Saturday, December 8, 2001, Chandigarh, India





National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H A R Y A N A

REPORT OF EDITORS GUILD PANEL
‘Misuse of authority’ to silence Faridabad newspaper
Chandigarh, December 7
A fact-finding committee of the Editors Guild of India has expressed concern over the “flagrant misuse” of executive authority to silence a Faridabad-based newspaper and to arrest its Editor for criticising administrative officials by name, especially the Superintendent of Police of that district.

Getting arms licence gets tougher in Haryana
Rohtak, December 7
The government has withdrawn the powers of issuance or renewal of arms licences from the SDMs so as to eliminate chances of undesirable persons getting licences.

Cops harassing complainant?
Faridabad, December 7
A local resident on whose complaint a graft case was booked against a doctor of ESI Hospital here has charged policemen with harassing him and fears that they might destroy evidence in the case.

Ambedkar a ‘great social scientist’
Kurukshetra, December 7
The Centre for Dr B.R. Ambedkar Studies of Kurukshetra University organised a Nirvan Divas function in the university Senate Hall to pay tributes to Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar here last evening.

Army recruitment rally from Dec 11
Bhiwani, December 7
A recruitment rally will be held by the Army for candidates from Bhiwani, Rewari and Mahendergarh districts at the Bhim Stadium here from December 11 to 14.



YOUR TOWN
Bhiwani
Chandigarh
Faridabad
Hisar
Kurukshetra
Rohtak


EARLIER STORIES
 

Governor’s Flag Day appeal
Chandigarh, December 7
The Armed Forces Flag Day was observed at Haryana Raj Bhavan here today. Governor Babu Parmanand and his wife. Sudesh Kumari, Governor’s Secretary, Vijay Vardhan, Officers and Officials of Raj Bhavan donated towards the Flag Day Fund on the occasion. 

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REPORT OF EDITORS GUILD PANEL
‘Misuse of authority’ to silence Faridabad newspaper
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
A fact-finding committee of the Editors Guild of India has expressed concern over the “flagrant misuse” of executive authority to silence a Faridabad-based newspaper and to arrest its Editor for criticising administrative officials by name, especially the Superintendent of Police of that district.

The committee, comprising three eminent journalists, Mr Ajit Bhattacharjea, Mr Om Thanvi and Mr G.S. Bhargava, which inquired into the arrest of Mr Satish Kumar, Editor of Mazdoor Morcha, said if the allegations were false, “the law provides legal procedures for redress which were not attempted. In any case, such misuse of authority to silence the Press cannot be condoned.

“In addition to stopping publication of a paper it leads, as in the present instance, to inhibiting journalists from doing their duty to report valid cases of corruption and misuse of authority.”

Mr Satish Kumar was arrested on August 18, 2001, after his paper published a report accusing the Faridabad SP, Mr Ranbir Sharma, of buying a house for Rs 18 lakh, of which Rs 10 lakh was paid in black money.

The committee in its report said the arrest of Mr Satish Kumar showed signs of misuse of authority from the very start. The FIR was registered at an unusual hour of 3.15 a.m. and he was picked up from his residence four hours later.

At the same time the committee held Mazdoor Morcha guilty of publishing suggestive and unsubstantiated headlines, which, it said, rather than curbing corruption, damaged the credibility of the Press.

However, the committee said, if the allegations were false, the correct procedure to deal with such cases was to sue the offender for defamation. “Misuse of police powers to silence the Editor or paper suggested that there could be elements of truth in the allegations.”

The FIR, described by the committee as “vague”, charged the “owners and publishers” of nine local papers with furnishing false circulation figures and exercising undue pressure on officials of the Haryana Urban Development Authority to obtain undue advertisements. The FIR, in which no names were mentioned, stated that advertisements worth lakhs of rupees had been issued a day or two before the Budget lapsed on March 31, 2000, and that certain officials had complained that they were pressurised into issuing advertisements by threats of publishing derogatory stories about them.

The committee said that it was on the basis of such unsubstantiated allegations that Mr Satish Kumar was promptly arrested in contravention of Supreme Court rulings laying down that no arrests should be made on “merely allegation of commission of offence and suspicion of complicity in an offence”. It pointed out that though nine papers were mentioned, nobody else was taken into custody. Another journalist, Mr Ajay Bothra, was taken to the police station and released. “Satish Kumar was clearly the target.”

Pointing out other inconsistencies in the police conduct, the committee said the FIR was registered in August, 2001, though the offence was said to have occurred in March, 2000. The HUDA Administrator, Mr Vijendra Kumar, and the Estate Officer, Mr M.S. Yadav, who were not posted in Faridabad at that time, told the committee that they had filed the case “in response to a complaint from outside”. Even Ms G. Anupama, who was the Administrator, HUDA, Faridabad, in March, 2000, told the committee that no irregularity had come to her notice.

The committee also pointed out that the officials could not explain how advertisements had been issued in Faridabad when according to Haryana Government instructions, these were to be issued only by the Director of Public Relations in Chandigarh. The police also did not provide any details to the committee to support the charge of inflated circulation figures, which, the committee noted, in any case came under the exclusive purview of the Registrar of Newspapers of India.

The three-member team regretted that despite these inconsistencies, Mr Satish Kumar was denied bail by the duty magistrate and was remanded in police custody. The Sessions Court also rejected his appeal. The date for hearing his bail application in the Punjab and Haryana High Court was set for three months later, which would have extended his pre-trial detention to nearly five months. The matter was then taken to the Supreme Court, which directed the high court to dispose of the bail application within a week. On October 8, 2001, Mr Satish Kumar was released on bail after seven weeks in jail.

Meanwhile, the Faridabad police “took steps to prevent publication of the newspaper.” The printer of the paper discontinued printing and no other printer in Faridabad was willing to print it. A criminal suit was filed against Mr Satish Kumar for allegedly using a false printline. At the same time, the District Magistrate issued a notice for the cancellation of the registration of the paper. “When these formalities are completed, Mazdoor Morcha may be finally silenced,” the committee noted with concern.

The SP complained to the committee that Mr Satish Kumar was in the habit of publishing scandalous and unfounded personal allegations against officials, which was why the administration, “including the judiciary”, was hostile to him. Unsupported allegations of corruption and dishonesty, besides the story of buying a Rs 18 lakh house, were also published against the SP by the newspaper.

The committee found that journalists in Faridabad were reluctant to report on such events (concerning the efforts to silence the press). “We were informed that even Editors of Delhi newspapers were unwilling to publish news critical of Mr Sharma. One reason for his influence, we were told, was that he is a son-in-law of the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami.”

The Editors Guild team had a word of caution for the media also. “The line between legitimate exposure of corruption and unsubstantiated personal allegations must be maintained by the media if it is to retain credibility. In this case, we feel it necessary to record our concern over the provocative language and tone of some of the allegations published in Mazdoor Morcha without stated source or substantiation.” 

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Getting arms licence gets tougher in Haryana
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, December 7
The government has withdrawn the powers of issuance or renewal of arms licences from the SDMs so as to eliminate chances of undesirable persons getting licences.

Although the Centre had, in 1989, amended the Act and vested the powers for issuance of arms licences to the District Magistrates, the Haryana Government had, in 1990, delegated some of these powers to the SDMs. The District Magistrates have been issuing licences for the prohibited bore arms or extending the territorial validity of the licence.

But after the CBI unearthed the arms licence scandal in the state, the government has decided to streamline the procedure so that no antisocial element may get the licence.

The government has now modified the rules under which the arms licences for even the non-prohibited bore (NPB) arms would be issued only by the District Magistrates.

The arms licence will now be issued only at the permanent address of the applicant. The applicant will have to submit proof of permanent residence in the shape of copies of either the ration card, voters’ list, voter’s identity cards or passport etc.

The government has said that the police verification would be made in respect of the applicant’s residence and antecedents in all cases. The police verification should also be done at the time of renewal of the licence, the government said.

The District Magistrates have been advised to ensure that the applicant was fully trained in the use of arms from the authorised agencies, like the Home Guards etc, which imparted training to civilians for use of weapons. A certificate of training would have to be submitted along with the application.

The government has further advised the District Magistrates that fresh licence should be issued only if the purpose of keeping arms is fully justified. The extension of time for the purchase of weapons would be allowed only by the concerned District Magistrate.

The recommendation for the extension of area of the licence for guns and rifles should not be for more than three or four states based on the need. In case of revolvers and pistols, the recommendations are to be made only in justified cases and that too for a few states. But the power for extension in this case vests only with the government, it added.

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Cops harassing complainant?
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 7
A local resident on whose complaint a graft case was booked against a doctor of ESI Hospital here has charged policemen with harassing him and fears that they might destroy evidence in the case.

In an application to the Rashtriya Bhrastachar Nirmulan Parishad (with a copy to the SSP here), the applicant, Mr Budhraj, has stated that the police kept him waiting in the police station for eight hours in connection with the investigations recently.

While he and his associate were not allowed to move out, the accused in police custody at that time in the same police station was looked after like a ‘guest.’ He claims the police had got his signatures on a piece of blank paper.

The doctor had been arrested red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from a factory worker, Sanjay Kumar.

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Ambedkar a ‘great social scientist’
Our Correspondent

Kurukshetra, December 7
The Centre for Dr B.R. Ambedkar Studies of Kurukshetra University organised a Nirvan Divas function in the university Senate Hall to pay tributes to Bharat Ratna Babasaheb Dr Ambedkar here last evening. Mr Faqir Chand Mullana, MP, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mullana called upon the young generation to follow the principles, guidelines and the path shown by the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr Ambedkar. He said this would be the fittest tribute to the great soul. He said Dr Ambedkar was a great social scientist who fought for the rights of the people.

In his presidential address, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university, Prof Hoshiar Singh, observed that various governments at the Centre after Independence tried to bring equality in society by implementing the policies, principles and guidelines shown by Dr Ambedkar.

Delivering the keynote address, Prof K. Gopal Iyer Chairman of the Department of Sociology of Panjab University, expressed concern over the plight of the Dalits in society as they were still bearing injustice and undergoing exploitation. He said there was a dire need to inculcate the philosophy and ideology of Dr Ambedkar among the young generation for building a strong nation.

Dr Hawa Singh, Registrar of the university, said Babasaheb enlightened the masses in every sphere, be it politics, education, law or economy.

Dr Naresh Kumar, Director of the Ambedkar studies centre, presented a brief report of the activities of the centre since its inception. Dr G. Khurana, Member, Advisory Body of the centre, proposed a vote of thanks.

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Army recruitment rally from Dec 11
Our Correspondent

Bhiwani, December 7
A recruitment rally will be held by the Army for candidates from Bhiwani, Rewari and Mahendergarh districts at the Bhim Stadium here from December 11 to 14.

The recruitment officer, Lieut-Col R.K. Bali, said here today that recruitment of wards of war widows, retired and working personnel's from Rewari, Bhiwani and Mahendergarh would be done on December 11, 12 and 13, 14, respectively. He said recruitment for the posts of general duty sepoy, technical sepoy and clerk (GD/SKT) would be done. The candidates for the post of general duty sepoy should not be less than 21 years and for the posts of technical sepoy and clerk not less than 23 years.

The recruitment officer said candidates should have passed class X and should bring six passport size photos, original certificate of matriculation, domicile and caste certificates along with the character certificate issued by the sarpanch of respective villages at the time of recruitment.

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Governor’s Flag Day appeal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The Armed Forces Flag Day was observed at Haryana Raj Bhavan here today. Governor Babu Parmanand and his wife. Sudesh Kumari, Governor’s Secretary, Vijay Vardhan, Officers and Officials of Raj Bhavan donated towards the Flag Day Fund on the occasion. Flags were pinned on the donors by officials of the Haryana Rajya Sainik Board.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor called upon people to donate liberally to the fund meant for the welfare of the families, serving armed forces personnel and ex-servicemen.

The Governor directed Brig Sher Singh, Secretary, Haryana Rajya Sainik Board, that the Flag Day be organised more systematically at the state as well as at the district level with motivation and persuasion.

Mr S.S. Kaushal, father of martyr Captain Rohit Kaushal, presented a cheque of Rs 10,000 to Babu Parmanand towards the Armed Forces Flag Day Fund.

Mr Kaushal informed the Governor that he had formed a Charitable Trust in the memory of his only son Captain Rohit Kaushal who laid down his life for motherland while fighting insurgency in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir on November 11, 1995. 

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Haryana announces holiday today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 7
The Haryana Government has declared tomorrow as a holiday under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, in all public offices and also for all commercial and industrial establishments under its control located only in Chandigarh and Panchkula to enable the employees and workers to cast their votes on account of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation elections.

The government has also notified that December 19 will be a “restricted holiday” on account of the martyrdom day of Guru Tegh Bahadur. However, those employees who availed of restricted holiday on November 19 on this account will not be entitled to this facility on December 19.

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Sarpanch suspended
Our Correspondent

Bhiwani, December 7
The sarpanch of Badsi Jatan village, Rajender Singh, has been placed under suspension and barred from attending meetings of panchayat till further orders. In the orders issued by the Deputy Commissioner, it is stated that the sarpanch should immediately hand over the record, if he has any, to the next panch having a majority in the panchayat.

Several complaints had been made against Rajender Singh for his alleged involvement in malpractices to the Deputy Commissioner who had ordered SDM S.B. Lohia to hold an inquiry. The SDM found the sarpanch guilty of undertaking purchases without proper permission and quotations and manipulating in the record of the Panchayat.

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Jawan crushed to death

Hisar, December 7
A jawan of the BSF was crushed to death by an unidentified vehicle near BSF Camp on the Sirsa road here yesterday, the police said today.

The incident occurred while Hawaldar Mohinder Singh (40) was going on a bicycle and the vehicle hit him from behind. Mohinder died on the spot, the police said

A case has been registered. PTI

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