Sunday, July 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Ban on trucks a smokescreen?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
If the day-old ban on the entry of trucks has already put road users to avoidable inconvenience, what has confounded experts is Delhi Traffic Police’s utter disregard for the elementary.

The ban came into force on Friday. On July 15, the Supreme Court ordered the Commissioner of Police and others to implement the court’s directions. Delhi Traffic Police issued a public notice on July 27 banning the entry of goods vehicles that are not destined for Delhi. The notice read only goods vehicles that pay toll tax are allowed to carry goods to or from Delhi.

A non-government organisation (NGO), engaged in the research and analysis of automotive and road transport sectors, the Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT) has written to Lieutenant-Governor Vijai Kapoor objecting to the ban on the premise that “prohibiting trucks from passing through Delhi ignoring or overlooking the overloading factor is nothing but self-deception.”

The overloading factor the letter refers to is the trend of goods vehicles loading cargo in excess of the prescribed limit. “Overloading of goods,” the letter explains, “causes strain on the engine and results in excessive polluting exhaust” and goes on to state that “the adverse effect of overloading on levels of auto pollution is well proved and admitted.”

The NGO has filed an application before the apex court that lists certain reservations about the ‘sincerity’ and ‘efficacy’ of Delhi Traffic Police directions contained in the public notice. One, the public notice does not specify that goods vehicles complying with Euro II and Bharat Stage II emission norms can enter or pass through Delhi.

Mr S P Singh, IFTRT Sr Fellow, says the apex court has in its July 15 order made it abundantly clear that the compliant vehicles can enter and pass through Delhi.

Two, Singh contends, goods vehicles that have paid toll tax on a monthly or quarterly basis can always hoodwink the enforcement agencies. “Goods vehicles paying toll tax per trip can be checked conveniently but not all vehicles fall in that category. There are vehicles that pay toll tax once a month or three months. The Traffic Police have overlooked that.”

Three, the Traffic Police is silent on the entry of goods vehicles registered outside of Delhi but have paid a lumpsum toll tax. “The law,” says the IFTRT, “specifies that only home state registered vehicles can carry out local movement of goods. Outstation goods vehicles can pick or drop inter-state cargo only.”

Reservations aside, the IFTRT wants to know how serious the Government of NCT of Delhi is to combat pollution. “Because,” Singh recalls, “in spite of issuing a public notice on October 14, 2000, the Department of Transport has not implemented the ban on plying of goods vehicles which are 12 or more years old and two-wheelers, 15 or more years old.”

This, he asserts, proves the government is not serious about countering the menace of pollution. Its sincerity to implement its own notification is in doubt, he adds, adding for good measure that even after the lapse of two years from the date of notification, goods vehicles over 12 years old continue to operate with impunity.

The IFTRT concludes pollution by goods vehicles, whether Euro II- or Bharat Stage II-compliant or not, will persist if overloading of goods goes unchecked. Unlike passenger vehicles or buses, the IFTRT maintains, the polluting potential is not only related to engine technology alone. “The load plays a direct role in the case of goods vehicles insofar as quality of performance of engine and exhaust emitted from it are concerned.”

4 students suspended for sacrilege
Prem Pal Singh

Meerut, July 27
The Ch. Charan Singh University on Friday suspended four students and ordered them to vacate the hostel by 4 pm today, taking suo motu cognizance of a sacrilegious incident. The students had allegedly shown disrespect to the turban of a Sikh student. The V-C said that he had barred the guilty ex-student Mukesh Pehalwan from entering the campus and suspended four other students: Sandip Baliyan, Rituraj, Ajit Deshwal and Rilesh Malik.

It is also reported that Pehalwan has been arrested. Several Sikh organisations and their religious leaders have protested against the incident. They have also held demonstrations to exert pressure on the authorities to take stern action against the guilty.

According to the information available, a group of students armed with lathis, iron rods and fire arms entered Dr R K Singh Hostel (New Boys Hostel) and attacked a student Pankaj Sharma and some others. They beat them up badly. The culprits then unlocked the room of Sardar Ravindra Singh and ransacked it. They threw his turban on the floor and stamped on it.

The incident has shocked the Sikh community. Later in the evening, several students and leaders of the community submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Meerut Range, G Singh, demanding the arrest of the guilty.

The DIG assured them that the rights of the minority community would be protected and the guilty would be punished.

Taking a serious note of the incident, several leaders, including the vice-chairman of Vir Khalsa Dal, Manjit Singh Kochar, met the university vice-chancellor, and asked him to take action against the culprits. The V-C assured them that the guilty would be dealt with severely.

Several student bodies assailed the incident and said that the minority students on the campus were feeling insecure.

Meanwhile, several other leaders also protested against the Vice-Chancellor’s ‘inability’ to take action against the guilty students. They warned of demonstrations if the guilty were not arrested. The Sikhs would prefer to die than bear disrespect to the turban, the leaders said.

Mr Kochar and the secretary of Shri Guru Granth Sahib Prachar Society, Ranjit Singh Gasser, told the ‘NCR Tribune’ that the incident had been reported to the Minority Commission and the Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.

Earlier, the Sikhs met the SSP Mukul Goel. The SSP assured them of proper action. They also met DIG Gurdarshan Singh and narrated the incident. Sardar Manjit Singh, Jathedar Mohan Singh, Harmohan Singh and Sardar Mange Singh were in the delegation.



CBI cracks cyber crime
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
With the arrest of a resident of Aligarh for allegedly defrauding an American national of $ 578 by misusing her credit card through the web, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today claimed to have worked out a cyber crime case.

The suspect, Arif Azim, was arrested on July 24. He had allegedly misused credit card details of Barbara Campa, to order a colour television and a cordless phone worth $ 578 through an online shopping site, a CBI spokesman said.

On the basis of a complaint from Sony India, CBI conducted searches at the residence and offices of Azim where a letter proving that the goods were delivered to him were recovered.

Azim, who has been remanded to police custody till July 28, admitted during interrogation that he got the details from Campa during a live chat on the internet at the call centre where he was a technical support staffer, the spokesman added.

Campa, who had a problem with the billing status of her credit card, consulted the call centre for a solution. Azim, who attended her call, allegedly managed to convince her to reveal her credit card number and other details on the pretext of updating her billing information, although he was not authorised to obtain such information from any customer. Azim first opened a fake e-mail account in Campa’s name, so that all correspondence in her name from the website would come to him, and changed his residence after the transaction was completed, he added. Campa, however, termed the transaction as ‘unauthorised’, and the payment was reversed by her bank and the credit given to Sony Marketing Asia Pacific, the owners of the website, was withdrawn.

Azim also shifted the television and phone to his native place in Aligarh so that he could not be traced. The CBI recovered the goods yesterday. A CBI search of his office led to the Central Processing Unit and the terminal of a computer, which was ostensibly used by Azim to place the order for the goods and carry out all his online transactions, the spokesman added.


Transfers or musical chairs?
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, July 27
The state government has again started transferring villages, panchayats, sub-tehsils, tehsils and even police stations from one block or subdivision to another. While the authorities claim that it is being done on the demand of panchayats to improve functioning, experts feel that it is a ‘futile’ exercise meant to divert the attention of people from the real issues. The whole game of transfers is not worth the candle, they opine. The state government has announced the setting up of a committee under the chairmanship of Revenue Minister Dhirpal Singh to decide on the representations made to the government. The district authorities, in turn, have now sought proposals and applications from various panchayats who want to be shifted to another block or subdivision.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anil Malik, the local administration had received proposals from at least 14 panchayats in the district so far. He said that a communication had been sent to the gram panchayats that if they wanted a shift, they would to have to apply before a due date in a formal manner. He said that proposals found suitable would be forwarded to the committee headed by the Revenue Minister for a final decision.

The villages whose panchayats have made a move in this regard in the district include Rahimpur, Teekri Gujar, Badoli, Lulwari, Baata, Atoha and Hidayatpur, which have demanded shifting from Hodal to Palwal subdivision. Besides, the panchayats of Prahaladpur, Majra, Barali and Mirjapur have asked to be shifted from Ballabgarh to Faridabad sub-division. Deegot village has also asked to be shifted from Hodal tehsil to Palwal tehsil.

However, many people believe that it was a mere ‘political stunt’. Mere shifting does not guarantee a faster development. It is just like milking the ram and is not worth the pains, feel several of them. A retired government official settled in Sector-15-A, said that instead of shifting village panchayats or police stations, the state government should try to find a solution to the problems facing the villagers. Shifting was a useless exercise, totally unnecessary, he added. Mr Rajkumar Gaur, general secretary of the Janata Dal (United), Haryana, commented that by resorting to such tactics, the state government had been attempting to divert the attention of people from the issues such as shortage of water, power and unemployment.



NCB wants more teeth, ministry drags its feet
J. T. Vishnu
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
One year after the Revenue department in the Ministry of Finance had given a nod to implement some proposals in order to give more teeth to the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), the bureau officials say that the ministry is yet to implement them. The delay is now affecting the functioning of the bureau entrusted with the onerous responsibility of tackling the menace of narcotics and its fall-out. Officials claim that the non-implementation of the proposals for additional men and vehicles is now telling on their performance.

The bureau also prefers to be shifted to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) instead of functioning under the Ministry of Finance. It also suggested the extension of tenures from three to eight years of various level officers, starting from the Director-General to the level of Intelligence officers (IOs). The bureau officials claim that the then Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha and the then Revenue Secretary S Narayanan — who is now the Finance Secretary, had mutually agreed to the proposals, but nothing has been done so far.

According to the sources in the NCB, the cases normally take more than three years and by the time an officer who is dealing the case understands it, he is shifted out, hampering the investigation process in the bureau. The officers are normally on deputation. “So the officers who come on deputation to the bureau are handicapped as working here involves innumerable risks and threats from various quarters,” a senior official in the NCB said.

Besides, the creation of intelligence cells in the bureau headquarters, up-gradation of bureau’s capabilities for the development, dissemination of both strategic and operational intelligence, and strengthening of manpower, were also proposed by the bureau.

There is also shortage of enforcement vehicles.



Bohemian belle promotes objects d’art with elan
Smriti Kak

New Delhi, July 27
The gypsy queen in her flamboyant accoutrements sweeps past the artifacts, attracting attention. A bright yellow lehnga and a black backless choli with colourful tassels braided into her brown hair, make up and jewellery, all in place and a sleek mobile phone in hand, the gypsy Livleen Sharma is all set to take you on a tour of the country. The tour, which is limited to three hours, doesn’t cost you a penny and yet leaves you enriched about the arts, the crafts and sometimes even the lives of thousands of faceless, nameless artisans who create marvels that you get for a song.

“There is so much that people need to know about the arts and the culture of the country. I want to tell them that the pieces that they see can be used to decorate and beautify your surroundings. I want to help those who do not have an aesthetic sense,” lisps Livleen who has been roped in by the Cottage Emporium to spend her Saturday afternoons, helping people buy artifacts from the Emporium.

Though many may see it as an attempt by the Emporium to boost both their sagging image and fiscal deposits, the bohemian belle differs, “I am here because I want to do something for the country and its traditional arts. I want the MTV generation to like what is Indian. The future is the present generation. They have to take us into the future and for that, they have to take some part of us with them.”

So here begin the lessons in loving and acknowledging what is real India. A greeting of folded hands and a warm smile and Livleen Sharma, like a gracious hostess, welcomes you, “I am here for you today, to help you.” A reluctant sales girl is chided albeit with a smile for not going along with a customer. The lovely lady explains, “You see we have to take the customer, lead her to where she wants to go and not just give the directions.”

Tired of talking about herself, she insists it’s her work that she is passionate about. “People have written all sorts of awful things about me. They have called me names. Everybody differs in his opinion about me. They even call me a self-styled gypsy woman. As for me, I never take myself seriously,” points out the woman who has never been to school, yet speaks English the way the English do. In a mock serious tone, she tells you, “I am on an ego trip. I know my being here will attract people and the credibility that I have so painstakingly earned will help me in my job,” And before you can even blink, she adds, “I am authentic, original so is Cottage.”

And in a style which is her middle name, she dashes ahead to offer some relief to an Englishman who is sweating profusely, “I promise, you will have an air-conditioner here in four weeks” and before the relieved and somewhat perplexed man could thank her enough, she foxes him with a, “but for that you will have to find me first”.

Word has spread and curious onlookers have started pouring in. While some steal glances, others stand and stare. Does it annoy her? “Yes. I am here to talk. What’s stopping these people. Why stare, come to me and talk.”

Having said this, she walks off to tell another bunch of onlookers, “I am here for free.”


Fake money changers had links in RBI
Our correspondent

Meerut, July 27
The Meerut police today arrested four persons, including a municipal clerk, and seized fake currency notes to the tune of Rs 29,000. Intelligence sleuths have descended on the city as the accused have reportedly said that they have links in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) through a broker.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Mukul Goel, told mediapersons here today that the SHO of the Sadar Bazar police station got a tip-off that some persons, who were involved in the transaction of fake currency notes, had gathered near Valga Restaurant here. A team comprising Inspector Jagbir Singh, SI Rajesh Chauhan, Peetam Pal Singh and Constable Suresh Kumar arrested two persons from near the restaurant at 6 am today. They were identified as Manish Gupta and Neeraj Gupta of Meerut.

Fake currency notes amounting to Rs 29,000 were seized from them. The Circle Officer told ‘NCR Tribune that fake notes worth Rs 11,000 were still in the possession of the municipal clerk. On further interrogation, they disclosed the name of a municipal clerk who had been helping the culprits in the transaction of these notes. The police arrested the clerk and his associate in the racket.

Senior officials of the Intelligence Bureau, the local and state intelligence units also interrogated the accused. The suspects disclosed that they had their links in the RBI through a broker. A team from the Central Intelligence has also started investigation into the matter.

Manish told the IB officials that he had been involved in the fake currency racket since 1984. Last year, they met a person, Manoj, who had links in the RBI, near Palam Airport in New Delhi.

The modus operandi was to afix torn notes on original ones. The RBI honours only those notes which have the serial number intact; the bearer would get full payment against it. The suspects used only notes of Rs 500 denomination to make the counterfeit notes. They have made lakhs of rupees by this method.

The municipal clerk used to deposit fake currency notes in the bank against the deposit of house tax and kept the original in his pocket. Even yesterday, the gang paid Rs 4,500 to an advocate as his fee for representing them in a case. Those notes were also fake.

When the advocate went to buy sweets from a shop, the shop owner had doubts about the size of the notes and informed the police. When the police interrogated the advocate, he told them that Manish and Neeraj had given him the notes. The police arrested the two culprits and also recovered fake currency notes worth Rs 29,000.

The accused have been remanded to police custody for further interrogation. A team of police officials has left for Delhi for further investigation as some gang members are still active in Delhi. It is learnt that some cashiers of various government departments may have links to this gang. Police are looking into all aspects of this matter.



Kharif crops withering, water rationed
Jatinder Sharma

Jhajjar, July 27
Following the failure of the monsoon, the standing kharif crops in the district have almost withered and the people are facing an acute shortage of drinking water. The district administration has introduced rationing of water supply in the town so as to overcome the situation.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Mohinder Kumar, told ‘NCR Tribune’ that water supply to the town, which is the district headquarters, was canal-based. Before the canal was closed, the canal water was stored in three tanks, which had a storing capacity of nearly 240 gallons. But this time, when the canal was closed a couple of days ago, only two storage tanks were filled and the third was partly filled. Water flow in canal would resume only after August 9.

The residents of Jhajjar town are provided over 3 lakh litres of water everyday. The Executive Engineer, Public Health, Mr M. K. Bansal, said that following the introduction of rationing, the residents of most of the mohallas in the town would get water supply on alternate days. However, the residents whose houses were located on the mainline, might get water daily.

Mr Mohinder Kumar said that adequate measures had been taken to ensure the supply of drinking water to the rural population as well. He had constituted a team of senior officials headed by the BDPO and comprising SDO (HVPN), SDO (PH), Agriculture Inspector and Naib Tehsildar to monitor availability of water and power in the rural areas of the district that came into existence in 1997. The district has nearly 244 villages, which have been divided into groups of five or six villages to ensure availability of power and water.

Mr M. K. Bansal said that water supply to rural Jhajjar was based either on canal or tubewells. Water supply to rural people had been nearly halved. Water was supplied either in the morning or evening, subject to the availability of electricity.

The HVPN supplies power for at least six hours to the rural population. The water table in certain pockets of the district adjoining the Salhawas block have gone down by 10 to 25 feet.

The Deputy commissioner said that many projects were in the pipeline to augment water supply to the villages. The schemes, which are undertaken by NABARD, were likely to become functional by June next year. A couple of these water-boosting schemes were likely to be ready by the end of this year.

Mr Mohinder Kumar claimed that every pond in every village in the district had been filled with canal water so that there was no dearth of water for the cattle. Though droughts had been a sad chapter in the history of Rohtak district, Jhajjar was facing it for the first time since it came into existence five years ago, he said.

“With insufficient means of irrigation and precarious rainfall, it was natural that the district may face shortage of water and fodder,” the Deputy Commissioner said. Most of the net sown area was entirely at the mercy of nature for a successful harvest. The variations in rainfall affect particularly the sowing and harvesting of the kharif crop.

“A fair amount of rainfall in the end of June or in the beginning of July leads to an all-round sowing activity, while a failure of the rain leads to the withering of crops,” he said summing up the plight of the kharif crops in the district.


Declare south Haryana drought-hit: JD (U)
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, July 27
The president of the Haryana unit of the Janata Dal (United), Mr Ved Prakash Vidrohi, has asked the state government to declare southern districts of Haryana as drought-hit immediately so that relief measures could be taken up.

In a statement here today, Mr Vidrohi ridiculed the stand of the Chautala government on the issue and said while on one hand, the Chief Minister’s son and MP, Mr Ajay Chautala, had been raising the ‘drought’ problem in the Lok Sabha, on the other hand, his father had failed to declare the names of the districts facing drought.

He said unless the state government declared the areas or districts as `drought-hit’, the Union Government might not release the financial aid. Suspecting a `game plan’ behind the present stand, Mr Vidrohi alleged that the state government had not declared districts like Faridabad, Gurgaon, Rewari,

Mahendragarh and Jhajjar as drought-affected with a political motive. He claimed that as the ruling INLD did not have a mass base in these districts, the state government wanted to use the funds (sought by it from the Centre) according to its own will. Mr Vidrohi said the identification of districts at this time (as drought-hit) would force the state government to use the funds in a particular district only, which he said, appeared not on the political agenda of the government.

He claimed that kharif crops like jawar, bajra and pulses in the region had been perishing and the farmers were facing a bleak future in south Haryana. Claiming that there was shortage in the supply of both water and power in the region, he asked the government to make public the amount of water and power supplied in rural parts of the area in the past three years.


Takes its toll on cattle fair too

Jhajjar, July 27
The prevailing drought-like conditions here and neighbouring states seem to have hit badly the cattle fair being organised at Bahadurgarh here. The prices of cattle have come down by half of the normal prices and the business is at a low at the fair.

“The cattle are the worst victims of the prevailing dry conditions due to the non-arrival of monsoon,” said Mr Ashish Mann, cattle fair officer, here. He said that not only the average production of milk by a buffalo per day had come down by three to five kilograms, the cost of fodder had increased substantially. As a result, traders from other states including Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan had not turned up to buy cattle this time.

According to official sources, over 1,300 cattle used to be traded at the fair, of which almost half of them were bound for slaughterhouses. The sources said that over 2,500 cattle, mostly consisting of medium range with prices between Rs

5,000 and Rs 10,000, had been brought to the fair for sale. Most of the cattle were brought by the people from nearby rural areas. However, the prospective traders from neighbouring states had showed very little interest in purchasing them.

A villager, who came for the fair with his buffalo, told ‘NCR Tribune’ that he was forced to sell one of the three cattle because of the prices of fodder had gone up to Rs 300 per quintal, which was unprecedented.

With the lack of interest among traders, the prices of cattle have gone down substantially. Sources among the organisers of the fair said that the highest price for a buffalo was reported at Rs 14,000, which should have been around Rs 20,000 in normal circumstances.

A major chunk of the rural population, which depend on the cattle and milk-related business, still await the much-desired rains to revive their economy and to provide respite to their livestock, which are the worst sufferers of the drought-like conditions.


Can atheism withstand religion?

THE three great apostles of practical atheism that make converts without persecuting and retain them without preaching are health, wealth and power,’’ wrote Caleb .C. Colton, an English clergyman (1780—1832). When everything goes well, people are liable to be indifferent to the question whether there is God or not; it is often disasters which shake them out of their complacence. If you look to the annals of faith, you will agree with Plato that few men are so obstinate in their atheism that a pressing danger will not compel them to the acknowledgment of a divine power.

One of the raging controversies that had caught public attention in the West is the public debate on whether it is the theory of evolution or that of creation that ought to be taught in schools. While the evolutionists seem to have won the day, there are scientists who hold that the evolution theory, which is not wholly scientific, could yet be interpreted and integrated within the creationist concept without damage to faith in God.

James .B. Irwin, after his Apollo 15 flight into space, observed that as he and his companions flew into space, “We had a new sense of ourselves, of the earth, and of the nearness of God. We were outside of ordinary reality; I sensed the beginning of some sort of deep change taking place inside of me. Looking back at the spaceship we call earth, I was touched by a desire to convince man that he has a unique place to live, that he is a unique creature, and that he must learn to live with his neighbours.’’

The celebrated astronomer, Kircher, had an acquaintance who denied the existence of God. Once this friend happened to see a globe placed in a corner of the room and inquired whence it came and to whom it belonged. “Not to me,’’ said Kircher, “nor was it ever made by any person, but came here by mere chance.’’ “That,” replied the skeptical friend, “is absolutely impossible; you surely jest.’’ Kircher, however, seriously persisting in his assertion to reason with his friend on his own atheistic principles. “You will not believe,’’ said he “that this small body originated in mere chance, and yet you would contend that those heavenly bodies of which it is but a faint resemblance came into existence without order or design.’’ Ultimately, the astronomer’s friend had to confess the absurdity of denying the existence of God.

How do you know there is God? an atheist once asked a praying Mohammedan near a sea shore. Pointing over to the glowing west, where the sun was setting in a sea of crimson fire, he said, “There is a track of God.’’

“There is God, all nature cries — I see it painted on the skies; I see it where the rivers flow; I see it stamped on hail and snow; I see it in the clouds that soar; I hear it when the thunders roar; I see it when the morning shines; I see it when the day declines; I see it in the mountain’s height; I see it in the smallest mite; I see it everywhere abroad — I feel — I know there is God!’’ That is truth expressed in poetry by a poet of old.

Atheists and communists had a great friend in Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian Jew and a hardened atheist even in his twenties, when through the influence of a carpenter he came to believe in Jesus Chirst. Though hated by his former comrades for his faith, he was one of Communist Rumania’s well-known leaders. Under communist rule, he had to pay a price for his faith: 14 years in solitary confinement. But several of his torturers including the one, who had murdered his close relations, had turned to his faith.

Wurmbrand had written a book, Proofs of God’s Existence, which has been translated into more than 60 languages. He wrote another book, The answers to Moscow’s Bible, devoted to answering the theses contained in the Atheist’s Handbook, widely distributed in socialists countries.

However, Wurmbrand is aware of the difficulties of atheists in subscribing to faith in God. “We are not surprised there are atheists’’ and points out that in the twentieth century, millions of innocent men have been burnt in furnaces or gassed and killed in concentration camps of different political regimes some of which proclaimed themselves to be Christian. Why didn’t God prevent such atrocities, the atheists ask. But can they explain the burning love for God seen precisely in men who suffer most or are tortured in prisons?

“Might it not be that atheists are blind to a part of Reality we call God, just as believers are often incapable of grasping the circumstances that make it difficult for some men to acknowledge God?’’ He recalls that some cruel characters of history like Stalin and Hitler were wrongly handled seen the unbelief of many collapse as they are faced with death or certain danger. “If a cat crosses a bridge it doesn’t mean the bridge is sound; but if a train crosses, then it surely is.’’ So, if a man calls himself an atheist as he sits with his wife over tea and cakes, that is no proof of atheism. A true conviction must survive enormous pressures and atheism does not.

Wurmbrand counters Marx by stating that it is atheism that stifles the reproaches of conscience just as an opiate alleviates physical pain.

M P K Kutty



Dhanaulti: A perfect hideaway off Mussoorie
Our Correspondent

Thick, virgin forests of Deodar
Thick, virgin forests of Deodar

DREAMY, picturesque forests and heights, Dhanaulti is all this and more. A mountain retreat in the enchanting Garhwal hills and at a distance of about 24 kms from Mussoorie, Dhanaulti is surrounded by deep forests abounding in oaks, conifers and tall deodars.

The scenic charm of the place has been faithfully captured by the cameras of the tinsel world. Some famous romantic numbers have been shot in the zig-zag winding paths of theses lush and mysterious forests. Naturally, the place so rich in natural beauty, is a favourite place for those wishing to take a hiatus. The place offers a visual treat of the Northern Himalayas and allows one to forget the monotony that is the grey concrete. Rhododendrons and other colourful flowers lace the green earth, creating a colourful milieu that often reminds you of your favourite poetry or a painting. The gushes of fresh air and the sparkling dewdrops that greet your mornings are a rarity for the urban populace.

Those visiting Dhanaulti can travel to Sarkunda Devi, a temple, which is about seven kms from the town. One has to climb a distance of about two kms to reach the sanctum sanctorum. And once on the top, you can have a clear view of about 400 kms of open land. Dhanaulti lies on the Mussoorie-Chamba track at an altitude of 2,286 m above sea level and is the starting point for those wishing to trek. Unlike Mussoorie and Chamba, which seem to be relatively crowded, Dhanaulti could easily pass for serenity.

The small sleepy town is 25 km journey from Mussoorie, which takes about an hour and 60 km from Dehra Dun. From the National Capital Delhi, it is a 10 hours journey, stretching across 325 kms. The nearest airport is at Jolly Grant, Dehradun, 82 km from Dhanaulti and the closest railhead is again at Dehradun. One can hire a taxi from the railhead or take the state transport buses.

The place apart from being aesthetically enriching is also easy on your pocket. A not-so-expensive holiday is a feature of the place. Accommodation though limited to a few tourist guesthouses and tourist bungalows is affordable. Though visiting the place in summers is the ideal time, one can enjoy a holiday there throughout the year. Rainy season though is the only time to avoid Dhanaulti because landslides and cut-off roads are a common phenomenon. You may even carry some warm clothes even if you are on a summer vacation to Dhanaulti as the temperature drops in the evenings.


A budding author who deviates from the beaten track
Megha Manchanda

The book reflects the socio-economic dilemma of the North- East. 
The book reflects the socio-economic dilemma of the North- East. 

New Delhi, July 27
“South Asia’s Fractured Frontier” is the name of the first book, which is ready for launch on the 10th August 2002, by debutante author Binalakshmi Nepram. This 27-year-old author from Manipur who did her Masters in Modern Indian History from Hindu College is presently working on her Ph.D thesis on the ‘Mizo and the Chittagong Hill Tract Accords.’

She has won many writing competitions on national and international levels. Her works have been published in various journals and newspapers including “Himalayan and Central Asian Journal”, “Manipur Research Forum Bulletin” and “The Pioneer”. She has also represented India at various international conferences on human rights. Nepram started writing this book five years back.

Having been brought up in the war zone, she has been witness and victim both to the conditions prevailing in the North-East. She experienced the trauma, first when she came to know that both her brothers were drug addicts, one of her numerous reasons to write the book. After familiarising herself with the issue and attending many seminars and conferences related to the problem, she finally decided to bring her thoughts to paper.

She says “writing is not an art for me, it is a healing process.’ She belongs to the state where small guns, narcotics and AK-47 have become part of their culture.

Breaking all the stereotypes and clichés, she aspires to bring back the lost glory of the North-East region.

Obviously, the hardships during the writing process only encouraged her to complete the task before her. During her research work, she came up with many shocking facts, which she has mentioned in her book. She discovered 13 routes through which small arms are brought to the North-East and 32 drug routes between North-East India and Myanmar.

Nepram, through this book has started a journey to uplift her state, which is in shambles. “This is the start of a campaign against the gun-culture prevalent in the North-East”, says Nepram.

This young author is also working on her novel Meckley {Historical name of Manipur} based on historical issues of North-East India. Her novel is a blend of history and fiction.

With her first book she attempts to share her knowledge and experiences and use them to bring about some socio-economic transformation in North-East India.



Bansi for unemployment allowance to youth
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, July 27
Former Chief Minister and HVP supremo, Mr Bansi Lal has said that if voted to power, he would introduce unemployment allowance to educated unemployed youth in Haryana. Addressing newsmen here today, Mr Bansi Lal said that all intermediate and matriculate registered with the employment exchanges in Haryana would get Rs 200 per month and graduates and postgraduates would receive Rs 250 per month. He disclosed that there were nearly 7.50 lakh such educated unemployed youths registered with the employment exchanges in Haryana till date. Their number was likely to go up by the time the Vidhan Sabha elections were held.

He said that the financial burden on the state exchequer would be between Rs 200 to 300 crore annually.

His party, when voted to power, would make up this burden by introducing measures to plug loopholes in the realisation of taxes. He proposed to set up a new department to look after the unemployed youths in the state. The former Chief Minister alleged that there appeared to be a big scandal in the MD and MS entrance tests conducted by the Kurukshetra University this year. He demanded an inquiry by the CBI into this scandal. He further alleged that after holding the test, the result was with-held for nearly 15 to 20 days, whereas in Punjab the results of these tests were declared the same day.


Passengers to get receipts for pre-paid taxi
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
In a move to prevent gullible tourists from being cheated by taxi drivers the moment they land in the city, the Centre has decided to issue the pre-paid taxi charge receipts in triplicate to enable the tourists to have a proof of payment.

The third copy of the receipt would be given to passengers as a proof of the payment made by them at the pre-paid taxi booth, said Mr U.D. Kamath, Regional Director of Union Government’s tourist office, while speaking at a one day training programme for taxi drivers here.

So far, the pre-paid taxi booths issued two receipts of the payment made by the tourist. One of them was given to the taxi driver and the other was retained for official record. The decision was taken in the wake of complaints that taxi drivers some times forced tourists to make second payment, as the latter had no proof of the payment made at the booth in advance, Mr Kamath said.

The training programme was organised by the Northern India Chapter of the Confederation of Tourism Professional, an apex body of tour operators, travel agents, transporters and tourist guides.


SDMs asked to monitor traffic on Mathura Road
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, July 27
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anil Malik, has directed his officials to personally supervise the traffic movement on the National Highway - 2 (Mathura Road) passing through the town and the district. At a meeting held here last evening, Mr Malik asked the SDMs to supervise the traffic movement on at least three days each in a month. He himself and the Additional Deputy Commissioner also would supervise the traffic movement on at least one and two days respectively in a month. He asked the officials to take strict action against the illegal vehicles and those parking improperly or violating the norms.


The Commissioner and Secretary of the Dairy Development and Animal Husbandry, Mr K. C. Sharma, held a meeting of dairy officials here today. He took stock of the schemes and discussed the proposal of shifting dairies out of the town. Addressing the officials and supervisors of the department, Mr Sharma asked them to take extra interest and make efforts to help the unemployed youths for taking up dairy work as a self-employment option. He said every cluster supervisor should aim for setting up at least 300 dairies in a year. He asked the Deputy Commissioner to direct the banks concerned to release loans for dairies on a priority basis.


A Haryana policeman reportedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in Jasaur Kheri village of the district today. Police sources said that Bijender was posted at Karnal and was transferred to Gurgaon a few days back. He left his house last night. However, he went to his field and hung himself from a tree. His body was spotted by the villagers in the morning today. He was a drug addict, the sources said.


The police have registered a case of dowry death against the in-laws of a woman who was allegedly poisoned to death in Sector 1 here on Thursday. Mr Bhagat Singh Rohilla, a retired colonel, stated in the FIR that his daughter, Sunita, was married to Dr Pawanjit in Sector 1 in April 1998. He alleged the in-laws of his daughter maltreated her and demanded certain luxury items from time to time. Although he fulfilled all their wishes, he could not satisfy their thirst for dowry. The complainant alleged that Sunita and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter were poisoned to death on July 25 by her in-laws. The police have registered a case under Sections 498-A and 304-B of the IPC in this connection.


The Indian Council of Social Sciences and Research (ICSSR) has granted a major research project – ‘Quality of care and family regulation practice among Scheduled Caste population: A geographical study of rural Haryana’ - to Dr Nina Singh, Reader, Geography Department of Maharshi Dayanand University. The research exercise would be conducted over a period of two years and be based on the field survey of four districts - Yamuna Nagar, Sirsa, Gurgaon and Mahendragarh. The research will probe the high growth rate of Scheduled Caste population, especially the high fertility rate and little impact of national family planning programme on the fertility behaviour on this segment.


East Delhi phones dead

New Delhi, July 27
Telephone lines in East Delhi went out of order today following a fault in the optical fibre network between ITO and Laxmi Nagar bringing the entire telecommunication network in the area to a halt. Mayur Vihar, IP Extension, Laxmi Nagar and Dilshad Garden were the most affected areas as subscribers could neither make calls from or receive calls at their telephones.

MTNL authorities expressed hope that the problem would be rectified by today evening as workers dug deep into underground cables to sort the problem. TNS



Gang of truck hijackers smashed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
With the arrest of four persons after a brief exchange of fire, the special staff of the West district police today claimed to have smashed a gang, which specialised in hijacking loaded trucks and then selling off the goods after getting rid of the truck driver and other staff.

The suspects were identified as Pramod, alias Bobby, Vijay, alias Sonu, Vikas, alias Vikki and Ajay, alias Bunty. All of them reportedly belong to the dreaded Satinder Barwala gang, which operates on the Uttar Pradesh-Delhi highways.

Apart from a truck, loaded with bales of clothes worth Rs 60 lakh, the police also seized two countrymade guns and a knife from them.

According to the police, the suspects were arrested following a tip-off that they would be reaching Delhi in the late hours of Friday night. A picket was set up and the truck was spotted near the District Centre, Janak Puri.

The police said that the four suspects abandoned the truck as soon as the police party stopped it and tried to run away. They were chased. One of the suspects also fired at the police but the shot was off the mark. All the four were overpowered.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that the suspects had trailed the truck in a Tata Sumo. The truck was on its way to the Capital from Surat with cloth bales. The suspects intercepted the truck near Achnair village in Agra district and dumped the truck driver and cleaner at an isolated spot after injecting them with some chemical and rendering them unconscious.

The police said that the suspects were involved in at least 12 cases of loot, murder and hijacking. Further investigations were continuing and the police of the neighbouring states have also been informed.

Held for rioting

The Chandni Chowk police arrested three footpath hawkers on the charge of rioting, as they allegedly beat up four persons — Sunil Kumar Choudhary, Vicky, Raja and Shrikant Dixit, who came in a Maruti car to eat paranthas last evening. The arrested hawkers were identified as Rohit, Nitin, and Surender.

Four persons came in a Maruti car at a time when footpath hawkers were closing their shops. The car of the visitors reportedly hit one of the hawkers and this led to the fighting. The fighting took a shape of rioting as other shopkeepers also joined the side of the hawkers. Meanwhile, the police came to the spot and arrested the hawkers, police said.


Kidnapping-cum-murder solved
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The East district police arrested Satyajit alias Lovely, his wife Sapna and their friend, Yunis, and worked out a kidnapping-cum-murder that took place in the second week of this month. Satyajit and Sapna had allegedly kidnapped Vijay Bajaj from Mansarovar Park area to take revenge.

They took him to Ghaziabad where they killed Vijay Bajaj by giving him poison in liquor. They were arrested in Lucknow while proceeding to Nepal to take shelter.

The East district police first arrested Yunis who disclosed that he was also involved in the conspiracy as he presented a country-made revolver and six live cartridges to the couple to kill Bajaj. Yunis informed the police that the prime suspects had gone to Lucknow by Lucknow Mail train from where they would go to Nepal to take shelter. The East district police informed their counterparts in Lucknow with the description of the accused. Satyajit and Sapna were arrested there by Lucknow Railway Police.

During interrogation, the accused disclosed that they had administered sleeping tablets in beer to Vijay Bajaj and strangled him. His body was dumped in a canal near Dadri, UP. His body has also been recovered. At the instance of the suspects, the vehicle of the victim, mobile phone, clothes and the weapon of offence have been recovered.

Held for murder

With the arrest of one desperate criminal, Sanjeev Kumar, the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police today claimed to have worked out a murder case and an attempt to murder case of Adarsh Nagar. The Crime Branch had information that Sanjeev Kumar, who was involved in the murder of Sikander, was likely to visit Azadpur Mandi. A team of the police laid a trap there last evening and arrested him as soon as he reached there. A loaded country-made pistol was recovered from his possession.

During interrogation, he disclosed that in May, one of his friends, Sandeep, was reportedly murdered by the brothers of Sikander who were identified as Ram Niwas and Bhupinder. Later during a quarrel, Sanjeev had fired at the brothers of Sikander but they escaped unhurt. At that time, he had decided to take revenge. He, along with his associates, shot dead Sikander last week. Efforts are being made to arrest his associates, the police said.

Stabbed to death

Raju (24), a resident of Sarai Rohilla, was stabbed to death by some unidentified persons. He was found seriously injured near Jalebi Chowk last evening. He was taken to Trauma Centre where he was declared brought dead. A case of murder has been registered and it is under investigation, the police said.



Huge heroin haul, 6 arrested
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, July 27
The Ghaziabad police have busted a gang of heroin smugglers and arrested six persons. The police have also seized high quality heroin worth Rs one crore from them. The gang leader is said to be a district level leader of the Rashtriya Parivartan Dal. An Indica car, two country-made revolvers and a knife were seized from them by the police.

The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Mr Chander Prakash, said that the Circle Officer (CO), Mr Dharmveer Singh and SO, Indirapuram Police Station, receive an information that smugglers with heroin were travelling in an Indica car towards Delhi.

After an encounter near Meenakshi Hospital, the police nabbed the six persons travelling in the car. A white plastic bag containing the smuggled heroin was also seized from them.

The arrested criminals were identified as Wahid of Chhipiwada Pilikhua, Zaffar of village Jamalpur, Shahid of Dehpa village, Vakil of Mohalla Shevazi, Ambrish of Hapur and Qurban of Debarsi village. They told the police that they were on their way to Delhi to sell the heroin.

The SSP said that Qurban was the kingpin of a drug smuggling cartel. The police said that he is the organising secretary of the Rashtriya Parivartan Dal in Meerut Division. According to the police, the words ‘Organising secretary, Rashtriya Parivartan Dal’ was written on the number plate of the Indica car seized from them. Investigations have revealed that three trucks owned by Qurban are attached with a transport company of Vijay Nagar here.

The high quality heroin, Mr Chander Prakash said, is normally brought into India from Pakistan via Nepal. Another angle being explored by the police is whether Qurban had any links with the ISI of Pakistan. The police team, which nabbed the heroin gang, has been awarded Rs 10,000 by the IGP, Mr Vikram Singh.



Delhi cop shot at by scooter-borne criminals
Tribune News Service.

New Delhi, July 27
A Delhi Police Constable, Anil Kumar, posted at a picket in the Seemapuri area, was injured after he was shot at by two scooter-borne persons, who were stopped for routine checking. The Constable has been admitted to a hospital where he is reported to be progressing well.

One of the suspects was later overpowered and arrested. He was identified as Ashok of Aligarh. Efforts are being made to trace the other suspect who managed to escape.

According to the police, the incident occurred at about 4.30 am when the Constable stopped the two persons on a scooter for checking, as one of them was carrying a suspicious looking bag near the Tahirpur tri-junction.

The suspect carrying the bag jumped off the scooter and ran away but was chased by Constable Anil Kumar. When the duo reached a nearby park, the suspect whipped out a country-made gun and shot at the Constable.

In the meantime, his colleague, Constable Dinesh, heard the gunshots and ran after them into the park where the two policemen managed to overpower the suspect after a short chase. The suspect is being further interrogated to ascertain his antecedents and his involvement, if any, in other cases.


Industries may flee Noida due to power crisis

Noida, July 27
The entrepreneurs and businessmen of Noida organised a protest rally and sat at a dharna at the office of the Deputy General Manager of UP Power Corporation. They raised slogans and criticised the mismanagement of the state government and the Electricity Department on the power front. In the rally organised in response to call given by the ‘Western UP Udhyog Vayapar Mandal, hundreds of traders said that power the position in the industrial town of Noida was going from bad to worse with each passing day.

The angry traders blamed the state government and the functioning of officials of the Power Corporation for the deteriorating situation.

The traders warned that if the power situation was not improved within a week, they will ghero the Chief Executive Officer of Noida. Mr Yogesh Anand, Mr L. B. Singh and Rakesh Kohli of the Udhyog Vayapar Mandal led the rally to the office of the Deputy General Manager, UP Power Corporation in Sector-16. They continued with their slogan-shouting and condemned the officials of the UP Power Corporation. Soon, Mr B. B. Singh along with other officers reached the office complex. The traders said Noida had been acclaimed a “No power cut zone” for 26 years after its inception, but had touched it nadir in power supply and operations during the last one year.

Mr L. B. Singh warned that the traders and entrepreneurs will be compelled to relocate from Noida to other states if the present power crises continued in the coming months. Production has been severely affected, he added. Mr Yogesh Anand said the power scenario had never been so bad. It is a direct result of the faulty maintenance of power units and a deliberate neglect of this vital department by the state government, he added. The Deputy GM, Mr B.B. Singh received a memorandum from the traders and assured them that the power supply in the area would soon improve. OC


Delhi HC raps IAF Vocational College
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
The Delhi High Court has rapped the Air Force Vocational College for conducting the Nursery Teachers’ Training Course for the past 10 years despite failing to get the course recognised.

This amounted to virtually misleading the applicants, who take admission on the assumption that in a month or so the course would be recognised, Mr Justice S. N, Kapoor said.

The college disregarded its duty to inform students pursuing the course about its failure to get the course recognised, the court said. It should have informed them within a reasonable time, say three months from the date of admission, and should have given them the option to quit, the court added.

“The college management should have taken this much care. It is supposed that they would inform the new entrants at least,” the court observed, while dealing with a plea by a former student who could not get appointment due to the non-recognition of the course.

The court, however, noted that the management was making efforts to get the course recognised by the Delhi administration.

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