Friday, December 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S



Displaced foursome fret and fume
Nothing is amiss, says Sheila
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
That the ‘new look’ Cabinet has not gone down well with a section of Congressmen was apparent in Thursday morning’s swearing-in of four new ministers. Barring a handful, the Congress legislators boycott the function. The four ministers to get the axe were particularly conspicuous by their absence. “They might be busy elsewhere,” Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters and she was not completely wrong.

For Pervez Hashmi was pondering over his future at the 1 Tughlak residence of Kamal Nath. Sources have it that he spent close to two hours there. Narendra Nath was staging a demonstration outside 10 Janpath. Krishna Tirath was in Parliament House gracing a function held in the memory of Dr BR Ambedkar. And Yoganand Shastri was incommunicado.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, however, insists nothing is amiss. “A few would be upset … there is no need to worry,” she told mediapersons after the swearing-in ceremony. “It is an emotional outburst, nothing else. It would be business as usual in a couple of days,” she said. Dismissing reports of dissidence within the party, Ms Dikshit said that the reshuffle was carried out for revamping the party’s image ahead of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls. Even as the quartet of Maken, Bandhu, Yusuf and Chauhan were taking the oath at Raj Niwas the ‘displaced’ Industries Minister, Mr Narendra Nath, was at 10 Janpath, spearheading a demonstration by the Vaish community. Leading a band of supporters drawn from the community, Mr Narendra Nath held a sit-in to protest the exclusion of the community from the Cabinet. Talking to the NCR Tribune, Mr Narendra Nath said that he met with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in the morning to apprise her of the situation in Delhi. “I told her, it stands proved now that performance was no criterion. The way ministers were dropped … you send out a wrong signal. I also conveyed to her my apprehension and that of several others about the damage caused to the party by this mindless exercise (of dropping ministers),” he said.

Making his displeasure known, he said that the All India Congress Committee general secretary in-charge of Delhi affairs, Mr Kamal Nath would prove a liability for the party. “With the MCD elections round the corner, this reshuffle might seriously dent the party’s fortunes.” Supporting his claims, his aides said that Mr Kamal Nath had him dropped only because he had not done his bidding while he was Industries Minister. Asked whether he would welcome a post in the party organisation, given that the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee is still to be constituted, Mr Nath said that a general secretary’s or vice president’s post would not be any consolation for the harsh treatment meted out to him.

Like Mr Nath, Ms Krishna Tirath, too, could not hide her anguish. Wondering why she was dropped when “I was the only minister to have achieved 100 per cent budget utilisation,” she said, and added that she could not have been given the axe for performing below par.

However, dismissing the prospects of a poor show in the ensuing MCD polls on account of the reshuffle, a senior party leader said, “Everybody got what they deserved.” Close aides of Kamal Nath said that the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee would be reconstituted soon. “The list would be released by early next week,” Mr Kamal Nath said, adding that only minor changes needed to be made.



Haroon Yusuf bags plum portfolios,
Saathi loses revenue
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
The four new faces in the Sheila Dikshit Ministry were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Lieutenant-Governor Vijai Kapoor on Thursday morning.

Mahender Singh Saathi 

Ashok Kumar Walia 

Ajay Maken

Raj Kumar Chauhan 

Haroon Yusuf

Deep Chand Bandhu

All the four ministers – Deep Chand Bandhu, Ajay Maken, Raj Kumar Chauhan and Haroon Yusuf – took the oath in Hindi in the presence of Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and her Cabinet colleagues. Senior Congressmen and leaders of the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party graced the function, held at Raj Niwas.

The newly sworn-in ministers then drove down to the New Secretariat where the revamped Cabinet met for the first time. The portfolios were announced soon thereafter.

While Mahender Singh Saathi retains the finance and planning portfolios, he has been divested of the revenue department. Similarly, Ashok Kumar Walia has been stripped of the portfolios of environment, forest wildlife and election and gets the land and building department in addition to the departments of health and urban development, which he had been holding before the reshuffle. Saathi and Walia are the only two ministers from the ‘old’ Cabinet to find place in the reconstituted Council of Ministers.

The ‘plum’ portfolios have fallen in Haroon Yusuf’s kitty who gets the departments of development, revenue, irrigation, flood control and food and civil supplies. Yusuf (43) represents the minorities in the new-look Cabinet. Counted among the followers of senior Congress leader Arjun Singh, Yusuf had left the Congress to join Congress (Tiwari) only to return to the party-fold after Ms Sonia Gandhi took over the reins of the Congress in 1998.

The youngest minister in the Cabinet, Ajay Maken (37) gets the ‘challenging’ departments of transport, power and tourism. “The departments of transport and power are the public face of the Government because they affect a large cross-section of the people. It would be my endeavour to bring in transparency in these departments,” he said soon after assuming office.

Like Mr Yusuf, Mr Maken had left the Congress to join the Congress (Tiwari). He rejoined the Congress after Sonia Gandhi had taken over as president of the party three years ago.

Raj Kumar Chauhan (44) replaces Krishna Tirath as the Social Welfare Minister. He also gets to head the departments of education, training and technical education and SC/ST welfare.

The 70-year-old Deep Chand Bandhu gets the portfolios of industries, labour, employment, environment, forest and wildlife and election. A K Walia, before the reallocation of portfolios, had held the last two departments mentioned. A Jat leader, Bandhu is the deputy leader of the party in the Assembly. He is a former president of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee.

In addition to the portfolios of water, vigilance, services, public relation, law and justice, home, general administration, administrative reforms, the Chief Minister would also look after higher education and culture.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters that by reshuffling her ministry, she tried to rectify the imbalance that had crept into it. “I have tried to club related departments and place them under one minister,” she said, adding that portfolios had been rationalised as they had become lopsided, with one minister holding unusually large number of departments than the others.



MCD eyes toll tax on road to election
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
As expected, there is no fresh tax in the annual budget of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) presented here today. The total allocations have seen an increase of 42 per cent, including Rs 15 crore set aside for the corporation polls, scheduled to be held in February next year.

The revised budget for the year 2001-2002 has been estimated at Rs 1,947.83 crore while the estimated expenditure is Rs 1,947.45 crore. The actual budget last year was Rs 1,372.85 crore and the expenditure Rs 1,372.80 crore. Revenue generated from toll taxes on newly built roads has emerged as a major source of revenue while the main source of income continues to be property tax and transfer duty. While an estimated Rs 1,166 crore is expected to be generated from property tax during 2002-03 (up from the revised estimates of Rs 1,109.20 crore in the previous year), the estimated revenue from toll tax has been set at Rs 75 crore for the year 2002-03, an amount equal to the current year’s revised estimates.

The sources of budget income of the MCD during 2000-2001 are as follows: property tax and transfer duty, electricity tax, commercial venture and sale of land and building, misuse charges for unauthorised occupation of municipal land, revision of penalties, toll tax, rent of car parking, fines imposed by magistrates, global sharing of taxes on recommendation of the Delhi Finance Commission, tax on advertisements, the bazari fees, licence fee for offensive trades, education grants and ways and means advance. Although an amount of Rs 15 crore has been earmarked for conducting the forthcoming elections, Mr Aggarwal, during his speech, did point out that the “entire expenditure for conducting municipal elections ought to be met by the Delhi Government”.

“Expenditure on the municipal elections is required to be earmarked by the MCD from its non-plan resources which are already scarce. The MCD had to spend about Rs 12 crore during the last municipal elections and over Rs 17 crore has been demanded by the State Election Commission for conducting the next elections,” he observed.



Private publishers sore with NCERT
Delay in publication of reference books due to change in syllabus
Smriti Kak

New Delhi, December 6
The change in syllabus, initiated by the NCERT, which is bothering the academicians, is receiving flak from the publishers as well.

The Federation of Educational Publishers, responsible for publishing books used by the students across the country as reference texts, has regretted that over 20 lakh students are going to suffer due to NCERT’s apathy. As per the NCERT plan, the revised books will be included in the academic session beginning April 2002. However, the manuscript of the syllabus is yet to be released. This delay will affect the publication of the reference books, which should ideally be ready by February.

Since most of the schools in the country begin their academic session in April each year, the books should be available on the stands much before that. Going by the tardy pace of NCERT in delivering the manuscripts, this seems unlikely. The schools in far-flung areas like Andaman and Nicobar islands, Sikkim and Mizoram and also in other countries, which prescribe to the NCERT texts, badly need the reference books, brought out by the private publishers. These schools are also going to suffer, as it takes almost a month to deliver the books to them, alleges the Federation of Educational Publishers.

“These books are even recommended for competitive exams by the school authorities. They are of great help to the students. Each year, there is a hue and cry that NCERT books are not available in the market. Nearly 80 per cent of the books are those printed by the private publishers,” points out Mr Kamal Arora, Secretary-General of the federation. It is alleged that even the authors of many books, being brought out by the NCERT, are not aware of the entire course content. “The new syllabus is under wraps, but the insiders have revealed that it is near completion and ready to go to the press. During the last three months, we have tried our level best to get in touch with Dr Rajput, the head of NCERT, but he does not even come to the phone. We need at least a good six months to publish the books, according to the syllabus guidelines,” adds Mr Arora. Publishers are having sleepless nights over the mere thought that the NCERT might have revamped the entire syllabus, instead of changing certain portions.

“If the changes are limited to the addition or deletion of certain topics, then the publishers can manage, but if the entire syllabus is new, we are going to be severely hit. There are lakhs of books already printed and these will be redundant for lack of buyers. We won’t even be able to sell it to the scrap dealer. This colossal loss would be a national wastage, ” said a concerned publisher.



14 chargesheeted in Noida pipe scam
Our Correspondent

Noida, December 6
Noida is learnt to have taken the decision to serve the chargesheet to 14 suspended employees, found involved in what was known as the ‘pipe scam’ six years ago. The decision is understood to have been taken on the orders of the state government.

Interestingly, the inquiry has been going on since 1995 and it was on the basis of the probe that Chief Maintenance Engineer S.P.S. Chauhan was dismissed. Orders were also issued to recover Rs 50 lakh from him.

Noida had, on its own, conducted the inquiry a number of times in the case involving 14 employees, but the files have always been closed after a while.

This time, the state government seems to have taken a firm view and the Additional Chief Executive Officer of Greater Noida, Mr G.C. Chaturvedi, has been appointed the inquiry officer for the purpose.

Mr Chaturvedi had sought relevant information from the CEO of Noida, Mr V K Malhotra, and subsequently, he decided to issue the chargesheet to all the accused officials. It may be recalled that the then Chief Executive Officer of Noida, Mr Prashant Kumar Mishra, had got the case probed by the then Dy CEO, Dr Prabhat Kumar in 1995. This inquiry had brought out the anomalies. The laid procedures, in the matter of price negotiations, were bypassed, resulting in a monetary loss to Noida, running into crores of rupees.

Though S.P.S. Chauhan was dismissed, no action was initiated against the other accused. Prior to this, the inquiry had been handed over to OSD Dharinder Pal Singh also.



Water is scarce, but alcohol overflows
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, December 6
South Delhi’s Vasant Kunj– known for its water shortage is brimming with liquid of a different kind–alcohol. There are at least five places in Vasant Kunj where the alcohol, popularly referred to as Theili Masaledar, is sold illegally. Everyone knows of these illegal liquor joints s “except the police”.

Ironically, one of these joints is right next to the Vasant Kunj police station. It is the one run by Langra Thekedar, as he is popularly known in the area.

“Everyone knows that he (Langra) sells alcohol from his slum hut, which is right behind the police station, even the police know it, but nothing has ever been done to stop him,” said Yogesh Khanna, President of the Forum of Residents’ Welfare Associations(RWAs) of Vasant Kunj.

SHO Mahesh Sharma feigned ignorance about the whole incident.

He spoke of raids conducted every day but said that “nothing more than the permitted quota” (eight pouches) was ever found, so the police were helpless.

“Crime cannot be eliminated totally. Langra has been arrested several times but none of the residents come forward as witnesses, what can we do?” said Sharma.

Mr Khanna, however, said it was the job of the police to investigate and arrest these illegal alcohol sellers and they should not shy away from their duty with an excuse that they don’t have proof. “Alcohol is being sold illegally 10 steps away from the police station. What witnesses do they need? Obviously they just don’t want to catch them only for reasons best known to them...and to all of us perhaps,” alleged Khanna.

There are about 5 villages in the vicinity of Vasant Kunj, which is one of the biggest colonies of Delhi. Obviously, the residents said, the villagers are the ones who buy the “cheap and extremely dangerous” alcohol from these sellers. “I am sure none of the residents of Vasant Kunj flats would go to buy alcohol from them,”
said Suresh Thakur, Vice-President of the Forum of RWAs.

Langra, however, is not alone in this illegal business of selling liquor. Reliable sources said Raghuvir alias Udal is another man who sells alcohol.

He is based in the Kusumpur Pahri in Block D. Munna Dhobi operates out of E Block, Kusumpur Pahri, Langra Gopal from Rajasthan Camp on Kusumpur Pahri, and the fifth, a female, who is as fearless as any of her male counterparts. And she goes by the quaint name of Rajasthani Buria. She carries her flourishing business from the backside of the Prem Kabari Shop in village Masoodpur.

Dr S.S. Kame, a resident, said: “We are going through hell because of these liquor joints in the area. These villagers drink these cheap liquor pouches and every morning there are people dead drunk lying down on the roads. The sight is disgusting. Not only this, these illegal joints have made it extremely difficult for anyone of us to move out at nights, even in our own colonies.”

“They (the villagers) are not bothered about their respect. They get drunk and can do nothing including using abusive language and are always ready for a fight. We can’t do that. We can’t stoop to their level and fight with them. So who calls this colony posh?” asked Dr Kame.

The residents said, “The police mount convenient raids. They just want to keep their records clear. They carry out raids whenever it is convenient for them, put the law-breakers behind bars for a couple of days and then its back to square one.”

Questioning the motive of the police, Mr Thakur said: “It is impossible that the police cannot find proof. They have it all there. They can solve anything if they want to and they can catch anyone even if he or she is ‘underground’, but they just don’t want to do it. God knows why? And because of such an attitude the lawbreakers are only becoming fearless of the law.”

SHO Sharma, assured that if the residents come forward as witnesses he would swoop down not only on illegal alcohol sellers but also put an end to “everything illegal happening in his area”.



Who takes Janata Darbars seriously?
R.D. Sapra

Sonepat, December 6
A majority of government officers in this city and elsewhere in the district are public servants only in name. Their unresponsive attitude towards the people has caused resentment among the public.

The timings of the “Janata Darbars” are never adhered to by most of the officers particularly in the Irrigation, Labour and Employment, PWD (B and R), Public Health, Forest, Agriculture, Education, Food and Supplies Department, and the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN). They disappear from their offices just a few minutes before the fixed hours i.e., 11 a.m. on one pretext or the other.

The visitors get the usual reply from their subordinates that the boss has gone to attend some urgent meeting. Many officers sit just for an hour or so in their offices only to sign the urgent office papers. The ‘lunch’ time is not considered a break but for most of them the day is over after lunch. Contacting them at their residences has become an uphill task for the people, particularly the mediapersons. The stock reply at home is that the boss is in the field or in the bath-room. Telephone attendants have been so well trained that telephone calls of only senior officers or important political leaders are passed on to them. The common people always get the standard reply “Sahib ghar par nahin hain”. It is interesting to note that staffs posted at the residence of senior district officers gave similar reply without knowing the nature of the call of the people approaching them on telephone.



Sonia unveils Ambedkar’s statue in assembly
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday unveiled the statue of Dr B. R. Ambedkar in the Delhi Legislative Assembly. She conferred the Ambedkar Ratna Awards and also gave away awards to the best legislators and journalists for the year 2000-2001 and two preceding years.

On the occasion, Ms Gandhi said the role of Dr Ambedkar could not be forgotten as he was the architect of the Constitution who carved out the necessary provisions for the welfare of different sections of society. Delivering her speech in Hindi, she cautioned against tinkering with the Constitution for that could pose a threat to democracy, like it has in India’s neighbourhood.

Speaker of the Delhi Legislative Assembly, Prem Singh presided over the function which was also graced by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and Leader of Opposition Jagdish Mukhi. Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker P. M. Sayeed, Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptullah, former Lok Sabha Speaker Shivraj Patil and former Haryana Governor Mahavir Prasad were also present on the occasion.

Recalling the contribution of Dr Ambedkar, Speaker Prem Singh said he was the messiah of the Dalits and the oppressed, depressed and suppressed sections of society.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, in turn, said the Assembly had been without the statue of Dr Ambedkar for five decades. “Today we have installed this huge statue at this historic Assembly Secretariat precincts,” she said.



Kalandars find it tough to keep wolf from the door
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 6
Hundreds of families of the Kalandar (madari) community here are facing starvation due to the lack of work, after their animals were taken away under the provisions of ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act’. While the majority of them have now taken to part-time work like collecting garbage and waste, several of their children have taken to begging.

Ranherakhera village in Faridabad district is the only place in the region where a large number of Kalandars are based. Living in ‘kuccha’ houses and temporary hutment, the community members are now finding it difficult to make both ends meet. According to an elder in the community, the ‘wildlife’ officials and other ‘animal welfare’ organisations had taken away all their animals on allegations of ‘cruelty’, under an act formulated by the Union government. He said while they have been left unemployed (without any work), the government had not done anything to provide them with an alternative source of income. Instead of their children going to schools for education, the majority of them had now been engaged in work like collecting garbage and waste products. Humayun, who used to have a bear and four monkeys for organising public shows, says that, “now their children, who used to play at their home earlier, had been forced to work so that they could support their families now.”

He said hardly any children go to nearby schools or anganwadi, as they had to bear the burden of earning a living at such a tender age.

Recently, a 10-year-old boy, Shahruk, son of Imrat Khan died in an accident. The victim was returning from work. Azad Khan of the same colony said that most of the Kalandars were on verge of starvation, as they had no land or other property.

Their only property, ‘animals’ had been ‘snatched,’ in the name of protecting the law of the land. He said children collecting plastic and polythene bags from waste are paid at a rate of 50 paise for every kg of material collected. Ehzaz Ahmed and Naushad claimed that some of the women and children had either started to work in the houses in the nearby colonies as maid or taken to begging.

They said that some of them had even adopted ‘immoral’ activities to fend for their families. One of the bear recently taken away from them had died in custody of the wildlife authorities in Himachal Pradesh, due to improper care, claimed another Kalandar.

He said that some of the members of the community had gone to Himachal Pradesh to take custody of another bear who is reported to be extremely ill.



Cong leader wants Hooda replaced
Our Correspondent

Mr Krishan Murti Hooda, a former minister and a senior Congress leader, on Thursday urged the party high command to replace the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee president, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, with some other prominent leader who enjoys the confidence of all other factions in the state unit.

In a signed press statement issued here, he said that the HPCC president had utterly failed to curb the party factions and this was the main cause of the poor image of the party in the state. He alleged that Mr Hooda was patronising his own group in the party and not trying to seek the co-operation from the leaders of other groups.

He also said that the forthcoming Yamunanagar assembly by-election would be a challenge for the existence of the party in Haryana and this was the time that the party high command should take a bold decision and ask the HPCC president to step down on moral grounds. He also regretted that by his mishandling, Mr Hooda had failed to unite the party and improve its image despite the fact that no section of the society was satisfied with the functioning of the Chautala government in Haryana and the NDA government at the Centre.

Four hurt in group clash

Four persons are reportedly injured in a clash between two rival groups at Rai village, 13 km from here, on Wednesday.

According to a report, both the groups used lathis and other weapons in the clash. All the injured persons were immediately hospitalised. They are stated to be out of danger. The Rai police have registered a case but no arrest has been made in this connection.

According to another report, a youth, Sunil, sustained serious injuries when he was attacked by two motorcycle-borne youths near Rajinder Nagar here Wednesday night. They attacked him with a knife. The youth was immediately hospitalised and he is stated to be out of danger. The assailants have absconded.

House looted in daylight

Thieves broke open the locks of a house in broad daylight and decamped with household articles worth several thousands of rupees in Ashok Nagar (kutcha quarters), a thickly populated area of the city, on Wednesday. The theft was committed around noon when the inmates of the house were away. The owner of the house has lodged an FIR with the police.

NCP leaders resign

Several office-bearers of the Nationalist Congress Party in the district are reported to have resigned from the primary membership of the party in protest against the anti-party activities of the president of the state unit, Mr Lalit Sharma.

Grievances panel on Dec 9

The next meeting of the District Public Relations and Grievances Committee will be held in the Panchayat Bhavan here on December 9 to dispose of nine complaints received by the Deputy Commissioner.



540 complaints settled at darbar
Our Correspondent

As many as 540 complaints out of a total of 614 were settled on the spot during an open darbar held under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anil Malik, at Sampla town on Thursday.

Divulging details of the darbar, the Deputy Commissioner said 52 complaints relating to old age pension and three concerning widow pension were redressed on the spot.

As many as 29 domicile certificates, 76 driving licenses and seven scheduled caste certificates were issued. Besides, 44 complaints of power consumers were also settled, he added.

Boy crushed to death

A nine-year-old boy, Rahul, was crushed to death by a tempo at Balambha village in the Meham subdivision on Wednesday. According to information, Rahul was playing in front of his house. He was hit by a speeding tempo and got seriously injured. He was rushed to a hospital in Meham but died on the way. The body was sent for a post-mortem examination.


Lightning can strike thrice
Our Correspondent

Faridabad, December 6
Dub it `misfortune’ or sheer `bad luck’. Three youth were snatched by death just a few days before their marriage in the last one week in Palwal sub-division of the town. Ishwar Singh of Jatola village died in a road accident yesterday near Alhapur village in the sub-division. His marriage was due on December 12.Again, Giriraj, a JBT teacher of Alawalpur village, was mowed down by a train at Palwal station on December 3 where he had gone to see off one of his relatives. As fate would have it, he slipped on the platform and fell before a train streaming into the station. His marriage was slated for December 8. In yet another incident, Rajender of Pahari village was waylaid and murdered by unidentified persons a week back near Hodal town, when he was returning to his village after inviting one of his close relatives for his marriage, scheduled for this week.



Telephone on demand soon in Sonepat
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 6
The Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has increased the capacity of Sonepat main telephone exchange by 2,000 lines and it would give new telephone connections on demand by the end of the current financial year.

Giving this information, Mr R. C. Hooda, General Manager, Telecom,(GMT) District Sonepat told mediapersons here today that the BSNL has also increased the capacity of the telephone exchange at Ganaur, a sub-divisional town in this district by 1,000 lines. The new telephone connections would be available in Ganaur on demand within the next two months. The BSNL, he said, had provided as many as 1,060 new telephone connections in this district during the last month alone. He also disclosed that the BSNL had also provided internet connections to the recognised educational institutions of the district. Similarly, the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) has been started at Gohana, another sub-division.



2,500 names missing in voters list
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 6
Despite the fact that the office of the district election officer is located at Sector 21-C here, names of about 2,500 residents of the sector are missing from the new voters list, the local residents welfare association has said.

According to the association, the residents had already filled up the required application (form 6) on various occasions and during the last survey. However, their names had been missing from the latest list.



Lions Club comes to help of disabled
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, December 6
On the occasion of the International Day of Disabled Persons, The Lions Club, Bengali Market, distributed artificial limbs, tricycles and calipers to disabled people.

The distribution took place in the presence of the patron, Mr Jagdish Aggarwal and Lion Surinder Rana. The vice-district governor, Lion Tejpal Singh, gave away the essentials to the disabled and said, “the Lions Club is determined to work for the disabled so that they get an equal opportunity to lead a normal life”.



Burglary FOLLOW-UP
MTNL probe being stalled?

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
Even though a week has passed since Rs 1 crore was looted from the Preet Vihar exchange of the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) in the wee hours of November 28, the Delhi Police are yet to make any significant breakthrough. But what is intriguing is the stance taken by the MTNL top brass vis a vis police investigation.

Though the police claimed to have established some facts, they remained tightlipped and are not willing to share any information regarding the robbery, which has baffled most of the people. A source among the police made it evident that the top brass of the MTNL are not willing to provide any information and are not co-operating with the investigating officials. Their request to interrogate some of the staff was bluntly turned down by the MTNL. The telephone major has not even provided the attendance register or list of employees, who were not present on the day of robbery, to the police.

The police are also extremely suspicious about the banning of MTNL employees union meeting inside the premises quoting terrorist threats. However, the police believe if at all the MTNL was facing any terrorist threat it must have been routed by intelligence through the district police. Ironically, the police do not have any such information pointing to a terrorist threat on the MTNL offices.

In fact, this had prompted the investigating officials to think as why the MTNL top brass had to issue a circular on November 6 banning the meetings. The investigators are clueless as to how to proceed in the case.

The police have already questioned the shopkeeper in Rashid Market who had sold the rubber pipes. The officials remained silent about the disclosures made by the shopkeeper. However, the officials have identified the person and the shop, from where the gas-cutting equipment and LPG cylinder used by the suspects for their robbery were procured.



The woman behind flesh trade
Our Correspondent

Amidst reports that flesh trade is flourishing in the district, a young woman has lodged a complaint with the Kotwali police about how she was forced into the nefarious trade by the proprietor of one such den. The woman has named the proprietor, Sharda, who has been in the news for quite some time, and a youth as the agents who forced her into the ‘profession’.

Following the complaint, the Kotwali police arrested Sharda and the youth and have been raiding various known centres of flesh trade in the city.

According to the SP, City, Dr Ashok Kumar Raghav, the young woman, Manisha, has complained that Sharda, a resident of Punjabi Lines, has forced her into the flesh trade. Manisha, who lives in the Arthlaa Mohalla under the Sahibabad police station and who originally belongs to Mazzafarnagar, has also said that Sharda has relations with many well-to-do and influential people of the area.

According to her, Sharda is an expert blackmailer and forces young women into the ignominious profession.

The Kotwali police have registered a case against Sharda under various sections of the Flesh Trade Ordinance. Police teams have started raiding various parts of the city on the basis information given by Sharda during interrogation.

The young man named by Manisha in her complaint has not been nabbed so far.

Petrol station looted

A sum of Rs 1.75 lakh was looted by miscreants from a petrol station, Sona Petrol India, near Inder Garhi village under the Musori police station Wednesday night. The miscreants first fired in the air to scare the three workers at the station and locked them up in a cabin before looting the cash. They fled by foot under the cover of darkness. Though the police combed the rural areas in the vicinity the whole night, they could not trace the criminals.



Two die in road mishaps
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
Two persons lost their lives in separate road accidents in the Capital late last night. The first accident occurred when a scooterist, identified as Shiv Singh (32), resident of Block 8, Trilokpuri, was reportedly hit by an unknown vehicle in Trilokpuri. He died on the spot.

The Mayur Vihar police have registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving and have launched a manhunt for the errant driver.

In a similar case, a youth was crushed to death by a CNG bus near Novelty Cinema last night. The police said the victim, yet to be identified, was a youth aged around 22 and was reportedly hit by a bus.



Student shot
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 6
Sandeep, a student of 10th class, was allegedly shot dead by three youths at Rathdhanna village about 5 km from here today. According to a report, the victim was going towards the fields when he was waylaid by three armed youths. One of them fired shots at him resulting in the death.



Gang snatches bag containing Rs 1.7 lakh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 6
An organised gang of robbers robbed Rs 1.7 lakh from an employee of a private company after intercepting him near Ohkla Sabzi Mandi in South district yesterday afternoon. The victim, Mr Surender Gupta (30), was on the way to his office on his two wheeler after withdrawing money from Canara Bank when he was intercepted by two youths riding on a motorcycle. While they were fighting the victim, another associate of the robbers came in a car and snatched the bag.


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