Tuesday, January 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Congress, as usual, is adrift
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 14
In spite of the Congress’ attempts at projecting a united front, differences persist between the government and the party. This time it is over the criterion of selection of candidates for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections, slated for February-end.

Owing to the tug-of-war between the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) and the government, the party’s campaign is adrift. While the legislators are demanding a fair say in the selection of candidates, the government is insisting on equitable representation as the campaign needs to be anchored in the achievements, notched up over the past three years.

Adding to the consternation of some senior leaders is the lop-sided manner in which the party’s Election Committee was constituted. The preponderance of Tytler-Sajjan confidants in the panel has been welcomed, but with reservations.

The 13-member election committee, which will select candidates for the MCD polls, had come as a setback for the Chief Minister with many of her trusted lieutenants left out in the cold. That was widely seen as a snub to the Chief Minister. The MCD polls are crucial to the party as also for the Chief Minister, whose fate hinges on how the Congress fares at the hustings.

The contentious issue also figured in Monday’s meeting of the Cabinet. According to sources, putting everything on hold, the meeting discussed the situation as it unfolded with talks also revolving around All India Congress Committee General Secretary in charge of Delhi affairs Kamal Nath’s luncheon over the weekend. The luncheon was attended, among others, by Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. While DPCC sources maintained all was well and that the MLAs’ views would be taken into consideration before selecting candidates, a senior leader said that winnability would be the sole criterion and much would depend on how far a candidate would be seen as capable of projecting the achievements of the government. Another said the party high command would eventually have to put their heads together to strike the “right balance”.

Party sources said that Mr Kamal Nath would meet with the Congress councillors on January 23 to consult them on the preparations for the polls. According to sources in the Election Commission, the notification would have to be issued at least 20 days in advance as per the guidelines. With much at stake for the Congress here, the civic polls would prove an acid test for the party.



Sariska tigers need the kiss of life
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

Alwar, January 14
The zero growth in population of tigers in the Sariska forest reserve for the last two years is causing considerable concern among the wildlife experts, who are now examining how best to reverse this trend.

Among the immediate steps being suggested are the closure of the road that runs through the reserve, relocation of the human settlements and adequate attention to the green cover and the water supply.

Though the reserve has been under Project Tiger since 1978, the tiger population in 1999 was 28. The latest census, carried out early this month, indicated that the number was still veering around 28.

Though the Sariska authorities would release the official census figures in the month-end, tentative estimates indicate that there has been no growth in tiger population.

The Sariska forest was the favourite hunting turf of the royalty during the reign of the Rajputs and the British Raj. The Sariska Palace, which was the resting-place of the hunters of the big cat, has several photographs of the Rajput chieftains and the colonial rulers, striking poses with their bounty.

A senior official closely associated with the census operations confirmed to the NCR Tribune the tiger population figures, saying that the data on the age and the male, female ratio is still being compiled. The wildlife census is carried out in the reserve every two years.

“Static tiger population is a matter of major concern for all those involved in the protection of big cat,” Mr Ashok Kumar, Director of Wildlife Trust of India, said.

He said: “There is a need to undertake a detailed study of the reasons for the static tiger numbers despite the fact that there is hardly any poaching in Sariska.”

The reserve, since it came under Project Tiger, has seen the population of the big cat grow from 11 to 25. In fact, Sariska’s instance was often cited to drive home the point about the need to protect this endangered species.

District officials said that the stagnant growth could be due to the three consecutive years of drought. “There was little water for the animal population in the reserve, which might have affected their numbers,” an official said.

Another wildlife expert points an accusing finger at the concrete road that passes through the forest, another one in the periphery areas which is used by the State transport buses, and the human settlements within the reserve.

“The Rajasthan Government has failed to resettle these villagers; it has also failed to curb the vehicular traffic within the reserve and in the periphery areas. This adversely affects the tiger habitation,” an expert said.

The forest officials pointed out that the reserve faces a chronic shortage of water in summer. Most of the water holes and other sources are dry in summer. Some villages, which are within the reserve boundary, have large herds of cattle, which graze in the forest.

“Apart from the pressure caused by the grazing animals on the food and water supply, cattle carry diseases like foot and mouth and Rinder Pest, which sometimes strike the wild animals,” they said.

The terrain of Sariska is hilly, marked by valleys and undulating plateaus. A characteristic feature of the Aravalli range – sharp hog back ridges – are conspicuous in the reserve. Most of the high ridges are composed of quartzite conglomerates and grits.



At last, agony uncles for Tihar jail-birds
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 14
From now on, a legal and a welfare officer will be present in all jails in the Tihar complex to examine the problems of the inmates. The changes are being ushered under the proposed New Prison Act.

Director-General (Prisons) Ajay Agarwal at the annual press conference in the Capital on Monday. — Tribune photo

The new Act and the Revised Manual are being processed for the purpose of notification. The new Act, according to jail officials, will introduce modern concepts of prison management and streamline the system.

Under the new Act, a committee will be set up for redressing the grievances of prisoners, a magisterial inquiry will be mandatory in the event of a prisoner’s death in jail and undertrials will be allowed to work in the Tihar prison factory, depending on their willingness.

Announcing this at a Press Conference on the jail campus, Director-General (Prisons), Ajay Agarwal, said an effort will be made to make each prisoner computer literate. For this purpose, he had requested the Delhi government and an NGO to provide some teachers. The reform programmes are being conducted by the jail staff themselves.

Some 200 militants are lodged in Tihar and of them 45 were booked under the Public Safety Act. Adequate security measures were in place and all of them were lodged in high-security areas. According to Mr Agarwal, 2001 was a quiet year as there was no untoward incident of rioting in the jail premises.

But during the year, 24 deaths were reported in the jail and among them 20 were natural. Among the four unnatural deaths, two inmates hanged themselves, one died in a riot and another in an accidental fall.

Last year, 63, 940 prisoners were lodged in the jail and 60,836 were released. As on December 31, 11,023 inmates, comprising 8752 undertrials, 2221 convicts and 50 detenues, including 504 women and 309 foreign nationals, were lodged in the jail. Besides, 70 children are lodged with their mothers.

The undertrials are almost 80 per cent of the total population in these jails. About 1000 to 1200 prisoners are sent to various courts daily.

Three new jails, which can accommodate about 1550 prisoners, are under construction. A district jail is under construction at Rohini, which will house 1050 inmates; it will be ready by June this year.

A new concept “Mulaiza” – under which undertrials are separated from the hardened criminals and convicts – has been introduced. An undertrial is allowed to stay in the Mulaiza ward only for six months and, in case his jail term is extended or he is convicted, then he is shifted to the normal jail with others, said Mr Agarwal.

Around 560 prisoners are working in the jail factory and there is a proposal to increase the number to 1800. The factory manufactures bhujia, potato chips, cakes and desks; the paper unit produces all kinds of wall paper.



Scissors snuffed out his life
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News service

Faridabad, January 14
A pair of scissors was retrieved from the ashes of a person cremated recently, arousing the suspicion of his kin that it might have something to do with his operation at a private nursing home.

The relatives of the deceased, Bansi (42), a shopkeeper in NH-II of NIT here, harbour a strong suspicion that the death could be the result of carelessness on the part of the doctor, who might have left the scissors in the abdomen of the victim during the operation.

Bansi had been admitted to a private nursing home in Sector-11 here on January 6, after he had complained of a severe pain in the stomach. According to family members, the doctor advised them that the patient required an operation for some complications. With their consent, Bansi was operated upon and discharged soon after.

But, he developed a shooting pain again and rushed to the doctor, who is stated to have told him that it could be due to the operation. Though Bansi returned home, he could not bear the pain and died in agony on the night of January 10.

The family members ascribed it to fate and cremated the body the next day. But when some members went to collect the ashes on the third day, they were surprised to find a pair of scissors among the remains.

Shocked, they informed the other relatives and the police. The police have collected the scissors, but they are yet to lodge a case. The scissors are about six-inch-long and were partially damaged in the funeral fire.



Homesick 8-yr-old commits suicide
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, January 14
In an appalling incident, an eight-year-old boy committed suicide at his Vishwas Nagar residence yesterday afternoon. The police say Arihant Jain was upset about being sent to a boarding school. A class three student, Arihant had been admitted to Col. Brown’s Boarding School in Dehra Dun. The child was upset at being away from home. Feeling slighted, he had even complained to his mother that they loved his six-year-old sister Shourya more than him.

Therefore, they had sent him away to school. Mrs. Seema Jain, Arihant’s mother, told the police that around noon Arihant, who was home for holidays, confided in her that he wished to stay back and complained that he was missing out on their love. Even though his mother tried to allay his misgivings, she could not banish the thought from his sensitive mind. Arihant hanged himself with a rope used for drying clothes. His body was discovered by his mother who came looking for him. On hearing her scream, her husband Balesh came running. The shocked parents rushed their son first to Surya Nursing Home and then to Apollo Hospital. The Police say that Arihant had been depressed for a long time.

The tragic incident has left the parents completely shattered. The neighbours too were shocked by the incident and said that Arihant was a very nice child. The father was inconsolable as was the younger sister who has “not stopped crying since then”.



Mewat madrasas offer to reform academic curriculum
Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

Nuh (Gurgaon), January 14
Realising the importance of reforming the academic curriculum of the madrasas in Mewat areas of Gurgaon and Faridabad district, the Mewat Development Agency (MDA) has decided to intervene in the issue.

The MDA has devised a Rs 78-lakh scheme to include new subjects to bring the academic system of the madrasas in tune with the national mainstream.

According to the scheme, the MDA will provide salaries for teachers of Arabic, Hindi, Urdu and science and maths in the madrasas. The madrasas have been given a free hand to select their teachers.

The need for the scheme was felt as a number of Madrasas’ chiefs approached the MDA for help. The MDA is a body of the state government, constituted for initiating integrated approach for the development of Mewat, considered a backward area of Haryana.

According to official sources, there are 214 madrasas in the Mewat area, covering a large portion of Gurgaon district and one revenue block of Faridabad district. Some 50 of the them are understood to have approached the MDA and have realised the importance to modernise the teaching process.

Mewat has 491 villages and its population is nearly 10 lakh. The Meo Muslims constitute about 70 per cent of the Mewat population. The number of madrasas is thus considered to be high.

Mewat is historically dominated by Meo Muslims. They are considered to be converts from Hindism. Traditionally, the Meo Muslims have their own social practices, different from the Muslim community outside Mewat at times.

A visit to some of the madrasas in this Nuh Block, and the tehsil blocks of Ferozepur Jhirka, Hathin, Taoru, Nagina and Punhana, revealed that though some of them are said to have approached the MDA for logistic and other support, a majority of them are against the idea of any kind of change in their curriculum. Some madrasas’ chiefs also expressed distrust in the Government and advocated that it would be better if the Government and its bodies keep themselves away from their affairs.

It is quite unfortunate that the fundamentalists, mullahs, many local politicians and various social organisations have time and time again opposed reformative measures for their vested interests. It is obvious that they have an axe to grind and do not want to check obscurantism. No wonder, the average size of a family in Mewat villages is on the higher side of 9. The fundamentalist forces continue to oppose family planning or even oppose visiting medical practitioners.

They rather encourage quacks and superstition. So much so that even the government authorities often find themselves helpless as the very concept of population control is an anathema to the Mewatis.

A Meo from Nuh told this correspondent that with the passage of time, a new category has come up in Mewati society which is more aggressive and obscurantist. The reason was that in the past couple of years, a number of mullahs and madarasas’ incharge, have come in from outside Haryana. Besides, the religious leaders from other parts of the Muslim world have been regularly visiting Mewat, making them more fundamentalist.



‘The major problem is the lack of political commitment’
Syed Ali Ahmed

Mr Kuldip Singh Gujral, a senior member of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, was elected as Corporator for the second time from Jangpura Extension.

He has been associated with the Congress Party for 25 years. Even at the age of sixty-five, Mr Gujral continuous to be active in the area.

Besides, political activities, he is also involved in social works in Bhogal and Jangpura to make the area neat and clean. He has been the Chairman of the Delhi Electricity Supply Undertaking,( DESU), now Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB), for 7 years.

He was also the member of the management committee of Kamla Nehru College from 1989-1991. He has been closely involved with the Guru Harkrishan Public School for the last 22 years.

In an interview with the NCR Tribune, Mr Gujral pointed out the major problems facing the residents of the area. He is of the opinion that neither the Delhi Government nor the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has any serious intention or the political will to eradicate these problems. Excerpts:

What are the major problems facing the residents of your segment?

The major problem of the area is an open drain, which flows from behind Jangpura Extension.

Apart from the stink, this has become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which causes malari

and other diseases in the locality. This is a natural drain meant for storm water, not for sludge.

Now, sludge flows into the drain, which is the main factor for the stink emanating from the drain. I have made repeated complaints but the authorities concerned have not paid the necessary attention towards it. I even filed a case in the Delhi High Court against the lackluster attitude of the MCD and the Delhi Jal Board, pointing out the open drain of sewerage. Six months back, the Court ordered the authorities concerned to stop the flow of sludge into the drain meant for storm water.

However, nothing has been done in this regard.

The second problem is encroachments by shopkeepers and vendors in Bhogal, Jangpura and Central Market in Lajpat Nagar. This has happened because of the inaction of the police and MCD officials who allow them to encroach upon the prime lands in the market.

It’s a sad affair that even a bomb explosion which took place in the central market in 1997 has not been able to reduce the congestion and encroachments. I have raised this issue in the meetings of the Corporation.

Another related problem is the illegal construction of buildings by private builders in Jangpura as well as other parts of the Capital. There are certain building rules framed by the MCD and the DDA but private builders do not care for the rules.

What is the condition of MCD hospitals in your area?

There is only one MCD hospital in Lajpat Nagar area of my segment, which is in a miserable condition. I have received several complaints, including that patients are not provided proper medicines.

Sometimes, even doctors are not available in the dispensary. I have taken up the issue with the Health Director of the MCD but I have been told that the department is short of finance and all medicines cannot be provided in the hospital.

Is MCD short of finance?

Whether it is USA, UK or India, local bodies suffer from financial crisis everywhere in the world. The necessary finance for institutions at the local level are over looked and this problem is also with the MCD.

However, the moot point is that whatever money the MCD has is spent honestly in development works, Delhi can become a neat and clean city. Lots of work require will power and not money, for instance, the removal of encroachment and maintenance of parks and roads.

The major problem is the lack of political commitment. Even though politicians in the Corporation have political differences, they should make joint efforts when it comes to development works in the area.

Don’t you think that development work in Delhi gets hampered due to different party’s holding power in the MCD and the state government?

Yes, this may be one of the reasons. Rajiv Gandhi gave a slogan of ‘power to the people.’ It means that local self-bodies should be free to function independently.

Unfortunately, this is not followed. Had it been the case, this problem would have been eradicated. Though the Corporation is an autonomous body, it is not fully independent. The finance is issued to the MCD by the Central Government but it comes through the state government. This is totally unjustified. We can also say that it is a two way problem.

Whatever fund the MCD is allocated is hardly spend honestly. On the other hand, the Delhi Government is not generous enough to transfer the finance of the Corporation in time. The fact is that the MCD is the creation of the Parliament and accordingly, funds should be given to it directly.

What could be the solution to the problem of stray animals in the Capital?

I had even moved a resolution in the House on the stray animal menace, which has caused serious accidents and injuries to children, old-age people and women.

The Corporation had promised to do the needful but nothing has been done so far. The MCD had constructed a building in Ghazipur to house the stray animals rounded up in the Capital. But it is not adequately maintained. The money allocated for it is not spent. I have an advice for the MCD, that instead of rounding up the animals, their owners should be penalised, which would be the only long lasting solution to this menace.

Would you like to comment on the Rs 100 crore aid recently provided to the Corporation by the DDA?

The total money was used for political ends. The aid was provided to MCD for repairing and constructing roads. Roads were repaired only in the areas of the BJP councillors.



MCD payments to contractors held up, projects hit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 14
Even as the Delhi Government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) slug it out over the issue of not utilising the funds allocated to the civic body, a member of the Standing Committee has alleged that payments to contractors have been inexplicably delayed resulting in the postponement of development works in several areas.

The contractors working in the Narela section have not been paid since March 1999. Consequently, the development works like construction of footpaths, public toilets, roads, parks and other civic amenities are lying half-finished. The roads, which were damaged during monsoon, remained un-repaired as the MCD hot mix plant had been closed, Mr Ram Gopal Sharma, member of the Standing Committee, alleged.

He alleged that the MCD officials concerned were taking illegal gratification of Rs 1 per bag of cement from the contractors for putting the MCD standard stamp on the bags to ensure their quality. The cement was being issued from the corporation itself for the work of less than Rs 10 lakh, he said.

However, the Chairman of the Standing Committee, Mr Prithvi Raj Sawhney, denied the allegation of Mr Ram Gopal Sharma and said that the MCD had cleared the payment of the contractors till June 30, 2001. As far as the allegation of bribe is concerned, an enquiry would be launched soon, he added.

He said that the position of payment to contractors had improved since September 1998 and at present, there was no problem in issuing tenders to contractors and their purchase. The development works, including repairing of roads, were also in progress, he claimed.

The MCD’s hot mix plant had to be closed down after the order of the Supreme Court as it was contributing to the air pollution in the Capital. Now the MCD had contacted the Haryana Government to purchase land in that state to start a hot mix plant. About Rs 35 lakh had been paid to the Haryana Government for the allotment of land in Ferozapur Kalan in Faridabad district. However, the acquisition was still to be carried out by the government, Mr Sawhney said.

However, with the elections to the corporation approaching fast, the councillors have been advised to take up the developmental works in their areas seriously and to ensure that these are undertaken well before the election dates are officially announced.



Women spreading their wings to help the poor
Priyanka Gupta

Women working together, shunning publicity, encouraging others to do their bit for society in their own small way. This is an idea whose time has come for the residents of Model Town F Block. These good Samaritans have decided to work for others, mostly for the people below the poverty line.

The noble idea has been the creation of the Women Wings. They know full well that one flower does not make a garland. So some of the women have joined hands to form an organisation. It is just a few months old and has set its rules and objects to follow.

The women wings of LARA (Lake Area Residents Association) has come forward to improve the neighbourhood bonding, create awareness and camaraderie all around.

The association has approximate 20 members in the ‘garland’, aiming at spreading fragrance all around.

The aims of the society have already been incorporated and teams have been chosen to follow. Neera Kapoor, a teacher and general secretary of the society, expressed her joy, saying, “Earlier also, we were contributing to society in our personal way but later, we decided to do it in an organised way. This is not the only project that we have, several other plans in the offing, include helping the blind students, the government authorities, especially MCD schools and beautifying the area around the lake in Model Town.”

Neera has also won an award for social service from the Indian Human Rights Commission.

The organisation collects Rs 100 a month from each member and collectively spends it for the welfare of society. The members have decided to help visually handicapped students through recording cassettes for them and providing volunteers, who can read and write for them.

Neera added, “I have been associated with these people for long and know that the literature in Braille is not available so these students need help from others, who can read or write for them during the exams.

We have also decided to set up a library for the blind students in a college, where books can be easily accessible. And now we have got many volunteers. We are just providing platform to the common people. For example, one of the members made beautiful candles and we have decided to teach the art in MCD schools also.” As per the second plan, the society has approached the MCD so that it can provide aid to the children.

Nazma Siddiqui, a member, said, “It’s really encouraging that we are getting volunteers. We have approached the MCD. We are there to help them, not to criticise them. Basically, we see school as a community. And our aim is that if we educate children of our neighbourhood, then we provide education to the whole family. And the chain then continues. We are providing enough support, including financial help.

We are more concerned about the masses. This is our beginning. We will definitely try to spread it, like telling them new things, use of waste material and much more.”

Apart from the social work, the society has other work also. Nazma added, “We also share tears, happiness and problems. We have developed an emotional bonding that has brought us more close.”

Being a women organisation, the members take care of needs of the women. This is why in every meeting, the society arranges for a lecture on a topic related to them. This time, Pooja Kumar, one of the members, spoke of skin care in winter. The age to join this group starts from the newly married to senior citizens up to 60.

Madhu Nagpal, another member of the society, said, “It’s an effort primarily to join hands and help the poor. We have already formed a sub-committee for different projects. They are basically meant to empower women to contribute to society and get to know our neighbourhood better.”



Irrigation Dept ignores probe findings, hushes up scandal
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 14
While the Chief Minister, Om Prakash Chautala, insists that corruption from all the government departments will be eliminated, the Irrigation Department seems not to have heard anything of it at all. It has just ignored the Chief Minister’s directive.

To cap it, it has hushed up the findings of the probe panels, which looked into the alleged scandal in the desilting work at Pai distributory under the Rai Water Service Division. The panels had found clear misappropriation of funds and substandard work.

The failure of the Irrigation Department authorities to take penal action against the Rai Water Service Division officials, who are allegedly involved in the misuse of public funds meant for the desilting operations, has now caused considerable concern in the official circles too.

According to official sources, the Executive Engineer of Quality Assurance, Rohtak, had checked the desilting work at the Pai distributory and detected discrepancy in the quality of work and the estimated cost. He had recommended stern action against officials found guilty of irregularities and malpractice in the execution of the work.

Thereafter, the Superintending Engineer of the WJC, Feeder G.C. Circle, Delhi, had constituted a fact-finding committee, comprising the Executive Engineers of the Sonepat Water Service Division and the Upper Yamuna Link

Division, Delhi, to examine the site and check the work at the Pai distributary.

Both the Executive Engineers inspected the site and detected certain irregularities in the desilting work at the distributory. The officials also found a difference of 58 per cent in the quality of work and the estimated cost of the project.

The Superintending Engineer reportedly expressed grave concern over the shoddy work and transferred the Pai distributary from the Rai Water Service Division to Delhi Water Service Division and the Samalkha sub-division to the Sonepat Water Service Division.

However, owing to political pressure, the Pai distributory as well as the Samalkha sub-division were transferred back to the Rai Water Service Division.

Instead of taking penal action against the erring officials, the authorities of the Irrigation Department have reportedly hushed up the case.

With the department’s decision to ignore the scandal and circumvent the findings of the inquiry panels, the repeated announcements of the Chief Minister that corruption would be eliminated from all levels of the government has come to nought.

Meanwhile, residents of Pai and other neighbouring villages have expressed grave concern over the rampant corruption prevailing in the functioning of the Rai Water Service Division. They have urged the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, to order immediate suspension and transfer of the officials involved in the alleged misappropriation of funds.



Humanity is in the blood of these Samaritans
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 14
The Sant Nirankari Mission remembered its devotees, who preached and practised its message till their last breath, on the day of devotion (bhakti parv) observed here yesterday. It organised a blood donation camp for the first time on the occasion.

As many as 615 devotees of the mission donated blood at the camp. Mata Sawinder Ji, the esteemed spouse of the Head of the Mission, Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj, was among the first donors. Many had to return disappointed because the blood collecting team was not equipped to oblige them all.

Addressing a huge gathering, Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj said that devotion linked man with God and it would begin only after knowing the Almighty. And since God was all pure, the devotion too had to be free from motives; only then would it produce bliss.

Baba Ji said that a true devotee did not only praise God, but also lent expression to his devotion through his or her conduct. He observed that all great devotees of God like Meera, Kabir, Ravidass, Tukaram and others were not

recognised as such on account of what they said or wrote about God, but because of the way they lived, based on complete surrender to the Almighty.

The mission believes that service to humanity is one way to express our devotion to the Almighty, Nirankar. The donation of blood is supposed to be one of the noblest gestures. The mission generally organises a number of blood donation camps between April and August every year. Last year, it organised 101 blood donation camps in various parts of the country.



Ex-MLA leads rally despite ban orders
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, January 14
Officially, ban orders under Section 144 are on in the district. Unfortunately, they are observed more in their breach. Today, a former MLA, Madan Bhaya of Khokda village, led their breach by organising a huge rally in Jawli village where his supporters flaunted arms in public.

He organised a mahapanchayat at the village where he announced that he had left the Samajwadi party along with about 20 of his close associates.

In the process, he has also posed a challenge to the district administration by flagrantly violating Section 144 imposed in the area by the District Magistrate and also by the open display of arms by a large number of his followers. The administration had ordered that all licenced weapons should be deposited with the police stations of the area before the elections. Otherwise too, assembly of persons and carrying of arms had been prohibited under Section 144.

Earlier too, the traders of across the Hindon had taken out a procession without seeking permission from the district administration and sat on a dharna in front of the collectorate clearly in violation of the Section 144 which is supposed to have been enforced on the area.

While there were quite a few who were carrying arms and weapons openly, there were a few who were joking about the imposition of the Section 144. Even today, one can come across people going about with rifles slung over their shoulders with impunity. In the mahapanchayat called by the supporters of ex-MLA, Mr Madan Bhaya, at Jawli village, it was decided that he would contest the coming elections as an independent candidate from Khokda.



Probe sought into diversion at PDS
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 14
Representatives of various political parties, voluntary organisations and trade unions today urged the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, to order a high-level probe into the alleged diversion of rationed commodities, particularly sugar and kerosene, to the blackmarket by certain depot holders in connivance with the officials of the Food and Supplies Department in the city and elsewhere in the district.

In a memorandum sent to the Chief Minister, they demanded stern action against the officials found guilty of malpractice in the distribution of rationed commodities among the families living below the poverty line (BPL). Such an inquiry was likely to expose the misdeeds of the officials and the depot holders. The memorandum also expressed grave concern over the sale of adulterated petrol and other petroleum products in the city and other parts of the district.+

It alleged that the owners of petrol stations had been selling petrol at higher prices than fixed by the authorities. Though the Central Government had reduced the price of petrol from the night of January 12, the owners of the petrol stations had been charging the old rates thereby minting huge amount of money illegally thanks to the failure of the authorities to check it. The Residents Welfare Association and the Sonepat Citizens Forum demanded a high-level inquiry into the racket.



Punjabi kavi durbar on January 17

New Delhi, January 14
Over 25 eminent poets are expected to take part in the national Punjabi kavi durbar to be held by Punjabi Academy here on Thursday.

The participants would include Surjit Pattar, Anup Singh Virk, Dr Pal Kaur, Ms Sukhvinder Pal Kaur, Rabinder Mansoor and Dr Jagatar Kaur, the secretary of Punjabi Academy, Dr Rawail Singh, said here today. TNS



Question paper for Metro Rail post leaked
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 14
The alleged leakage of the question paper for the post of Station Master of the Delhi Metro Railway Corporation at an examination centre set up in a school of the city led to mass-scale copying by the candidates yesterday.

The examination was conducted by the Corporation. It is alleged that as soon as the examination started, one of the question papers was sent outside in connivance with the supervisory staff of the centre. After a few minutes, a large number of Xerox copies of the question paper were distributed among the relatives and friends of the candidates assembled outside the examination centre.

It is also alleged that copies of the solved question paper were sent inside the examination centre and this caused a pandemonium among the candidates. Many of them came outside and protested against the leakage of the question paper by raising slogans.

Many candidates also alleged that some of the candidates had their mobile phones inside the centre and they received the answers on them. The helpless candidates have urged the corporation authorities to order a re-examination for the benefit of the genuine candidates.


At least seven members of the Jharoti village gram panchayat today demanded a high-level probe into the alleged irregularities of the sarpanch. According to a report, the panches also submitted their affidavits to the Deputy Commissioner on the issue.


As many as 150 students were examined and treated by a team of specialists at a one-day medical camp organised on the premises of Government Primary School in Rajinder Nagar here yesterday. According to a report, all the patients were given free medicines on the occasion.

Man commits suicide

Mr Bhup Singh Dahiya, a retired engineer of the Indian Air Force, was reported to have committed suicide by shooting himself with a licensed gun in his house at Preet Vihar Colony here yesterday. According to the police, he took the extreme step after a prolonged illness. He was afflicted with cancer and had already lost his one leg.

Thousands take dip

Over one lakh people had their holy dip in the Yamuna near here today on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. According to a report, started pouring in since 3 am braving the severe cold and chilly winds and continued for several hours. Later, they also participated in the religious congregations at various temples.

Many devotees alleged that the Haryana Roadways failed to ply additional buses for their transportation to the Yamuna ghats and vice-versa. The owners and operators of private vehicles had a field day and they charged fancy fares from them.


Another case of daylight theft was reported today when robbers entered the residence of an eye surgeon in the Khanna Colony by scaling the walls and escaped with equipment worth more than Rs 1 lakh, valuable clothes and a car stereo. According to a report, this is the seventh big theft during the past three days in the city.

According to another report, a car was allegedly stolen from a house in Sector 14 of HUDA colony here last evening. The car was parked outside a house and its owner found the car stolen when came out from the house.

The spate of thefts has caused panic among the residents of the city as the police have failed to track down the culprits involved in any of the thefts.

Woman killed

An aged woman, Mrs Ram Kaur (65), was knocked down and killed by a Haryana Roadways bus on the G.T. Road near Rai village, 13 km from here, yesterday. The bus was on its way from Delhi to Chandigarh. The Rai police have registered a case against the bus driver. Further investigations are in progress. However, no arrest has been made in this connection.

Student murdered

An 18-year-old matriculation student of the local Baselwa Colony was allegedly murdered by another youth last night.

The victim, Sandeep, had developed strained relations with another youth identified as Kalua, son of a temple priest. It is learnt that Kalua allegedly hit Sandeep on his head with an `iron rod’ after a quarrel last night.

The reason behind the assault is yet to be ascertained. The police arrested the accused.

Meanwhile, the police have found the body of a man, aged about 35, from nearby Gurgaon Canal. The victim had P. Giri inscribed on his hand.

Clash averted

Shopkeepers on the Quilla road here downed the shutters as soon as the demolition squad of the district administration reached the market with JCB machine to clear the encroachments today. However, a clash was averted following an agreement between the traders and the district administration.

According to information, the demolition squad accompanied by heavy police force reached the Quilla road, the busiest market of the town, this afternoon. The arrival of the squad created a commotion in the market and the traders gathered at the entrance of the market and downed the shutters.

The leaders of the district unit of the traders’ association reached the site and negotiated with the SDM and the City Magistrate who were heading the drive. An agreement was reached after prolonged discussions between both the parties. It was resolved that the traders would restrain their roof extensions up to three-and-half feet and would not allow stalls in front of their shops. They also agreed that they would not tie banners across the road. The district administration gave two days to the traders to comply with the agreed arrangements.



Two Delhi cops held in Sonepat after car chase
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 14
A police party, headed by Mr Hardeep Singh Doon, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), chased a car and arrested its four occupants last night on the charge of an alleged attempt to whisk away a Nepali domestic help of a lawyer, living at Model Town in the city. According to a report, the arrested persons include an Assistant Sub-Inspector and a constable of Delhi Police.

All the persons were taken to the residence of the Superintendent of Police, Mr Paramjit Singh Ahlawant, who ordered the police to book them as they had failed to inform the local police before making an attempt to whisk away the servant.

It is stated that the servant was sitting in the house of a lawyer. One of them approached him and asked him to answer a telephone. When he came outside the house, he was pushed into a waiting car by the police. They fled immediately. The lawyer informed the DSP. The police officer chased the car and stopped it after half an hour.

The Delhi Police, it is stated, were conducting an inquiry into a case of theft and this was the purpose of interrogating the Nepali help who had been working with the lawyer for the last 10 years or so.



Currency racket unearthed, five held for killing supplier
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 14
The operational cell of the North district police claimed to have solved a murder case with the arrest of five persons involved in a fake currency racket today.

While two suspects, Aslam (24) of Tuglakabad, Mushahid (25) of Madangir, were apprehended from Koria Pur yesterday, their associates, Afjal (27) of Koria Bridge, Sanjay (24) and Phool Singh, alias Pappu (28), both from Dhakshin Puri, were arrested today by the district police based on the disclosures made by the duo.

On sustained interrogation, they confessed to have committed the murder of Rajkumar Yadav, hailing from Patna, who used to supply fake currency to the gang. As they developed some dispute over the transaction of money, the five suspects murdered him on December 4 at Kings Palace jungle around Tughlakabad fort. The body was found three days later.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (North), Mr Sanjay Baniwal, said that the victim’s body was found with at least 20 stab injuries and with a slit throat.

The accused also revealed that they used to exchange money at the rate of “ek ka teen” with Rajkumar, ie one real currency note for three fake ones. Once Rajkumar even called them to Patna where he received Rs 1 lakh in exchange of fake notes of Rs 3 lakh.

After a while, Rajkumar arranged Rs 40 lakh fake currency and informed the accused in Delhi to organise for some big dealers for the exchange of the money. He had also promised suitable rewards for arranging the deal. In the first week of November, Mushahid, Aslam and Ghanshyam went to Patna and after finalising the deal, Rajkumar and his associates decided to come to Delhi along with the accused.

The police said that on the way to Delhi, they had a quarrel over the money transaction and the accused had allegedly threatened Rajkumar with dire consequences.

The three, on arrival, found out Rajkumar’s whereabouts in Delhi and on the fateful night of December 4 last year, the accused had telephoned his hotel from a STD booth and asked him come to the gate. When Rajkumar came out, they kidnapped him and enquired about Rs 40 lakh, and when he refused to divulge the secret, they took him to Tuglakabad fort and brutally murdered him.

Trader stabbed
The Central district police are hunting for three unidentified youths who robbed Rs 3.5 lakh from a mobile phone trader after stabbing him in the Gaffar Market area last evening.

The incident occurred when the victim, Mr Ankur Aggarwal (23), was on his way home after closing the shop in the market. When he went to Padam Singh Road car parking to take his car, the youths accosted him and tried to snatch his bag. Mr Ankur resisted and grappled with them. Although he cried for help, nobody came forward to his rescue.

One of the robbers fished out a knife and stabbed him repeatedly. When the victim fell, the robbers snatched his bag containing Rs 3.5 lakh and decamped. A case of robbery has been registered at the Karol Bagh police station.

Pickpockets nabbed
Police Control Room personnel nabbed two pickpockets, who were identified as Ajay Singh and Hari Singh. The suspects were arrested when they were fleeing after picking the pocket of a factory worker in Punjabi Bagh.

The stolen money had also been recovered from the duo, the police said.



Kidnapped cousins found murdered
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, January 14
The bodies of two cousins, missing for past six days, were recovered by the police from a canal near Navada village of Sambhawali block.

The brothers had been shot dead after having been kidnapped, five days earlier, the police said. The deceased have been identified as Satyapal (25) and Sukhbir (30), residents of Basakhpur village in Dholna block.

None of the perpetrators of the heinous crime have so far been nabbed. Satyapal and Sukhbir were sons of two real brothers. Satyapal’s brother, Krishenpal, had filed an FIR in the police station naming some persons.

The deceased used to work as barbers in Hapur town and were reported missing since January 5. Search by their relations had been vain.

According to the police, they were both stabbed first and later shot dead. Some enmity might be behind the murders, the police felt. The police have rounded up a couple of persons for interrogation but definite clues are still eluding.


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