Sunday, December 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India

N C R   S T O R I E S


Nine killed in factory fire
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
At least nine persons, including a woman, were charred to death and eight injured in a fire which broke out after a furnace exploded in a plastic factory in Samaipur Badli area of North-West Delhi this morning. A portion of the factory collapsed in the fire.

The police said that the injured were rushed to various hospitals where the condition of at least four of them was described as serious. According to the police, the incident occurred at around 8 a.m. when the smelter exploded with a bang, spewing the molten plastic on the workers. The flying embers from the furnace also caused a fire to break out on the factory premises.

It was panic stations in the factory, which had started its operations only half an hour earlier, with the employees scurrying for safety. Employees in the adjacent factories also rushed out after they heard the explosion. Many of them tried to rescue those trapped inside the factory but because of the intense heat and flames, they could not do much.

The fire brigade arrived on the spot within minutes and battled with the flames for over an hour before bringing it under control. The bodies of the deceased were retrieved from the rubble while the injured were rushed to hospitals.

While four are believed to have died on the spot, two of them succumbed to their injuries in the hospital. The deceased were identified as Brij Kishore (10) and Mushtaq Khan (20); Anar Devi (50), Prem Kumar (40), Prem Chand (16), Vijay (18) and Dharmendra (22). Efforts were on to identify the others.

The injured, who have been admitted at the LNJP hospital, were identified as Surender (30), Sanjiv (22), Rahul (12), Babloo (21), Pooran Chand (65) and Ramanand (23).

The DFS had rushed 13 fire fighters to control the devastating fire. The DFS personnel faced some problems initially as it was totally dark inside the factory and because of the snapping of the electricity cables.

A fire brigade official said that the entire factory was gutted and raw material and finished plastic goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed. A case had been registered and efforts were being made to ascertain the cause of the explosion and the resultant fire. All the four bodies were recovered from near the furnace, indicating that the workers near it took the full impact of the blast.

The factory is owned by R.K. Khanna who lives in Prashant Vihar. Efforts were being made to contact him, the police said.

Another blaze

GHAZIABAD: Goods worth lakhs were gutted in a fire in a plywood factory in industrial area, Site IV, in the wee hours today.

It took a dozen fire tenders from Ghaziabad and Noida at least eight hours to bring the fire under control. Devinder Singh Sachdeva, the proprietor of Nav Rang Cinema, owns Mehta Plywood Enterprises. The factory caught fire at 2.30 am on the night of December 27.

By the time the Sahibabad fire tenders could reach the site, the blaze had engulfed the premises. An SOS was then sent to fire tenders at Hapur, Modi Nagar and Noida.

Three fire tenders from Kotwali, one each from Modinagar and Hapur and three more from Noida joined the effort to control the blaze.

Dry planks of wood, saw dust and the swift wind hampered fire-fighting. It was only by 11 am that the blaze could be controlled by which time plywood and chemicals worth lakhs had been gutted.

According to fire-fighting experts, a short circuit appeared to be the only plausible explanation of the fire. The actual cause of fire and the value of the goods lost will be known on completion of an inquiry into the incident, they said.


Curbs on autos extended in Faridabad
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 28
The district authorities have extended the restrictions on the plying of three-wheeler autorickshaws on all days and decided to regulate their movement on the basis of registration numbers. Using the powers delegated by virtue of Section 144, the Deputy Commissioner has prohibited the plying of autos having the last digit of their registration as even number (2,4,6,8,10) on odd dates and vice versa. The order will remain applicable till February 23 next.

The fresh directions have come after the Faridabad Autorickshaw Driver Union failed to get the stay on the similar order passed by the Deputy Commissioner in October this year in the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently. The union in its petition had pleaded to quash the Deputy Commissioner’s order of regulating the plying of autos on the basis of their registration numbers.

The High Court in its order on December 19, 2002, had observed that the respondents (district authorities) were at liberty to pass any fresh orders in accordance with the law after hearing the petitioner.

The court had adjourned the matter to January 27, 2003. The district authorities then heard the petitioners here recently after issuing notice to them. While the auto union’s contention was that their right to livelihood would be abridged if the prohibitory orders, dated October 24, 2002, under Section 144 IPC, were continued.

They argued that there were more vehicles whose registration number was even, and described the order discriminatory.

On the other hand, the Deputy Commissioner observed that but for a reduction in the number of autorickshaws, there was still no way to prevent harm to human health, avoid congestion on the roads within the Municipal Corporation limits and minimise the air and noise pollution.

There are about 14,000 such vehicles in the town at present of which hundreds of three-wheelers are plying without registration number.

According to the fresh orders, the district administration has observed that the right to livelihood cannot be an absolute right and the petitioners could not be allowed to maximise their livelihood in an unbridled manner, at the expense of health and safety of about 1.5 million people.

The administration claimed that people had welcomed the prohibitory orders as there had been a clear impact on the twin problems of pollution and congestion. If all the 14,000 autos were allowed to ply, it could endanger human safety during the foggy weather.

It is claimed that the autos get double the business on alternate days due to decreased number of such vehicles and the claim of ‘less business’ stands nullified. Quoting some orders of the judiciary in the past, the authorities have expressed concern over the rise in pollution level of Faridabad as it has been included in the nine most polluted cities of India by the Central Pollution Control Board.

The district authorities have, however, announced to hold a special loan camp.


Khanak mining work being restored
Shiv Sharma

Bhiwani, December 28
The mining operations in Khanak quarry have been restored. Though an order had been received on December 21, work could be started only two days back. However, there was no official announcement in this regard.

The tehsildar of Tosham, who was asked to function as duty magistrate and oversee the stopping of mining operations in the quarries, said that the district magistrate had issued no written orders. However, the mines department employees said that the relief had been confirmed on phone.

An official confirmed that the chief secretary had issued written orders for restoring mining operations in the prohibited quarry on December 21 and quarries were opened for operation in compliance with the orders on December 24.

Earlier, complying with the orders of the Supreme Court, the forest department had prohibited mining operations in Rawaldhi, Naurangabad, Loharu, Tosham, Jhumpa, Kairu, Kakdoli Sardara, Khariawas and Bhiwani. However, the largest mining area of Khanak was not included in the prohibition.

The district administration had prohibited mining operation on December 1 in these areas and appointed duty magistrates to enforce orders.
The forest department has divided the prohibited areas of the district into three categories as per its letter No. 1442 issued to the mines department.

In the reserved forest category: Rawaldhi, Naurangabad and Loharu; in safe forest category, Tosham, Jhumpa, Rawaldhi, Kakdoli Sardar, Kairu, Khariawas and Bhiwani were included under Sections 4 and 5 and mining operations are still prohibited in these areas.

The president of Crusher Union and spokesman of BMMC, a firm having Khanak hill on lease, Mr Devender Singh, while confirming orders said that their firm started the mining work on the quarry on December 24.

In a letter sent to the mines department, the forest department said that the hill areas of Khanak-Dadam and Riwasa, etc have not been declared unauthorised for mining work. But the situation still needs consideration in the absence of any direction from the deputy commissioner office.

It may be recalled that the Advocate-General Haryana, Mr Surya Kant Sharma, had clarified a week ago that the mining operations would be prohibited all over Haryana, including Gurgaon, Faridabad until the Central Government did not clarify its decision on the matters related to the environment conservation. This statement has also caused a flutter in the district administration which has not issued any official announcement.

Those related to Khanak in any manner have sought clear opinion by the district administration in this connection.


Hundreds of phones ‘dead’ for three days
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panipat, December 28
With a major telephone exchange in the district—Naultha—developing a technical snag, thousands of residents of several villages have been cut off from the outside world since Thursday night.

According to sources, the residents of Naultha, Israna, Brahman Majra, Benjohl and Didwari villages are at their wits’ end following the breakdown. Repeated complaints to the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) seem to have fallen on deaf years, much to the consternation of the common man.

What has added to the misery of the hapless subscribers is the fact that the BSNL authorities had failed to spot the snag even after three days. The public sector giant took its own sweet time to get its act its act together.

Initially, the technical team from Panipat tried to figure out the problem. When it could not locate the fault, another technical team from Karnal was call in but it, too, came a cropper. What would be the next course of action, only time will tell.

The sources said the underground cable from Panipat to Naultha would be checked to locate the fault, following which the snag would be set right. Therefore, it may be quite some time before the harassed residents are connected to the outside world again.

It may be recalled that technical faults in the exchange are a recurring feature in the district. Minor faults such as cross-talk and disturbance in the lines is a routine affair. The BSNL, it seems, has failed to develop a foolproof system to run the exchanges.

The recently launched BSNL mobile service is reportedly working well. However, the functioning of the BSNL land lines leaves much to be desired. And with the BSNL having a monopoly over the land lines, bad days seem to be ahead for the subscribers.


Tehbazari comes to an end by Jan 1
Our Correspondent

Bhiwani, December 28
The local municipal council may face a financial squeeze with the New Year. The Urban Development Department, Haryana has directed the municipal council to stop recovering tehbazari from the next year. The department has written a letter to the council to comply with its orders without fail.

This does not apply only to Bhiwani but all other municipal councils. According to sources, the decision was taken at a meeting held at Chandigarh on November 27. The department issued a letter to the councils asking to suspend recovery of tehbazari after December.

The decision will add to the problems of the council as house tax and tehbazari are the main sources of income for the municipal councils. Sources said that the council would have to bear with a loss of about Rs 10 lakh per annum from January 1. Sources also said that a target of Rs 4 lakh had been fixed for the recovery as tehbazari for the year 2002-2003.
The official source said that the urban development functionaries had taken the decision to end the tehbazari system to beautify the towns and contain the increasing population. However, for the municipal councils and committees reeling under financial constraints, the million dollar question now is hoe to disburse the salaries of their employees.

It shall be mentioned here that the council realises Re 1 per feet per month from temporary shops, rehris, counters and tin sheds on the footpaths and roadsides. Moreover, the municipal councils are going to miss over Rs 1 crore as revenue, to have been realised through development charges, in the light of turning down of the decision of regularising colonies. 


NGO’s project to green slums
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
Greenline, an NGO working for the improvement of the environment, has initiated a project, ‘Grassroots’, to help improve the environs in and around the slums. The NGO has roped in children and unemployed youth living in slum clusters to plant saplings of fruit trees.

The aim of the project is not just to beautify the slums, but also to provide the participants an opportunity to earn while working for a cause. These participants are provided with the know-how to ensure that the saplings planted by them do not die because of neglect. A stipend of Rs 150 and books are also provided by the NGO. Trips to the nurseries and visual lessons are provided for proficiency.

The project addresses the cause of turning barren and fallow land fertile. It will also help to stem unauthorised encroachments, as the area around the slums will be planted. The plantation drive is also expected to reduce the pollution levels in the city and provide income-generating opportunities for the unemployed.

The project so far has resulted in the planting of more than 2,500 saplings of fruit trees in the slum areas. With facilities like vermiculture unit, biocomposting, rodent and pest control facilities apart from ample storage and transportation facilities, the project will enable students to start their own enterprises in floriculture, agro-forestry and horticulture.

The NGO has planted more than six lakh saplings in the country and some of the projects include greening of roads in Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Ludhiana, beautification of airports, landscaping and setting up places of public conveniences. Greenline has also set up a solar energy project in the city, which aids in the conservation of energy.


DPCC celebrates INC foundation day
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) today celebrated the 117th foundation day of the Indian National Congress.

The foundation of the party was laid by a British ICS officer, Allan O. Hume, who resigned to float the Indian National Congress. Hume called the first meeting of the party on December 28, 1885 in Mumbai. W. C. Banerjee presided over the meeting.

Recalling the party’s journey since then, DPCC president Subhash Chopra said history of the party was a chronicle of the country’s progress. On the occasion, Mr Chopra launched a recruitment drive. New members, he said, would be brought into the party fold.

Others who spoke included former Member of Parliament Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and All India Congress Committee secretary Major Ved Prakash.

Legislators and councillors attended the meeting. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was conspicuous by her absence. 


New beginnings for the year ahead

As we enter 2003, we are bound to have our sweet dreams, our fears, apprehensions and uncertainties. How are we going to face the future? Where will help come from? Many trust God and that has been one of the factors, which had helped millions in the past to face an uncertain future.

A little examination will show that faith is an important thing in anyone’s life. A person may not have much wealth; he may even be sick and in pain — but if he has faith, he is rich. With faith in God, it becomes easier to face all sorts of circumstances and without it man is crushed by the least of problems.

And faith is not mere self-confidence, but confidence in the One who created the wide universe and in His plan for our lives. In all religious texts can be found wonderful promises for the one who trusts in Him. Here is one: “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!’’

According to one author, the adventure of living has not really begun until we begin to stand on our faith legs and claim — for ourselves, our homes, for the rearing of our children, for our health problems, for our business affairs and for our world — the resources of our God.

Trust in God presupposes love of God. Love of God, if it is not accompanied by love of fellow beings, is not true love. As the rays come from the sun, the love of God must generate within us love of fellow beings. As Mother Teresa used to tell very often there is a famine of love in the world; a great hunger that remains unsatisfied. We have exciting technologies, medical facilities, enough to eat, drink and be merry. A culture can have a lot of good things, but if it does not have love, it does not have very much at all. As we enter the New Year, we must ensure that we enter it with faith in God and love for all fellow beings.

It is natural for people to wish for new beginnings or start the New Year with a clean slate. It is easy to sweep the past under the carpet but it is better to set one’s house in order and get right with God and fellow beings for a new beginning.

This implies taking every step to remove the baggage of bitterness and resentment by extending a hand of friendship to those estranged through conflicts; by fulfilling all obligations wherever this is possible; by seeking forgiveness and by pardoning those who had offended us in any way. All because it is not good to carry spiritual burdens into the New Year.

One sound advise is to “close the gate’’ behind us to nagging guilt by confessing our sin to the Lord and accepting His forgiveness. Or if we have a misunderstanding with someone, rather than allowing the irritation to fester, we should go to that person, make things right and then forgive and forget the wrong.

God has not promised us immunity from troubles - hardships, illness or tragedies. But it is the privilege of those who believe to receive from Him, “strength for the day, grace for the trials, light for the way and unfailing sympathy.’’(Annie Johnson Flint)

An old hymn has these assuring lines that could comfort a believer in his time of trouble: “Naught can befall me that God did not choose / And that would not serve to my ultimate good.’’ (Paul Fleming, 1609-1640)

And let us break free from old habits — habits, which had filled the world with suspicion and hatred. “For freedom we build our walls, For freedom we make our bombs, For freedom, we pass our laws, For freedom we imprison and restrict, For freedom we create the Ghetto. And we shall meet no one, and listen to no one who does not look as we do, act as we do, except from a safe and deferential distance.’’(Jim Bates)

Christ came to make men free - free from their isolation and their fear. He wanted men to live in peace with one another. Like many after Him, and many before Him, taught that man needs to be loved. Love of God and love of fellow beings could be the two planks upon which every life should be built. Of the three enduring factors: faith, hope and love. Of these the greatest is love.

What could be our wish for the New Year? Here is a litany for right values written by one Laurence Ellis: Give us grace O Lord to value money aright; from the love of it, waste of it, and abuse of it: Good Lord deliver us.

Give us love, O Lord, to value people aright; from neglect of them, contempt for them, and from treating them as things: Good Lord, deliver us.

Give us honesty O Lord, to value ourselves aright; from pride, vainglory, and hypocrisy: Good Lord, deliver us.

Give us honesty O Lord, to value thee aright; from taking first place, and from forgetting thee: Good Lord, deliver us.

Give us courage, O Lord, to love our neighbour as ourselves; from a nicely calculating heart; from covetousness that poses as fair dealing; from casting envious eyes at our fellows’ wealth: Good Lord, deliver us.

Then there are those who need to escape from the past… an incurable illness, a divorce or incapacitation following an accident…They live devastated lives and need to erase the consciousness of their sins. They need to resist the natural inclination to brood over them, to fret about them and to despair because of them. To such, here are words of comfort from Prophet Isaiah: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while he is near; Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord that He may have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.’’

The Jewish Blessing of the seventh century BC is still an apt wish and prayer for the Year: “The Lord bless and keep us, the Lord make His face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us, the Lord lift up His countenance upon us and give us peace, now and evermore.’’

M P K Kutty


Crime under control, claims I-G
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, December 28
The police authorities of Gurgaon range, covering Gurgaon, Faridabad, Rewari and Mahendragarh districts, are patting themselves on their own back for, as per their claim, keeping crimes under control this year as compared to the number of incidents last year.

The Inspector-General of Police, Gurgaon range, Mr Swaranjeet Singh, said that cases of murder have been 18 less than what they were last year in the entire range. While there has been a reduction in the number of such cases in Gurgaon, Faridabad and Mahendergarh districts, the figure has increased by three in Rewari. He claimed that the police have solved 80 per cent of murder cases.

It is claimed that rape cases have also gone down in three districts while in Faridabad district, the number has been the same as that of last year. There has been an “improvement” in cases related to abduction. However, the same cannot be said about Mahendragarh district as compared to last year.

The authorities claimed that the abductions or kidnappings are not only for ransom. Mr Swaranjeet Singh lamented that in many of the rape and abductions of women, it is revealed that most of such crimes were done with the mutual consent of the persons involved. It was only when the partners were caught or because of family pressure, FIRs were registered against the men partners. This is an unhealthy trend, he added.

Mr Swaranjeet Singh also painted a rosy picture on the dacoity front. He reeled out statistics to say that there has been only a marginal increase in dacoity cases. For example, there has been an increase by four cases in Gurgaon, three in Rewari and the same number in Mahendragarh district as compared to last year. Faridabad, however, has shown a reduction in dacoities in comparison to last year. All the cases in Gurgaon have been solved, he added.

According to him, the police are sensitive to the gender-related crimes, especially cruelty against women. With the overall goal to curb such crimes, a Women Cell has been set up by the district police in Gurgaon. The cell is also acting as a counselling centre, especially to act as an antidote against estranged relations, which often culminate in breakage of marriages.

He further said that the government has introduced a policy of changing the orientation of the police force from “constabulary” to “officer oriented”. With this end in view, promotions have been given to a number of personnel on merit basis to bring them in the officer cadre. As a result, there has been an increase of 183 posts of Head Constables, 275 posts of Assistant Sub Inspectors and 75 posts of Sub Inspectors. Significantly, there has been no effective increase in the manpower on account of this policy. It is an internal arrangement.

The overall philosophy to make the force officer oriented is to lift the morale of the personnel by giving them incentives and to upgrade their skills as they would have to undergo further training to fit in their upgraded posts. 


Cong leaders flayed for ‘double standards’ on SYL issue
Our Correspondent

Rewari, December 28
Mr Vijay Somany, convenor of the Rashtriya Navchetna, a voluntary organisation of south Haryana, has flayed the top brass of the state unit of the Congress for what he described as their double standards in the SYL canal issue.

Addressing a press conference here, he said that four Congress legislators of south Haryana had been mobilising people for the Rewari rally of January 12 to address the SYL canal issue, which would be addressed by HPCC president Bhajan Lal. He said that these legislators had wittingly or unwittingly side-tracked the hideous fact that it at the behest of Mr Bhajan Lal that the police had resorted to a brutal lathi charge as well as firing on a massive gathering of demonstrators who were demanding canal water for the parched fields of south Haryana at Narnaul on August 10, 1993.

He asked if it was a change of heart or sheer political compulsion that the same Mr Bhajan Lal, who had unleashed unprecedented repression on the peaceful demonstrators crying for canal water, was now coming to Rewari merely to tell the people that he was now sincerely espousing the cause of the SYL canal for them.

Mr Somany said that it was all the more agonising that these Congress leaders were engaged in a diatribe against the present state government. In view of the verdict of the apex court favouring Haryana, there was a pressing need for these leaders to approach Congress president Sonia Gandhi and urge her to ask Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to abide by the court verdict and get the SYL canal completed without any further delay to ensure that the state’s quota of Ravi-Beas waters reached here.

He further said that the Rashtriya Navchetna was organising a maha sammelan here on January 1, 2003 in which a consensus would be evolved to secure canal water for south Haryana through an expeditious and amicable solution to the long-pending SYL tangle.


A dark welcome to this new GDA colony
Our Correspondents

Ghaziabad, December 28
Who says development is not taking place in Ghaziabad. Lots of development meet the eye as one goes around the area. New colonies and multi-storeyed housing complexes are coming up and new roads are being laid.

However, if one actually goes to live in a newly developed colony like Govindpuram, the truth begins to strike him/her. The residents of this colony have been facing a lot of teething troubles. After sunset, it is a colony enveloped in total darkness.

Electric poles have been erected but wiring and bulbs are missing or have not been provided yet. Apart from inconveniencing the general public during winter months when nights are longer, these dark streets pose a security hazard too. And with law and order scenario being what it is in this part, incidents of loot, waylaying, murders and burglaries have increased during acute power cut days in Ghaziabad.

The residents of Govindpuram are at their wits’ end because they have repeatedly approached the authorities concerned requesting the latter to provide streetlights, without any effect on them.

The development of Govindpuram, situated as it is at one fringe of the town, had been done by the GDA in a systematic way — fairly wide roads with electric poles, each of them having provision for two mercury bulbs..

The poles are still there and a few bulbs too are in position, but these don’t throw light. Somewhere something has gone awry and seriously too. When one approaches the colony from the Hapur road in the evening, it is enveloped in a thick blanket of darkness. The same condition greets one at Gate 1 and II of the colony. It is a dark welcome.

The root cause of this neglect is that after constructing the colony, the GDA has not transferred it to the Nagar Nigam, which normally looks after the day-to-day maintenance.

Besides, roads in blocks G, H, D and A are also clamouring for repairs. It is a tough challenge for drivers to negotiate their vehicles after night falls on these roads full of potholes. The uncovered manholes at every turn in the colony are another cause of worry for the residents. They are an invitation to accidents.

Once night begins, anti-social elements squat outside the grain market running drinking parties to the consternation of the residents. The area police have not bothered to look at this aspect, which increases the sense of insecurity among people living there.

The residents are sour that the Nagar Nigam, except collecting property tax from them, has not bothered to provide or maintain the community and infrastructure facilities here.


The saint who braved British cannons to save Bawani Khera
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Rewari, December 28
Baba Ram Roopji Maharaj, an illustrious saint of the nineteenth century, still holds sway over the people of Bawani Khera, which is now in Bhiwani district. The flow of devotees at his holy shrine, which lies in the heart of the town, continues throughout the year.

He is also known and worshipped as Baba Ram Swarupji Maharaj in Siha and its surrounding villages of Rewari district. His shrine, Dadu Dwara (Dadu Temple), and the historical tank in Siha village, 20 km from Rewari, are now a pilgrimage complex where lakhs of devotees from various parts of the country and abroad visit every year.

Born in a noble gaur Brahmin family of Siha village in 1810, he renounced home and hearth at the age of 20. His quest for eternal truth took him to the hills at Tosham where he met the celebrated anchorite Moongipa who gave him his divine blessings and then sent him to Bawani Khera where he was formally initiated into saintliness by Sant Abhey Ramji Maharaj, who was a saint of the Dadu cult.

Thus old Ram Sukh became Sant Ram Roop. He took to intense meditation and asceticism, which eventually enabled him to attain the heights of divinity. He also came to possess miraculous capacities to hear remote things, see distant things, move to for off places and telepathy, it is said.

His saintliness began to unfold itself in various ways leading to the alleviation of the trials and tribulations of people in distress. Among his miracles, one needs a special mention here.

During the days of the Mutiny of 1857, four English officials were butchered by an irate mob at Bawani Khera. The British army planted its cannons at strategic points to annihilate Bawani Khera in retaliation. At this, Baba Ram Roopji went, accompanied by his staunch disciple Hazari Seth, straight to the British army officer concerned and pleaded for forgiveness for the people of Bawani Khera.

He told the officer that the residents were innocent as the monstrous act had been committed by certain unidentified elements among the unruly crowd, which comprised people of Bawani Khera as well as several other surrounding villages. However, the Baba’s plea was not accepted by the officer who ordered the gunners to fire the cannons.

Legend has it that then the Baba stood defiantly before the cannons, which failed to work despite repeated attempts by the gunners as well as the officer himself. At this, the humbled officer virtually begged pardon of the Baba who suggested a way out following which a penal tax was levied on the residents of

Bawani Khera, which they had paid for about 40 years by way of sustenance allowance for the wives and other surviving dependants of the four slain British officials.

The Baba, who then became a living idol of the people of the region, got his name permanently recorded in the chronicles as the great saviour of Bawani Khera. Soon afterwards, at the behest of his spiritual mentor, Sant Abhey Ramji, Baba Ram Roopji migrated from Bawani Khera to his native Siha village where he continued to shower his divine blessings upon the people till his demise in 1877.

Even after 125 years, this saint continues to hold a spiritual sway over the lives of millions of his devotees in Bawani Khera, Siha and other parts of India and abroad.


Lifer dies in mysterious circumstances
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 28
Ram Singh, a prisoner undergoing life imprisonment in a murder case died in mysterious circumstances in the district jail here yesterday.

According to a report, the body of the prisoner was subjected to a post-mortem in the presence of a duty magistrate in the Civil Hospital of the city and later, the body was handed over to the members of his family for cremation. Ram Singh (70) along with his two sons, Rajbir and Virender, was undergoing life imprisonment in a murder case in the village, Pipli Khera in the district.

Fatal fall

Rajinder, a labourer fell from the ceiling of a house under construction and was killed on the spot in Sector 23, a residential colony of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) here last evening.

According to a report, the victim belonged to Bihar and the police have sent the body for a post-mortem. A case has been registered.

5 farmers held

The Kharkhauda police have arrested five farmers of Nizampur Majra village on the charges of canal water theft and unauthorised irrigation on the report of the officials of the irrigation department.

According to a report, the arrested farmers include Bhalla, Harkesh, Shardha and Jaswant. It is stated that they have cut the embankment of Katwal minor for irrigating their fields.

Meanwhile, the cases of canal cuts in the villages falling under the jurisdiction of Gohana Water Service Division are on the increase and some officials are said to be in league with the influential and unscrupulous farmers.

Depot holders protest

The Sonepat Depot Holders Association has protested against the alleged harassment of the depot holders at the hands of the employees of the head post office and demanded a strict action against them.

In a press release, it has pointed out that the depot holders had deposited the amount of Rs 1,000 each in the head post office during the year 1968 for security for seeking the licences from the Food and Supplies Department.

Now they wanted to get back the amount with interest as the officials of the Food and Supplies Department wanted to issue new licences after depositing the fresh security amount.

The association alleged that the employees of the head post office have been harassing the depot holders and trying to extract money from them, but they have refused to pay the bribe.

It also alleged that the postmaster and other senior officers of the department have failed to take action against these employees on the repeated complaints made to them in this regard.

The association also warned that if the depot holders did not get the amount of security, they have no alternative than to gherao the employees and the officials.

Shop theft

Thieves are reported to have broken the shutter of a shop on the Sonepat-Rohtak Road near the city police station here last night and decamped with tea bags worth Rs 4 lakh.

According to a report, the owner of the shop has lodged an FIR with the police in this connection. The police investigations were on.

Recent thefts in and around Sonepat city have caused a panic among the residents and shopkeepers in the area.


Shepherds victim of forest dept trickery
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 28
The officials of the Forest Department are stated to be duping the innocent and illiterate people at the cost of the state exchequer in the district.

According to a report, two employees of the department riding a motorcycle reached the camp of the Rajasthani shepherds at Rai village about 13 km

from here on December 24 and took one Bhakar, alias Shankar, in their

custody by saying that he along with some others have damaged a large number of saplings along the Bahalgarh Qumashpur Road.

In the meantime, the Rajasthani shepherds along with some local people reached the office of the Forest Department for a compromise. Thereupon, all the persons detained at the Rai police station were let off and taken to the office of the Forest Department at Sonepat where one of

the officers told them that the department had suffered a loss of Rs 66,000 on account of the grazing of the sheep in the area. The shepherds pleaded for the concession, the officer then sent them to his subordinate.

The subordinate officer asked them to pay Rs 16,000, otherwise they would be challaned by the police. Thereupon, they paid the amount to him but they got two receipts for Rs 9,990 from him. This officer also got signatures of two persons, Moti and Bhagu on blank paper and pushed them out of the office by threatening them that if they insisted on having the receipt of the entire amount, they would be handed over to the police again.

The shepherds alleged that the receipts did not mention the account for which this amount has been deposited.


Bodies found

Two bodies were recovered in the city on December 27. The body of a rickshaw-puller was found near the new bus stop with the throat slit. He was suspected to be an informer of the revenue department. The dead person was identified as Chhote of Nand Gram in Sihani Gate area; he was originally a resident of Sultanpur district. The body of a Nepali youth was found in a drain near a steel factory in the industrial area under Link Road police station, which has been sent for post-mortem. The youth has not been identified yet. The police said that he appeared to be a beggar, who possibly died due to the intense cold in the area as there was no sign of any injury on his body. OC

Headless youth

The beheaded body of a 30-year-old youth was found near a pond in Gwalison village of the district yesterday; the body was identified as that of Dharam Singh of the same village. According to information, Dharam Singh was missing from his house since Thursday evening. Some people of the village noticed a body, covered in a blanket, lying near a pond. The body was headless. The police have registered a case of murder. The throat of the victim was slashed with a sharp-edged weapon, the police said. Senior police officials have started investigating the matter. OC


Time flies when you are in Mahendragarh
Tribune News Service

Located in the northern part of Haryana, Mahendragarh with its headquarters at Narnaul comprises two subdivisions, two tehsils and five blocks. Known as Kanaud, which took its name from the Kanaudia Group of Brahmins, it was founded by Malik Mahmud Khan, a servant of Babur. It remained a ‘pargana’ of Narnaul under the Mughal emperors. Later, it was conquered by a Thakur of Jaipur, who in turn was expelled by Nawab Najaf Quli Khan, the great minister of Delhi Court under Shah Alam.

Although the nomenclature of the district is not very old, the antiquity of the area it covered can be stretched to earlier periods also. The archaeological explorations conducted in the region have brought to light late Harappan sites specially from its Rewari tehsil.

Research points out that the district might possibly have remained outside the mainstream of Aryan culture and hence, has not been specifically mentioned in the traditional literature as an independent territorial unit.

Tourist attractions:

Jal Mahal

Reminiscent of the Mughal art and style of structure, the Jal Mahal is unique in style and construction. Shah Quli Khan constructed the walls of Jal Mahal with lime in AD 1591.

Chor Gumbad

It looks like a haunted fairy place of the old folk tales with its location, isolated identity and haunting appearance. Legend has it that it remained a hideout of thieves and highwaymen and that may account for its present name, Chor gumbad.

Birbal Ka Chhatta

Birbal ka Chhatta: Built during Shah Jahan’s reign This spacious building, built by Ray-i-Rayan Mukand Dass, the Diwan of Narnaul, during the reign of Shah Jahan (AD 1628-58) is dexterously planned and embellished. The five-storeyed structure has several halls, rooms and pavilions. The building is said to be equipped with four underground tunnels leading to Jaipur, Mahendragarh, Delhi and Dhosi. It is said that Akbar and Birbal visited this town and that is why Chhatta Rai Mukand Das is also popularly known as Chhatta of Birbal.

Tomb of Shah Wilayat

The tomb of Shah Wilayat stands beside the mausoleum of Ibrahim Khan. It is a big tomb-cum-collegiate complex, which incorporates within it a long tradition of architecture ranging from the Tughluq to the British period. Much of its originality is marred by later constructions. Originally the tomb and the adjoining complex were constructed during the reign of Feroz Shah Tughluq.

Mausoleum of Ibrahim Khan

Sher Shah Suri had this tomb built in honour of his grandfather, Ibrahim Khan, who served as an officer of the Lodhis at Narnaul. There are two small graves along with the grave of Ibrahim Khan inside the building.


The place is situated at 3 km from Narnaul. It is made famous by the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the sake of the country. There is a historic park laid out in the memory of freedom fighters. It is believed that the land of this place became red by the blood of the freedom heroes.

Tomb and Tripolia of Shah Quli Khan

The Ain-i-Akbari and travelogue of Latif tell us that Shah Quli Khan had erected splendid buildings and laid out beautiful gardens at Narnaul. Later, he built for himself a fine mausoleum. Shah Quli Khan constructed Tripolia Darwaza in AD 1589 as main entrance to his garden.

Mahendragarh Fort

There is a fort at Mahendragarh, built by Maratha ruler, Tantia Tope during the 17th century. The place was named as Mahendragarh in AD 1861 by Narinder Singh, the then ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Patiala, in honour of his son, Mohinder Singh and consequently, the town came to be known as Mahendragarh. The name of Narnaul Nizamat was changed to Mohindergarh Nizamat.


An abode of the religious saint, Baba Kesria, Mandola is very popular with the devotees. Local people worship the saint with great reverence. A fair is also held in his memory on September 1 every year. It is said that a visit to this place cures a person of snakebite.


In July and August, corresponding with the Hindu month of Sawan, people bring sacred water from Haridwar and sprinkle over the idol of Lord Shiva in the temple of Modawali. This is known as ‘bethi kawar’. They travel on foot during the entire journey from Haridwar to Mahendragarh.

How To Get There

Rail: The city is well connected by rail. It has a small railway station on Rewari-Bikaner railway line.

Road: A well-developed network of road transport connects Mahendragarh to the surrounding areas. The town is connected by road with other important cities, namely Narnaul, Rewari, Charkhi Dadri, Delhi and Chandigarh.


Man killed in a hail of bullets
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, December 28
As many as five armed miscreants shot dead a middle aged man at Ismaila village in Sampla town on Friday. The deceased has been identified as Mahender who was allegedly involved in smuggling liquor, according to police sources. The police had raided his factory located in the field at Ismaila village and seized a huge stock of illicit liquor and the machines used in the preparation of the liquor a few months back.

According to information, Mahender was sitting in a chair along with his brother Satbir, sarpanch of the village, outside his house. Suddenly, five miscreants reached in an Esteem car at around 11 am and showered bullets on Mahender. Satbir rushed to take out his gun and opened fire on the assailants but they managed to escape unhurt.

Satbir has identified the assailants as Satte, Satbir, Dharampal and two others of the same village. He said his brother was an eyewitness in a murder case and the assailants had been threatening him of dire consequences if he did not refrain from appearing in the legal proceedings.

Man drowns in Agra Canal

Faridabad: At least four persons, including a woman, died in the town in separate incidents in the past 48 hours. An unidentified person reportedly drowned in Agra Canal here this noon.

In another incident, a youth, identified as Rajesh of Jawahar colony, committed suicide by hanging himself in his house. An unidentified woman was killed in a road accident in the industrial area. In still other cases of road mishaps, a 12-year-old girl was run over by a speeding vehicle on the Neelam-Bate road yesterday and one Chanderpal was crushed to death near Ghazipur village.

Environment award

Panipat: The National Afforestation and Ecological Development Board, Government of India, has invited applications for the ‘Indira Priyadarshani Vriksha Mitra Puraskar – 2001’ by December 31. According to a press note, 16 awards will be given for notable contribution in the field of afforestation and reclamation of barren land by individuals, students, government and non-government agencies and civic bodies, among others. 


NDPL launches five vans to rectify faults

New Delhi, December 28
North Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) today introduced five breakdown vans to augment its fault management system. Power Minister Ajay Maken flagged off the vans from Basai Darapur.

NDPL Chief Executive Officer Anil Sardana said the vans were equipped with tools and communication gadgets. He said the vans would be available round the clock.

“A 24-hour repair team would be deputed on shift duty so that the vans are available throughout the day and night in the event of an emergency,” Mr Sardana said. TNS


Two killed in road accidents
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
A scooterist and a cyclist were killed in two separate road accidents last night in Delhi. In the first incident, Kishore Kumar, a resident of West Sagarpur, died on the spot when his scooter hit an abandoned vehicle near Nanak Pura Gurdwara last night. The police have arrested the driver of the parked vehicle, Kripa Shankar, a resident of Sanjay Amar Colony. In another incident, 40-year-old Suresh Babu, resident of Meethapur, died when his cycle was hit by a truck on Molarband bridge.

Shop owner found dead

A shop owner of Mangolpuri was found dead with deep injuries on his neck near a petrol pump in Sector 22, Rohini in North-West district today. The deceased was identified as Nanak Chand, resident of Mangolpuri, and runs a fair price shop in E-block of the same area. The police said that the deceased went to the food and civil supplies shop in O-block and never returned after that.

Gang of thieves busted

The East district police today claimed to have busted a gang of thieves who indulged in looting electronic goods shops with the connivance of the security guards. The accused — Sohrab Ali alias Bullan (24) and his brother-in-law Jabwar Ali (25), both hailing from Meerut — were nabbed by the police and DVD and CD players, 35 kits of colour TVs and one packet of ICs, all worth Rs 2.50 lakh, were seized from their possession.


Decomposed body found

The local police have found the decomposed body of an unidentified man lying in the fields at Mohana village, 19 km from here, last evening and sent it to the PGI at Rohtak for post-mortem examination.

According to a report, the body bore multiple injuries inflicted with sharp-edged weapons and the police believe it to be a case of murder. The police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress. OC

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