Sunday, March 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


BJP bid to get its act together
Tribune News Service

Jagmohan, Lal Bihari Tiwari, Vijay Goel, Madan Lal Khurana during a Press conference on Saturday.
Jagmohan, Lal Bihari Tiwari, Vijay Goel, Madan Lal Khurana during a Press conference on Saturday. —Tribune Photo

New Delhi, March 16
With barely a week to go for the March 24 civic elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday went into an overdrive and brought together on a platform Madan Lal Khurana and other Members of Parliament from Delhi (with the exception of Sahib Singh Verma) to project a united face and smother all speculations to the contrary. The occasion was orchestrated to coincide with the Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Ram Naik’s announcement in the Lok Sabha of a rollback in the prices of cooking gas which “glad tidings” were conveyed in a joint news conference by Madan Lal Khurana flanked by Vijay Kumar Malhotra and Vijay Goel.

Dismissing this ‘show of unity’ as a farce, the Congress reiterated the writing was on the cards for the BJP and that the Congress was set to wrest the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD.) The five-year “misrule” of the BJP, the party spokesperson said, was there for all to see. Meanwhile, continuing with the trend of roping in film stars for the purposes of canvassing for its candidates, the party has got actress Reena Roy to hit the road for the wards in Hastsal Assembly constituency. Besides suggesting Mr Khurana’s plunge headlong into the last week of campaigning before Sunday’s polling, the occasion was used by the BJP to highlight the MPs’ meeting with the prime minister and finance minister to announce without delay the Dearness Allowance to government employees. Talks, Malhotra told media persons, also centred on the twin issues of a special interest rate on savings of senior citizens and tax exemptions on savings for the middle class.

Dismissing speculations of a rift in the party, Khurana said by way of offering an explanation for his absence from the campaigning, that as chairman of the parliamentary committee on defence he was preoccupied with its activities. “Corporators are like an extended arm of Members of Parliament and the party is confident of a victory,” he said. Voicing similar sentiments, Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Vijay Goel said the civic polls would be a referendum on the performance of the Congress-ruled Government of NCT of Delhi. “Unity, development works and fielding new and young candidates with a clean track record,” he said were the cornerstones of the party’s poll preparations.

Referring to the party’s achievements in effecting a “social revolution,” Union Tourism Minister Jagmohan, in turn, said Rs 40 crore had been spent on constructing separate toilets for houses of government staff in different colonies across the Capital. “Clean Delhi and good governance,” he said, were the hallmarks of the party’s agenda and the construction of parks and sprucing up of the Rajghat, etc, were in keeping with that goal.

Lal Behari Tiwari and Anita Arya also addressed the media. Tiwari, referring to East Delhi as BJP’s pocket borough, said the party was committed to creating a separate corporation for trans-Yamuna areas.

Case against Cong MLA, BJP candidate

The North-West district police have registered cases against the Congress MLA in Sultanpuri, Jai Kishan, and the BJP candidate, Narender Kirari, after they fought with each other during campaigning last evening. It was the first such incident between the workers of the two parties in the Capital during the election, the police said. The MLA was campaigning for Mrs Shabnam Parveen, who is contesting from ward number 40 in Sultanpur Majra. This is the second time she is contesting the corporation election from there. Last time she contested on the Congress ticket and wrested the seat with a big margin from her BJP rival.



For Big 2, small is beautiful
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
Even as the candidates are busy campaigning for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls, there seems to be little clarity as to the shape of the next civic body, which would assume office on April 1, for the next five years.

The BJP in its manifesto has promised to create a separate corporation for the East Delhi areas and set up the Mayor-in-Council. The Congress, on its part, has promised the division of the corporation for effective administration. While the two political parties are in agreement that smaller corporations need to be set up for better administration, there seems to be little unanimity on the number of divisions that need to be created.

The Virendra Prakash Committee set up by the Congress-led Delhi Government had suggested the division of the civic body into six corporations. However, the report of the committee was opposed by the members of both the parties in the Assembly, forcing the state government to appoint another committee to look into the recommendations.

The Deep Chand Bandhu Committee, which looked into the recommendations of the Virendra Prakash Committee report, is likely to submit its report by the end of this month. Further, as per the present set-up, the MCD Commissioner wields more powers than the elected representatives.

The Delhi Mayor and the BJP candidate, Mr Shanti Desai, said: “The party has suggested that the post of a Mayor-in-Council be created, which would give powers to the elected representatives who are accountable to the electorate.”

The Congress said it would make the existing system more effective through better administration. Though the BJP had vowed to introduce the Mayor-in-Council system in its last manifesto, it failed to fulfill its promise. However, with both the parties in agreement over the division, smaller corporate entities are on the cards. However, political observers say, there is little clarity as to who would be the members of the new corporations and whether there was a need to hold fresh elections for these corporations and how many wards would be under each corporation.



Faridabad Dy Mayor, spouse in the dock
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 16
In a dramatic development, the senior Deputy Mayor of Faridabad, Mr Shivcharan Lal Sharma, and his wife, a corporator, have been booked in a case of fraud.

The case has been filed on a complaint by Mr Bachoo Singh Teotia, an elected member of the Municipal Corporation, Faridabad (MCF). It was booked by the NIT police station here under Sections 420, 469, 470 and 471 of the IPC on recommendation of the Commissioner of Municipal Corporation. The allegations of fraud were first levelled against Mr Sharma last year, when the complainant in a letter to the Commissioner, Gurgaon Division, had alleged that the estimate for the construction of a road in Ward No. 6 was passed in a fraudulent manner with bogus signatures of the then MCF Commissioner, Mr Ankur Gupta, on the file. The ward is represented by Mrs Maya Sharma, wife of Mr S L Sharma.

It may be recalled that the complainant has been a confidant of the previous Mayor, Mr Devender Singh Bhadana, who was voted out of power and Mr Sharma was the person behind the move to oust Mr Bhadana, stated a member of the corporation. It is reported that the previous MCF commissioner denied that it was his signature on the file related to the case. Mr Sharma who is a Congressman and had officiated as a Mayor for a month last year, has described the case as a political conspiracy.



It may be curtains for unviable MDU depts
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, March 16
The Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) plans to discontinue those departments that have become unviable over the years.

The departments proposed to be closed include the departments of Rural Development, Defence Studies and Statistics. They were created in 1992 after bifurcating certain departments to ‘reward’ the favourites of the then university authorities.

The Vice-Chancellor, Maj-Gen (retd) B. S. Suhag, told the ‘NCR Tribune’ that these departments have become a burden on the university exchequer as few candidates sought admission in them. The proposal is to end the independent identity of these departments and merge them with their parent departments.

The department of Music and Fine Arts has also failed to attract students. Though there is no immediate plan to close these departments, the Vice-Chancellor was considering the proposals to make them viable. Interestingly, the Government College for Women here, which has been running these courses, also plans to close down these from the coming academic session.

Maj-Gen Suhag disclosed that the university was considering the proposals to start a few new courses at the Law College in Gurgaon and through the Distance Education from the coming academic year.

The university also plans to introduce management and foreign language courses at the Law College in Gurgaon, and Insurance and Information Technology courses through the Distance Education. However, a decision is yet to be taken on the introduction of these courses, the Vice-Chancellor said. He personally wants to conduct pilot courses first before starting the full-fledged regular courses.

The Vice-Chancellor said that there would be no let-up in the campaign against mass copying in the examinations. Although the university has to reverse its decision to introduce three sets of question papers from the current annual examination, the proposal has not been dropped. The university will introduce the three-set question paper system from the next annual examinations, the Vice-Chancellor said.

Maj-Gen Suhag said that the university was committed to ushering in examination reforms to curb the use of unfair means. The principals of the affiliated colleges have already been told about the introduction of three- question paper system.

The annual examination of the students enrolled through the Distance Education has been segregated from the regular students. This has been done to ensure the availability of teachers and end congestion at the examination centers, the Vice-Chancellor said.

There will be approximately 1. 50 lakh students appearing in the under-graduate annual examinations, including nearly 35,000 enrolled through distance education. The examination for the distance education students will begin from March 23 and for the regular students from April 4. The failed students of BA course will also take their examination with the distance education students.

Maj-Gen Suhag requested the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police to make necessary security arrangements around the examination centres. He also requested the deputy commissioners and the district police chiefs to provide sufficient police force to check outside interference.



Jhajjar kavi sammelan, officially yours
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, March 16
Clerks and officials of government departments in the Bahdurgarh sub-division and elsewhere in the district here have a new job in hand – selling tickets. The tickets are for the kavi sammelan being organised by the Haryana Tourism in the Goriyya tourist complex here on the eve of Holi, dubbed ‘Holi Ki Umang, Hasya Kavion Ke Sang’. The staff now flashes the tickets in the face of visitors, who come to the department to get their work done. Not keen to antagonise the powers that be, many get trapped.

Result: Anyone who strolls into a government office these days is forced to buy at least one ticket for the programme. The tickets are priced at an obnoxious Rs 400 for a couple and Rs 250 for a single person. The ticket contains a hidden sop: a dinner in the complex free of cost. If poetry doesn’t justify the price, the dinner surely will! The ingenious promotional lulu was a brainchild of a clerk at the SDM’s office, which was approached by the Tourism Department for its help. The latter was forced to seek the help of the district administration as its forays in the public domain earlier have elicited a tepid response. However, the district administration has apparently gone into an overdrive in its bid to palm off the tickets. (According to complex sources, 300 tickets were printed for the programme).

When this correspondent visited the office of the Block Development and Panchayat Office, some officials were at pains to sell him the tickets. On condition of anonymity, they revealed that they had been directed to sell around 25 tickets to the sarpanches of the villages, the members of the block samitis and anyone else who looked gullible.

Last year, they were forced to pay for the tickets out of their own pockets as the sarpanches were not interested in a kavi sammelan. It may be mentioned on the aside that the SDM, Mr Dinesh Yadav, has many poet friends and a special interest in kavi sammelans.



Citizen’s Alliance for Gurgaon
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, March 16
“Citizes’ Alliance”, a voluntary organisation, having the former Lt-Governor of Delhi, Mr Tejendera Khanna, as its patron, today opened its chapter of service to the residents. A public function was held here to launch the local chapter of the organisation. It was attended by the leading lights of Gurgaon. Col Pratap Singh was declared its president. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tejendera Khanna, called upon people to be vigilant in order to protect their rights. He regretted that if a poll was conducted in any part of the country, the majority of the public would express their dissatisfaction with the kind of service they get from the public servants. Mr Khanna said that the negative mindset of the officialdom took a toll on the growth and progress of the country. He emphasised that no amount of foreign investment would change this mindset.

The remedial mantra against this attitude has to be sought from within the collective conscience of the country. He said that all sections of the society, especially the industrial circles, feel sad by the restrictive approach of the officials. He said that there was an unholy nexus between the politicians and the officials to the detriment of the common man.

It was for this reason that nothing good had ever come despite so many reform commissions constituted to improve the orientation of the public servants, he added. The local Administrator, Haryana Urban Development Authority(Huda), Mr Anurag Aggarwal, speaking on the occasion suggested that the organisation should have a holistic approach on the issue of corruption. 



Arhatiyas protest tenders
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 16
Agents (arhatiyas) of mandis at Hodal, Palwal and Hassanpur have protested against the manner in which tenders for loading and unloading of foodgrains have been released by the Food and Supply Authorities. They have announced their resolve to go on strike if the tenders were floated again in a similar manner. They have appealed to the Deputy Commissioner to cancel all the tenders released so far, alleging large-scale irregularities in the process. According to some contractors, the tenders were to be released in February 19, but were postponed to March 14. When the majority of bidders reached the office of the Additional Deputy Commissioner on the due date, no official was present to provide them the application forms.

Bidders Rajbir Singh and Nathi alleged that the tenders were released to some persons hailing from Sirsa, after a closed-door meeting of the officials of food and supply. The bidders, in turn, were told that the tender forms had been released and no more form were available now. It is alleged that contractors representing about 16 firms had deposited earnest money on February 19 but the officials got the tenders released in the names of some other persons close to higher authorities. Demanding a probe into the process, the agents and contractors have asked the DC to intervene.



School that gives a bad account of itself
Abhay Jain

Gurgaon, March 16
A well-known city school has directed the parents of its students to open a saving account with a nationalised bank to deposit the fee. If they do not open the account, they are at liberty to leave the school, says the Principal. Our Lady of Fatima Convent School, New Colony, has sent an ‘ex cathedra’ circular to all the parents stating that the school had decided to stop accepting the fee through cash. The school refuses to take it even by cheque.

The fee will have to be deposited in Indian Overseas Bank, around a kilometre from the school. It has been made mandatory for the parents to open an account with the bank. As per the circular, the fee will strictly be accepted only at the bank through cheques issued by the account holders.

Fearing reprisal, the mother of a student informed the ‘NCR Tribune’ on the condition of anonymity that instead of simplifying the procedure, the school management was complicating the matter, causing a lot of harassment to the parents. “We have no problem in depositing the fee in the bank but the school must not force the parents to open an account with the bank. The bank should accept the cheque drawn on other city banks,” another parent said.

However, the principal Sister Daisy has adopted a confrontational approach on the issue. She said that the parents were free to withdraw their children from the school if they could not open an account. The branch manager of IOB, Mr Bhasker Roy, said that the school authority had instructed the bank to take the fee of those students only whose parents had opened the account with the bank. “If the school allows us, we have no problem in accepting the cheques drawn on other banks,” he said.



Bansi Lal takes credit for SYL verdict
Our Correspondent

Rewari, March 16
Mr Bansi Lal, former Chief Minister and Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) supremo, has asserted that following the Supreme Court verdict as well as the dismissal of the Punjab Government’s appeal by the apex court, the decks have now been cleared for the completion of the SYL canal in Punjab in a stipulated period of one year. He said this while addressing a rally at Bawal, 14 km from here, today. The rally witnessed an impressive turnout.

The HVP supremo claimed that the above verdict had come on an appeal filed by his government in the apex court on September 6, 1996. Giving a heartening assurance to the farmers of South Haryana, Mr Bansi Lal asserted that no one would now be able to prevent the Ravi-Beas water flowing into their parched fields.

He elaborated that out of the 3.83 MAF water granted by the Eradi Tribunal, Haryana had got 1.62 MAF water of the Ravi-Beas in 1978. But it was unfortunate that instead of south Haryana, it was diverted to Sirsa and other districts by the then Devi Lal government. Now after the completion of the SYL canal, Haryana would get its remaining quantum of 2.21 MAF Ravi-Beas water, which fully and entirely belonged to south Haryana.

Flaying the Chautala government for the accolade which it was trying to seek from the public in the matter of the SYL issue, Mr Bansi Lal asserted that the then Chief Minister Devi Lal as well as his son, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, had virtually played a second fiddle to their Punjab counterpart, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and had done nothing tangible in the matter.

Making a special mention of his party’s heartening performance in the Yamunanagar bye-election, the HVP leader alleged that the INLD candidate won with the help of about 20,000 bogus votes. Taking a dig at the tall claims of Mr Chautala, Mr Bansi Lal said that the heavy drubbing given by the electorate of UP to the INLD candidates was enough to tell where the graph of Mr Chautala now stood. He elaborated that all the 97 INLD nominees barring one from the Hastinapur constituency (reserved) had lost their deposits in the recent assembly elections in UP



There is a fair treat at the hilltops in Champawat
Tribune News Service

Baleshwar Temple and Mayawati Ashram are the two high spots in Champawat district.

New Delhi, March 16
As the temperature in the plains rising with the each passing day, it is time to take a break and visit the mountains and enjoy the mystic beauty of nature. Natural streams flowing from the mountaintop, through the narrow gaps amongst the boulders and gushing with force as they hit the plains are a scene to watch. And the wind carries the smell and sound of wild flowers, lush green trees, chirping of birds and the sounds of different animals to the visitor. If these don’t impress you, the imposing forts, gurdwaras and temples with their legends and the quaint fairs in Champawat district in Uttaranchal will definitely do.

The Meetha Reetha Sahib, situated at a distance of 72 km from Champawat in Uttaranchal, is only one such place in the area where one could hear and see the nature in full glory. It is said that Guru Nanak had visited the place and held spiritual discussion with Gorakhpanthi Jogis. The gurdwara was constructed in 1960 at the confluence of the Lodhiya and Ratiya rivers, near Deyuri village. There are trees of sweet reetha (Sapindus emarginatus) on the gurdwara premises. Adjoining it is the Temple of Dhernath. A fair is held at the Gurdwara on Vaishakhi Purnima. There are several pilgrimage sites in Champawat district. About eight-hours’ drive from Delhi, the district was once the capital of the Chand dynasty. Its natural beauty, glaciers, meandering streams and pilgrimage centres have been an attraction for decades.

The temples of Baleshwar and Nagnath in Champawat are examples of ancient architecture. Baleshwar is the most artistic temple of the district. There are evidences to prove that the group of temples dedicated to Baleshwar, Ratneshwar and Champawati Durga had been built by the early kings of the Chand dynasty. These temples once had intricate structural features and a sanctuary with a ‘mandap’. The intricate carvings, still visible on the ceilings of these temples, are a reflection of their ancient glory and artistic excellence. Gwal Devta, also known as Goril or Goll, is a deity who enjoys widespread faith and influence. He is considered to be the presiding deity of justice. It is believed that when approached, Gwal Devta dispenses justice to a helpless victim of injustice and cruelty.

Historically, Goril, a Katyuric prince of Champawat known for his unwavering justice and fair play, was himself a victim of planned conspiracy hatched up by his stepmother, who had him thrown into a river and locked up in an iron cage. Held in high esteem as a symbol of justice, a temple was constructed in his honour after his demise at Golchaurh in Champawat. Ever since, he has grown into a deity of great influence. The temples attract innumerable pilgrims round the year.

Devidhura, situated at about 45 km from Lohaghat, is famous for its Varahidevi temple where the traditional Bagwal (a fair in which stone-pelting between two groups is the highlight) is held once every year on the festival of Raksha Bandhan.

To the east of Champawat, a temple dedicated to Kranteshwar Mahadev is situated on the top of a lofty hill. It is also called Kurmapad and Kandev.

Another attraction is Mayawati Ashram, 22 km from Champawat and 9 km from Lohaghat. This ashram is situated at an altitude of 1940 metres. It shot into prominence after the Advaita Ashram was established here. The ashram attracts spiritualists from India and abroad.

Abbot Mount, situated 11 km away, is another spot remarkable for its scenic beauty and is famous for peaceful secluded holidays.

The fort, Vanasur-Ka-Kila, situated at an elevation of 1859 metres, holds the visitor in awe with its majestic beauty and the high altitude at which is has been constructed.

Apart from the majestic temples and forts, several fairs are held in the district attracting many. Purnagiri Fair is held on the top of a hill and on the right banks of the river Kali. A number of fairs take place here during Navratras, when devotees in a large number come from surrounding areas to have a darshan of and worship the Goddess Purnagiri. The fair starts from Vishuwat Sanskranti and continues for about 40 days.

Meanwhile, the Devidhura Fair at Varahidevi temple in Devidhura, situated at the border of Almora, Pithoragarh and Nainital districts, is held every year on the day of Raksha Bandhan. A unique feature of this fair is the image of Goddess Varahi, kept in a locked brass casket and taken out in a procession to a nearby mountain spring where a blindfolded priest ritually bathes the image and puts it back in the casket.

The Goddess is worshipped the whole night. The next morning, the exciting ‘Bagwaal’ fair takes place. The event is marked by two groups of people fighting a battle in front of the temple, throwing stones at each other, while they try to protect themselves by using big roof-like shields. Thousands of people gather to watch this event. The fighting stops soon after the priest appears. Both sides then meet and reconcile among themselves.



Devi Lal statue adorns Sonepat bus stand chowk
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 16
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Parkash Chautala, unveiled the life-size statue of former Deputy Prime Minister Tau Devi Lal at the main bus stand chowk here today.

According to a report, the district administration has so far spent about Rs 20 lakh on the face-lifting of this congested roundabout which looked like a traffic-free area today.

Tau Devi Lal had fought for the cause of the farmers and the labourers. He was a true Gandhian.

His belief was that India could make progress only when the villages were developed and self-reliant.

As a Chief Minister of Haryana, Tau Devi Lal had introduced the old-age pension, waived of loans for the farmers, gave remunerative price for their produce and ensured regular supply of canal water and electricity.

Moreover, the Food for Work Programme was also his brainchild in which millions of people had been benefited.

The present state government is also trying to follow the policies pursued by Tau Devi Lal. It has doubled the old-age pension and raised the price of sugarcane which is the highest in the country.

Prominent leaders present in the ceremony, included Mr Dev Raj Diwan, Mr Padam Singh Dahiya, Dr Ram Kumar Saini, Mr Romesh Khatak, all MLAs, Mr Ved Singh Malik, former Minister, Mr Sultan Singh, former Governor of Tripura and senior Congress leader, Mr Ranbir Dahiya,

President District INLD, Mr Resham Singh, IG, Rohtak Range, Mr S N Roy, DC and Mr Paramjit Singh Ahlawat, SP. Besides, Dr Sultan Singh SDM, Ms Kataria, MD Cooperative Sugar Mill and Mr H C Jain, General Manager, Haryana Roadways, Mr Ashok Yadav, ADC and Mr R K Gupta, SE UHBVN were present on the occasion.



Panipat to be a beauty spot
Our Correspondent

Panipat, March 16
The district administration, in cooperation with the public, has launched a special drive to make Panipat a green and beautiful town, said the Deputy Commissioner, Mr M. R. Anand, today. He was talking to mediapersons at the monthly press conference.

He disclosed that in the first phase, the administration would take up beautification and greening of the G. T. Road (National Highway No. 1) which passes through the town. The road has been divided into two parts. One part covers the town’s area between Hotel Gold and Hotel LeGem and the second part includes areas from Hotel Gold to Sewah towards Delhi side and Hotel LeGem to Babarpur on Karnal side.

The entry point to the town would be beautified with two-and-a-half feet designer walls by using reflecting tiles and small parks, he said.

Bronze statues of eight to nine feet height of warriors, horses and elephants would be erected on the vacant land adjacent to G. T. Road in front of Paliwal House to give a glimpse of the three battles of Panipat to the visitors passing through the town.

Under the greening programme, the DC said the royal palm trees would be planted on the vacant areas on both sides of the G.T. Road within municipal limits and different types of plantations would be carried out in the outer areas. Over 25,000 tree ‘guards’ would be manufactured at a cost of Rs 12.5 lakh to protect the plantations, he added.

The DC stated that the vacant land adjacent to service lanes of the G.T. Road was being paved voluntarily by the shopkeepers, business establishments and government offices in front of their locations and it would be used for parking vehicles. Any parking of vehicles on service lanes had been banned between 7 am to 7 pm.

Besides developing community parks in residential colonies of the town, the administration had also decided to shift the dairies out of the town in Binjhol and Khotpura villages where 15 acres had already been demarcated, the DC said, and added that the polluting dyeing and colouring units would also be shifted from the town to Industrial Sector 29.



Suffering is a divine touch

These are days when the Christians in every land observe the Lent period. It is a time when they reflect on the sufferings of their Lord on the Cross, suffering underwent voluntarily for the redemption of the human race. One theme of the cross is redemptive suffering. This is illustrated by the verse, “Unless a kernal of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.’’(John 12:23)

Go through the pages of history and you will realise that those who had benefited mankind were those very souls moulded by God in the furnace of suffering. Suffering opened their eyes to reality, led to repentance and empathy with those who suffer similarly. One can discover any number of instances of souls made sensitive and thereby empowered to serve through education in the school of suffering.

In Dr Indira Goswami, who was awarded the Jnanpith Award at a glittering function in the Vigyan Bhavan the other day, we have a life made sublime and beautiful by adversity and from her pain and misery have come some outstanding tales and moving pictures of life with all its poignancy, anguish and agony. She has been given the highest literary award for her outstanding contribution to the Indian literature (Assamese). She loved writing about the lowly and the lost. “My sympathy went to those who were denied justice and were victims of oppression.” As a child, she liked playing with the poor, low caste children, though people in her household did not approve of it and would not allow her enter the house unless she took a bath.

It is far more fascinating to know what went on in her own life producing such sensitivity to suffering in the marginalised and weak, as depicted in her novels and short stories. A well-known astrologer had told her mother, while she was just a child, “This girl’s stars are so bad that you will do well to cut her up in two pieces and throw her into the Brahmaputra.’’ Though he studied the position of the stars, he had not visualised the metamorphosis Indira would undergo after her baptism of fire engendered by her misfortunes.

She was ardently in love with her father, who dominated her world in childhood. The thought of his death often depressed her and filled her with a desire to end her life. Her father, a director of public instruction, met with an untimely death. In consequence, offers of marriage from high families, which have become a daily ritual, stopped coming. Her mother was worried too. Meanwhile, her suicidal inclination got the better of her and she remained unconscious in the hospital for many days. People began to whisper behind her back: “She must have conceived... Imagine an unmarried girl becoming a mother...That is why she took a desperate step...’’

She later fell in love with a South Indian engineer, but her mother would have preferred an Assamese young man. This introduced a note of discord in the young girl’s life. The married days were her happiest. The death wish that haunted her was a thing of the past. She knew Madhu needed her. The realisation slowly dawned upon her that “the justification of our life lay not in itself, but in our earnest endeavour to live for others.’’

Her married bliss came to an abrupt end when Madhu died in a jeep accident, fewer than two year’s after their wedding. She was desolate. She attempted to take her life but did not succeed. She had taken to writing as an escape route to overcome her suicidal instinct. She had even got published a few short stories. She wrote her autobiography when she was 27 and by then she had seen enough of traumas and vicissitudes as to understands human suffering in all its depth.

She was in Varanasi as a widow to join the Institute of Oriental Studies to continue her research work. As she landed at the place where she was to stay her should cried out in agony: “No, no, I simply can’t live here. I shall quit this cursed hovel at the earliest.’’ Yet she stayed on for years and saw with her eyes the indignities and cruelties to which the widows were subjected in that City of God. Her books depict the Radheyshyamis, who made a living by singing bhajans. Most of them reduced to bones and skeletons had one preoccupation: store up enough money for their last rites.

They were an exploited lot. The author wondered whether the saving was actually spent on the last rites. Half burnt bodies were often thrown into the Yamuna. She was often moved by the ‘gluttonous looks’ of these widows at the alluring heaps of food offered to the deities.

An author of several novels and short stories, she had won numerous awards for her literary works. Her fan mail is enormous too. Students and other readers often write to her telling her how “they got courage and strength to face the hardships of life” after reading her autobiography. As a writer, she has earned a place of eminence in the hall of fame for having related some of the sins of omissions and commissions of present-day society with a spirit of compassion.

She recalls how she was fascinated by the picture of Jesus on the Cross. The incredible depiction of man’s outrage against man was deeply engraved upon her mind even in her childhood through such biblical stories as Samson and Delilah and the scourging of Jesus by the Roman soldiers.

She had come across accounts of people removing clothes from dead bodies. She was witness to how a watch and a gold ring were snatched from the corpse of her own beloved. What she saw she depicted in her books.

MPK Kutty



Rs 29.86 lakh disbursed in aid
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 16
A financial aid of Rs 29.86 lakh has been provided to various persons under different schemes of the social and welfare department of the state in the district during the current financial year. According to district authorities, 419 persons had been benefited by these schemes. These included 162 girls of weaker sections who were given an amount of Rs 5,100 each as ‘Kanyadaan’ at the time of their marriage. An amount of Rs 10,000 per head was given to families who were financially weak for marrying off their daughters.

As many as 51 individuals belonging to the SC category were given a total help of Rs 5.10 lakh as subsidy for building houses during the period. Each person under the scheme was given a help of Rs 10,000. An amount of rs 1.5 lakh was released for the repair of streets and drains in the colonies of weaker sections.

Marble shops demolished

About 20 shops, located in the old marble market that was developed on the greenbelt in Sector 20, were razed to the ground by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) on Friday. The HUDA authorities have decided to shift the market to Sectors 21-C and 21-B here. The HUDA had earlier served notices to the shops, stating that the market was illegal and was an encroachment on its land. Several plots have been allotted to marble dealers in sector 21 here.

Lovers end lives

Realising that their love could never be materialised, a frustrated couple committed suicide by jumping into the Jawahar Lal Nehru canal here. Their bodies were fished out by the police near Sonepat road on Friday evening. The deceased have been identified as Dara Singh, resident of Mirjapur Kheri village near Gohana, and Suman Lata, a second year student of BA at Government College for Women here. Dara Singh was an autorickshaw driver who used to run his vehicle from Gohana to Rohtak. It is learnt that the police received a suicide note from the pocket of Dara Singh stating that they were having a love affair and nobody was responsible for their death. The bodies were sent for a post-mortem examination to the PGIMS.

Theft on PGI campus

Unidentified thieves broke open the house of a doctor on the PGIMS campus and made away with ornaments worth nearly Rs 2 lakh on Friday. According to information, the thieves entered the house of Dr Ram Bilas Jain of SPM Department in the afternoon on Friday and escaped with gold jewellery and Rs 5,000. Meanwhile, a Maruti car was also stolen from the PGIMS campus the same evening.

186 cases settled

As many as 186 cases under various categories were settled and a compensation of Rs 20.56 lakh was awarded to the victims in the 53rd Lok Adalat organised under the chairmanship of District and Sessions Judge R. S. Madan here today. As many as 50 cases pertaining to MACT claims were put up before the Lok Adalat, out of which 37 cases were settled and the compensation was awarded to the victims of accidents.

Rs 1.21 lakh donated

Mr Rattan Singh, a resident of Bhapra village, has donated Rs 1.21 lakh to the Jat Dharmarth Sabha for the construction of a room in the proposed Tau Devi Lal Memorial Jat College of Education at Manana village in the Samalkha subdivision. According to the district president of the sabha, Mr Jagbeer Rana, Manana village has donated six-and-a-half acres of land for the college and the donations had reached up to Rs 4.50 lakh.

Ticketless passengers

The checking staff of the Northern Railways conducted surprise raids at several incoming and outgoing trains at the railway station here on Friday and hauled up as many as 320 passengers travelling without tickets.

It ma be recalled that NCR Tribune had reported on Friday about the ticketless travelling rampant in Sonepat Railway station. According to a report, all the ticketless passengers were produced before Mr Surya Pratap Singh, Railway Magistrate, who imposed fines on them. Those who paid the fines were let off and at least 30 ticketless passengers who failed to deposit the amount of penalty were sent to jail. The checking staff realised Rs 25,000 as fines from the ticketless passengers.



Road named after Rajmata
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
The Urban Development Minister, Mr Ananth Kumar, today unveiled the naming plaque of Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Marg at the “I” junction of I-Avenue, Sarojini Nagar and Brig Hoshiar Singh Marg. He said the road had been named after the Rajmata meeting the demands of the residents of the area. The queen of Gwalior had dedicated her whole life to the welfare of every community and had always been ready to offer her services for the welfare of the mankind, he added.



Youth attacks mother, sister over property
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 16
Hashim, an unemployed youth, with a mob of 30 others attacked and injured his mother and sister over a property dispute on Friday evening in the Gautampuri area in East district. The injured Saira and Shahjahan were admitted to a nearby hospital and were discharged after being administered first aid.

Saira and her husband, Nawab, lived in Street number 9 in Gautampuri with their five daughters and two sons. Hashim, who is their eldest son, is married and lives in the same locality. He had a property dispute with his father. He came to his parents’ house with his wife and mother-in-law and 30 others and resorted to vandalism. Hashim had a scuffle with his mother and sisters. His mother received a head injury. The mob ran away by the time police arrived on the scene. Hashim and his mother-in-law were arrested on charges of rioting, the police said.

House burgled: Two unidentified youths armed with knives reportedly robbed Rs 5,000 and jewellery worth Rs 2 lakh from a house in Panchsheel Park in South Delhi on Friday evening. The criminals barged into the house of Anil Chaudhary when he had gone out for shopping. His domestic help, Manoj Panja, was alone in the house. They overpowered the domestic help and took away the cash and jewellery.

Proxy examinee held: North-West district police arrested an alleged impersonator, Taukish, who appeared in the board examination in place of another student in Sarvodaya Public School in Rohini. The case of impersonation came to light when a team of CBSE came to the school for a surprise check. The invigilators from the CBSE found the examination card carried by the suspect was that of another student, Javed Alam. During interrogation, the impersonator disclosed that Javed paid him Rs 1,000 to appear in the examination. The suspect, who is a resident of Sultanpuri, is a graduate in history. He has been booked on the charge of impersonation, the police said.

CBI nabs DDA engineer: A junior engineer of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on charges of demanding and accepting Rs 10,000 from a tent house owner for extending some official favour.

The accused, R. K. Sharma, working as a junior engineer with the DDA at Dilshad Garden in East Delhi, was apprehended while allegedly accepting the money from Mr Ravinder Kumar, owner of the Dua Tent House on March 11, a FIR filed by the agency in the court of the Special Judge said. The CBI said Mr Ravinder Kumar, in a written complaint, alleged that Sharma was demanding Rs 10,000 for releasing Rs 1,50,000 deposited with the DDA as security money.

He said that every time a tent was pitched in the DDA land at Vivek Vihar for a marriage or any other ceremony, he had to deposit Rs 10,000 with the DDA as security money. The security money was supposed to be returned after removing the tent and filing the compliance report, he added.

But the DDA officials had not been returning the money on some pretext or the other for the past several months. When the accumulated money was around Rs 1.5 lakh, Sharma demanded Rs 10,000 for its release, he alleged. The CBI formed a team and nabbed Sharma while allegedly demanding and accepting the bribe money at the Dua Tent House in the presence of two independent witnesses. 


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