Friday, October 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Same old alibi for bad report card
Delhi Govt blames lack of statehood
Ravi Bhatia & R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
The Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government of the National Capital Territory (NCT) is not at all happy with its performance as it has been unable to deliver the most crucial and basic promise made in its election manifesto – to make Delhi a better place to live in.

An internal review, carried out by the party on the eve of completion of three years in office (it took oath in November 1998), gives the Dikshit government a poor score. The report card is seen to be an ominous sign, especially since the municipal corporation elections are round the corner.

The major impediment affecting the government’s performance is identified as the limited statehood granted to Delhi. According to members of the Sheila Cabinet, this prevents them from delivering, as they have to seek the nod of the Centre for everything. And her much-publicised promise of transforming the Capital, which literally swept her into power, continues to remain a chimera.

The fate of the other promises like good governance, security of citizens, adequate provision of water and electricity, housing and town planning too remains uncertain till the government gets more powers and full statehood.

There is a remarkable convergence of views on the issue between the Congress government and the main Opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Cutting across party lines, the two main political parties are unanimous that full statehood should be granted to Delhi if the problems of the Capital are to be addressed efficiently.

The Chief Minister claims if full statehood is granted, then the multiplicity of authority would go, which would help in better administration of the government.

“We would not have to run to the Centre for each and everything. Right now, we are not able to implement many of the promises as we are dependent on the Centre,” she confessed recently.

Leader of the Opposition in Delhi Assembly Jagdish Mukhi of the BJP also said full statehood would expedite the decision-making process. It would reduce the multiplicity of authority, which acts as a hindrance in the implementation of policies and promises to the people. This also results in lack of coordination, he pointed out.

“Like all states, the Centre should transfer the power of law and order and land to Delhi, which will help the government in the Capital to govern better,” he said.

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sahib Singh Verma said, “We had suggested to the Centre that except for the New Delhi area, the Union government should bestow full statehood for Delhi. And for the New Delhi area, the Centre could create a special force to maintain law and order.”

However, residents of the Capital, who are little concerned with the nuances of the administrative responsibilities, are unhappy about the increasing crime rate, lack of housing facilities and poor civic infrastructure. Problems like load shedding and dry taps have been perennial for Delhiites for long.

The Capital needs more than 10 lakh houses, but the sole authority for the construction of houses is the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which is under the control of the Union Government.

Despite the increasing influx of population, the state government cannot provide adequate shelters to them, as land is a central subject in Delhi. “We cannot provide shelter to the increasing population of Delhi as land is not within our purview,” the Chief Minister has said. She also blames the DDA for the inflated property rates in Delhi as the authority has not fulfilled its responsibility of meeting the needs of the people. With a huge gap in the demand and supply in the real estate, the property prices in Delhi are one of the highest in the world.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) is funded by the Delhi Government, but is answerable to the Centre. Similar is the case of officials employed with the Delhi Government. Again, the worsening law and order situation is an area of concern of the government. But it can do little as the police is under the control of the Centre.

Thus, the National Capital Territory is crying for full statehood. The state would then enjoy greater independence in the exercise of financial powers, subject of law and order, land, constitution of a separate state public service commission, share in the Central taxes and facilities of market borrowing would come under the purview of Delhi Government. Till then, no government, Congress or BJP, can make Delhi a better place to live in.


Severe shortage of babus adds to Delhi Govt’s woes
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
Even as all eyes are on the expected reshuffle of the Cabinet by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, indications are that a similar shake-up of the bureaucracy is also on the cards.

There is a severe shortfall of administrative officers, resulting in several posts remaining vacant on account of either promotions, transfers of officers to the Union Government or shifting of officers on deputation.

The reluctance of the IAS cadre to stay on with the Delhi Government has also contributed to the shortage. Consequently, more posts remain vacant than can be filled and the government has to resort to ad hoc arrangements, such as asking officers to hold several charges simultaneously. The situation is such that certain ministers, albeit discreetly, have begun to air their concerns and attribute the delays in implementation of development projects, envisaged in their respective constituencies, to the high attrition rate of officers.

Some of the Congress Party leaders this correspondent spoke to say a shake-up of the bureaucracy is required more than a Cabinet reshuffle and that the Chief Minister ought to address this issue first. “If the Chief Minister desires that we expedite various development programmes that are otherwise progressing slowly, a responsive bureaucracy has to be there” is the common refrain. (Earlier this week Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had summoned her Cabinet colleagues ostensibly to review the progress of development works in their respective constituencies as also that of the MLAs.)

Many of the officers transferred in the recent past to the Centre are in the rank of principal secretaries and secretaries, including Principal Secretary (PWD) Pratibha Karan and Health Secretary R Chandermohan, who has since become Joint Secretary (Environment) at the Centre. The list goes on: Mr Narendra Kumar, who was until recently the Officer on Special Duty to the Chief Minister, is now the Labour Commissioner while the Principal Secretary (Power, Transport and Tourism), Mr Ashok Pradhan, has moved to the Ministry of Agriculture at the Centre.

The shortage has also resulted in some officers being forced to shoulder two or more departments, leading to avoidable delays. Also, some of the officers, including the Chief Secretary, Mr P S Bhatnagar, have only a few months left for retirement.


Keep your hands off Ravan this year
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
The police in Delhi and neighbouring states has issued specific instructions to the organisers of Ram Lilas and Durga Pujas to take adequate precautions and ensure proper use of crackers, lest the terrorists take advantage of the festival season to plant explosives.

According to the order issued by the Commissioner of Delhi Police, Mr Ajai Raj Sharma, only a specific number of crackers conforming to the permitted strength should be put inside the effigies of Ravana, Meghnath and Kumbhkaran.

At the same time, the local police stations have been directed to provide 24-hour security at places where the effigies of the demon trio are being given final touches. The organisers have been instructed to report any untoward incident to the policemen deployed there, or to the police control room.

To check any untoward incident during the celebrations, the Delhi Police has declared 90 police stations sensitive and special vigil is being kept on anti-social elements in these areas.

The order said: “Terrorists and anti-social elements may seek hideouts in the sensitive districts of the Capital. There is every likelihood of breach of peace and disturbance of public tranquility and there is a grave danger to human life and the safety of public property.”

In sensitive areas, the landlords have been advised to have the tenants verified from the local police. The police has also asked the organisers and the policemen on duty to frisk all the invitees to the functions, to prevent terrorists or anti-social elements from sneaking in weapons or explosives.

Meanwhile, the police in neighbouring Ghaziabad district is on tenterhooks as the administration has put the entire onus for the smooth conduct of the celebrations on the policemen posted at the sites.

Fearing terrorist attacks, the district administration has instructed the constables to supervise the stuffing of crackers inside the effigies; further, they have been warned that they will be held responsible if any mishap occurs. This means that the constables will have to guard the effigies till they are burnt at the end of the celebrations tomorrow.

The outgoing SP (City), Mr R. K. Chaturvedi, has written to various district officials on the subject. The City Magistrate, Mr R. P. Pandey, has laid down eight conditions for religious celebrations, wherein the responsibility of officials concerned has also been spelt out.

One of the conditions laid down is that at no stage any inflammatory act or speech shall be made. Secondly, loud speakers shall be used only during timings fixed by the apex court.


Kamal Gujjar shot dead by friends
Parmindar Singh

Ghaziabad, October 25
Kamal Gujjar, alias Bunty, a notorious criminal of western Uttar Pradesh who was allegedly involved in the Capital’s Personal Point murder case, was shot dead by two of his friends on the highway near Link Road police station here last night.

According to SSP Prashant Kumar, Bunty along with a friend, Rajbir Singh, had gone to Connaught Place from Meerut yesterday. They met another friend Verma there. All the three then returned to Meerut in a car. As the car approached the Link Road area around 10.30 p.m., Verma asked them to stop the car near a cluster of houses.

He returned with another person. All of them had a heated argument in the car and suddenly Verma and his friend opened fire on Bunty and Rajbir. While Bunty was shot in the head and died on the spot, Rajbir was hurt in the abdomen. The duo who shot Bunty and Rajbir immediately fled the scene.

The Link Road police who arrived later rushed Rajbir to Narinder Mohan Hospital. Rajbir Singh is reported to have regained consciousness, but has not been able to talk coherently.

Mr Ashok Kumar Raghav, SP (City), said the police was still in the dark about the exact identity of the second person who came with Verma.

Rajbir has told the police that he does not know the person. However, they had been able to gather some clues on which police teams had been set up to nab the killers, he said.

Rajbir Singh and Bunty are said to be from Dadri. Bunty had been sent to jail in connection with the Personal Point murder case, but was later released by the court for want of evidence.


No takers for Gurgaon plea for train halt
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, October 25
Train passengers and local residents from Gurgaon are cut up with Railway authorities for not allowing a stop for Jaipur-Jammu Tawi Pooja Express here despite several assurances.

Various voluntary organisations have been pressing the Railway Ministry to allow the train to stop here. Mr M L Sharma, president of the Gurgaon Railway Daily Passengers Association, observed that the train had been stopping at less important places like Kherthal, Dausa and Rajgarh in Rajasthan. It might have been done under the pressure of politicians of those areas. The president of the Sanyukt Kalyan Parishad, Gurgaon, Mr S P Nagrath, said the Railway Minister, local MP and railway officials had all promised a number of times that the train would soon be allowed to stop in Gurgaon, but it had not been done so far.


Adopting a child to complete the family
Parmindar Singh

Noida, October, 25
A young Vasundhra Enclave couple in East Delhi, married for eight years, with a six-year-old son of their own, by adopting a girl have shown the way to happiness and fulfilment through adoption.

“Both of us were very focussed on adopting a girl child to complete our family,” said the progressive Ritu and Sushmendra Dubey, almost in a chorus.

Sushmendra is an art director and Ritu, a creative consultant.

Picking up the right child was quite an uphill task. “We got in touch with many organisations, including NGO’s – all those rehabilitating the children of Gujarat earthquake and others, but of no avail.

We could have planned another child of our own, but it could have been another son. Since we were keen on a daughter, adopting a girl child appeared to be the only way-out,” the couple gushed.

“Besides, it gave us a lot of happiness and fulfilment and if one could say, a little aura of distinction too. It attracted many people including many inquisitive couples, children and elders to our house, most of who would throng just for a ‘dekko’ of the little cute addition to the family,” said the beaming couple.

The couple agreed that even as friends lauded us for “our bold and progressive steps,” many of them confessed that they themselves could not have done this.

The Dubeys thanked their lucky stars that they did not encounter any opposition from their parents. Sushmendra’s father, Mr Pankaj Dubey, is an architect, while Ritu’s father Mr M. R. Gera, is a management consultant.

“And the happiest person is, of course, our 6-year-old son Ritush, who has adjusted very well and it seems the two already have grown fond of each other.”

The daughter, christened Khush Deep, is indeed the cynosure of the Dubey family, their friends and colleagues. “Khush Deep has not only completed our family but has given us a sense of fulfilment also,” both Ritu and Sushmendra feel.


Their begging bowl is not full of woes
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, October 25
For Pappu Pinji, 34, begging outside the city’s temples has helped him regain a lot of lost pride.

Branded a good-for-nothing man by his family, Pinji left his village in Rajasthan 12 years ago for Delhi in search of a better living. He found one and does not regret his move one bit.

“I was never interested in studies. I hated working in our mustard fields back home. I got sick of my family telling me that I was useless. So one day I decided to head for Delhi. I came here and tried looking for a job but did not get one,” said a physically handicapped Pinji, seated in a wheelchair, which he recently bought for himself.

“Begging on the streets was my only option. Even my wife and three kids help me in my profession. I earn about Rs 100 everyday. I have no expenses. We get food from the temple, outside which we beg, and we sleep in the slums nearby. I even manage to take my wife and children for a movie when we are free,” Pinji, who begs outside a temple on Lodhi Road in South Delhi, said.

There are many like Pinji who feel that begging has changed their lives for the better. Mohommad Syed Khan, a familiar face under the Nizamuddin bridge in South Delhi, said: “Even if someone gives me a job today I won’t do it. I am very happy begging. I am my own boss and I earn enough just by sitting in a chair.”

Khan said he had assets worth Rs 9000, including a slum hut and other household utensils.

A study by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a research centre in Delhi, shows that 60 per cent of beggars in the city earn about Rs 50 daily. There is a minority that claims to earn more than Rs 100 a day. But significantly, the study observes that more than half the beggars, including those in beggar homes, do not regret beggary as a means of earning their livelihood.

“They (beggars) consider it a viable option in the face of adversity. As most have not received any vocational training or formal education, they are unable to get jobs easily,” said Mr P. Vasanthi, Director of the CMS.

At least 90 per cent of “about 50,000” beggars in Delhi have come in from different states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, said Mr Vasanthi. “They have no other option but to beg because most of them are handicapped and who wants to keep a handicapped person on a job?”

Delhi Social Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath said the government was doing all it could to eradicate the problem totally. “It is tough but not impossible. We have caught quite a few beggars recently but it is extremely difficult to prove it in the court that they were caught begging. So the court sets them free. If the problem has to be sorted out support must come from all sides. People must stop giving money to these beggars. Once they stop, half the battle is won. We have also set up homes for beggars where we are educating them on the evils of begging on a large scale.”

The national capital adopted the Bombay Prevention of Begging Act, 1959, on March 1, 1961. Under the Act, 12 statutory institutions - 10 for male beggars and two for female beggars - were set up for the prevention of begging; the detention, training and employment of beggars and also for the custody, trial and punishment of beggar offenders.

At the age of 72, Girja Prasad cannot think of anything else that pays more just by sitting under a tree outside a temple in Connaught Place, a shopping complex in the heart of the city. “I earn Rs 2000 a month. Where else would I get so much money without having to work?”

When not at work, Prasad wears clean clothes and has even attended marriages in the past in Delhi. “Once a week I eat at a good restaurant and I love to watch movies,” he says.

Vasanthi said most of the beggars, who were from lower castes, had led a life of humiliation. The Capital offered them splendid anonymity that made them more than happy.

Vasanthi said beggars found temples the best places to earn. “People in India are bound by cultural ethos. Temple-goers actually consider it a sin to ignore beggars. So begging thrives outside such places.” With 51 per cent of the beggars wanting their profession to be legalised, Vasanthi said the cultural factor played a big role in legitimising beggary.


Forced to flee homes, now hustled out of shops
Smriti Kak

New Delhi, October 25
The 60-odd Kashmiri vendors in INA Market are a worried lot these days. Their shops were removed recently as they came within the site space for the flyover being constructed near the All India Institute of Medical Science.

The agony of the affected shop owners has only increased further when authorities finally allocated a site to relocate their shops on a deserted stretch facing an open drain. “I come here everyday hoping for the best. But at the end of the day, I don’t even pocket Rs 20,” says a disillusioned Mr Om Prakash, who blames the government for its negligence. Om Prakash is one of the few who are still hopeful and has not shut down his shutters like the rest of his fellow shopkeepers.

“Our youngsters have become a frustrated lot. We are somehow pulling along. However, the young blood is prone to unrest. Who will take the responsibility if something untoward happens?,” asks I. K. Zutshi. The others are not so subtle and speak of how youngsters are falling prey to all kinds of vices. “Please don’t be surprised, if our children take to arms. It will not be long before some gun-wielding monsters brainwash them into militancy.”

The traders are often taunted by their counterparts from the Valley for having reposed their faith in the government at the Centre and left their home in Kashmir.

“They come and laugh at our plight and ask us to return and join them,” says Om Prakash. These ill-fated traders look upon the former Union Urban Development Minister, Mr Jagmohan as one of the knowledgeable people who understand their plight. “If it hadn’t been for his assurances, we would have surely done something drastic. He has promised us that we will be provided proper space in a complex meant exclusively for us.”

The traders complain that MCD’s apathy has added to their woes. With the insecurity of “demolition” looming large, these traders have time and again pleaded for a more secure and business friendly location. However, till date there has been no response from the concerned authorities. The traders complain that they are a harassed lot. “We buy our merchandise at the same cost as other traders. There is absolutely no concession whatsoever. People do not lend us money, as they fear that we will return back to the valley without paying their dues. Even after 11 years we haven’t been able to establish our goodwill in the market,” says Ashok Mattoo.

The word “migrant” spells doom for the business, emphasises Raju. He said people often insist on paying less than half the actual price for their wares. “They tell us that since we are migrants and, as such, should remain content with whatever is offered, no matter how ridiculous the price be.”

Even experienced businessmen, well versed in the economics of trade are struggling to establish themselves. And for those who do not have a flair for trade, their only option is to depend on assistants. “There are so many of us who were dependent on produce from the orchards that we have little knowledge of shopkeeping.

However, with no other option available we have to take help from locals. Many a time, these helpers cheat us but there is not much we can do,” says Kamal Bhat lamenting his fate.In spite of all these daily obstacles, the only thing that keeps them going are assurances from their “genuine” friend, Mr Jagmohan.


All are painting the town red, Bhadralok or otherwise
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
Bhadralok in the Capital extend beyond the Bengali gentry. People cutting across regional disparities are celebrating the return of Maa Durga to her maternal home for four days.

The ubiquitous dhoti and kurta has given way to snazzy suits and people attired in garishly attractive hues are taking advantage of restricted holidays and celebrating what hitherto was predominantly a Bengali festival.

The bhog dished out as prasad at the various pandals are being preferred to the rich vegetarian feast that hotels across the Capital have laid out.

Chittaranjan (CR) Park, the residential colony housing the largest number of Bengalis in the Capital, is abuzz with festive spirit as the celebrations reached its peak during Navami on Thursday.

Affectionately called CR Park, there are seven pandals in the locality alone while there are about eight another pandals in the nearby areas of Greater Kailash, Masjid Moth, Alaknanda and Kalkaji visited by lakhs of devotees every day.

The New Delhi Kali Bari and the Minto Road Puja Samiti are among the oldest and most reputed pandals in the Capital with the latter celebrating its Diamond Jubilee this year.

There is carnival atmosphere in the periphery of the pandals with elements of corporatese being clearly discernible to the visitor. Stalls of eatables are erected in large numbers along with corporate promotional splashes by major companies such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Nestle, etc.

“It is that time of the year, when everybody seems to be in a jovial mood. After all, it is the celebration of the success of good over the evil,” a beaming Avantika Bandopadhaya said while visiting a pandal in CR Park.

Organising committees associated with various pandals, however, acknowledge that this time round, the corporate sponsorships have been difficult to come by, primarily due to the general economic slowdown.

“This year there has been a fund crunch so far as corporate promotions are concerned. We have been told that corporations have reduced their promotion budget in view of the severe economic slowdown and depressed demand,” an office-bearer of an organising committee said.

However, voluntary contributions have come in plenty and this, to a large extent, have supplemented the drying up of corporate funds. Funds or no funds, festivities are abound amidst the autumn mist.


Traffic cops pay a hefty price for manning polluted roads
J T Vishnu
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
In a startling revelation, an increasing number of Delhi Police traffic personnel posted for long hours on roads, are becoming an easy victim to scorching sun, harmful pollutants, and toxins. They suffer from bronchial ailments, irritation and cancer which often turn fatal. But the good news is that the authorities have finally woken up to the problem at last and are now taking proper precautions and medical aids.

Delhi, the third most polluted city in the world, has failed to have any proper equipment to test the pollution level in the city. As a result, a large number of cases with bronchial ailments are reported in which traffic constables top the list.

But the traffic officials say that the number has drastically reduced compared to the previous years. Even the number of traffic personnel died while on duty has come down as proper measures are being taken to ensure the health of constables.

“There were a very few deaths this year. Face masks were provided to constables to protect themselves from carbon and toxins. But the cops who succumb to bronchial ailments and irritation, undergo periodic free check-ups in hospitals,” said Mr Sanjay Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic).

At present ,2,700 traffic constables are posted in the city. “We only want them to work in peak hours, otherwise they have a thin schedule where they get little time to relax. Once something is detected, medicines and other facilities are provided to them under the Central Government Health Services (CGHS) schemes. The traffic department also has a tie-up with the Safdarjung Hospital for regular check-ups, added Singh.

In fact, three batches of traffic constables have attended the four-week yoga course. It was revealed during the interaction with traffic policemen that most of them were suffering from numerous ailments like constipation, mental tension, headache, acidity, muscular tension, backache, lethargy, deafness and insomnia due to long hours of exposure to noise, dust and toxic fumes at the city’s intersections.

In the yoga camp, problem of every individual is studied separately as each policeman had a different set of problems and suitable mudras have been prescribed to suit the need of the individual.

The random survey shows that there are four air pollutants, benzene carbon monoxide, carbon-di-oxide and lead which are deadly toxins emitted from the exhausts of vehicles, said Dr Sumit Khanna.

Of these, carbon monoxide is considered very poisonous because it mixes with oxygen in the body. As a result, skin, lungs, lever and kidney are affected leading to irritation in throat, bronchitis and asthma. Notably the presence of benzene causes cancer. They also develop anxiety, severe cough, headache, dizziness, irritation and difficulty in concentration, said Dr Khanna.

These people should take more vitamins, minerals, phosphorous, iron and B-complex besides routine pulmonary check-up. Regular exercise will also help increase their lung space.

According to Dr Harish Grover of Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves, “The constables generally inhale dust and harmful pollutants which lead to respiratory infection and diseases. They are also affected by noise pollution as they hear powerful horns. Besides, a high incidence of chest diseases, these people often look tense and are irritated. On a small provocation, they would start quarrelling with the public on roads.


DSGMC to meet on census issue next week
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
A high-level team constituted by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) would meet in the Capital next week to discuss the issue of under representation of the community in Census 2001.

“The meet would discuss the modalities for the ongoing enumeration and challenge the Census 2001 figures of Delhi,” Mr Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, told The Tribune.

Of the Delhi's total population of 1.33 crore, the census states that there are 599,557 Sikhs, 1,338,297, Muslims and 117,701 Christians.

The head count would be conducted with the help of Singh Sabhas, schools and college staff run by the DSGMC, he said.

The committee headed by DSGMC president, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, includes Mr Kulmohan Singh, DSGMC general secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, Mr Ravinder Singh Khurana, Mr Rajinder Singh Techno, Mr Pushpinder Singh and Mr I S Bajwa.

Basing their contention on the 1995 polls for the Delhi Gurdwara, he said the electoral roll then had 3.26 lakh registered voters. The list had the names of persons over 21 years.

While expressing doubts about the figures in the then electoral roll, Mr Manjit Singh said, “Even if it is taken as the base, the population of the Sikhs in Delhi is much more than what has been stated in the census."

Mr Manjit Singh, who is also a member of the newly formed Delhi Minorities' Commission, said the flaws in the census had been brought to the notice of the Prime Minister,


Bonanza for MCD medicos
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has given a Diwali gift to the medical officers working with its health centres by enhancing their Post Graduate Allowance (PGA) with retrospective effect. The decision was taken at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee of the MCD.

According to the MCD, the medical officers up to the level of Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) will be given an enhanced Post Graduate Allowance. The allopathic practitioners will be given Rs 500 while homeopathics will be given Rs 300 per month. The allowance will be implemented with effect from August 1997.

Delhi Government’s finance department has seen the proposal and given its concurrence .

The PGA will be given to those officers whose degrees are recognised by the Central Council of Indian Medicines Act, 1970. This order will take effect from August 8, 1997, the MCD said.

The enhanced PGA was earlier given to only medical officers who worked with the health centres run by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Since the corporation follows the rules and patters of the Union Government with regard to pay and allowances of the municipal employees, it is proposed that the medical officers of the ISM and Health department of the MCD may also be paid Post Graduate Allowance at the enhanced rate.


Hoax caller at it in hospital
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, October 25
All patients and staff of Aryan Hospital on the Old Railway Road were evacuated from the building after a caller told the receptionist that a bomb had been planted in the hospital here in the morning yesterday.

The police found no explosive, however.


Talcum lands youth in custody
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
In yet another hoax call related to an anthrax envelope, Delhi Police crime branch officials on Wednesday arrested 22-year-old Vikas Sharma, a commercial pilot licence holder, trained in Canada.

Vikas, a resident of Shakarpur in East Delhi, was booked under Sec. 505 of Indian Penal Code for allegedly spreading alarm and rumours among public. Police sources said, that Vikas had sent a packet to Canada through his friend Govinder Singh, who was going to Canada for flight training.

When Govinder, was screened by the airport authorities at Vancouver Airport, Canada he was caught with an envelope with anthrax written on top of it and it was found to be talcum powder. On sustained interrogation, Govinder revealed that the envelope was given to him by his friend, Vikas from Delhi.


Man stumbles to death
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 25
A 25-year-old man, Virender Nath Pandey, died after falling from a moving DTC bus in Trilokpuri in East district last evening. The accident occurred when the man tried to alight from the moving bus and came under the rear wheel. He died on the spot.

He fell down from the bus on route number 740 plying between Uttam Nagar and Mayur Vihar. The bus driver fled from the spot. The police have registered a case of
causing death due to negligence and rash driving.

Foreigners held

The Special Branch of the Delhi Police arrested the owner of Seema Lodge Irfan, manager Rafiq Ahmed alias Munshi and two Bagladeshi nationals, Ravi-ul-Haq and Shahidullah following a raid conducted in Chudiwalan in the Walled City. The raid was conducted after a tip-off that the owner of the lodge was allegedly involved in illegal activities and foreign nationals used the lodge as hideout. During the interrogation Ravi-ul-Haq disclosed that he came to India through an agent in Bangladesh for getting a visa to a Middle East country. They also disclosed that the agent in Bangladesh had indirect contact with the owner of the lodge.

Visa racket

With the arrest of a travel agent Bhupinder Singh Sondhi, an official of the Consulate Officer of Ivory Coast, Ms Haldi J. Vohra and her husband Vijay Kumar Vohra, the Special Cell claimed to have busted a major racket of illegal immigration of Indians to European countries. During the interrogation, the travel agent disclosed that all the agents allegedly worked in connivance with Mr Vijay Kumar Vohra and Hilda J. Vohra in India.

Hilda allegedly obtained illegally visa stickers from the Ivory Coast Consulate office in New Delhi and then issued visas after charging between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 in each case. The money was received by her husband from the travel agents. The visa was reportedly issued without submission of visa forms and visa fees.

Ex gratia

Chief Minister of Delhi, Ms Sheila Dikshit, visited the house of the couple, Bateshwarnath and his wife, Surja Devi, who died in a road accident at Nizamuddin flyover yesterday. She announced Rs 1 lakh as ex gratia payment to the children of the deceased and scholarship for their education.


Child crushed to death

Jhajjar, October 25
A six-year-old child was crushed to death by a speeding tractor near Silani Gate here yesterday.

According to information, Rohit was walking down the road along with some other children when a tractor coming from behind hit him. The driver of the tractor took him to civil hospital where doctors declared him brought dead. Meanwhile, tractor driver fled. The police have registered case.


Youth shot dead in sleep

Faridabad, October 25
A youth was shot dead by some unidentified persons at his house in Nehru Colony of NIT locality early Wednesday morning. The victim who was asleep, died on the spot.

The assailants were four and had come in a car at about 4 am while two persons stood outside, two others went inside and fired at Vijender alias Visa, son of Sisram, who was asleep at that time. TNS

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