Wednesday, June 19, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


‘New excise policy in public interest’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
It has been an eventful three years for the Congress-administered Government of NCT of Delhi but none more so than now when Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has begun making radical departures to improve the delivery of civic services and putting in place a responsive administration. After introducing Delhiites to the Bhagidari (citizen-government partnership) Programme, she has demonstrated her dispensation’s collective will to restructure the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB), collecting bouquets as well as brickbats on the way.

The new, liberal excise policy and plans of restructuring the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) have come under fire from some quarters but as Ms Dikshit tells the NCR Tribune the decision to allow the entry of private players in the sale and distribution of liquor was taken in public interest and after much consideration.

Prohibition, she says, will continue to remain one of her government’s concerns. The partial privatisation of liquor trade, she says, should be seen through the prism of public health and not seen as encouraging consumption of alcohol. And, she adds, her government is not on a privatisation spree, dismantling one public utility after another.

Excerpts from the conversation: On privatisation

It is not as if we decided to privatise the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) overnight. The process took two long years to come to fruition. A lot of thought went into it. Yes, it is true we are going to restructure some of the other civic utilities like the DJB and the DTC. Although we have outlined our plans to restructure them, no timetable has been drawn up. I can assure you it will be implemented after careful planning and in an open and transparent manner. Protecting the interests of consumers will be our abiding concern. It might appear to a few that we are rushing ahead with privatising the civic utilities one by one but that is not the case. We are not pushing the reform process. My government is not going to indulge in indiscriminate privatisation. And we are certainly not trying to dovetail the privatisation of the DJB and the DTC with that of the DVB just because the privatisation of the distribution of electricity has been warmly welcomed.

On the new excise policy

We have unveiled our new excise policy after ascertaining the ground realities. We are treading cautiously. We do not intend doing it hurriedly. There is a reason and logic (to liberalising the policy). The objective is clear: To curb smuggling and illegal distillation of liquor. The entry of private players will only add to the competition. Competition is good. The more the competition, the better it is. We will hold further discussions to fine-tune the policy. I have asked our Finance Minister to come up with suggestions. He is also looking into the issue of who can open a vend as individuals, companies and even corporates might be interested.

On prohibition

Agreed the state has an obligation to encourage prohibition. Agreed also that consumption of alcohol is injurious to health. But so is consumption of paan, paan masala and cigarettes. We are doing everything to encourage people to stop all that. But when public health is at risk and people continue to consume any alcohol that is available off-the-shelf, the government has to think of better ways to address the concerns. Yes, we have a Department of Prohibition. We also have a team of officials there. And that department will continue to operate as usual. Our campaigns to encourage prohibition and making people aware of the ill-effects of consuming alcohol will carry on as usual. There will be no let-up on that count.

On the charge that alcohol consumption is being encouraged

Opposition parties have levelled such allegations but those are far from the truth and do not have any substance whatsoever. Why is the BJP forgetting that it was they who took over the liquor trade in the first place? I want to ask them what business does a government have to engage in distributing liquor. And moreover, why is Delhi coming for selective targeting? Look at the excise policies that are in vogue in Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Again, it is not as if we are not aware of the concerns of the womenfolk. We appreciate their concerns but I can assure you, we have drafted the excise policy after ascertaining the ground realities.



Smaller Akali factions fear bogus voting
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
As the two main Akali factions, SAD (Badal) and SAD Delhi, are locked in the battle for the ballot for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee polls, smaller Akali factions have expressed apprehension that the gurdwara elections could witness violence and large-scale bogus voting with a large number of volunteers from Punjab descending on the Capital in the coming days.

The leaders of some of these smaller Akali parties have written to the Directorate of Gurdwara Elections expressing their apprehensions and have urged the Delhi Government to take adequate precautionary measures to enable the electorate to cast their vote in a free and fair manner. The head of SAD (Master Tara Singh), Jathedar Rachpal Singh, said a large number of supporters of the two main Akali factions were coming to the city in the coming days. They could indulge in bogus voting and violence in some of the wards could not be ruled out.

“Our party has asked the government to take adequate precautionary measures to prevent this,” Mr Rachpal Singh, whose party is contesting eight wards, told newspersons here today. Mr Jasvinder Singh Virk, head of SAD (Amritsar) in Delhi, said the DSGMC poll this year would be a close contest and each vote would be significant in deciding the fate of the candidate.

In view of this factor, the two main Akali factions have decided to mobilise their cadre in Punjab and their arrival in the Capital could affect the prospects of a free and fair poll.

“Our party, which is contesting from 13 wards, has urged the Directorate to take necessary steps to enable the electorate to cast their vote without any fear,” Mr Jasvinder Singh said.

The head of the National Akali Dal, Mr Paramjit Singh Pamma, expressed the apprehension that the supporters of the two main Akali factions might intimidate the voters, thus preventing genuine voters in some of the wards from exercising their franchise.

The party, which is contesting from 15 wards, urged the Directorate to allow only those persons to cast their vote who present their residence proof at the polling station.

Sources in the Directorate said the Delhi Police have been given the list of 390 candidates contesting for the 46 wards of the DSGMC. The police was analysing the candidates’ background, profile of the ward, past history of the polling station. The electorate would cast their ballot in 345 polling stations to be set up in different parts of the city.

The police had been given the model code of conduct, introduced for the first time for the gurdwara polls.



Cola dealer robbed of Rs 2 lakh in Gurgaon
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, June 18
Three youths robbed a businessman of Rs 2 lakh on Monday night near his residence at Jacobpura in the heart of the city.

Police sources informed that Manmohan, a Coca-Cola dealer, was returning home with a leather bag containing Rs 2 lakh. As usual, he had parked his Maruti van at his godown around 50 yards away from his residence at about 11 pm. While he was on way to his residence on foot, three youths, all in their 20s, followed him on a scooter.

The police further said that two youths jumped from the scooter while one youth remained on the driving seat and kept the engine on. Two youths tried to snatch the bag having the money. Realising their intention, Mr Manmohan tightened the grip on the bag and fobbed off the attempt to snatch his bag.

In the meantime, he was hit on the head. This resulted in his loosening the grip on the bag. One youth grabbed the bag. The three then immediately sped away on the scooter and disappeared in the dark. Mr Manmohan shouted for help but no one heard his cry due to the late hour.

He informed the ‘NCR Tribune’ that he failed to note the registration number of the scooter as the rear light of the scooter was not on. The whole incident took hardly a few seconds, added Mr Manmohan.

The city police station was immediately informed about the robbery. The police found a huge knife and a toy pistol from the spot. The criminals might have left these behind.

The police have lodged an FIR and are on the lookout for the criminals.



Rs 6 lakh looted from Azadpur bank
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
Seven armed desperadoes intruded into the premises of the Vaish Cooperative Bank in the heart of Azadpur Subzi Mandi in North Delhi this afternoon and after assaulting the assistant cashier and a customer, escaped with around Rs 6 lakh.

The assistant cashier, Mr Suraj Sethi, and the customer, Dr Vijay Singh, suffered minor injuries. They were taken to a nearby hospital and discharged after first-aid.

The brazen daylight dacoity in the congested commercial area caused considerable panic in the market and a large number of traders who have their accounts in the bank thronged the premises to ascertain the situation. Senior police officers, the crime team and the experts from the central forensic science laboratory rushed to the spot soon after the incident. The police said that the description of the suspects, all of them young and ordinarily dressed had been flashed to all the police stations and the border check posts alerted. The police believe that the suspects had planned the dacoity meticulously.

According to the police, the incident occurred around 2.50 pm. The suspects brandishing countrymade guns and knives barged into the premises of the bank and systematically snipped the electricity and telephone wires. They then went straight to the first floor where about seven employees of the bank were present. Threatening them with dire consequences, the suspects hit the customer and the assistant cashier with the butts of the guns. Once they fell on the floor, the suspects ordered other employees also to lie down. They then collected the cash and ran outside. The entire operation took barely 10 minutes. What is intriguing is the fact that no one saw them escaping. The police said that they were trying to ascertain if the suspects were on foot or had a vehicle at their disposal.

The scared staff of the bank plucked up their courage after a few minutes and tried to sound the alarm. They then realised that the suspects had snapped the electricity and telephone wires. They called up the police control room after fixing the wires of the telephone.



Bal Bhavan Chairman booked for assault
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
The police here have registered a case of assault against the Chairman of the Bal Bhavan Society, Mr Ajay Singh, following a complaint by a senior official of the institution that he was physically attacked.

In the complaint registered with the IP Estate police station, Mr Jai Kishan Sharma, Assistant Director, Finance, alleged he was beaten up by the Chairman when he was coming in his official car after getting some official work done from the Canara Bank branch located on DDU Marg near ITO on May 3.

The complaint alleged that Mr Ajay Singh had gone to withdraw some money from the bank. He could not do this as the Bal Bhavan Society had a joint account of the Director and the Deputy Director, the two authorised signatories. Other employees cannot withdraw money from the bank. Miffed over the refusal of the bank staff to give money to him, Mr Ajay Singh, allegedly attacked Mr Jai Kishan.

The Chairmanship of the Bal Bhavan Society is a political post and according to the bylaws of the society the Chairman is not authorised to withdraw money from the bank. Mr Jai Kishan alleged while he was on his way to the Bal Bhavan office his vehicle was stopped by the Chairman and his men and he was beaten up badly in front of the cashier of the society, Mr Rajiv Gupta. He was admitted to LNJP Hospital from where he was discharged after first aid.

Mr Jai Kishan alleged that the Chairman, who was a Vishva Hindu Parishad leader from Benaras, had joined the Bal Bhavan Society three years ago. He was unable to withdraw funds meant for the society and as such was upset with him and other officials. He reportedly attacked the complainant when he refused to withdraw funds for payment to some advocates by the Chairman.

Bal Bhavan Society sources said that Bal Bhavan was a prestigious society and in the past dignitaries like Ms Indira Gandhi, Ms Pupul Jayakar, enjoyed the coveted post of Chairmanship of the society.



They work themselves to death for a pittance
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
A large number of relatives who had to go through the ritual of cremating their near and dear ones at the Bela Road electric crematorium on Ring Road near Shanti Van, have complained of utter lack of facilities and extreme unhygienic conditions. The last journey is full of tears, indeed.

Such is the state of affairs at the crematorium run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi that even some members of the staff avoid handling unclaimed bodies as they are reportedly not provided with the basic facilities required to handle the highly decomposed bodies sent there for the final journey. And to add to the tears, one of the two furnaces has been non-functional for almost a year now thanks to red-tapism. As a result, the crematorium can handle only about five bodies a day, less than 50 per cent of the total capacity.

However, a senior MCD official told the ‘NCR Tribune’ that the furnace was likely to be fixed soon and perhaps some additional features would be added to make it free of pollution and infection.

Sources said that the staff of the crematorium refuse to handle unclaimed, decomposed bodies after one of their colleagues died of infection reportedly contracted while handling the decomposed bodies in the oldest electric crematorium of the Capital recently. The filthy conditions at the crematorium can make one’s flesh creep.

The employees who handle these bodies are required to wear gloves, gowns and shoes before putting these bodies into the furnace. Thereafter, they must wash thoroughly with a disinfectant. But at the Bela Road crematorium these facilities are not provided to them. They are not given decomposed body care allowance of Rs 690 a month while their counterparts in the government hospitals get such an allowance. For a pittance, they work themselves to death. To date there were only two electric crematoriums — one at Bela Road in Central Delhi and another at Punjabi Bagh in West Delhi. The third electric crematorium, being constructed at Sarai Kale Khan, has been thrown open now. The cremation facilities will be available here from 6 am to 10 pm..

Two others in Lodhi Road and Green Park are still under construction. The MCD will manage the crematoriums at Saria Kale Khan and Green Park, while the Lodhi Road crematorium will be managed by a private agency most probably by a society of the Arya Samaj, officials said.

The crematorium in Punjabi Bagh, however, is better maintained perhaps because of the fact that it is quite recent. It caters to the needs of the residents of South-West, West and North-West districts. Besides, it also receives unclaimed bodies as it is well maintained and runs to the full capacity. One of the officials in the crematorium said that 10 to 15 bodies are cremated every day. In May, a total of 357 bodies were cremated.



Polluter pays’ principle needed: PHDCCI study
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
In order to attain waste minimisation, it is essential to apply the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle, where all the polluters take care of their own waste, says a study on Solid Waste Management Options and Opportunities, made by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI).

The Chamber will take up issues relating to solid waste management at its forthcoming conference on ‘Solid Waste Management’ on June 21.

According to the study, the ‘Polluter Pays’ principle can be applied by extending the obligation to all the commercial waste generators.

To attain waste minimisation, it is essential to make the residents pay the full cost of services.

Pointing out that the daily solid waste generation in the country amounts to 1,04,898 tonnes (including 27,485 tonnes in the north, 30,893 tonnes in the west and 22,955 in the south), the Chamber emphasised on the need to develop alternative systems of waste management and disposal. “There is a great potential for outsourcing, recycling or recovery of resources from the waste to the private sector companies by the concerned municipal bodies, the Chamber stated.

The study also revealed that the composition of garbage in India indicates lower organic matter contents and high ash and dust contents.

Solid waste management in developing country like ours is more of a socio- economic issue rather than a mechanical process. The sociology of waste is that the rich make it while the poor deal with it (the number of rag pickers in India is more than 7 lakh), the Chamber said.

In its suggestions for effective solid waste management plans, the PHDCCI said these plans must emphasise on improving the coverage and timely collection of wastes from different parts of the cities or towns, include improvements

in the existing system of landfills and private operators be given the responsibility to buy their own vehicles and carry out the collection.

The study also suggested that high priority be given to the management of specialised medical and hazardous waste.



Wages of brick kiln workers not revised since 1995
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, June 18
The wages of over two lakh-odd workers engaged as labour in the brick kilns operating in Haryana have not been revised since 1995. While a tripartite body was formed by the state government way back in 1980s to work out a proper revision, it has not been existing for the past eight years. This has led to the exploitation of these workers at the hands of brick kiln owners.

As per informed sources in the field, the government ought to have announced the wages or new rates of labour charges and a maximum limit on the rates of bricks produced by the kilns by the end of June, as the new season begins in September, when fresh arrivals of bricks start coming into the market.

There are about 1,500-2,000 brick kilns operating in the state at present. The majority of the labour employed here is inter-state migrant workers who normally come from states like Rajasthan, UP, MP and Chhattisgarh. As these workers are mostly uneducated and unorganised, exploitation is quite common. The labour laws and the Minimum Wages Act do not seem to be applicable here

Owners or the management of the brick kilns do not provide any kind of basic amenities to the thousands of workers who work day and night and spend several months together at the places where there are no supply of drinking water and power and educational and health facilities.

One of the reasons stated to be behind the `deplorable’ conditions at the brick kilns is the powerful lobby of politicians or their relatives who own the majority of such units. The wages paid to the labour are mostly based on the agreement between the owner and the person who usually brings such labour. The person who plays the ‘broker’ gets commission, which could be a hefty one. Although some Leftist organisations, including Lal Bhatta Mazdoor Union, claim to represent the interests of such workers, sometimes the union also proves ineffective due to its limited base or personal interests of certain leaders.

The Haryana Government had implemented the Inter-state Migrant Labour Act in 1986, but the work conditions that prevail at brick kilns are still poor and inhuman as the families of members have no permanent accommodation. Their children are provided no educational facilities and health and medical facilities are hardly existent.

There was nobody to supervise or check the conditions prevailing at brick kilns, said a social activist based here. Despite earning meagre wages, workers are even asked to shell out contribution fees up to Rs 200 per person for their welfare, either by the owner or the union.

“Various governments in Haryana have so far failed to pay proper attention towards this issue as the labour was unorganised and illiterate,” said Mr Ved Prakash Vidrohi, president of the Haryana unit of the Janata Dal (U). He has demanded the revision of wages and a proper notification about the labour laws applicable to brick kilns.



Lack of civic amenities worries Sonepat residents

Sonepat, June 18
The city residents are appalled by the callous neglect and insensitivity of the authorities towards the basic needs of the people. Rampant corruption and petty politics by the officials, particularly those of the civic departments, has made them insensitive towards the residents needs for basic civic amenities. With the onset of the monsoon season, and the callous attitude of the civic authorities, the residents of the city are fearful that unhygienic conditions would result in the spread of water borne-diseases. The residents of the walled city are the worst affected.

The road conditions hardly seem to bother the authorities. Moreover, due to the poor planning, the roads get damaged frequently. Frequent digging of roads for laying of underground cables by different departments, ensures that roads remain in shabby condition throughout the year. Most of the sewerage pipes and drains have stayed choked for years. Piles of garbage are left on the roads, not only making the movement of vehicles difficult but also making the environment unhygienic for the residents of the area. In most of the areas, the storm water is disposed of through underground sewers which is often choked with silt and dirt.

With the election of the new Municipal Council completed, the residents hope that things might take a turn for the better. However, sadly, most of the members of the council have been busy politicking rather than looking into the civic amenities urgently required by the residents of the city.



HVP leader lashes out at Chautala

Narnaul, June 18
Haryana Vikas Party general secretary Surinder Singh, along with other activists, organised a demonstration here against the policies of the INLD government led by Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. They marched through the main streets of the town and gave a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner of Narnaul.

Addressing the activists of the HVP, Mr Surinder Singh lashed out at Mr Chautala for lavishly spending the government’s money. He lamented that the people of the state, particularly the poor people, were severely affected by the wrong decisions and policies of the Haryana Government. He said that the people had lost faith in Mr Chautala’s leadership. He urged the Haryana Governor to dismiss the inefficient Chautala government and impose President’s Rule in Haryana. Mr Singh criticised the policy of the Haryana Government to waive off 75 per cent power bills of the farmers. He said that this policy favoured those farmers who defaulted on their payments but did not reward those who were regularly paying their power bills.

The HVP leader said that the Haryana Government paid no attention to the desilting of the canals and as a result, there was no water and power supply for the farmers. He claimed that even potable water was not available to the farmers. Consequently, normal life had been disrupted. Mr Singh claimed that the `Kisan Andolan’ in Haryana is the gift of Mr Chautala because as the Opposition leader, he had advised the farmers not to deposit power bills and resort to road blockade to pressure the government.

Consequently, the ongoing unrest and uncertainty in the state was the direct fallout of Mr Chautala’s past policy. OC



Chautala may backtrack on pact: Hooda
Our Correspondents

Rohtak & Jhajjar, June 18
Reacting to the recent agreement reached between the government and leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) chief, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, expressed fears that that the government would betray the farmers and commit a breach of the agreement this time too.

Talking to ‘NCR Tribune’ on telephone from Bahadurgarh this evening, Mr Hooda claimed that the government had backtracked on its promises and agreements earlier also. He said that the farmers were forced to re-launch the agitation because the government refused to implement the Kandela agreement reached between the government and farmers.

The HPCC chief categorically stated that the ‘deceitful’ agreement would not have any impact on the ‘Shanti Padayatra’ launched by the party. He announced that the yatra would continue till the Chautala government was removed and a CBI inquiry was ordered into the killing of agitating farmers. He said almost all the eight farmers were killed by the police in the fields, which clearly indicated that they were not involved in the blockade.

Mr Hooda expressed hope that a large number of people from different villages would attend the rally slated for June 21 in Delhi after the blockade was lifted from various parts in the region. He said a memorandum would be submitted to the President on June 21 seeking the removal of the Chautala government and a CBI inquiry into the killing of the ‘innocent’ farmers in Jind.

Meanwhile, the peace march led by Mr Hooda arrived at Bahadurgarh on its eighth day today. Talking to mediapersons in Rohad village in Jhajjar district, Mr Hooda claimed that the government had to work out an agreement with the BKU under pressure in view of the mass mobilisation of the Congress for its agitation.

Mr Hooda demanded a CBI inquiry into the police firing on the farmers during the BKU agitation and said that the law and order situation in the state could improve only is the INLD rule was brought to an end. Two incidents of firing on farmers during agitation in the past had led to the dismissal of a Congress and a Haryana Vikas Party government and now it was the turn of the INLD government.

Mr Hooda also asked the NDA government at the Centre to send a team of central observers to look into the law and order situation in Haryana also. It may be mentioned that on the request of the Akali Dal and BJP, such a team is being sent to Punjab.

Around 300 party activists accompanied Mr Hooda in his yatra in Bahadurgarh, including Mr Raghubir Kadian, district Congress chief, Prof Virender, Rohtak unit president, Mr Umesh Sharma, general secretary of the Youth Congress and Ms Kanta Kaushik, spokesperson of the District Congress Committee.



Police foil attempt to grab house
Our Correspondent

Rewari, June 18
An incident of attempted house grabbing in the posh Model Town area by a family here on Saturday has created a feeling of insecurity among the residents. Residents of the town believe that there is a hidden nexus between these land-mafias and some influential people in the city.

Giving details of the incident at a press conference here, Mr Dalip Khandelwal, a noted industrialist of the town, said that his son Abhishek Khandelwal had purchased a kothi in front of the Radha Krishan Mandir in Model Town, some time back.

Last Saturday, about a dozen people including some women, abruptly forced their entry into the house and allegedly confined their two workers into a room. Subsequently, they broke open the locks of the rooms and forcefully occupied the kothi.

When Mr Dalip Khandelwal, came to know of the incident in the evening, he approached the district police, who managed to get the house evacuated.

Later, cases of house trespass, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation under Sections 448, 342, 500 of IPC were registered against Ram Kumar Lakhera, and his family members in the Model Town Police Station.

Later, a delegation of prominent residents of Model Town met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vineet Garg, and sought appropriate action against the Lakheras and safety of the residents of the area.

The version of Mr Ram Kumar Lakhera on the incident could not be obtained.



INLD friendly opponent of BJP: Jana Krishnamurthy
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, June 18
The BJP president, Mr Jana Krishnamurthy, told newsmen here today that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was limited to the Centre only. The relations between the constituents of the NDA and the BJP in the states were reciprocal. The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the ruling party in Haryana, though was a constituent of the NDA at the Centre, was its friendly opponent in the state. He, however, did not elaborate the point.

The BJP president was in the town to interact with party workers from Sonepat, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Bhiwani, Jind and Charkhi Dadri districts. On Monday, he had met BJP activists from districts of south Haryana in Faridabad.

He said he would undertake similar exercises meant in other states, including Gujarat, which was likely to go to the polls early next year. He planned to visit Gujarat again shortly to complete the process of interacting with party workers and motivating them for the ensuing electoral battle.

The BJP chief was provoked when a journalist asked about the declining popularity of the party in Haryana and its relations with the INLD. He said that Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, being a constituent of the NDA, was a friend of the BJP but it did not mean that he could not be criticised or opposed. He did not agree with the questioner that the popularity graph of the party was declining in the state. “If the BJP loses elections in one state, it wins in another,” he said obliquely referring to the BJP’s defeat in UP and its victory in Goa Vidhan Sabha elections.

The BJP president admitted that some friction existed between the BJP and BSP, the two coalition partners in Uttar Pradesh. He, however, hastened to add that such friction was inherent in coalition politics. To prove that it was not a pervasive phenomenon, he went to the extent of quoting the internal bickering between the NCP and Congress, the coalition partners in Maharashtra. Such friction also existed within a political party as was evident from the differences between the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and the MPCC chief, he said.

He claimed that normalcy had returned to the strife-torn Gujarat and the persons, who had taken shelter in relief camps, had started returning to their homes. The situation was now conducive to hold elections in that state. But the final decision about holding the assembly elections rested with the BJP and its state government headed by Mr Narender Modi.

Mr Krishnamurthy said that the organisational elections of the BJP would be held in April next year as nearly 10 states would be going to the polls in September and October, 2003.



Swami Agnivesh to launch stir for prohibition 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
Social reformer Swami Agnivesh on Tuesday demanded an immediate withdrawal of Government of NCT of Delhi’s new excise policy and has threatened a mass agitation otherwise.

“The Congressmen, who claim to be the followers of Mahatma Gandhi, now under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit, have introduced a policy which is anti-Gandhian. We condemn this,” Agnivesh, working president of World Council of Arya Samaj told reporters. He said he would start a mass movement, involving school children and leaders of all religions, against the policy till it was withdrawn. A meeting of the religious leaders including Jamat-e-Islam-e-Hind, Jamiat-ulema-Hind, Jain Sadhvis.



Traffic restored on Rohtak roads
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, June 18
The vehicular traffic on the Rohtak-Chandigarh and Rohtak-Jind roads was restored today after the farmers lifted the blockade in view of the agreement reached between the government and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) on Monday evening. The Rohtak-Jind road was blocked near Titoli village by felling trees on May 30 and the traffic had been blocked on the Rohtak-Chandigarh road near Brahmanwas village since June 2.

Mr Ashok Yadav, who took over as Deputy Commissioner today, said all the roads in the district had been cleared and the Haryana Roadways buses had started plying on all their scheduled routes.

Record revenue

The Rohtak operation circle of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) comprising Rohtak and Jhajjar districts has set a record by collecting a revenue of Rs 23.39 crore during the last month.

Claiming this here today, Mr S. S. Panwar, Superintending Engineer of the circle, said there had been a continuous increase in the revenue of the nigam during the past few years. He said the nigam had recovered Rs 113.42 crore as revenue during 1998-99, Rs 121.40 crore during 1999-2000, Rs 166.45 during 2000-01 and Rs 184.42 crore during 2001-02.

Mr Panwar said the considerable rise in the recovery of revenue this year was due to the surcharge waiving scheme announced by the government, which allured a large number of defaulters towards clearing their power dues.

Fields inundated

Around 100 acres of agriculture land of Rohad village were submerged due to a breach in Bahadurgarh minor canal near Asaudha police post. According to farmers, most of the fields could not used to grow the kharif crops anymore.

Dowry death

The Beri police registered a case of dowry death against the husband and in-laws of Manju, daughter of late Kartar Singh of Akehri Madanpur village, today. The mother of the deceased told the police that her daughter was married to Ashok Kumar on June 30, 2000 in Chhucjjakwas village. However, her husband and relatives started harassing her and demanded more dowry. The mother alleged that Manju was burnt to death by her in-laws and was cremated secretly. The police are investigating into the allegation.

Women hurt

Two women of a family sustained injuries when they clashed with each other in their house at Zainpur Tikola village, 12 km from here, on Monday. According to a report, a family quarrel was the main cause of the clash. Both the injured women were immediately hospitalised. They are stated to be out of danger. The police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress. According to another report, two persons, including a girl, were injured when they were attacked by some persons at Garh Mirakhpur village, 12 km from here, on Monday. A land dispute is stated to be the main reason behind the assault.

Another case of assault has been reported from Naina Tatarpur village in which one person was injured. All the injured persons were admitted to the civil hospital and they are progressing well. A woman, Ms Bimla, was injured when she was attacked by some persons at Kurar village, about 10 km from here, yesterday. The police have registered a case against the alleged assailants who are still at large.

Three of family electrocuted

Three persons of the same family reported to have died on the spot owing to electrocution on Monday at Rata Khurd village in Narnaul sub-division.

According to the villagers, Sarla Devi, wife of Krishan Kumar, was spreading clothes on a wire in her house unaware of the electric current due to rain in the region on Monday. She lost her life due to current. The woman Ginddi Devi tried to rescue her daughter-in-law, but she was also electrocuted. On seeing the two, Ani Lal rushed towards them to save their lives, but he too was caught by the live wire, with the result three of a family died on the spot. OC

Hooch claims two lives

Hooch has claimed two lives in Kabri village, near here. According to information received here, Ved Prakash, Pinki, Rajkumar and Madan Lal had a drinking session late Monday night. After consuming liquor, their condition worsened suddenly. They were shifted to a private hospital here. Pinki and Rajkumar died today. The other two are reported to be in a serious condition. TNS



One killed, six hurt as families clash
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
A clash between two families in the Gokulpuri area on a trivial issue led to the murder of a youth last night. The fight took place on the issue of a drainage in street number 2, Bhagirathi Vihar, Gokulpuri.

Members of both the families first used sticks and later stabbed each other. Four persons of one family and three of the other family were injured seriously. Some residents of the locality informed the police and a PCR van reached the spot. The PCR cops took the injured to GTB Hospital where Dayashankar (36), who had received multiple stab injuries, was declared brought dead.

Among Dayashankar’s family, Prabhu Shakar received stab injuries while Hari Shankar and Roopmati received blunt injuries. Among the other family, Kamlesh and her sons Krishan Kant and Depak received simple injuries. The Gokulpuri police have received a case of murder and attempt to murder and arrested Pannalal, his nephew Vijay and son Devender, the police said.

Commits suicide

Domestic problems forced a person, Sushil Kumar, to commit suicide by hanging from a ceiling fan in his house in Sangam Vihar in South district today. He was living here in a rented house and working as a watchman in Batra Hospital. A suicide note recovered from the body mentioned that he was taking the extreme step because of domestic problems.

Pirated CDs seized

The Delhi Police today claimed to have busted a gang involved in the manufacture and sale of pirated compact discs of latest Hindi and English movies with the arrest of three persons. The police also seized 1,745 CDs from them. The arrested persons were identified as Parveen Bhatia, Vijay Singh and Santosh Kumar. They were booked on the charge of violating the Copyright Act.

Skeleton recovered

With the arrest of Cheddi Lal, the police claimed to have worked out a murder case. The police also recovered the skeleton of the deceased. The deceased, Chaman Lal, was also a criminal. During interrogation, the suspect disclosed that Chaman Lal had illicit relations with his wife and sister but he could not raise any objection as he feared that Chaman Lal would kill him.

On the day of Holi, Chaman Lal went to Lambu Camp jhuggi cluster in Badarpur where he sang and danced with other residents of the locality. Later, he went to the jhuggi of Cheddi Lal and had a drinking session. Raju and Rakka, friends of Cheddi, also joined them later. While enjoying the drinking session, Chaman Lal passed some indecent comments on Cheddi’s wife, which infuriated the three others. They took him to a container on the pretext of getting some more liquor and allegedly killed him. The skeletal remains, clothes and locket of Chaman Lal were recovered from plot number B-1/E-20, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Area. The weapon used for the crime was also recovered, the police said.

Fake bearings seized

The North district police arrested three persons and claimed to have busted a racket of imitated bearings of NBC company. The arrested persons were identified as Raghu, Jagdish and Kirpal Singh. Hundreds of bearings were recovered from their possession, the police said.



Sonepat’s feeble fight against sins of the flesh
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, June 18
Recent raids by the police on two posh hotels of G.T.Road between Murthal and Ganaur have exposed the flesh trade thriving in and around this city. It is alleged that people engaged in this trade use mobile phones and get prior information in case of raids.

Sources say that almost all the cafes in and around the city are being used for the love trysts. Close cabins offered by many of the city’s cafes are taken on rent to show girls to a prospective client. Couples then leave for a pre-decided place, which is either a hotel or a residence in the posh colonies. Incidents, often unreported, of fights in several residences led to the exposure that they were being used as brothels.

The sources also point out that several modern hotels and restaurants in Model Town as well as guesthouses near the bus stand area are host to these unholy activities. It is learnt that a tourist resort of the Haryana Tourism Corporation on G.T.Road near Rai and several guesthouses of various government departments are also being used.



Call girl racket unearthed, 12 held
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, June 18
The Kotwali police and the Special Operations Group (SOG) unearthed a call girl racked and nabbed over a dozen such girls and booked them under POTA. The SP (City), Mr Umesh Shrivastava, said here today that once booked under POTA, the call girls would find it difficult to secure a bail. The Kotwali police and SOG, in a joint operation, had unearthed the racket of sex workers by nabbing over a dozen call girls, apart from 15 other persons.

The SP City said the arrested women included some girl students too who would book their clients on mobile phones. The SP claimed that never before had such a big racket of sex workers been exposed and so many call girls nabbed in one operation.

Smack seized

The Indirapuram police have arrested one person with .5 kg smack worth lakhs of rupees in the international market, SP City Umesh Srivastav has informed. The officer in charge of the Koshambhi police post, Mr Rohtash Sharma, and Head Constable Shripal had seized .5 kg of smack from Jagat Singh, resident of Vijay Nagar, who had been working as a conduit for smuggling of these commodities for quite a few years, the police said. Mr Sharma, while on patrol, got an information that a person was waiting for a client near Simant Vihar.



Cops flee from the long arm of the law!
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, June 18
The Kundli police station, about 25 km from here, witnessed an interesting spectacle of cops trying to run away from the proverbial long arm of the law on Monday. The incident happened when Mr Ram Singh Tyagi, a Warrant Officer appointed by District and Sessions Judge S. K. Sardana, conducted a surprise raid on the station to trace a youth, Vikas Goel, who was allegedly kept illegally in the police custody.

As soon as the Warrant Officer started the search operation, panic gripped the policemen who were present at the station. They rushed out of the station with those persons confined illegally. However, the Warrant Officer and the parents spotted Vikas Goel while he was being taken out of the police station by the cops. Though the Warrant Officer made a bid to stop the fleeing cops and Vikas Goel, he couldn’t. The result was that he was able to recover only the chappals and some other articles of Vikas Goel from the room of a police official.

Vikas Goel belongs to Jind where he runs an arms and ammunition shop. He was picked up by a sub-inspector of Gohana in a case for interrogation. He was taken to Gohana from where he was shifted and allegedly confined at Kundli police station. His relatives came to Gohana where they were told that Vikas Goel had been sent to Kundli. When they reached Kundli police station, they were not allowed to enter and see Vikas.

Thereupon, they approached the court of the District and Sessions Judge who deputed Mr Tyagi as the Warrant Officer for finding the youth from the Kundli police station. However, he also was unable to restore the youth to the parents.

Cops booked

The Kundli police have registered a case against three policemen, including a Head Constable, on the charge of dereliction of duty while taking back a prisoner, Anil alias Bhagta, to Ambala in a bus. The prisoner managed to escape from the police custody with the help of some of his associates on the way. According to a report, three associates of the prisoner have been arrested by the police but the prisoner is still at large.



Samir Kochhar: Opportunity comes a-knocking
Smriti Kak

HIS Bible is Stanislavski’s ‘An Actor Prepares’ and yet he does not believe in following his guru’s decree to the T.. “Stanislavski says a mirror is an actor’s enemy, yet I spend close to three hours practising in front of the mirror. I make up scripts and draw out scenes, which I perform in front of the mirror”, says Samir Kochhar all set to stare down from the billboards with his debut film, ‘Valentine’s Day’.

“I was this shy guy who would stand in the corner and twitch my toes, until the stage happened. I was picked up by Roshan Abbas to play the lead in his play ‘Graffiti’. Postcards from school and from then on I knew I had to be in the spotlight”.

Addicted to the action and of course the adulation, Samir, who comes from a family of chartered accountants with roots tracing back to Chandigarh, decided to make it to where the lights shine bright.

“After I did theatre I moved on to become an emcee. It was a tough job, but really exciting. I had to stand on the road and pull crowds; I had to attract people and haul their attention. I still am emceeing, it’s a great job”, says Samir, who has emceed for Maruti, Philips, ITC sales conferences among others.

Samir also holds the distinction of being one of the youngest newscasters on TV. “I had a two-month stint as a news reader with Jain TV. It was an amazing experience. Here I was all of 18 without a clue about politics and reading out the news at a crucial time. I must say Jain TV guys were nice to me in spite of the goof-ups I made on air. The funniest part was that my co-anchor and I got to play chess in between commercial breaks”.

But, for now Samir is hoping and praying for his first commercial debut to hit the jackpot. “This is my first film and I have given it my 110 per cent. I have tried to do anything and everything to make it a success. I have stayed up with my co-stars helping them with their lines, I have dabbled with production work just to ensure that this movie meets with success.”

Life in Mumbai was far from easy for the Delhi boy. “I had to make too many adjustments. There were people around me who threw weight around because they felt they had already arrived. I have seen actors and even models put on airs, something I do not see myself doing.”

The actor who wishes to be known as an ‘intense actor’ is waiting for the movie to hit the screens. “We are through with the dubbing of the English version and will start on the Hindi version soon. All I can say about the movie is that it is a Hindi movie in English. There are no stars, just newcomers, and the music is awesome.”

Samir elucidates, “My character in the movie was initially meant to be a negative one, but because I have been so involved in the whole process, my role got modified. I have a role which has all shades, there is comedy, there is pathos and there are traces of a psychopath too,” says the guy who finds it easier to “perform scenes pertaining to pain and hurt rather than love scenes. I can cry for hours without a drop of glycerine”.

Like an expectant mother, who can only think of the new arrival, Samir prattles about his movie, spelling out the nitty-gritty for you. “ I love my character, Aditya Kapoor, I like the way he has been portrayed, especially the last scene, where I have done my best.”

For the guy who has worked his way up, there are miles to cover, “For the next 10 years, I am going to play actor, after which I am going to be this fat and bald man with a big office making my own movies.” Samir has it all scripted for him, perhaps he has even practised it in front of his mirror.

Khadi to Khaddar

From the yarn that was spun as a means of protest against western subjugation to the yarn that has caught the fancy of the world, Khadi has travelled quiet a distance from the plain Khaddar that it originally is.

To hail this transformation, the Sarvodaya Ashram, Etah, presented a show that illuminated the metamorphosis of Khaddar to Khadi. The Vice-President of India, Mr Krishan Kant , was the chief guest at the function that attracted a bevy of diplomats, politicians, fashion designers and celebrities.

Held in the Capital’s Hotel Ashok, the function captured the various possibilities of Khadi, from high-end fashion garments to formal wear in fused fabrics. The event also saw the launch of soaps, hair oils, shampoos, incense and rice under the brand name SAVI- an acronym for Sarvodaya Ashram Village Industries.

Prism Bar

Wish to DV8 (read deviate)? No we are not promoting SMS here. A new bar in the Capital, called Prism Bar is set to make you DV8 from the ordinary.

The ‘innovative bar’, as it is being promoted, aims at making your pub night more colourful. Says the owner, Sukhdev Majithia, “Pass a white light through a prism and you get to see all the colours of a rainbow on the other side. Metaphorically, a prism can refer to anything that is used to look at the world differently.”

So, the new bar will change colour seven times and will as a rule not play any music from the 1990s. And pray, who was at the launch. A host of movers and shakers, a few diplomats, some politicians and models. At least the guest list never DV8s.

Sequinned outfits

Students of the Senorita College of Fashion Design and Management presented their collection in the Capital recently. The sequin collection was well worked out by the students.

From the tomboy look to the feminine silhouettes the students had deftly created pieces that were enhanced by the use of sequins. The collection showcased a variety of outfits from shararas to nylon toreador pants, from evening wear to a raglon cut and oriental collared tailed tunic.

Tempting Trinkets

Swarovski has launched a new collection of jewellery for the summer. The new collection is about ‘the incredible lightness of being’. Two new lines, ‘Heavens’ and ‘Innocence’, have been specially crafted. While ‘Heavens’ is being promoted as the expression of longing to leave the world behind and get in touch with the innermost self, ‘Innocence’ is all about childlike exuberance, pleasure and spontaneity.

White gold has been used to complement the crystals; coloured leather straps are evidence of novelty. A prominently featured rhodium collection is priced at Rs 1350 onwards.


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