senior leader from Andhra Pradesh and former Rajya Sabha member, Mr G. Prathap Reddy, today resigned from the primary membership of the Congress in protest against the partys decision to field a "novice" in the coming municipal elections in Nandyal.
In a letter to the party
President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, a copy of which was released
to the media today, Mr Reddy charged the Congress Working
Committee member from Andhra Pradesh, Mr K. Vijaybhaskar
Reddy, with undermining the position of senior Congress
members in the state.
DSGMC plan for cyclone victims
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (UNI) The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has launched a donor to victim scheme to help victims of the super cyclone in Orissa.
The committee has already opened bank accounts for 200 families for giving Rs 1,000 per month to each family.
A team sent by the DSGMC visited Erasma, Japa, Ambiki, Kujang and Paradeep Port, the worst-affected areas, and identified the beneficiaries before launching the scheme on February 16.
According to Dr Jatinder
Kaur who teaches at Khalsa College here, widows and
orphans are the largest beneficiaries. She said the
conditions were still pathetic in these areas and people
were in dire of help.
NCW against change in womens Bill
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (UNI) The National Commission for Women (NCW) does not support the demand for a sub-quota in the Womens Reservation Bill and views this as a ploy to sabotage the move for reservation of one-third seats for women in legislatures, says commission chairperson Vibha Parthasarthi.
told to pay interest
killed in encounter
5 picnickers die
in road mishap
into suicide by student
medicos for talks
SC notice to
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