Tuesday, October 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

N C R   S T O R I E S


Chautala solves problems of 134 villages in two hrs!
Our Correspondent

Rewari, October 28
Problems of 134 villages solved in two hours! It could happen only in Haryana. Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala seems to have a magic wand. He had an interactive session with sarpanches and panches of about 134 village panchayats of the Bawal constituency (Reserved) of Rewari district as part of the ‘Sarkar Aap Ke Dwar’ programme (Phase III) held at Kund town, 23 km from here today. What marked the event was the time taken by the Chief Minister to solve the problems of these villages.

The session was an ‘open sesame’ to all solutions as the entire exercise was wrapped up by the Chief Minister in fewer than two hours with the representatives of each panchayat getting less than a minute to air their grievances. In the brief one-to-one, the elders of each panchayat were given information regarding development works carried out in their villages with the help of the previously allocated grant.

The Chief Minister did not forget to make a one or two-line announcements about the newly sanctioned development works. And almost all announcements were of the same nature. When some elders endeavoured to put forward specific demands of a different nature, they were sent back by the Chief Minister with ‘honeyed’ snubs. Thus, the high-speed event saw elders coming in and going out as if it were a computerised ticket counter.

During the session, the Chief Minister gave directions to the district administration for the construction of circular roads in 71 villages, link roads to cemeteries in 45 villages, sheds at the cremation ground in a village, old-age homes in nine villages and classrooms in six village schools as well as repair of Harijan ‘chaupals’ in eight villages, construction of certain rural roads and removal of the drinking water shortage in 12 villages.



CM inaugurates new bus station
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, October 28
The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, inaugurated the newly constructed bus stand last evening. The bus stand, spread over 10 acres, was constructed at a cost of nearly Rs 2.56 crore.

Addressing the gathering, the Chief Minister said the new bus stand had 12 bays now and six more bays were likely to be constructed shortly.

He said all the facilities including potable water, toilets, waiting rooms, post office, police post etc were available at the bus stand for the convenience of commuters.

Later in the evening, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of a workshop for the roadways. It would be completed at an estimated cost of Rs 3.11 crore. The Chief Minister said nearly 2,000 new buses had been included in the roadways during the last three years and the same number of buses would be purchased soon.

Meanwhile, the Rohtak depot of the Haryana Roadways launched city bus service for convenience of residents of the town today. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Yadav, inaugurated the new bus service.

Mr Virender Lathar, general manager, Rohtak depot of the Haryana Roadways, said four local buses had been pressed into service at present to cover all the main routes in the town. A passenger would have to pay a flat rate of Rs 4 to avail the facility, he added. However, the residents alleged that no bus service had been provided for the residents of HUDA sectors.

They said that they had to spend extra time and money for reaching sectors as they had to hire two autorickshaws for reaching their destinations.



Haryana to acquire yet another varsity
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, October 28
Haryana is likely to have a fifth university shortly. This university would be set up at Sirsa and named after late Deputy Prime Minister Ch. Devi Lal.

The state Government has reportedly recommended to the Centre to set up a sports academy also at Sirsa on the pattern of Hisar which has two universities – the CCS Haryana Agriculturall University and the Guru Jambheshwar University. The proposed university, it is reliably learnt, will have jurisdiction over the educational institutions situated in the districts of Sirsa, Fatehabad, Hisar and Jind. At present, these institutions are affiliated to the Kurukshetra University.

Meanwhile, the experts committee set up by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to suggest guidelines for appointment of vice-chancellors of Central, state and deemed-to-be universities has recommended that the vice-chancellor should be an academician of the highest order with qualities of administration. The experts committee was headed by Prof A. Nigavekar, presently Chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), with Ms Madhu Arora, IAS, as representative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development which controls the education system of the country. The other members on the committee were Prof G D Sharma, Dr Amrik Singh, Prof P V Indiresan, Prof Neelamgham, Prof Roopa Shah, Prof Karuna Chanana, Prof R P Kaushik, Prof V N R Pillai and Brig B R Prasad.

Suggesting guidelines for the selection of vice-chancellor, the committee said that the incumbent should be well versed with university planning, decision-making, students handling, negotiating skills and inter-personnel relationship. The vice-chancellor should also be able to foresee the possible points of strength and weakness of the universities and act timely. He should be a person having the strength of character to resist any pressure and of any kind, the committee said.

Haryana has four universities and all the existing vice-chancellors appointed by the present government, whatever merit in their respective professions, are certainly not academicians. None of them has even been a university teacher. The three-year term of the Vice-Chancellor, Kurukshetra University, expires in March, 2003 followed by the Vice-Chancellor of Maharshi Dayanand University (June 2003) and the Guru Jambheshwar University (September 2003). The Vice-Chancellor of Ch Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University still has a year to retire.

The experts committee has suggested that the procedure to select a vice-chancellor should be initiated at least six months in advance of the expiry of the term of the existing vice-chancellor so that he/she should be made fully aware of the developments taking place in that particular university. 



Ordinance soon to set Metro zooming
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
The Union Cabinet has decided to promulgate an ordinance on the operation and maintenance of the Delhi Metro that is likely to ferry commuters sometime in December. This is despite the reservations of the Council of Ministers of the Government of NCT of Delhi.

The spokesperson of the Union Government on Monday told media persons that the Union Cabinet decided in favour of an ordinance as such a step was necessary for putting in place a legal framework so that the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) could begin commercial operations.

The proposed ordinance makes provisions for appointment of commissioner of Metro Railways Safety and other installations to ensure safety of passengers. The commissioner will be vested with requisite powers to enquire into an accident involving the Metro Railways.

“It is only after his report of inspection, to the effect that the Metro Railways can be opened without any danger to them, and sanction by the Union Government that the Metro Railways shall be permitted to operate,” the spokesperson said.

The proposed ordinance also permits the DMRC to enter into working arrangements with other agencies. It would also make provisions for laying down the fare structure on the recommendations of the Fare Fixation Committee that will be set up by the Centre. This committee would have a maximum term of three months.

The spokesperson told the media persons that the Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Ordinance 2002 would be replaced by a Bill to be introduced in the ensuing Winter Session of Parliament beginning in the latter half of November.

The Government of NCT of Delhi had objected to the ordinance on the ground that it should be given a say in administrative decisions of particular concern to Delhiites.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit or her Cabinet colleague and Transport Minister Ajay Maken were not available for comments.

Officials said the Government of NCT of Delhi would be in a position to offer any comments only after studying the proposal in detail. Since the Government of India and the Government of NCT of Delhi have made 15 per cent investments each in the project, the Council of Ministers had been maintaining that Delhi should have an equal, if not more, say in fixing tariff, identifying routes, etc.

The dispute, officials claimed, could be traced to the Centre’s “unilaterally” drafting the Metro Railways (Operation and Maintenance) Bill 2002 “ignoring the Government of NCT of Delhi’s interests”. To register its protest, they said, the Cabinet had rejected the draft Bill and constituted a committee to make suitable recommendations for the Cabinet’s perusal. 



Free-for-all over welfare funds in block meeting
Our correspondent

Jhajjar, October 28
Chaotic scenes prevailed in Block Samiti meeting held in the Panchayat Bhawan here today. The meeting, called to distribute cheques of various funds, was attended by 27 members while two members remained absent in the House of 29.

However, an argument ensued between two groups after the meeting began at about 11am. It turned violent and the members started attacking each other. While the members were seen engaged in scuffle, some of them threw chairs.

According to information, the bone of contention was the criterion of distributing development funds among block members. While a majority group led by vice-president Pawan Kumar maintained that the funds should be provided as per the requirement of carrying out development work, another group supported by president Rampat, said that it should be distributed equally among all the members.

Another point of dispute was the cash fund for the construction of nine houses and 21 latrines for the poor as each member wanted to get the funds for his block.

On seeing that the situation was becoming controllable, someone called the police. Later, chairman of Zila Parishad intervened and decided to distribute the funds equally among all the members.

According to information, a cheque worth Rs 40,000 was given to each member. While funds were also made available for building nine houses and 21 latrines apart from 20 houses, announced by the ZP chief. Each house and latrine would cost Rs 20,000 and 4,000 respectively.



Noida expressway opens
Our Correspondent

Noida, October 28
The Noida-Greater Noida expressway has at last been declared open for public. The one-lane of the expressway, opened by the State Transport Minister Naseemudin Sadiqui, had been formally inaugurated by the state Chief Minister on October 15 ‘on remote from Lucknow’. Even one lane of the road was not complete then.

The eight-lane expressway, which passes through nine inter-passes, two overbridges, service lanes, under-passes and service roads on both sides, will cost Rs 180 crore.

It will enable the people reach Greater Noida from Noida in 15 minutes.

It will also speed up the traffic from Delhi to Greater Noida where one could reach from Ashram Chowk in South Delhi to Greater Noida via Noida toll bridge in just 25 minutes.

The expressway which takes off from near Amity School in Noida in Sector-4 connects Greater Noida at JP Green.

There is an elaborate connectivity planned for other parts of Delhi. The expressway will provide a link with National Highway 24, Sarita Vihar, Nizammudin in New Delhi where the public transport system will provide links with all these destinations.

After the basis infrastructure of the expressway has been completed, green belt in the form of plants and shrubs, hedges and some fences, etc will be provided.

The convoy of Transport Minister Naseemudin Sadiqui started from near Amity School in Noida where he was received by the Chairman of Noida-Greater Noida, Mr Lalit Srivastava, and Mr D S Bains, Noida CEO.

At the Greater Noida end, he was received by ACEO D.S. Garg and Dy. CEO Komal Ram of Greater Noida.

It may be mentioned that the Chief Minister had accorded top priority to the completion of the expressway along with the setting up of the Noida University in the area.

The deadline for the completion of expressway had been postponed many times. First, the target date was September 30, 2002, and then it was changed to October 15, as the Ircon, the company building the expressway, had expressed doubts on meeting the deadline.



Faridabad pollution for all to see

Faridabad, October 28
The district authorities have decided to install a light emitting diode (LED) instrument to display the level of pollution in the town. According to Deputy Commissioner Anil Malik, the instrument sponsored by ‘Shirepool India Limited’, would be placed at Ajronda Chowk on the National Highway (Mathura Road), which is one of the busiest traffic points in the town.

It will display the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM), SO2 (Sulphur Dioxide) and NO2 (Nitrogh Oxide) contents in the air, while the required standard is up to 500 mcgs (micrograms) of SPM and the SO2 and NO2 be within the range of SO MGQ. The higher amount of these matter could cause several respiratory disorders.

Admitting that the majority of three-wheeler scooters had been using adulterated diesel (mixed with kerosene), the Deputy Commissioner stated that the number of such vehicles plying on the roads here would be reduced to check pollution.

He said from November 1, the three-wheelers would not only display the age of their vehicles through various colour strips put on them, but would also have to operate on alternate days, depending upon their registration number. TNS



Having failed twice, Iraqi jumps to death in thana
Tribune News service

New Delhi, October 28
After having failed twice in his attempt to commit suicide, a 49-year-old Iraqi refugee living in the Lodhi Road area jumped to his death from the second floor of the area police station after he was brought there for attempted suicide.

The police said the body of Khadir Abbasi had been sent for a post-mortem examination. Preliminary inquiries had revealed the refugee wanted to go to some other country but the office concerned had reportedly declined his request.

According to the police, Abbasi had tried to commit suicide in 1999 by cutting his wrists. However, some people spotted him and took him to the hospital. This morning again, Abbasi slit his wrists and was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). He was handed over to the police after medical aid.

The police said that he was brought to the Lodhi Road police station for recording of his statement. On finding an opportunity, the Iraqi rushed out and jumped from the second floor. Senior police officers and the United Nations office here were also informed. Further investigations were continuing, the police said.



Cabby gets thrashed for one-minute ‘impudence’
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, October 28
The image of the Jhajjar police has taken a beating today when four policemen thrashed a maxi-cab driver who only told them ‘to wait just a minute’, when the cops ordered him to transport them to their ‘thana’ from the Zila Parisad office here.

According to information, the panchayat of Nogaon village came to the SDM office to complain about some problem in their village. The cab driver parked the vehicle along the roadside and the panchayat led by woman sarpanch Munni Devi then entered the office.

Meanwhile, four policemen came out of the adjoining Zila Parisad office and ‘ordered’ the driver to take them to the thana in his cab.

The driver pleaded them to ‘wait for a minute’ so that he could intimate the panchayat members. This ‘impudence’ reportedly enraged the policemen and they charged upon the driver, slapped his face and hit him with lathis.

Two pressmen noticed the incident and the sarpanch Munni Devi also returned along with the panchayat members as the SDM was not in chair. They noted the names of the cops and said that they would report the matter to the SP.

The policemen then made themselves scarce. They returned after sometime along with senior policemen in a jeep and tendered apology. This pacified the panchayat which decided not to report the matter to the SP.



Short messaging service
3 ez steps 2 move closer to consumer
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
A year after it shocked the language experts, threatening to cause serious distortions in the way the language is written, SMS, or short messaging service, has emerged as a tool for not just quick and effective communication, but has prompted the marketing whiz kids to take aid of its “three easy steps” operation to move closer to the consumer. Take the case of Music channel major, MTV. In a tie up with cellular service provider Air Tel, the channel has announced the launch of its first, ‘on-air’ SMS-based interactive show. Viewers who wish to dedicate a song can now do so by following the ‘three easy steps” listed by the channel.

What’s more the channel makes sure that the person for whom the message is dedicated is kept informed. The channel officials ensure that the person watches the message and the song being aired. TV channels and production houses have already begun using SMS to their advantage. An increasing number of programmes invite viewers to send in their responses through SMS.

SMS coming to the aid of those seeking innovation does not come as a surprise though. Considering that the language is easier on the fingers, and a quick mode of communication to boot, the service has ushered in the era of digital communication.

“Interactivity has been one of MTV’s biggest strengths and technology has helped us take this to an altogether new level. MTV’s V J Hunt has been till today the most ambitious and successful use of interactive television. This has encouraged us to take it a step further and create India’s first live song dedication SMS programme, which marries technology with youth and consumer insight to enhance viewer’s experience”, explains, Alex Kuruvilla, Managing Director, MTV.

This marriage between technology and viewers has also elevated the status of the television, almost. From the idiot box, it now seems to have evolved into an interactive box. With the viewers being able to communicate, it seems not so impossible that shortly we will have interactive programmes, where the viewers will dictate the story line. As for the cellular service providers, it is time to be merry. Says Director Marketing, Bharti tele-services, Hemant Sachdev, “We are pleased to partner with MTV in this unique endeavour to provide this business critical segment with an exciting, interactive, fun experience”.

Meanwhile, the use of the digital mode of communication has only just begun. Time is not far away when even students in schools and colleges will be required to punch in answers on computer keyboards. After all, the language is easy.



Free farmers or face stir, threatens BKU
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, October 28
The Haryana unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union has given an ultimatum to the state government for the release of arrested farmers and withdrawal of false cases instituted against them by November 1 (Haryana Day) or face a statewide agitation on this issue.

This was announced by Mr Hari Singh Khokhar, President of the Haryana unit of the BKU at a farmers’ mahapanchayat held at Bahalgarh village, about 10 km from here, yesterday. It was addressed by Mr Kabool Singh, President of the Sonepat district unit, Major Ishwar Dayal Tyagi, Mr Ram Mehar, Mr Zile Singh, Mr Shanti Sarup Saroha and others.

He also announced that farmers of Sonepat, Ambala and Panipat districts would offer arrest on October 29, 30 and 31, respectively. A state-level rally will also be organised on November 1 at Churni Jatan village in Kurukshetra district where the leaders of the BKU would announce the decision for intensifying the struggle against the state government for forcing it to release the arrested farmers and withdraw the criminal cases instituted against them.

Mr Khokhar appealed to the farmers to take part in large numbers in this rally and express their solidarity with the BKU on this issue. He urged the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, to intervene in the matter and order the release of the farmers and withdrawal of criminal cases against them without any further delay.

He also demanded immediate payment to sugarcane growers who had supplied their produce to the sugar mill at Naraingarh in Ambala district and accept other demands. He pointed out that the sugarcane growers had been sitting on a dharna since June 12 last outside the mill but the management had failed to release the payment to them.

Mr Khokhar also demanded the payment of bonus on paddy on the pattern of Punjab, round-the-clock supply of electricity in the agricultural sector, repair of roads in the rural areas and end to political intervention in the working of the gram panchayats. He also demanded immediate ban on the pollution causing factories and 80 per cent jobs to be reserved for local persons in the industrial units to be set up in different parts of Haryana.



Chautala govt anti-farmer: Surjewala
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, October 28
Mr Shamsher Singh Surjewala, former HPCC President and the President of the Haryana Krishak Samaj, has termed the calling of the special session of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha as a gimmick.

Talking to mediapersons here last evening, he said the state government wanted to pass an anti-farmer legislation in this session which would prove fatal for the farming community.

He also described the Chautala Government as anti-farmer and anti-people. The government, he said, had lost the confidence of the people, particularly the farmers, in the state who wanted a pro-farmer and pro-people government.

He said the prices of electricity, fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides, diesel and petrol were going up every month and this had led to strong resentment among the people, particularly the farmers. He also said that power and water supply in the agricultural sector were erratic and inadequate and the canal water was not reaching the tail-end villages. As a result, the fields of the farmers had dried up and the farmers were facing difficulties in sowing the rabi crops in the state.

Mr Surjewala also referred to the Dulina lynching case and blamed the police for the murder of five Dalits. He alleged that Mr Chautala had given a clean chit to the police. He demanded a CBI inquiry into the case and punishment to be meted out to police officials responsible for the massacre of five Dalits.

He announced that the Khet Mazdoor Congress and the Haryana Krishak Samaj would jointly organise a demonstration on October 31 next in front of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha to protest against the anti-farmer policies of the Chautala government. Several thousand party workers from all over the state would join this procession and express their solidarity with the party leadership.

Mr Surjewala also appealed to the people in general and the Congress workers in particular to take part in large numbers in this demonstration and lodge a strong protest against the anti-people policies of the Chautala government in the state.




‘MCD privatising Tehbazari to save its skin’
Syed Ali Ahmed

MR Vijender Kumar Gupta, the vociferous BJP member of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, is a former vice-president of the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) and has been associated with the RSS since his childhood. The RSS teachings influenced him to join politics and became associated with the political activities of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarythi Parishad, the student wing of the BJP.

In 1984-85, he was elected as the vice-president of DUSU while he was doing his M.Com. from Sri Ram College of Commerce. After finishing his postgraduation, he joined the BJP.

Senior leaders of the BJP were impressed with his political sincerity and he was given the ticket to contest the MCD election from Rohini in 1997. His sincerity paid off and he won the election with a huge margin. He emerged victorious again from the same ward even though the BJP did not fare so well in the election.

Even while sitting in the Opposition benches, he has made his presence felt by keeping the ruling party on its toes. He has tried to raise the issues and problems of the ordinary masses and give voice to their grievances.

The Municipal Commissioner has passed the order for transfer duty security, though there is no such provision in DMC Act. If it is implemented, a large number of Delhiites will suffer. As an Opposition member in the MCD, what are you doing to save the people from its disadvantages?

As an Opposition member, I raised this issue in the Standing Committee and the House meetings of the Corporation. I have also sent a letter to the Lt-Governor pointing out the anti-people order of the Municipal Commissioner. However, the Congress, which is the ruling party in the Corporation, has not taken up this issue with the senior officers.

This is basically an anti-people move of the ruling party. When I raised the issue in the Standing Committee, the Commissioner agreed with my view but the order has not been withdrawn.

There is no such provision even in the DMC Act. This is a self-made order of the Commissioner. According to Section 147 (2) B of the DMC Act, there are five categories for charging transfer duty and general power of attorney holder is not included in these categories. According to Article 265 of the Constitution of India, no tax can be collected before the issue of an order by the authorities concerned. The MCD has no authority to collect this duty. This forms part of the India Stamp Duty, which is mentioned in the Indian Stamp Duty Act 1899.

Even though transfer duty up to five per cent in Delhi can be imposed by the MCD, the collection can only be done by the Delhi Government. This is already being done and Rs 60 crore are being given to the MCD per annum. The transfer duty order is a ‘Tughlaki’ order and 95 per cent of Delhiites will be affected by this order. If it is not withdrawn, a lot of hue and cry would be made in future.

A number of lacunae are there in the toll tax report tabled by the Municipal Commissioner The report is to be discussed in the meeting of the Standing Committee. If it comes into force without deleting the lacunae, the Corporation will be the loser. What is your view on it?

Certainly, the Corporation will be a loser if the report is implemented before making the necessary changes in it. The report to privatise toll tax was prepared by Professor A.K. Sharma from the Institute of Planning and Architecture, though he has little knowledge of the working of the Corporation. Toll tax barrier was mentioned as toll plaza, which is technically wrong.

If it is implemented, the entire area where the barrier will be erected, becomes the property of the contractor for the given period. He would be able to conduct various business activities from the plaza.

The second important lacunae is that toll tax could be collected at both the entry and exit gates, which is wrong. Even as it has been clearly mentioned by the Municipal Commissioner in the meeting that the tax will be collected only from defaulters at exit points, there is considerable opportunities for misuse of this point.

Even while pointing out the weaknesses of the report, I do not doubt the intention and credibility of the framer of the report. I am sure that he does not have any knowledge of the mindset of the contractors.

Besides, there are several other weak points in the report that the ruling party is not sincere to rectify. Most of the mistakes in the report are mainly due to the negligence of the executive wing. It is for the first time in the history of the Corporation that the toll tax will be collected by a private agency. The question is from where will they get experienced contractors? They expect to collect Rs 100 crore through toll tax, though the present figure is only Rs 57 crore. It is also mentioned that the MCD will penalise the defaulters though there is no such provision in the DMC Act. The Corporation should have amended the DMC Act before making such provision in the report.

What is your view on the general impression that development work is being hampered by the lackluster attitude of the Corporation?

No comment. I would not like to discuss this first as it affects a lot of my colleagues across the political spectrum.

Tehbazari collection is being handed over to the NGOs. If all the departments of the Corporation are privatised, what about the corporation employees?

The ruling party in the Corporation claimed that allotment of Tehbazari and its fee collection in Lodhi Road market area to a NGO is a pilot project.

If the Corporation is successful in this project, then it would think of privatising the Tehbazari collection. I do not think this is logical. Moreover, it is illegal as it is not mentioned in the DMC Act. If it is in the purview of the DMC Act, why was the pilot project given to Manushi and not to other organisations?

It was a preplanned act on the part of the ruling party and senior officers of the Corporation. As far as I know, Manushi had written a letter to the Commissioner asking for the right to collect Tehbazari in the Lodhi Road market area.

That very letter was made a preamble of the Standing Committee and passed. Frankly speaking, privatisation of Tehbazari collection is being made by the Corporation to save its skin as they are unable to implement the direction of the Supreme Court issued in the Genda Ram versus MCD case in 1993, related to the Tehbazari collection.



Striking NSIT staff want director’s suspension
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, October 28
The indefinite hunger strike launched by employees of the Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology entered its seventh day today. The union is demanding the suspension of the Director of the institute, Dr B. N. Gupta, and the initiation of a CBI inquiry against him on charges of malpractice.

Mr Jaikishan, Secretary, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, forwarded his support to the strike, which has accused the Director of malpractice related to the recruitment of professors, lecturers, Class III & IV employees and computer purchases. Mr Jaikishen further alleged that the Director had turned down government orders of handing over charge to the seniormost professor.

The strike took its toll on Mr Ramphal, who had to be rushed to Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital after he complained of excessive weakness. The internal faculty has also offered its support to the strike, further strengthening the resolve of the striking union. Delhi MLA Mahabal Mishra is expected to address the strike tomorrow.



SAD (Badal) activists detained
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
A group of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) activists heading towards Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s residence to protest against what they called the interference of her party’s government in Punjab in the matters of Sikhs was detained midway here today.

The protestors burnt the effigies of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and the Punjab Chief Minister, capt Amarinder Singh, and raised slogans against the ruling Congress Party.

The SAD (Badal) Delhi unit chief, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, who led the protest, accused the Congress of attempting to revive unrest in Punjab, which had suffered a decade of militancy. “He (Capt Amarinder Singh) seems hell-bent on creating communal disturbance as Sikhs observe the 18th anniversary of the 1984 massacre of their community members,” he added.

The deputy leader of the Opposition in the MCD, Mr Onkar Singh Thapar, and the SAD Delhi unit secretary general, Mr Kuldip Singh Bhogal, were also present in the protest march. The march was headed for 10 Janpath, the residence of the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Speaking to the media, Mr Onkar Singh Thapar said, “The Congress government in the state headed by Capt Amarinder Singh has crossed all limits of political vendetta by resorting to atrocities on Akali Dal members. We demand an immediate halt to it.”

Hundreds of party activists, who participated in the demonstration, later courted arrest, Mr Thapar added.



Uneasy is the head that wears a helmet!
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 28
Wearing a helmet by a two-wheeler rider is not only necessary from the safety point of view, but has also been mandatory as per the Traffic Rules Act. That is an old hat!

In Faridabad, the rule is flouted openly and the majority of two-wheeler riders thinks that it was optional for them to wear a helmet.

The town, a prominent industrial hub of Haryana, has a large number of people who own motorcycles and scooters. The number of people, killed or injured in accidents in the district, has been growing constantly. Many of them are two-wheeler riders who are run over by speeding vehicles on the National Highway or main Mathura Road which dissect the town in two main parts.

Hardly a day passes when there is no accident on the 20 km stretch of Mathura Road from Badarpur border to Ballabgarh town here.

Lakhs of persons earn their bread and butter here through jobs offered by the hundreds of industrial units and their ancillaries. The employees working in various shifts depend upon two-wheelers to come to work.

So, the sale of two-wheelers has been much more in Faridabad compared to some other towns in the state, as per the surveys conducted in the past. While many people using two-wheelers buy helmets at the time of purchasing a two-wheeler, the youngsters in recent times, especially college and school-going students do not wear helmets while riding a mobike or scooter. Lack of implementation of traffic rules in the town has led to an increase in the number of people avoiding a helmet. Although the Punjab and Haryana High Court in its order about two years ago had directed the state government to implement strictly various traffic rules in the interest of public safety, the effect of the order has not been seen. While Delhi has an effective and strong traffic police system, Faridabad on the other hand, has no such network.

There are only a handful of cops who are stationed at various crossings on the National Highway, and interestingly, these cops have no challaning authority.

It has been witnessed on several occasions that the traffic cops bandy words with the drivers over violations, but generally, the culprits go off scot-free.

It seems that only a less influential or poor person is fined, said a local resident.

The local police which places ‘nakas’ at various points, especially during nights, sometimes stop two-wheeler riders to enquire about papers, but no regular drive has been taken up to ensure the use of helmets. A large number of school students could be seen speeding up their two-wheelers without a helmet or even a licence. There has been a demand that a separate traffic police department be created with proper strength of cops to fine the violators right on the spot, but the proposal is still to get the attention of the authorities.


Preparations for samagam in full swing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
Preparations for the 55th annual Nirankari Sant Samagam, scheduled to be held here from November 9 to November 11, are in full swing. A vast township of tents is coming up fast on the samagam grounds on both sides of Burari Road in North Delhi. Thousands of volunteers of the Sant Nirankari Sewa Dal and other devotees have been working daily from early morning till late in the evening for the last two weeks to level, sweep and clear the grounds and make them ready for the tents.

A large number of them have come from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and other far-flung areas. Some of them have brought their own tractor-trolleys, trucks etc. At the venue, volunteers have to remove bushes standing in knee-deep water before filling and levelling the marshy ground.

Spread over more than 350 acres of land, the samagam complex will not only have a big pandal for the Satsang programmes but also provide residential accommodation to lakhs of devotees coming from far-off places. The participants belonging to Delhi and adjoining areas up to Karnal, Rohtak and Ghaziabad will commute daily.

All arrangements are being made under the guidance and supervision of the 22-member Samagam Committee set up by His Holiness Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj, head of the Sant Nirankari Mission.



CRPF exhibition
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
A three-day Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) welfare exhibition concluded here yesterday. The exhibition in which sectors from all over the country put up their stalls was declared closed after a brief ceremony.

Stalls showcasing various wares like pottery, textiles, handicrafts and furniture were put on display. This was the eighth such exhibition, the funds generated from this fete will be spent for the welfare of the disabled personnel and the children and widows of the CRPF personnel.

Ms Chitra Mishra, president, CRPF Wives’ Welfare Association, was the chief guest and gave away the prizes to the best stalls. Prizes were given to three best Family Welfare Centres and four best mahila workers of Family Welfare Centre.



Confusion over postal rates clears
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, October 28
The confusion over excess rates charged by the Department of Posts for book packets containing printed books has been cleared with the intervention of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). The department in a letter has clarified that the postage charges for the above material would be the same as applicable before the revision of postal tariff from June 1 this year.

The PUCL General Secretary, Mr Y. P. Chhibber, had taken up the matter with the Department of Posts after it was reported that the department had been charging the revised rate of Re 1 for the first 100 gm and Rs 5 for additional 100 gm for printed books while the revised rate was applicable for periodicals sent through book post. The department, it is learnt, had failed to mention the new rates were not applicable to printed books. The department has now clarified that the rate has not been revised for this category and it would charge Re 1 per 100 gm and the same amount (Re 1) for additional 100 gm.



Delhi cop killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
Vijender (32), a constable posted at the Hari Nagar police station, died in an accident at Srehra Mode at Jafarpur Kalan in South-West district last evening. The constable was a resident of Jhajjar in Haryana.

When the accident occurred, he was going to his house in his Maruti car. While he was on the way, a tractor, which did not have headlights, came in the middle of the road and hit the constable’s car killing him on the spot. The tractor driver had absconded, the police said.

In another case, Davinder, a motorcyclist, was killed when he lost control over his vehicle and rammed into the wall on the other side of the pavement in front of Risvi Nursery on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road last night.

Link Red Cross Hospital with others: L-G

The Lieutenant Governor, Mr Vijai Kapoor, has suggested that Red Cross Maternity and Child Care Hospital, Seemapuri, should establish functional linkages with the major hospitals of the area. He was speaking at the foundation stone laying function of the expansion project that had been entrusted with the DDA as a deposit work. The DDA has exempted the Red Cross Society from departmental charges for planning and execution of the project. The expansion of the hospital is a part of DDA’s multifarious development activities undertaken recently.

The work includes construction of flyovers, development of sports complex and parks. The L-G added that the healthcare of women and children needed to be addressed. The new building of the hospital, costing Rs 1.6 crore, with the state-of-the-art facilities and a modern neo-natal care unit is expected to be completed within a year.

Attempt to murder

The Seelampur police arrested Vinay and Yogender, both in the 20s, on the charge of attempt to murder and offences under the Arms Act last night. The suspects quarrelled with one Deepak in his shop at Chauhan Banger over some petty issue. Yogender allegedly tried to fire at Deepak but he latter escaped unhurt. Other shopkeepers overpowered the suspects and handed them over to the police.



Two killed in tractor-bus collision
Our correspondent

Rohtak, October 28
Two youths were killed and another one was injured when a tractor carrying them collided with a Haryana Roadways bus and overturned near Maina village last evening. According to information, three youths were going in a tractor trailer from Karontha village to Rohtak. The tractor was hit by a bus and overturned. While Mahabir of Bharat colony and Jagbir of Karontha village succumbed to their injuries, Sonu of Sheria village sustained injuries and was admitted to the hospital. A case under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the IPC was registered against the bus driver.

Dowry death

Exhausted by the harassment for dowry, a married woman committed suicide by setting herself afire at Madina village recently. In an FIR lodged with the police on Saturday, Mr Raghbir Singh of Gudhan village said his daughter, Ms Mamu, was married with Vijay Pal at Madina village. He alleged that his daughter was often maltreated by her in-laws for bringing more dowry. He said his daughter was forced to set herself afire as she had been fed up with the atrocities at the hands of her in-laws. The police have registered a case under Sections 306, 498-A and 34 of the IPC against the in-laws of the deceased.

Man commits suicide

Jhajjar: Dilbag, a 25-year-old person, reportedly committed suicide by consuming sulphas tablets in Azadpur village of the district last night. According to information, the deceased was married in Pali village about five years ago. However, his wife deserted him some months ago. Sources said that the panchayat of his village had gone to the wife’s village for a compromise but failed.

Funeral of Para Commando

Narnaul: The body of First Para Commando Subedar Ram Kumar was consigned to flames on Sunday at his native Palri Panihar village (Mahendragarh subdivision) with full state honours. The funeral pyre was lit by his son Divesh Kumar. He was posted at Srinagar at the headquarters. A large number of villagers and leaders of various political parties attended the funeral. According to Major S. S. Yadav, Ram Kumar was fired upon by terrorists at 3 pm on October 24. The brave Ram Kumar returned the fire killing three terrorists. But he also received bullet wounds and succumbed later.

Structures demolished

Sonepat: The officials of the demolition squad of the district administration, accompanied by a strong contingent of police, pressed into service JCB machines and demolished more than 100 unauthorised structures in front of shops on the road between Shanni Mandir and Gita Bhawan Chowk throughout the day yesterday. When some shopkeepers offered resistance, they were pushed back by the police by waving their lathis. Many shopkeepers alleged that the officials had adopted a discriminatory attitude in demolishing the structures and removing the encroachments.

The Divali festival was round the corner and there was no justification for launching the campaign at this time, they said. The shopkeepers urged the Deputy Commissioner to order the stoppage of the campaign till Divali so that they did not suffer the financial loss.



Heroin worth Rs 3.5 crore seized
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
The Narcotics Branch of the Delhi Police today claimed to have seized heroin worth Rs 3.5 crore and ganja worth Rs 10 lakh with the arrest of six persons from different places in the Capital.

In the first case, sleuths of the Narcotics Branch arrested Mumtaz and Afroz, residents of Chandni Chowk in the walled city. They were carrying 2 kg of fine quality heroin worth Rs 2 crore in the international market. In the second case, the police arrested Pratap Singh (38) and Chander Shekhar (21), residents of Mansaur, MP. The duo was arrested while they were carrying 1.5 kg heroin to hand it over to their contact near Kali Mandir on Ring Road in the Capital.

In another case, the police seized 285 kg ganja and arrested Sia Ram Mehto and Surein Mandal. They were arrested at Ajmeri Gate where they were waiting for someone to deliver the consignment, the police said.



Minor girls rescued
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
The West district police today claimed to have rescued two minor girls with the arrest of three persons. One of the suspects were identified as Sohan Lal. He was arrested from Mahipalpur. His interrogation led to the arrest of Vijay Pandey and Virender Pandey.

The girls had come to Delhi from Bihar along with their parents who came here for the treatment a few months back. Their mother, who suffered from some serious ailment, died in a hospital in the Capital. They used to live in a hotel in the Uttam Nagar area where the suspects had met them and took their Bihar address.

After the death of their mother, the girls and their father returned to Bihar. The suspects went to Bihar and met the girls there and lured them by offering them jobs. The girls eloped with the suspects and came to Delhi. Here, they were kept in inhuman conditions and were allegedly exploited. The suspects were reportedly planning to sell them to somewhere in Himachal Pradesh. Their father came to the Capital again in search of his daughters and met the DCP West Delhi who constituted a team, which arrested the suspects, the police said.



SI threatens in-laws for more dowry
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28
The West district police arrested a Sub Inspector, Dev Raj (35), for allegedly misbehaving with his in-laws and smashing glasses of a PCR van. The incident took place early this morning. Dev Raj, who is posted at the Economic Offences Wing of the Crime Branch, had allegedly been angry with his in-laws as his sister-in-law, who married recently, was given more dowry items. He was married in 1985 and was given comparatively less dowry. The cop also had a misunderstanding with his wife who had left him and gone to her parents’ house, the police said.

The SI, who was in an inebriated state, went to his in-laws house at Khayal village in West district to bring back his wife last evening. He started raising a din and threatening his in-laws. While this was going on, somebody telephoned the Police Control Room about the incident. The PCR staff reached the spot immediately and tried to pacify the cop but the SI picked up stones and hurled them at the PCR van smashing its glass. Thereafter, he was overpowered by the PCR staff.


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