Tuesday, December 4, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S



Sheila, Nath stick to their guns
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s second meeting in as many days with Congress President Sonia Gandhi ended with no decision taken on what shape the new-look Council of Ministers of the Government of NCT of Delhi should take. It’s been five days since the six ministers resigned en masse, ostensibly to give a free hand to the Chief Minister to reshuffle her Cabinet.

The announcement of a new Cabinet was widely expected on Monday, which also has marked the completion of three years of the Sheila Dikshit Government.

With consensus proving to be elusive, Ms Dikshit and Mr Kamal Nath met with the Congress President again late at night for a second round of talks. The meeting was still on at the time of going to press.

Monday’s meeting was the first when All India Congress Committee General Secretary in-charge of Delhi affairs Kamal Nath joined Ms Dikshit for talks with the Congress President.

Emerging from the meeting that lasted well over an hour, Mr Nath told reporters that no decision could be arrived at on the composition of the Council of Ministers. “‘The Congress President has given us some suggestions and we will discuss these before reporting back to her,” Mr Kamal Nath told mediapersons while driving out of Ms Gandhi’s residence along with the Chief Minister.

Sources close to the Chief Minister, however, said that the matter would have been resolved but for the differences of opinion on the choice of candidate to replace Food and Civil Supplies Minister Yoganand Shastri.

Sources said that strong differences also persisted between Mr Kamal Nath and the Chief Minister on the number of inductees to the six-member Council of Ministers. While Ms Dikshit favoured removal of only two ministers – Yoganand Shastri and Krishna Tirath –Mr Nath wanted a radical revamp by axing four ministers.

“The party high command insisted on having a presentable face,” sources said, adding that “the Chief Minister had been asked to think it over.” It is no secret that the rival factions opposed to the Chief Minister are lobbying for the inclusion of a Jat MLA of their choice to replace Mr Shastri, also from that community.

Ms Kiran Choudhary, daughter-in-law of former Haryana Chief Minister Bansi Lal, was a front-runner as she would represent women as well as the Jat communuty, a party leader said. Ms Choudhary represents Delhi Cantonment.

When contacted, senior party leaders including some of the ministerial hopefuls could not hide their anguish at having to spend another sleepless night.


Celebrations without wishes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
This was not what the chief minister expected it to be. At least, no one had thought that the completion of three years in power – a milestone for the Sheila Dikshit Government – would be a low-key affair. But it was just that with the Cabinet reshuffle hovering overhead like bad weather, forcing the Delhi administration to jettison elaborate functions. Even at the low-key function observed to mark the anniversary, the e ‘new-look’ team was conspicuous by its absence.

Addressing the officials drawn from the NCT of Delhi, Ms Dikshit held forth on the achievements of her government over the last three years and outlined her vision for the future. For a chief minister – who is facing a Lokayukta inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing and whose Cabinet colleagues are also in the dock on similar charges – Ms Dikshit did not betray any anxiety. Reiterating her resolve to combat corruption,” she cautioned that her tolerance level to corruption, inefficiency, insensitivity and red tape was zero and shall remain so.

She had a word of advice for the bureaucracy, too. “I am disappointed that we have not made significant headway toward zero tolerance on corruption. Complaints abound that the cutting edge of administration in the field offices and public utilities continues to be extortive and corrupt.” This, she added, was unacceptable. “It must change.”

Expressing satisfaction at her government’s performance, Ms Dikshit said that the people of Delhi have been given a good, modern and humane governance. She said that her strategy of good governance was grounded in citizen partnership. Detailing her agenda for progress, she said the Government’s initiatives now needed to be translated into action. “My simple but specific agenda for the next two years is implementation first and implementation last.” 


Hike in tourism budget likely
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
Hinting at a substantial hike in tourism budget for the year 2002-03, the Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit, said the Delhi Government was making concerted efforts to promote the National Capital Territory as the most favoured tourist destination in the country.

She said for the purpose, a coordination council would be constituted with representatives from all sectors related to the tourism industry, including the state government, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), civil aviation and industry.

Ms Dikshit said a USP for tourism in the Capital would be developed so as to change the image of Delhi from a mere gateway for travelling to Jaipur, Agra and other cities of tourist interest.

Realising the need for active nightlife to attract tourists to extend their stay in Delhi beyond a day, the Delhi Tourism and Transport Corporation (DTTDC) was already working on developing packages to effectively promote Delhi as a destination for longer duration of stay, she said.

The PHDCCI suggested that as a conscious policy, the Delhi Government should consolidate resources with the Centre and neighbouring states while developing the strategy for promoting Delhi as a tourist destination. Awareness should be created about the lesser-known sites in Delhi so that visitors were encouraged to extend their stay.

There was also a need to create greater awareness regarding the four new Dilli Haats that were being constructed in the state and also projects such as Azad Hind Gram, Garden of Five Senses and other upcoming projects like Mini-India Heritage complexes among the tour operators. Mr V. N. Dalmia, Chairman of the Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee, PHDCCI, suggested that combined entrance ticket applicable to all monuments in Delhi should be evolved and made available at discounted rates.

Responding to the suggestion made by the chamber to beautify the entrance points, the Chief Minister said the government was actively considering construction of a millennium gate in Delhi.


Bus phase-out plan on hold
Commuters, students can breathe easy
R. Suryamurthy & Smriti Kak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
The Delhi Government today put on hold the phase-out plan of diesel and other categories of buses in view of the difficulties faced by the schoolchildren and other commuters.

“There has not been a commensurate inflow of CNG buses – either replaced, converted or new – against the phase-out of 727 buses,s,” Delhi Transport Minister Pervez Hashmi said while announcing the Government’s decision to put on hold further phasing-out of buses.

The State Government said that in the first phase only 727 buses were to be phased out by November 15. Subsequently, the date was extended to November 30.

However, transporters claimed that more than 3,000 buses were off the road as per the plan submitted by the State Government to the Supreme Court.

Mr Hashmi said that the special permits of all buses, more than seven years old, stand cancelled. They should put their buses on CNG mode as per the undertaking submitted to the Supreme Court.

Students and their parents had a tough time on Monday when the schools reopened after a three-day holiday as 850 buses on contract duty were off the road.

“We requested our contractor to provide us with buses today, but we are not sure about tomorrow. We have sent a notice to the parents informing them of the bus crisis. They themselves will have to arrange for the conveyance,” said Mr Nasib Singh, Principal of G.H.P.S., Hemkunt Colony. Most of the schools in Delhi have, however, made sufficient arrangements. “We gave loans to our bus drivers earlier this year to switch over to CNG. Apart from CNG buses, we also have DTC buses. So, our school does not face the problem,” said the Principal of Birla Vidya Niketan, Ms Madhu Chandra.

Those schools, which depend on private buses, are the worst hit. The parents of these students have to ferry their wards to school.

“Since most of us do not have private vehicles, we hire taxis and organise car-pools. The situation is quite difficult, especially when both the parents are working,” said Mr O.P. Parashar, a father of two school children.

The school authorities, on their part, find themselves in a fix. They can neither challenge the government order nor can they provide transport to all the students.

The office-goers, especially those in East and the Walled City areas, find it difficult to commute to their work places, compared to those in South and Central Delhi.

Transport unions allege that “politics” between the Delhi Government and the Centre is making it hard to find a solution. The resignation of the Delhi Government ministers has further complicated the matter as nothing could be done to avert the crisis last week.

The State Government claimed that it had made arrangement for 2,000 buses to reduce the impact of the phase-out directive.

The Delhi Government, blaming the BJP-led Central government for the imbroglio, has stated that they are only implementing the apex court directive.

The Centre has expressed its inability to supply CNG to the entire fleet of buses in the National Capital Territory so soon. It has been advocating for ultra-low sulphur fuel.

The Supreme Court had directed the National Capital Territory Government repeatedly to replace 9,000 diesel-run buses by January 31, 2002 as they pose a health hazard to at least 14 million people in the city. The apex court had postponed the deadline – March 31 to September 30 and finally January 31 – for the conversion of public road transport to CNG.


Khalsa College in throes of identity crisis
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
As Shri Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa (SGTB) College celebrates its golden jubilee, a “crisis of identity and status” is looming large over the institution.

The Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has been seeking to re-write the Memorandum of Association and Articles of the Constitution of the college with the objective of converting it into a minority institution catering to the Sikh community. Observers, however, say that there will be no tangible advantages emanating from the status of a “minority institution”.

Sources said that at the time the college was established “it was projected as an institution serving the educational needs of the refugees coming from Pakistan”.

However, in 1975, the DSGMC had filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court pleading for the amendments in the Memorandum of Association, seeking the status of a minority institution as enshrined in the country’s Constitution. Article 30 (1) of the Constitution guarantees that “all minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice”.

Sources say that as of now, the word “Sikh” is nowhere mentioned in the Memorandum of Association and the Articles of the Constitution of Khalsa College.

The DSGMC has now appealed for the restoration of the original petition filed in 1975 (CRW 491/1975). The petition had come in for final hearing and the High Court had dismissed the petition as “there was no appearance on behalf of the petitioners”.

“It appears that the petitioners are not interested in prosecuting the writ petition”, the court had observed during its ruling passed on August 2, 2001. The DSGMC, which has filed an appeal for the restoration of the original writ petition, is hoping that the college will finally be granted the status of the minority institution after more than a quarter century of legal battle.

“DSGMC is a statutory body, running minority educational institutions. Khalsa College should have long been granted minority status. Otherwise, it might have wide ramifications on the right of the minority community running educational institutions,” a DSGMC source said.

“It is obvious that Khalsa College is an educational institution which has specific characteristics of a minority institution,” the source said, adding that the college was essentially set up to give education to the members of the Sikh community.

However, there are instances where bias in the minority institutions has been alleged. “A woman teacher in Khalsa College was once sent on a long leave because she had come to college with her hair cut. The college authorities pointed out that it was against the Sikh tenets. Similarly, Mata Sundri College for Women terminated the services of a woman teacher, in charge of physical education long ago, as she had consented to marry a Hindu,” a former teacher of a college in Delhi University pointed out.

“Minority educational institutions are mostly concerned about the day-to-day administration. However, they are supposed to take on the challenges of immediate future like eliminating religious bigotry etc,” an observer said.


A lawyer obsessed with the rights of the riot victims
R. Suryamurthy

H. S. Phoolka

Seventeen years have passed since 1984 riots, but the close shave that H. S. Phoolka, then a new entrant into the legal profession had, is still fresh in his mind. The gurdwara he passed by was set on fire moments later and the shops near his home were gutted by an angry mob armed with lathis and iron rods.

Taken aback and frightened by the ghastly events, the young lawyer from Sangrur district, Punjab, who had come to the city a few months ago, decided to pack his bag and go.

However, a visit to the Farsh Vihar relief camp, set up for the riot victims in East Delhi, one of the worst affected parts of the city, forced him to review his decision.

Since then, the fight for the rights of the riot victims is like a "junoon" for him. From organising a Citizens Justice Committee, which brought together different spectrum of human rights activists and noted legal luminaries, to fighting the individual cases of riot victims against Congress leaders H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, he has been on the forefront.

When the Justice Nanavati Commission was appointed to look into the riots afresh, senior advocate Phoolka found himself in a dilemma – whether to continue to represent the Union of India as a senior standing counsel or fight for the rights of the riot victims.

"My conscience said I should fight to get justice for the riot victims and I left the panel of central government lawyers……..And I am happy with my decision," Mr Phoolka said in an interview.

You have been fighting for the rights of the riot victims for the past 17 years. How optimistic are you about getting justice ultimately?

I am quite optimistic that the riot victims would get justice. It is for the first time since the riots in 1984 that the Nanawati Commission has given an opportunity to the families of the victims to have access to government files and the right to examine the prosecution witnesses.

The government records, especially the police records, indicate the authorities’s compliance with the rioters. The political leadership, records indicate, was very much aware of the happenings in the Capital and other parts of the country where mobs were attacking the Sikhs in groups.

Police records indicate that the senior police officials were present at the spots where mobs were attacking the houses of Sikhs. The police personnel used force and other methods in those places where the Sikhs organised themselves and resisted the attacks by the mob. However, in other places, the policemen were mute spectators to the mob violence.

Even though Delhi was burning the Army was not called in till late in the evening on November 2. But the Army was not given the command control till late that day. In East Delhi, one of the worst affected parts of the Capital in the riots, where 1,086 persons died, the Army did not open fire to control the mob till late on November 2.

Apart from this, other material evidence, including the affidavits by the riot victims and other prominent persons, who moved around the city to convince the political leadership to act fast in controlling the situation, indicates the "tacit approval" by the political leaders at the helm of affairs of the events taking place in the city.

Almost two decades have passed since the riots, yet the perpetrators of the riots have not been punished. Are the riot victims still hopeful that they would get justice?

More than 200 persons have been given different jail terms ranging from three to seven years by the courts. While some are serving the prison term, others are on bail as they have filed an appeal in higher courts.

About 25 to 30 cases are still pending before the lower courts and 100 cases are pending before the high court. Two cases of death sentence seeking commutation to life term are pending before the Supreme Court.

Kishori, the butcher, who single-handedly killed several persons in the Trilokpuri area, was given death sentence by the sessions court in five different cases. One of his cases seeking commutation to life term is pending before the Supreme Court.

Riot victims had alleged the involvement of Congress leaders like H.K.L. Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler in the riots even though they have been exonerated. Your comments.

We knew from day one that taking on these persons, who wield immense power, would not be an easy task. I knew from the beginning that they would not be awarded prison term. We respect the verdict of the judiciary.

However, the riot victims would continue to hold them guilty as they have seen these persons and their men attacking the houses of Sikhs in their colonies.

The cases against these persons demolished their political careers and tarnished their image. They were all-powerful persons and had the riot victims not mustered enough courage despite adverse circumstances they would have been ruling the Capital.

The fight for justice by the riot victims sent a message that the powerful and mighty could be challenged and demolished. They were like a rock and riot victims were like ants trying to push it. Over the years with our efforts, we have been able to force the rock to roll and now it rolls like a football the moment we come near it. If we stop in our effort, it would again become stationary and grow into a mountain.

In several cases, the accused persons have been let off for lack of proper investigation of the cases. What are your views?

Flaws in investigation or partisan role by the investigating authority to protect the culprit should not be the reason for their acquittal. The Supreme Court has observed that the judiciary should not close the case due to the faulty investigation by the police. There is need for the creation of a special law that would empower the judiciary to order a fresh probe into such cases where it finds faulty or biased investigation by the police. To meet such needs, there is a need to create a special law.

I have been expressing the need for such laws as the role of the police in riot cases has been to shield the accused persons. We would impress upon the Nanavati Commission to make a similar recommendation to the government and urge the commission to specify the case, which needs to be re-investigated.Back


Bank customers or jail birds?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
The half-closed iron grill at the entrance, leaving just enough room for customers to squeeze through, with a chain dangling precariously overhead… All these images remind one of jail, not a bank where we deposit our hard-earned money.

This is how Mukesh Aggarwal feels when he visits the Punjab National Bank. He voiced these feelings while participating in the customers’ meet today; he is incidentally, a decade-old client of the Moti Bagh branch of the bank.

The iron grill that greets you in most nationalised banks is to be seen against the setting of foreign banks, which have made their entrance so plush and the ambience so pleasing that you feel you are inside a five-star hotel .

“The branch needs to be renovated as the interior has not changed since the day I opened my account,” he said amidst applause from hundreds of customers, gathered to voice their grievances here.

The chairman and managing director of PNB, Mr S S Kohli, said, “We would consider the suggestion as it is the overwhelming opinion of the people present here.”

Maharani Bagh customer, H S Khanna, highlighted the problem of obtaining a credit card from a nationalised bank. “I have an account with this branch for the last 16 years and I had applied for a credit card almost six years back. Till date I have not got the card.”

Mr Khanna wondered whether the bank considers him to be not credit-worthy, while several foreign banks, where he does not have an account, have offered him the facility. The vehicle loan scheme of the bank also came under close scrutiny with Atul Jain, Anand Vihar branch customer, pointing out: “I had taken a car loan at 12 per cent rate of interest. A few months later, the bank increased it to 15 per cent without even informing me. How could the bank increase the rate of interest on a car loan, when I had signed it for only 12 per cent,” he asked. Another problem he highlighted was the location of the branch, which was deep inside the colony. “It is not in a customer-friendly location. If the gates of Anand Vihar Colony are closed, then we have to take a circuitous route to come to the branch,” he said. Educational loans distributed by the banks for higher studies do put the customers in trouble. Ms Bhanu Seth, Alaknanda branch customer, said, “It was a traumatic experience to get the bank loan sanctioned for my daughter’s M.Tech studies.”


Kerosene being diverted from fair price shops
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 3
Persistent shortages in the rationed kerosene were reported from different parts of this city and elsewhere in the district despite government assurances that there was no scarcity of the commodity. Consumers of the district complained about the delays in the distribution of kerosene oil and alleged that artificial shortages were being created by the owners of the fair price shops in order to earn profit in the black market.

Ration card holders in many areas also complained that the depot holders had to be reminded several times that they had not been supplied their monthly quota of kerosene oil. However, the depot holders took the plea that their supplies were held up for some unavoidable reasons not in their control.

Some ration card holders alleged that the depot-holders were diverting the bulk quantity of the kerosene to the black-market in the absence of proper supervision by the concerned authorities. They also alleged that the depot holders are selling kerosene oil to the city halwais and other shopkeepers on extra profit in connivance with the officials of the concerned department.

Thus, it had become lucrative for the dealers and owners of the fair price shops to be based on black-market motive. The motivation for the fair price shop owners is the profit earned from the subsidised ration items, particularly sugar and kerosene oil which they can sell off at the market rates. The amount thus earned by distribution supplied at ration rates is too meagre to attract them.

A few members of the Fair Price Shop Owners Association while admitting some cases of diversions of the genuine quota of the consumers, blamed much of it on the short supply to the owners of the fair price shops and the number of bogus ration cards that the department had been unable to eliminate.

Meanwhile, enquiries made by the NCR Tribune have revealed that even though the city halwais, shopkeepers and managers of banks had never applied for seeking permits for kerosene oil, had sufficient stocks in their establishments.

A high-level inquiry into the scandalous use of kerosene oil in these establishments is likely to expose the misdeeds of officials concerned. However, the crux of the matter is: Will such an inquiry take place? 


None misses Haryana Roadways buses here
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 3
Non-observance of time schedule and frequent breakdowns have made travelling in Haryana Roadways buses in the district a nightmarish experience for commuters. Added to this is the inadequate supervision by the traffic staff.

In fact, private buses ply at least on two routes, viz Sonepat-Delhi and Sonepat-Panipat, along with the Haryana Roadways buses. Still, commuters have a harrowing time reaching their destinations in time. That is if at all they reach there.

Since the opening of a full-fledged Haryana Roadways depot at the district headquarters here, the number of buses has increased. However, most of the buses are in poor shape and a number of them are not roadworthy anymore.

Barring some new buses, which have been allotted to the depot here recently, the condition of the rest is extremely deplorable. The buses are not regularly cleaned. Filth and dirt have stuck to the seats and floors. Moreover, drivers and conductors themselves smoke and throw the cigarettes and bidis inside the buses.

However, official circles express helplessness and blame the passengers for making the buses so dirty. That sweepers employed to clean places near the bus stations never do their job is not the concern of Roadways’ authorities anyway. The fact that a small shower would make most of these stations puddles of dirt and slush also has escaped the authorities.

Commuters also allege that Roadways’ authorities haven’t taken any steps to make the staff observe time schedule and avoid frequent breakdowns of the buses. Passengers are stranded whenever a bus breaks down. It takes an eternity for repairmen from the depot to reach the spot. And when they come, there won’t be even a spare tyre to replace the deflated one. At several times, mechanics would not be available at all, passengers say.

These have come in handy for tempo drivers and the lone private transport company, which runs buses between Delhi and Panipat via Sonepat. They charge the passengers exorbitantly.

Traffic on the Sonepat-Rohtak and Sonepath-Delhi is extremely heavy. In the absence of adequate number of buses, three-wheelers and other private vehicles, including maxi jeeps, ply overloaded. Trucks and some other vehicles, meanwhile, take advantage of the situation and carry passengers for either the same fare buses charge or for a little extra.

Despite these, commuters are praying that the government would allow private buses to run on the routes so that they could at least travel in neat and clean vehicles.


Joshi asks rich to pay for poor’s health
Our Correspondent

Noida, December 3
The Union Human Resource Development Minister, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, has mooted the creation of a fund generated from the public, especially the rich, to give medical treatment to the poor in the country. He also hailed saints like Sai Baba and Masta Amritanandamayi for their contributions to health services and called upon the rich to contribute funds to make available education and medical treatment to the downtrodden.

Inaugurating the Kailash Heart Institute at Kailash Hospital here today, Dr Joshi emphasised on the need for role models in health services and education in the country.

Unfortunately, health care and services had not developed during the last 50 years to the desired level mainly because of the constraints of the governments, including the apathetic attitude and efforts of officers, and also because of the people’s expectations that everything must be done by the government, he said.

However, some saints and holy men associated with renowned temples and religious institutions had provided excellent hospitals and health services of late, including mid-day meals to school children, he said.

Dr Joshi mentioned the cases of Mata Amritanandamayi Institute in Kochi, Satya Sai Baba and Bala Ji temple in the south where funds were mostly provided by the public. Saints and priests of south Indian temples were providing free and quality mid-day meals today to 20,000 school children. They had proposed to increase the scheme to 50,000 children in the near future.

Medical profession, Dr Joshi said, was a family affair and there should be no exploitation in providing treatment to the poor, as the doctor was considered a god and medicine nectar (amrit) by the people in the country.

The minister said that we should focus on the prevention of diseases in the 21st century for which proper nutrition was the basis.

Dr Joshi called upon the general public to come out with vision, determination and practical efforts in education and medicine. If Indians could do wonders in foreign countries, why couldn’t they do better in their own country, he asked.

It was not that good treatment and education didn’t exist here, but the cost of education, including tuition fees in good public schools running into almost Rs 1.20 lakh annually, had made it a luxury for only the rich. This way, 80 per cent of our population had been deprived of good medical treatment and good education. Hence we needed more people to render free services to the fellow beings, he said.

The minister suggested that those who could afford should contribute funds so that quality medical treatment was made available to the poor also. He felt that a better way to earn God’s grace than going on pilgrimage to temples and religious centres like Amarnath and Kailash was to contribute funds for the treatment of the poor. He suggested that a trust of eminent people could be formed to administer the funds thus collected. It would also be keeping in line with the Indian tradition of services, he said.

In his vote of thanks, Dr Mahesh Sharma, CMD, Kailash Hospital, assured that no poor patients would be turned away by the hospital for want of money.

The Union Minister, Mrs Sushma Swaraj, the Uttar Pradesh BJP chief, Mr Kalraj Mishra, and a number of other dignitaries were present on the occasion.


Nature, govt take toll of rabi crop
R. D. Sapra

Sonepat, December 3
The sowing of rabi crops, particularly wheat has been badly hit by the long dry spell and shortage of power in the rural areas of Sonepat district.

The district comprising sub-divisions of Sonepat, Ganaur and Gohana had received scanty rainfall during the monsoon season this year. This has added to the worries of the farmers who mainly depend on tubewells for irrigation.

As the sowing of rabi crops was in full swing, the farmers feel that the dry spell prevailing for the past few months could worsen the situation if the rain is delayed and the shortage of power persists for another two weeks.

While many farmers have already sown rabi crops, others are preparing the fields to do so. According to many farmers, the prospects of a good rabi crop could be affected adversely, if the fields were not irrigated in the next fortnight. They claimed that the moisture in the land was not sufficient and it could delay the work.

Several farmers alleged that they were only receiving power supply for four to six hours daily and the supply was erratic and not adequate. But the authorities of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam claimed that the power supply was normal in the rural areas and the people were getting eight-hour uninterrupted power supply regularly for running the tubewells in accordance with the instructions of the Nigam. The authorities also assured regular supply of power in the villages for the sowing season.

On the other hand, the farmers alleged that the power supply was not enough considering the growing demand during the season. Representatives of various farmer organisations today urged the state government to take immediate and concrete steps for improving the supply of power and canal water to the villages of this district.

In a joint press release they alleged that the supply of canal water was still erratic and it was not reaching the tail-end villages as promised by the Chief Minister.

They also alleged that during the rotation period, the water was not released in the canals, distributaries of the district.

All the complaints of the farmers made to the authorities concerned in this regard have fallen on deaf ears.

They also demanded a high-level probe into the farmers complaints and stern action against the officials found responsible for the water and power crisis in the district.


Two women killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

One woman was killed on the spot and another died of injuries at a hospital here after a Tata 407 hit them on the G. T. Road near Larsauli village, about 15 km from here, on Sunday.

The victims have been identified as Ms Urmila and Ms Radha from Laxmibai Nagar, Delhi. The duo had come to Larsauli to attend a marriage and was returning to the village after giving farewell to the barat.

The driver of Tata 407, however, managed to escape immediately after the accident. The Murthal police have registered a case against the driver and launched a hunt to apprehend him.

According to another report, one person was killed and four others were injured when two jeeps collided with each other on the Sonepat-Gohana road near Bhainswal Kalan village, about 25 km from here, on Sunday. All the five were immediately hospitalised, but one of them, Mr Tek Ram of Farmana village, succumbed to his injuries.

The collision took place when driver of a jeep tried to save a tractor from a multiple clash.

Barat ‘sets fire’ to godown

Food stocks stacked in gunny bags were destroyed in a devastating fire, which broke out in a godown of a trading company in the Chah Dayalwala area here Sunday night.

According to reports, the fire broke out after sparks from the bursting of crackers during a barat passing through the area fell in the godown. Fire brigades of Sonepat and Gohana brought the fire under control within five hours but stocks worth thousands of rupees had been destroyed by the time.

BKU dharna at MP’s house

A large number of farmers affiliated to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) sat on a day’s dharna in front of the residence of Mr Kishan Singh Sangwan, a BJP MP, at Gohana town, 35 km from here, on Sunday to press their demands.

The main demands include the completion of the SYL canal in the Punjab territory, providing Haryana’s share of Ravi-Beas waters and remunerative prices of agriculture produce. The BKU leaders alleged that the state government had utterly failed to grant compensation to the farmers affected by the hailstorms and other natural calamities.


Police building bridges with public
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, December 3
The district police have been striving hard to establish cordial relations with the public so as to get maximum cooperation from the masses, the district police chief, Mr A. S. Ahlawat, has said.

The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) said 10 public sammelans from November 1 had been organised at different villages in the district so far to elicit people’s cooperation so far and they were a sincere effort from the part of the police. The sammelans were very beneficial as they proved to be extremely useful in increasing interaction between the police and the public, he claimed.

Besides, Mr Ahlawat said the SHOs of different police stations in the town had been directed to establish friendly relations with at least five respected persons of the are under their jurisdictions. 


No progress on regularisation of colonies
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 3
The Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) proposal to regularise 53 residential colonies of the town seems to be making tardy progress. As a result, not only the development of basic amenities in these colonies is getting delayed, the potential income the MCF would have got through development charges is also held up.

The move to regularise 53 colonies of all three zones (NIT, Old Faridabad and Ballabgarh) began three months back. While it is reported that the file work in this connection is still on, the final approval may take some more time. In the meantime, the town planning department of the MCF has written to the offices of joint commissioners of the three zones seeking clarification on some issues.


Dr Prasad a true Gandhian: Najma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
The Rajendra Chintan Samiti in collaboration with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) celebrated 117th birth anniversary of the country’s first President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, at the site of his statue on the premises of the Parliament Annexe today morning.

Ms Najma Heptullah, Vice-Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, while paying homage to Dr Rajendra Prasad, said that he was the true follower of Gandhiji and played a vital role in the freedom movement. His valuable advises as a Chairman of the Constitution Assembly helped in framing the Constitution. The Minister of State in the PMO, Mr Vijay Goel, who was also present on the occasion, garlanded the statue on behalf of the Prime Minister. Ms Sheila Dikshit, Delhi Chief Minister, said that his life was a source of inspiration for the new generation. He was the embodiment of simple living and high thinking, Ms Dikshit said while paying tribute to the former President.

The Chairman of the NDMC, Mr Subhash Sharma, said that Dr Prasad’s selfless service and devotion to duties inspired him when he was a student.

The former Chief Minister, Mr Sahib Singh Verma, and a former MP, Mr Brahma Prasad, also paid tributes to the first President. On the occasion, Mr Vijay Shanker Chaturvedi, editor of Rashtra Times, Mr B. R. Bowery, former Director (Public Relations), Government of India, were conferred with “Rajendra Padak” for their contribution in Gandhian journalism.


57 shops gutted
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 3
About 57 shops in the Subzi Mandi area of old Faridabad were destroyed in a fire that broke out at about 2.45 a.m. today. A loss of about Rs 70 lakh has been reported. 

The cause of the fire was a short-circuit in wires which carry power to a vegetable shop. The roof of this shop was stocked with dry leaves and wooden blocks. Given the inflammatory nature of the material, the fire spread to adjoining structures and destroyed as many as 57 shops, before it could be doused.

The gutted structures include 45 shops of fruit and vegetables.


Three commit suicide in Capital
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
Three suicide cases were reported today from different areas of the Capital. In the first incident, Javitri Mehra, a resident of Than Singh Nagar in the Anand Parbat area, reportedly committed suicide by consuming poison this morning. She consumed poison at Safdarjang Hospital where she worked as a nurse.

In the second incident, Neena Sharma, mother of a five-month-old baby and a resident of C-Block, Vasant Kunj, reportedly committed suicide by hanging from a ceiling fan using her sari. She worked with a private firm in Gurgaon. A quarrel with her husband, Mr Vivek Sharma, in the morning is reported to have led to the suicide. An enquiry by the SDM had been ordered in both the cases, the police said. In yet another incident, a Chartered Accountant, V.K. Jain, reportedly committed suicide by jumping down from the top floor of his house in Paschim Vihar in West district.

Four hurt in bridge collapse

Four labourers were injured when a part of a bridge being constructed on a nullah collapsed this afternoon in the Burari area of North-West district. The victims, Chhote Singh (33), Chunnu (30), Raja Ram (35) and B. K. Shah (40), were admitted to Jagjivan Ram Hospital.

Bomb hoax at Patiala House

New Delhi: Panic gripped the Patiala House courts today after a caller said that an explosive had been planted on the premises and it would explode sometime in the afternoon. However, it turned out to be a hoax call. Court proceedings were affected as the building was evacuated in a phased manner. The local police, bomb disposal squad of the Delhi Police, sniffer dogs and senior officers of New Delhi district reached the court premises.

The police have received several bomb hoaxes during the last three months. There was a hoax call that bomb was planted in South Block housing Prime Minister, Defence Minister and External Affairs offices. On December 1, a high rise building in Connaught Place was evacuated after a hoax call. The police are trying to trace out the caller.

Woman killed in Palwal

Faridabad: A married woman of Palwal sub-division in the district was killed by unidentified persons yesterday. The victim had gone to the fields to collect fodder. According to reports, the deceased, identified as Mrs Chanda, wife of Samay Singh of Bhurja village, was on the way to her house from the nearby fields when someone assaulted her. The body, which bore assault marks, was recovered from a sugarcane field. She was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon and died on the spot. Her saree was found to be torn. The police are investigating the incident.

70-yr-old fired at

In another incident, a 70-year-old resident of A C Nagar was fired upon by an unidentified youth on Sunday morning. The victim, Sardar Harbansh Singh, has been admitted to the civil hospital here. TNS

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