Tuesday, February 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Cong hung up on dates, BJP on scam 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
The Congress as a defender of democratic principles and the BJP as a crusader against corruption have taken to people’s court two different issues, even as uncertainty over the dates of the civic polls persists.

The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) has demanded polls in February, even though the Centre has categorically rejected such a possibility. The DPCC’s move indicates the lack of coordination between the party and the Congress-led Delhi Government as the latter is considering fresh dates in March. On the other hand, the BJP today presented a memorandum to Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor and demanded criminal proceedings against the Sheila Dikshit Government in view of the indictment by the Lokayukta in the Delhi Jal Board scam.

The BJP delegation was led by its president Mange Ram Garg and included Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Prof Jagdish Mukhi and the party’s chief whip, Mr Nand Kishore Garg.

The chief minister is not only having to confront the Opposition but also a section of her party leaders who have insisted on early elections, unmindful of the government’s statements in this regard. While the government has said that the polls would be held on March 24 (Sunday) after being assured so by Union Home Minister LK Advani when a Cabinet delegation called on him recently, the DPCC has been holding rallies in support of its demand for a February poll.

Acknowledging the communication gap, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday attributed the “misunderstanding” to confusion surrounding the election schedule. “There is no point in insisting on a February poll as one cannot fault the Centre if it has agreed to hold the elections before the term of the Corporation expires on March 31,” she said on Monday. It was unfortunate, she added, since DPCC President Subhash Chopra was part of the delegation that had met with Mr Advani and agreed on holding the elections on a suitable date between March 20 and 25.

The chief minister said holding of civic polls before March 31 was a legal and Constitutional requirement but referring to the Government of NCT of Delhi’s “dependence” on the Centre for conducting the civic polls, she said there was little room for manoeuvring given the Budget session of the Assembly which too was scheduled for March-end. 



Sheila to hit poll trail
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
With campaigning for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls gaining momentum, candidates are vying with one another to rope in senior party leaders for boosting their electoral prospects. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is relying on the dependable duo of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Union Home Minister LK Advani, the Congress is banking on its second rung of leadership to prop up its fortunes.

After Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh, the latest to join the fray is Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. Unlike Digvijay Singh who is addressing rallies in Punjab also, for Ms Dikshit the party has drawn up an extensive tour programme in western Uttar Pradesh. According to party sources, the Delhi chief minister would be touring the Assembly segments in Aligarh, Hathras, Moradabad and Bulandshahr. Other constituencies on Ms Dikshit’s itinerary are Pilibhit and Muzaffarnagar. Party sources said Ms Dikshit’s tour programme could also include Kanpur, Kannauj, Lakhimpur Kheri, Hardoi and Varanasi. Her campaign trail, they said, would begin with a rally early next week.

The party’s campaign is hamstrung though by Priyanka Vadra nee Gandhi’s reluctance to campaign beyond the Amethi-Rae Bareli belt. Sources said with Ms Vadra’s itinerary uncertain, the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states had been pressed into service, as it were. Cine stars are another hot favourite among the candidates although unlike previous elections when veteran actors like Rajesh Khanna et al had toured extensively, the Congress has finalised only a few names this time round.



Commuters cool their heels at entry, exit points
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
Once again, the commuters in the Capital had a harrowing time today when nearly 60,000 autorickshaw and taxi operators went on a day-long strike to protest against the mandatory installation of electronic meters on their vehicles.

The strike, called by the Confederation of Transport Operators, was ‘’total and an unqualified success’’, the confederation sources claimed while Delhi Transport Minister Ajay Maken said it was ‘’only partial’’. Particularly harried were the passengers at the airports, railway stations and the Inter Sate Bus Terminus where passengers cooled their heels for hours to reach their destinations.

Mr Gautam Jalali, president of the confederation said that the operators had gone on strike after the failure of the talks with the Government. At a press conference, Mr Maken reiterated that the Government would go ahead with the installation of tamper-proof electronic meters ‘’at all costs’’ in accordance with the December 6 Supreme Court order and in the interest of the commuters.

‘’The Government can consider the demand of a fare hike in view of increasing costs of CNG vehicles, but this cannot be in any way linked with the installation of electronic meters,’’ Mr Maken said. Mr Jalali claimed that the apex court’s order did not make it mandatory to install electronic meters.

The minister said that the effect of the strike was ‘’partial’’. As a contingency plan, the Delhi Government had put in place 40 checking squads with wireless communication sets to direct buses to any place with a large number of stranded commuters. ‘’But the squads have not received any complaints so far,’’ he said.

Mr Maken said that the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) plied 2,050 buses today, 150 more than its normal fleet to meet the situation.

On January 14,.the Delhi Government had issued the notification for installation of electronic meters on all new autos and taxis and those which come for the annual fitness certificates.

He said that 72 taxis and autos had already been fitted with electronic meters so far.

The Confederation, however, said that the apex court had asked the city Government to install ‘’tamper-proof electronic meters’’ in autos and taxis. ‘’But the fact is that these meters can also be tampered with easily,’’ the sources said.

Mr Somnath, general secretary of Delhi Auto Taxi Drivers Sangharsh Samiti which had disassociated itself with the strike, said that the electronic meters were hardly a solution. ‘’Electronic meters can be easily tampered with they are not dust-proof or rain-proof either. These meters come with a price tag ranging between Rs 3,500 and Rs 8,000 apiece. Already, an auto costs nearly Rs 1,50,000. The installation of an electronic meter will further burden the owners of these vehicles.’’ He said that another flaw of the electronic meter was that it did not register waiting charges unlike the existing mechanical meters. ‘’The right thing is to devise some ways and means so that the existing mechanical meters are not tampered with.’’

Mr Maken said that the Delhi Finance Corporation (DFC) would provide loans to vehicle owners at a lower interest for the meters that would save them about Rs 2,000.

‘’They can also sell their old meters and the total amount gained would be close to what they would spend on the new meter. Clearly their opposition is due to some other reasons,’’ he said.



Protestor says it with engine oil
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
Virendra Sharma, a resident of Shahadra, was overpowered and handed over to the police after he had smeared Mobil oil on the face of the Municipal Commissioner, Mr S. P. Aggarwal, at the main entrance of the Town Hall today.

The incident occurred in full view of a large number of employees of the civic body. The suspect apparently had planned the entire incident and was lying in wait for him. Mr Aggarwal did not suffer any injury save for an embarrassment.

According to the police and the eyewitnesses, Sharma, a regular visitor to the Town Hall, was agitated over the corporation’s inability to check the menace of saccharine-based sweets and ice creams outside the MCD schools.

He alleged that he had repeatedly requested the authorities, including the Commissioner to take action against the vendors who were being dictated by a mafia.

Sharma arrived at the Town Hall in the morning and waited outside. He had already spread Mobil oil in his palms. When around 12.30 pm, the Commissioner arrived at the entrance, the suspect accosted him and smeared his face with the pungent oil. He was immediately overpowered and handed over to the police.

The police said that a case had been registered and further investigations were continuing. The suspect claimed that he was a journalist and was working for a local Hindi publication.

The incident sent shock waves through the Town Hall, the head office of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Corporators, cutting across party lines, condemned the act.

The incident also exposed the lack of security around the historical building. The corporation is thinking of hiring private security guards now.



Selfless to core, in service of these lesser children
Nalini Ranjan

New Delhi, February 4
“Anath Kaun Hai, Jab Bhagwan Sath Hai” (No one is an orphan, when God is with him). Thus spake Maithili Sharon Gupta, the famous national poet. Lawyer-turned-social activist Viresh Pratap Chaudhary has strived hard to live up to the image of an angel of mercy for hapless children. The angelic presence can be seen in the two Arya orphanages: Deshraj Parisar, East of Kailash, and Pataudi House, Daryaganj.

It is an ennobling experience to visit the centres. The affection that the children get is unparalleled. The living quarters are unmatched in hygiene. The food arrangement is excellent. Educational and vocational arrangements are outstanding. The landscaping and layout are spiritually satisfying. The inmates are looked after well and the standard of their education is equally impressive.

As a matter of fact, the two philanthropic centres are an eye-opener to the government-run institutions. They have a lot to learn from these centres and should emulate the manner in which they are being run.

Hat’s off to their president Viresh Pratap Chaudhary and his team. It was started in 1918 by reputed social reformer Swami Shardhanand with 16 children. Only one centre, Pataudi House, was functional then. Later, with the increase in the number of children, another centre was set up in East of Kailash in 1967. It was Desh Raj Parisar exclusively for girls. According to Viresh Pratap Choudhary, right now, more then 1,000 children are being brought up in the two centres.

A sum of Rs 1,500 a month is spent on one child. Nothing is charged from them. The Government is giving only Rs 225. The rest comes through donations. Education up to 10+2 is compulsory for every inmate. Besides, some vocational courses are also available. The centres also arrange for mass weddings for the eligible girl inmates.



Youth strangled by aunts, grandmother
Our Correspondent

Noida, February 4
In the wild west (read western Uttar Pradesh), incidents of crime generally go unnoticed. Only the most heinous crime makes people sit up. One such crime recently shook the calm environs of village Joligarh, which falls under police station Agoutta in Bulandshahr.

On the fateful night of February 2, Vimla, a widow, had her grandson, Lakhan, killed with the connivance of her three daughters and son-in-law, Chhatarpal Singh.

Young Lakhan, who lost his parents some years ago, was living with his grandmother along with his two younger sisters, one whom is physically challenged.

Vimla, her three daughter – Rajni, Mamta and Chitraa – and son-in-law Chhatarpal Singh had hatched a plot to get rid of Lakhan as he had objected to the immoral activities of one of his aunts.

Vimla knocked at Lakhan’s door that night. When he opened the door, the three aunts and Chattarpal Singh pounced on the former and strangulated him to death. His body was then hidden in a heap of cow dung. The pretence continued for more than 20 hours even as the ladies waited for an opportune time to dispose of the body. Lakhan’s sister, Neelam, was also quarantined by the aunts during this period, when they failed to win her over to their side.

Neelam was somehow able to leak the news of her brother’s murder to a village youth who was in the house the next day. The news spread like wild fire and some villagers even informed the Agoutta police station. The inspector in-charge swooped down on the house and retrieved the body from the heap of fodder.

According to villagers, one Sulli and Sandeep of the same village were also called in by the family to help them in the crime. The duo have also been named in the FIR lodged by Neelam.

The murder has become a talking point in the village: the simple villagers cannot believe that the grandmother plotted the murder of her grandson, who is normally considered more dear and precious than even one’s own son. Similarly, a brother’s son is always dear to paternal aunts.

But, then, anything can happen in the wild west.



Negligence took care of him
Bijendra Ahlawat

Faridabad, February 4
The death of a youth in the emergency ward of the local civil hospital has put the authorities concerned in a spot as the relatives of the deceased allege carelessness on the part of the doctors. Arjun, a resident of Kapra Colony (D-Block), was taken to B K Civil Hospital here after he had complained of pain in his stomach a few days ago.

The relatives of the victim alleged that the physician on duty did not admit him and asked him to get an X-ray done. Later, the victim was given some medicine. He reported at the hospital again on Saturday last, but was again refused admission and advised to have some injections. Arjun was taken to the hospital for the third time yesterday, but his relatives were advised to take him to Safdurjung Hospital in Delhi. While they were looking for an ambulance, Arjun succumbed to the pain and died in the emergency ward of the civil hospital itself.

Schoolgirl crushed

New Delhi
A 14-year-old-girl was crushed under the wheels of a minibus when she was waiting at a bus stop in the Bhajanpura area today morning. The gory incident took place around 8 am. Poonam was a class X student of Bal Sarvodaya School in Yamuna Vihar. TNS



Auto-taxi strike has rickshaw-pullers sweating with a smile
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, February 4
The crippling autorickshaw-taxi strike in the Capital today had millions fuming, but not Sune Singh, a cycle-rickshaw-puller, who was more than happy. Like scrawny-looking Sune Singh, rickshaw pullers across the city made hay, as harried commuters flocked to them in droves after nearly 55,000 autorickshaws and 13,000 taxis went off the roads to protest against the Delhi Government’s order to install electronic meters to prevent tampering.

Sune Singh, who plies his rickshaw, rented for about Rs 20 everyday, said he had ferried more than 50 passengers until midday in and around the city’s main railway station. “I have done great business,” he said flashing a contended smile. “But my heart also bleeds for people stranded on the streets. I took anyone and everyone whom I saw standing at auto stands or walking along the roads. I even charged less. I have earned at least three times more than I do everyday,” he said.

Indian towns and cities are home to six million cycle-rickshaws. In New Delhi itself, the rickshaws operate in select areas, including the Mughal-built old quarters as well as the city’s fringes where roads are either too narrow or where other forms of public transport are hard to come by. At the New Delhi Railway Station, one of the busiest in India, thousands streaming out of packed trains were forced to turn to the ubiquitous cycle-rickshaws after taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers refused to work or demanded highly inflated rates.

Some well-heeled passengers admitted taking to the rickshaw for the first time in their life. Said Kishore Kumar, a rickshaw puller: “After a very long time, I got to work hard. Though I feel sorry for the commuters, I wish these strikes happen more often.”

The cycle-rickshaw pullers are usually migrants from other states, and live mostly in slums. They normally earn about Rs 50-60 a day, charging as low as two to three rupees for short rides. Some rickshaw pullers claimed they earned triple the amount on Monday.

Mr Sagar Manchanda, a company executive, remarked: “It is so disgusting to ride on this. They are so slow. But as they say, something is better than nothing. It’s better than the crowded bus at least.”

Meanwhile, Ahmed Ali, a rickshaw puller, was sweating as he ferried six passengers. “Today, I will have a nice and sound sleep,” he said as he pedaled away. Another rickshaw puller, Suresh Kumar, was busy negotiating fares with passengers. “These days, few people travel by cycle-rickshaws,” he said. “I want to make most of the chance I have got today to earn.” Mr Satish Choudhry, who works in a bank, said in an agitated tone: “Who do these autorickshaw drivers think they are? They can’t go on strike every time they demand something. This is crazy. I had to wait outside my house for an hour for an auto until I was told they are on strike. I had to take the stupid cycle-rickshaw and I am already late for work.”

Mr Choudhry said action should be initiated against all the taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers who went off the roads today. “Until strict action is taken, they will carry on doing this. Sometimes it is the CNG (compressed natural gas) problem, sometimes a meter problem. We are the sufferers in the midst of all this.”

In the past year, autorickshaws, taxis and buses have gone on strike a number of times to protest against the shortage of CNG, a non-polluting fuel. But this is the first time autorickshaws and taxis have gone on strike in protest against the installation of electronic meters, which would be tamper proof.

The Supreme Court had asked the Delhi Government to get these meters installed by February 1. However, auto-rickshaw drivers maintained that the electronic meters could be tampered with very easily. “You just have to press a button and the meter will run twice as fast. It is not tamper-proof at all. In fact, if these meters are installed, there would be cheating and tampering like never before,” said Kulwinder Singh, an auto-rickshaw driver.

Rakesh Kumar, along with several other auto-rickshaw drivers, voiced the same feelings. “As a matter of fact, we do not have a problem with electronic meters. But we have a problem with spending money for it. If the government is so interested, why can’t it replace the meters with the electronic meters at their cost? When there was the CNG controversy, then we had to spend a fortune to convert our vehicles. Now there is the electronic meter controversy. Why should we spend?” asked Kumar. 



Ration card holders left with a beggar’s choice
R.D. Sapra

Sonepat, February 4
Widespread resentment prevails among the families living below the poverty line against the frequent closure of ration shops for most part of the day in the city and other parts of the district, especially in the villages.

Many ration card holders alleged that the owners cared little for the timings, fixed by the Department of Food and Supplies.

People are angry with the authorities who do not bother to see whether the opening hours of the shops, fixed by the department, are adhered to by the owners.

People allege that they do not get their subsidised quota of wheat flour, wheat or levy sugar regularly as most of the times the shops remain close. They point out that most of the owners keep their shops open till noon only.

This apart, people have pointed out that most of the ration shop owners sell non-rationed articles at their shops.

In effect, the shop owners leave little choice to the ration card holders but to buy the non-rationed articles from their shops. If anyone refuses, he is denied the supply of rationed articles like sugar, wheat flour or wheat and kerosene oil.

It is also alleged that wheat and wheat flour supplies are sub-standard in the shops and are adulterated, often mixed with small kankars. Reluctance by the ration card holders to buy these products evokes a sharp ‘take it or leave it’, response from the owners.

On occasions, when quality products are available in the shops, the card holders seldom get them.

In effect, if the quality is good, the supply is over by the time the card holder reaches the shop.

The story is the same with levy sugar, which is never clean, said many card holders.

At times, the owners also cut into the quantity of sugar. The people pointed out that whenever they demanded the proper quantity, they were abused by the owners.

The card holders often wonder how the shop owners have been defrauding them for years with impunity.

In the circumstances, the card holders are left wondering about their options. What do they do about the poor quality of wheat, wheat flour or sugar?

Thus, the poor are often forced to buy their supplies from the open market. “These are expensive, but are cleaner,” is their reasoning. As for kerosene, many card holders have to often forgo their quota.

It is alleged that a large quantity of kerosene is sold in the black market in connivance with the inspectorate staff and the officials of the department concerned.

One ration card holder has a telling comment on the shop owners. “Until he got a ration shop, he had nothing. Now, he owns the shop, a house and even a Maruti car. From where else did he acquire all these. He turned rich only by selling items in black?”

It is also alleged that the Food and Supplies Department in the city is not above-board. People feel that no work is done without giving a whiff of money to the inspectorate staff and the officials of the department.

Those in the know, revealed that an inspector collects up to Rs 10,000 as a monthly fees for winking at the activities of unscrupulous owners of the fair price shops, petrol pumps and brick kiln owners.

To make up for these expenses, some of the unscrupulous shop owners fleece the consumers, particularly in the rural areas.

People strongly believe that the vested interests have entrenched themselves in these departments.

Many employees in the office of the District Food and Supplies Controllers have not been shifted for the last three decades, particularly from the profitable seats. These employees, it is alleged, are being

patronised by some leaders of the ruling party.

People, below the poverty line, are hit hard by the corrupt practices. They believe that even a high-level inquiry is not going to take a lid off the corrupt practices of the departments concerned.



Crackdown on commercial residences imminent 
Our Correspondent

Noida, February 4
Noida is likely to crack the whip on those who continue to use residential premises for commercial activities. And there is no dearth of such owners who are running commercial establishments in residential areas with impunity.

There is a court order instructing the authorities to take action against those people who have rented out their residential premises for commercial purposes, a Noida source has said.

As the court order talks of stringent action against the Noida officials for any laxity on their part, the action against the erring property owners is very much on the cards now, it is learnt.

Expressing concern that if suitable action is not taken, it will send a wrong signal, the court has said in its order, “If, despite these observations, Noida continues to show laxity in this regard, this court would be constrained to take appropriate action against the authority”.

If Noida permits violation of the rules, it means that no rule needs to be followed, and the rule of law is thrown to the winds, the court has said.

Referring to a specific case, the court has further observed: “This case is a classic illustration of this kind of illegal practice. It seems that the law is hardly followed. In Noida, the mighty are above the law.”

When contacted, a senior Noida official said that action would shortly be initiated against those violating the spirit of the lease granted and others abusing or having rented their residential premises for commercial purposes.

“We are in the process of formulating an action plan. Very shortly, notices will be served to such property owners,” he said on condition of anonymity.



LJP: HUDA divesting poor of land
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, February 4
The Haryana unit of the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) has urged the government to revise the land acquisition policy for the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and regularisation of the unauthorised residential colonies in the state.

Flaying the government, a former minister, Mr Krishan Murti Hooda, alleged that the notification for acquiring land on the Gohana road and Ladhot road here were aimed at uprooting the rural poor, who had constructed houses in these areas by spending their life savings. The LJP state president, Mr Shamsher Singh Malik, said that the HUDA had outlived its utility as it was functioning more like a profit-earning company than a welfare organisation.

The HUDA was established for providing residential plots to the citizens on a “no loss, no profit” basis. However, in practice, it was acquiring agricultural land at throw-away prices and selling the same at very high rates to the needy. The HUDA, he said, was functioning in a most unethical and illegal manner and had thus defeated the purpose for which it was created. Its only aim appeared to be to earn profits for the government, Mr Malik said.

Moreover, by acquiring agricultural land, the HUDA had rendered a large number of farmers jobless and snatched their means of livelihood, the LJP leader said. This had contributed in aggravating the unemployment problem in the state too.

The LJP suggested that the farmers should be paid compensation at market rates for the land acquired for urban development purposes. The policy should be to construct multi-storey houses so that minimum land was acquired for residential requirement.

Moreover, government job should be provided to at least one member of the family whose land was acquired. Till the government revised its land acquisition policy, the notification for acquiring land on the Gohana Road and Ladhot road should be kept in abeyance, Mr Malik argued.



‘We will form the government in Punjab’
J T Vishnu

Mr Harvendra Singh
Mr Harvendra Singh Hanspal, AICC general secretary, Minorities Wing

At a time, when the Congress party is facing a real test in Punjab, the veteran Congress leader, Mr Harvendra Singh Hanspal, (64), general secretary, Minorities Wing, All India Congress Committee (AICC), and chairman of Disciplinary Action Committee, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC), is sure of the Congress’ win in the assembly elections. Mr Hanspal had also been the Rajya Sabha member from 1980 to 1992.

He takes keen interest in the Punjab people. “There is so much to be done for the welfare of these people, ” he says. Mr Harvendra Hanspal had also been the Chairman, Dalmia Biscuits, Chairman of the Shaheed Bishan Singh Memorial School Mansarover Garden, Chairman of the Durga Bal Vidhya Mandir Rajpura, Punjab and the Chairman, World Punjabi Conference.

In a candid interview with the NCR Tribune, he said, “Now the Sikhs feel that the Congress party under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi can provide them with security and safety in Punjab and rest of the country.”

With the MCD elections round the corner in Delhi, is the Congress devising any strategy to woo the Sikh voters?

Because of the 84’s Sikh riots, the Sikhs have distanced themselves from the Congress party. Even the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was apologetic for the Operation Blue Star. Even she rebuilt the Golden Temple. Now, Sonia Gandhi is sincerely regretting the riots against the Sikhs and she had even visited the Golden Temple. The Sikhs have seen other parties ruling at the Centre and in Delhi. They are now attracted to the Congress party because of its secular face.

The Congress party is also facing assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and what has the party done so far to attract the minorities in the state?

In Uttar Pradesh, the minorities distanced themselves from the Congress party due to the Babri Masjid issue. But now they feel the Congress party under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, can provide them with security in the state and other parts of the country. Wherever minorities are present, they want to live peacefully and safely. They feel only the Congress can give them such peaceful atmosphere.

On the issue of 33 per cent reservation for women, the Congress seemed to be so vociferous in Parliament, but it does not follow the same while distributing tickets to the party?

No this is a misconception. The Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, is always for the 33 per cent reservation for the women. She is taking care of all the party- level nominations herself and now out of six general secretaries in the party, two of them are women members. Even in the party positions, one-third of nominations is given to women. The party gives more representation to women than any other political party in the country. In Punjab, 10 per cent seats are given to women and in Uttar Pradesh, 15 per cent seats are given to them. Of the 15 per cent, 50 per cent are recommended by the minorities cell of the Congress.

Why is the Congress party opposed to POTO?

The Congress is opposed to Promulgation of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO). But with certain amendments, the party is ready to support the ordinance. Our main concern is that the ordinance should not be misused against minorities and other sections of people.

What are the major activities of the Congress Disciplinary Committee. On what basis the action is taken against a party member?

The Disciplinary Committee is mainly formed to take note of any kind of indiscipline reported in the committee either by the Congressmen or the party people. The committee mainly looks for Congressmen, who do not withdraw their nominations even after the ticket was denied to them. If anyone found refusing to withdraw, then it would be considered indiscipline and suitable action is taken against the person. These members will be immediately expelled from the party without any notice. Apart from this, things like Congressmen voicing opinion against the Congress policy or functionaries in public or members without the permission of the high command strictly attracts indiscipline.

Does the prevailing tensions in the Indo-Pak border create any panic among the Punjab people and will it anyway affect the ensuing assembly elections?

The Election Commission has already made some arrangements this time due to the tensions on borders. They have vacated villages and special security arrangements are made to ensure that nothing goes wrong during the elections. The Punjab people were used to such tensions even in earlier times. For a number of years, when Punjab faced terrorism, the people were confident and faced it with great strength.

How popular is Sonia Gandhi in Punjab, does she enjoy majority support in the state?

Whenever Sonia visits Punjab, a large number of people listen to her and she also likes the dynamism of both Punjabis and Sikhs. In fact, people want her to become the next Prime Minister of India, when the Congress party will regain power at the Centre. Moreover, Sonia is very fond of the Punjabi community and very particular about the Sikhs. Sonia takes keen interest in Punjab politics and working overtime to win the elections in Punjab. She is going for the election campaign during the ensuing assembly elections.

You had been the Rajya Sabha member for 12 years, what were your experiences during your tenure?

During my tenure of 12 years in Rajya Sabha, I have seen all kinds of situations in the Punjab history. Most of the time, there was President’s rule imposed in Punjab. As an only MP, I had the opportunity of taking the concerns of Punjabi people in both the Houses of Parliament. Even I took care of budgetary provisions and other important issues of Punjab.

What are the chances of the Congress coming to power?

The Congress is popular with the Punjabi community. The main opposition, Akali Dal, is split and unpopular and there is constant infighting in it. I don’t want to speculate on the number of seats the Congress would get this time. But, I am confident we will form the government in Punjab and choosing the leader is the prerogative of the party MLAs. But in my opinion, Capt Amarinder Singh will be elected unanimously to the post of the chief ministership.

You are the President of the Namdhari sect. What are the activities of the sect in Delhi?

Guru Nanak Ji was the first guru of the sect. The main difference between the Namdharis and the Sikhs is that we preach and practice in accordance to the tenets provided by the Sikh Gurus in ‘Gurubani’. Nambdharis are also called Kuka Sikhs. The Kuka movement was started by Guru Ram Singh in 1857 against the British movement and it was the first movement of Independent India.

The movement was a combination of religious, social and political movement. In Delhi alone, over 25,000 people belong to the Namdhari sect and more than 25 million people throughout the world are members of this sect.



Parties flay Badal for SYL statement
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, February 4
Various political parties have condemned the recent statement of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, regarding the SYL canal issue even after the orders of the apex court.

Capt Shamsher Singh Malik (retd), president of the Haryana unit of Lok Janshakti Party, described the statement of Mr Badal as ridiculous and irresponsible. He said nobody in the country was above the law and all of us must respect the court verdict.

Mr Shadi Lal Batra, MLA and president of the District Congress Committee (Urban), said the statement was not only contempt of the apex court but also unfortunate for the nation. He said it was a ‘degraded’ move to gain cheap popularity in view of the assembly elections in Punjab. He exhorted all the political parties to raise their voice against the ‘unjust’ statement of Mr Badal.

Swami Omanand, president of the Haryana Arya Pratinidhi Sabha, said it was strange that a chief minister openly refused to accept the apex court orders.

Mr Bijender Jain, district president of the Haryana Vikas Party, Ms Asha Hooda, general secretary, state unit of the women’s wing of the BJP, and Mr Sheesh Pal Beniwal, state president of the Samata Party, were also of the opinion that Mr Badal must be sued for contempt of court in this connection.

1,700 treated

More than 1,700 patients in the district afflicted with different sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been treated during the first two days of the family health awareness programme which started all over the state on February 1.

Claiming this, a spokesman for the district administration said patients afflicted with different STDs especially, AIDS, would be examined and treated at the state-wide programme sponsored by the Haryana AIDS Control Society. He said 90 per cent of the patients who approached for treatment so far had been women.

Several social and voluntary organisations, including the Manav Sewa Sangh, District Red Cross Society, Chemists Association and Drug Manufacturing Association, were also playing an important role in making the programme successful, he added.

MDU appointments

The Vice-Chancellor of Maharshi Dayanand University, Maj-Gen B. S. Suhag (retd), has appointed Dr Ishwar Singh, Professor, Department of Sanskrit, as Head of the

Fine Arts Department under Statute 21 of the University Act.

The appointment has been made consequent upon the acceptance of resignation of Dr Susha Jain as Head of the Department of Fine Arts. Further invoking Statute 21 of the Act, the Vice-Chancellor has appointed Dr K. P. S. Mahalwar, Reader, Law Department, as Head of the Law Department for a period of three years with effect from February 1.

Teachers absent

Mr Deepak Tayal, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Jhajjar, confronted a piqued situation when he visited Government College at Dujana here today, as teachers had surpassed the students in playing truant. The official sources informed that when the SDM reached the college around noon, almost all the lecturers were found absent as they had left the college after signing their presence in the attendance register in the morning.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Khemka, told that he was sending a report in this regard to the Director, Higher Education, who will take the necessary action against the erring teachers.

Housewife raped

A housewife was reportedly raped by a person when she had gone to the fields for bringing fodder for the cattle in Khorda village of the district yesterday.

A district police press note said here today that Nirmla, wife of Ishwar Singh and a mother of three children, was working in her fields when Ramesh of the same village arrived there in a drunken condition and also threatened to kill her if she raised an alarm. He raped her and fled from the scene. The police have registered a case under Sections 376 and 506 of the IPC and arrested the accused.

Aid to Dalit girls

A sum of Rs 5.61 lakh has been spent in the last 10 months to assist the marriages of 110 girls of Dalit families living below the poverty line. Similarly, Rs 90,000 has been given for the weddings of daughters of 19 widows and helpless women of Scheduled, Vimukta and Tapriwas Castes in the district, according to Mr Vineet Garg, Deputy Commissioner.

Evasion detected

An amount totalling Rs 96.15 crore was realised by way of revenue by the District Excise and Taxation Department during the past 10 months of the currant financial year. Besides, the department detected 2,536 cases of tax evasion and recovered Rs 1.29 crore by way of taxes as well as fines, according to Mr Vineet Garg, DC.

Crop lost in fire

Standing sugarcane crop in 10 acres was reportedly burnt in a fire which broke out in the fields at Kami village, about 5 km from here, yesterday. The fire started following sparks from the transmission lines passing over the fields. The Sonepat fire brigade rushed to the site and brought the fire under control after one-and-a-half hours. The affected farmers have demanded a suitable compensation.

Hospital waste

The Haryana Pollution Control Board has issued notices to as many as 107 nursing homes and hospitals in the district under the Bio-Medical Waste Management and Handling Act directing them to take immediate and concrete steps for disposing of the waste materials in and around their health institutions.

According to a report, the board has fixed December 31 as the stipulated period for the installation of incinerators and other equipment for the disposal of the hospital waste. These notices have created panic among owners of the nursing homes and hospitals.

Pistol snatched

Two unidentified motorcycle-borne armed youths are reported to have snatched a licensed pistol from Mr Surinder Singh, resident of Sector 14, HUDA colony near Shambhu Dayal Modern School here last evening.

According to a report, Mr Surinder Singh was returning from Kakroi village to the city by his car. When he reached near the school, the culprits stopped his car and allegedly snatched his licensed pistol from him at gunpoint.

On the receipt of information, the police immediately swung into action and sealed all the exit points in the city but could not trace the culprits. A case has been registered.

Donations stolen

Thieves reportedly stole the `daan patra’ from the Lord Shiv Temple in Indira Colony here last night. The management of the temple has lodged an FIR with the police in this connection.

In another incident, thieves reportedly broke open the shutters of a kiryana shop on the Sonepat-Rathdhanna road near here last night and escaped with goods worth several thousands of rupees. The stolen goods included desi ghee, cigarettes, toothpastes and foodstuffs.

Hit by train

Mrs Bharpai Devi, an old woman, was killed on the spot when she was hit by a running train between Rathdhanna and Narela railway stations, about 10 km from here, yesterday. According to a report, the victim was walking on the railway track when the accident occurred. The victim belonged to Mullah Majra village in the district.

MLA visits ward

Mr Dev Raj Dewan, an independent MLA, toured Ward No 6 here yesterday and heard the grievances of residents. According to a report, Mr Jagdish Khatri, a Municipal Councillor, submitted a charter of demands for laying the sewer lines and construction as well as repair of the roads and streets in the ward. Mr Dewan assured the residents that he would take up the matter with the district and civic authorities for fulfilling these demands.



L-G reviews progress of Millennium Park project
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
The Lt Governor, Mr Vijai Kapoor, today visited Millennium Park near Sarai Kale Khan ISBT to get a first-hand knowledge of the progress of the project. The park is being developed in a longitudinal strip of about 3 km along Ring Road from Sarai Kale Khan to Bhairon Road and would be spread in an area of 85 acres.

Mr Kapoor asked the Public Works Department to expedite the removal of abandoned hot mix plant. He also asked the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to vacate the wheelbarrow workshop-cum-store so that development of the park is not affected. The Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) has also been asked to replace the existing overhead electricity line with underground cable in the park area. The Lt Governor also visited Hanuman Mandir, Yamuna Bazar and reviewed the progress of redevelopment of the area. The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is developing about five acres of land adjacent to Hanuman Mandir, which would have green areas, a community hall, library and parking lot. Mr Kapoor also asked the railway engineers to expedite the widening and reconstruction of busy Calcutta Bride, east of Old Delhi Railway Station, connecting Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Marg with Ring Road near Hanuman Mandir. With the widening and reconstruction, it will serve as an important link with North, South and Central Delhi.



Post office opened in Sector Gamma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
Good tidings for the residents of the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) areas. To meet the increasing communication needs of the areas, the first-ever post office (Pin code: 201308) at Bougain Villa Shopping Complex, Sector Gamma, was opened recently as part of the 12th Foundation Day celebrations of the authority. The celebrations, which witnessed a week-long carnival, had various events like crafts and rural sports, attracting a number of participants from all over the country.

Schoolchildren from various parts of the NCR participated in the spot painting competition while college students had an inter-collegiate festival.



Minor fire at New Delhi House causes scare
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
A minor fire broke out at the 12th floor of a multi-storeyed New Delhi House, Connaught Place, today at around 4.25 pm.

The fire service was immediately alerted and six vans reached the spot at 4.35 pm and the fire was extinguished within minutes, said a fire service official. A short circuit in the office is said to be the cause of the fire.



Dreaded criminal nabbed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 4
With the arrest of a dreaded criminal, Azaz Ahmed, the South district police today claimed to have solved more than 25 cases of robbery, snatching and auto-lifting. The accused had absconded for the past two years and finally he was nabbed when he came to meet his wife in Malviya Nagar today. The accused was also involved in the kidnapping of a minor girl. Since Azaz was a desperate criminal found involved in more than 25 cases, a special team under the supervision of ACP, Hauz Khas was set up and the team kept constant vigil near the house of the accused in Malviya Nagar since his wife stayed there. Finally, Azaz was apprehended when he came to the house. The police said that he was the one among the top five criminals the district had been in the look out for.

Youth strangulated

The body of an unidentified youth was found in a gunny bag yesterday in the Rohini area. The body, which was wrapped in the gunny bag, was found dumped in the Beghampur-Poonth Kalan area and had strangulation marks.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-West), Mr R. P. Upadhyaya, said that the youth was suspected to have been strangulated with a cable wire, and the body was dumped less than a day ago. The body has been sent for a post-mortem examination. The police have registered a murder case and are investigating into it.

Two commit suicide

Two persons have reportedly committed suicide in the city last night. According to the police, the first incident occurred in the Anand Vihar area when Ved Prakash (25), resident of Kalyan Puri, locked himself inside a room and set himself on fire. The victim, a tailor by profession, had an argument with his wife over some money-related matter.

After the argument, he reportedly committed suicide by pouring kerosene and setting him on fire. No suicide note has been found. The victim was married only three months ago and family sources confide that the argument was the reason behind his suicide. Though he was immediately rushed to Safdarjung Hospital, the doctors declared him brought dead. In another incident, Raju (35), a habitual drinker and resident of Kalyan Puri, set himself on fire as he was depressed in the last few months. The police said that he had lost his wife three years ago and was feeling very lonely. When the incident occurred, the family members of Raju were not there.


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