Tuesday, April 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Bus, auto fare hike put off
Tribune News Service

What Alternative Fuel Vehicles are available today?
  • Electricity
  • CNG
  • Propane
  • Biodiesel
  • Ethanol

New Delhi, April 29
The Government of NCT of Delhi will wait until Saturday for effecting an upward revision of autorickshaw and bus fares. It has in the meantime referred the matter to a three-member committee that will “consider the economic implications” of the hike in price of CNG fuel and submit its report by Friday.

Emerging from Monday’s weekly meeting of the Cabinet, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said she has written to Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Ram Naik, seeking the rolling back of fuel price. Dubbing the price hike as “untimely,” the chief minister, in her letter, said it would compound the problems of commuters in the Capital at least on two counts – CNG was not available in adequate quantity and dead mileage of buses and autorickshaws was quite high. The three-member committee, she said, would comprise Transport Commissioner Sindhushree Khullar, Principal Secretary (Finance) Ramesh Chandra and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) Chairman KS Baidwan. Their report would be deliberated upon in the Cabinet meeting over the weekend.

Transport Minister Ajay Maken, who held an emergency meeting with his top officials and city transport operators on Sunday, had said the 28 per cent hike had come close on the heels of the 16 per cent hike in the excise duty of green fuel in this year’s Union Budget. “Thus, the price of CNG has gone up by almost 40 per cent since this year’s budget.… It is uneconomical to run our buses, autos and taxis on the present fare structure.”

He said the economics of the DTC would go haywire as even a one rupee increase in the price of the fuel imposes a substantial burden on the corporation. “The cost of running 2,500 DTC-run CNG buses is around Rs one lakh a day. There is already a shortage of buses following the Supreme Court’s order to ply all public transport vehicles on CNG. The steep hike will only compound the problems of commuters.”

On Saturday, the IGL had effected a hike of Rs 3.72 per kg in CNG prices – from Rs 13.11 to Rs 16.83 per kg – and justified it on the ground that it was necessitated by the increasing operational costs and its commitment to the Supreme Court to expand its distribution system in the Capital. The Government of NCT of Delhi is a shareholder in the IGL along with Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) and Bharat Petroleum.

The IGL plans to increase the number of CNG stations, compressors and dispensers to meet the target of supplying 161.1 lakh kg gas per day by March next year when the number of CNG vehicles is likely to go up from 58,000 to more than 82,000. It also plans to make a total investment of Rs 522 crore for setting up a total of 110 stations by 2002 as compared to existing 94 stations.



Govt bypasses its statutory body on hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 29
Doubts are being raised about the Delhi government’s decision to refer the impact of the CNG price hike on the transport sector in the Capital to a three-member committee, when the state government has a statutory body to look into the fare structure of the transport sector.

The Sheila Dikshit Government today, instead of referring the matter of fare revision to the State Transport Authority (STA), the designated advisory body under the law, has chosen to constitute a three-member ad hoc committee to “consider the economic implications” of the hike.

The avoidable exercise, at best, serves to buy time till the weekend when, Transport Minister Ajay Maken has made it abundantly clear, the government will announce the decision of rationalising the fares.

The STA, as officials of the Transport Department concede, is the authority designated for “recommending” the fare structure. Convention is the STA advises the government on the matter, which, in turn, prescribes the tariffs as stipulated under Section 43(1)(i) of the Motor Vehicles Act. The STA comprises the Transport Commissioner, Joint Commissioner (Traffic) and two legislators.

The Government of NCT of Delhi’s buying of time by deferring the revision of fares till after the weekend has only added to the woes of commuters who are having to put up with the inflated tariffs quoted indiscriminately by autorickshaws and some contract carriage buses. This, in spite of the transport minister “rejecting” outright a revised fare structure of Rs 5, Rs 10 and Rs 15 as demanded by the bus operators’ associations.

There are an estimated 50,000 taxis and three-wheelers in the Capital of which 35,170 three-wheelers and 4,239 taxis are running on CNG. While autorickshaws charge at the rate of Rs 2.50 per kilometre, for taxis it is Rs 5 per kilometre. As Transport Department officials concede, fixing an “equitable” tariff for autorickshaws and taxis is of particular concern to the government as the fare structure of buses has been more or less computed.

Even as the DTC contemplates a hike “corresponding” to the hike in price of CNG fuel, its Chairman KS Baidwan admits a “preliminary exercise” is on for devising a mechanism to balance the impact on the Corporation by revising the fares. Mr Baidwan told the NCR Tribune that he had held talks with the Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) Managing Director AK De on Monday evening in this regard.



UP traders dump wheat in Faridabad, make a killing
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, April 29
Hundreds of tractor trolleys have lined up at Karman border near Hodal town and across the other side up to Kosi in Mathura district in UP on National Highway no two. These vehicles are waiting for their turn to enter Haryana, so that they can dump their wheat in various mandis.

The situation has arisen because, first, there has been a bumper crop in the region. Secondly, the Haryana Government has announced that U P farmers can also sell their produce here. As a result, a large number of middlemen or commission agents have surfaced to make a killing. It is reported that a `cartel’ has been procuring wheat from farmers in UP at a rate which is Rs. 40 to Rs 60 less than the MSP and, later, selling it in the mandis here, posing as farmers.

Alarmed, the state government recently directed the authorities to check the sale of wheat by the traders and middlemen. Result: About 18000 quintals of wheat was seized at Tigaon Mandi and a commission agent was booked by the police. Now, district officials are visiting the mandis to check such irregularities.

Besides, the farmers bringing their produce to the mandis are now being asked to prove their identity by producing documents of their holdings. It is learnt that barriers have been erected by the authorities and the police at border points to check the `trading’ of wheat. However, despite the curbs, hundreds of tractor trolleys have lined up on both sides of the border. Due to the rush, a number of accidents have been reported on the highway and other approach roads leading to the mandis. While the Deputy commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, admits that there have been heavy arrivals this year, he points out that the administration has taken measures to check the sale of wheat by the traders at mandis. However, from all accounts, it seems that the authorities are finding it quite difficult to tackle the situation.

While several farmers have made allegations of undue harassment — as they are often asked to establish their identity — the authorities claim that wheat was being procured from the local farmers onon a priority basis.

According to official figures, about 4.70 lakh metric tonnes of wheat had been procured by the various agencies in the district by Saturday last and it was about 2 lakh metric tonnes (50 per cent) more than the procurement made last year. While the arrivals and procurement are expected to be around six lakh metric tonnes this season, the procurement is likely to come to an end by the first week of May. While the Hodal and Palwal mandis have topped in procurement so far, the authorities have claimed to have lifted about 60 to 65 per cent of the procured wheat from the mandis.



Do students in the land of Aryabhatta need calculators?
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 29
You either love it or hate it, but there is no way you can ignore it. Mathematics is such a subject that evokes extreme feelings. And if you were to tell people that it could be fun, not many would be amused. “Math is not my cup of tea. I somehow manage to sail though it in the school exams. After my class X, when I have a choice, I will opt out,” said Neha, a class VIII student of a government school in the Capital.

However for Amit, class VI student of a public school, the feeling is just the opposite: “I simply love the subject. It is fun solving the problems. I want to do something related to the numbers in the future.”

Such is the sharp difference in the view points of students that they either develop a keen interest for the numbers or simply dread the sight of them. Renuka Gupta of ASN School said, “Students should have an aptitude to learn mathematics. Either they love to learn it or simply leave it.”

Experts are of the view that students should be made to understand mathematics, not learn it. Mr Dinesh Mohan, an IIT professor, says several students come to the campus with little knowledge of the application of the formulas. Mere learning of the formulas has no meaning, students should know to apply the formulas and analyse its impact in solving a problem.

Mr Kulbhushan Seth of a leading manufacture of electronic gadgets like calculators, Casio, says the company is still talking with the CBSE and leading engineering institutions in the country to allow the students to use graphic scientific calculators. He says these calculators are teaching aids, which would not only enable the teachers but also the students to understand the implications of the change in value. The company had an interaction recently with IIT students and professors, who have responded positively to the product.

However, the debate continues. While the traditionalists argue that the students should not be provided with such teaching aids at a young age, modernists argue that emphasis should be on making the student understand the subject. While many students and teachers who had a close look at the graphic calculator were enthused by the multiple functional capacity, many were sceptical about its use at the school level. Says Kamala, a Kendriya Vidyalaya teacher, “Such gadgets should be allowed only at the higher level. In school, the students should be made to learn mathematics and their foundation on the subject should be made strong.”

The CBSE would soon hold a meeting to discuss the implications of the acceptance of such tools as teaching aids in the development of mental faculty of the students. Such gadgets have become part of the teaching aids in schools and colleges in a number of European, American and South-East Asian countries. Some feel that unless the authorities fail to take note of the developments abroad, the students in the country, known for their mathematical skills, would soon lose their cutting edge in the global arena.



Land being acquired for shifting of 
dairies to outskirts
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, April 29
After mollycoddling the panchayat of Khedki Majra village, about 10 km from here, for a long time in vain, the district administration has finally decided to invoke the emergency powers under the Land Acquisition Act for acquiring its land to set up a dairy complex.

According to well-placed sources, the administration has recommended the case to the Department of Urban Development for the acquisition of 40 acres of village panchayat land. The government’s notification to this effect is in the offing. The proposed complex will be set up by the local municipality with a view to shifting all dairies from the city here.

In fact, the administration had been trying to make the panchayat come to some kind of agreement with the municipality to hand over the 40 acres of its land for setting up the complex. The administration and the municipality had used several means to persuade the panchayat for the last few months, but the latter would not budge.

It is at this stage that the administration finally arrived at the decision to invoke the special provision in the Land Acquisition Act, which provides for compulsory acquisition of any land by the government in the interest of the public.

The shifting of the dairies from the city has assumed priority for the authorities with a view to improving the aesthetic looks and to solving the sewerage problems of the city. The owners of dairies dump dung in the sewerage which ultimately choke the pipes. Come monsoon, and the choked sewers start overflowing causing great hardships to the residents in the areas falling in old Gurgaon. It is widely believed that things could improve if the dairies are shifted out of the city.

A senior member of the administration said that sheds of varying sizes would be constructed in the proposed complex with all modern infrastructure, both to suit the owners and the bovines. According to him, the smallest shed would be 200 square yards and the largest 1,000 square yards. The sites would be offered to the dairy owners according to the size of their units.

Although the municipality says that there are 220 dairies in the city, the unofficial sources put the number much higher. Even as the decision of the authorities to shift the dairies is to be appreciated, the move seems to be a flawed one in the immediate context. Though large dairy units will be shifted, the municipality is silent on those persons who keep less than five cattle in the city’s premises. There are a large number of such persons who have only one or two animals. They also contribute to the choking of the sewers.



Flying squad asks examiner ‘to wink’ at copying
Vipin Sharma

Rohtak, April 29
An invigilator will be put in an awkward situation if a university flying squad directs him to adopt a lenient stance towards the examinees and permit them copying. It happened in a government college at Tigaon recently if a complaint submitted to the university administration by the principal of the college concerned is to be believed.

According to sources, the principal stated in a written complaint that the flying squad comprising two women reached the college on April 16 during an examination of B.Ed. (regular) course. He alleged that the women had misbehaved with him and directed the invigilator to ‘cooperate’ with certain students taking the B. Ed. exam. The women tried to justify their stand by arguing that the B. Ed. examinees could not prepare for exams as they were fighting a legal battle in the Supreme Court for exam.

The complaint said when he inquired about the identity of the women, they refused and left the college immediately. He said after inquiries, he came to know that the squad members belonged to a B.Ed. college at Khanpur Kalan.

According to sources, one member of the squad is the wife of a university official who was related to the admissions to B.Ed.(regular) course, which were made in violation of the merit.

The complainant sought a probe into the whole incident and strict action against the ‘erring’ members of the squad.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the university administration also received a complaint from the members of the flying squad who alleged that the college principal had misbehaved with them.



Unauthorised construction in 526 govt quarters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 29
Unauthorised construction in as many as 526 government quarters in the Capital was brought to the notice of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday. Replying to a question, the Minister of State for Urban Development, Mr Bandaru Dattatreya, said two residential colonies in south Delhi – Moti Bagh and Nauroji Nagar – accounted for 420 and 106 encroachments respectively.

Mr Dattatreya said no permission had been given by the CPWD or Directorate of Estates for additional construction in these quarters and action was being initiated against the allottees.

Notices had thus far been issued in 243 cases while 28 quarters had already been cancelled in Moti Bagh, he informed. The punitive measures for illegal construction include cancellation of allotment and also disciplinary action against the allottees, he pointed out.

Eviction proceedings under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act are also initiated against the defaulters, after issuing them a notice to remove the encroachments within a fortnight. If the notice is not complied with during the stipulated period, action is initiated for the cancellation of accommodation, the minister added.

The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has targeted acquisition of about 2,000 acres of land during the current year, Mr Dattatreya said.

The DDA had sent proposals to the Government of NCT of Delhi for acquisition of land and the cost of acquisition would be made available to the Land Acquisition Collector, he added.

The Centre is actively considering a proposal to merge the Capital-based National Museum Institute of History of Art, Conservation and Museology (NMI) with the Institute of Archaeology and Culture, Tourism Minister Jagmohan told the Lok Sabha.

Replying to another query, he said that the Centre was primarily responsible for the development of museums under the administrative control of the Department of Culture.

Though states were responsible for looking after their museums, the Centre provided financial assistance for the development of museums in states, subject to availability of funds, he pointed out.

Private hospitals recognised under the Central Government Health Services (CGHS), Delhi, have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the CGHS that they cannot charge the beneficiaries more than the ceiling rates fixed by the Centre for medical facilities, the Minister of State for Health, A.Raja, told the Rajya Sabha.

He said two complaints had been received at the CGHS, Delhi, and were being investigated. Fresh recognition of private hospitals in the CGHS-covered cities outside Delhi, was also under process, he said, adding that these hospitals would be recognised under the CGHS only after they sign the MoU.

Thirty-five flyovers were completed in Delhi since 1999 and 35 more are on the anvil. Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, the Urban Development Minister, Mr Ananth Kumar, told the Rajya Sabha the Centre was considering the introduction of rewards for expeditious completion of flyovers and penalties for delay.

Kumar said one of the main reasons for delays was the multiplicity of agencies implementing the projects. Besides Government of NCT of Delhi, Public Works Department, Delhi Development Authority, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Tourism Development Corporation were involved in the construction of flyovers in Delhi.

The issue of construction of flyovers in Mumbai also came up for a brief discussion, with Congress member Suresh Kalmadi saying it was done in a haphazard manner.



Noida botanical garden to change the face of NCR
Parmindar Singh

The National Botanical Garden in Kolkata has several distinct species of plants and trees.
The National Botanical Garden in Kolkata has several distinct species of plants and trees.

Noida, April 29
Noida will soon have another project of national importance when a national botanical garden comes up in Sector 38-A, which will be the only one of its type in the National Capital Region. It will fulfil a long-felt need as Delhi is the only major capital city in the world without a national botanical garden of its own.

The Noida National Botanical Garden will be of the highest technical standards, says Noida Authority Chief Executive Officer Brijesh Kumar. There are national botanical gardens in some cities like Kolkata, Dehra Dun, Ootty etc but none in the Delhi region.

Noida has been selected for the setting up of the national botanical garden project, a central sector scheme, with the approval of the Planning Commission at the total expected cost of Rs 45 crore.

The proposal for the setting up of the garden, comparable to the best in the world, has also been blessed by the Prime Minister in principle. It will be a part of the Jai Vigyan programme under the science and technology scheme of the Prime Minister.

Plants from different parts of the country will be propagated here for ex-setu conservation. Once they are propagated here, they will be sent back to their original and natural habitat, according to Mr Deo Datta, Additional CEC, Noida.

The national botanical garden is conceived as a garden of the highest scientific and technical standards, comparable to the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew, the Botanical Garden at Berlin, the Moscow Botanical Garden and the New York Botanical Garden.

It will be a living laboratory for the life scientists, ecologists and environmentalists and will also serve as the centre of ex-setu conservation of diverse and rare species of plants. It will also serve recreational and aesthetic purposes.

It will help build public awareness in a big way on the conservation needs through education on conservation of plant diversity.

The project will be executed by the Botanical Survey of India and a steering committee of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest will oversee the project for financial approvals. Noida will bear the recurring costs of the project like manpower.

The project steering committee and a project operation team comprising seven persons have been constituted, including experts of the Botanical Survey of India, representing different specialisations. Two more persons will be co-opted later. By May 31, the complete team will be in place and it will have a tenure of 10 years. The project is expected to be completed by five years.

The project aims at conservation of different species found in different agro-climatic zones of the country, especially from the educational point of view. No garden in India has come to the level of international standards though Calcutta Botanical Garden is different in many ways.

The project is coming up opposite Amity School in Sector-36-A here.

The proposal to establish such a national botanical garden in the Delhi region was incorporated in the 7th Five Year Plan, but no land was available in the Union Territory of Delhi at that point of time. Subsequently, the Government of UP offered 200 acres of land free of cost. Its acquisition value was Rs 5.50 crore, and the land was handed over on March 19, 1997. A boundary wall on three sides has since then been erected at the site.

On August 2001, in a meeting held between Secretary of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest and CEO, Noida, it was agreed that since Noida has a stake in the NBG Project, it (Noida) could cooperate to bear the recurring costs incurred towards the salary/wages of selected ministerial staff on mutually agreed terms.



Measures to beautify Sonepat lauded
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, April 29
The Haryana Chief Secretary, Mr L M Goel, has lauded the efforts of the district administration to give a face-lift to Sonepat city with a population of more than 2 lakh.

During a day-long tour of the city, Mr Goel went round different parts of the city and witnessed the widening of roads and beautification of main crossings such as the main bus stand, Mamoon Bhanja Chowk, Railway Crossing Chowk near Hindu College, Murthal Adda, Gandhi Chowk in Sector 14 and Shani Mandir Chowk.

He praised the district administration for the all-round development works in the city. Earlier, Mr Goel went round the tourist complex at Rai which has been spread in 25 acre and it consists of housing accommodation, refreshment and meals cell, shopping centre and other modern facilities. This complex is situated on the G T Road and has been attracting a large number of tourists passing through this road.

The district commissioner gave the details about the constructions of this complex and the daily earnings of the complex to Mr Goel who was satisfied with the income of the complex.

Mr Goel also inspected a multinational factory on the inter-state Sonepat-Meerut Road near Khewra village which is engaged in manufacturing various food stuffs and quality goods.

The Chief Secretary went round the Deaf and Dumb Children Care Centre and saw himself the hostel building which had been constructed at a cost of Rs 35 lakh through the contributions from the members of the public, individuals, voluntary and social organisations.

This hostel is equipped with all modern facilities. Mr Goel hoped that the deaf and dumb children would be given an all-out assistance during their stay in the hostel and they would become important members of society.

The deputy commissioner told the Chief Secretary that the district administration has speeded up the development works in different parts of the city and assured him that these works would be completed shortly.



Govt for more time for industrial plot payments
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 29
In a bid to give relief to the owners of industries that were relocated last year, the Delhi Government today decided to move the Supreme Court, seeking extension of last date for the payment of balance amount towards the cost of the industrial plots.

“Keeping in view the financial hardship being faced by the eligible industrial units, the Cabinet has decided that the State government will move an application in the Supreme Court, for extension of the last date for payment of balance amount towards the cost of industrial plots/flatted factories,” Delhi Industries and Labour Minister Deep Chand Bandhu told reporters here.

The Delhi Government had in 1996 invited applications from interested parties for allotting industrial plots developed by it in Bawana. Altogether Rs 295 crore was received as earnest money from the applicants while allotments had been made to 16,394 applicants. The Delhi Government had fixed March 31, 2001 as the last date for paying the first instalment, while April 15, 2002 was the last date for paying the second instalment. So far, a total of 1,522 eligible applicants took possession of the allotted land after paying full amount. "The Cabinet also decided to pay seven per cent interest per annum on the earnest money deposited by both eligible and in-eligible applicants, till such time the earnest money is refunded,” Bandhu said. 



Wheat worth lakhs gutted
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, April 29
Standing wheat crop worth several lakhs of rupees was reduced to ashes in a series of fires, in about 30 villages of the district last week. According to a report, the fire was caused by short-circuits and sparks from the transmission lines passing over the fields.

The fire has affected nearly 150 acres of land in the surrounding villages, including Barwasni, Basaudi, Baroli, Khewra, Maqimpur, Jharot, Thana Kalan, Kharkhauda, Pipli, Saidpur, Ganaur, Bega, Jhundpur, Jagdishpur and Harsana. Moreover, cases of fire are being reported from many villages regularly. The affected farmers have demanded compensation from the state government for losses suffered by them.

Ironically, the employees of the municipal fire brigade at Sonepat, Ganaur and Gohana, who are engaged in the difficult task of fire fighting, have been denied their pay for the last couple of months.

Meanwhile, problems for the farmers bringing their produce to the mandis continue. Evidently, there continues to be a shortage of space for the wheat purchased by various official procurement agencies in the mandis and the purchasing centres at Sonepat, Ganaur and Gohana.

There is an endless wait for farmers wanting to sell their wheat at the minimum support price (MSP) announced by the government.

There were numerous complaints of poor procurement arrangements by the FCI, the Food and Supplies Department and the HAFED.

Apart from the delay in the procurement process, there was an acute shortage of gunny bags. The farmers are also resentful due to the stoppage of auction of wheat by the official agencies. It has created a glut in the markets and the purchasing centres in the district. Moreover, the farmers are anxious to unload their stocks because of the uncertain weather conditions. 



‘Communal riots have spoiled country’s image abroad’
R. Suryamurthy

Septuagenarian poet Shamsher Singh started penning his thoughts in a rhythm quite early in life. One of his first poems was written to protest against the Crips Mission, when Lahore was resounding with the shouts of “Go Back, Crips Mission.”

Since early age, his poems not only evoked patriotic spirit but also instilled a sense of courage amongst the readers to resist oppression. In 1970s, he was invited by the Indians residing in Afghanistan to recite poems. And, the person keenly observing and enjoying the poems were none other than Khan Abdul Ghafar Khan, better known as Frontier Gandhi. It was here that Shamsher Singh got the acronym “Sher.”

Despite having settled in Denmark for over several decades, Shamsher Singh has not lost touch with his motherland and has been inspiring the Indian community there to follow the country’s traditions and customs.

A staunch Congress supporter, Shamsher Singh disassociated with the political party after the 1984 pogrom. He has been lauded with several awards and his works are being used as a textbook of Punjabi.

In a freewheeling interview, Shamsher Singh presents the views of the Indian community abroad, questions posed to them following the violence in Gujarat and the concerns of the Sikh community to the growing modernisation.

Excerpts of the interview:

You have been an active supporter of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Do you approve their stand on the Ram temple issue? What has been the impact of the organisation’s stand among its supporters abroad?

Let me clarify that I am not an active supporter of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, rather I am a supporter of the VHP in my own way. Further, I am more a supporter of the VHP president Ashok Singhal than the organisation itself.

In the days after the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, there was challenge posed to the Indian community in Denmark by the Pakistanis staying there, that if Mr Singhal arrives in the European nation, he would not go back alive.

I took the challenge upon myself and made arrangements for the arrival of Mr Singhal. The VHP leader’s successful tour impressed the Indian community there and the knowledge and spirit of Mr Singhal influenced me.

Though I did state to him my differences about the demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya, I am impressed with the way he was amenable to listen to the divergent views.

On the recent hype created by the VHP and other organisations, I feel that it is totally uncalled for. The fight for the cause taken up by the VHP should go on but not at the cost of individual’s life.

The latest confrontation on the Ayodhya issue has jolted the confidence of the supporters abroad and it is being seen more a move to appease the political aspirations of the BJP.

What are your reactions to the incidents of communal violence in Gujarat?

I totally disapprove the violence that took place in Gujarat, one of the most progressive and industrialised states in the country. The communal violence has badly damaged the image of the country abroad and it would take a long time for the country to regain the confidence of the international community.

The violence in Gujarat and statement by the VHP leaders affected the image of the body and many supporters are introspecting their decision to support the organisation, which was formed to regenerate the spirit of Hindu consciousness among Indians.

It is quite surprising that as a Sikh, you have been so closely involved with the VHP, a Hindu organisation?

God is one, but the path to reach him differs. I am a Sikh and practise my religion devoutly. Being a Sikh is not a hurdle to support or admire the VHP. If a body is doing something good, it is better to appreciate it and accept the fact. Moreover, when one is abroad, one is always in search for the roots and it is in such a search that individuals are impressed by the work done by these bodies and support them.

Individuals in such organisation attract people to the fold of the body. All may not approve of the actions and ideology followed by the organisation, but they do admire certain individuals in such bodies.

Another interesting fact that I think it is necessary to be stated here is that if one studies the works of Guru Nanak and other Sikh Gurus, one would find the influence of different religions, including Hinduism and Islam.

With modernity and increasing consumerism, the Sikhs in the country and abroad are searching for a new identity. By doing so they are deviating from the basic tenets of Sikhism. Has this been an issue of concern among the SGPC, the highest body to protect the religion across the globe and what measures are being suggested to present rational explanation to the questions raised about Sikhism?

This is certainly an issue of major concern to the members of the community throughout the world. Since it is one of the youngest religions in the world, it would certainly undergo some changes and with the fast changing environment, Sikhism is unlikely to remain immune to such outside influences.

However, I believe that the basic principles of Sikhism would remain, but there would certainly be changes the way the religion is practised by the people. Differences would certainly crop in the practices of the religion in one part of the world and another. As the Sikhs are dispersed throughout the globe, the second or third generation persons of the community would absorb local culture and practices.

Apart from this, there is another trend, mostly predominant in highly concentrated Sikh community areas abroad, is that of increasing fundamentalism or the practice of religion in its strict and code form.

Despite such trends being brought to the notice of the SGPC, I am sorry to state that the highest body for Sikh affairs, has not taken much effort to understand the concerns of the members of intelligentsia.

The SGPC should take it upon itself the responsibility of educating the youth what Sikhism is, how this religion emerged and how it is different from others.

The five Ks -Kesh, Kadha, Kirpan, Kaccha and Kangha – are an integral part of the Sikhism, but the religion is not confined to them. The religion is much more than that and it would be short-sightedness to limit the vision of the Gurus to the five Ks.

You have written a number of poems and have been keenly observing the changing literary trends in Punjabi. Do you think the people should be concerned that the Punjabi language is losing its sheen?

I am certainly worried about the Punjabi language as not many class writers have come up over the decades. It is certainly an issue, which should concern each and every lover of the language. Most of the writers are nowadays not making an effort to produce quality work. Their works are for the mass consumption. This is a dangerous trend, but needs to be stopped.

What is the latest work in the pipeline?

I am presently engaged in writing a novel which reflects the social turmoil taking place in society. The story explores the extent to which human beings stake their relationship to satisfy their ambitions. The story revolves around the Sikh family and their aspiration to go abroad and succeed.

Though it is a fiction and the events described in it are imaginative, yet, I would say that it has a lot of similarity to the events I myself have been a witness to.



Swim in Bhadkal lake at your own risk
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, April 29
While the Bhadkal tourist complex here is fast losing its charm due to its “poor’ maintenance and the inability of authorities to add more features, the lake here is proving deadly.

The lake, surrounded by Aravali foothills, had once been a major attraction. But due to the improper upkeep, it has not only turned into a large pond, but has also claimed two lives in the past one week alone.

In the latest incident, Mukesh (25), a youth of Dabua colony here, had gone for a picnic on Sunday to the spot. He was drowned while taking a dip in the lake along with his friends.

This is the second such incident in the past one week. Earlier, a Nepali youth, identified as Meen Bahadur, had got drowned in a similar fashion. It is reported that there is no lifeguard at the lake and the officials are unable to keep a check on swimming in the lake.



Sheila off to Ahmedabad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 29
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit heads for Ahmedabad on Tuesday to join the sit-in organised by the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) there. She would be accompanied by a delegation of the Congress’ woman legislators and corporators. The delegation would also take part in a peace march led by Congress president and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sonia Gandhi at Sabarmati on May 1.



1,843 auto-rickshaws challaned in Faridabad 
Our Correspondent

Faridabad, April 29
The authorities have challaned about 1843 three wheeler auto-rickshaws so far in its drive to check traffic rules violation and pollution norms. Stating this, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, said here that the campaign against erring three wheelers would continue. He said while there was no exact information about the total number of three wheeler auto-rickshaws operating in the town and district, about 12000 were registered with authorities.

He said the campaign was to ensure that the safety of the commutes as well as to apprehend those vehicles which had been running illegally. The pollution level in the town has risen to dangerous levels as large number of vehicles that were banned in Delhi were plying here. It is claimed that the move had led to the decongestion the national highway, besides bringing down the level of pollution in the air.

Woman set ablaze

A married woman was reportedly burnt to death in Keloi village. The police have registered a case of dowry death on a complaint filed by her parents. According to information, the deceased, Monni Devi, wife of Tejpal, was reportedly set ablaze by her husband and his other family members on Sunday night. The father of the woman, Mr Mahender Singh, a resident of Babpur, alleged that his daughter’s in-laws had been harassing her for dowry since her marriage. The district police have registered a case of dowry death against her husband and his family members.

Traffic held up

Residents of Kashmi village blocked the traffic on Jhajjar-Rosli road here, in protest against the inadequate supply of water and electricity and poor telephone services. According to information, hundreds of villagers, led by village Sarpanch Bimla Devi, gathered on the road in the morning. They complained about the poor power supply, which had disrupted the water supply in the area. They alleged that telephone services had also been badly affected. The SDM and the DSP reached the village after two hours of traffic jam. The residents lifted the blockade after getting assurances of uninterrupted power and water supply from the officials of the concerned departments.

Armed youths held

Three youths were arrested by the Bahadurgarh police under the Arms Act and recovered three pistols and two cartridges from them. The police said Mahabir of Gubhana village and Sanjay and Surendra of Bupenia village were held and three pistols and two cartridges were recovered from them.

Factory gutted

Machinery and other manufactured goods worth about Rs 30 lakh were reported to have been reduced to ashes in a devastating fire which broke out in a factory on the G.T.Road, near Bad Khalsa village, about 15 km from here last night. According to a report, the fire broke out around 1 am and it spread inside the building, when all the workers were fast asleep. A shopkeeper, Anil, raised an alarm and the factory owner was informed.

On receiving information, the fire brigades from Narela, Ganaur, Samalkha and Sonepat reached the site and succeeded in bringing the fire under control after nearly eight hours. The cause of the fire was not yet clear and was still being ascertained by the police and other authorities.

Killed in accident

In an accident that occurred on the G.T.Road near Rasoi village, about 15 km from here on Sunday evening, a truck loaded with beer bottles overturned, killing a motorcyclist on the spot. The truck was on its way to Delhi, when the accident occurred. Two youths, Paras Ram and Joginder, on the motorcycle were trapped beneath the truck.

They were pulled out by the highway police. However, while Paras Ram died, the condition of Joginder was stated to be serious.

In another accident, two youths, Rakesh and Jagbir, were seriously injured when their motorcycle rammed into a Tata 407, while trying to overtake it on the Pio-Munyari-Narela road, 16 km from here on Sunday evening. According to a report, both the injured youths were rushed to the local civil hospital, where one of them, Jagbir, was declared dead.

The condition of Rakesh was stated to be serious. According to another report, a motorcycle collided with a tractor trolley on the G.T. Road near Bad Khalsa village, 13 km from here on Sunday evening, injuring two youths, Manoj and Somu. 



‘Super chor’ falls in police net, finally
Tribune News Service


* 200 cases of burglaries, house thefts and auto thefts solved now.

* He had been involved in over 500 cases in Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, and Delhi over the years.

* Known as ‘super chor’ among policemen, he is supposed to be addicted to burglaries.

* Police arrested him in 1993, recovered goods worth Rs 30 lakh.

* An expert in breaking any kinds of locks and handcuffs.

* Known for taming pet dogs of his target houses.

New Delhi, April 29
The South district police today claimed to have solved more than 200 cases of burglaries, house thefts and auto thefts with the arrest of a notorious criminal, Devender Singh alias Bunty (31). The Delhi Police had announced a cash reward of Rs 50,000 on his head earlier.

His arrest has also led to the recovery of stolen goods worth Rs 4 crore, consisting of precious diamond and gold jewellery, cash, expensive cars, antiques, watches, TVs and other electronic items. He also possessed two flats in Mayur Vihar and two flats in Noida. The stolen items including cars, jewellery, expensive branded watches, electronic items, utensils and cutlery made of silver and brass, antiques, whiskeys, wines, cash and a Chinese-made pistol with six cartridges were also displayed.

The Delhi Police Commissioner, Mr Ajai Raj Sharma, who visited South district to have a look at the recovered items, not only appreciated the efforts of the district police but also increased the cash reward to Rs 1 lakh from Rs 50,000.

Devender Singh alias Bunty
Devender Singh alias Bunty 

The police had spent a number of days looking at his modus operandi, nature of crimes, studied scientific aspects with the help of forensic experts and had also visited a number of states to learn about the crimes he had committed there. Finally, they got a tip-off that Bunty was staying with his associate, Vikram, in a hideout in Mayur Vihar and nabbed him on April 26.

According to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South), Mr P. Kamaraj, he had been involved in more than 500 cases over the years and he had been active in Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, and several parts of Delhi with the help of his associates in these states. After committing burglaries, he normally would go to other states with the stolen materials and dispose them of there.

He was earlier arrested in 1993 by the special staff of New Delhi police. The district police had solved more than 300 cases and recovered stolen properties worth more than Rs 30 lakh from him then. After that arrest, he had earned also the nickname, Super chor, among the cops.

He is supposed to be an expert in breaking any kinds of locks and handcuffs. Once he opened his handcuff when he was lodged in a Chennai hospital using an empty syringe. He was in police remand then. Bunty was also interested in pets. He had taken away a Spanish Pomeranian from a house which he burgled.

He even consulted a veterinary doctor once on how to tame the dogs and always carried chicken ‘chicklets’ during operations and fed the dogs with ‘chicklets’. Once, the owner of a house had shot his tamed German Shepherd after Bunty had burgled the house terming it as a “useless dog”.

He had also displayed his presence of mind during the operations and outwitted police personnel, chowkidars of houses and victims during several occasions. The Joint Commissioner of Police (South), Mr Satish Chandra, said he always entered the houses with great confidence and vanished from the place when spotted by the owners within no time.

The police said that Bunty was an addict to burglaries and used to do extensive research about the house before committing burglary. He could never stay without committing a crime. Although he had amassed wealth worth crores of rupees and had never been short of money at any circumstances, he continued committing crimes and led a very lavish lifestyle. He also used to spend money on women. 



Day of murders in Panipat
Daring dacoity at dye house leaves two dead 
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panipat, April 29
It was a day of murders in Panipat today. Four murders, three of them today itself, have sent shock waves down the spine of the police and residents here.

In the first daring act, unidentified assailants killed two workers of a dyeing unit near Babarpur village on the G. T. Road in the wee hours today. While another person was shot dead near the local railway station this evening, a fourth person was allegedly strangled to death in Kutani village near here.

According to sources, eight to 10 armed assailants barged into Surinder Dye House and attacked the workers sleeping inside with sharp-edged weapons killing two on the spot and injuring five others, two of them seriously, and decamped with valuables and cash. Two real brothers, Wahid and Tanzeid, who tried to resist the dacoity attempt, were done to death by the armed men. The attackers also carried country-made pistols but did not fire from them, eyewitnesses said.

Sources said the armed youths entered the factory premises by jumping the boundary wall. They asked the workers to hand over the cash and other valuables or face dire consequences. As they encountered resistance from the workers, they attacked them with weapons killing two workers on the spot. A post-mortem examination of the bodies was conducted at the civil hospital here.

Those injured have been identified as Habibullah, Rehman, Bashir, Ansar and Nafail. They have been admitted to the civil hospital. The condition of Bashir and Rehman is stated to be critical and they have been shifted to the P. D. Sharma Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Rohtak.

In the other incident, an employee of a private firm, Rajesh, who came out of a bank in Kishanpura after withdrawing Rs 80,000, was shot dead from pointblank range by three unidentified persons. The assailants also snatched the cash and tried to escape but two of the armed assailants were overpowered by the crowd gathered at the scene. The duo was given a severe beating by the crowd, who later handed them over to the police. They could not be identified immediately.

This is the first major criminal incidence in a day in the district this season. And with this, panic has gripped the district and workers and owners of the industrial units here. Sources said with the harvesting of the crops, the crime scene would show an upward trend in the district and this was an annual feature.

Meanwhile, security has been tightened in the district and a massive manhunt launched to nab the culprits. Senior officials, including the DC, Mr Mulk Raj Anand, and the SP, Ms Mamta Singh, today visited the dye house for on-the-spot assessment of the situation.

In another incident, the body of Yusaf, a resident of Kutani village in the district, was found in the fields. The police said he was allegedly strangled to death by Mahavir and Rajesh, to whom the victim allegedly owed some money on account of a CD player he had bought from them. His failure to pay the amount was alleged to be the cause behind the crime, the police said. The police have registered a case in this connection.



3 visa-seekers robbed of Rs 4.25 lakh
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 29
Three persons from Haryana, who had come to arrange visas to visit European countries, were robbed of Rs 4.25 lakh by two unidentified youths in Sector 5, R. K.Puram.

The victims, Hoshiar Singh (35) of Kaithal, Rajesh of Kurukshetra and Amrik Singh of Palwal were friends. Amrik had promised to help his two friends in obtaining visas.

Mr Hoshiar had brought Rs 2.75 lakh while Mr Rajesh had brought Rs 80,000 for the purpose. The three of them had gone to Nanakpura in South-West district to meet an agent.

The agent told them that he would manage the visas with the help of another agent, but demanded more money.

The remaining money was arranged by Amrik and the total amount came to Rs 4.25 lakh.

Later, the agent took them to Sector 5 in R. K. Puram, where another agent joined them and were discussing about the visas at around 8.40 am in the morning when two youths landed on the spot in a two-wheeler.

The duo threatened them with a country-made weapon and a knife and robbed them of the money. The police have booked a case of robbery and launched a massive hunt to trace the culprits.

4 held for murder: With the arrest of Arif, Vishal, Ashok Kumar and another suspect whose name was not disclosed, the North-East district police today claimed to have worked out a blind murder case of Gokulpuri. A country-made weapon with two cartridges were recovered from their possession.

The deceased, Harpreet alias Sonu, was shot dead allegedly by the suspects.

His body was recovered from Gokulpuri in January. During interrogation, they confessed to have killed the victim, the police said.



Govt employee crushed to death 
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, April 29
A Delhi Government employee was crushed to death by a truck, loaded with bricks, at a bus stop in Badli village in the district today. According to information, the deceased, Ranbir Singh of Bamdola village, was waiting for a bus, when a speeding truck ran over him. He died on the spot.

The Bahadurgarh Sadar police have registered a case against the truck driver, who has not been arrested so far. In another incident, Krishna, wife of Ramdhan in Kanonda village, has been missing under mysterious circumstances since April 22. The brother of the woman, Dariao Singh, has lodged a complaint against her husband and two sons in this connection. The Police have registered a case under Section 368 of the IPC against the husband and two sons, Babloo and Bijender.



Benefits of new Exim policy to be felt ‘within 
two months’
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, April 29
The industry here today stumped officials from the Union Ministry of Commerce when its members turned up in strength to compare notes with the officers on the country’s new Export-Import Policy (Exim policy) 2002-2007.

The country’s Director General of Foreign Trade, Mr L. N. Lakhanpal, and his team of officials, coming under the purview of the Commerce Ministry, came here at an open house session organised by the Gurgaon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) on Exim policy. What took them by surprise was both the turnout and the level of understanding on the nuances exhibited by the captains of the industry on the policy of the Centre relating to export and import.

Leading the pack was the president of the GCCI, Mr Sunil Sabarwal, who set the tone by putting Mr Lakhanpal and his team on the quizzical test. The presence of the national president of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI), Mr P. K. Jain, appeared to have given an added impetus to the industrialists.

Mr Lakhanpal, during his speech before the open house session, emphasised that Gurgaon was an important area which contributed immensely to the export of the country.

According to him, the new policy had not tampered with the existing policies abiding by the dictum that industry could prosper only in a stable policy environment. The policy had only tried to rope in the states by offering them incentives to take measures to increase exports from their areas. Also, incentives to set up infrastructures had been provided to the states in the benefit of overall industrialisation of the country. The states had been roped in as majority of the problems faced by the industry was rooted in their jurisdictions, he added.

He said that the hallmark of the new policy was that it had tried to simplify procedures. The policy also aimed at removing the governmental shackles which had disabled the industry in the global competition.

He expressed the view that the beneficial impact of the policy would be felt after a couple of months when all concerned would be attuned to its substantive and procedural issues.

Mr Jain lamented that although the Centre had decided to set up 24 Agreed Export Zones (AEZs) in the country under the new Exim policy, Haryana had not volunteered for any of them. 


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